Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Guys, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is so absolutely precious. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. So is it worth reviewing on a blog where I make fun of stuff?

Meh, why not? It's pleasant to read a book that doesn't stir in me a desire to punch the author. Here's the cover of the book I grew up with:

Peter Hatcher is a nine-year-old fourth grader growing up in New York City. He lives in an eleventh floor apartment with his mom and dad and little brother Farley Drexel Hatcher, aka Fudge. Fudge is an absolute disaster! He will single-handedly ruin every situation he and Peter find themselves in.

When Peter's dad (who works in advertising) invites an important client to the Hatcher home, Fudge scares away the client and his wife with his disobedient and silly behavior. Later, Mr. Hatcher loses the account. When Mrs. Hatcher takes the boys shopping for new shoes, Fudge throws a fit over his mother's choice of footwear and has to be tricked into buying shoes "like Pee-tah's". Fudge smears mashed potatoes on the wall at Hamburger Heaven and dumps a bowl of peas over his head for good measure. When Mrs. Hatcher leaves Peter, his best friend Jimmy Fargo and Peter's classmate Sheila in charge of Fudge at the playground, Fudge jumps off the jungle-gym, knocking out and swallowing his front two teeth (this leads to a funny inner monologue from Peter where he refers to his brother as Fang Hatcher).

Worst of all is when Fudge literally eats Peter's pet turtle, Dribble. Peter won Dribble as a prize at Jimmy Fargo's birthday party and is devastated that his mother allowed Fudge into his room without supervision and that his parents seem more concerned about Fudge's health than the fact that Peter has lost his beloved pet. In the end, the Hatchers give Peter a dog to make up for the loss of Dribble. Peter names the dog 'Turtle'.

I think what I love most about this book is how endearing Peter is without being wimpy or phony. He's sweet and has more manners than... well... any kid I've come across in a long time, but he doesn't try to pretend to like Fudge when Fudge is being truly unlikable. He even tells his mother at one point that he hates Fudge, although Mrs. Hatcher convinces him that he's just upset about Fudge destroying Peter's school project.

There are really only a few little notes on things I didn't like. Firstly, Peter's dad is an incompetent boob when Mrs. Hatcher goes to visit her sister. He doesn't change Fudge's clothes the whole time Mrs. Hatcher is away and they're forced to eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner because he couldn't manage the complex task of making omelets for the boys. I believe this book was written in the late 70's... after the feminist movement... way to reinforce the incompetence of men in a domestic role. Eesh. Secondly, Fudge is rewarded for eating Peter's turtle. I get that he had to go to the E.R. and that's scary for a three-year-old, but Peter says Fudge was given presents after he returns to the apartment from the hospital. Uh... Fudge did something bad. I think spending the night in the hospital is punishment enough for what he did, but to buy him gifts afterwards? Also eesh.

In conclusion, read this book. And the follow-ups, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania and Double Fudge... although Tales will always be my favorite.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

School Daze; Report to the Principal's Office

Sorry for not updating in almost a year. Some crazy-ass personal shit went down in my life and updating a blog felt... silly. But I missed it. And now that things have settled down, get a load of this entry...

Jerry Spinelli is the genius who wrote the classic Maniac Magee. I truly wish his genius would have extended to his School Daze series, starring sixth graders Dennis 'Pickles' Johnson, Eddie Mott, Sunny Wyler, and Salem Brownmiller. It's not that the series is bad, it's just not as good as I'd expect, coming from Spinelli. The plot feels a little contrived and I don't feel like I'm reading about twelve year olds most of the time. Anyway. I picked this up at the thrift store the other day (with some other goodies!). I had fond memories of the second book of the School Days series, the goofily titled Who Ran My Underwear Up the Flagpole?. In hindsight, I probably only enjoyed it because the title included the word 'underwear' and I thought the character Pickles looked smokin' hot on the cover. But don't take my word for it. Look:

Oh. I guess you're still going to have to take my word for it, as the picture is woefully small. Lo siento. My scanner's broken and I'm using my cell phone for pictures. Deal with it.

Guys. He's like a miniature Pete Black from the Babysitter's Club television series. Some of you fainted just reading that sentence. Those of you who didn't- what's the matter with you? Just look at the stance, will ya? He's jauntily leaning against the wall in his green sneakers with his skateboard tucked under his arm as if to say, "I'm one sexy twelve year old. Yes, I will come over after school so we can do our homework together. Just know you're going to do the majority of the assignment. I'll be in the kitchen, raiding your fridge and while I'm not raiding it, I'll be leaning against it. Like this."

Alright. I'm done perving on a cartoon sixth grader.

To the plot:

Sunny Wyler lives across the street from her best friend Hillary. They've been bffs their whole lives and now, because their little town of Cedar Grove is growing and one middle school can't hold all the twelve to fourteen year olds, they've been sent to two different schools! Who drew up the district lines smack in the middle of a neighborhood, is what I want to know. Who cares. It's a plot contrivance, bitches.

Sunny has decided that she's going to be as gross and gnarly as possible so that she'll get kicked out of the brand new Plumstead Middle School and be sent packing to Cedar Grove Middle. She and Hillary have both decided that until they're together at the same school, neither of them will wash their hair or change their clothes. What. Seriously. Are some girls really still that nasty at the age of twelve? Ew.

We now join Eddie Mott on the school bus for his very first day of junior high. He's stoked and optimistic and tries befriending the sour looking girl who has just sat next to him on the bus. She refuses to crack a smile. Or blow her nose. Sunny literally has a snot rocket dangling from her neb but refuses to sniffle it up, because the grosser she looks, the faster she'll get kicked out of Plumstead. Hoooo boy.

As Eddie is about to get off the bus, he's picked up by a rowdy group of eighth graders and tossed around like a football. He freaks out and becomes super nervous and refuses to get off the bus.

It's Mr. Brimlow's first day as principal at Plumstead Middle School. He's a complete creep (but I think we're supposed to like him) and has been spending the whole Summer studying his new students' permanent records (those so do not exist) and memorizing pictures so he can greet each and every student on their way into the school by their first name. Sunny passes him and, due to the frown on her face, he can't recognize her from all the faces he's studied over the Summer. He asks her name. She replies, "Butthead," and keeps walking.

Eddie's bus driver gets Mr. Brimlow's attention by informing him that there's a sixth grader refusing to get off the bus. A girl with big, curly hair asks if she can help Mr. Brimlow coax her fellow sixth grader off the bus. Her name is Salem Brownmiller and she's a writer. Eddie might prove to be an interesting subject for the story she's writing about a student's first day in middle school. Mr. Brimlow sternly tells Salem that people are people, not subplots, but he allows her to come with him.

The bus driver gets impatient and drives off with Mr. Brimlow, Eddie and Salem still on the bus. The three bond, walk back to school together, and Mr. Brimlow invites Salem and Eddie to his office for lunch. As Salem and Eddie head off to class (first period nearly over), Dennis 'Pickles' Johnson strolls into Mr. Brimlow's office. Pickles received his interesting moniker because of the day he decided to hang pickles on the Christmas tree rather than the traditional ornaments. Yeah. I don't know either.

Pickles is upset because his skateboard doesn't fit in his locker and the teachers are giving him shit about carrying his board around with him. Mr. Brimlow tells Pickles to just leave his board at home... but why can't Pickles just leave his board in the front office during the day? I know this is a fictional book for adolescents, but that kind of shit pisses me off when I read it. I'm a teacher, and if a student needed a place to stash his only method of transportation to school, I'd let him keep it in my classroom for the day. Damn it.

Since Mr. Brimlow has disappointed Pickles by telling him to keep his board at home (damn it), he decides to use this opportunity to suck up and invites Pickles to lunch. Pickles probably realizes he's far too bad ass for this, and doesn't accept the invitation. He just leaves the office.

Mr. Brimlow now turns his attention to the girl who introduced herself as 'Butthead' earlier that morning. He pulls out his files (creepster) and eventually finds a picture. He calls Elizabeth Sunshine Wyler to his office during lunch.

All morning, Sunny as been slacking off in class (writing a made-up essay about what she did over the Summer, writing in teeny tiny handwriting, etc.), acting rude to her fellow students and just being an all-around little bitch. When she gets the call to Mr. Brimlow's office, she's sure she'll be kicked out.

The day continues with Eddie getting a pretend boogie flicked at him by Sunny, spit on in the boy's bathroom and hiding in a closet in the music room because he's lost and can't find his class. Eddie hates middle school and wants to go back to the safety of elementary school. Salem was hiding in the bathroom when Eddie was being spit on (yeah, I don't know) and she's decided that Eddie is going to be the main character in her story.

As Salem and Eddie are walking down the hall, Salem interrogating Eddie ("How does it feel to be spit on?") a hamster comes scurrying towards them. Bewildered, but wanting to keep the hamster safe, Salem captures it in her bookbag. Some eighth graders demand she hand the hamster over, but she refuses to, because it's convenient for the advancement of the plot. They run from the eighth graders into Mr. Brimlow's office. Mr. Brimlow is pleased that they showed up early for lunch. You know, rather than being pissed at them for totally ditching class. Whatevs.

Sunny shows up after the bell rings for lunch. She thinks Mr. Brimlow is about to kick her out. She's confused when she sees that she's there to have lunch. The hamster somehow gets out of Salem's bag and into the lunch that the lunch-lady has just brought in from the cafeteria. The lunch-lady freaks out and tosses the hamster through the air, and it's caught by Pickles, who has decided to grace the world with his sexy presence (guess I'm not done perving on a sixth grader just yet).

The kids have lunch with Mr. Brimlow. He invites Eddie to be the school's flag raiser and designates Pickles as Eddie's helper. He then informs Sunny that she's the hamster's keeper. Also, since the school is voting on a new mascot and each grade must come up with a nomination, Mr. Brimlow puts Salem in charge of a four person committee for the sixth grade.

I'm now very sleepy and all this specificity is giving me a headache. Suffice it to say:

The hamster is nominated as the sixth grader's mascot of choice, and eventually the Plumstead student body become the Plumstead Fighting Hamsters.

Sunny grows attached to the hamster and decides Plumstead isn't so bad. She washes her hair and changes her clothes.

Pickles takes his job as Eddie's helper pretty seriously and plays Reveille on his bugle (oh yeah, Pickles plays the bugle?) every morning as the flag goes up. He also saves Eddie from some eighth graders that were harassing him for his lunch every day.

Salem discovers through her character study of Eddie that the boy has actually become her friend rather than just a subplot. She still writes her story about him and gives it to Eddie as a gift.

Eddie realizes that middle school isn't so bad, especially because he's got two new friends- Pickles and Salem. It's also strongly hinted that Eddie has a monster crush on Sunny, for reasons completely unfathomable. Sunny is super unlikeable. But maybe that's just me.

Mr. Brimlow is proud of himself... because the school hasn't burned down or whatever. He's still a creep in my book. Want proof? Page 59:

A warm tide rose in Mr. Brimlow's breast. He really liked these kids. He wanted more of them.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Outsiders, Finale (pronounced FINALLY)

I should be able to wrap this up in one post if I concentrate and don't ramble. Wish me luck.

So Ponyboy wakes up in an ambulance wailing its way to the hospital. A teacher from earlier is in the ambulance with Pony and is all, "Blah blah blah, you're a hero," and Pony asks what happened to Dallas and Johnny. The fat guy (oh, forgot to mention- the teacher is fat) tells him that Johnny and Dally are in another ambulance.

At the hospital, Pony has apparently made a full recovery from his traumatic experience + smoke inhalation. He's sitting in the waiting room, smoking with the fat guy. And he is FILTHY. Like, for the life of me, I can't understand why nobody suggested he go take a look in the bathroom mirror. Or at least handed him a wet-nap. Johnny is rolled by on a gurney, unconscious. Dally is rolled by next and gripes at Ponyboy for being an idiot.

Soda shows up and is like, "Ooooh, Ponyyyyy, your haaaaair!" because guys really give a shit about things like that. Darry comes in and is all weepy and is like, "I thought we lost you like we lost mom and dad!" And the boys have a group hug in the hallway. Spare me. If I were Soda, I'd have been reticent to enter into a smothering embrace with his filthy little brother. Pony, take a shower, then come talk to me about physical affection.

Have I mentioned how ridiculously attractive Rob Lowe is in this movie? I don't remember the description of Soda very well in the book, but I don't think Rob Lowe fits it very well... but I don't care.

Anyways, the brothers go home. The next morning, Pony wakes up early and starts making breakfast for his brothers. Two-Bit and another pal, Steve Randall show up and spill some shit all over the kitchen, then make fun of Ponyboy's hair. What is with these boys and their fixation on hair? This book totally wasn't written by a teenage girl or anything.

We're treated to a peek at Soda getting out of the shower (I'm such a pervert) and Darry getting ready for work. Steve is nastily cramming his face with chocolate cake (Steve is played by Tom Cruise, there's no other way for him to be cramming food in his gob but... nastily). Two Bit is wrasslin' with Ponyboy and Darry tells him to lay off. Remember in part two when Dally told Pony and Johnny that things were getting intense between the Greasers and Socs? Well, there's gonna be a rumble tonight to prove... something... not clear on what the rumble will prove. But who cares, the Greasers and Socs are going to fight. Darry says Pony doesn't look so good and for him to take it easy. Two Bit says he'll babysit Pony that day, and the rest of the boys are off to work.

Pony and Two Bit are on their way to visit Johnny in the hospital when they're approached by some Socs. Marcia's boyfriend, Randy, requests an audience with Ponyboy. Randy is being all emo, because he's sad that his best friend Bob is dead, confused about his social status or something deep, and scared about other people getting hurt or killed in the rumble that night. Ponyboy acts all wise and tells Randy that people have it rough all over. What. Randy is somehow reassured and thanks Ponyboy.

At the hospital, the boys visit Johnny. He's all burnt to a crisp and bummed out because he can't walk anymore. He asks Two Bit to go get him a copy of Gone With the Wind. While Two Bit is downstairs, Johnny tells Ponyboy that he used to want to kill himself, but now he's scared to die and upset because he hasn't lived much of a life. Pony starts to cry (you could make a drinking game out of how often Ponyboy cries in this movie... except no you couldn't, you'd be trashed five minutes in) and tells Johnny that if he gets all worked up the doctors won't let them visit anymore. Two Bit comes back in with the book, and the nurse informs Johnny that his mother is there to see him. Johnny wigs out and tells the nurse that he doesn't want to see his mom. He freaks out so much that he passes out.

The nurse tells the boys to leave, so they go visit Dally. He's being his usual charming (loony tunes) self. The nurses are all sick of his shit and can't wait for him to get out of the hospital. The boys tell Dally that Johnny isn't doing so hot. Dally gets all worried and weird(er than usual) and demands that Two Bit hand over his switchblade. Then he tells Two Bit and Pony that the Greasers have to win the rumble that night. They've got to, "Do it for Johnny, man!"


Pony and Two Bit are on their way home. Two Bit says Pony looks all sick and gnarly and Pony says not to tell Darry. Cherry shows up to deliver some pre-rumble news: the Socs will fight without weapons. Cherry asks Pony how Johnny is doing. Pony says he's not doing well and asks if Cherry will visit him. Cherry says she can't because Johnny killed Bob. Cherry then defends Bob's asshole-ish behavior by saying that he could be sweet sometimes. Ponyboy snarls at her that they don't need her charity anyway, and Cherry gets all hurt and says she's just trying to help. Right. So Pony and Cherry talk about sunsets and thankfully, that scene is over.


At the Curtis house that night, everybody is all psyched for the rumble. Steve and Soda are playing cards and arm wrestling, Darry is... getting dressed up and sweating profusely? Really. Two Bit is just... there. Ponyboy is asking about shaving. Look, it's just a really weird scene, okay? They leave the house and cartwheel and shenanigan down the street together. Yet another instance where we see that this book was totally written by a girl. I mean, Darry is giving Ponyboy a piggy back ride.

Lord, I'm bored with my own review. I can only imagine how you guys must feel.

SO. Long story short, Dally shows up for the rumble without a shirt on (?), and the Greasers win. The Socs run away. Pony gets his ass stomped. Dally is so stoked that he wants to go right away and tell Johnny that the Greasers won the rumble. On the way to the hospital, Dally gets pulled over for driving like a lunatic (but officer, there's no other way he can drive, sanity is not an option). He tells the cop that Pony fell off his motorcycle and has to be taken to the hospital. The cops like, dee dee dee, okay.

At the hospital, Johnny is pretty much dying. He tells them that fighting is no good, it's useless. He tells Ponyboy to stay gold. And then he croaks. Dally flips out. More than usual. And runs away.

Pony ugly-cries and goes home.

So Dally has finally been sent over the edge. He goes to a convenience store and is such a juvenile delinquent that he starts ripping up magazines. Oooh. You hood. The store owner is like, "Knock it off, asshole." Dally doesn't like being told what to do, so he pulls out his gun and demands the clerk open the register. He takes off with the money.

At a pay-phone, Dally calls Darry. Darry tells the other boys that Dally has robbed a store and that they need to hide him. Wait just a red-hot minute. Darry went ape shit on Pony earlier in the movie for missing curfew because he's afraid that Soda and Pony will be stuck in boy's home if they step out of line. Now he wants to harbor a fugitive? And that won't get them in trouble at all? I question Darry's leadership abilities at this point.

Anyway. The boys run to meet Dally in the park, but the cops are after him. He pulls out his gun and shouts, "You'll never take me alive!" Because seriously. The cops gun him down and Dally dies in crazy, dramatic Matt Dillon fashion. The boys are all weepy and freaking out.

Cut to Ponyboy in his bedroom. He's gotten the copy of Gone With the Wind from the hospital. He flips it open and a note from Johnny slides out. The note is all sappy and sentimental, reminding Ponyboy to stay gold. Johnny also says that his life in exchange for those kids he saved is worth it.

Ah, reconciliation.

And, as the movie opened, it ends with Ponyboy writing the story of everything that just happened.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Outsiders, Part Deux

When we last left our heroes, Johnny had just stabbed Cherry's boyfriend. Whoops, did I spoil it for you? Ponyboy wakes up to a dead body next to him and Johnny cradling a bloody knife. Pony (understandably) flips out a little and pukes up his movie popcorn.

Johnny says he and Pony need a plan, so who better to consult than the looniest person they know? They head over to a bar (?) where Dally is sleeping upstairs (also ?). If you've read the book, this scene makes a little more sense, but this is the movie version of the Outsiders, where stuff just... doesn't really make much sense.

Dally brings the boys up to his room (Not even going to be dirty-minded or suggestive here)(because seriously, if I tried I'd have Ralph Macchio related nightmares)(his eyes... are so huge) and congratulates Johnny on killing a Soc. Then he tells them to hop the train to a place called Windrixville and hide out in an old abandoned church. He gives them money to buy food and a gun (Just in case? Because he felt that Johnny's foray into murder wasn't effective enough when he was wielding a measly switchblade?). Oh, and he gives Ponyboy a shirt. Good. That sleeveless sweatshirt thing was giving me nightmares. You weren't pulling it off, C. Thomas.

The boys hop the train and settle in. They narrowly avoid being caught by some guys in the train yard who are so efficient at their job that I'm surprised Johnny and Pony went undetected as the train yard employee shined his flashlight half-assedly around the train car. Seriously. If you're going to insult my intelligence... you know what, just don't insult my intelligence.

The boys make their way to the church ("The church," Ponyboy helpfully tells us. Thanks.) and fall asleep. I know. It's a hard-knock life. When Ponyboy wakes up, Johnny is gone. He's out getting supplies. When he returns, he's got food, a copy of Gone With the Wind and a bottle of peroxide. Pony freaks out and says Johnny is not allowed to cut and dye his hair. Johnny tells him to chill and that they can't match their descriptions in the paper. Easy for him to say, since his make-over looks like this:

The little shit is even smiling about it.

And Ponyboy's make-over looks like this:

(Too bad the 'after' photo is of such poor quality. But actually... trust me, you don't want to see it up closer and in-focus)

Sorry for calling the boy's haircuts 'make-overs', I watch too much America's Next Top Model. Tyra would be PISSED about Ponyboy's look. Actually, she might shake her ass, smize and call it fierce for all we know.

The boys hang out at the church for WAY TOO LONG. They pass the time by smoking, playing cards, reading Gone With the Wind and reciting poetry to each other. Not kidding. Pony recites a poem to Johnny about "staying gold." Since they're teenage boys, they try to decide what Robert Frost meant when he wrote the poem, and then they tell each other that they're the only ones who understand each other.



Dallas shows back up in a blaze of... lunacy and delivers a letter to Ponyboy from his brother Soda. Soda tells Pony in the letter that he and Darry miss him and that Darry is sorry he hit Pony. When did Darry hit Pony? He shoved him, but I don't remember any hitting happening. Whatev.

Dally takes the boys to eat at Dairy Queen. I guess... nobody is concerned about being caught anymore? So they eat and Dallas tells the boys that things are really intense between the Socs and the Greasers. So intense that he's started carrying a gun. Like. Who is giving all these guns to Dallas Winston? Has everyone failed to notice that he's CERTIFIABLY INSANE? A really FUGLY LITTLE Sophia Coppola comes to the car while Dallas is showing the boys his gun (the weapon, you creeps) and asks Dallas for a dime. It's an (unintentionally) hilarious scene with Dally telling the little girl, "I don't have any money, man. Could you go away, please?" 'Man'? She's a seven year old girl, Dallas! Stop doing drugs!

Johnny asks if his parents have inquired after him. Dallas tells him no, in a surprisingly tactful way and somehow, this makes Johnny decide to turn himself in. Dallas is annoyed, bumbles a few lines but reluctantly agrees to take the boys back. He tells Johnny he doesn't want to see him become hardened by jail, like he became hardened by jail. Oh. That's what happened to you? My mistake. I thought maybe it just turned you batshit insane.

Driving back, the boys go by the church. Which looks a little different than the last time they were there in that it's on fire. Johnny and Pony rush out of the car, thinking they started the fire. A classroom of kids were apparently having a picnic or some...thing up at the church and one of the teachers screams in a panic that several children are missing. Johnny and Pony run inside to rescue the kids. They haul several kids out of the burning church until it becomes clear that the building is about to collapse. Pony makes it out okay, but Johnny doesn't. He gets trapped under a beam and Dallas runs in to rescue him... then fade to black as the church COLLAPSES.

Aw shit.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Emilio Estevez, what the hell? 'The Outsiders', Part One

Look at how happy they are! Being poor and wearing denim RULES!

I'm thinking about reviewing the book, too, but for now, we'll stick with the movie. Which is infinitely more entertaining in that godawful 80s movie kind of way.

Okay, so we're hanging out in Oklahoma in 1964. The only reason I know that is because I read the back of the DVD case. It's not mentioned in the movie... I don't think. Speaking of this DVD, it effing blows. There are no deleted scenes, no 'making of' feature (not even a featurette!), no cast commentary. I mean, like, what the hell else are Ralph Maccio and C. Thomas Howell doing these days? Ralph Maccio is probably crying into his Cheerios over the remake of the Karate Kid. If he doesn't get a cameo in that movie, I swear to God I'll burn down a local movie theater. And goddamn it, Hollywood! Some things should stay the goddamn same! Quit making shit 'better'! The Karate Kid is fine as it is. Christ Almighty.

I digress. Back to the movie (The Outsiders, in case you've forgotten). A ridiculously adorable C. Thomas Howell (his name is "Ponyboy" in the movie, but how are you going to take that seriously?) is sitting at his writing desk... writing. Side-note: My shit was seriously wrecked over C. Thomas Howell when I was younger. I crushed on homeboy so hard that it hurt... Holy shit. I'm NEVER going to get through a review of this movie.

ANYWAY. C. Thomas Howell. Writing in ... a diary? "The Outsiders by Ponyboy Curtis". This scene only makes sense to anybody who has read the book, so... you know what? Let's skip it.

Weird, misplaced Stevie Wonder song happens for a few minutes while the credits roll.

We REALLY open with C. Thomas Howell and The Karate Kid ("Johnny", but how are you going to remember that?) hanging out in front of a building, when Totally Insane Matt Dillon (Dallas "Dally" Winston is his character's name, I was going to call him Totally Insane Matt Dillon for review purposes, but that'll get rather taxing to type over and over again) comes sauntering up out of nowhere. They walk around town, smoke cigarettes and Dallas bullies some little kids who are seriously seven or eight years old. Then they sneak into the drive in theater.

Another (unnecessary) side-note. The crotches of their pants are so scary. Like, I don't understand why their jeans couldn't have fit them better. Like, what was the budget of this film? Who was on wardrobe? Yipes.

We pan around the silly 60's shit happening at the theater (people hanging out by their cars, gabbing, eating popcorn, Emilio Esteves grabbing his junk (NOT KIDDING), sneaking out of trunks, etc.) and stop briefly on a pair of girls getting ticked at their dates and going to sit elsewhere on some bleachers or something. C. Thomas Howell, the Karate Kid and Dallas (or Dally, if you're... nasty) sit behind the girls. Dallas flirts (is that what he's doing?) with the redhead. Karate Kid is grossed out or something, so he leaves. Dally makes a gross joke, pretends he didn't, then gets offended when the redhead shouts, "Get lost, hood!" Haha, Dallas says, "I'm sorry. I didn't know you had this problem with... yelling in my face." It's ridiculous and hilarious and Matt Dillon is stoned or drugged or drunk THE ENTIRE MOVIE.

Dallas leaves and the redhead turns around and asks C. Thomas Howell if he's going to harass her and her friend, as well. C. Thomas Howell (dammit, I'm going to have to call him Ponyboy, it's easier to type) gives her a total deer in the headlights look and you, like, literally cannot stop yourself from saying, "Awww."

The Karate Kid comes back and the teens all start talking. The redhead is named Sherry ('Cherry' because of her hair) and her friend is Marcia. I want to punch Marcia in the face because of her ridiculous Fargo-esque accent. I'm not hating on North Dakotans, I'm just commenting on the fact that they're supposed to be from Oklahoma. Not North Dakota. Get your shit straight, Francis Ford Coppola or the casting director, or whoever is responsible for this noise.

Anyways, Dally shows up again. He brings Cherry a Coke, telling her that it might cool her off a little bit. It doesn't. She throws the soda in his face. Dally gets turned on because... what the hell... and grabs Cherry. Johnny gr- DAMN IT! I just called him Johnny. My Karate Kid streak is broken. Anyways. Johnny grows a pair and tells Dally to leave Cherry alone. Dally gets pissed that someone told him what to do, and leaves.

The girls invite Ponyboy and Johnny to sit with them. They bond and talk until Emilio Estevez ("Two-Bit") turns up again. It's not so bad this time, as he's not grabbing his crotch anymore. He grabs Johnny instead and calls him a greaser, which freaks Johnny out. Two-Bit flirts with Marcia a little bit and asks where Dally is. All the sudden Tim Shepherd is there and is supposed to be all menacing and is all, "Yeah... where IS Dally?" because apparently Dally slashed his tires and Tim's pissed. The kids say they don't know where Dally is, so Tim takes off.

Pony and Cherry go to get some snacks. They have a heart to heart about why Johnny was so skerd when Two-Bit snuck up on him. Pony tells Cherry about how some Socs (Sew-shiz) jumped Johnny one time and beat the hell out of him, and the ring-leader was some guy wearing loads of rings. Careful, world, Ringo Starr has joined a middle to upper class gang of teenage boys. Cherry says she's sorry for what happened to Johnny, but reminds Ponyboy that life is rough for everyone. Pony is obviously thinking, "Bitch, please," but he's too nice to say anything.

The boys walk the girls home. They're kind of paired up, Marcia and Two-Bit, Pony and Cherry, and Johnny by himself. Cherry asks Pony about his oldest brother, who he doesn't seem to talk much about. Pony explodes that his oldest brother Darry is a dick and that Darry doesn't care about him. Johnny steps in and says that Pony and his brothers seem to get along fine, and Pony yells at Johnny that he's not wanted at home, either. Jesus, Ponyboy. Two-Bit tells Pony to quit being an asshole, and Pony apologizes.

Uh-oh! Cherry and Marcia's boyfriends show up, hammered. We get a close-up of Cherry's boyfriend Bob's hand... he's wearing lots of rings.

REMEMBER WHY THAT'S SIGNIFICANT?! If you don't, the director will remind you. Cut to a shot of Johnny's terrified face.

The boys tell Marcia and Cherry to quit hanging around the Greasers. Cherry yells at the boys for being drunk. Two-Bit threatens the guys, but in an effort to avoid a fight, Cherry tells the boyfriends that she and Marcia will go home with them. Before she goes, she tells Pony that a) she probably won't acknowledge him in the halls at school and b) she hopes she never sees Dally again because she'll fall in love with him.

Cherry. You are simultaneously a bitch and a lunatic.

At least you're pretty.

The boys walk home. Two-Bit announces that he's going off to get drunk (because he wasn't already?) and leaves Johnny and Ponyboy outside their houses.

Johnny's about to go inside when he hears his mom and dad shouting and tussling inside the house. He decides he's going to go hang out in the lot for awhile cuz he's a big freaking infant. Just go inside and close your bedroom door and quit being so emo, Johnny. Ponyboy goes and sits with him awhile. Johnny cries about wanting to kill himself sometimes and how he wishes there were a place with no Socs, no Greasers, just plain ordinary people. Ponyboy says there is such a magical land and waxes poetic about how beautiful the country is. Well, not really, he just repeats, "In the country..." several times, his voice coming gradually more echoey. We're treated to a fuzzy vision of a couple getting out of a car for a picnic or something and then VERY ABRUPTLY having said car smashed by a train. What? Who were those people? Ponyboy's parents? Francis Ford Coppola apparently didn't think it worth mentioning, so we don't really know.

Ponyboy wakes up and is like, "Oh shit," because he's probably missed curfew. He runs home and sure enough, his older brothers Darry and Sodapop (not to be confused with the soda Cherry threw at Dally earlier) are awake and wondering what's become of their precious little brother. Darry FTFO (flips the fuck out) on Ponyboy, pushing him, and causing him to run away. Damn it, Darry! Why'd you do that? I was busy staring at Rob Lowe, who is so remarkably hawt (not even hot, HAWT) in this movie that it's hard to really look at him, so I guess thanks for doing that, Darry?

Ponyboy runs and trips over Johnny in the lot and ugly-cries and tells Johnny that they're going to run away.


Because your older brother was concerned about you and yelled at your for missing curfew? Boo-fucking-hoo, Ponyboy! Go over to Johnny's house and get slapped around for a couple of days, and THEN you can complain about your living situation. You soppy orphan. Jesus.

Pony and Johnny run to a playground. Ponyboy thinks he's calm enough to go back home now, but uh-oh. The Socs from earlier are back. They're pissed at the Greasers for picking up on their women. Basically, Bob (Cherry's boyfriend, the one with the rings) tells the Greasers that they're white trash. Ponyboy retaliates by calling the Socs white trash. How clever, Pony. Then, to add insult to injury or injury to insult, I'm not sure, Pony spits at the Socs. Ew, Greaser Spit!

The boys get jumped. They're start drowning Pony in the park fountain! Well, Johnny's not going to stand for that shit. He whips open his switchblade, the screen turns red, then fades to black...

That does it for part one. I could have reviewed the whole movie in one post if I'd quit going off on stupid rabbit trails and stopping to agonize over stupid minute details, but... hey... it's me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

God, are you there? It's me, Claudia. ... "Claudia and the Great Search"


The book starts off with some ridiculously heavy bitching. Seriously, this ho whines about anything and everything in this chapter. First she complains about hating biology. Then a paragraph later she hates on singular and plural forms of words. The paragraph immediately following is a rant on hating that her science teacher makes the class do ‘experiments’. I’m on page two and guess what I hate? Claudia.

Next she complains about her sister being smarter than her. And how she basically hates her. When I read this series as a kid, I usually sympathized with whichever girl was narrating each book. Reading them as an adult just makes me hate children. Well… more than I already do.

Anyway, Claudia’s got to go to an awards ceremony for her big sister, who’s SO smart at 16 that she’s taking some college classes. Guess what, bitch? It’s called concurrent enrollment and about half of the kids in my high school took college classes while they were still in high school. I call BS on Janine being a genius. She’s probably pretty average… and just a bad dresser, which justifies Claud’s hate.

So Claudia’s in a funk over Janine getting all this attention. Her parents don’t seem to notice (If Claud was my daughter I probably wouldn’t pay much attention to her, either), which makes Claudia feel even worse.

Since she’s retarded, Claudia gets this wild idea that she’s adopted. She decides this because the Kishi’s have way more pictures of Janine as a baby than they do of baby Claudia. There’s this really cute paragraph where Claudia speculates that a crooked lawyer had ‘let Mom and Dad adopt me for a huge sum of money.’ Trust me, Claud, if you were adopted, you were found in the bargain bin.

Claudia lets Stacey in on her big idea, and instead of (rightfully) shutting Claudia down and denouncing her as a moron, Stacey encourages the idiocy. While Stacey is sitting for the Perkins girls (who bug the ever-lovin’-crap outta me), she finds a book called Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye. It’s all about adoption (how convenient), so Claudia reads it and formulates a ‘plan’ to find out whether or not she is, indeed, adopted.

Claud goes to the library (I’m surprised she knew where it was) and looks up all the birth announcements from the week she was born on the microfiche machine. The Stoneybrook News doesn’t list a Claudia Kishi. She ends up calling a bunch of parents in Stoneybrook and a couple people in Montana (or Wyoming, I don’t care to check, and they’re essentially the same place) to look for ‘clues’. She goes and visits her old pediatrician’s office, too. Lame. It’s boring and Claudia’s a sucky detective.

Also, mixed up in all this unnecessary angst (Cuz really Claudia? Just ask your damn parents if they adopted you) is a dumb-ass subplot about how Emily Michelle is headed down the ‘ol Claudia path herself because she was adopted from Vietnam and is all under-developed and shit. I think we were supposed to pick up on the subtle idea that Emily is dumb and was adopted, and Claudia is dumb so she’s also adopted? Or was that just me being a bitch while reading the book? Whatever.

Emily can’t get into preschool because she’s a little too stupid. So Mrs. Brewer asks Claudia to tutor her. Because… Mrs. Brewer has never met Claudia. Or seen one of her report cards. Apparently Claudia is like the horse-whisperer… but for adopted Vietnamese children… and she teaches Emily all this developmental shit like her colors and shapes and counting and what have you. And Claudia feels all validated or something.

Now back to the story that’s supposed to matter (but doesn’t to me). Claudia gets stuck on the search for her ‘birth parents’ (because she already knows them and lives in their house, sorry for the spoiler), so she confronts her ‘adopted parents’ about lying to her. They assure her that she’s nutso and not adopted. Okay, they don’t tell her she’s nutso, but they do let her know that when the second kid comes around in a family, the parents usually give less of a shit about taking pictures. I also tried to come up with an ‘all Asians look alike anyway’ joke with that last statement, but it felt a little too contrived (but still a little hilarious).

So Claudia’s all reassured and happy and she and Janine bake a cake and hold hands to end the book. Well. They go make dinner together. Gay.


Claudia is dressed like a poodle the day Janine gets her award. Well. Her outfit is poodle themed. Still. God.

“People kept looking at Janine and then looking at me. I could tell they were thinking, I can’t believe you’re sisters. Then they would ignore me and congratulate Janine.” Um, Claud? Janine’s the one getting the award. Not you. Of course you’re being ignored. Also, as previously stated, you’re dressed as a poodle. I’d ignore your crazy ass, too.

Ew, I forgot that Kristy had a baseball hat with a picture of a collie on it. Probably because it hurt my head to think about it, so I blocked it out of my memory.

“See, a long time ago, Mrs. Shafer and Mr. Spier had gone to Stoneybrook High together.” Uh… how old do these bitches think their parents are? I know it’s not exactly typical, but when I was thirteen my parents were still in their early thirties. And I didn’t consider the late 70’s and early 80’s (when they were still in high school) as ‘a long time ago’. I guess we’re just being reminded that Claudia’s an idiot.

Teehee, Dawn is prettier than Mary Ann and Kristy.

Talking about Stacey and herself, “We’re both sophisticated and mature for thirteen (I guess that sounds a little stuck-up, but I really think it’s true).” Hate to keep harping on this Claudia, but… YOUR OUTFIT EARLIER WAS POODLE-THEMED.

Stacey puts glitter in her hair? My mom would have beat my ass for getting glitter all over her house if I tried to pull that BS.

Dawn’s an individual. Jessi’s black. Stacey has diabetes. Mallory’s fug. I love chapter two!

Everybody always acts a little weird about Kristy calling Watson by his first name. What’s she supposed to call him? ‘Mr. Brewer’? ‘Stepfather’?

David Michael is a whiny little bitch. And why does he have two names? All I can think of is Ricky Bobby when I read his name.

Stacey calls Claudia because she thinks the thunderstorm might have been scaring her? Because they’re so sophisticated and mature? I was never afraid of thunderstorms at any age, so I’m not positive on this one, but I’m pretty sure most kids stop being scared of thunder in, oh, the first grade?

Is Nannie Watson’s mom or Elizabeth’s mom? Does anyone know (care)?

For someone who bitches about being a bad student ALL THE TIME, Claudia sure does a whole lot of NOTHING to change that.

Baha, Claudia doesn’t know how a safety deposit box works. Dunce.

I like the Perkins girls now for naming their dog Chewbacca.

Why don’t Claudia’s parents like for her to read Nancy Drew? Weren’t those like… classic children’s literature?

“Francie Ledbetter.” The hell?

Claudia says she needs a good ‘story’ to tell the parents she calls. In other words, she needs a good lie. Way to encourage lying, Ann M. Martin. And all the other stupid shit these girls do and completely get away with.

Why do all these girls say ‘Oh my lord!’ all the time? I guess that was 1990’s ‘WTF’. Oh wait… no it wasn’t.

Kristy’s all proud of herself for using the term ‘reared its ugly head’. Shut up, Kristy.

Bart walks Kristy home by looping his arm through hers? Uh, Kristy? Bart’s a faggot.

Why in the… blazes do the Kishi’s keep a locked box containing $500 in their den? I call BS on their ‘if we ever need fast cash in the middle of the night’ explanation. Why would you ever need $500 in the middle of the night? In case Mr. Kishi’s supplier ever shows up and needs to settle, pronto?

There’s a weird random outfit description right in the middle of Kristy telling the girls something important. Like, Claudia stops the story and suddenly tells us what each girl is wearing. Totally out of place and unnecessary. You need to get that tick checked out, Claud.

Claudia finds a bunch of old pictures of Mimi. “That night, I slept with one of the pictures of Mimi under my bed.” Why? So you could get it all wrinkled and covered with crumbs and chocolate and shit? Way to honor your dead grandma’s memory, you whore.


Sorry it's so teeny. (That's what he said)

Hello Claudia. I’m a weed-whacker, and I’ll be trimming your bangs today. Seriously. Was that another one of Claud’s ‘art projects’?

Emily Michelle’s outfit is fug.

Claudia’s outfit = not that ‘wild’.

And finally “Claudia thinks she’s adopted, and no one understands.” Grow up, asshole.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Crazy Rob Duvall...

I'm watching Lonesome Dove. Nobody could have been a better Gus than Robert Duvall. Even if he is nutso.

What movie should I remember/review next?