Thursday, May 22, 2014

“No, she’s not. She’s being a jerk.” BSC Super Special #5: California Girls! (1990)

It’s been an interesting week for me. My car blew up (again) and now, both of my pairs of glasses are missing an arm. Only me…. But I am here for your weekly dose of BSC-goodness anyway, despite the fact that I can only see about two inches in front of my face. Forgive any mistyping, okay?
In this lovely number, the BSC buys lottery tickets and actually wins ten thousand dollars. They take the money and buy tickets to visit Dawn’s dad in California, where they each have their own adventure.
Dawn: hates her dad’s girlfriend, Carol, because she thinks she tries too hard to be cool. Yet she starts to respect her when she actually lays down the law at one point.
Kristy: is jealous of the We Heart Kids club and feels all competitive. Discovers she’s not the only one who knows something about sitting after she takes a sitting job for the DeWitt kids.
Mary Anne: gets close to Stephie, who is like a mini-MA, with no mom and a strict dad. Deals with Stephie’s asthma.
Claudia: meets a smart guy and pretends to be smart so he’ll like her. Eventually takes Dawn (and Janine)’s advice and finds he likes her for her.
Stacey: goes surfing and makes friends with a bunch of older teens. Gets into a car accident with them.
Jessi: goes to visit Derek (remember him?) at the set of P.S. 162 and gets to be an extra. Fights with Mal.
Mallory: is an idiot. Decides to be a ‘California girl’, which apparently means being blonde and wearing, as Jessi puts it, 75 pounds of makeup.
Interesting Tidbits
So, the cover. Just a few comments. First, Stacey’s swim top is awfully tiny. What’s holding it up? The girls are all really flat chested here. (Heh…) Second, I love the fact that someone read the books (at least a few of them) before giving cover art direction. Mary Anne’s actually wearing a caftan and putting on sunscreen.

Who believes that Claudia’s sensible parents, who won’t let her read Nancy Drew or eat junk food, would really let her buy lottery tickets? Nobody? Okay, moving on.
A ten p.m. news broadcast in Connecticut? I grew up in the Midwest where the news was on at ten, so I used to never get “film at eleven” jokes. But I’ve spent enough time in Rhode Island to know that most local news airs at eleven in the Eastern time zone.
Someone needs to teach the BSC that lottery winnings are taxed. You’d think math-whiz Stacey would know that.
Actually, what would have been really funny here is if Sharon, who bought the tickets for the BSC, refused to give them the money. Technically, since it’s illegal for kids to buy tickets, those winnings are hers.
Dawn describes Kristy as average-looking. I know we all can’t be “drop-dead gorgeous” but that seems like a mean way to describe your friend.
Jessi actually addresses a postcard to Becca and Squirt. I get not leaving him out, but he’s more likely to eat a postcard than read it.
Good to know it’s not just cafeteria food Kristy makes fun of. She’s also trying to place the smell of airplanes.
The movie on their flight to CA (remember those days when there was one screen in the front of the compartment and everyone watched together?) is Vertigo, which leads to this: Mallory: “Who’s Alfred Hitchcock?” Claudia: “Who’s Vertigo?”
And of course, in any ‘group flight’ scene, there’s always one person who’s not a good flier. I don’t remember Mary Anne having a problem with flying before, but I can accept it because she’s basically just gripping the seat’s arms and reminding everyone to buckle up.
Claudia apparently really loves spaghetti. That’s not something I ever remember coming up in any other story.
This actually cracked me up: Claudia and Stacey are on one side of the plane while the other five girls are in the middle, and they keep shouting back and forth. Jessi notes how much the other passengers must have loved them. (Yet of course, she doesn’t tell the others to stop.)
Shocking. I thought everyone in AMM’s universe had to be I Love Lucy fanatics and know the entire ILL catalog, but Jessi’s not familiar with the time Lucy went to Hollywood. (Neither, to be honest, am I.)
I don’t know why, but I crack up every time they talk about Stephie and her ‘inhalator.’ Maybe because asthma is one thing I actually understand (my mom’s had it my whole life and I’ve had it my whole adult life). My asthma’s similar to Abby’s, with the crazy-long list of allergies to go with it.
Heh. Dawn sends a postcard to her mom and says even though she’s glad to be back in California, she’ll definitely come back to CT. We all know how that works out.
Dawn keeps pointing out how Carol’s too young for her dad, but too old for so many other things she does, like driving a convertible, suggesting Claudia flirt with boys, and advocating surfing. (This is obviously before Dawn started surfing herself.) I feel so ancient when I realize that I’m older than Carol…
Claudia chapter, so guess what! We have a postcard, complete with awesome misspellings. Allready, yesteday, whent, realy, skylites. She also asks, because it wouldn’t be a Claudia postcard without this one, “Who are you?” Oh, and spells Bradford wrong. Y’know. The street she’s lived on for her whole life?
Jeff’s a big fan of the Grateful Dead, which cracks me up, especially because Claudia’s never heard of them.
They keep referring to Stephie’s nannie rather than nanny.
Mallory writes a postcard addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Pike. I knew there was a book where her dad was named Daniel! (She also refers to her ‘darling brothers and sisters.’)
Oh, Mal. She tells Carol that going to the Max Factor museum was “dibbly fresh.” (Later, Kristy refers to a pillow fight the same way. They were really trying to make these terms popular, weren’t they?)
How much money did Mallory spend on makeup? I’m not even going to try to do the math. Mal might be goofy and feel like an ugly duckling, and I could see her buying some concealer or a little mascara and lipstick to wear when her parents aren’t around (or put on at school, a la Stephanie Kaye on Degrassi) but she apparently dropped a couple hundred on makeup. I can buy the expense, though, because she went to a makeup counter in a department store. She could have bought the same kinds of products for half as much at Walgreens.
Heh. Becca has better spelling than Claudia does.
Stacey wipes out while surfing and all she can think about is whether her bikini top has fallen off.
Bart sends Kristy a postcard, telling her to let all the cute girls know he’s available. Then he signs the postcard ‘love ya.’ He’s really a prince among men.
Jessi is spelled Jessie at one point.
I’m amused when Dawn tells Carol that everything is ducky, even though this is long before Ducky shows up. (Also, this was right after a reference to Jeff being an Islanders fan, and I had to go and find out whether the Anaheim Ducks existed yet at this point [they didn’t.])
More Claudia spelling! Studos, specal, whith. And she once again wants to know who Janine is. At least she spells her street name correctly this time.
Mary Anne actually corrects Jessi’s grammar. A) That’s not nice and B) I don’t think most thirteen year olds would notice the error or mind if their friend said positive instead of positively.
Because various elements for this book are not clichéd enough, Claudia orders escargots at the French restaurant.
Vanessa actually writes Mal a postcard to send her a poem. It’s about as bad as you’d imagine, but Mal actually likes it.
The title quote is Kristy’s response to Mal moping around after being told her looks weren’t right.
During a visit to Universal Studios, King Kong pops up right outside the tram the BSC is in, and Mary Anne swears he had banana breath. (I went there myself about four months after this book came out, but I can’t remember enough to verify or deny that claim.)
Haha! For a bunch of girls who like I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver, it’s kinda odd that they’re not familiar with McHale’s Navy.
Okay, I take back what I said a couple weeks ago. The nicest handwriting in the series belongs to Janine.
Jessi addresses a postcard to Mom, Dad and Aunt Cecelia. Normally, she refers to her parents as Mama and Daddy.
How many postcards could Mal have sent Ben when they’ve been gone for a little over a week?
Heh. When Mal dyes her hair back, the whole BSC goes with her to a drugstore to help her find the right shade. They ask a clerk where the dye is and she eyes them all suspiciously, which is the correct assessment on her part.
You know how I feel about Dawn most of the time, but I like that she actually comes around to respecting Carol. As soon as Carol stops trying to be hip and cool and acts like an adult, Dawn automatically respects her. She even tells her dad she’d be okay if he married Carol. We all know it doesn’t last, but it’s a cool little moment.
I really hate how Mal and Jessi are portrayed as so much younger and less mature than the older girls. Heck, in the next SS, Jessi’s the one getting a romance and a kiss. But in this one, they’re all perplexed when Claudia’s floating after a date.
I’m far too amused by the return of ‘blowing cookies.’ We always said blowing chunks growing up. Cookies is funnier. (Made funnier still by the fact that Dawn references it “as Mal’s brother Adam would say.”)
Medieval Times! My school started taking sixth graders there the year my sister was in sixth grade, two years after I went through. (They’ve been doing ancient history as the social studies topic there since the seventies or something.) So I’d never been there until I worked at my old middle school for a semester with the sixth graders.
Dawn writes a postcard to her dad on the plane trip back to Stoneybrook and actually tells him that Stacey’s afraid Claudia’s going to barf up her peanuts.
Stephie, like many of the boys in this series (and Karen), writes in all caps.
One last Claudia spelling! She writes a letter to Terry that includes the following: pormised, photoe, artwrok, workig, sclupture (that’s a favorite of hers), seagul, moveis, realy. Also she uses write for right and lick for like. If she was still trying to make Terry think she was a genius, this would probably cure him right (write?) away.
And, foreshadowing the next SS, Dawn says they need to buy lotto tickets again so they can go visit Stacey’s dad.
Claudia: red shirt with Mexican hats and cacti on it, blue striped pants, polka-dot suspenders, blue striped engineer’s cap, cowboy boot earrings (I have a vision of this now burned into my brain. I’m going to need a lobotomy to remove it. Anyone game?); pink Laura Ashley dress, pink flats
Stacey: wide-legged cropped pants, Hard Rock Café t-shirt, high tops (How is this in any way sophisticated?)
New characters:
Paul, Carter, Rosemary, Alana and Beau (Stacey’s surfing friends)
Terry (Claudia’s luv interest)
Stephie Robertson (8)—33
Erick and Ryan DeWitt (8 and 6)—33 and 31
Next week: Its a mistery!* #40 Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

(*yes, I did that on purpose! It’s not the glasses—one pair of which is now charmingly fixed with electrical tape.)


  1. Haha, Claudia's letter to Terry! So much for making him think she's a genius.

  2. I thought Mallory looked really nice on the cover.