Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #47: The Long Game

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #46: This One’s Weird

The BSC is back and they are writing a lot! Good timing, since I have this week off from school. Next week, it’s summer classes, but let’s not worry about that right now and try to rest after a very annoying semester. (I was on a good streak, it was time for a semester to be a clunker.)

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That’s a little harsh, Jessi, he’s trying his best.

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Claudia! You misspelled your friend’s name! You should spend your time learning to spell her damn name rather than making a poster for someone who recovered from an illness usually relegated to five-year-olds. You need to get your priorities in order, Claud. Also, I feel like Abby can ask Kristy herself.

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Gosh, Kristy, if you don’t want Abby at your game, just say so. No need to be so shady.

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Geez, Abby. I know you’re angling for VP, but the brown nosing is just embarrassing when it involves puns.

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Looks like Kristy fell for it, although I can’t imagine Kristy is dumb enough to fall for Abby’s machinations. Maybe Kristy is playing the long game. She’s planning to get Abby comfortable so she can use her athletic abilities, but sometimes the ire seeps out, like in that shady post from before. Kristy is still human after all.

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Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #46: This One’s Weird

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year with the BSC #45: Claudia’s Ruse

I don’t know what to say. Um, well, there were no new BSC entries for this week. Yeah. Seriously. Every week, there has been at least one entry into the BSC Notebook, but this week – nada.

I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong. I have finals this week and I would like that time to study. I appreciate it. So, I guess I’ll see you next week! Unless there’s something wrong with the emulator I’m using. That’s always a possibility.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #47: The Long Game

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #45: Claudia’s Ruse

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously on A Year With the BSC #44: Vaccinate Your Damn Kids

So the BSC was awfully chatty this week, so let’s get to it. First of all, Dawn sent me a letter.

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Fun fact: Stacey has not sent me one letter. She must think I’m too snarky. And speaking of snark…

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Mal, buddy, boobalah, don’t say, “a swinging time was had by all!” Not when talking about kids.

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What? After five home runs, they still didn’t win? Who were they playing against? The Monstars from Space Jam?

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Cool, Mary Anne, but they still lost and bravery has nothing to do with winning, which is what we care about as Capitalist Americans.

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What 11-year-old doesn’t love O Henry! Yeah, fuck Frozen, I want stories about old-timey couples in abject poverty selling their prized possessions or body parts so they can buy a gift.

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Gawd, Claudia, you can’t even spell your beloved dead grandmother’s name? It’s “Mimi.” That’s it. You only have to remember two letters and then double it! Now I think she’s just fucking with us. She wants to lower expectations so she doesn’t have to try. That’s the only explanation. This is all a giant ruse. It has to be.

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Oh good, those coupons that kids never fulfill.

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Just stacks and stacks of useless paper. Geez, kids, just clean your stupid room without your parents asking one time and you’ll be set for the fucking year. Pro-tip from a previous child.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #46: This One’s Weird

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #44: Vaccinate Your Damn Kids

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #43: Swing and a Miss

A lot to unpack this week. Stoneybrook is abuzz with Special Olympics fever, while the Marshalls have a different kind of fever. But first, Mary Anne has a nice thing to say.

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Aww, that’s really sweet, Mary Anne. It’s time for some controversy that shouldn’t be a controversy!

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If Abby’s parents had just given her the chicken pox vaccine like they do now, she could have taken that job. When I was a kid, we all got chicken pox from our best-friend after a sleepover then we all missed our Kindergarten Graduation. When I heard about a Chicken Pox Vaccination, I thought, “Hey, kids should miss important milestones in their lives.” Then I grew the fuck up and realized that it’s really pointless to suffer an illness that can be eradicated by a simple shot. This is all to say, clearly and loudly for the people in the back – vaccinate your damn children! We need to maintain herd immunity for the people with compromised immune systems who can’t get vaccinated. Don’t be a jerk.

On a side note – kickboxing?

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I love how the game advertises activities that come with the game.

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Oh no, Stacey! If you don’t watch the Special Olympics, you’ll be forced out of Stoneybrook! Again! We’re a community and we can’t have a weak link New Yorker mucking up the Special Olympics.

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Oh my god! See? Abby has gone down! See what happens when you don’t vaccinate your stupid, ugly kids? Only vaccinated kids are beautiful and smart – it’s true, don’t @ me.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #45: Claudia’s Ruse

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #43: Swing and a Miss

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #42: Steez Chomping

Once again we have a time problem with this game. Since the ’90s, the term “swinger” has taken on a different connotation. We’ll get to that.

First of all, this week was my birthday and I was pleasantly surprised when I logged into the game this week. On the bed was a small blue rectangle. When I clicked on it, the BSC yelled, “Surprise!” and I got this pixelated treat:

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It’s like when you die and go down a long tunnel with your family smiling at you from the end. They’re all there. Staring at me. While I read their card. Complete with a trademark symbol on their logo.

Anyway, the Special Olympics are underway in Stoneybrook, despite Betsy DeVos’s sabotage. They triumphed, like the kids at the end of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. They raised enough money to save the youth center, despite what the ’80s style villainry (which is mired in building codes and the need for a brand new mall).

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I don’t know if the team should call themselves the “Stoneybrook Swingers.” It might attract a bad crowd. One with hot tubs, leopard print, and early, regretful marriages. I don’t care what two or more consenting adults do in their free time, but a Special Olympics softball game is not the place to ask twenty-somethings to dance and remark that “they look tense and should relax and a few drinks.”

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I don’t know why we need cheerleaders, but fine. If the kids want to support the team in a very outward and loud manner, then I guess this is fine. It’s fine. It’s a little unnecessary, but it’s fine.

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If you didn’t think that Mary Anne narrated this letter ver-ba-tim, you were wrong. Does she literally say, “Love, Dawn. Mary Anne”? She literally does.

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Yeah, sort of. Unless the “Pitcher, left-fielders, you’ll all fall down” line is about the Swingers. Ugh. Just typing that sentence makes me think of creepy couples who live in hotel rooms. Look, if you want to do that, that’s great and I’m happy you’re living life to the fullest. Just don’t hit on people who aren’t in that lifestyle. Don’t y’all have a chatroom or something to meet each other? Like, I don’t know, Swingtown. or Swingnation, or Hot Tub Summer in the City, or something?

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #44: Vaccinate Your Damn Kids

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #42: Steez Chomping

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #41: A Lot to Unpack

After last week’s problematic wording, let’s see how they address the Special Olympics this week.

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Worried someone is chomping on your steez, Kristy? You worried someone’s going to steez chomping all over the original great idea? Worried about some competish?

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Oh my god! There are only 24 hours in the day, Abby!

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That’s the most sensible thing I’ve read. I was seriously worried that they would also take this on. They already lead congested lives for thirteen-year-olds, there’s no need to add more.

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You know, Claudia, you can flip back a few pages and the words “Special Olympics” are written right there. You know that, right? Claudia, I say these things because I’m worried about you.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #43: Swing and a Miss

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #41: A Lot to Unpack

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #40: The Early One!

There’s a lot this week, so let’s just start.

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That sounds like a threat, Abby.

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Kristy sounds almost happy that Cokie Mason came to undermine Mary Anne’s relationship with Logan. Am I detecting some jealousy? Some unrequited love? Between two best-friends? C’mon, you were thinking it, too. The only difference is that I have the courage to circumlocute my way through this post while winking and nudging.

Lesbian. I think Kristy is a lesbian. Don’t look at me that way. Moving on!

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Betsy DeVos must be pissed. She hates underprivileged people thinking they’re just as good as normies. She also hates it when poors breathe on her or do any book-learnin’. Makes the poors think they’re deserving of the same opportunities of the upper-class. The gall!

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This is the first time Stacey has mentioned club dues, so I’m assuming they haven’t been due before.

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WHOA, ABBY! There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, the Special Olympics also helps people with other disabilities, including physical disabilities. Secondly, whoa, Abby. Don’t use the “R” word. I know this is the ’90s, but man, Abby, just say handicapped or disabled. Abby, c’ mon. You need to stop talking to Betsy DeVos. Another fact about Betsy DeVos: she uses the “R” word to describe anyone who didn’t pay their way into an Ivy League College. She also thinks that whites are the true oppressed minority, despite not being either of those things and that it’s okay to drink cereal with water instead of milk.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #42: Steez Chomping

 

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #40: The Early One!

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #39: Time Travel

Yep, this one is a day early! I’m leaving on a small trip soon and I won’t have time to do all the things I do when the post goes live. It’s fitting because Mary Anne has an entry about trips later, but first, Abby has something to say about the Papadakis kids, or as she calls them, the “Pya-pa-dyaa-kis” kids.

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Ouch, Hannie. You know what adults also have? Feelings. And you hurt them.

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I don’t care how responsible Mary Anne is, you can’t leave a child by herself for an undisclosed amount of time.

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Good one, Mallory. And Cokie Mason doesn’t want to date Logan. She’s a Teen Repoman and he missing some payment on his Huffy.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #41: A Lot to Unpack

Rereading My Childhood – A Year With the BSC #39: Time Travel

A Year With the BSC is an informal series wherein I explore the 1990’s CD-ROM video game The Baby-sitters Club Friendship Kit. The game is more of a personal organizer; it features with a calendar, an address book, a stationary kit, a flyer maker, and a personality profile. I’m focusing on the more interesting aspect of the game: the personalized letters and the journal entries. The full list of entries can be found at rereadingmychildhood.com.

Previously On A Year With the BSC #38: Zip Codes and Tickets

I’m back in class and it looks like the BSC is busy with classes also.

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How did Cokie Mason find out about the party? Who fucking blabbed?! Was it you? Yeah, I’m talking to you! Back there! With the face! Did you fucking tell her?!

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That is cute, but it seems like you’re rewarding her for throwing tantrums.

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I hope you talked about this with the parents first, Mallory. Otherwise, even if you know the kids, it’s still kidnapping.

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Oh no! The Teddy Bear Picnic can’t be canceled! I have a teddy bear-costumed character coming and if I cancel, I still have to pay half of the appearance fee. Where is that money going to come from, Kristy? From my baby-sitting dues? The $1.50 an hour I charge for babysitting in the ’90s? I should up my fee. I’m an adult, and that’s better than a child, and every time I time travel I come back . . . wrong. It’s taking its toll, Kristy.

Next Time On A Year With the BSC #40: The Early One!

Rereading My Childhood – Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy

Previously On Rereading My Childhood – Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement!

Cultural osmosis is an interesting thing. I have this library of pop culture I can draw from and understand references to even though I haven’t interacted directly with that specific piece of pop culture. I have never seen Die Hard but if someone references Carl Winslow shooting a kid, I understand both of the references. (I have, however, seen every episode of Family Matters – even the bullshit ones that were on CBS. You know, the ones where Steve Urkel goes into space and then comes back to marry Laura – the girl he has been harassing for most of their lives.)

And that was the thing about Night of the Living Dummy – as I was reading it, I knew that Slappy has become the main antagonist in subsequent Dummy books. I spent the whole book noticing that 1) it’s more like nights of the living dummy and 2) Slappy is just as much a threat, if not more so than Mr. Wood. It’s time for a classic Goosebumps tale about twins, dummies, and competition.

SPOILERS AFTER THE COVER!!!

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It’s more like “nights” of the living dummy than one night.

Kris and Lindy are twins who seem to hate each other. One has short hair, one has a side ponytail. Other than that, they look identical. Even though they look similar, they are still two different people, but their parents also treat them as identical people. They are expected to play together and, as we later see, their parents don’t make an effort to have them distinguish themselves from the other or actively encourage them to partake in identical activities.

Their mother forces both of them to go outside and play, taking Lindy away from the book she was reading. Was it only our generation had parents that actively didn’t want us reading books? My father was different, though. He was a bookworm and I spent most of my childhood reading books and taking weekly trips to the library while other kids had parents who told them to go outside and play sports or whatever. I saw a study that said that Baby Boomers didn’t read as much as Millennials, so it makes sense that they would chastise us for reading too much. One time when I was a kid and I tried to check out a stack of books from the library and my father said that the library only allowed people to check out three at a time. I don’t think he was trying to curb my reading; I was a kid who walked up the counter with fifteen books and my father didn’t think that I could read all of them or keep track of them to return them to the library.

The girls don’t go to the library after they are kicked out. Instead, they go to the house that is under construction next door. In the dumpster, they find a dummy.

Lindy held the dummy up and examined his back, looking for the string to pull to make his mouth move. “I am a real kid!” Lindy made him say. She was speaking in a high-pitched voice through gritted teeth, trying not to move her lips.

“Dumb,” Kris said, rolling her eyes.

“I am not dumb. You’re dumb!” Lindy made the dummy say in a high, squeaky voice. When she pulled the string in his back, the wooden lips moved up and down, clicking as they moved. She moved her hand up his back and found the control to make his painted eyes shift from side to side.

“He’s probably filled with bugs,” Kris said, making a disgusted voice. “Throw him back, Lindy.”

“No way,” Lindy inisted, rubbing her hand tenderly over the dummy’s wooden hair. “I’m keeping him.”

“She’s keeping me,” she made the dummy say.

“But what are you going to do with this dummy?” Kris demanded.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll work up an act,” Lindy said thoughtfully, shifting Slappy [the dummy] to her other arm. “I’ll bet I could earn some money with him. You know. Appear at kids’ birthday parties. Put on shows.”

“Happy birthday!” she made Slappy declare. “Hand over some money!”

Kris didn’t laugh.

Tough crowd. I thought it was pretty funny.

Now we’re back to the cultural osmosis issue. I know that Slappy is the antagonist of the other dummy books and I know that he’s evil. I spent this whole novel wondering when Slappy was going to go all murder dummy. This book threw me for a loop with the introduction of another dummy.

After Lindy announces she was hired to do a ventriloquist act at a birthday party, Kris asks for her own dummy. Her parents come up with a ridiculous suggestion.

“Why don’t you both share Slappy?” Mrs. Powell suggested.

“Huh?” Lindy’s mouth dropped open in protest.

“You two always share everything,” Mrs. Powell continued. “So why don’t you share Slappy.”

“But, Mom-” Lindy whined unhappily.

“Excellent idea,” Mr. Powell interrupted. He motioned to Kris. “Try it out. After you share him for a while, I’m sure one of you will lose interest in him. Maybe even both of you.”

Kris climbed to her feet and walked over to Lindy. She reached out for the dummy. “I don’t mind sharing,” she said quietly, searching her sister’s eyes for approval of the idea. “Can I hold him for just a second?”

Lindy held onto Slappy tightly.

Suddenly the dummy’s head tilted back and his mouth opened wide. “Beat it, Kris!” he snarled in a harsh raspy voice. “Get lost, you stupid moron!”

Before Kris could back away, Slappy’s wooden hand shot up, and he slapped her hard across the face.

First of all, wow, Slappy’s outburst was harsher than I expected in this child’s chapter book.

Now the biggest issue: HEY, PARENTS, IT’S LINDY’S DUMMY AND IF SHE DOESN’T WANT TO SHARE IT, SHE SHOULDN’T BE FORCED TO SHARE THE DAMN DOLL!!! Lindy is the one who embraced the dummy. Kris thought it was disgusting and creepy. Now Lindy is excelling in her weird, creepy hobby and she should be encouraged – not forced to share. And Kris saying she doesn’t mind sharing is infuriating. It’s like standing by a vending machine, waiting for someone to buy a drink, and then saying, “I don’t mind sharing.” No, it’s not yours to share. And her parents justifying it by remarking, “You two always share everything.” This might be the root of the problems between the girls and it brings me back to an issue I brought up earlier. They aren’t able to cultivate a personality apart from each other.

Lastly, her father’s conjecture that one will lose interest isn’t a good metric for parenting.

We also learn there is going to be a school chorus, featuring Russain songs?

“Yeah. We’re doing all these Russian and Yugoslavian songs,” Kris said. “They’re so sad. They’re all about sheep or something. We don’t really know what they’re about. There’s no translation.”

What the fuck kind of school does Russan sheep dirges for the school chorus? The songs we sang during school recitals were nondenominational holiday songs and “Home Means Nevada.”

Anyway, despite all the rigamarole about sharing Slappy, Mr. Powell goes out to buy a second dummy at a pawn shop to give to Kris. She names him Mr. Wood, which is a way worse name than Slappy. Pretty soon, we get a dose of her stand up with her friend Cody.

Kris turned Mr. Wood to face her. “How are you today?” she asked him.

“Pretty good. Knock [on] wood,” she made the dummy say.

She waited for Cody to laugh, but he didn’t. “Was that funny?” she asked.

“Kinda,” he replied without enthusiasm. “Keep going.”

“Okay.” Kris lowered her head so that she was face-to-face with her dummy. “Mr. Wood,” she said, “why are you standing in front of the mirror with your eyes closed?”

“Well,” answered the dummy in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. “I wanted to see what I look like when I’m asleep!”

It’s as funny as any ventriloquist act I’ve seen, and I’d rather watch an hour of this than a minute of Jeff Dunham. Still, Kris knows that Lindy is doing better than her.

Kris keeps finding Mr. Wood in weird positions, like wearing her clothes at one point and mid-choke of Slappy. Eventually, he calls Kris a jerk and is later found in the middle of the kitchen with the contents of the refrigerator strewn about with Kris’s jewelry in the food. Kris insists the dummy did it and Mrs. Powell threatens to take away the dummies if anything else goes wrong. Kris throws Mr. Wood into the closet, then she hears a voice, leading to this exchange:

“I wanted to see if I could scare you,” Lindy explained. “It was just a joke. You know. I can’t believe you fell for that voice in the closet just now! I must be a really good ventriloquist!”

“But, Lindy-”

“You really believed Mr. Wood was alive or something!” Lindy said, laughing, enjoying her victory. “You’re such a nit!”

Lindy did all these pranks after Kris got a dummy also and she did it “as a joke.” Everyone is Stine’s novels are always trying to play pranks on one another, like in Who Killed the Homecoming Queen?What kind of weird pranks were going on in his childhood and why are they always so mean? Kids don’t still do pranks like this, do they?

Kris finds a piece of paper with some weird words on it and, like a dummy (a different kind of dummy), she reads the words aloud. Then the dummy spews green bile at the student body during an assembly.

This whole time I thought Slappy and Mr. Wood are switched because I knew that Slappy is the focus of future Night of the Living Dummy novels, including a whole series called SlappyWorld (we’ll see if I ever get that far). However, Mr. Wood gets up and starts actually attacking the girls. He wants them for “slaves.” The girls try to bury him, but the next morning he’s in the kitchen, saying they’re his slaves and he attacks their dog.

Mr. Wood meets his end when a steamroller runs over his head, a green gas cloud erupting from beneath the vehicle. The girls have become closer and they enter their room together.

They entered their bedroom to find the window wide open, the curtains slapping wildly, rain pouring in. “Oh no!” Kris hurried across the room to shut the window.

As she leaned over the chair to grab the window frame, Slappy reached up and grabbed her arm.

“Hey, slave – is that other guy gone?” the dummy asked in a throaty growl. “I thought he’d never leave!”

I spent the whole book wondering when Slappy was going to reveal that he switched places with Mr. Wood and he was the truly evil one. This ending was fun but I do wonder if Slappy was even meant to continue the Dummy legacy, akin to the final scare of Friday the 13th. Jason wasn’t meant to continue onto to star in ten movies (he wasn’t the killer of Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning so that one doesn’t count (also, fuck a spoiler warning for that one – it’s the worst one and should be skipped (the best one is Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives – it just is))), a television show, a couple video games, some neat cameos, novels I might read in the future, dolls, board games, and countless other things I have yet to own.

R. L. Stine tends to always use these endings that imply that while the characters have learned something, their problems are never really over, like Stay Out of the Basement! (which I covered). Stine may not have intended Slappy to have more books, but he did and I read this book through that lens. Maybe because I knew about Slappy and I expected the book to go a certain way, I was open to being surprised after Lindy says she did all those “pranks” or, more appropriately, “therapist fodder.”

This was a fun book but I wish I could have read this without any knowledge of Slappy. There’s no way I can take away the knowledge I have about these books. And, honestly, this is a series about looking back – we cannot judge these books without the knowledge we have, no matter how hard we try to maintain cultural relativism and ignorance. However, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing or hurts the integrity of the review. This is something we all have to contend with as we interact with popular culture, especially when we’re interactive with popular culture intended for children through the eyes of an adult.

Next Time On Rereading My Childhood – Goosebumps: Legend of the Lost Legend