Friday, February 3, 2017

The Accidental Ballerina

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a bizarre situation and wondered, "How did I get here?"

Okay, so I knew how I had gotten there. But knowing it didn't make me feel any better.

During my last two years of high school, my friend Dee* and I always tried to coordinate our school schedules. Our motives were not academic; we just wanted to have ample opportunities to pass notes and jointly swoon over George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell. High school was a necessary evil, and we desired to make the best of it, together.

Dee and I had the same school counselor, a rather sweet lady who, luckily for us, was very accommodating when it came to making changes in our schedules. For the first two weeks of any term, we could go to her and say, "You know, I really would rather take algebra in the morning, when I'm more alert." And she'd say, "Okay, how about 3rd period?" And I'd smile and agree, because, why... 3rd period was when Dee had algebra! How perfect!

By the time senior year rolled around, this counselor was most certainly onto our schemes, but she remained accommodating, perhaps because she suspected Dee was not on track to graduate. She seemed willing to bend over backwards just to keep that girl in school.

At the beginning of senior year, Dee and I found ourselves separated from one another... at first. We quickly put our heads together and figured out a way for us to at least have English together, maybe Government, too. But then there was 4th period to consider. I was taking Art For Children, a sort of pre-education course, which was actually pretty lame. One day, Dee told me the counselor had gotten her into a 4th period P.E. class called "Ballet." Would I like to join her? It'd be fun! I was like, um... are you kidding? Dancing? "It's not really dancing; you just exercise and stuff." Hmmm. Okay....

Schedules = rearranged.

Perhaps when you think of ballet, you think of toe shoes and tutus, but this class never went there. Instead, we wore leggings, T-shirts, and/or sweats. We would spend about 30 minutes "warming up" with vigorous stretching and aerobics, then spend the next 45 minutes learning a dance routine. We were led by a fit woman in her 30s or 40s, who seemed to have a thing for Abba.

I quickly discovered Ballet class was tough. Just the warm-up exercises exhausted me! Truth be told, I was not in good shape. I wasn't technically overweight, but I was still the largest girl in the class. Once, we were doing an exercise where the teacher told us to all bend at the waist, stretch, and fix our eyes upon the open space between our thighs. Confused, I glanced around. WHAT open space between my thighs? Who has such a thing? Another time, I remember the teacher getting quite upset because I, and a few other girls, were doing granny push-ups during warm-up time. But that's all I CAN do! I wanted to yell. Still, I tried my best. My one hope was that I'd drop dead on the dance floor, and then she'd be sorry.

The dance routines were another challenge. I just couldn't seem to memorize the movements. Especially since a lot of them involved turning and twisting. There was this huge mirror along one wall, but this didn't help matters. No matter which way I turned, I could see most of the girls doing the motions correctly, but they did them so quickly, I couldn't follow. But it would be even more embarrassing to just stand there, so I tried. Oh, but I tried to dance!

Ballet Class seemed like a disaster, but at least I was with Dee, right? Well, no. Dee sat on the sidelines for the first two classes I attended. She then went back to our counselor and got switched to something else. By then, we were into the third week of school, when people technically weren't allowed to change classes. But the counselor pulled some special strings for Dee.

I felt tricked. Irate. The class was exhausting and humiliating, and my friend had abandoned me, too. I was not happy.

But then a few months went by....

By the time the class finished, I was in better shape than I'd been in years. My metabolism seemed to be on a roll, and by the time I graduated five months later, I'd lost 10 pounds. At home, I began doing a lot of aerobics and dancing -- on my own! And I enjoyed it!

In college, I even took two dance classes -- country line dance and tap. Even though I still had trouble learning the routines, at least I tried, and I did enjoy myself. I'm not sure if I would ever signed up for those dance classes if I hadn't been accidentally enrolled in a ballet class in high school.

Ballet Class had felt like a royal disaster at the time, but I now know that it wasn't. That class was a gift. An exhausting, but rewarding gift. Probably a lot more rewarding than Art For Children, but I may never know.

So the next time you find yourself in a crazy situation, don't despair and don't just give up. Maybe just give it time. Because you never know... maybe this crazy situation you've found yourself in is exactly where you're supposed to be.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Anticipatory Delight

I did it again. I dreamed about the live action Beauty and the Beast movie last night. This time, Belle was searching for her father in the open ocean, gliding through the calm, navy-blue water while ethereal voices offered whispered guidance and clues to his whereabouts.

Yeah, I've dreamed about this movie at least twice, now. 

I think I might be excited.

Of course, with excitement comes anxiety. What if I have all this anticipation, and then don't like the film? What if it's terrible, and my hopes are dashed, and I feel like Gaston after his proposal to Belle, sloshing around in the mud with a pig on my head?

I'm not a film buff; in fact, I rarely go to the theaters anymore. But every once in a while I'll get excited about an upcoming film. Maybe the movie is based on a book I've enjoyed. Perhaps it's part of a franchise I care about. Or maybe it stars someone I like.

Recently I got to thinking about some of the movies I've looked forward to over the years. Did the film meet (or even exceed) my expectations? Was it a dud? So I brainstormed a list of about two dozen films from the past 20 years that I have, at some point, been excited about, and have now seen. For each one, I've rated what my excitement level was prior to the film's opening. That scale can be seen here:

Molly's Excitement Scale

0- Not interested. In which case, it wouldn't be on this list, so...

1- I was aware of the movie and looking forward to seeing it.

2- I was pretty excited. Watching trailers, keeping an eye on casting, production, etc.

3- I was super excited! Tried to be there on opening weekend!

Also, ratings-wise:

👏 - Exceeded expectations.

👍 - Met expectations.

👎 - Did not meet expectations and/or hold up over time.

The Movies

  • Titanic (1997)
Excitement Level: 1. I'd seen the trailer and thought, "I want to see that." 

After Seeing The Film: LOVED IT! It was one of my favorite films for quite a while.  👏

Excitement Level: 3. I watched every interview and read every article I could.

After Seeing The Film: I really enjoyed it. Saw it twice in theaters, in fact. Was a little disappointed by some of the changes from the book. I'd also wished they'd filmed it sequentially, as Daniel Radcliffe's appearance and voice slightly change back and forth during the film (yay adolescence!) But otherwise, I was quite happy. Expectations met. 👍

Excitement Level: 3. The momentum from the first movie was still going strong a year later.

After Seeing The Film: I may not have liked this one quite as much as the first, but what the heck, Harry Potter rules! 👍

Excitement Level: 2. I still went and saw most of them in the theaters, but I think the 1.5-year gaps between some of the films slowed the excitement momentum. 

After Seeing The Films: I enjoyed all of them to varying degrees. The last two (Deathly Hallows) are probably my favorites. 👍

  • Freaky Friday (2003)
Excitement Level: 1. I was a fan of the Jodie Foster version, and was interested to see how they updated the story.

After Seeing The Film: Not bad, really, though I don't think I've seen this since about 2005. 👍

  • Peter Pan (2003)
Excitement Level: 2. I heard about the movie about a year before it came out. I followed the production, watched trailers, etc.

After Seeing The Film: LOVED IT! 👏

  • Ella Enchanted (2004) 
Excitement Level: 2. I was a fan of Anne Hathaway. After I found out she was making this movie, I read the book and really enjoyed it. I remember dreaming about this movie before it came out, too, with dreams about them messing it up.

After Seeing The Film: I liked it upon first viewing, but after re-reading the book and then re-watching the movie, it finally clicked that they are so different. Different as in... the book is good and the movie is not. I tried re-watching the movie a few months ago and couldn't even get through half. 👍/👎

  • The Princess Diaries 2 (2004)
Excitement Level: 1. Well, I'd enjoyed the first Princess Diaries movie, so the second would be more of the same, right?

After Seeing The Film: False. It was terrible. I mean, I recall enjoying it the first time I saw it, but it's really quite awful. 👎

  • The Polar Express (2004)
Excitement Level: 2. A long time ago in a decade far, far away, I really liked director Robert Zemeckis. He had done four films in a row that I enjoyed (Forrest Gump, Contact, What Lies Beneath, and Cast Away) and I was looking forward to his next offering, which was The Polar Express. There was a four-year dry spell between this film and his previous one, so my anticipation kept growing.

After Seeing The Film: I liked it well enough. I don't rewatch it all that often, but it's a fine holiday film. 👍

  • Superman Returns (2006)
Excitement Level: 1. It's interesting, because although I have been a fan of Superman for over half my life, in 2006 we already had Smallville on the air (which I didn't care for) and, perhaps because of that, I couldn't seem to get too excited for this new version of Superman. Sure, I would give it a shot, but I went into it without knowing much about it.

After Seeing The Film: I really liked it! Fun fact: the movie makes a lot more sense if you've (recently) seen the first two Christopher Reeve films beforehand. Good to know... now. 👏

  • Nancy Drew (2007)
Excitement Level: 1. I do enjoy those classic books, and have always wished for a good film adaptation. (The 2002 TV-movie was okay.)

After Seeing The Film: Super sadface. I didn't like it at all. 👎

  • Beowulf (2007)
Excitement Level: 1. This was Robert Zemeckis's next directorial offering after The Polar Express.

After Seeing The Film: Um, well, that was the last Robert Zemeckis movie I ever saw in theaters.... 👎

  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
Excitement Level: 2. Indiana Jones IV was "in development" forever, so of course when it actually went into production, I was stoked. But as opening day approached, I was a little fearful. I mean, I'd disliked Temple Of Doom, so it was feasible that I'd dislike this Indy film, too. At any rate, it couldn't be better than Last Crusade (one of my favorite films), because that would take a miracle.

After Seeing The Film: The miracle did not happen. At least I liked Crystal Skull slightly better than Temple Of Doom.... But mostly I didn't like it. 👎

  • Twilight (2008)
Excitement Level: 3. Let's be honest... I mainly wanted to see this because it was filmed in our area and I my car was a background extra in it. I tried reading the book first and couldn't get through it. But I followed the news and the countdowns and everything.

After Seeing The Film: It was okay, I thought then. I even went and saw New Moon a year later. But I can't sit through it anymore. This film is sooo bland and dumb. 👍/👎

Excitement Level: 3. I've been a fan of Ramona since grade school, and I enjoyed the 80's TV series. I was happy the characters were coming to the big screen. This is another movie that seemed to be in development for a long time, giving me ample time to obsess over it.

After Seeing The Film: I really liked it for what it was. It won't make any AFI lists, but it's a worthy adaptation of the books, and a sweet family-oriented film. 👍

  • Tangled (2010)
Excitement Level: 1. Even as a kid I'd hoped Disney would do a version of Rapunzel.

After Seeing The Film: I enjoyed it about as much as I've enjoyed any non-Pixar movie Disney has put out in the last 20 years. It had its good points, it had its meh. I wasn't disappointed, but it didn't become my new favorite Disney film or anything. 👍

Excitement Level: 2. I love the character of Robin Hood, but Russell Crowe? Ick! What to do?

After Seeing The Film: What to do was see it anyway. And say, "hey, that wasn't so bad." 👍

Excitement Level: 2. This was one of my favorite books. With any book-to-movie adaptation, one worries that it won't be done right.

After Seeing The Film: There are a few things I would've done differently, but overall it was a nice film and a pretty good adaptation. 👍

Excitement Level: 2. I had seen the previous two Nolan Batman films on DVD, and I'd enjoyed them (especially Batman Begins). As the third movie in the trilogy approached, my excitement grew.

After Seeing The Film: It was fine, but I've never been compelled to re-watch it. 👍

Excitement Level: 2. I had been hoping for a sequel to Superman Returns, and I knew that this wasn't going to be one, but rather a reboot. Still, it was Superman. I had to check it out.

After Seeing The Film: I wanted to leave the theater halfway in. Sigh. Figured I'd give the sequel (Dawn Of Justice) a chance if I heard good reviews first. Did not hear good reviews. I don't think I'll be revisiting this franchise until the next reboot. 👎

  • The Giver (2014)
Excitement Level: 2. I'd read the book a few times and enjoyed it. I follow Lois Lowry on Twitter, so I was aware of the production (which seemed to take forever).

After Seeing The Film: A few differences from the book (notably that the characters are older) but I was pretty satisfied with it. I could have done without the Taylor Swift cameo, though. 👍

  • Pan (2015)
Excitement Level: 1. Back in 2003 I was super excited for Peter Pan and then ended up loving it. So I was looking forward to this... until I kept hearing not-so-great things. It even got its premiere date pushed back, which is rarely a good sign. (Well, it worked for Titanic, but....) I finally saw it on cable a few months ago.


Which is to say I didn't like it. 👎

  • Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Excitement Level: 3

After Seeing The Film: ??? Check back after March 17th!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #7 - Snowbound

It snowed here in Portland recently. Twice. Predictably, everyone went crazy. Icy hills were attempted, cars were abandoned on highways, and schools were cancelled on four separate days. 

In the midst of it all, I decided to re-read Snowbound, Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #7! This one came out in 1991, when I was in sixth grade and still a pretty big BSC fan, though I wasn't buying all the books when they came out. I did get this one, though.

Recently I've revisited some of the BSC Super Specials, and I've reviewed three of them here: (#4 - Baby Sitters' Island Adventure#6 - New York, New York!, and #10 - Sea City, Here We Come!) I've actually read a few more than that, but haven't reviewed them. (The "if you can't say anything nice" mantra keeps coming into play.)

Snowbound, however, is actually pretty good. Unlike some of the other BSC Super Specials, the plots are believable and the baby-sitters tend to act their age. The book also holds up pretty well, even 25 years later, despite the fact that some of the girls' problems in this book could have been solved, or at least helped, if they'd had cell phones and the internet. (On the other hand, it's kind of quaint that they don't have those things.)

So let's talk about Snowbound.

Snowbound begins with Kristy Thomas, Baby-Sitters Club president, talking about how this huge snowstorm pummeled Stoneybrook recently. The storm affected all of Kristy's friends in various, unusual ways. However, the local newspaper's take on the storm is a boring, facts-only affair with no human interest value. Kristy takes it upon herself to write to one of the newspaper's editors and ask if she can submit an article all about her and her friends' adventures. Certain that the editor will not be able to refuse, Kristy begins gathering her notes for the story.

Then we flash back....


Anticipation and intrigue abound (!) as Kristy and her friends look forward to two upcoming events: a possible snowfall (yay for school cancellation!) and Stoneybrook Middle School's Winter Wonderland Dance. All the baby-sitters are excited about the dance because they all have dates. Oooh lala! Mary Anne is going with her steady boyfriend Logan, Kristy with her pal and semi-crush Bart, Mallory with her little boy beau Ben, Dawn/Stacey/Claudia with random boys, and Jessi with her out-of-town boyfriend, Quint, who she met back in Super Special #6.

As for the snowfall, which has yet to occur, Kristy writes: Sunday was a pretty regular weekend day. Homework. Spending time with my family. Talking to Bart on the phone. Even the weather report was normal (but boring). The newscaster was predicting a snowstorm. Big woo. It was the fourth storm that had been predicted in two weeks and not a single flake of snow had fallen.

Karen and Andrew, Kristy's stepsiblings, are staying at Kristy's house for two weeks. Karen has invented sweater pants, and at some point on Sunday, her pet rat disappears. Rodent on the loose! But that's about the extent of the excitement. Gee, if only it would snow!


I've always wondered, if Claudia is such a terrible speller and a poor student, how did she ever learn to write in cursive? I recall cursive being kind of a challenging thing to master. One theory: Claudia was actually very smart until about the fourth grade, when she got in a terrible accident that nobody ever talks about. Now she can't remember how to spell describe, but at least she makes her letters all fancy-like!

Claudia get the explain-a-club chapter here, where we are reminded that Mallory is white and Jessi is black, Stacey has Diabetes, and that Claudia and Stacey are "sophisticated." NEVER FORGET.

The baby-sitters are having their Monday club meeting. They are sad it hasn't snowed. They talk about their next meeting, which is supposed to be held on Wednesday. Several baby-sitters will be unavailable that day.... Jessi has a special ballet rehearsal, Mallory and Mary Anne will be sitting for the Pikes, and Dawn and her mom will be picking up Dawn's brother Jeff from their airport. The others don't have set plans, though Claudia volunteers to take incoming BSC phone calls from 5:30 to 6. Glad that's taken care of!


(I took a colored pencil to some of these illustrations sometime in the mid-90's. I regret nothing.)

On Tuesday, Mary Anne arrives at the Pike's, where she will spend Tuesday and Wednesday night, since Mr. and Mrs. Pike are heading to New York City for a day trip at the crack of dawn. Mary Anne and Mallory will be sitting for the kids for nearly 24 hours, and they are quite excited about this.

 Mrs. Pike has already explained to Mallory her & Mal's dad's New York plans: "We're going to eat a light breakfast at the Embassy... After breakfast we're going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then we'll take a bus across Central Park and go to the Museum Of Natural History. Then we'll head downtown and go shopping.... We're meeting the Sombergs for lunch.... In the afternoon, your dad and I plan to visit the Museum of Broadcasting and maybe walk around Lincoln Center. Then we're going to meet the Wileys for dinner, and after that we're going to see The Phantom Of The Opera. Then we'll come home."

Oh, is that all?

After Mary Anne gets to the Pike place, Mr. and Mrs. Pike give Mallory and Mary Anne some important instructions. Then Mallory, ever tactful, asks how much money her parents will be leaving the baby-sitters for school lunches and emergencies, etc.

Mom [Mrs. Pike] forked over a roll of bills. "I expect to get most of this back," she said. 

I [Mallory] looked at the fortune in my hands. "Where am I going to keep this? We better have a good hiding place." I gave the money to Mary Anne. "Here, you hide it," I said. "I can't do it. I'm afraid I'll lose it."

Mary Anne took the money.

I love how Mary Anne's just like, "Omg, Mallory. I'll put it in my damn purse, okay? A purse is a place where money can go. So simple. What on earth have I gotten myself into??" (Stay tuned for more of Mallory says stupid things.)


So Wednesday arrives, school goes on as normal, and in the evening, around six o'clock, snow begins to come down.

Mallory and Mary Anne are still baby-sitting at the Pikes.

Claudia has just started a job baby-sitting at the Perkinses.

Kristy is at home, where she has invited Bart over to watch some movies.

Dawn and her mom are setting out for the airport to pick up Jeff, whose plane is due to arrive from California.

Jessi is at her dance studio for a special Nutcracker rehearsal, anticipating her dad to pick up New York boyfriend Quint at the Stamford train station and then pick her up from the dance studio.

Stacey are her mom are at the mall, where Stacey has just finished getting a perm. She explains that she's been permed before, but she needed a new one. Flakes are already falling as they leave the mall.

The snowfall quickly turns into a major storm.

Mr. and Mrs. Pike are unable to get a train home from New York (where it is also snowing.) With nine people in the Pike house, and a near-empty pantry to boot, and no way to get to the store, the kids begin scrounging for food. When the power goes out, they raid the freezer and devour the ice cream.

Dawn and her mom make it to the airport, but Jeff's flight is diverted to Washington D.C. The ladies have to spend the night at the airport, with no way to contact anyone after the phones go down. Dawn discovers that airport chairs are very uncomfortable. Also, her mom snores.

Everyone at Jessi's dance studio is stranded there for the night. (The train station is apparently nearby, though, and Quint braves the storm to make it to Jessi.) Jessi and Quint help Jessi's dance instructors take care of the younger dancers during the night.

Claudia is still sitting for the Perkins girls. Mr. and Mrs. Perkins are stuck at their friends' house and can't make it home. Luckily, the Perkins kids are sweet and adorable as usual, but before they go to bed they realize their dog is missing. It's not even a small dog. It's a retriever named Chewbacca. But he's nowhere to be found. (Maybe he's with Karen's pet rat? Lots of animals are going missing in Stoneybrook lately.)

The power goes out all over the city, followed by the phones, but Claudia puts the girls to bed and then continues to look for the dog. He randomly shows up the next morning. He was in the basement the whole time. Oh well... way to add some unneeded tension.

At Kristy's house, Bart is unable to leave, thanks to the heavy snowfall, and has to spend the night at the Thomas-Brewer Maniac Mansion. This puts Kristy into panic mode. First she's embarrassed by how her family is acting. Then she's worried that Bart will somehow come into her room in the night! She then switches her thoughts to what will happen the next morning. What if Bart sees her first thing in the morning, looking bad? Oh noooo!

Stacey and her mom are still trying to get home. Stacey's mom leaves the freeway after a near-accident and takes the back roads. But the snow is so bad, she can hardly even tell where she's going. She stops the car, hoping to pause until the storm lets up. When she realizes that's not going to happen, she attempts to drive again, but the car is now stuck. Meanwhile, Stacey takes this opportunity to ask her mom why she fell in love with her dad. They have a sweet conversation. Then they run out of gas, which kills the heater and the mood. Death is eminent. Oh yeah, and Stacey's still Diabetic, so that's bad, too.

(Stacey is mostly sad about the fact that her hair has already unpermed itself.)

Then a car pulls up and it's some random guy who lives nearby. "Come home with me," he says. Stacey is reasonably wary. This is it, I thought. He's taking us deep into the woods, and Mom and I will never be seen alive again. We'll wind up as a story in one of those books about missing people and strange disappearances.

But it turns out she has nothing to fear, because the guy has a Christmasy-decorated house, a nice wife, and a cute baby son! They are super nice to Stacey and her mom, let them spend the night, and keep Stacey from going into Diabetic shock. Hurray!


As the snow begins to subside, the power comes back on, and Kristy's alarm goes off at 5:30am. She then spends over an hour in the bathroom, showering, shaving her legs, attempting to curl her hair, and applying makeup so as not to scare away the guy she sort of likes. 

This is Kristy we're talking about.

Her brothers rightfully make fun of her, but Bart compliments her on her looks. (Don't encourage her, Bart!)

At the Pikes, the ice cream is gone and everyone's moaning about their hunger because apparently no one knows how to make pancakes or muffins or anything from scratch. Mary Anne calls Logan and whines about being hungry. She also asks him if anything interesting happened to him during the blizzard. No, he says, but his dad built a fire in the fireplace and the family played board games.

Mary Anne replies: "Oh, that sounds cozy. We didn't think of making a fire."

"We wouldn't have been allowed to make one," spoke up Mal from across the kitchen. "Not unless the heat had gone off, too."

I love the way Mallory just listens in on the phone call and adds her two cents. She does it twice during this phone call. To Mary Anne's credit, she does not slap Mallory.

A short while later, Logan shows up at the Pikes' on skis.

"I come bearing food," said Logan solemnly.

The grateful Pikes chow down on the snacks Logan has brought. While they eat, Mary Anne brings up the Winter Wonderland dance and wonders if it will go on as planned the next evening.

Logan thinks that it will be cancelled, since the snow is so deep. Perhaps, he says, it will be postponed till next week.

"It can't be postponed!" said Mal. "Ben and I can't wait until next week!"

And... why can't you? Are you eloping next week? What's the deal?

Claire Pike then asks if they can go outside and play in the snow.

"Sure," Mal answered. "It's okay, isn't it, Mary Anne? This may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What with global warming and all."

Even though I believe in global warming and all, the fact that THAT comes out of Mallory's mouth just cracks me up. I remember this was the first time I'd heard/read the phrase "global warming," way back in 1991, and it actually made me think that we might not have snow anymore when I grew up.

So remember how Stacey and her mom are staying with the guy who rescued them, and how no one has cell phones because it's 1991? Well, Mallory and Mary Anne are both worried about Stacey and her mom. Stacey is the Pikes' neighbor, so they can see her darkened house from their house. They've tried calling her but have gotten no answer.

When Stacey and her mom finally return home, everyone is happy to see them. But Stacey and Mrs. McGill are surprised that they were even missed, and say so.

"Don't ever think we wouldn't miss you," Claud said to [Stacey].

"Yeah. I'm very nosy," added Mal. "I can usually tell whether you're home or not, and it matters to me."

OMG, Mallory THIS is why you have to have braces and frizzy hair. THIS is why you're the baby-sitter who gets mono. THIS is why you're going to be driven out of school and have to go to boarding school in another county. THIS IS WHY.

Stacey doesn't seem to mind Mallory's creepiness, however. In a postscript, she says that "Even though we made you guys worry, it was kind of nice for Mom and me to realize just how much you care about us." (Kind of nice, mmmhmm.)

Lo and behold, Stoneybrook (unlike my hometown) has snow plows, and even though there's no school on Thursday, Friday is a normal day. And the Winter Wonderland dance is held and all the baby-sitters have a grand and glorious time.

The ennnnd.

No wait! There's more! It turns out the editor from the Stoneybrook Gazette or whatever is interested in Kristy's article and is willing to pay her for it! Kristy is now a writer! Her dream has come true! (Actually, that's Mallory's dream, but screw Mallory.)

So that's Snowbound.

A quarter century later, the book still holds up. I think the reason it does is because the events within are completely believable, even to an adult. There's no winning the lottery (Super Special #5) or getting stranded on an island in the ocean (Super Special #4), nor do the baby-sitters go a-traveling (Super Special #5, 6, 8, 10, 13, 14, and 15) more often than middle schoolers ought. Yet, the things that happen to the girls in this book are still interesting and exciting. 

However, the book feels outdated in one obvious way... no cell phones. It's crazy how Jessi has to wait in a long line at her dance studio to even try to call her dad, because the place has exactly one telephone, and when she gets a busy signal, she has to get back in line. When she goes to try again later, the phones are dead. Likewise with Dawn and her mom trying to get hold of Jeff. They have to wait in a line at the airport and then, whoops, the phones go dead. And then the deal with Stacey and her Mom. If the book was written nowadays, the issue could be that they both have cell phones but that they can't get any service where they are, or maybe because they don't know where they are, it wouldn't matter anyway. But the fact that they're stranded and near death and the best Stacey's mom can do is lean on the car horn? That's scary.

On another subject, the author (Ann M. Martin? A Ghostwriter? In 1991, it could be either) apparently had an edict when writing this book to make every baby-sitter interact with a child at some point. This was fine for Mary Anne, Mallory and Claudia, who were all baby-sitting during the snowstorm, and for Kristy, who comes from a big family, but what of the others? Well, the author has Jessi helping take care of the younger ballerinas who are stranded at the dance school. At the airport, Dawn helps a runaway toddler reunite with his dad. And the guy who rescues Stacey happens to have an adorable six-month-old baby at home that Stacey gets to cuddle. 

Compare that to previous Super Specials:

#1 (Baby-Sitters On Board): Only Mary Anne and Stacey are technically baby-sitting; the others are off the hook, though Dawn does encounter some kids and Kristy takes her siblings swimming at one point.

#2 (Baby-Sitters' Summer Vacation): They're camp counselors so they all deal with kids all the time.

#3 (Baby Sitters' Winter Vacation): They all deal with kids most of the time.

#4 (Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure): Claudia and Dawn are stuck with kids. Jessi's baby-sitting. The others get to avoid kids.

#5 (California Girls): Both Mary Anne and Kristy take baby-sitting jobs while on vacation. Jessi visits a kid she used to sit for on the set of his TV show. The rest of them do their own thing.

#6 (New York! New York!): Mary Anne and Stacey agree to sit for two diplomats' kids while on vacation. The others stay kidless.

And then in #7, we're back to the Every-Babysitter-Must-Be-Babysittorial-To-A-Child rule. Neither sleet nor snow nor global warming can keep those baby-sitters from their noble profession!

This was also the first Super Special cover that didn't feature all the current BSC members in the illustration. Just Mallory and Mary Anne and two Pikes.

"A national disaster" (see cover tagline) might be a bit of an exaggeration, since the book only mentions Connecticut and Manhattan getting snow.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a rousing Baby-Sitters Club adventure, and 1 being a book I'd send straight to Good Will, I give Snowbound a 8.1. The plot was believable, the characters were mostly likable (Kristy's beauty regime and Mallory's creepiness non-withstanding), and the writing was smooth and even.

A fine book to cuddle up with on a snowy day.

Friday, December 30, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 30 - LEGO FUTURON Monorail Transport

Day 30:
LEGO FUTURON Monorail Transport

(LEGO Catalog, 1991)

Oh, glorious monorail!

* * *

I hope you enjoyed 2016's 30 Days Of Retro Toys! In case you missed it, here's the list from 2015

And if you like old stuff, you may also enjoy THESE blog posts:

Oh yes, and be sure to check out my Etsy Shop for fun vintage finds!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 27 - High School Jazzie

Day 27:
High School Jazzie

(Barbie magazine, 1989)

Whatever happened to Jazzie? It's like she just disappeared. 

Hmmm, this might just call for a bit o' fanfic....

In this epic tale, four friends (Stacie, Jazzie, Chelsie and Dude) drop out of high school to travel the world. They won't even have to pack suitcases because their clothes can mix 'n' match into five different outfits. They travel cheaply because Jazzie's cousin, Barbie, is a part-time flight attendant and knows people in the industry. Their adventures will take them to many exotic places. However, their good times will come to a sad end when Stacie "loses" her all-important fanny pack (containing the friends' travelers cheques, passports, and cash) somewhere in Copenhagen. Months later, a man matching Dude's description will be found wandering near Monterosso Beach wearing stone-washed denim shorts and a singular orange flipflop.

Monday, December 26, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 26 - Capsela

Day 26:

(321 Contact Magazine, 1991)

I recall one of my elementary school teachers having some of these.

I never did figure out how they worked.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 25 - Koppers Polystyrene Playland

Day 25:
Koppers Polystyrene Playland

(Time magazine, 1953)

Good old polystyrene. Soft, colorful, terrible for the environment... and highly flammable!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 24 - Power Wheels Hot Shot

Day 24:
Power Wheels Hot Shot

(Barbie magazine, 1989)

Ride-on cars are too expensive, our parents said.

Give it to us as a Birthday AND Christmas present combined, we begged.

They only go about one mile an hour.

Still want one.

The batteries don't last.

Still want one.

You'll look like a spoiled rich kid.

That would be fantastic.

They're smaller than you think. They're sized for toddlers.


Here, you can have this instead.

K cool thanks.

Friday, December 23, 2016

30 Days Of Retro Toys 2016 - Day 23 - Game Boy's The Little Mermaid

Day 23: 
Game Boy's The Little Mermaid

(Disney Adventures magazine, 1991)

Under the sea
Under the sea
Darling it's keener
Down where it's greener
Take it from me

I know you thought Ursula had died
But oh no, she's alive.... We lied!
Your love's in trouble
Time to "outbubble"*
Under the sea

*the eels