Archive | January, 2011

The Ghostwriters Must Really Hate Us: SVT #103 “Elizabeth Solves It All”

31 Jan

Smug bitch. Is that too mean? She is twelve, after all. But something about the legs swung over the desk, the self-obsessed newspaper cut-out and the state-of-the-art laptop [this IS 1997, after all] are really pissing me off. And don’t even get me started on the prissy white sandshoes. Mine never looked like that.

I must really hate myself, because the first paragraph was enough to turn any sane person away:

“To Our Readers,

The Sixers is proud to announce, ‘Dear Elizabeth’, an advice column just for kids. Send in your questions and get great advice from Elizabeth Wakefield. As you all know, Elizabeth Wakefield is a great student, a great writer, and a person who cares about other people’s problems [Read: meddlesome shoulder patter]. So write to Dear Elizabeth, care of the Sixers, room 204, and take advantage of the wit and wisdom of SVMS’s very own professional adviser, Elizabeth Wakefield.”

I’m sorry, but “professional adviser” ?! What could possibly qualify a twelve-year-old for that role? Elizabeth, of course, feigns embarrassment on the matter [i.e. fishes for compliments about how awesome she is]. Fortunately, Amy Sutton is there to kiss-ass:

“Don’t be so modest, Elizabeth,” Amy said. “You are a great student, and you know it. Besides, we need to drum up business. Right Maria?” Continue reading

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Sweet Valley: Land of the Clones Or SVH #64, “The Ghost of Tricia Martin”

25 Jan

Oh hey, Steven. Welcome home from college. Again. Or should I say, hi 33-year-old Justin Bieber. What the fuck are you doing with LaToya Jackson? Ba-by, ba-by, ba-by, oh…

But no – it’s not Ms Jackson taking up with a juvenile. It’s Steve Wakefield’s latest fling, Andrea , who is apparently the spitting image of his dead girlfriend, Tricia, who we met back in book 13.

Continue reading

The One Where Winston Doesn’t See Anything, or SVU THRILLER EDITION #7, “WHAT WINSTON SAW.”

20 Jan

Think of the five worst SVH plotlines you’ve ever read. Trouble narrowing it down? Me too. But there’s a fair bet that you’ll come up with the following combination rearranged and chucked into Fran-Pasc’s winning formula:  Psycho murderers. Check. Glittering knives. Check. A police department so incompetent that a bunch of dumbass teenagers does a better job. Check. An evil blonde vixen. Check. Elizabeth Wakefield shoulder-patting her way to triumph. Check.

This book, “What Winston Saw” incorporates all of the above, and more. On one hand, I cannot believe I named my blog after it. But on the other, it really does encompass everything I know and love to hate about Sweet Valley:

Winston Egbert has a brand new life, thanks to replacing his geeky specs with a set of contacts and acquiring a new job as assistant to the University Dean, Mr Franklin.

Winston thinks his girlfriend Denise is doing the dirty on him with Bruce. Given that Bruce is the Sigma president, wealthy heir to the Patman fortune and an all around hunk of man, Winston wonders who could blame her:

All his life, Winston had been known as the goofball, or the class clown. Beautiful, sexy women just didn’t throw themselves at his size twelve feet. Denise was the only exception, and Winston knew that a guy like him could never be so lucky twice in one lifetime.

Well excuuuse me! Have you forgotten Maria Santelli? You know, the mayor’s daughter slash hot cheerleader who blew off her engagement for you, and spent the next 120 books going to every junior year dance with you and tripping over your massive feet? Oh, that old thing…

But obviously someone else got the memo about a man with big feet: the bosses’ wife, a leggy blonde known as Amanda Franklin, gets all Annie Whitman on us [without the pills] and starts coming on to Winston.  We know she is a whore because she has red toenails and a sequinned slip with a thigh-high slit. The dialogue is like a really, really bad porno.

Stuff like,

“What’s in the garden?” Winston asked in a husky voice.

“Many surprises,” Amanda whispered, her mouth so close to his that Winston could breathe in her words. She slid her hand under the lapels of his sports coat and pressed her hand against his chest.

“I can make you forget the terrible things Denise has done to you.”

I can’t write anymore, it’s so dreadful. I’m literally blushing like a nun in a brothel.

Winston decides his new contact lenses are responsible for this attention.

Anyway, they’re at some kind of academic cocktail party that Elizabeth Wakefield has to cover for WXSV. On seeing the dean’s wife having a crack at her friend, Liz meddles, and doesn’t sleep with Tom. They could have seriously saved ten year’s worth of ghostwriter salaries by writing the same four paragraphs and inserting them into every SVU book:

Liz covers a breaking story on campus.

Tom whispers sweet nothings in her ear and nuzzles her neck with vigor.

Liz wards off his advances and tightens the screws of her chastity belt.

Tom trudges off to bed with blue balls.

Liz ponders her latest charity case and goes to weep pity on the poor soul, shoulder pats aplomb.

This time, Winston is the case in point, and although I thought she’d left the Eyes and Ears behind at SVH, she is determined to pry into the Denise-Bruce-Winston-hot-bosses’-wife-quadrangle.

Because this is Sweet Valley, an evil murderer called Jack is lurking around on campus. We know he is evil because he smokes and drinks whiskey. He is on the run after knifing his childhood sweetheart, Gina, who he caught making out with another dude.  Elizabeth just happens to be running across campus at midnight to shoulder pat Winston, and the murderer is so taken with her beauty and resemblance to Gina that he decides to attack her. [I just had a thought – Maybe Gina was really Margo? That would be 137 shades of awesome.]

After the party, Amanda is all “hey yeah you with the sad face” and somehow finds herself entwined in a passionate embrace with Winston [Go Winston!] in his dorm room. Just when he gets a conscience and decides to kick her out, she goes over to the window.

Winston’s eyes bulged in horror. She’s going to kill herself! He thought in panic. I shouldn’t have rejected her.

You wish buddy – turns out she’s spotted St Liz copping a beating, and her face has scared off Jack the attacker.

After the crazy man leaves Liz for dead in the bushes, Winston and Amanda decide not to call the cops, ‘cause then everyone might find out that they were fooling around. How logical.

Winston boots her out and LETS HER WALK ACROSS CAMPUS ALONE. OK, so he offered to chaperone, but still. That’s a low, Patman-esque move –  I thought better of Winston.

The next morning, Winston wakes up to find that someone has been brutally murdered at the local bar and grill. Thinking it might have something to do with the attack Amanda witnessed, [because EVERYTHING is linked in Sweet Valley] he decides to contact the police. However, Amanda the infidel won’t cooperate, so Winston decides he will pretend to be the witness. And this will help the investigation how exactly?? From photographs, he “identifies” a suspect, who happens to be an undercover cop. Winston is overcome with guilt and decides to conduct his own investigation. As luck would have it, he runs into a guy who matches Amanda’s description of the attacker and follows him across Sweet Valley. He tracks him to the Gangbusters Saloon on the outskirts of town, a place that makes Kelly’s Roadhouse Bar seem like a chapel.

Gaa, these plots are bad. And long. If this were SVH, we’d be onto our second stack of blueberry pancakes by now.

Over the next hundred pages, Jackson goes around Sweet Valley killing any blonde he catches making out with someone. Winston tells a bunch of lies to the detectives – and the court – to avoid implicating himself Amanda in anything. That’s OK, Win – I’m sure committing a federal offence has nothing on confessing to a pash with a stranger who you fended off anyway.
He also finds out that Denise wasn’t cheating at all – just spending a stack of time with Bruce so she could borrow his Porsche. While Lila was out of town. Riiiiighht.

Under the command of St Elizabeth, Winston finally fesses up to his girlfriend, and all is forgiven, never mind that he should be convicted of perjury. But it’s all too little too late…

Winston is then named as the prime murder suspect by some warped Sweet Valley logic that I cannot follow, and Amanda refuses to give him an alibi, instead telling her husband that Winston is a crazy stalker.  At the theatre, yes, the theatre, that night, Jack murders Amanda [having realised that SHE was the real witness], and drops the bloodied knife at Winston’s size eleven feet. The fuck? Of course, Dean Franklin appears, and Winston’s only option is to run away. Where does he go? I’ll give you three guesses…

Back in Elizabeth Wakefield’s dorm room, Denise, Liz and Winston hatch a plan [Tom Watts has been absent since the blue balls incident of chapter two.] Denise dresses up in a cleavage-showing leather mini and blonde wig, to attract the killer’s attention, and Liz and Winston team up to get the killer once he’s been booby trapped.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but of course the plan goes off without a hitch.

Jackson is captured and taken away forever, and Winston’s murder/perjury/misleading court charges are dropped. Never mind that his lies allowed Jack to go around murdering more innocent blondes – all Winston loses is his job. Good God.

Finally, the sun comes up, and our A Team settle in to a pancake breakfast over the Sunday papers:

Winston read the headline aloud. “ ‘Sweet Valley Serial Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison.’  I thought I’d never see the day.”

Really Winston? Really? In the past three years you’ve witnessed your friends being kidnapped by crazed orderlies, stalked by evil dopplegangers, held at knifepoint by ex-convicts and tied up in a flooded basement with a gaggle of cheergirls, and you thought you’d NEVER SEE THE DAY.

You can hang your size- eleven shoes on that.

The French Are Doing It Better: LES JUMELLES DE SWEET VALLEY

16 Jan

Recently, I secured a copy of Les Jumelles De Sweet Valley California College: “Chacune pour soi” direct from France. Given that my French is limited to: “Je suis Winston. J’adore Maria Santelli”, the subject matter of this book is not particularly conducive to snark.

However, thanks to google translate, I managed to deduce that the book is called “Each Man For Himself” and is actually a [rough] translation of SVH #31, “Taking Sides”. I haven’t gotten around to recapping this one in English yet, but it’s the story of Lila and Enid vying for the affection of Sweet Valley High’s newest addition: Jeffery French. Because this is Sweet Valley, he is immune to everyone’s charms – except that of the pious do-gooder St Elizabeth Wakefield. Here’s hoping the book is better in another language.

Below is the blurb on the back cover, and its [googled] translation into English:

Un nouvel eleve vient d’arriver a Sweet Valley High. Jeffery, un garcon symp, bien dans sa peau, passionne de photos et champion de water-polo. Pas etonnant que toutes les filles soient folles de lui. Notamment la tres sexy Lisa, l’aime de Jessica, et la toute timide Enid, l’aimie d’Elizabeth. Chacune des jumelles va essayer d’aider son amie a seduire le beau Jeffery et ce n’est pas forcement la plus jolie ou la plus aguicheuse qui decrochera le gros lot.

A new student has just arrived Sweet Valley High. Jeffery, a boy symptoms, although in his skin, passionate, photos and champion water polo. No wonder that all girls are crazy about him. Including the very sexy Lisa, loves Jessica, and any timid Enid, loves Elizabeth. Each twin will try to help his friend to seduce the beautiful Jeffery and not necessarily the prettiest or the most alluring that hit the jackpot.

Ahem – who is Lisa? And when did Jeffery add water polo to his list of accomplishments? I got my French-competent dad to read chapter one for me, and it turns out that Lila Fowler is in fact one of the ladies vying for his attention [phew!] and that Jeffery is actually a soccer player [thankyou universe for restoring order.]
However, I’m super glad that the Parisians have clarified Enid’s love for Elizabeth, also that the person who “hit the jackpot” – Elizabeth – is neither the prettiest, nor the most alluring.

Suck à ce sujet, saint Elizabeth Wakefield

The Wakefields get duped again: SVH Super Thriller “A Stranger in The House”

9 Jan

First, allow me a moment of self-indulgence:

In the next two weeks I will packing up and leaving the city I’ve called home for twenty-two-and-a-half years, and moving across the state to a small country town in the sticks. From there, I have ten months to learn emergency and internal medicine in time for the impending medical internship of 2012. But worry not, my friends: this blog will not be abandoned, but will continue to be Winston’s constant creative outlet when ageing surgeons are bastards or the H1N1 epidemic rears its ugly head again. After the eventual triumph of Margo Pike and Karen Brewer, When Lila Met Stacey is on hiatus [turns out those pesky Wakefields are actually kind of necessary.] However, you can look forward to some brand new recaps, encompassing SVT, SVH and, [if I can grit my teeth long enough] SVU. There will be outfit recaps aplomb, and a new parody series in the works. Also – please check out my Sweet Valley Trivia Game Page, to surprise yourself with how much random Sweet Valley crap you actually know. It’s scary.

“A Stranger In The House” [I’m telling you, this guy should hook up with Margo].

Gaa, don’t you hate it when a psycho killer that your dad jailed ten years earlier comes to Sweet Valley under two different guises and convinces both you and your twin that he’s your soulmate?

I sure do!

Of course, we all know that everyone in the universe is obsessed with the Wakefields, so it’s only natural that John Marin would stalk the twins, with a view to wooing them, slaughtering them, and avenging his decade-long captivity.

In case you haven’t read all these books, Ned Wakefield is a specialist in at least 137 different branches of the legal system. We’ve already seen him in action in divorce and family law [the Ricky Capaldo case], criminal law [representing his own daughter after her DUI charge] and civil law [weighing in on the Patman/Fowler football field ownership dispute].

Of course, he still has time to run for mayor and be a devoted father. Not devoted enough, apparently, because while working in prosecution a decade ago, he only managed to put double-murderer Marin in the clink for ten years. Now, as Marin is freed from Sweet Valley jail on rather lofty parole conditions, Ned remembers the killer’s final words: “Your precious little girls will never be safe again!” Mwah ha ha!

Here is John Marin, just days before his release:

I am amused that he got scissors in jail. Also that he was allowed to tape myriad photos of the twinkies to his cell wall, and nobody thought to give him a psych consult.

If you look closely, there is a photo of Jess and Lila at Paradise Spa, taken from the cover of “Murder in Paradise.” Up here for self-referentiality, Fran-Pasc.

Our story is set during the 11th summer after junior year, and the twins have started a new waitressing job at the Marina Café. Of course, they are brilliant at it. When a handsome scholar called Ben Morgan* puts the moves on Elizabeth, she finds herself cheating on Todd AGAIN. But it’s okay, you guys – she’s met her soulmate! I find it hard to believe that a guy who was jailed at 18 and probably hasn’t seen a book since is charming the pants off St Liz with his deep insights into 19th century literature. Also, he has enough money to buy a sixteen foot yacht, which he calls “The Emily Dickinson”.

Jessica, meanwhile, has forgotten poor old Ken Matthews, and is wrapped up in Scott Manderlake* a trendy TV intern who offers her a spot in his miniseries. [What is a television intern? Please enlighten.]

*Actually John Marin

Marin, meanwhile, is having a ball toying with the twins. First he pulls a Margo and picks the lock on the Wakefield’s front door so he can get into Elizabeth’s secret diary. Then he rocks into Jessica’s world in a red Mazda Miata, [one of the most overused hot-person cars in this series] and he begins to plot the twins’ murder, which he will carry out on a boat. Marin, marine…it’s all in the name. My favorite is when he crouches in the bushes at Calico Drive, fantasizing about Alice in one of Jessica’s miniskirts. He even takes some photos, the perve!

On Saturday night, while Liz is moonlighting on a yacht with her literate lover “Ben”, Ned and his detective pal Cabrini finally tell Jessica about John Marin. “But Dad!” is her reply on seeing the mug shots. “I’ve been dating this guy ALL WEEK!”

If only the twins were still doing the job of the SVPD at the Sweet Valley News, dammit!

Finally, the A team hijacks a coast guard boat and rescues St Liz, just as Marin is arching his glittering knife through the air. Marin is initially reported to have drowned, but there’s a twist – he somehow gets back to the Wakefield’s, drugs Prince Albert and slugs Ned. But finally, we get a window-push, and Marin is handcuffed and transported to prison. The real police have yet to be called. But hey, who needs ‘em. Of course, Todd forgives the cheating minx and everyone sits down to a steaming cup of milky cocoa.

And only a week has elapsed.

The Evil Twin: A Sweet Valley High Costume Celebration

5 Jan

 No-one can deny that the awesomeness of The Evil Twin is largely attributed to Margo Black. However, this Magna Edition also produced some killer outfits, outfits so fantabulous that I can justify an entire post solely dedicated to bringing them to life. Sadly, nearly all the items below I happened to own. Most were tucked away in boxes at my sister’s, grandmother’s and parent’s, but nevertheless they were there. One exception is Jessica’s New Year’s gown, which is probably my favourite Sweet Valley High outfit EVER, and the trigger for the complete and utter Wakefield-envy which plagued me for much of my childhood. My 12-year-old self would be thrilled to know that I picked up the sequinned frock at Samaritans for the bargain price of just $4.00. Get jealous.

 Just then, Elizabeth’s eyes came to rest on one of her favourite outfits, a fancy tuxedo shirt with matching bow tie, trousers and vest.

 Elizabeth sighed. She’d just as soon put on an old pair of khakis and a polo shirt; she didn’t feel particularly festive.

Elizabeth slipped out of her robe and pulled a red v-neck top and black skirt out of her cupboard.

 Jessica chose an outfit that was appropriate for the last day of school before Christmas vacation – a short, forest-green knit dress with long sleeves and a scooped neck – but she did it without really thinking.

Somehow, I don’t think “appropriate” was the best choice of adjective.

“Trust Dana to make even an elf costume look like this year’s hottest fashion!” Elizabeth said laughingly to Todd. Dana Larson, lead singer of the popular SVH rock band The Droids, was wearing a bright green minidress and red tights and gloves. She’d even tinted her short blonde hair red and green for the occasion.

“What on earth am I going to wear?” Margo wondered, looking around the room at her skimpy wardrobe, much of which was lying crumpled and dirty on the floor. Since arriving in Sweet Valley, she’d purchased a few items of clothing and shoplifted some others; she’d also filched various accessories from the Wakefield twins’ drawers. Margo wrinkled her nose. Nothing she owned was quite right for this special occasion. Nothing was good enough for Todd.

“I want something new,” she announced. “I want something unbelievably sexy.”
In Margo’s opinion, she was taking over in the nick of time; Elizabeth’s image definitely needed an overhaul. Now Jessica understood the advantages of high hemlines and low necklines – she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing jeans and an oxford shirt on a date. When Margo was in charge, Elizabeth would adopt a much better style…and tonight Todd Wilkins would be treated to a sneak preview.

Lila agreed on a teal-blue dress with a deep, U-shaped neckline and a very short, flouncy skirt.

I had to consult my sister on this one:  Is teal pale blue-green, like aqua, or a darker shade more like turquoise? I realise now that the ghosties painted quite a fuzzy picture in my head of Margo-as-Elizabeth’s date outfit. Both of these fit the description, but somehow the latter looks far too medieval to be sexy. It does, however, catch the glittering light of the butcher’s knife very nicely…

“Hmm…” Lila eyed a bright red miniskirt with a matching, sailor-style jacket. “Cute. Too cute,” she concluded, pushing it aside.

 James turned away from the railing…and there she was, hurrying down the pier in his direction, a slim figure with pale hair covered be a baseball cap, her chin tucked into the collar of her denim jacket. “Jessica!” James cried, his heart almost bursting with joy.

James, you fool. The real Jessica would never be caught dead in that.

At least she’s up and dressed, Elizabeth thought, noting her sister’s oversized green sweater and black jeans.

 Almost immediately, Elizabeth was sound asleep and dreaming. Once again she was going to the Jungle Prom, and once again every detail was vivid and precise. Wearing her light-blue dress, Elizabeth stood looking at herself in the mirror, arranging her hair and putting on her jewellery… The simple, flowing lines of the silk allowed her natural beauty to shine through; her eyes reflected the ice-blue shade, sparkling like gems.

What on earth was she going to wear to Lila’s ball tomorrow night? Elizabeth remembered asking herself the same question before the jungle prom.

 The dress that Elizabeth and Margo apparently wear to Lila’s ball is described as below:

Elizabeth* considered the selection and then pulled a short, strapless fuschia dress from the closet. Jessica raised her eyebrows. The dress was new, and so daring and sexy she hadn’t even gotten up the nerve to wear it yet herself.

“Wow!” Jessica exclaimed. “That’s not exactly your usual style, Liz. But sure. Go ahead. I guess you’re planning to start off the New Year with a bang, huh?”

A secretive smile curved Elizabeth’s lips. “A bang? You might say that, yes.”

 *actually Margo

Yet, on the cover, we have this:

It’s kind of conservative and bridesmaid-ish.  I can’t really imagine Jessica being too modest to get around in this. Then again, given the shit that went down in this book, a minor outfit inconsistency probably isn’t our greatest concern.  

Also Margo shoplifts her copy of the dress, and then slashes the saleswomans’ tires with her pocket knife. Just for kicks.

Margo was wearing the strapless fuschia dress she’d “bought” that afternoon from Lisettes; her glossy blonde hair was swept up on one side and secured with a single rhinestone-studded barrette; her soft, golden skin and blue-green eyes were highlighted with just a hint of natural-looking makeup. I look beautiful, she thought, her lips parting in a self-satisfied smile.

And now, for my all-time fave:

 Jessica zipped up her dress and then padded in stockinged feet to examine the effect in the bathroom mirror. When Amy had called that afternoon, Jessica had confessed that she had nothing to wear to Lila’s ball. Ten minutes later Amy showed up with a sequinned cobalt-blue dress that Jessica had always been crazy about. Jessica smiled again, giving the gown’s ruffled taffeta hem a flirty flip. The sequins, the bare spaghetti straps – the look was both sexy and elegant, Jessica’s favourite combination.

 

Pamela looked terrific in a strapless plum velvet sheath that seemed moulded to her slender figure.

[For the record, I’m a Bruce-Pamela fan]

 Lila gave the skirt of her flouncy black chiffon dress a little flip. “Just a little something from Paris,” she said lightly. “Glad you approve.”

“Hi, how are you?”asked Elizabeth as she stepped up to Enid’s side and put out a hand to touch the sleeve of her friend’s dark-green velvet dress. “Enid, this is beautiful,” she said. “It matches the colour of your eyes exactly.”

I can’t finish on Enid, I just can’t. So here’s the cobalt-blue number to see out this costume bonanza.

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