Wednesday, April 8, 2015

“Excuse me, this is an emergency high-tech consultation about the, um, flux capacitator.” BSC #60: Mary Anne’s Makeover (1993)

Ah, the BSC at its bitchy best.
Mary Anne sees a short haircut in a magazine that she thinks would look good on her. Her friends all pooh-pooh the idea of her changing her look, but Mary Anne decides to go for it anyway. The BSC members start being cold to her, so she distances herself from them and makes friends with a different crowd. They start a bunch of rumors that the BSC (and Logan) believe, making things worse. Mary Anne eventually makes up with the Dawn, from whom most of the BSC seemed to be taking their cues, and starts going to meetings again.
Meanwhile, Carolyn Arnold builds a ‘time machine’ that she seems to think is actually real. Marilyn teases her about it, but she takes money from various kids with promises of actual time travel until Mary Anne sets her straight.
Interesting Tidbits
Cover-time!: Mary Anne’s outfit should never come back into fashion. (Too bad it already pretty much has.) We’re also getting awesome bitch face from Dawn, Kristy and Claudia.

I think one day I’m going to go back through the BSC covers and see how many of the characters wear their watches on their right hand like Mary Anne does here. That’s typical of left handed people.
Ha! “[M]y kitten (who’s named Tigger and is furry and gray), my boyfriend (who’s named Logan Bruno and is not furry and gray)…”
Sharon-itis: gloves in the freezer, keys in the soap dish; salad tongs in the linen closet
Richard, on the other hand, actually brings a calculator to restaurants to make sure that his bill is correctly computed.
Mary Anne complains that she’s not allowed to have her ears pierced, yet several times she’s said she doesn’t want her ears pierced.
Carolyn’s spelling is tres Claudia: “Dangeris! Radiacotiv Plutonum Cristals”
Meeting fun: Kristy is teaching Jessi the proper ‘technique’ for catching Milk Duds in her mouth.
“That kid in Home Alone.” Gotta love dated McCauley Culkin references.
The jaw that launched a thousand ships. That’s how MA describes her jawline when she pulls her hair on top of her head while contemplating chopping it off. Oh, and Richard calls her haircut ‘spiffy.’
Given a choice of what she would do if she could travel back in time, Carolyn would babysit for her own parents. Marilyn would prevent Mozart from writing symphonies. Jessi would want to go back and see some ballet dancer.
More Carolyn spelling (she capitalized everything but I gave up after the title): Top Secret Chek List for Time Machin: flux capasitattor, warp consol, the hands from a brokened clock, unpluged telephone, old blankit, dish towl, some toylet paper, one curtain rod
I love when Richard and Mary Anne have one-on-one time. He’s not really a huggy-type dad, but he obviously does enjoy her company. He mentions during his and MA’s shopping spree that it’s hard to see her grow up, and calls himself an old grump.
Dawn says ‘ew’ to lobster in oyster sauce—yet she routinely eats fish and sometimes, even chicken.
The Schafer/Spier household eats Chinese food with chopsticks…everyone except Richard.
When Dawn hears about all the clothes Mary Anne got, she gets a hurt, tense look on her face. I’m trying to figure out if it’s jealousy that fuels her total bitch fest throughout the rest of the book.
Ha ha ha! Apparently, Sharon’s issues are catching. Dawn took the toothpaste into her bedroom with her when she went to bed at night.
Mary Anne messes with Logan’s head: He loves her new look, and she asks what was wrong with her old look, and suggests he thought she was ugly before. She lets him dangle and get all flustered for a while.
Ugh. Who needs enemies when you have friends like the BSC? I’m trying to figure them out. I get them not being shocked when they run into MA, because Dawn already told all of them she cut her hair off. But when everyone else is telling MA she looks great, why the hell are they telling her things like “We told you that look wasn’t for you” and “At least it will grow out” and sounding like she’s done something wrong and they’re pitying her.
Claudia spelling. She’s sitting for the twines again, btw. Lovly, Baithoven (that’s after she tried to spell Mozart three times), Sceintist (second try), loked, evning, confusd, buzness, brane, litle, livlier. She also uses whether for weather; principals for principles, lessen for lesson and pleas for please. Also, she spells Stacey wrong again.
Marilyn keeps teasing Carolyn. Carolyn’s time machine is in the basement, and she won’t let anyone come down to see it. Marilyn keeps suggesting that she and Claudia (and later, Stacey, Matt and Haley) go downstairs, which sets Carolyn off. At one point, this exchange happens:
            Carolyn: Don’t let them come downstairs!
            Marilyn: What? Let them come downstairs? Okay!
This is followed by Carolyn shrieking and Marilyn giggling. Later, she, Matt and Haley go spying on Carolyn through basement windows.
This is pretty good, too:
            Carolyn: Eureka!
            Claudia: Eureka?
            Haley: You need a vacuum cleaner?
Ah, Sabrina Bouvier. You know that someone, somewhere in the BSC-verse, knew and hated a girl with that name. Knowing that Cary Retlin and the Perkins girls are real people, it’s quite possible. I wonder how many of the other BSC characters are named after real people as well. (One of the early books is dedicated to the ‘real’ Margo and Claire, so I’ve always wondered if the rest of the Pikes were named after someone.)
A Separate Peace. I’ve always loved that book, but I never felt like I completely understood it.
The BSC may be being bitches, but Mary Anne isn’t handling things very well either. Instead of confronting her friends about stuff—which, admittedly is so not her style—she just starts skipping BSC meeting and avoiding activities by hanging out with Logan. This just fuels their idea that she thinks she’s too good for the BSC anymore.
Mary Anne muses about their ‘chicken Kiev’ lunch and where that name comes from. She figures that ‘unidentified leftover gristle with lumpy brown sauce’ is more accurate but means no one would eat it. See, we don’t need Kristy at a meal to be disgusted by the food, especially when she says it tastes like burnt flour and rubber bands.
The rumors about Mary Anne are so flippin’ stupid, but they’re so pervasive that everyone—including the BSC and Logan—believes them. Normally, Mary Anne’s clique would have her back and, with a crew standing tall against the stories, enough people would stop believing them and they’d go away.
Do you think it means something that Mary Anne dreamed that Kristy and Dawn were the evil king and queen? I don’t know enough dream theory to comment on that.
Logan wanted to go hang out at ‘the high school playground’ to check out Carlos, the guy Mary Anne was supposedly going to a dance with. What kind of high school has a playground?
Is it wrong that I love when Mary Anne and Dawn fight? I like it so much better than when they’re loving on each other and calling each other Sis. Mary Anne is one of those people who’s all meek until you push her buttons and then BAM! She’s ready to attack. MA tries to talk to Dawn, who is snide and surly. When Dawn mentions MA’s ‘boy haircut’ and ‘clown makeup,’ MA tells her to go choke on an alfalfa sprout.
Dawn says she wasn’t jealous of MA’s makeover, but just felt left out. I’ll buy that she’d have loved to come along, but you can’t tell me she’s not a little jealous. MA got a shopping spree and makeup…and she got to spend time with her dad, which is something that Dawn doesn’t get very often at this point.
It takes until chapter 13 for Mary Anne to point out that Mal and Jessi were just innocent bystanders in everything. Jessi had a sitting job for the Arnolds in chapter 4, and other than that, she’s only done the Milk Dud thing. And I’m not sure Mal has said a single word. I can’t find one.
Marilyn really is cracking me up here. When Carolyn finally unveils her time machine, she keeps giving away secrets like the sound effects are a tape Carolyn bought. Then she prepares to take the first time trip and makes Carolyn promise to get her home by dinner and asks if she needs anything special, like money or warm clothes.
I knew there was a book where Pete and Dawn went to a dance together! At various points through the series, he takes Claudia and Dawn to dances, dates Stacey and asks Mary Anne out.
Why the hell would Kristy wear heels?
MA, Dawn and Logan bring up the time machine at the January Jamboree. Pete wishes the time machine were real…so that he could go back and watch Super Bowl III. As Dawn says, bo-ring! Logan would go back to the day he first met Mary Anne (barf!) while Dawn wants to go back to when Sharon and Richard were in middle school and went to dances. It doesn’t say what MA would do, but I imagine she’d want to get to know her mother.
Mary Anne: teal stirrup pants (NO, MARY ANNE, NO!), pink turtleneck, snowflake print ski sweater; red, off the shoulder crepe dress with shirred sleeves, fitted bodice and flared skirt (I have never been able to picture exactly what this looks like. Maybe if I googled all those terms separately…), indigo cable sweater; floral paisley Lycra leggings and French terry top
Dawn: black dress with a sheer bodice (I hope the whole bodice wasn’t sheer…that’s a little too risqué for these books)
Kristy: dress and heels
Claudia: “flashy colored” lamé outfit (NO CLAUDIA, NO!)

Stacey: slinky evening gown


  1. Home Alone wasn't so dated a reference when this book came out. HA came out in 1990 and this book was 1993. Perfectly reasonable for them to have seen it in the theatre/rented it on video. Somewhat more dated are the refs. to Back to the Future, which came out eight years before this book. I doubt that five years olds saw that in the theatre, though Kristy did just rent it in the previous book (and Karen, DM, Andrew, and Emily all watch that, plus Uncle Buck, with her and Bart.) And at least it's not Ann's usual go-to of 20 to 30 years out-of-date refs.

    In which book(s) does Pete date Claudia? Everyone always mentions he does but I don't remember that at all.

  2. My theory about the pitying comments Mary Anne gets from the rest of the BSC is that Dawn told them all about the haircut AND that it looked bad, so they thought Mary Anne was upset about it. Then when they tried to comfort her awkwardly ("It'll grow out") and she reacted differently than they expected, they got mad at her.

    Summary: It's all Dawn's fault.