Posts Tagged ‘books’

Except if those heads belong to two blonde twins with a serious case of the stupids. Because after reading Sweet Valley Confidential, I have come to the conclusion that there is no fate worse than the Wakefields. They are the worst twins ever!

Well except for maybe these twins, because, ew.

Anyway to prepare you for this, I ask you to think back to high school, or perhaps say, junior high. You remember how you had that one friend you thought was supercool and who could pretty much do no wrong in your eyes? But then, you got older and you realized they were kind of a gigantic dickbag loser? That is what reading this book is like. You start out with happy memories and then watch them get slowly destroyed by poor continuity and even crappier writing.

When I was much younger, I thought that the Wakefields were the $h!t. I related heavily to Elizabeth because I fancied myself a thoughtful literary type, but there was part of me that wished I could be a little more like Jessica and possess more of her sultry, boy-nabbing qualities. In fact, when I was very young and used to steal my babysitter’s Sweet Valley High books, I remember thinking that it would be awesome to be a cheerleader. I have no idea why I thought this considering:
a) I am not a joiner,
b) I find all sports except hockey incredibly boring,
c) I am so uncoordinated I was once stabbed by a tree,
but there you have it. The seven-year-old heart wants what it wants.

But enough complaining, it’s time to get to the meat of the thing and start my recap. Needless to say, if you want to read the book and haven’t got the chance yet, this is your warning because HERE BE SPOILERS!

The book starts off with Elizabeth, who is now living in New York like the serious-minded good girl she is. No more being a bubble-headed California girl! She’s a real writer now! She is returning to her apartment after a dinner out with her boss when the phone rings. Because this is New York and therefore a scary, crime ridden place according to literature, it takes them too long to get into the apartment to answer the phone because of all of her door locks, so Elizabeth’s answering machine picks up instead.

It is Jessica, whose voice is whining codependantly at them through the speaker. Elizabeth ignores it. Elizabeth’s boss is baffled by the fact that the voice on the machine sounds exactly like Elizabeth and is somehow not her. You know, for someone who is supposed to be the mastermind behind the crappy theatre magazine she works for, he seems a little bit dumb, like, if you worked at it, you could manage to convince him that Elizabeth was a sorcerer.

Anyway, Elizabeth doesn’t want to talk about HER INFINITE SADNESS, so she gives her boss a glass of wine and considers sleeping with him to stop his annoying questions. She spends a moment drooling over his apparently doable body, but then decides better of it because she cries after her orgasms now. Aren’t you happy that Francine Pascal mentioned your childhood literary pal Elizabeth having orgasms? How thoughtful of her! I mean think of how much more enjoyable Little Women would have been if Louisa May Alcott had been saavy enough to mention Jo March’s favourite sexual position! Totally pertinant to the story and not creepy at all, right?

Oh, and also as a minor note, Elizabeth also doesn’t sleep with him because he’s her boss and, you know, professionalism and all that.

So, having decided that there are no sexytimes to be had, Elizabeth unceremoniously dismisses her boss from her apartment. She briefly thinks of calling her best friend Bruce Patman (I think I speak for all of us when I say WTF?!), but decides not to so she can truly Garbo it up and feel sorry for herself. I don’t know what it is you guys, but I think something superbad happened between Elizabeth and Jessica! Cue the sad music! This is mucho serious!

The next thing you know, we’re treated to a flashback of the twins in high school. They are driving to school and stop to pick up Elizabeth’s friend Enid Rollins who Jessica thinks is the lamest of the lame. They also discuss uberdreamy Todd Wilkins a.k.a. The Todd who Jessica thinks is going to invite her to “the big dance,” as though they don’t have dances ever damn day of the week in Sweet Valley.

Anyway, two funny things about this sequence:

1) It’s supposed to take place 10 years ago which is awesome because, going by the timeline of the books, the twins started high school in 1983 which means that they were either incredibly stupid, which I would totally believe, or time in Sweet Valley moves at a practically glacial pace, which is also possible considering how much crap the twins got up to. I mean with all the spa-based face stealing and werewolf boyfriend having and white supremacist battling they were doing, I would imagine they would have pretty packed schedules!

2) If this storyline is true to what happened in the original books, this means that this is the dance from the first Sweet Valley High book Double Love. Many things happen in that book, but two of the most noteworthy are The Todd mistaking Jessica for Liz and subsequently thinking Liz is a slut and deciding Jessica is more worthy of dating him and Jessica getting so mad at the fact that The Todd has no interest in her she fabricates a story that he tried to force himself on her so that Liz doesn’t like him anymore. But apparently, neither the slut shaming or the supposed sexual assault are a big deal to anyone and everything ties up in a nice happy bow at the end of the book. Sweet Valley: perpetuating horrible sexual standards since 1983!

Moving back into present day, Jessica is kvetching to The Todd about how Elizabeth is ignoring her. The word “Facebook” is used several times to indicate that Francine Pascal is hip and with it. This is not your Meemaw’s Sweet Valley y’all! . . . you know, in case you didn’t get that from the orgasm talk. They don’t get into everything that happened to cause the rift between the two sisters, but they tell us enough so that we know that Elizabeth and  The Todd, Sweet Valley’s Original OTP!, were engaged and about eight months ago, he left her for Jessica and now they are getting married instead. Oooh burn!

To throw old Sweet Valley lovers a bone, Jessica and  The Todd head over to a party at Lila Fowler’s house. I have discussed my love for haughty Miss Lila before, so I won’t get into it again, but Lila is criminally underused in this book. If anyone should be calling the twins on their crap, it’s her, but instead she just stays in the background, wearing tiny shorts. Remember when your Viscount husband tragically died and then you hooked $h!t up with Bruce Patman in the forest, Lila? That was awesome! You are better than this! Now Lila’s only defining characteristic – aside from the tiny shorts – is that she is married to Ken Matthews. To jog your memory, Ken was the Aryan posterchild who played football in high school . . . and as a grown up, he plays in the NFL. That is what you call smooth character development, people! Actually just to stay on Ken for a minute as this is an interesting tidbit: in the high school, he dated Olivia Davidson who was crushed to death by a fridge during a horrible earthquake at the series’ end. However, when the twins came back from their first University break in SVU, Olivia was at a party they attended. So Ken has actually dated a zombie, which is pretty progressive if you think about it.

But back to the party. In attendance are:
– Elizabeth’s old soccer playing high school boyfriend Jeffrey French. He is now a dentist and has a boring nameless wife.
– Sweet Valley Gossip Monger Caroline Pearce. She apparently had cancer (SAD!) and now runs a gossip website that gets upwards of 500 hits a day!
– Elizabeth’s old Debbie Downer friend Enid Rollins. She is now a gyno doc and has become a crazy right wing conservative . . . but apparently, she’s not too conservative to knock boots with . . .
– A.J. Morgan. AJ Morgan was apparently some hot ginger kid Jessica was into. He works as a shoe salesman at the mall.
And to round out the group, we have:
-Former fatty cheerleading captain Robin Wilson. She is apparently a caterer now and Jessica is impressed she hasn’t gorged herself to death on all the free food.

It seems kind of weird to me that a bunch of these people were Elizabeth’s friends and are now at Lila and Ken’s party, but I guess that all of them are pals now. Or they all belong to some secret underground Stonecutter’s cult and this is a meeting or something. At least that would be interesting, which is more than what I can say for the book thus far. Let’s pretend, shall we?

Who condescends with every glace?
Who wears some nifty jumpsuit pants?
We do! We do!
Who has a sister looking mom?
Who spikes the punch at jungle prom?
We do! We do!

Sorry, but I really needed to listen to that song. So yes, we’re at Lila and Ken’s palatial estate for num-nums or whatever and everyone is kind of standing around bored, until Caroline Pearce makes the tragic mistake of asking about Elizabeth which sends Jessica into a rage. Jessica is so pissed in fact that she yells “You’re sick!” at Caroline who is currently regrowing her hair after chemo which . . . yeah . . . awkward. Jessica storms out of the party, The Todd in tow, but not before yelling at Lila for having the nerve to invite Caroline to her own house for her own party. *sigh*

Switching coasts back to New York, Elizabeth is heading out to interview some playwright guy for the crappy theatre magazine she works for. The playwright’s name is Will Connolly and addition to being a prick (language!), he is a dead ringer for The Todd! *gasp* Seeing this of course, sends Elizabeth into flashback land . . .

Where she and The Todd are in college and supposed to go to a party. However, Elizabeth’s superior physical makeup (stunning aquamarine eyes and size six figure!) wasn’t enough to keep her from catching the plague, so she is not well enough to go. Instead she suggests that The Todd go with Jessica . . .

In a weird bit of happenstance – perhaps they’re in the Matrix?- Jessica and The Todd are remembering the same party . . .
Where people mistake Jessica for Elizabeth and Jessica and The Todd decide that it’s fun and don’t bother correcting them because they are both kind of into it . . . and in a creepy turn, they sort of forget that they were pretending and then head back to The Todd’s apartment to bone. Just . . . so many . . . wrong things about that.

Back in present day NYC, Elizabeth runs into Will a.k.a. Prick Todd at a bar and they start drinking together. They are served by random Irish stereotype bartender Liam who Elizabeth notes, is so hot her favourite cheaty twin sister Jessica would be all over him. This of course leads to a discussion about family and relationships and drama, things that Prick Todd and Elizabeth have in common. They bond over this and then Prick Todd invites her back to his apartment where they fool around a bit. Go Elizabeth! You get your mack on!

Elizabeth heads home after some decent heavy petting and gets a call from her mom. Apparently, her grandmother is celebrating her 80th birthday and they want Elizabeth to return to Sweet Valley for her birthday party. Elizabeth says no way, but then thinks that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if she had Prick Todd come with her as her date. She calls him up and tries to lure him into her trap asks him to come with her but with his play only a couple of weeks from launching, he tells her that he can’t afford to get away. He does however joke that Elizabeth should bring hot Irish sterotype Liam with her to use as boy bait for stupid flaky Jessica. So the fool, I’m afraid she gets thinking . . .

A dangerous pasttime I know. But that crazy blonde bitch is her sister and her fidelity’s only so so . . . So the wheels in her head they get turning as Liz thinks of that loony old tart, see, with quite cunning use of that dumb Irish dude, little Lizzy can split them apart!

But before it gets too good, we’re back in flashbackland again. This time we’ve moved up from Jessica and The Todd boning on his futon to a mere 8 months ago where Jessica is married to a dude named Regan. You remember the name Regan, don’t you Jess? He was president when you first started high school! Anyway, Regan is Jess’ husband (second one by my count!) and he’s much older and basically pays for her to shop and jetset around the world. However, Jess is unhappy. Apparently, he doesn’t like to party enough and he gets jealous when she flashes her boobs at other guys. I know, right? What a monster. So, six months into being married for a second time before she hits 30, Jessica decides that she wants to end the relationship. Instead of talking to him about it like an adult, she lets him believe that he’s taking her shopping for the millionth time and then ditches him to run off to the airport where she catches a plane back to Sweet Valley. My eyes are rolling so hard in my head right now, I am afraid they’ll get stuck at an odd angle.

Oh and a couple of sidenotes before we head back into present day:
1) Steven Wakefield is now a successful lawyer and is married to Cara Walker. According to Jessica, Steven cheats on Cara regularly and Cara copes by turning into one of those girls who eat their feelings.
2) Winston Egbert developed some software or something that he made a bunch of money on and now everyone says he’s a jerk. You know, considering what a prick everyone else in Sweet Valley is, I have to wonder what the hell Winston did to make everyone hate him. I mean is he running a child prostitution ring or hosting dogfights? Because from what I’ve seen so far, I think Winston’s golden.

Back to present day for a double shot of the twins!
In NYC, Elizabeth goes back to the bar where Liam works and pumps him for personal information. When she finds out that he in fact has family in California, she manipulates him into coming to the party for “Grandmommy” (yuck).
In Sweet Valley, we learn that Jessica works for an environmentally conscious cosmetics company. We also learn that her boss has the hots for her, but Jessica has too much integrity . . .

Sorry, I had to stop for a minute there since my eyes were watering from the hysterical laughter . . . Jessica has too much integrity to sleep with him and instead heads home to The Todd. This gets her to thinking about the past and when she came back to Sweet Valley after escaping her tyrannical husband.

In flashbackland, Jessica is living with Elizabeth and The Todd. Elizabeth thinks that Jessica and The Todd are getting on eachothers nerves, but anyone with eyes can see that they are really just sporting wood/ladywood for eachother. To get out of the house and away from The Todd so they don’t accidentally have sex again, Jessica goes for a walk on the beach and comes upon her brother who is locked in a loving embrace with . . . not Lila as many first supposed, but Aaron Dallas!

Steven Wakefield’s totally gay, everybody! I think this deserves a super sassy dance break because it is the first interesting thing that’s happened all book!

It’s Mercutio from The Edge! He seems to be having a much better time in this video than he ever did being mauled by THE EVIL BEAR.

There are many back and forth flashbacks to Steven’s new gayness but for the sake of not jumping around so much, let me just keep it all in one tidy section.

Steven was out and about running Wakefieldian errands one day when he ran into Aaron. They had been friendly in high school but never really close, so Steven gets caught up with Aaron quickly. Apparently after high school, Aaron went off to a real University (Stanford) and studied architecture. After that, he lived in San Francisco for a while (I think this is Francine Pascal’s version of a pink flag) before coming back to Sweet Valley. I am not  really sure why, after living in a place as exciting and progressive as San Francisco, one would want to come back to Sweet Valley. It’s like a crazy sinkhole for hopes and dreams! But yeah, he’s back and they arrange to get together. The night that they are supposed to meet, Steven doesn’t tell Cara where he’s going and he gets really excited at every dude who walks in the door thinking it’s Aaron. They hang out in the bar for a bit before Aaron tells Steven that they are heading back to his (Aaron’s) place. Holy $h!t, you guys! Steven Wakefield is keeping it on the downlow! Fifteen minutes in a Chili’s with Aaron Dallas and he’s totally up for gay sex! And those jalapeno poppers weren’t even laced with anything so he can claim ignorance later! And now I am wondering if he is a top or bottom! Aah! My head is so filled with questions! Why, Francine Pascal? Why are you putting these things in my head?

So Jessica knows and Steven is freaking out because everyone else still thinks he’s straight and he’s not ready to tell them that he isn’t yet . . . and you know guys, I’m not really one for advocating spousal deception, but knowing a lot of people who have come out, it can be heart-breakingly difficult. Coming out, even when the people around you support you, is hard. Because there are a lot of people who won’t support you and those assholes can be loud and mean and sometimes they carry rocks as one of my awesome friends learned the hard way. Hell, putting aside other people, even just admitting it to yourself can be a major emotional struggle. According to this book, Steven not only just discovered he liked dudes in his late twenties, but he just discovered it like a month ago and now he’s forced into the awkward situation of having to incidentally come out to a family member. It’s scary.

Steven begs Jessica not to tell anyone yet because he kind of needs to process this himself and figure out how to deal with his own personal situation and Jessica agrees. Well, let me amend that. Jessica agrees for about five seconds, then drives over to Steven’s house and interrupts one of Cara’s marathon pie baking sessions to out Steven to her. Jessica does this as she thinks it is her duty to get involved and believes that Steven will thank her for it later. Because it’s better to be dragged out of the closet than to come out of your own accord. Man, Jessica, sometimes (by which I mean all the time) you are one cold, conceited bitch.

Back to our present non-outing time, Liz has lunch with Prick Todd and tells him she took his advice and is now bringing yummy yummy mantreat Liam with her to her grandmother’s birthday. Will is like “Yeah, I was joking about that, you lunatic. That is a supreme bad idea and you will live to regret it.” You know, Prick Todd, you actually speak some decent sanity! I’m changing your name to Nonprick Todd! Unfortunately, the sanity is not really working for Liz who is annoyed that someone is finally calling her on her bull$h!t and, instead of directing her anger at her stupid no-good sister and stupid no-good The Todd, she turns on Nonprick Todd and yells “Fuck you!” right in his face. According to Elizabeth, she is 27-years-old and that is the first time she has ever said those words. Seriously, Liz? You’ve never even song along to this song?

(Yes, this is the real song with the real swear word in it so if you’re at work, sport some headphones. The clean version drives me crazy.)

After she swears at Nonprick Todd like a Tourette’s Sufferer and runs back to her apartment, she decides the most awesome thing to do is to call up her bestie Bruce and discuss the grandmother birthday party happenings. As it is, he has already been invited to the party by Mrs. Wakefield to act as Liz’s pseudodate, so he’s feeling a little put out that Liz is now bringing her own party guest. And why is Bruce feeling so put out, you might ask? Because he secretly loves her!

Flashing back to some years ago, Bruce’s parents got in a horrible accident and were both rushed to the hospital where they both later died. However, while poor Bruce was waiting to discover their fates in the hospital, Elizabeth came to be with him. In fact, she came every day and held his hand when no one else would. It was one of the few things that got him through that horrible time and it made him realize that he truly loved her. Oh my God, you guys, is Bruce Patman my favourite character in this book? Because I think he is.

At some point, before the truth is revealed to Liz, Bruce finds out that Jessica and Todd have been carrying on behind her back. Bruce wants to tell her, but is incredibly conflicted because he feels like he would just be telling her for his own personal gain and that would be kind of malicious. These doubts are removed from his mind when, over burgers at local restaurant, Elizabeth tells him that she and The Todd are close to setting a wedding date. Not wanting her to marry a man who is secretly horrible to her, Bruce bucks up the courage to tell her the truth when Ken Matthews runs into the diner they are sitting in (because there was an APB out on them?) to announce what is the most surreal and thankless thing that happens in the entire book.

Winston Egbert is dead.

. . .

I cannot even tell you how annoyed by this I am. Winston gets one scene in this entire book where he is actually present and do you want to know what that scene is? He almost unknowingly spilled the beans about Jessica and The Todd cheating (he shared the apartment with The Todd and thought he and Elizabeth were having sex in it) and then The Todd moved out and totally dumped him as a friend because he was scared Winston would rat him out! So from there on out, none of his friends talked to him and he was completely abandoned! And then, all anyone did was talk about what a dickbag they thought he was! Until one day, when he got sad and drunk and fell off his balcony and died! All Winston ever wanted to do was to make people laugh and have friends and wear glasses and then, for the sake of drama, Francine Pascal unceremoniously offed him! What the suck, dude?!

While Elizabeth and Bruce are off at the diner hearing about poor dead Winston, Steven has been home and I guess been confronted by Cara about the whole gay thing and the fact that Jessica told her. So, as he is super angry at Jessica – and kind of rightly so since it was not her secret to tell – he barges over to Elizabeth and The Todd’s where Jessica is staying and yells in her face about it. Steven calls Jessica a selfish bitch (AMEN!) and because she can’t deal with being confronted with her $h!tty behaviour (doesn’t that sound familiar, LIZ?!), she starts to cry. The Todd, being a sucker for a damsel in distress, goes to comfort her and the comfort turns to kissing and Elizabeth walks in on them . . . except she isn’t really looking at them and doesn’t see what they’re doing so, instead, she assumes someone told them about Winston and they are comforting each other. Bruce, however, totally sees them and thinks they’re jerks.

Later at Winston’s funeral, Jessica gets all sappy and sad about his passing and Elizabeth actually thinks that Jessica is sorry for how crappily she treated Winston, but it is totally a ploy to get Elizabeth to agree that forgiveness is important. If it’s not a self-serving bitch, then it’s not Jessica Wakefield.

Sometime after the funeral, Jessica’s rich old husband Regan shows up at Elizabeth and The Todd’s place in Sweet Valley. I am not really sure to what real end since he doesn’t seem to have divorce papers or even be all that invested in getting Jessica back. But Regan does totally see Jessica and The Todd jonesing for each other which he manages to point out to Elizabeth before scooting away in his sports car.

Elizabeth finally totally notices the fact that they’re kind of inches away from doing it again and she confronts them. They are so lame that they neither try to deny it or apologize for it. C’mon The Todd! At least, play her a meaningful song or something! In fact, I have the perfect one!

“I know you won’t believe it’s true, I only went with her ’cause she looks like you!”

And that is the last flashback! THANK FREAKING GOD!

In now permanent present time, Elizabeth has arrived at Grandmommy’s birthday with man-bait Liam. There is some reference to how this is just like a movie (Picture Perfect?) except that Liam doesn’t sound as charming as Jay Mohr. Much to Elizabeth’s irritation, Jessica doesn’t seem interested in Liam but Liam seems hella-interested in Jessica and keeps fawning all over her. This makes The Todd pretty angry and before you know it, all the Wakefield siblings are fighting and Alice is yelling at Ned to “bring out the fucking cake!” I kind of like that Alice has finally reached her limit with her stupid scheming children to the point that she starts yelling about fucking cake in the middle of her octagenarian mother’s birthday. That’s kind of boss.

Elizabeth leaves Sweet Valley and heads back to New York where she still has to interview Nonprick Todd. I’m going to switch it back to Will now because I am tired of typing the word Todd more than I have to. She is a little stressed out about how it’s going to go due to the “Fuck you!” face-shouting incident, but he somehow apologies to her and they manage to get through the interview relatively painlessly. Then, when the interview is over, out of both horniness and a desire to keep him from asking questions about her family, Elizabeth has sex with Will. And she doesn’t even cry once! Hooray? I don’t know about you, but I think it’s kind of creepy that Elizabeth is constantly using sex to shut dudes up. Is her vagina some sort of crazy cone of silence? Does sex with her cause select muteness? I don’t get it.

So after sex with her interview subject (at least it’s slightly more professional than sex with her boss?), Liz returns home to her apartment to find Jessica waiting for her. Jessica has apparently left The Todd! *sigh* For Christ Sakes, you stupid moron! You are pushing 30 now! Running away should no longer be your go-to relationship move. Because, seriously? Relationships can be hard. Sure, there are awesome, kick ass, fun times, but there are other times that are not so fun where people lose their jobs or your sex drives are at odds or one of you gets sick or whatever. And part of loving someone – I mean truly loving someone – is realizing that no matter what you are enduring at the moment, you’re enduring it with your partner because you are a team and they have your back. That’s what love is. Getting through life together. And you know what? At the end of the day, sometimes getting through the crappy parts together means more. Getting through all the great stuff together is nothing, because anyone can stand by you through the great stuff. It takes someone who loves you to hold your hand and help you make it through the hellish parts. Grownups don’t run!

And yes, readers, I do realize that I just lectured a fictional character but it annoyed me so much I had to. Make of my mental state what you will.

Back to the twins. Jessica starts crying over The Todd and Elizabeth sees that she loves him and with like five teardrops, their 8 month feud is at an end. Can you believe it? Jessica’s tears must be made of diamonds or something because I have never gotten out of anything that easily.

Jessica heads back home to be with The Todd and Elizabeth stays in New York to finish her article and see Will’s play. The play does pretty well and Liz is happy for Will but she realizes when she sees him with his ex-girlfriend that she is not in love with him and that they are better off as friends. Is this a mature decision from Miss Elizabeth Wakefield? Did someone switch the book I am reading? Because I don’t believe it.

I also don’t believe it when Elizabeth heads back to Sweet Valley to be Jessica’s Maid of Honour in her Wedding to Elizabeth’s long time boyfriend. When Wakefields mend fences, they do it with iron posts, bitch! But before she goes and deals with wedding stuff, Elizabeth pops by to see Bruce Patman who has big news. First, he tells her he sold his house in Sweet Valley (for $10,000 less that they buyers were willing to pay because he doesn’t care about money anymore. Is this really Bruce Patman?!) and second, he’s moving to New York because he loves her and wants to be where she is. Bruce Patman is my favourite character in this whole book you guys! What is up with the universe?!

Now I could go into the description that follows of them having sex, but I am going to forego that creepiness and instead post another song because that is how I role today. But know this – Elizabeth Wakefield has taut nipples!

Let the soothing sounds of Mr. Big wash that mental image out of your head.
I know bands don’t have slogan, but if they did, theirs should have been “Mr. Big = Huge hair. Rhythmic clapping. Denim.”

So both Wakefield sisters end up with people who have personalities that match their opposing twin. Snarky and brash Jessica marries sensitive and thoughtful The Todd and sensitive and thoughtful Elizabeth is lovers with snarky and brash Bruce! I am sure there is some sort of weird Freudian theory that this is an example of, but the book’s happy ending is Jessica and Todd’s wedding, so I don’t want to get too far into that.

Mini character recaps for anyone who is interested:
Bill Chase – The surfer dude who dated Dee Dee Gordon back in the day married a female basketball player.
Mr. Collins (Roger, if you’re nasty) – The twins’ old English teacher is in a long term relationship but never got remarried. His son is at UCLA.
Lila Fowler – Divorced Ken and attended Jessica’s wedding with Jeffrey French who seems to have lost the wife he was saddled with a couple of hundred pages ago.
Ken Matthews – Divorced Lila and was injured in the NFL but now works as a commentator.
DeeDee Gordon – Bill’s ex is a working artist.
Charlie Markus – Married Annie Whitman, the slutty cheerleader that Jessica and her friends almost pushed to commit suicide. He is a writer.
Annie Whitman – Married Charlie and has a baby now (see what all your slutty, slutty sex has led to, Annie?)
Betsey Martin – Still the crazy drunken sister of beautiful dead Tricia Martin, Steven’s first girlfriend.
A.J. Morgan – Broke up with Enid but still selling Reeboks.
Enid Rollins – Broke up with A.J. Morgan, planning to run for city council.
Roger Barrett Patman – Bruce’s illegitimate cousin. Works as a music producer and is married to a rock star.
Caroline Pearce – Still recovering from cancer. Still a gossip.
Nicky Shephard – Former Sweet Valley bad boy. Now in AA.
Cara Walker – Divorced from Steven. A math student baking her way to a Masters degree.
Robin Wilson – Still a caterer. Still surprisingly thin according to Jessica.
Bruce Patman – Once a snide rich kid, now reformed by the love of Elizabeth.
Aaron Dallas – Steven Walkfield’s boyfriend.
Alice Wakefield – Still the twins’ mom and survivor of breast cancer because Francine Pascal needed to give her another character trait in the epilogue.
Ned Wakefield – Still the twins’ dad and a successful lawyer.
Todd Wilkins – Married to Jessica and clueless about what a harpy she is.
Elizabeth Wakefield – Twin sister of Jessica, now happily sexing it up with her lover Bruce.
Jessica Wakefield – Married to Todd, twin sister of Elizabeth and learner of no pertinant lessons whatsoever.

As for poor Winston, if you were hoping he might get a last second reprieve from his drunken balcony death like Olivia got a last minute reprieve from that stupid refrigerator, it looks like you are shit out of luck as he remains dead.

Poor, poor Winston.

So that is the entire book. Now don’t get me wrong, it was pretty awful, but I also fully acknowledge that if she writes another one, I will still be all over that garbage because there’s nothing quite like a good train wreck. Oh Sweet Valley, you are totally, yet fascinatingly, awful.

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I am not, nor have I ever been, a girly girl. The closest I ever came was a weird era in the late ’80s where I insisted on wearing skirts and dresses all the time while climbing trees. I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea as it resulted in many ripped outfits or my ass hanging out half the time, but I guess as a five-year-old, I wasn’t that concerned about wardrobe destruction or panty-flashing.

Anyway, one of the few offerings I made to the altar of estrogen growing up was being a pretty avid fan of the Sweet Valley series. I’ve mentioned this before, but I followed those Wakefield twins through thick and thin. Grade School (Sweet Valley Kids), Middle School (Sweet Valley Twins), High School (Sweet Valley High) and Post-Secondary (Sweet Valley University), we went through many years together. Common sense and continuity be damned! The Wakefield girls were my girls . . . And man, were they ever mean girls sometimes! I’ve only realized this more as an adult, but what sanctimonious little pricks they were to some of their friends. I mean Lila was generally thought of as “the group bitch”, but she was the respectable kind of bitch. In that way, she was kind of like Sweet Valley‘s own James Spader. She didn’t hide the fact that she was an asshole under a bunch of bumbling and cutesy gestures ANDREW MCCARTHY– she owned it and you knew what you were getting with her.

Anyway, my lovely and much more girly sister-in-law reminded me of the series again this morning when she posted a link on my Facebook wall to an interview with Francine Pascal (the all-knowing creator god of the Sweet Valley Universe) who was talking about this . . .

*And the angelic choir sang the praises of the Wakefield clan*

I wasn’t that excited about it because this book is practically Sweet Valley folk lore at this point. There has been talk time and time again that there was going to be a book following the Wakefields & their plucky pals post-grad, but the reports were always riddled with errors and the release date of the book was never firm, so I was sceptical the thing would ever see the light of day.

Until, apparently, now because, unbeknowst to me, the book was released yesterday and my nearby bookstore has 43 copies of it! Hells ya!

So needless to say, I will be heading over to the bookstore at lunch because Sweet Valley, she is my lady crack**. I am so addicted to the ridiculous, manufactured drama of it that I need . . . nay, have to read what happens to those blonde bitches next! Woot! So excited! Trashy book, here I come!

(A reading and a detailed recap will be coming shortly.)

*And something that I didn’t mention in my Andrew McCarthy Sucks! post but that I should have was that, when Andie and Blaine (blech!) finally get back together and kiss and whatever, they’re in like an alley or a parking lot or whatever with none of his stupid jerk friends around so he’s still ashamed of her! Pretty easy to deliver big speeches about how much integrity you have when you don’t actually have to have any balls to back it up, eh Blaine? At least Danny Zuko who, don’t get me wrong, I also have problems with danced with Sandy in front of everyone at the carnival thingy! Bah! HATE!
**You know, I just realized that by calling a post “Lady Crack,” I am probably opening my blog up to a bunch of really unsavoury blog search terms but my brain is so clouded with happy ridiculous thoughts that I don’t care. Sorry, perverts!

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So this past weekend, I completed my first round of volunteering at the Toronto Comic Art Festival (TCAF for those in the know). I had never volunteered before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a fabulous time and met a bunch of cool people. I’m going to write a post about the stuff I bought later when I can take pictures of it, but for now, I just wanted to jot down some of the things I remember about the weekend.

– Working the info desk on Saturday morning and getting to meet and check in a bunch of awesome comic people. There was a minor issue in that something happened with the name tags, so I had to explain to every exhibitor that we didn’t have tags for them yet, but they would be coming. Thankfully, comics people are awesomely chill and no one minded.

– The fact that Charles Vess had sparkles in his long grey hair. Everytime I saw him, it made me smile.

– Surprising Abby Denson first thing in the morning by recognizing here and telling her I had her book Dolltopia in my bag. (She signed it later in the day.)

– Working with a dude named Andrew who I had never met but finding out he knew a bunch of my friends. It is a very small world out there.

– Selling a Marc Bell poster to an adorable 4-year-old child. He was having a hard time deciding between that and Daniel Clowes so I helped him compare and contrast.

– Helping a dad by going through the program with him and pointing out a bunch of cool female comics people who he might want to bring his young comic drawing daughter around to see (I recommended Cecil Castellucci, Raina Telgemeier and Kate Beaton off the top of my head which I hope helped.).

– Having to explain we had no mermaids to an old crazy dude.*

– Talking up one of Cecil Castellucci’s books in front of Cecil Castellucci and then talking with her for a while about Rose Sees Red, her upcoming children’s book and her rock opera. I have met her twice now and she is one of the tiniest most adorable ladies ever.

– Picking up Afrodiasiac from Jim Rugg in person and him doing a custom sketch for me. (Sidenote – Jim Rugg is soft spoken but a serious sweetheart. If you haven’t read his stuff, do it now! Otherwise, I’ll sic my Jim Rugg loving friend Alex on you!)

– Having a stare off with one of the artists in the small press room and then realizing we knew each other (she works at Magic Pony where my husband and I often shop.)

– Going to see Kate Beaton who wasn’t there, but then seeing the glory of the Fat Pony Puppet that was waiting in her stead.

This picture was ripped from Ryan North's Twitter feed. He draws Dinosaur Comics which are also awesome.

– Waiting in line for Kate Beaton later and making friends with people in front of us. Hi Aslin and Sabrina!

– Kate Beaton signing and custom sketching in our copy of Never Learn Anything From History and personally giving me a Bitchy Bronte Sisters Shirt.

– Chatting with Erika Moen and her telling a story about getting a horrible bitchy e-mail from a woman who was angry Erika had sold her adult mother one of her books (Erika’s stuff is fantastic, but it’s more on the adult content side of things).

– Talking to John Campbell and realizing the man has the neatest printing I have ever seen.

– Running into a friend from high school but being so tired, I didn’t recognize it was her until she jumped up and down in front of me.

– Grabbing a Monica Gallagher Dionysius shirt for Boy because it was awesome and personality suiting.

– Snagging an awesome Scott Hepburn print for $10. Coveting a Michael Cho print, but realizing I was to broke to shell out the $35 required. Damn!

– Going out to dinner with our friend Bella and a bunch of awesome comic artists including Jeff Ellis, Rachel Dukes and Mike Lopez, and Miriam Libicki (there were other people too, but I have to admit, I didn’t catch all the names since it was so loud.)

– Hitting both TCAF parties on Saturday night. First one in the gaybourhood, then the other one in the Annex. The one in the Annex had a DJ who was far too confident about his incredibly lacklustre freestyling and kept interrupting the music (which was actually decent) to shout out random things.

– Handing out programs with a dude with a giant afro named Wes. We talked Star Wars and I learned later he’s working on his own graphic novel.

– Hanging out with another volunteer named Jay. He is going to Teacher’s College up North in the Fall and he was nice enough to get me a much needed tea and doughnut on Sunday when I was starving. We worked together the entire day and bonded over mutual geekery, but I lost track of him when I was leaving and never got to say goodbye. Sorry about that, Jay! You were very awesome and nice!

– Working the Daniel Clowes line. I have to be honest and say I have never read anything Daniel Clowes has written, but his fans are nice and super-friendly. I went and found out some information for a couple standing in the line and after they got their stuff signed, they came back to show me and talk to me some more. I also met Eric Wight in the line. He is a very cool dude and he reminded me I still need to read My Dead Girlfriend. It was one of the first things I put on my Amazon list and I keep forgetting to buy it! I also met Miles Baker who is the publisher of Mondo. He was very friendly and let me examine his Igor Kenk graphic novel which I will also have to buy.

Anyway, that is pretty much everything that I can remember off the top of my head. I am sure there are other awesome things that happened, but I am minorly braindead from all of the craziness that occurred. Hope everyone else who went had an awesome time as well and major thanks to the fabulous twosome of Andrew Woodrow-Butcher and Christopher Butcher and to the ever lovely Natalie Atkinson. Without all their hard work, we wouldn’t have had such a great weekend. Comic nerds are the coolest.

*Just to explain, my blog post title refers to a conversation I had with a dude who came up to me while I was working the info booth. A transcript if you will:
Dude: Where are the mermaids?
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Dude: The mermaids! Last year, there were mermaids and this year, I can’t find them.
Me: Do you know what title they were associated with?
Dude: I don’t remember. You just came in and poof! There were mermaids.
Me: Well unfortunately, we don’t have the same exhibitors every year so it’s possible that whoever had the mermaids last year isn’t here this year.
Dude: Oh. Well that’s too bad, that’s what I came to see.
Me: Sorry about that.
Dude: You know what you should do? Next year, when you print the programs, you should list the person’s name and what they draw. Like “John Smith – Mermaids.”
Me: Okay. We’ll keep that in mind.

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The past little while has been all about figuring out what to do in big ways and small ways. I’m a very list oriented visual person so I figured I would write stuff down to hold myself accountable for it . . . and also because a bit of outside support never hurt anyone. I’m starting with the small stuff and building to the large. You with me, blog readers? Okay, here we go:

1. Get a library card: Check!
Because I am such a reader, I end up spending a lot of money on books. There are definitely worse things I could spend money on, but having a library card allows me to read the way I want to without having to slow myself or stress over the amount of money I would be spending if I had to pay for everything I read. So far, I’ve read 3 books and I have 11 more in waiting. Who knew the library hold system in Toronto was so damn efficient?

2. Volunteer for stuff to beef up my resume: Check!
For a long time after I graduated, I took jobs just to have jobs. I didn’t really care about them, but they paid the bills so it was okay. Then I landed the job I am currently in in the field I want to work in (publishing) and things kind of changed. This isn’t my dream job by a long shot, but I finally felt the way I always hoped I would feel about work – like I was doing something productive and meaningful. I’ve been looking to move on for a while and nothing has happened, so I figured the best thing to do in the meantime was to volunteer and try to improve myself for prospective employers that way. Sure, I might not have a Masters or PhD*, but I have a college degree, work experience and I’m willing to do what it takes to land the job I want.

3. Plan a birthday party for Boy: Check!
Boy is not a party person. Growing up, he did not have birthday parties, he did not do the cake and ice cream thing and most of the time, his dad would give him money for a present or two. Because of this, I have always felt very strongly that he should have the proper birthday experience of cake and friends and happy times and now, he is finally letting me do it! So, two weeks from now, we are having a small party at our apartment with friends. It won’t be anything ridiculous or embarrassing, but with everything that is going on, the guy deserves a happy day.

4. Make awesome summer plans: Check!
Who is:
a) attending an outdoor music festival?
b) taking the awesome nacho tour of Toronto?
c) spending a weekend hanging out with puppies?
d) going to finally stop being a chicken$h!t and sunbathe topless at the beach**?
This lady!

5. Get new jobs for me and Boy:  . . .Working on it!
Boy pulled together an amazing portfolio and applied to his dream company for a position he was actually qualified for . . . and now, we’re waiting. And the waiting part? It sucks. No matter what you do, it sucks. Fortunately, one of Boy’s old profs might be able to hook him up with some design contacts and even mentioned the possibility of him teaching part time which would be awesome because not only is my husband wicked smart but he would be one of the foxiest teachers ever! As for me, in addition to the volunteering, I’ve been searching job boards and calling in favours from any person I can think of. Prior to his layoff, Boy’s salary made up about two thirds of our budget and now that his job is done, we’re reverting to my measly one third. I would call myself the breadwinner but really, my paycheque is more like a dinner roll than an entire loaf bread. :-p
Anyway, there are three preferred outcomes here:
a) Boy hears from his dream company and ends up working there (fingers crossed, such as they are).
b) Boy gets a slightly different but still awesome job.
c) I land a better paying gig which helps us stay afloat a little better in the future. 
One or combination of pretty much any of these three would be awesome. If at the end of the summer, these things don’t happen for any reason, we discussed the possibility of moving out of province for Boy to find work (possible cities include Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton). However, we’re really going to work as hard as we can to make sure that that is kind of a last resort scenario***.

Anyway, that is what is going on right now. What about you, folks in blogland? What are your current and upcoming gameplans?

To end things on a more happy note, here is a baby picture of Boy. We always joke that he had a Winston Churchill look about him as an infant.

*In December, I interviewed for an internal promotion at my company and was told by the interviewer during the interview that while they “could hire someone merely adequate (like myself)” they really only hired people who had Masters degrees or PhDs because “(they) wanted someone smart and professional with potential.” If you ever want to metaphorically kick someone in the balls, insulting them to their face during an interview for a job they are actually qualified for is the best way to do it.
**With plenty of sunscreen!
*** No offense to anyone who lives any of these places. We just really enjoy our life here in Toronto (plus our family is here)!

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I Am A Gift Nerd

Something you ought to know about me – I love buying people presents. Sure, it’s nice getting them, but I love the feeling I get when I walk into a store and I see the EXACT RIGHT thing for someone I know and love in front of me. It’s like I can’t stop myself because the idea of making them happy makes me so giddy, I have to go for it.

As I have mentioned before several times, I’ve been big on buying my unborn niece presents. I’d bought her 4 presents even before my lovely Sister in Law’s baby shower, so when the baby shower hit, I could legitimately unleash some more of my present love on Smee. Yes, I know I’m going to be the mega-spoiling aunt, but I’m an only child and this is the first baby in our family, so I can’t help it.

In any case, these are the presents that I bought for Smee for the shower that happened yesterday. Check ’em out and ooh and aaw along at their adorableness!

Present 1: Iris Flutter Sleeve Dress by Tea
When people are having a girl, it’s like some crazy unwritten law that you have to buy them a dress. But I wanted to go a little more on the practical side which is why I went with Tea because their stuff is all soft, easy to wash cotton. As for the print, my Sister and Brother in Law have said before that they hope the baby has soft curly hair and when I saw this dress, I was instantly smitten with the idea of a curly headed little girl wearing it.

Present 2: Hummingbird Wrap Romper by Tea
The baby is being born in May, so with the summer stretching out ahead, I thought it was a good idea to pick something that let her little legs feel the sun and get some air. Plus, hummingbirds have a special meaning for me and I love the colour blue, so this seemed like a good choice.

Present 3: I’d Really Like To Eat A Child by Slviane Donnio
I wrote about this one before, but I still really love it. The sulky little face he makes when his parents try to get him to eat bananas is awesome. Love it!

Present 4: Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
A story about a lion that loves books. I was won over almost immediately by the drawing of the lion sitting patiently listening to children’s storytime.

Present 5: Always by Anne Stott
I know people are all gaga about the book I Love You Forever, but I’ve never really been into that because I feel like it goes a bit overboard with adorableness (plus what is with the mom breaking into her son’s house in the middle of the night to rock him in his sleep? If my Mother-in-Law did that, I would be freaked out!). I liked the fact that this one had a great element of sweetness to it, but that it was not too crazy sentimental, because I think that’s more how I tend to be in life.

Present 6: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
This was Boy’s pick. We were in the store looking for a couple more books for Smee and he said this was a must have. I have never read it (shame on me!) but the second I took a look at it, I knew why Boy liked it. The pissed off little face on the cover is pretty what he looks like when I try to drag him out of bed on the weekend.

Present 7: The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman
Growing up, I had some serious love for Phoebe Gilman. I owned the Jillian Jiggs books* and loved them, but this one was probably my favourite. I love how gorgeous and colourful the illustrations were and if I had had the option, I definitely would have wanted a balloon tree of my very own.

Anyway, that is everything for now. I already have Smee’s next gift picked out, but I am trying to pace myself. Is anyone else out there a gift nerd? What kind of stuff do you like buying for people and why?

*One of my most heart breaking moments as a little kid was in the first grade when, just after I got it from my school’s book order, my friend Melody dropped my brand new copy of The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs on the slush covered floor of her mother’s car, ruining it forever. So sad!

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I read somewhere this morning that today is Positive Day, a day for thinking happy thoughts. Having spent the last week sick and sleep deprived, I have to admit that I haven’t exactly been in that frame of mind. It is hard to show off your sunny disposition after you’ve spent the night shaking the bed with your reverberating cough. But since it is Positive Day, I’m going to push forward and make a list of the things that are making me happy right now.

1. Planning my Sister-in-Law’s baby shower. I am a nerd so I like organizing and planning things and this event is no exception. After all the hard work Erin put into my wedding shower, I’m really happy that I’m going to be able to pay her back in some way. Plus the sooner the shower comes, the closer we’ll be to my niece being born. Hooray for Smee!

2. Getting in shape again with yoga. When we moved into our current apartment, I signed up for a gym membership and went a total of three times before I remembered that I HATE THE GYM. Seriously, in high school, aside from field hockey and running (which I was pretty good at due to my crazy long legs), gym class was like my torture. But yoga is different. I’m stretching out and getting more in touch with my body and I’ve noticed a difference when it comes to how I feel and even a bit in how I look. Be gone, evil desk pudge! There is no place for you here!

3. The fact that I am getting my haircut this weekend. The last time I got my hair cut was in October a couple of weeks before Jack and Sally’s wedding. Since then, it has grown out of my head into a kind of nonstyle shag which just doesn’t work. At best, I can put it into a kind of anemic ponytail. At worst, I look a little Jennifer Aniston circa 1995 which . . . no. This is not good for anyone, so I’m taking the scissors to it (or, rather, my awesome Trekkie hairdresser is on Saturday at 4).

4. Pushing myself to try doing things I haven’t done before. This started at the end of last year when I decided to try a drawing class. I’m still not a fabulous artist, but I learned some tricks and had a good time. But more than that, I felt good about trying something new and so, to keep from falling into a rut, I’ve been doing my best to keep an open mind and broaden my horizons. After all, I live in one of the best cities in the country for doing wild and crazy things. So in the past few months, I’ve gone to literary readings, checked out art house movies, worked as a live model for a friends’ art project, been to a bunch of art shows,  purchased tickets to a circus cabaret (this weekend) and an outdoor music festival (in June) and signed up to be a volunteer at an upcoming literary festival. With the summer coming soon, I hope it will only get better.

5. Reading. If reading was my job, I would be the happiest girl ever! But since it’s not, I enjoy it in my spare time. 36 books so far this year and I finally got a library card so my breaking 100 before the end of the year shouldn’t break the bank. Awesome!

And last on the list, a super special extra happy thing that actually has nothing to do with me:

6. My Brother in Law landed a spot on a teaching supply list! After leaving an unpleasant work situation at the end of last school year, Nick has spent the last few months waiting for something to open up. And now, after a lot of hard work and volunteering, Mr. Smarty Pants landed a place on a supply list and is going for training tomorrow! Way to go, Mr. S! 😉

Anyway, that is all I could come up with since I am still minorly braindead from yesterday’s antics (work, arty adventures, bar night). What about you, bloggerinos? Got anything you’re really psyched about? Get positive with me and spill it in the comments!

P.S. I know that this jolliness is slightly unnerving/out of character for me, but I promise, I’ll be back to my crazy sarcastic self tomorrow. 😛

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My Google Reader is always choked up with content, so you might have already seen this, but on the off chance you haven’t, it is too good not to share. You all know about my love of the Alien series so may I present to you a couple of pages the genius that is Alien Vs. Pooh.


You can read the whole story online here. If this were a book, I would definitely be buying it for my niece, bad taste be damned!

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