Saturday, December 17, 2016

"It's called the Stoneybrook Examiner, even though I don't think it examines very much." BSC Friends Forever Special #2: Graduation Day (2000)

The final BSC book...sigh.
There are several threads going through this book at the same time. Obviously, our eighth graders are finally graduating. They are given a project that all eighth graders get at SMS: they are to write themselves letters that will be mailed back to them in four years when they graduate high school. The BSC also decide to help create a time capsule that will be opened in seven years when their oldest sitting charges graduate high school.
Meanwhile, each girl has her own drama:
Claudia, in traditional Claudia style, is worried about passing math...but flunks science instead.
Stacey learns that she can't graduate unless she returns a library book that she doesn't even remember borrowing. She also worries about her Mom, Dad and Samantha all coming to graduation together, although that fear turns out to be irrational.
Mary Anne decides she needs to talk to Logan to get a little more closure on their break up.
Kristy isn't ready to let go of SMS, or the BSC...despite the fact that her other friends are all talking about new opportunities and fresh starts.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. Why is there a different Claudia on this one? Could they not get the girl who'd been on the other covers? Very distracting.

Like the first SS, the chapters are not numbered. There's a reason for it this time, though, so that they can toss in little short chapters from various other characters. These chapters are all handwritten and cover people's entries into the time capsule. There are entries from the current BSC members, ex-BSC members, and clients.
In her very first journal entry, Kristy wonders if it's possible to have a do-over at eighth grade. Like she hasn't done that enough times already!
Where is Boiceville State? Is that a real school? It's where Charlie (allegedly) wants to go to college. (It doesn't appear to be real, but there is a real Boiceville, NY, which is just outside of Ithaca.)
Did anyone go to a school where middle school graduation was such a big deal that they actually sold memory boxes for them? I can see Mary Anne wanting one, but it seems ridiculous. To be fair, I grew up in a place where the whole school district was two buildings: K-6 and 7-12. There was no middle school graduation ceremony, just a year end dance and field trip.
Stacey's dad's email handle is bigdad. I'm picture him weighing 300lb now. (Bigdaddy would have been funnier, or olddad.)
"Can you believe Charlotte will be in fourth grade next year?" Umm, she skipped a grade. She's already in fourth grade. (That's one on-going flaw that really annoys me.)
Claudia IM spelling (lol): assinment, myslef. She also uses your for you're and its for it's. Normally, this wouldn't be too noticable, but Stacey types in complete sentences with proper grammar and no txt speak.
This sounds like me. Claudia contemplates writing her letter to herself. Two hours later, she's got "Dear Claudia," and chosen a font. I once spent two hours setting up my work space and fudging the margins, font size and line spacing on my computer before starting a research paper. (Did you know that if the assignment is 10 pages, 10pt font, single spaced, with 1" margins, you can cut a whole paragraph or more off the paper by making it 10.5pt font, 1.2 space, 1.1" margins? And it doesn't really look any different? College: where you learn how to cheat...)
Mary Anne is actually the one who comes up with the BSC time capsule--or, as she calls it, a neighborhood time capsule. Well, Vanessa says the words 'time capsule' first, but why would she want to make a BSC capsule? Kristy points out that they used to do stuff like the time capsule all the time, like those were the good old days instead of the insane, unrealistic plotline days.
Claudia email spelling: Mary ann, aftrenoon, realy, cant, tomorow, Maryanne, nervouse. She also uses grate for great and finale for final. (Some of this could just be typos rather than spelling, but it's Claudia.)
Hmm. Claudia and Stacey are emailing/IMing each other and others for all their chapter openers, but MA and Kristy are just writing in their diaries/journals. And while I can list a bunch of people's email addresses (Ethan's is MRDALI), I don't think I have one for either Kristy or MA. I can't believe Kristy doesn't have her own email handle.
So what goes into the time capsule? Mary Anne: a piece of burnt wood from her old house. Mal: a chamber of commerce brochure. Jackie: a softball to represent Kristy's Krushers. Jessi: an article about racial intolerance (hate to break it to her, but 16 years later, that still exists.) Kristy: BSC flier--of course. Abby: photo album of BSC members, club clients and important places. Stacey: flier from one of the BSC events. Claire: her teddy bear (she later gets him back). Dawn: pages from the newspaper. Claudia: Stoneybrook 250th birthday flier on which she did the artwork. Charlotte: elementary school newspaper with an article she wrote.
There's this whole Charlie subplot in this book, which loops back around to FF#1. He didn't get around to applying to schools until it was too late to get into anything but smaller state schools, so he's accepted into Boiceville State (which apparently is somewhere he can commute to, but he wants to live in the dorms.) He's planning to transfer to UCLA for his second year. Kristy points out that UCLA is "near Dad", but Patrick is in Sausalito, in northern CA. He's probably six hours from Los Angeles. By Kristy's argument, Charlie would still be "near Dad" at the University of Washington, or Idaho, or even Kansas...
Heh. Stacey actually pictures her mom and Samantha getting into a Jerry Springer-style brawl at graduation. She doesn't give her parents much credit, does she? If they can't be adult, they don't sit together and they avoid each other's company. Simple as that.
After Stacey finds out she owes a library book, she writes this letter to herself: "Dear Stacey, I am thirteen years old, and I am an idiot. Love, Stacey." Not only do I absolutely love that, but I can't help but think...since she's finally graduating, shouldn't she have been allowed to have a fourteenth birthday? It's June, and Stacey was born in April.
Abby's photo album of the neighborhood is pretty BSC-biased, but my favorite part is the picture of Claudia's bedroom. She included it au natural, including a pair of Claudia's underwear hanging out.
I love that Claudia got a D+ on her science experiment. I know that sounds cruel, but hang on a moment. She did a "does music effect plant growth?" project that was worth 25% of her grade. That is the same exact project Charlotte Johanssen did for the science fair...and she's in elementary school. I think the teacher took some pity on her because she followed (or at least tried to follow) the proper procedure and that's why she didn't fail. (Isn't there an episode of the Cosby Show with basically the same plot? Vanessa put together a very elementary school science project and got a bad grade on it because of her age...)
It's too delicious that Stacey included a neighborhood talent show flier for the time capsule. I can't remember what book that was offhand, but I very distinctly remember that Stacey and Claudia snarked at each other about all the acts. Stacey's description of the event includes the fact that Buddy Barrett showed off tricks Pow could do, but if I remember correctly, he claimed he was a lion tamer. The title quote from my entry on that was Stacey asking why he was wearing a Cub Scout uniform if he was a lion tamer. (It was #54.)
In Dawn's letter for the time capsule, she notes that all of the stores in the ads in the newspaper will probably still be around. One of the stores was Merry Go Round, a real store which the BSC always shopped at--but which went out of business in 1996.
More Claudia spelling: yourslef, flyer, brithday, celabration, yars, histary, poeple, gong (going), specail, stateue, enormus, flots (floats), elementry, librery, Stoneybrok, roll (role), revalutonary, originale, undergrond, capsole, celebraton, famouse.
Charlotte says she's nine in this book. Maybe she just had her birthday? Way back in #3, she said her birthday is in June, when this book takes place.
In many ways, the letters from the girls to their older selves are summaries of their major plotlines throughout the series, but also a little glimpse to the future. Stacey wonders whether she'll still be friends with her BSC friends by the time she reads the letter in four years. Mary Anne feels that she's a lot stronger than she used to be and is ready to take control of things. She's excited about starting over in high school. Claudia is more focused on her art and poor grades than her friends, which could be from a combination of worry and hope about the future--but not about whether her friends will be there for her. Kristy's concerned about the fact that the club seems to be slipping out of her grasp. She acknowledges that it's more important to her than it is to her friends, but can't understand why.
Putting those into perspective is Charlie's letter from four years before. I LOVE this. It's all about how his dad leaving changed his life, but despite the fact that having to play daddy to his younger siblings wasn't fun, he liked the fact that it made him more responsible. He wished that by the time he reads the letter again, his mom will be happy (she is), they won't have to pinch every penny (they don't) and Kristy won't take herself so seriously (still working on that one.)
I'd forgotten this bit! When I wrote a fanfic of the triplets graduating high school/going off to college, Byron points out to Adam that they forgot to dig up the BSC time capsule. Adam tells him that, several years before, he, Jordan and Jeff tried to find the capsule and dig it up early, but they couldn't follow the map they'd drawn. I'd just put that in for humor. There's actually a moment, though, at the burial, where Nicky suggests that same thing to Vanessa.
I gave up on Claudia's spelling during her final letter. Oh, I know, so close to the end...I should just go ahead and do it. You talked me into it. Here are the ones I don't remember already chronicling in this entry: Yourslef, stoping, desided, frist, intersting, narow, kindergraten, picturs, freinds, are (our), thier, familys, questoin, waht, improtant, projict, panting (painting), ilustrating, illustatted, newslitters, flys, surprized, musums. Then she writes an email to Stacey about Garduation which includes: beleive, exited (excited). She even hangs a Happy Garduation sign at her grad party.
A middle school valedictorian? Really?
All the girls are discussing who they want to be when they 'grow up,' like Kristy not wanting to get married but thinking of adopting a whole house full of kids, while Dawn doesn't think she wants kids at all. And several of the girls aren't sure what they want to do.
The end up making a pact to meet in 12 years, all eight of them, no matter where they are. I bet, if they were real, they'd mostly stay in touch but not be as close as they are at this moment. In high school, they'll discover that it's okay to have more than one group of friends--okay to be a jock and a theater junkie, or a star student and a cheerleader, or artsy and into community service. Or that it's okay to have friends who don't like one another.

"Do you think I have a strange fixation on stuffed animals?" BSC Friends Forever #11: Welcome Home, Mary Anne (2000)

I can't explain how much I love this book. It's not a fine piece of literature that will stand up to all tests of time, but it is a nice nod to a number of plots from across all of the BBC-universe. I sort of wish it were #12 so that just the final super special were left after it.
Mary Anne's new house is ready, so the Spiers move in. Dawn and Jeff come to spend the summer with their mom and step family, and they bring Sunny with them. Sunny's mom just died, as is plotted in the California Diaries, and everyone decides she needs a change of scene. However, she's acting up in true California-Diaries-Sunny fashion. Eventually, she and Mary Anne have a heart to heart about the similarities and differences between their stories: although both lost their mothers to cancer, Mary Anne has no memories of her mother, while Sunny had thirteen years with hers. Mary Anne helps Sunny realize that being in Stoneybrook is just running from her problems, and she goes back to California.
Meanwhile, Jeff is having a hard time with change as well. While Mary Anne got to see the new house be built and Dawn at least had seen a little of the construction, Jeff hadn't returned to Stoneybrook since the old house burned. He's being difficult and basically throwing ten-year-old style tantrums about everything. He and Mary Anne talk about how difficult she found all of the changes as well, and Jeff learns that not all of his friends have abandoned him like he thought.
Interesting tidbits
Let's talk about the cover for a second. This is the first time anyone besides the Original Four has appeared on a FF cover. Part of me wants to know which girl is Dawn and which is Sunny.

Sharon-itis: keys in the fridge or potted geranium. (In the dirt or where? I'm intrigued by that one.) Three pairs of shoes, wrenches and apricot facial scrub in the kitchen.
I'm not going to recreate the whole description of the house, but it sounds very cozy. In keeping with the fact that the place used to be a barn, everything has a country feel that would be very popular these days. There's a wood stove and the old barn door now opens into the kitchen, and everything is one big space (except, as MA points out, for a bathroom.)
The first time I read this, I hadn't read the California Diaries yet. It made parts of the plot a little confusing, but less so than I expected. There's a bit of MA summarizing some of the plot of the CD, but mostly, the way Sunny behaves and the way Dawn deals with her outlines a lot of the plot for me. (If you haven't read those books, Sunny became very flighty when her mom got sick; she ran away from home and skipped a lot of school. It was her way of dealing with it. She also doesn't visit her mother much, because she wants to remember her like she was when she was healthy, not when she was ill. But that, and Sunny's closeness to Carol, causes friction between her and Dawn--who visits Mrs. Winslow often.)
It's really weird for me for Jeff and the triplets to be emailing each other. Not just because I'm still picturing 1988 when I think of this series, but also because they're TEN. I guess I think of ten year olds as being little kids, much like the BSC do. (I know Mal also has an email address, but that's a school email, which to me means it's monitored. Mal even said in the last book that they don't give the girls at Riverbend full internet access. I'm just assuming the Pikes aren't as on top of their kids' internet activities....)
Jeff postulates that the new house/old barn smells like hay and spider webs. Rather than ignoring that and letting him find out for himself, Mary Anne wonders (inside her head, to her credit) if spider webs actually have a smell.
I like that Mary Anne realizes her jealousy of the Dawn/Sunny relationship right off the bat and acknowledges it to herself. Too many of these stories have the characters basically knowing their emotions but then acting like they don't know. (I'm thinking of Dawn in #60, when she was jealous of Richard and Mary Anne the whole time but kept ragging MA's 'look' instead of addressing the real cause.)
The title quote is Sunny's take on a dream she had, in which she married her childhood teddy bear. Is that better or worse than when I dreamt I ate a Care Bear?
Sunny mentions Logan and the break up to MA, who then starts freaking that he might be at the pool, where the girls are going to spend the day. However, a short time later, she starts wondering how, exactly, Sunny knew she and Logan had broken up, or how much else about her life Sunny knew. Yet MA never questions the fact that she knows all about Sunny's mom's death and Sunny and Dawn's fight. Obviously, Dawn likes to talk about her bestie with her other bestie. (Although, she didn't give MA all of the details about Sunny, because she doesn't know about how Sunny ran away from home in CD#2.)
Sunny's so high energy that she wears MA out pretty quickly. I can see why; MA is an introvert and spends a lot of time alone/essentially alone, reading, watching movies and doing needle crafts. It's her refueling time. Sunny's more of a constant movement person. But MA doesn't consider that Sunny's overdoing it because then she doesn't have the energy to stop and think about her mother as much. (She also doesn't consider that supporting Sunny doesn't mean having to do every exhausting activity Sunny comes up with. She can bow out gracefully once and a while.)
I thought back to the CD books for a while, trying to remember whether this actually happened in that universe. It doesn't; Mrs. Winslow dies in book #12 and Dawn actually goes back to CT in, I think, #14? I mostly remember that they're planning a surprise going away party for her and she keeps spoiling their plans. ("It looked like you were bowling. I hate bowling.")
I'm going to repeat: I really hate when the BSC members try to correct their sitting charges' grammar. (Claire's five. Does it matter if she uses pronouns correctly?)
Oh, and Margo's the only Pike kid who likes vegetables at this point. She's usually the one who is so picky that she ends up making herself a peanut butter sandwich instead of eating what everyone else eats, so that seems weird.
"And while I'd had lots of time to work through my feelings about the fire, Jeff was having a delayed reaction." Yup. That sums up the whole Jeff plotline in one sentence. And unlike Mary Anne, who responded to the fire by fighting with her dad, keeping secrets and getting grounded, Jeff actually comes out (about a week into his visit) and flat-out tells MA everything that's bugging him.
"I hadn't been on a date with anybody but Logan in a long, long time." Who else did she ever date?
OOOH! Dawn brings up the idea again that Sunny's endless energy and enthusiasm is a cover to prevent thinking about her mother. But then MA points out (to herself) that they can't make Sunny deal with her problems; she has to choose to deal with them. Love it! Spoken like someone who's had their own fair share of trauma and therapy.
Cole, whom Sunny flirts into a group date (he's supposed to be MA's date), introduces the girls to his two friends, Alex and Jason. Those are the names of Ducky's best friends from childhood: suicidal Alex and Jay, nee Jason, who tries to set Ducky up with a girl.
Speaking of Ducky...WWDT? Sunny starts talking about how many zits one of the guys on their group date had. Dawn interrupts her and says, "What would Ducky think" if he heard you talking like that? And Sunny simmers right down and apologizes!
MA runs into the Pike boys while she's in her bathrobe and gets all embarrassed. Well, at least she wasn't running around in her bra and panties! Anyway, the worst response she gets is Jordan going, "Woo, woo!" Which I think means he was catcalling her a little. Both funny and inappropriate.
I thought there was a lot more to the Jeff story than just him crying at MA in the Pike house and then decorating his room with the Pikes, Sunny and his sisters.
When Jeff is happy again, he and the rest of the Spier-Schafer clan start reminiscing over dinner, and MA realizes that Sunny feels left out. I spent a number of years having holidays with a family that wasn't really mine, so I understand that. It's nice that MA caught on, even if she didn't know how to handle it at first.
When Sunny suggests that the three girls sneak off to New York, Dawn is so surprised that she stops the hammock suddenly and sits up--and Mary Anne nearly falls out. This is one of those rare occasions that I wish these books were a TV show instead. (Yes, I realize there actually was a television show. I've never seen it; we didn't have cable when I was growing up. I actually own one of the VHS tapes but don't have a working VCR.)
I like this Dawn better than the Dawn from the middle of the BSC series. She's back to being an individual, and she's much calmer and more mellow than she used to be. This Dawn wouldn't change herself for a boy like old Dawn did (twice). She's also the one who insists that if they're going to go to NYC without telling any adults, they need to tell SOMEONE. So they tell Stacey. That way, if the girls don't come back, when Richard starts calling everyone, Stacey can admit they went to NYC.
When Dawn finally calls Sunny on some bullshit, she's not 100% fair about it. (I like that, too, because it's continuity from the CD series.) Dawn and MA agreed to go to NYC (and do a lot of other things they didn't want to do) because it was easier to play games Sunny's way. However, when Sunny refuses to leave and head back to CT on time, Dawn calls her selfish and points out that she's been getting her way ever since her mother died. It's not the time or the place for the conversation, but Sunny almost forces her into the confrontation. Dawn really does need to work on telling Sunny this type of stuff before she gets to the exploding point, doesn't she?
Heh. The three of them make it back to the Spier house just in time, and MA expresses relief...and then the ghostwriter throws in a PSA about it was stupid and unsafe for them to have even gone in the first place, just in case some reader decided to use the book as a suggestion.
Huh. I totally didn't notice this the first time around. Back in chapter 9 or whenever, Jeff burst into tears in the Pike kitchen. He let MA pat his back and then told her why he was upset. Byron came in as he was calming down and stood in the doorway and listened. When the right time came, he piped up and encouraged Jeff that the two of them were still friends. (Although, he's a ten year old boy. He actually just said that he'd be glad to help Jeff decorate his bedroom, and so would his brothers. But it served that purpose.) Later, in chapter 14, Sunny breaks down in Dawn's bedroom. She lets MA pat her back and then tells her why she is upset. Dawn comes in as she was calming down, stands in the doorway and listens. When Sunny say she doesn't know how to tell Dawn she needs to go back to California and her father, Dawn pipes in that she doesn't have to. It's a nice parallel.
Mary Anne marvels at how Abby knows just what to say to Sunny, then reflects that Abby lost her father just a few years ago and knows what Sunny is going through more than MA does. (I, on the other hand, had to rewind to figure out whether Abby and Sunny had ever met. They have, in SS#14, but I really didn't remember at first.)
At the end of the story, the Spiers hold an open house and call it a going-home party for Sunny. MA can't wait to show her friends her room...only to learn that they've pretty much all seen it already. Jeff offered a tour to all the guests for 25 cent...35 if they want to see his room, too. MA and Dawn take it to mean that he's back to his normal self. MA is, too--she finally feels like she's at home, and back to a stronger version of her usual self.
My favorite random scene in this book? Right before Sunny and Dawn get into a fight in NYC, Mary Anne sees a drag queen wearing a prom dress.
Mary Anne: t-shirt and shorts; khakis and white shirt (who does she think she is, Lena Kaligaris?)
Dawn: long skirt and tank top
Next: SS#2

Saturday, December 10, 2016

"He's practically one big bald spot by now." BSC Friends Forever #10: Stacey's Problem (2000)

Every time I read this title, I giggle to myself and say, "Stacey has a lot of problems." The one she's referring to here, though, is this: her father announces his engagement right as Stacey's mom has started to seem sad and distant. Stacey wants to help her, so among other things, she tries to find her a date. After running into Laine, she realizes how her mom feels--she may not want Stacey's dad in her life anymore, same as Stacey doesn't want to be friends with Laine any more, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have pleasant memories of their time together.
In the b-plot, Mallory is home from boarding school for the summer. After Claire makes an off-handed comment about Byron being the oldest now that Mal is gone most of the time, Mal realizes that her family has continued on without her. She feels lost in her own home. Then she realizes that part of the problem is that she's changed some as well, but everyone expects her to be who she was before. It's realistic because it's not really resolved; Mal just changes her attitude a little.
Interesting Tidbits
The back cover of the book actually says, IT WILL TAKE ALL OF HER NEW YORK SOPHISTICATION to think of a solution to this one. Good night, Irene, how stupid can this get?
Ms. McGill is making a pizza with Stacey and Claudia as the story opens. She wants to put anchovies on her third of the pizza. Claudia thinks this is reasonable, but Stacey objects: "What if they swim over to the rest of the pizza?" Stacey's mom: "They're dead." (What she really meant was, what if the fishiness 'contaminates' the rest of the pizza?)
An update on the Stacey-and-Ethan coffee situation: now, they both hate coffee. He drinks cocoa, she has tea.
After Stacey's dad announces his engagement to Samantha, he takes the two of them to a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center. Makes me really wonder what would have happened in the series if it had continued after 9/11.
When Stacey realizes she doesn't know Samantha very well, she starts observing her very closely, trying to learn details about her that way. She wonders to herself whether Samantha's a secret agent or maybe a homicidal maniac. As normal as that is, there's a moment when she contemplates whether Samantha is an alien. Has she been hanging out with Karen, perhaps?
Stacey's mom cries when she learns her ex-husband is getting married...then calls him to congratulate him. Given how upset she feels, that's actually pretty brave of her. Stacey tells her how proud she is. (Stacey's mom also says she doesn't know why she's crying, other than that she doesn't like change. Understandable.)
Stacey offers to stay home from Mallory's welcome home party to keep her mom company. Ms. McGill does something pretty smart and says she'll go out instead. She actually kind of threatens Stacey with it. Not only would it be good for her to get out of the house and try to get out of her funk, but also no sense dragging Stacey and her mom-complex down with her.
Nicky and Vanessa want to fly a very-special flag to welcome Mallory home: a pair of tighty-whites belonging to one of their brothers. Lovely, but very typically Pike.
Claudia references Alan--how she's considering a relationship with him. She mentions the interview he did back in #130, about how no one will give him a chance to be serious. If I remember correctly, she'd gotten mad with him because he'd written something like I Love Alan on a shirt she had planned to decorate. She should wear that the first day of high school.
When Claudia tries to discuss her Alan dilemma with Ms. McGill, the response is, "Well, Anne Bancroft married Mel Brooks." I know who both those people are, but most 13-year-olds probably don't.
Stacey hits the Mallory problem on the head the second she gets Mal talking. When Mal left, she expected that she would slide back into the same role in her family, and that nothing would have changed in her absence. But life goes on. And just as Mal comes back from boarding school a little different--more confident, holding herself better--everything is a little different in the Pike house. When the triplets became the oldest siblings in the house on a daily basis, Byron relished the big brother role and actively took it over. I understand Mallory's point of view entirely--she IS the oldest, and her being in another state doesn't change that--it would make sense that her leaving would cause an opening in the family. It seemed to me that the Pikes were pretty easygoing parents. If someone in the family chose not to do their homework, then that was their choice--they'd just have to accept the consequences (like a bad grade.) Mal always seemed like the one who'd actively convince her sibs to do their homework--or to come down for a group snack--or whatever. And now Byron's taken that same role.
Oh, and then Vanessa's pissed because she feels like Mallory's being an attention hog since she came home. Which is funny, but also pretty realistic.
The title quote is Kristy's comment on the fact that Watson is balding more each day. I'd go bald too, if I had to deal with seven kids and a ridiculous number of pets on a daily basis. Kristy also says she could never go for a bald guy, to which Mary Anne replies, "That's because you're thirteen!" Heh.
Stacey's mom is listening to a CD called "Feelin' Groovy." I actually own a CD by that title.
Ms. McGill mentions how the fall fashion preview gives her a chance to chat with the buyers from other stores that she's met over the years. But she just got her job when she got divorced. While Stacey was in eighth grade. Which she still is. But then again, she did get divorced circa 1989, so she's been doing this job for 10 or more years at this point.
Ms. McGill: "Stacey, I've been dressing myself for years, even before you were born." I'd hope so.
Stacey actually freaks out because she's in Manhattan while her mom is getting ready for a big date. She says she shouldn't be so far away while her mom is at the dance...but, as Ethan says, what would she do if she were in Stoneybrook? Go with her mom on her date? That's not awkward or anything.
I hate when the BSC makes references that point out how old I was when these newer books were published. Like the reference a couple books back to the 'older Parent Trap, only this time, it's a reference to "when Gianni Versace was alive." I didn't really know who he was until he got murdered; I was more into America's Most Wanted (which covered the hunt for his killer) than into fashion.
It's also super weird for Stacey to have her own cell phone. When Cokie had a phone, I could get over it; her parents are rich and she's spoiled. But in my head, BSC members should always have rotary corded phones...think of the original cover for #1....
Stacey runs into Laine while out with her dad and Samantha, and the two of them catch up. When she tells Laine about her fight with Claudia, Laine is quick to point out how much she didn't like Claudia, listing all of Claudia's flaws. Stacey says she knew how much Laine disliked Claudia (although I always remembered that as a jealousy thing). But if you know about the animosity, why say anything at all? You know Laine's not going to be nice about it.
Samantha used to be a model, and she's now a fashion photographer.
Stacey's mom makes a few choices at the end of the book. Firstly, she's reverting to her maiden name as a step of independence and separating herself from the old life she's leaving behind. Second, she's thinking of quitting her job to open her own boutique.
The BSC try to come up with names for Ms. Spencer's (that would be the former Ms. McGill) new clothing store. Kristy suggests Serious Clothing, while Claudia suggests Funky Petunia and Mary Anne votes for Amazing Grace.
Rather than trying to have all the BSC remember her new last name, Stacey's mom suggests they all just call her Maureen. I always called all my parents' friends by their first names, so that just makes sense to me.
HA! Maureen says that the BSC can't work at her store, because they're underage. Yet Mal and Jessi (who are both at the party) have gotten paychecks before. She does, however, want to sell some of Claudia's decorated clothes and jewelry, and Mal offers to learn how to put together a website--something she wanted to learn anyway--and help build the store's website when the time comes.
In the end, various BSC members decide they need to try new things as anchovies.
So what exactly is Stacey's problem? Most of the story, like several other Stacey plots, isn't really about Stacey, but about how she's affected by her parents. The problem here really belongs to Maureen, who feels stuck by a (probably) dead end job and is still mourning the loss of her marriage (ten years later or six months later, depending on how you look at it.) Stacey's problem is actually that she's waaaaay too worried about her mother--who is the adult in the situation. She did the same thing back in #58, when she almost ruined her dad's celebration because her mom was ill. However, this is a nice thing on many levels, because since Stacey and Mom only have each other most of the time, it's good for them to be so close. Also, it's good to see how far her parents have come since #58, when they were sticking Stacey in the middle on a regular basis.
Samantha: cream-colored suit; black pants, white t-shirt
Stacey: flare-legged khakis, short-sleeved ribbed tee with one horizonal stripe, platflorm slides (ugh), butterfly clips; khakis, sandals, green sweater
Ms. McGill: shimmery blue dress

"And that's how I ended up with my own Secret Service agent." BSC Friends Forever #9: Kristy and the Kidnapper (2000)

I think every series has at least one of these. It's either the book that is so bad that you never finish it, or the one that it so ludicrous that you finish it and then go, "Why did I just waste my time?" (That was me with the entire Twilight series.)
Kristy, along with several other SMS students, goes to Washington D.C. to be part of a nation-wide debating contest. (Apparently, since this contest is mostly for fun and includes different ability levels, you can throw a team together at the last damn second and not have to go through any preliminaries to get there.) She's assigned to a three-person beginning team, and one of her teammates is David Hawthorne--better remembered by BSC fans as Terry Hoyt from M#10. David is Terry's given name, and now that his dad isn't tracking down counterfeiters any more, he's allowed to go places and join afterschool activities. Kristy recognizes David as Terry, but David puts her off.
Later, he admits to being Terry after Kristy witnesses someone attempting to kidnap him. Kristy's screams bring the hotel security guards, who rescue David but don't catch the abductor. Kristy agrees to keep a small part of the attempt secret from the police, while David tells his father, a Secret Service agent, everything. The two of them wind up with their own personal SS agents for the duration of the event.
The kidnaper comes back during the finals of the events, and Kristy recognizes him. Mr. Hawthorne tackles him and he's taken into custody. And Kristy gets to go to the White House!
In the B-plot, Abby and Kristy are super-competitive with each other as lead up to their two teams meeting in the finals of the debate contest.
Interesting Tidbits
I am not surprised in the slightest that Kristy and Abby enjoy debating. Not at all. I am just a little surprised that the ghostwriter (word!) felt the need to explain why 13-year-old boys think that the word 'rebuttal' is funny, though. And now all I can think of is Homer Simpson's rebuttal that brief moment he was on the debate team in high school.
Wait...there's something very wrong with this sentence: "She just folded them carefully and added them to the pile in my suitcase." That wouldn't be a problem if she were Mary Anne (neat and tidy) or Claudia or Stacey (fashion fiends), but we're talking about Abby here. The same Abby who packed for Hawaii morning of by throwing a bunch of shit in a suitcase.
Kristy has an inflatable chair.
OOH, Kristy and Abby are hanging out with Melissa from the Philadelphia field trip back in #97. (I think?)
The three girls are sharing a room, which has two double beds and a twin. When I was in college and would pay for my own events--unlike these middle schoolers--that space would have had at least five people in it. Probably more, because there would be room for someone to sleep on the floor in the gap between each bed. (Made a $200 a night room much more affordable.)
Melissa actually sneaks out of her hotel room again--think she would have learned her lesson on that last time--but this time, to meet a boy. And in my head, they are doing all sorts of naughty things together.
Kristy's other teammate is named Kai.
Kristy wonders if Mr. Hawthorne could possibly be a Secret Service agent like David said, stating that he's so normal looking. Well, what is a Secret Service agent supposed to look like? Have a tattoo that says, "I'm working undercover!"? Be green? Have shifty eyes or something?
Umm...I realize that the SMS chaperones have ten kids to supervise between two of them. But Kristy was just the only eye witness to an attempted kidnapping, and Mrs. Simon seems more concerned about getting back to supervise the dance than making sure Kristy is okay. She leaves Kristy with Mr. Hawthorne--whom she does not know is Secret Service--and doesn't really seem concerned. Nice.
"Who was I to question their outfits?" Normally I'd agree with Kristy on this one, but she's talking about the SS agents following her and David, whom she thinks stick out because of their attire. She's probably partly right (if 99% of the people at the hotel are casually dressed, they might be pretty obvious in their suits) but I think she's just of that opinion because the two of them are so obvious to her...because she knows they're there and why they're there.
Apparently Kristy and her roomies are allowed to have male guests in their room until lights out. There's a logical reason for that--private practicing and preparing--but at the same time, it seems like a recipe for disaster for people like Melissa and her one-true-love that she keeps sneaking out with.
David jokes that Kristy has a big mouth--while Kai has brains and he has charm--and for some reason, she thinks it's hysterical. (Yeah, I know Kristy admits she has a big mouth, and that he was joking, but I wouldn't think that was funny if he listed that as my only 'positive.')
Heh...the attempted kidnapers name is Lance Dibdin. Try saying Dibdin five times fast.
Turns out that flighty, flirty Melissa is actually amazingly good at extemporaneous speaking--which, for those who haven't heard of it, consists of being given a statement and asked to defend it, with no prep time. Basically, you have to be able to think on your feet. She ends up making it to the finals, versus her 'sweetie', and Kristy and Abby decide to explain to her that she shouldn't throw the finals just to make the boyfriend happen. Her response: "I plan to kick butt." Heh.
When Kristy and her friends return from a trip to the Smithsonian, they learn that David gave his SS agent the slip. Lucas (Melissa's boyfriend/David's friend) is more interested in whether the agent will get punished than the fact that David is missing.
"I imagined David on a plane to Mexico, drugged and blindfolded." Hope that's a private plane, because otherwise someone is going to notice a blindfolded kid on a commercial flight.
Melissa brings Lucas to the girls' after curfew, in violation of the rules. The four of them (M, L, A and K) start playing Scrabble--and then slang/rude word Scrabble. (This is always more fun, if you've never tried it. I got some serious points the time I managed to spell bastard.) They only get to play nerd before they get (almost) caught.
Did you know that the White House is where the President lives? Wow. (Even Kristy gets sarcastic when Abby points that out. I think there's a Karen book where she goes to Washington D.C. and wants to meet the President. [There is, and it's called...Karen's President.] This sounds like a line out of that book.)
Kristy wears a fanny pack. Heh.
Why don't they invite Kai to the White House with them? He was definitely involved in all the escapades. Maybe he'd left already, but he was from New Jersey, so he it's not like he had to make a plane or had a longer trip than the SMS kids.
David takes Kristy and Abby to find "Sparky," the President's cat. At this point, Clinton was still President, but I guess they wanted to make the book more relevant after he left office by not calling the cat Socks. (Although the two cats were similar in appearance.)
Kristy wants to come back and visit her SS agent, because she'll miss him. Groooaaaaan.
So why do I hate this book so much? Well, it's not really hate. It's just that the vast majority of the FF series is grounded in reality. Everyone can relate to fighting with a friend (Claudia and Stacey), or snooping in someone's diary (Kristy) or feeling like you're fading into the background (Mary Anne.) We may not all have dads we haven't seen in six years come out of the wood work, or have had our houses burn down or wound up dating the class clown, but you can understand the human emotions behind all of those things. This just comes straight out of left field and is so ridiculous.
On a final note: several times through the book, the brother-sister debating team of Alexandra and Scott Toombs comes up. I wondered if they were real, ala the Perkinses or Cary Retlin. I found an obituary for their grandfather, so yup, they're real. (Either that or it's a huge coincidence.)
Next: #10, which is the last BSC book I haven't read!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"I could do a Dew." BSC Forever Friends #8: Mary Anne's Revenge (2000)

Mary Anne's been moody and anxious recently, and feels that her father has been overprotective ever since the fire. After Cokie makes up a vicious lie about Mary Anne, she vows revenge. When Cokie (allegedly) rigs the class superlatives so that she and her friends win everything, Mary Anne makes sure that information gets out. When she likes that taste of revenge, she gets Cary Retlin to help her complete a more complex plan.
But when MA stays at Kristy's past curfew and then mouths off to Richard, she gets grounded. She sneaks out and goes to a party Cokie is having, where she and Cary had planned their revenge. But when Cokie says something cruel to her again in front of the whole party, Mary Anne stands up for herself and tells Cokie she's mean and petty--and quite eloquently, too. Her father catches her sneaking back into the house, but Sharon makes the two of them sit down and talk about the real problem: the fire. MA has been having nightmares, and Richard hasn't been sleeping.
Interesting tidbits
Real book: Fahrenheit 451. Doesn't sound like something Mary Anne would voluntarily read....
Umm, why is Mary Anne making soccer analogies to describe Kristy? It doesn't seem right. I'm surprised she knows what a fullback is, even after watching Abby play.
After Mary Anne gets humiliated by Cokie during a yearbook meeting, she comes up with a bunch of really snappy comebacks...a couple hours later. I think many of us can relate to that feeling--especially because she's not satisfied with any of them.
Sharon-itis, the cooking edition: using sugar instead of salt, double seasoning food, forget to turn the oven off...or on.
Richard bought Mary Anne a bed, which had an antique head and footboard with a vine and leaf pattern--which sounds like something she'd love. She gripes that she might have wanted to pick out her own bed, then tells him never mind--it's not a big deal. She designed her own bedroom back in #6, and if I remember correctly, it included a bed that had white picket fence for the head and footboards.
Mary Anne keeps calling herself the Incredible Shrinking Mary Anne, which is both sad and understandable. Cokie creates a category for MA to win for the Class Best: Most Likely to Completely Disappear into the Background.
Kristy wants to go see "the ghost movie they made from that old TV series." I wonder if that's supposed to refer to something real. When MA snarks about bad movies based on television, Kristy refers to the Brady Bunch movies, which she and MA (and I) all loved. But I couldn't find a movie that fit that description from the right era.
I love Sharon in this book. Richard is being overprotective, and Sharon tries to get him to stop. Later, when Richard points out how moody Mary Anne is, Sharon points out that she's thirteen and that comes with the territory of a teenaged daughter.
Mary Anne's list of potential revenge fantasies. Obviously, she has a glue fetish:
Put glue in her locker lock
Glue her books to her locker floor
Put glue in her gym shoes
Put a rat in her pack
Put two rats in her pack
Give her a piece of laxative gum
Even she admits she'd never touch a dead rat, even if she knew where to find one.
Kristy's list of potential revenge fantasies. Some of these are long, so I summarized them:
Convince her she's won the lottery and then tell her the truth later
Drop a snail in her water at lunch
Write fake love advice letters to the paper and sign her name
Write fake love letters from Logan to her
Hide her homework
After the Class Bests are counted, twenty ballots are missing--including Mary Anne's and Abby's, and they're two of the three people counting the votes. When they tell Mr. Fiske, the yearbook advisor, Cokie is there with him. No one accuses her of anything; they simply state that the results were tampered with. Cokie's response? "I never touched those ballots!" It's the immediate response of a guilty person, as my time in loss prevention has taught me.
Cary's back up plan? Fill Cokie's information into every magazine subscription card they can find. If she retaliates against MA, she can mail them off.
And then he steals Cokie's cell phone. I'd love to know where he gets his pickpocket skills.
Mary Anne considers pointing out that Abby doesn't have a curfew, yet "she was the least likely person in the world to stay out late and do dumb things." I'm not sure that's actually accurate, though. I can picture Abby staying out late and doing a LOT of stupid stuff.
Party-related revenge list by the BSC (and Abby):
37 pizzas delivered to her house (Claudia)
Lock the bathroom doors from the inside (Stacey)
Turn off the lights at the fuse box (Abby)
Salt in the food or drinks (Claudia)
Shake up the soda (Mary Anne)
Cut off the back of her skirt (Stacey)
Joke store props (vomit, fake ants) in the food (Abby)
Weird. Mary Anne mentions The Parent Trap, Dawn's favorite movie. Stacey says, "and in the old one" referring to the Hayley Mills version. I'd completely forgotten about the Lindsey Lohan version that would have been a couple years old at this point.
At first I thought it was illogical that Sharon would continuously beat Richard at Scrabble, but she's more creative than he is and probably makes better use of her letters.
Mary Anne sneaking out of her house is HILARIOUS. She's not used to doing it and feels guilty about it, so she manipulates all this stuff--like carrying a water glass so she has an excuse to be in the kitchen--and hides behind the mop and broom in a crevice when her dad comes in while she's leaving. She also leaves her bathrobe hidden in her backyard.
The title quote is Abby's response to the suggestion that she, Kristy and MA get a drink at Cokie's party.
HA HA HA! Emily, the newspaper editor, regarding Cokie's house: "It's Martha Stewart meets wicked excess."
Sharon kicks total ass in the last couple chapters of this book. I hadn't read this one since about 2009, and I had the ending completely wrong in my head. I thought Sharon caught MA coming home, the two of them talked about the fire, and Sharon didn't tell Richard MA broke out. But instead, Sharon breaks up a fight, hushes Richard, and lays down the law. She points out that they're both trying to protect each other from things, and it needs to stop. Richard needs to stop treating Mary Anne like a little girl just because he's worried that he won't be able to save her next time. And MA needs to stop keeping secrets from her parents because she doesn't want to worry them.
I love this imagery: "I'd never start fights or leap into battle like a demon soccer warrior." I'm picturing Abby with red skin and horns, now.
Claudia: wide-legged ankle-length purple pants, black flats, purple and white striped socks, purple camisole, white crop top
Mary Anne: jeans and sweater; sweatpants and ratty shirt; jeans and favorite striped shirt
Next: The ridiculousness that is #9

"They appeared like mushrooms after the rain." BSC Friends Forever #7: Claudia Gets Her Guy (2000)

I am back from NaNoWriMo, 63.5 thousand words later in my original novel (which is now more than 2/3 done!) I'm trying to get back into a BSC groove, because there's nothing I love more at the holidays than a crazy BSC FF book.
Regarding the title: I keep trying to call it Claudia Gets Her Man. But maybe it's because Alan's only thirteen that they didn't use that title?
Oops. I just gave away the plot, didn't I? Claudia learns that Stacey and Jeremy broke up and thinks Jeremy is avoiding her. She writes a note, inviting him to the Valentine's dance, but puts it in the wrong locker. Alan gets the note and thinks it's for him, and tells Claudia he's had a thing for her for a long time. He gives her gifts, treats and flowers, proving to Claudia how sweet he can be. She agrees to give him a chance.
In the B-plot, Claudia and Erica sign up to work with immigrants, teaching them English and helping them with life skills (answering the telephone, shopping, etc.) Erica is paired with a Bosnian family, which sounds about right. Claudia's family is from Japan. It's all about the cultural differences, but falls flat on a couple of levels.
Interesting tidbits
OOOH! The book starts with Claudia babysitting for the Rodowskys. For about the second time all series, we actually get to see a sitting job! And, in a sense of continuity (although I doubt ANYONE else remembers this), the Rodowskys always leave Claudia some Ben & Jerry's ice cream to snack on. They're the family that, when the kids were all eating lunch together back in #24, gave their kids donuts and soda while most of the kids were eating fruit and drinking juice.
Interestingly, this book actually overlaps #6. Claudia is sitting for the Rodowskys during Mr. Zizmore's going away party. I'm trying to remember back 6 weeks ago, but I'm pretty sure Kristy or someone mentioned to Stacey that Claudia took a last minute sitting job during the party.
Despite the fact that Claudia and Stacey are talking again, Claudia is still mad at her and says they're not best friends currently. This is actually beginning to remind me of my college roommate...she reached out and broke up a not-speaking-to-each-other spell we'd been in for two weeks, but I was still really mad at her and avoided her presence as much as possible for several weeks more afterward.
Oh, and Claudia says there were probably friendship problems with Stacey before Jeremy ever came into their lives. If a boy can come between the two of them that easily, I'll agree with her.
Hee hee. Mary Anne starts a conversation with Claudia, "You know how I hate gossip..." and then begins to gossip with her anyway.
There's something wrong wtih Claudia describing Jeremy's hair as a 'delicious brown.' I think it's because she described his teeth as being as white as vanilla ice cream three books ago. Does she want to date him or snack on him? (Zombie Claudia!!! Fanfic, anyone? She'd only nosh on the brains of fashionable people, naturally.)
In the first two chapters, the Kishis get two phone calls for Claudia on the family line--one from Mary Anne and one from Erica. Why don't they call her on her personal phone?
Claudia decides she needs a very special outfit to see Jeremy for the first time since he broke up with Stacey--very typical Claudia. But she can't decide what to wear, so Janine actually gives her style advice. And she's right!
At lunch, the BSC aren't all sitting together this year for every meal. On the day of the kimono blouse, Kristy, MA, Claudia, Abby and Erica sit together, while Stacey sits with Rachel.
I'm a little confused about Claudia's ESL (English as a second language) volunteer gig. She's working with a Japanese family, which makes sense given her background. But...most Japanese students are taught English as a matter of course, and unlike Erica's Bosnian immigrant family, it's not like this family comes from a third-world or war-torn nation. It's still possible that a family would want to get away from Japan and come to the U.S., but it seems a little off. Especially because the family is portrayed as kind of backwards.
The title quote refers to posters for the Cupid's Arrow dance. I've never heard of mushrooms appearing after a rain, but I have heard of worms doing that.
LOTS of Claudia spelling. She tries to write a letter to Jeremy: Jermy, writting, imporetant, questiun. She tries again and comes up with Jermery, ben, wundering, freinds. Third shot: Jerymy, havent', awile, freind. Fourth: Jermie, freind. Fifth: Jaramy, arow, easyest, freinds, eether, specail, udnerstand. She types her letter in to a word processor on the computer so that she she can use the spell check. (She then decides to copy the proper spelling onto nice stationery.) This is necessary to the plot, as spell check can't figure out how to spell Jeremy's name. She leaves it off...which means that when she puts the letter in the wrong locker, Alan doesn't immediately figure out it's not for him.
Kristy does a sports commentator voice of Jeremy walking down the hall, which was annoying me as much as it annoyed Claudia until Jeremy finds a shoe that Kristy says is from the Paleolithic era and that she can smell it from all the way down the hall.
When Claudia realizes she put the letter in the wrong locker, she gets her friends to help. Kristy tries yanking on the locker (always effective.) Stacey actually comes by and tries to open it, credit-card style, with a nail file. Finally, when time runs out, Kristy says she'll ask Cary to open it, since he can open any locker.
After Claudia admits that she's going to the dance with Alan, Kristy gets mad, but the other two are more understanding. Mary Anne says that they should all give him another chance, while Stacey points out he's actually kind of cute. I sort of wish there was a cover with Alan on it--a boy we could look at and gage Alan's cuteness. (Is he in any of the graphic novels? He must be, right? I'll go look shortly. (I didn't find him.))
Alan decides to up his game with Claudia. He gets her flowers and arranges a 'gourmet' meal of Burger King and Sprite. "This was an excellent year for Sprite," he says as he pours it out like champagne.
Erica said she used to wonder whether her biological parents were movie stars or royalty, but now she knows better. I have to laugh because I watched this documentary recently. A family had three sons--the oldest was adopted and had a traumatic brain injury, the youngest was gay, and the middle transitioned into a woman after she hit adulthood. The documentary, made by the daughter, was originally supposed to be about her high school reunion, with everyone seeing her as a woman for the first time. But she and her older (adopted) brother were in the same grade in school, and the majority of the documentary turned out to be about their strained relationship. He'd sought out his birth mother and learned that she was Rebecca Welles Manning...daughter of Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.
More Claudia spelling: Jermy, avoyding, wont, chek, maldy (madly), shuld, anser, chang, Allan, diffrent, todays. She also uses hats for hates.
Stacey says, "Like boys even notice what we wear." Why do they bother, then? Anyway, Alan proves her wrong a short time later.
Claudia: tie-dyed thermal shirt and cargo pants; blouse made from Mimi's kimono, 'swirly' short black skirt; black leggings, green miniskirt, yellow sweater, platform sneakers, star earrings made of Sculpey (I had a LOT of Sculpey earrings in the mid 90s!); short hot pink 1960s dress with white trim and white heart buttons, clunky black shoes, hot pink bangles and barrettes
Alan: cargo pants, suede Converse All-Stars, red shirt
Stephanie Boxer, the girl with a crush on Alan: flouncy, lacy white dress
Next: #8

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Like you wouldn't just love to sit around discussing the area of a triangle with Wes." BSC FF #6: Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap (2000)

Aaaand the BSC enters the new millennium, with a plot full of ridiculousness.
Stacey's favorite teacher is quitting in the middle of the school year, and Stacey's planning a going away party. This drags various guys she's dated through the books back into her orbit: Pete and Sam, who both had him as a teacher; Robert, who's now good friends with Pete; and Wes the student teacher, who is interviewing for the teacher's job*. Meanwhile, both Ethan and Toby from Sea City will be in town for various reasons the same weekend as the party, AND Stacey's dealing with Jeremy related issues. She's jealous of the amount of time he's spending with Claudia. The two of them wind up breaking up partly because he has feelings for Claudia and partly because they really just don't have that much in common. And Stacey is okay with that.
*Yes, you and I both know Stacey never dated Wes. But Stacey doesn't seem to realize that.
Interesting Tidbits
I'm going to apologize in advance. I had this whole thing written and then...poof! Two thirds of it disappeared. So, since I have to reread most of the book, it will probably be shorter and less interesting than normal. Sorry.
Stacey is complimenting Samantha, and she says, "I was happy he'd found someone gorgeous and nice." Because looks definitely take priority over personality.
Stacey may be sophisticated, but not sophisticated enough to eat escargots. (Yes, she actually says eating escargots is sophisticated.)
Oh, and her first shot at a new year's resolution? To better color coordinate herself. Her second try is to be a better friend. Then she says that she's going to convince Claudia start talking to her again, because she's too proud to be the first one to talk to her. That's pretty funny in my mind.
This is weird: Stacey says she and Ethan are not old enough to drink coffee, yet Kristy was drinking mochaccinos five books ago. (These two have tea instead.)
Stacey's 'boys,' in their order of first mention: Jeremy, Ethan, Toby, Pete, Wes, Robert and Sam.
Why do I not remember that Toby and Alex are cousins? I really didn't recall that. I'm going to have to pull one of the Sea City books out and check that out.
Heh. Toby's email handle is tobythegreat. I'm really not surprised by that.
Every time Mr. Zizmore's name comes up in the book, I say it out loud and draw it out: Ziiizzzmooore. Try it; it's fun!
Jeremy seems needlessly jealous of Pete and Robert and everyone else. Yet he feels the need to defend himself for going to the mall with Claudia and Erica. (He says it was Erica's idea. Erica, who two books ago HATED the mall. Right.)
Mary Anne asks for help from Stacey and Kristy in decorating her bedroom in her new house. Both Stacey and Kristy seem shocked when they point out bedrooms they'd like to have and Mary Anne turns them down, because they're not her style. Have they not met her? (Bonus points for continuity, though: the room Stacey likes is navy and yellow and Mary Anne says she does like the colors. They're the colors she mentions liking back in #4, when she wants to redecorate her pink bedroom.)
The title quote is what Kristy says when she discovers Wes is applying for Mr. Ziiiiizzzzzzmoooooooore's teaching job. This is my new favorite sexual euphemism.
(Speaking of Wes, when he first mentions that he's applying for the job, Stacey's thrilled. Pete later mentions that he didn't think Wes was that good of a teacher. I can't decide if this is accurate about his teaching and Stacey was blind to it because of her crush, but I do remember Wes being a hot mess altogether.)
Ahh, Mary Anne. She says she likes being single because it means not having to think about what Logan wants or what he'd say about her plans or her outfit or whatever. Kristy says that sounds selfish. Stacey says (my paraphrase) that Mary Anne is such a doormat most of the time that she deserves to put herself first sometimes. MA seems shocked when Kristy and Stacey tell her she's one of the nicest people they know.
MA also says she feels like she's changing, after Kristy says that people don't really change. I know I've said it before, but I love the character development in Mary Anne in the FF series. Hell, in a couple of books, she's going to be getting grounded and sneaking out, rebelling against everything that's happened to her. She grows a spine and a voice, too.
Stoneybrook's Chinese takeout is called Wok 'N' Roll. Why am I not surprised by this?
I'm going to sum up a few thoughts I had about Stacey while reading this the first time. I'm routinely mean to her, and I know it. Stacey is probably my least favorite babysitter, probably for the same reason she was a lot of people's favorite sitter once upon a time. I didn't 'get' her sophistication or her boy-craziness. I used to want to be able to speak my mind, like Kristy, be creative, like Claudia, be an 'individual' like Dawn, and have a boyfriend, like Mary Anne. I never wanted to be Stacey. But I need to be fair about her, and to her. She actually attempts to keep her resolution, speaking to Claudia--even though Claudia is still mad at her--several times during the book. She actually acknowledges some of the flaws I perceive in her, even if nothing changes. (Like saying she knows she can be a snob in #2. She's actually very nice to Mary Anne in this book and compliments her bedroom pick, even if Stacey would never want a garden mural and a picket fence for a headboard. She says it's sweet, and that does NOT come across as condescending.) Yet, I will be a little mean to her. Blogging is not fun if you can't snark about the characters....
Speaking of, Stacey wonders if it's normal to have this many ex-boyfriends when you're thirteen. It is when you've been thirteen for a dozen years!
Brief mention of Stacey babysitting for the Hills. I'd almost forgotten about them!
How is it that most of Stacey's exes are not over her/keep raving about her/all want her time at the same time? 
By the way, the back mentions five exes. With Wes, we're at six. (Again, not an ex, but Stacey keeps treating him like one.)
Aww, Claudia and Stacey make up. Smiley face.
I do want to say, I like that they're playing up the differences between Claudia and Stacey, and letting them have friends outside of the BSC. (Last time Stacey tried that, she ended up quitting the club, remember?) I just realized that all of Stacey's boyfriends have either been her age (Robert, Pete, Jeremy) or older (Ethan, Toby and Sam are all in high school. And let's not mention Wes ever again. Except one more time at the end) while Claudia's one long-term boyfriend up to now was younger and maybe gay. (Okay, I forgot Mark. He was 13, but in a lower grade. And I didn't like him, so he doesn't count.) It's nice for Stacey to be able to hang with Rachel, whose urban and 'sophisticated' like she is, while Claudia can hang out with Erica, who's artsy and creative like she is.
Finally, I'm starting to see what Claudia and company didn't like about Rachel when she was younger. Now that Stacey is friends with Claudia again, Rachel keeps trying to put doubt into her head about what Jeremy's relationship is with Claudia. I could see Kristy and Claudia hating someone for virtually no reason, but Mary Anne? Not so much. Rachel's reputation must have been earned.
Pete says he can't talk in public. Wait, what? He's eighth grade president and gave speeches for that. He also emceed awards night in M#4, among other things. It's just an excuse for Stacey to give the speech for Mr. Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzmmoooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.
Wacky hijinks ensue when both Toby and Ethan have to hang out with Stacey during the same time she's supposed to be helping decorate for the surprise party. Stacey asks her mother to chat with them for a minute while she gets ready. Stacey's mom: "I don't think they'll be thrilled to hang out with me." Stacey: "Sure they will. You can be very entertaining." My mind when really dirty right then.
So Stacey and Jeremy break up, and she says she's going to make an effort to not have her life revolve around boys. Yet she gets all excited at the thought of hanging out with Ethan more and knowledge that Wes got Mr. Z's teaching job, so that seems to be working out pretty poorly for her.
Stacey: black velvet overalls, long sleeved white shirt, headband with peace signs, ankle high boots; blue sweater and jeans
Next: I'm taking a break for NaNoWriMo (my first shot--not sure how well I'll do) but I'll be back in December with #7