Monday, May 18, 2015

“No boy should have to live in a house full of girls. Pure torture.” BSC #79: Mary Anne Breaks the Rules (1994)

Otherwise known as Mary Anne Gets in Trouble Because She’s Too Wussy to Question Someone’s Parenting
Oh bloody hell, this book pissed me off the first time I read it. Not because Mary Anne was being a wuss (Mary Anne is, as much as I love her, usually a wuss) but because after she gets caught, she doesn’t even straighten things out with Ms. Kuhn. She just hangs her head and leaves, which makes her look guilty. Jake Kuhn’s been unhappy ever since his dad moved away, especially now that his friend Buddy gets to have both a dad AND a stepdad. Mary Anne decides Jake needs some guy time in the form of Logan, who comes over to play soccer with him. Unfortunately, Ms. Kuhn comes home and sees Logan there and assumes he was there to ‘sex Mary Anne up.’ (Sorry, I saw it on a TV show once and it just popped into my head.) Mary Anne didn’t want to appear to be questioning Ms. Kuhn’s ability to parent her own children, so she hadn’t told her she was inviting Logan over. When Jake tells his mom the truth, she’s touched that MA and Logan were so helpful to Jake and decides to invite Logan to openly spend time with Jake.
Meanwhile, it’s time to see Halloween in Stoneybrook (since we already saw it in Palo City.) Various kids want to set up a haunted house, but argue about how to do it, so they set up competing ones, one scary, one funny.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover: Poor Jake. He’s concentrating soooo hard on the ball and he looks so uncoordinated. They only sporadically mention that Jake’s chubby, which is actually kind of nice. It’s a lot better than poor Norman gets—they can’t bring him up without mentioning he’s overweight. (They should have mentioned Jake had a terrible haircut, though.)

Oh, and what’s Logan doing with his hands? It’s soccer and I don’t see a goal behind him.
I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I’ve never dreamed I was kissing someone and then kissed my cat instead. It’s lucky Mary Anne’s romantic dreams stop at the kissing…
Heh. Mary Anne thinks the day is perfect because no one was mad at her and she’s all caught up in her work. She’s got low standards, huh? What actually made me laugh was when she said that ‘the trees had not sprouted dollar bills.’
Then she likens her father’s romance with Sharon to Beauty and the Beast, which is even funnier.
Richard and Mary Anne are teasing each other at breakfast. He insists the chickens who laid the eggs in his omelet were raised in total darkness, which is why his omelet was pure white. (It’s really an egg white omelet, which he’s eating to reduce cholesterol. When Richard asks Mary Anne if she wants some, she replies, “Cholesterol? No, thanks.”)
Sharon-itis: finds her sunglasses in the oatmeal.
Logan + Peter Lerangis ghostwriting = always awesome. First Logan charges Mary Anne ‘like a bull’; then when Stacey asks him where he gets his energy, he unbuttons his shirt and says, “Rechargeable batteries. Want to see?” Then a moment later, he starts copying Jessi’s way of running. It’s Jessi for the win, though, as she spends the whole rest of the chapter (and probably, the book) trying to convince him to join ballet.
During the first meeting of the book, Mal says coffee is gross (I have a feeling she’ll change her mind about that sometime down the road.) Jessi responds by pointing out that coffee ice cream is okay. I wonder if they’ve ever had coffee milk? It’s big in Rhode Island.
Shannon wants to take sackbut lessons. I actually knew what a sackbut was thanks to a game of Balderdash.
A good idea: Jamie wants to go trick-or-treating dressed as a shopping bag…so that people will put candy straight into his mouth.
“Try me, Jake. I’m not as dumb as I look.” Mary Anne considers this an ‘oops,’ but it calms Jake enough to express how he’s feeling.
HA! The Kuhn girls are making their own paper dolls, drawing and cutting out clothes for it. Originally they were making Kristy-esque outfits: baseball uniforms, jeans and sweatshirts, but the chapter ends with Patsy making a bra.
Logan’s teasing MA again, so she smacks him with her menu. The waitress at Pizza Express jokingly tells her off, but then threatens to put anchovies on Logan’s half of the pizza.
The title quote is Logan’s take on Jake.
Mmm, pig carcass and carcinogens.
Ahh. Matt and Nicky get into a small fight because Nicky suggests that he’s Captain Hook and Matt is Mr. Smee. Matt disagrees because he’s not fat enough to be Smee.
Cheesy Halloween puns. It’s five-year-old Patsy, so I’ll forgive her.
Mary Anne asks Jake to help his sisters with something he doesn’t want to do: “He looked at me as if I’d just offered him turnip soup.” I bet turnip soup is actually really good.
Ha! First Jake’s singing a song that has Mary Anne’s name in it, then he beans her with his soccer ball. Possible crush?
Here’s a good question: how does Ms. Kuhn (they call her Mrs. Kuhn in the book, but whatever) know that Logan is Mary Anne’s boyfriend? Is she up on BSC gossip? Maybe she’s read the books.
Oh, and you know how I pointed out that MA didn’t even explain herself to Ms. Kuhn when she had the chance? Neither does Logan; he just bolts. Kristy’s so mad about both of them that MA thinks she’s lost her as a friend.
There is a joint entry between Mallory and Stacey that’s too cheesy even for me. (I am lactose intolerant, you know.)
I haven’t done this one in a while: Mary Anne refers to the triplets as Adam, Jordan and Byron, in that order. Usually, it seems to be ABJ (alphabetically) or BAJ.
Triplet logic: They don’t want to get involved in the haunted house because if they do, they won’t be able to trick-or-treat.
Continuity: Haley dresses up as Madame Leveaux for the haunted house.
Claudia: “I’m not so good with my ramifications table.” I’m not sure if she’s kidding or not.
Alan’s being all kinds of annoying, but I don’t blame him. He did something stupid to Kristy at the beginning of the book, scaring her. Kristy pummels the shit out him…and only he gets in trouble. That’s so not right.
Claudia gets a phone call from the Legume of the Month club. Yum?
Oh look, Mr. Ohdner!
Mary Anne asks “Tiggy” to answer the door bell. It’s about as effective as when I ask my cats to clean their litter boxes.
The A plot is solved by the end of chapter 11, so why does the book go on for four more chapters?
Claudia actually manages to make Logan blush.
Isn’t it convenient that, once again, Halloween falls on a weekend? Must be nice to live in a time warp where every major holiday falls on a Friday or Saturday.
Halloween costume list: Marilyn and Carolyn: Tweedledee and Tweedledum (they argue about who is who); Nina: dragon; Eleanor: Thomas the Tank Engine (or Toss the Tankinger, as she says); Tiffany: Tinker Bell (really?); Maria: jungle fighter
Logan’s sign at Jake, Nicky and Buddy’s haunted house: Haunted House!! You’ll scream with fright—if you don’t die laughing! Only 50 cents (free if you don’t survive).
When Logan and Mary Anne go to Vanessa, Matt and Haley’s haunted house (checking out the competition), Logan keeps applauding and giving kudos. Haley gets pissy because he’s not following directions (or scared.)
Oh, but he actually does scream like a little girl…because Alan freaked him out. He says he’s there because he likes kids, but it’s still weird. (Plus he makes it sound kind of...pedophilic.) Vanessa: “I told Mallory we wanted our haunted house to be gross and disgusting, and she said, ‘Call Alan Gray; he’s an expert.’” I have a lot of issues with that. A) Wouldn’t Mal have thought of someone in her own grade? She’s always complaining about Benny Ott, for example. B) How in hell did Vanessa find Alan’s phone number?
Yikes. Just yikes.
Oh, and for the record: Did anyone here actually own any of the BSC dolls? They came out when I was far too old for them, but I remember thinking they looked kind of tacky. Plus, why would I want a Karen doll? But I’ve thought about possibly collecting them up someday.
Mary Anne: rust corduroy slacks, blue button-down shirt, white floral sweater
Stacey: double-breasted black tuxedo, satiny white tank top
Robert: navy jacket, gray pants, tie

Next: Stacey’s Book

“His room is decorated in what Jessi likes to call ‘Early American Ninja Turtle.’” BSC Mystery #17: Dawn and the Halloween Mystery (1994)

Why are the books going Claudia, Dawn, Claudia, Dawn? Luckily, for the rest of the month we have Mary Anne, then Stacey, then a super special.
Wow, this one is really dumb. Dawn witnesses a convenience store robbery, seeing the clown-masked robber and her getaway car. She and the We Heart Kids Club decide to try to track down the robber by identifying the mask. Meanwhile, Dawn has been sitting for a boy named Timmy Ford with the DeWitt boys. Timmy’s parents are separated and he’s been missing his mother, who doesn’t make enough money to support him. Mrs. Ford is actually the robber; she was trying to get money so Timmy could come back to live with her. Dawn catches her digging up the money and turns her in.
Back in Stoneybrook, the Barrett-DeWitt family has found a house a couple towns over that has enough bedrooms to hold their whole family. Unfortunately, the kids are unhappy about moving, so they find a much smaller house in Stoneybrook and decide to renovate it.
Interesting tidbits
Dawn thinks Carol is cooler than she (Dawn) is. Of course, she says that in a kind of insulting way, as if adults aren’t supposed to be cool. Part of the reason she’s cool (which seems to be Dawn’s only adjective in chapter one) is that she watches MTV music videos. There’s a dated reference.
I think this is around the time that the BSC books started appearing in the same month that the story takes place. For example, there were several summer books (#76, #77, mystery #16), then school is back in session in #78. This one takes place in October, of course.
I’ve always hated reading books that have mistakes in the way they were put together. You know when you get a book and there’s a fold in the paper so it sticks out of the bottom of the book? This one has two pages at the beginning of chapter two that are shorter than the rest of the pages. My sense of OCD is making it really hard to concentrate on these pages.
Claudia should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘Most Chee-toes Consumed.’ Hilarious.
Winona Ryder gave Maggie a guacamole recipe. Somehow, I’ve never thought of most celebrities as doing much cooking (and definitely not sharing recipes with the kids of their producers).
Dawn thinks adults shouldn’t sing along with the radio. She’s obviously never met my mother, whom I’m pretty sure is an adult.
“A mixture of cologne, Band-aids, jelly beans, and suntan lotion.” I guess I never noticed that drug stores have a distinctive smell.
Dawn only got a brief look at the robber, but it was enough to identify her shoes.
Richard drives a Chevy Cavalier….same as the robber.
I love that the town thinks of ‘cancelling’ Halloween…simply because a convenience store got robbed. What do they think happens in high-crime areas? My neighborhood has its share of crime and we still have trick-or-treating. Those who don’t want their kids out alone either escort them or take them trunk-or-treating in the mall parking lot. You can’t cancel a holiday. Imagine if they tried to cancel Christmas or something.
Maggie recalls a Halloween when she had chicken pox and couldn’t go out with her friends. That happened to Tessie one year, and she still talks about it. Although most of that actually had to do with the fact that she was still sick on her birthday a few days later and had to sit out her birthday party.
Dawn actually suggests trying to hunt down an armed robber. Genius, that one.
Do you think that one week prior to Halloween is enough time to plan and enact a party for all the elementary school kids? Me neither.
Dawn acknowledges the California DeWitt/Stoneybrook DeWitt situation, saying she doesn’t think they’re related.
Hey, I just realized that after Mrs. Barrett becomes Mrs. DeWitt, both Mrs. DeWitts are gorgeous. Mrs. Barrett ‘could be a model,’ remember, while the other Mrs. DeWitt is an actress.
The title quote refers to Buddy Barrett's bedroom. Although by 1994, I don’t think kids were into Turtles anymore….
Shouldn’t the Barrett-DeWitt clan buy a van? Renting one every time all nine of them go somewhere would probably be more expensive over time.
HA! Jessi puts out a giant sigh after getting into the van with the extended family. Hey, she’s getting paid to be there, so she shouldn’t worry so much about the kids fighting (especially because they worked it out among themselves.)
Dawn is a really, really bad liar.
The suspect pool is narrowed down to three people who bought the hideous clown mask: a Palo City high school track team member; a driver for Hank’s Flower Basket and a ‘tall blonde woman.’
Hey, wait a minute. How tall is Dawn supposed to be? If she weren’t a witness, she might be a suspect herself. *shifty eyes*
Halloween costumes: Jeff: monster; Erick: roll of Life Savers; Ryan: Elvis; Timmy: Martian; Marnie: jack-o-lantern; Suzi: Princess Jasmine; Buddy: magician; Sunny: Mrs. Claus; Maggie: Pink Panther; Jill: Marge Simpson; Stephie: ballerina; Daffodil: good witch; Clover: bunny; Dawn: Pippi Longstocking
Dawn and Sunny rule out the flower driver who bought the costume for his daughter (although honestly he could have used the mask to perform the robbery and then given it to his daughter) and the track-team-boy. The boy is one giant nice-guy cliché: he even helps a little old lady cross the street. The girls call him Saint Tom.
Sunny has an overactive imagination. She tells a woman (behind the counter at the hot dog place mentioned on the bumper sticker on the getaway car) that they’re looking for the robber—without saying that—by giving an extremely vague description. Sunny’s then convinced that the woman is staring at them the rest of the time…because she’s an undercover police officer. (She actually is staring, but for a whole different reason.)
They keep referring to the Barrett-DeWitt clan as the Brady Bunch, and I’ve been putting together that whole family thing: The parents in the middle, Buddy and Lindsey in the top corners, Ryan and Marnie in the bottom corners, with Taylor, Suzi and Madeleine in the middle.
Cheese! The house the Barrett-DeWitts decide upon isn’t one on a list they were working off of. It’s actually one Marnie just sees at the side of the house and points at.
Carol apparently has a lot of experience putting together haunted houses. When and where, it does not say.
Umm, why would you set out food stuff for a haunted house the day before? They might go bad in advance. Not to mention the fact that they’re blocking the elementary school gym for 24 full hours.
Sharon would be that mom who hands out apples and raisins to the trick-or-treaters. Although when I was growing up, that usually that was the mom whose kids weren’t allowed to celebrate the holiday for whatever reason.
Dawn says her dad taught her how to whistle with two fingers in her mouth. Of course, Kristy can also whistle that way.
Carol: ripped jeans, MTV t-shirt, orange sunglasses
Cynthia DeWitt (Ryan and Erick’s mom): tacky daffodil print housedress, clunky brown grandmother shoes, turquoise cats-eye glasses (I used to have a pair like that, and I miss them so much), yellow cardigan
Sunny: black leggings and white shirt
New characters:
Timmy Ford (8)—29

Next week: #79