Thursday, October 8, 2015

“For Claudia to spell only one word wrong on five posters is pretty close to a miracle.” BSC Mystery #22: Stacey and the Haunted Masquerade (1995)

 Oh, look. It’s Halloween again. Various people are trying to stop the masquerade from happening because the last time one was held, twenty-eight years, a tragedy happened. Everyone assumes that it was some minor issue, but a girl actually had a meltdown after some boys played a prank on her. She killed the lights and pulled the fire alarm; a teacher died of a heart attack in the aftermath of the resulting stampede. Weird things are happening all over school as the Mischief Knights perform harmless pranks like switching locker contents and filling an art cabinet with marbles, but some other pranks relate directly to the dance, like decorations being shredded. It turns out the mentally disturbed girl from the earlier dance came back to seek revenge on the school and on a new sixth grade teacher, Mr. Rothman, who knew her back in the day.
Meanwhile, the movie Ghostbusters has been playing non-stop on a local movie station and all the kids are crazy about busting ghosts.
Interesting Tidbits
The cover. It’s been a while since I’ve read this, but that has to be Stacey and Mary Anne as Morticia and Dorothy, looking properly outraged at the mysteriousness of this mystery. Why is MA taller than Stacey, though?

The book starts with Stacey waxing philosophical on the meaning of homeroom, aka creative doodling class. She says it’s nothing like home; for example, her mother almost never takes attendance.
Stacey’s new favorite song is “Sister Sally” by the group Great Blue Whales. A) That band sounds like something Dawn would get into. B) I now have that 80’s song “Sister Christian” stuck in my head, only I keep putting Sally into the lyrics. “You’re motorin’… what’s your price for flight?” I don’t know if those are the right lyrics or a mondegreen, though. (They’re right! Usually I can’t get lyrics correct without looking them up.)
Apparently, Mr. Kingsbridge has no fashion sense. I’d honestly be more worried if Stacey, who likes Claudia’s fashion sense, thought he did have some.
I’m trying to figure out why this Halloween Masquerade is any different than any other Halloween dance that they didn’t call a masquerade. Maybe at this one, costumes are required? I mean, Bart and Kristy once dressed as lobsters, and Logan and Mary Anne have dressed as cats before. Not really any different, if you ask me. I know they just had to have not had the Masquerade in 28 years because of what happened ‘last time’ but honestly. I can’t think of a single way this plot would have worked if it were a non-Halloween dance, though, so I’ll let it go.
Hmm. Logan is sitting with the BSC at lunch. I’ll buy that. But so are Pete and Alan. What are they doing there? (Unless they have little crushes on someone else at the table…yes, I’m totally talking about Logan.)
Stacey says there will be a quiz on the information about the BSC. Chapter two would have been a lot more interesting if she had ended the chapter with a minutiae quiz regarding the members. “What color shoelaces was Claudia wearing today? What order were the Pike triplets listed in this time? Which member was described first, Kristy or Mary Anne?” Instead, you get a quiz on whom/what each BSC member will be going to the masquerade as, which is boring because you would have found that out later anyway.
Claudia misplaced a pair of purple orange and green paisley leggings and finds them during the meeting. Kristy: “How could you miss them?” I think she misplaced those in 1990, because I swear I had a pair just like that someone gave me for Christmas when I was nine.
Anyone surprised that Stacey writes with a purple felt-tipped pen? Nope. I didn’t think so.
Oooooooooh! I’m so excited. Ladies and gentlemen (if any are reading this), I’m proud to introduce my favorite non-sitting charge character in the entire history of the BSC: Mr. Cary Retlin. I didn’t realize this was his first appearance. Mr. Retlin proceeds to be one of the most entertaining characters throughout the rest of the series, on into the Friends Forever/Forever Friends/Whatever the Hell That’s Called series.
Stacey is a girl after my own heart. She says that the BSC has been ‘Cokified’ a few times. I just recently was referring to a day with my least-favorite coworker as being ‘Jessinfected,’ but I may have to use ‘Jessified’ instead.
When Abby arrives at the Pike house, Adam and Byron are ‘ghostbusting’ with the aid of a plastic ray gun and a vacuum cleaner hose. I was always the kid who had the gun made of vacuum cleaner tubing or the fairy wand that was really just a stick. I think a lot of the problem with kids these days is that they don’t play imagination games, and when they do, their parents buy them the toys. Little girls playing Frozen with their mom’s old blue dress and winter gloves and a homemade Olaf have so much more imagination and fun than those whose parents buy them a $50 costume and all the expensive toys.
When Cary unleashes the Mischief Knights on the school, one of his earliest pranks is to write messages on various blackboards. When MA asks what the message says, Kristy cracks that it said not to eat the Salisbury Steak that MA had just taken a bite of.
I love that no one can figure out who is responsible for the Mischief Knights, despite the fact that everything starts right after Cary shows up. Of course, it’s also right after Abby shows up, too. In fact, she suggests she could be responsible…and Mary Anne also says she could be the prankster, which makes everyone laugh, including me.
I love that Grace sides with the majority against Cokie during the dance committee meeting. I know these characters aren’t real (I know you may not be able to tell, but I do! I do!) but I really want to see Grace break free from Cokie altogether.
I love it! Abby pulls apart a Twizzler pull and peel and then braids it back together during one of the meetings. I used to do that all the time.
Ooh, suspect list time. Mr. Wetzler, the guy who keeps writing to the editor about how the school shouldn’t be having a masquerade at all. Grace, who’s just being ‘too nice.’ Cokie, because she didn’t like the red and purple dance color scheme (and so far, the decorations and posters are the only thing that have been vandalized). The Mischief Knights, because, well. Mischief.
Time for some awesomely bad spelling! Wuld, thouhgt, eigth, coud, gohst, beleive, becuase, gohstbusters.
Consistency: Mrs. Arnold goes crazy decorating for holidays, including decorating herself.
The Arnold girls have been building an ‘ectoplasmic turbulence detector’ in the basement. Or, as Marilyn calls it, a ghost finder. They do, indeed find a ghost…or at least a squirrel.
Ha! Best line of the entire book: “Twenty-eight years ago? You’re asking a lot. I can’t even remember what I had for dinner last night.” This is what Sharon says when Mary Anne, Logan and Stacey ask her about the last masquerade.
Richard does seem to remember, though. I’m trying to do some math again. The dance was 28 years ago and Richard says he was in sixth grade at the time, making him 39 or 40, but in an earlier book he was 43 or so. I think it would have been more interesting if he’d actually been at the dance and knew these people instead of the BSC falling into the information.
In 1995, 28 years ago would have been 1967. So I’m not too surprised that the name of the band that played the masquerade is The Groovy Tangerine. But, honestly? I know I’ve said it before, but…a band at a middle school dance? They can’t have been very good.
Abby would be the one to suggest that the teacher who died, Mr. Brown, is the vandal. I mean, Dawn’s no longer around to bring up ghosts. (After she says that, Mary Anne tells Stacey to turn the yearbook page because she doesn’t like the way Mr. Brown’s photo is ‘looking at her.’)
Stacey actually calls the nutcase, Mr.Wetzler, who keeps going on about waste in the school budget. She lies that she’s a reporter for the school paper to get more information about the last masquerade out of him. All she’s able to find out is that a girl got jilted and then never came back to school.
When Logan says Alan once showed him a bunch of old records in the basement, Stacey thinks he means old vinyl records, ‘like the BeeGees.’ Where has Stacey ever heard of the BeeGees?
The BSC figures out that the girl, Elizabeth Connor, lived in Charlotte’s house at the time of the ‘incident’ in 1967. Isn’t that convenient? Stacey brings the Braddocks over so that the kids can all ghostbust together and she and Mary Anne can do the kind of snooping you normally need a warrant for. There’s a mistake in among that, though: Charlotte has both a spirit collector, like Abby made with the Pikes, and a ghost detector like the Arnolds created. But it says that Arnold made the ghost detector.
            Robert and Stacey: Gomez and Morticia Addams                  
            Mary Anne and Logan: Dorothy and the Scarecrow
            Mal: ballerina
            Jessi: cow girl
            Abby: Lucy Ricardo
            Kristy: Amelia Earhart
            Claudia: giant Twinkie
            Grace: Snow White
            Todd and Rick: Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble
            Mr. Rothman: football player
            Sabrina Bouvier: Cleopatra
            Cary: a knight chess piece
Heh. Grace isn’t talking to Cokie because Cokie thinks that Grace’s boyfriend is imaginary. It’s the stupidest D plot ever, but almost realistic.
So Elizabeth Connor had been unpopular and the butt of jokes back in the day. She had a giant crush on Mike Rothman (who is now a new sixth grade teacher and the dance committee’s supervisor.) His friends bet him he wouldn’t take her to the dance and last the whole night. He didn’t tell her what was going on, but she figured it out when she saw the exchange of money. She went outside, the fire alarm got pulled…you can make the connection.
Oh, I figured out the way they can get away with the dance issue. This isn’t a Halloween dance. It’s a Mischief Night dance, on October 30th. Because that’s such a big difference.
“It was like something out of a bad horror movie.” Funniest, most ironic line in one of these books.
Stacey still considers the fact that the ghost of Mr. Brown could be behind all the vandalism.
Lame-o. The story leaves off at the end of chapter 14 when Liz Connor removes the cape she stole from Mr. Rothman’s date, revealing a fairy princess costume—which is what she was wearing the night of the dance years ago. The next chapter starts with Shannon asking, “And then what happened?” It spoils all the drama because you know all the BSC members are okay. It's a (Like any of them would actually get injured or anything. This isn’t a Temperance Brennan book, where the main character nearly dies in every one of her adventures.) It's a total copout.
Grace and Cokie make up and go back to normal. I’m so sad about that.
Mr. Fiske: yellow tie covered in punctuation marks (very apropos for an English teacher)
Grace: thermal leggings, blue plaid flannel shirt
Mrs. Arnold: black velvet skirt, white satin blouse, dangly pumpkin earrings, pumpkin pendant, dangly pumpkin bracelet
Jessi: fringed leather vest and skirt, cowboy boots, ten gallon hat (ooh, is she not wearing anything under the vest? racy!)
Kristy: leather jacket, high boots, long white scarf, helmet and goggle
New Characters:
Cary Retlin (13)—33
Next: Dawn’s Book


  1. Hi, just thought I'd let you know that this post has an error. It gets up to "The story leaves off at the end of chapter 14 when Liz Connor removes the cape she stole from..." and then repeats everything that came before that. :)

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