It’s 1988: Let’s All Decorate For Halloween!

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate! This month, we’re taking a look back at a creepy, garish, zany time, a time when people decorate their homes in the loudest, wackiest fashion imaginable … oh, and also Halloween.

It’s true- the 80s were a rough era, design-wise. So you’d think that incorporating the second-tackiest holiday of the year (after Valentine’s Day) would make things even crazier. However, that discounts one major development of the 2000s: the Halloween-industrial complex.

When we were growing up, the slate of Halloween activities was fairly limited. There were pumpkin patches, which were seriously just places where pumpkins were grown and sold. I thought I remembered a witch at the one we frequented in my childhood, but no: it was just a cauldron. Haunted houses and haunted hayrides existed. You’d have your classroom party, and you’d trick or treat. That sounds like a full month of fun to me, but as someone who’s recently taken kids to a “pumpkin patch” that features pumpkin catapults, a zip line, and go-carts, I can vouch that times have changed.

The simpler Halloween celebrations extended to home decor. My mom was notably Halloween-obsessed, and we had Halloween candles throughout the house, molded to look like ghosts and Frankensteins. We had a windsock that wailed whenever there was a loud noise, which meant that every family argument in October was punctuated by plaintive moans of  “ooo-OOOO-ooo.” There were stretchy cobwebs, plastic graves, and probably some fuzzy spiders. We hung a string of pumpkin-shaped lights in the window.

And that’s it. That was extreme in the late 80s and early 90s. It was before every family had a bin of fall decor that came out after Labor Day. Trick-or-treaters weren’t greeted by animatronic witches, and googley, glowing eyes didn’t peak out from the attic windows of half the houses on the block.

Wall hangings were pretty popular at the time. My mom was a teacher, and those bulletin-board shapes from Teacher’s World were tacked up around our downstairs. I think some non-teacher-kid friends had them too, though. By the way, Teacher’s World smelled like cold coffee breath, exactly like you’d expect.

Just like this. In fact, I’m positive we had the cat one – I was a 6-year-old cat lady, and I loved it the best.

Then there were the candles. In one of my earliest Halloween memories, my brothers were bickering over candy. As things escalated, my mother erupted at them – and just as she started yelling, all of the candles in the room flared spectacularly.

We lost our best vampire candle that day.

The survivors are in my house now, nestled among succulents which I imagine are the spookiest members of the plant kingdom, fly traps notwithstanding.

The survivors are in my house now, nestled among succulents – which I imagine are the spookiest members of the plant kingdom, fly traps notwithstanding.

If you were the kind of family who had an elaborate Christmas village with glittery cotton snow and tiny Victorian people, then you probably had a Halloween village, too:

In a lot of houses, Halloween treat buckets were sort of decor unto themselves. As I said, the options were more limited. Before so many parents proudly declared that their kids NEVER have McDonald’s, the Happy Meal bucket was the gold standard:

In another instance of combining form and function, we gathered our leaves in plastic bags that looked like pumpkins. Now more and more municipalities have moved to collecting loose leaves – which makes sense, because they can decompose a lot better when they’re not in bags – and these are becoming a thing of the past:

I’m sure they existed long before the late 80s, but crafty moms were especially into tissue ghosts:

The tissue-paper honeycomb industry was red-hot in the 80s, and there were standup decorations for every holiday, Halloween included:

The suction cup market was doing okay, too, as evidenced by these spider webs that were in my home and classrooms every October:

All of the coolest characters got into the Halloween spirit, and in a time when people weren’t as into integrating holiday decorations with their grown-up decor themes, these seemed like a legit thing to hang in your kitchen:But clearest in my memory – nay, in the memory of everyone growing up in a pack of argumentative siblings – was the dancing, wailing ghost windsock, which I’m now realizing my parents probably hung in our living room to mock us during our October fights.

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(Un)sexy Halloween Costumes That Need To Stop

Every Halloween since 2004, I always imagine this scene in my head when judging other people’s costumes:

So listen, ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think about your revealing costume, ladies. You do you. But also, like, respect yourself. Respect others. And by respect others, I mean don’t be dumb and wear a barely there costume even if you insult a group of people in the process. I don’t actually know if this trend came to the forefront in recent years or what, but when did women start wearing less and less and less for Halloween instead of costumes like Kady Herron’s? I don’t get the appeal of these “sexy” versions of “unsexy” costumes, so, men, is it primarily just to get into women’s pants/skirts? Because, ugh. Come on. There are plenty of outfits ladies can wear that doesn’t make them just objects of sexual desire, and still get the point across of what they are. Here are just some of the costumes I’ve come across that are extremely questionable and completely unnecessary to be “sexed” up.

“Sexy” Donald Trump

I feel like for a lot of these will just be me going, “WHY. WHY?” So, WHY. WHY? Also that wig is 10 million times better than Trump’s hair ever will be.

“Sexy” Cecil the Lion

It’s also worth noting that most of these costumes are from this trash website Yandy.com, so at least they have a demographic, I guess. Re: this particular costume, it’s obviously a controversial news item (and maybe not as timely?), but among the many problems with this is that technically TECHNICALLY Cecil has passed away, therefore rendering this costume invalid. Although I guess people dress up like dead people all the time, so nvm. It’s still poor form.

“Sexy” Pizza Rat

The only pro to this is the pockets that can probably fit a perfect piece of pizza for you to nibble on later, or drop on stairs in a NYC subway station.

“Sexy” Firewoman

It’s just not practical to have a crop top shirt and shorts in a fire. Also, unbutton shorts at that.

“Sexy” Referee

Because OF COURSE this referee’s jersey number is 69.

“Sexy” Golfer

Like the firewoman before her, golfing in a crop top is not conducive to getting birdies.

“Sexy” Soldier

And wearing a bikini top with bullets attached to it will be problematic after all of them are used.

“Sexy” Nun

This should be self-explanatory, but all I want to yell is, “I SAW GOODY SISTER CATHERINE WITH THE DEVIL!”

“Sexy” Native American

Not only is this not sexy, but it’s obviously offensive to an entire culture too. This is also a PSA encouraging everyone who’s thinking of dressing up that stereotyping any race is not a good idea. It’s never a good idea.

“Sexy” Mr. Peanut

Ok, one last WHY. WHY? I wasn’t aware Mr. Peanut needed to be “sexy” at all!

::endfeministrant::

 

Semi-Homemade Halloween Costumes – From Cory Matthews to Doonice

I think everyone grew up with certain things that just Were Not Done in their house. In my family, store-bought costumes fell in that category. It was a waste of money, and besides, Halloween was an opportunity to think hard, dream big, and get creative. Every Halloween involved a blowout trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Don’t get me wrong. When I look at those elaborate handmade costumes floating around the internet this week, that age-old refrain pops into my head: ain’t nobody got time for that. I will not bedazzle a sweatshirt to turn myself into a human disco ball. I am not going to painstakingly dye and mold foam pieces to be a human hot dog. I’m not going to buy a glitzy minidress, craft an elaborate headpiece and become a sexy snowball.

No, I take my cues from Sandra Lee. Have you all seen Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee? She takes storebought cakes and gussies them up, basically. That’s where I’m at with Halloween. I don’t want to walk into a Halloween party in a costume straight from Target, but I will buy something from a big-box store or Salvation Army, tweak a few elements, and come out with something more creative than what’s on the bag. But less creative than becoming a human carrot with a friend dressed as a giant cabbage. Come on. Who ARE these people? Let’s think simpler:

The Schuyler Sisters

See this generic Colonial woman? You can buy this costume at any of those pop-up Halloween stores, and there are versions at Target, too.

Grab two friends. Put one in the same, or almost the same costume.

Now, do you have that one friend who always insists on being a Sexy This or a Slutty That?

Cool. Get her this Little Bo Peep get up:

Now she’s Slutty Peggy Schuyler, AKA Maria Reynolds.

 

Anne(ie Hall) Of Green Gables. Or Pilgrim Felicity Merriman. Whatever.

annie hall of green gables

Let me tell you something about kids. They’re basically idiots. Even the smart ones. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t been alive long. If you have a daughter in that 6-12 year old range where they’re really into books and movies set a long time ago, you have it made. All you have to do is buy a long dress, or pair a maxi skirt with a blouse. It does NOT have to be a style that people actually wore at the time. You may know that shirtwaists didn’t come into vogue until the late 19th century, but if your nerdy kid wants to be Jo March, just give her a button-up and a long skirt and she’ll be none the wiser.

I’m not sure why I was wearing these weird old glasses and dorky hat for my Anne Of Green Gables costume when I was about 11, but I like to call the look Annie Hall Of Green Gables.

When I was Felicity Merriman in second grade, I wore a frilly blouse under a long, brown floral jumper dress that my mom wore in the ’70s. It was like Revolutionary War-era girl meets pilgrim meets hippie. Loved it. Anyway, that is my half-assed costume advice: put your daughter in a long dress or skirt and she’ll feel fancy.

Cory Matthews, Season 1

cory matthews

This was semi-homemade at its finest. I bought a $3 afro wig and trimmed it down a bit. I wore early 90s stonewash jeans, but any straight leg will do. I layered a flannel shirt over a $2 Phillies shirt. Bam. Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World, circa 1994.

Clarissa Darling

This works especially well if you’re a smaller adult. Just go to the children’s section of a thrift store and buy some cheap, bright leggings. Layer under overall shorts or a skirt. Put on a loud button up. Can you find a sunflower hat? Great. That’s great. Blonde wig if necessary. May I present Clarissa Darling of Clarissa Explains It All?

A Six Pack Of Diet Cokec65b266c-c687-4fd9-b2c9-6284f755b8f9_zps81e03060

Yes, my family really did this. Corrugated cardboard, spray paint, and apparently zero sense of shame went into this one. I’m the tiny one whose face isn’t obscured.

Doonice – Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Livedoonice

You’re going to need the following:

  • a wig cap – to move your hairline back
  • a wig, placed about 4 inches back from your natural hairline
  • a lounge singer-y dress with long sleeves and cuffs
  • a doll to dismember

Then watch the magic happen. People LOVED this one. Be sure to act extra creepy:

doonice 2

Joan Holloway Harris

In case you hadn’t caught on, I usually go with TV-based costumes. Joan’s an easy one: just pair a shift-dress with a pen on a chain around your neck, a broach, a bouffant hairdo, tan hose, and possibly some fake boobs.

 

Playlist of the Month: Songs By People Who Scare Me: The Second Coming

Halloween is in a few days, and it’s a good reminder of what will scare you and what won’t. More importantly, who are the people that will test your patience with their “pranks” with the excuse of “Halloween”? Then there are the people, namely musicians, that scare us year round, no matter October 31st or not.

In our second installment of Songs By People Who Scare Me, we pick another group of frightening artists who you won’t find on our Recently Played anytime soon. I mean, we’ve basically turned into a Hamilton blog, so these picks shouldn’t be too surprising.

<< Listen to the whole playlist on Spotify! >>

Molly’s Picks

Joanna Newsom – Sprout And The Bean

Joanna Newsom is adorable and talented, even if her voice isn’t for anyone. She’s one half of one of my favorite celebrity couples. She seems like she’d be a really cool girl in real life. That’s why I wish her music didn’t give me the willies. Maybe Joanna Newsom herself isn’t scary, but her music is what they’d play in my personal version of an exceptionally spooky haunted house. There would also be creepy dolls, a haunted dollhouse, and decrepit Miss Havisham and Baby Jane-type ladies. Shiver, shiver, shiver.

The Young Cons – The Problem

Cons as in Conservatives. They’re young, they’re white, they’re male, they’re rapping, good Lord, and they’re just the bros to get alll up in your personal health care choices and all out of government oversight of corporate activity. Word.

Insane Clown Posse – Night Of The Chainsaw

On one hand, I know that you cannot judge a person based on what music, television, or movies they enjoy.

On the other hand, I saw a young man in full ICP face makeup earlier this month, and my knee-jerk reaction was “yeah… there is definitely an above-average chance that he has tortured a cat in a basement.”

Yes, ICP was on the list last time, too, but last year it was Traci’s pick and this year it was mine. They terrify both of us.

Bobby Vee – Come Back When You Grow Up

Now, you might be thinking “Molls, this song is sketchy, but it’s just some random one-hit-wonder from the days when songs about old men wooing teens was de rigeur.” Right. Okay. But consider Bobby Vee’s other songs: Please Don’t Ask About Barbara, which sounds like a 1960s horror movie about a dead body who lives under his bed, and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, which is a terrifying concept and a disturbing visual. One, two, three strikes, I’m out.

Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

This isn’t a lame We Hate Justin Bieber joke. There’s something about the kid that I find genuinely unsavory. He’s just the combination of smug, entitled, and twerpy that makes me feel like he’s capable of anything. He’s no Tiny Tim – my personal scariest musician ever – but it’s more that I feel like he’s the kind of adult who would pick on a nerdy child until it cried.

Traci’s Picks

Die Antwoord – I Fink You Freeky

This rap-rave group from South Africa has had a bunch of controversies follow them throughout the years. Namely, they’ve been called out for being homophobic and racist; using blackface in music videos and repeatedly using the N-word (they’re white). How one concert reviewer criticized one of Die Antwood’s concerts:

It doesn’t really make a difference how Die Antwoord explain themselves, or whether their fans read their imagery as satirical. Cuz it’s not just the KKK outfits but their overall source material, the way they blend skinhead white supremacy (disciplined, tough, angular) and trailer park white supremacy (incestuous, washed-out, sweatpants) with art school chic and punk rock apathy to produce a pastel shade of fascism that they just can’t cleanse themselves of, progressive provocateurs that they are. We can’t stop (cue the Miley, no innocent herself) because that’s the nature of trauma, of painful, disgusting, horrible, and incomprehensibly awful things like apartheid and institutionalized racism and guilt and blame and privilege. It produces word vomit; it escapes categorization; it demands to be brought to light. It drags us down with it. {x}

Also, “Fink” and “Freeky” are not words. Bye.

Drowning Pool – Bodies

Literally the lyrics to this song are “Let the bodies hit the floor” over and over and over again. TBH I can’t even watch these videos, but the still shot of a rando in a medical chair is enough for me to by scared.

Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell

Thanks to The Osbournes’ reality show, Ozzy was made more “human” if you will, as he’s long had this persona of a hardcore metal rocker who bit the head off an unconscious bat during a concert once. But still, his alter ego, his “Sasha Fierce” is frightening and continues to be despite him yelling “SHAROONNN” will never leave my head.

KISS – Rock & Roll All Nite

This song in particular doesn’t seem like it would come from a group of grown ass men decked out in black and white face paint and huge platform shoes. But it does, and come on let’s be real – if you ran into Gene Simmons in costume in a dark alley and he sticks out his tongue, you’d be scared too.

Rob Zombie – Dragula

This is the man who came up with House of 1000 Corpses in his MIND. WTF is going on up there.

Gilmore Girls Revival Town Meeting

Exactly one week ago, the world received news that a long-awaited Gilmore Girls revival was finally in the works.

We’ve since had one week to digest this information, and while we still have a bit of Michael Scott freakout in us, we’ve managed to calm down enough to share our feelings on the revival with y’all.

T: When we tell our (maybe) kids about the revival, it’ll be akin to older folks telling stories about where they were when JFK was shot or like Ted Mosby telling a horrible story. “Kids, I’m gonna tell you the story of the exact moment I found out a Gilmore Girls revival was happening.”

M: If this revival hadn’t happened, my future children were going to have to to hear a 10-year-long story about how Luke and Lorelai probably didn’t end up together, instead. So really, everyone wins.

T: The day – Monday, October 19th. The time – around 2:30pm. The location – my office. I have to constantly be checking the Internet for entertainment news, and when I was checking my Twitter, I saw a post from Michael Ausiello of TVLine.com pop up that said this:

I really wanted to yell WHAT!!?!?!? out loud but there were others in the vicinity who would no doubt question my sanity, so I said it at a very low tone to myself and began digging deeper into the supposed revival.

M: Should I be concerned that it’s only been a week and I have zero recollection of how I found out? Those hypothetical kids are totally going to put me in a home, aren’t they? In any case, I was very pleased but also assumed that it was another one of those articles that comes out every couple months after a cast member appears on a podcast. Ahem.

T: Luke Danes, always be startin shit. Anyways, the story itself, Netflix has a deal with Amy Sherman-Palladino to make four 90-minute “movie-lets” or “super-sized episodes”, seemed feasible. It’s the whole – should I really believe this report that was getting to me. But my Olivia Pope gut knew it was true. This really wasn’t a drill. And it’s all because of Michael Ausiello. I’ve been creepily following him since his days at TV Guide, then Entertainment Weekly, and now Ed in Chief of TV Line. Why? Because I knew he was a hardcore GG fan, like me. In 2005, he had a walk-on role as a Dragonfly Inn guest, exiting a room just as Luke and Lorelai entered it (But I’m a Gilmore!, S5E19).

IMO, he is the go-to and foremost GG expert in the entertainment news world, and not only because he’s been bugging ASP and Lauren (and any GG alum he can talk to) to get them to fish on a possible reunion, and most importantly, what the ASP’s planned “last four words” of the show were going to be. She even mentioned him during the ATX reunion panel, saying Michael would be at her deathbed asking her what the final words are. I’m pretty sure he’s said he’s had at least one lunch with ASP (outside of journalism) before, and Lauren even considers him to be an exclusive GG reporter. Long story long, I would believe Ausiello over any other journalist when it comes to GG, so I knew there had to be truth to it. He later called in to an “Emergency Podcast” of the Gilmore Guys (LOL BECAUSE OF COURSE) and everything he was saying I believed wholeheartedly.

M: Yeah, it wasn’t one of those fake “news” sites that regurgitates rumors for clicks. And honest to goodness, my very first thought was that now we’d find out what those last four words are. If ASP finds some reason to weasel out of it, I swear to God. In my heart of hearts I want to believe that ASP insisted that Ausiello be the one to break the news. I imagine that she had to make sure that he was seated and had a cold compress and hot tea beside him before she said anything.

T: BTW, I legit had multiple contact me to either “congratulate” me or confirm the revival news with me, and I honestly consider this to be one of the greatest achievements of my life.

M: It was big news with everyone I knew who loved the show during its original run. Seriously, there was no reason to even bother to show up to your 2004 shift at Hoyts Cinemas if you hadn’t seen that week’s episode. I knew a lot of people who watched GG back in the day, followed the constant reruns on ABC family, then did a full rewatch when it landed on Netflix this fall. And while I love a lot of shows that I did NOT watch during the first airing, there is a weird feeling that it belongs to the people who loved it all along. Still, you can’t ignore that the show became bigger than it ever was during its run thanks to Netflix. There were kids in the audience at the Gilmore Girls reunion in June who weren’t even born when the pilot aired. I love that.

T: Also, Netflix is the perfect platform for the closure of this show. In fact, I’d say Netflix is a huge factor in this entire deal. Although the show had a fan base long before the entire series was released on Netflix last October, there was a renewed interest and a whole new generation of fans that found the show for the first time. It’s like when I watched Veronica Mars for the first time a few years ago on Instant and became OBSESSED. Flash forward to a Kickstarter and a movie and a book series – it took on a life of its own that really couldn’t have been possible a few years prior.

M: Absolutely. Things have changed, but in the early 2000s there was sort of a stigma around “WB Shows,” in that they were really tied to teeny-bopper culture. ABC Family has some cool factor with PLL and everything, but the syndication there also kept GG in the frothy teen/family fare category. Once the show was on Netflix, it reached an audience that it couldn’t have otherwise.

T: And now all those generations will get to see what happens next. Speaking of which – call me insane or insensitive but I really think the passing of Edward Hermann/Richard Gilmore will bring a lot of interesting drama to the show like we’ve never seen before. In the same vein, fans of Grey’s Anatomy were outraged when Patrick Dempsey/Dr. Derek Shepard died unexpectedly at the end of last season. People vowed to never watch the show again since a major character – the one married to the titular Grey – was killed off. But because I’m a TV nerd, I was looking forward for the next season, to see if and how Meredith would be able to continue just living life without her husband, without her best friend/person who moved to Switzerland, and having to start from the beginning and go blindly into the light. And I must say, the episodes to date have been outstanding, providing storylines that wouldn’t have been possible if Derek never died. So basically what I’m saying is, if these GG Revival Movie-lets include a memorial for Richard Gilmore and how Lorelai has to handle her own grief while handling her mother, I am so incredibly down for it.

M: During the panel, one of the questions was where all of the characters would be now. Since I think of actors and characters as separate entities, I wondered if they’d imagine that Richard was still alive. But there’s no Richard without Edward Hermann, and Kelly Bishop said that Emily would be adjusting to life as a widow. It will add a new dimension to the show, and will probably soften some of Emily’s crustier edges. The first dinner scene without Richard there is going to be a doozy, though.

^TRY TO WATCH THIS AND NOT CRY. BYE.

T: Then there’s the Melissa McCarthy factor – will she be in it? Would it be weird if she didn’t show up for at least one episode, all the while we know she’s off in Budapest shooting another Paul Feig movie?

M: It’s weird, but Melissa McCarthy’s career is so big that even though I love GG, sometimes I almost forget that she was in it. I don’t know if she’d do it, but if not I can imagine scenes with Jackson and Lorelai where they’re always just like “oh, and Sookie is in the kitchen.” She’ll be like the Cathy Santoni or Cousin Tino of the Netflix revival.

T: The other thing is that ASP and her husband Daniel Palladino are at the helm again. This gives me all the faith in the world they will do it right. They’ll treat the Richard story right, the Luke and Lorelai story right, and the final words right.

M: The last four words make me a bit nervous. There’s been so much build up that something that would have been amazing in 2007, like “will you marry me” from Luke to Lorelai or vice-versa, can come across as anti-climactic. But with ASP back in the game I’m not too worried, because whatever she does, she’ll do the right way. It’s not like GG was known for shocking revelations and wacky cliffhangers – it was just a good story, well-told.

T: When Ausiello interviewed ASP in 2009, she basically gave GG fans hope there would be a “real” ending, even though she had no idea when it would be:

“I don’t want to totally say what my ideas were, because if there is a movie in the making, I’m going to be basically delving back into where I left off, and then I’m kind of screwed… Anything can happen. I’m in touch with Lauren and Alexis. If there’s a story to tell, then absolutely I think we’re all going to want to tell it. That’s the bottom line.

“If I thought it was definitely not going to happen, I would say, ‘No, it’s definitely not going to happen.’ I would do that for you, my friend. But I don’t want to say that. Because I think that the beauty of Gilmore, and the beauty of family relationship shows is, you never really run out of story. You’re going to battle your family until you’re all in the ground. Those things never resolve, doesn’t matter how much therapy you get. Ten years later, there’s still going to be material there to mine and to delve into.” {source}

This Netflix series will give the person who created this world a chance to finish her story. Imagine being an author of an incredible piece of work that was beloved by fans and critics alike – but having the final chapter yanked from you and written by someone else. Amy’s finally getting her chance to write her final chapter.

T: PS – don’t call it “Season 8”. They talked about this a bit on the Gilmore Guys Emergency Podcast, and I agree – this next installment of Gilmore Girls isn’t going to be season eight. It’s basically going to be season 7, cut down to a “six-episode season” and the way the show was really supposed to end. It’s not a new, 23 episode season of a fresh new Gilmore Girls. It’s a glimpse of where they are in their lives right now, in this moment, because they’re obviously real.

M: As we said on Twitter, now’s the part where we get to watch ASP dig her way out of Season 7. It’s a bit like when you move into a house. You can’t just come in and plop down your sofa, you have to undo all of the weird choices that the previous owners made. And the S7 show runners are like those previous owners who decided to put shag carpeting in the bathroom and install track lighting in weird places.

Time is on her side here, though – assuming the same amount of time has elapsed in Stars Hollow, it’s not as though she has to pick up with Rory living in Malibu Barbie’s Pool House. This isn’t a season, per se, but if I do a start-to-finish rewatch, I think this revival is going to entirely replace season 7.

def did not photoshop lg’s face on selena gomez’s body. is this creepyidon’t care

T: All this being said, I’m still cautiously optimistic about the whole thing. All I know is that I want it to be as satisfying as it should be. That the wait was worth it. And I know how much pressure ASP and Daniel must have on them. I am not enviable of them at all. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have an entire fandom on your shoulders. But we also have to remember they can’t please everyone (there are people who liked the HIMYM finale). But I’m hoping, and 90% sure they will.

But most of all, the more this whole revival becomes real, the more it becomes real life. The greatness of Gilmore Girls was that it provided a fantasy other world to escape to. We clung on to the hope that one day ASP would come back to write the final four words. We had something to look forward to for the past eight years. Once this revival is wrapped – that will be the end. I can’t imagine ASP (or the cast for that matter) wanting to continue even after the last last episode.

“That’s part of the wish fulfillment of this show, is ‘What if?’. What if you lived in this town where getting a traffic light was a major event? What if you were late to the town meeting again and everyone was going to know about it, you know, ‘What if?’ There was a real comfort aspect to living in this world that wasn’t gritty reality and that was part of the joy of it. It’s real but it’s also a break from the real world.” – Lauren Graham on the magic of GG (from the ATX reunion)

M: It’s this mix of primarily being really excited that the show will finally get the ending it deserved, and to actually get to see new material with the characters we love … but also being a little blue that once it’s done, it’s really, really DONE. This is all new to an audience that doesn’t usually get nostalgia-based fan service.

T: However like Lorelai on her wedding night, for right now, I’m avoiding that pothole and dealing with it when I have to finally face it.

Look out world.

YA Novelizations That Probably Should Have Happened

With the final day of TEENS BE READING week here, we’re going to take a look at what could have been in the YA world. Missed opportunities, regrets left and right, plenty of hanging heads down in shame for never giving readers what they really want – novelizations of their favorite TV shows and movies.

In the literary world, novelizations are considered trash by any reasonable author’s standards. It’s one of the least creative ways to use your talent as a writer, and one of the most looked down upon. But people still do it. And they’re still entertaining. Mama’s still gotta get that money. Of course, novelizations are nothing new, in fact we’re covered them before with Dawson’s Creek (hint: a Gilmore Girls one may be on deck). There are plenty of books to choose from when it comes to kid and teen shows, such as Full House, The OC and Lizzie McGuire, but unfortunately not all our faves could be translated into the magic that is novelizations.

Here are our picks for what could have been. Books that could have had the chance of having Harry Potter like popularity. Ok, probably not, but it’s nice to dream.

Summerland: A Fresh New Summerland

The Summerland novel serves as a final chapter in the cancelled too soon WB series that ended only after two seasons. The book picks up five years later, when Bradin (Jesse McCartney) is a successful professional surfer who, after 3 years sober, resorts back to drinking when he has a string of losses. Meanwhile, we find out Nikki (Kay Panabaker) has lost touch with her former BFF and BF Cameron (Zac Efron), who suddenly became a movie star after he was spotted in the mall by a casting director. In the novel, he attempts to win her friendship – and maybe even her love – back.

The Real World: Seattle : The Slap

One of the most iconic moments in Real World history happened in season seven, when a dramatic showdown between Irene and Stephen led to the slap heard ’round the world. In this novelization, we only follow the lives of Irene and Stephen through a series of alternating past and present day (as in 1998) stories. We follow Stephen as he’s raised by a single mother in a black Muslim household then converts to Judiasm at 15, and we see Irene as she goes through the constant battle with Lyme disease. It all comes to a head when Irene calls out Stephen for being gay in “Present Day”, and his immediate response is to throw her beloved stuffed animal in the Seattle waters then slap her across the face. The epilogue includes Stephen revealing actually IS gay and engaged. To a man.

Guts: The Aggro Crag’s Revenge

For years, The Aggro Crag had to deal with tiny little teens climbing up its sides. No matter how hard it tried, they always managed to find their way to the top. In this Choose Your Own Adventure-type book, contestants must choose their paths up to the mount wisely, with rocks, creatures, and very bright lights at every turn. You won’t have a safety harness to rely on this time around, so do, do, do, do, you have it? GUTS.

S Club 7 in L.A. : S Club 7 in Las Vegas

Following their three TV series, Miami 7, S Club 7 in L.A., and Hollywood 7, the fictional British pop group continued their story via book form. Set in 2002, a year after the Hollywood season, the singers hop in their red convertible and drive to Las Vegas (despite the fact management offered them a private jet) to kick off their six-month residency at the Golden Nugget. The seven-book series features a singer’s perspective in each book. Tina’s got a side job working as a showgirl on her days off, Bradley fell in love with a girl at the Wheel of Fortune slot machines and he may or may not have gotten drunkenly eloped, and Paul is in massive debt due to his gambling problem.

Seinfeld: The Book About Nothing

Literally the one about nothing. The book is full of blank pages. The final page is a sketch drawing of Kramer storming into Jerry’s apartment.

Sister Sister: Sister Sister (Sister)

In this non-canonical novelization of Sister Sister, Tia and Tamera’s lost triplet, Tarisa, shows up with a desperate plea for money. Suspicions are raised when they realize that Tarisa doesn’t look like them and appears to be an adult woman. It all comes to a head when Tarisa has to dress up as Tamera to take Tamera’s Geometry test for her for some reason!

Destinos: An Adventure In Present Tense Spanish

This companion novella to the substitute teacher-endorsed “Spanish” hit takes you deep into the world of Fernando and Raquel. Or actually, very shallowly into their world, because all of the dialogue is written in basic Spanish. Raquel’s uncle Jorge is missing at the zoo and she and Fernando have to use all of their rudimentary vocab to find him! ¿Encontrará Fernando al tío de Raquel in el parque zoológico? They’re asking all their best questions and dropping all their most relevant knowledge: !Tío Jorge lleva una camisa roja! !Anduve cerca de las gallinas! ¿Ha visto a mi tío Jorge? ¿Cononce a Jorge, el hombre que le gusta jugar al tenis?

Friends: Ben’s Dyno-mite World

Capitalizing on 90s children’s fascination with Friends, a show about grownups, this chapter book highlights the busy, modernish Greenwich Village life of Ben, a little boy growing up with two moms and a dad he sees once or twice a season. When Ben gets lost in the Natural History Museum, he has to use his dino smarts to find his way back to his dad. He is with his Uncle Joey, but he is mostly useless.

Titanic: My Heart Will Go On And On

After the sinking of the Titanic, 17-year-old Rose Dawson (nee Dewitt Bukater) lands in New York with nothing to her name – so she makes a name for herself, first gaining popularity on the Vaudeville circuit, then starring in early silent films. As Rose’s fame grows, she finds herself bound for England aboard the Lusitania. Rose finally lets herself love again – a roguish scamp named Mack Carson – but when the ship meets a tragic fate, Rose must learn that her heart will go on. And on.

Zoom: Ub-an Fub-un Tub-ime Ub-in 02134

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Greater Boston’s zaniest zip code. The Zoom kids have to complete a fun obstacle course across Allston without dropping their balloons – or triggering Zoe’s latex allergy. When someone swipes Alisa’s bookbag during a rousing round of the cup game, the gang has to track it down by snacktime! Where could it be? Find out in this adventure written entirely in Ubbi Dubbi.

When Heaven Was A Scholastic Book Order

“Take one and pass the rest back.” In elementary school in the 1990s, those seven words were the key to every bookworm’s dream world. It was a Friday afternoon, your teacher didn’t care anymore, and you had 15 minutes to leaf through four very filmy pages of the Scholastic Book Order — which was like the Sears Wish Book for a very specific type of kid.

When I think back on it, the whole thing was so 90s, and not in that cute fake way of tumblr fashion blogs.  We had to mark the books we wanted in pen, copy the order numbers onto the form on the back, and then ask for a check from our parents. An honest-to-goodness CHECK, like they probably have in history museums now.

In hindsight, the whole system seems fraught with error and it almost feels like a miracle that any of us got the books we asked for. But one day a few weeks later you’d spot those Scholastic boxes in the front of the classroom, and sure enough there was the 3-pack of Ella Enchanted, Catherine Called Birdy, and The Witch Of Blackbird Pond, just like you ordered. I imagine this trio was called The Future NPR Listeners Sampler, or the Someday You’ll Own Cats Club Pack.

The real Cadillac of the Scholastic order was the club subscription (usually located on the back page, lower right, if memory serves). You’d get a new book every month and a pointless academic accessory like a pencil topper. Pencil toppers were cool then, okay? They were like the iPhone covers of 1996. Plus there were special bonuses, like a cassette tape featuring an interview with Ann M. Martin if you joined the Baby-Sitters Club Club (I assume it had a better name, but honestly maybe not). Let that sink in for a while. Before internet,if you wanted to learn about an author who wasn’t in the encyclopedia, you had to fill out a paper order, send a check, and then listen to an audio cassette.

Ann M. Martin had cats too, by the way.

The Scholastic order was also the number-one source for hot celebrity gossip, full of Unauthorized Biographies With 8 Pages Of Full-Color Photos. Sure, children these days have celebs’ actual Twitter and Instagram accounts at their fingertips, but back then it was enough to read that JTT’s favorite dessert was apple pie a la mode, or that Tay, Zac and Ike share a bedroom.

Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that you were reading those factoids? Well, Tay, Zac, and Ike now have a cumulative nine children. That’s 3 Hansons. Or an Mmm Mmm Mmm Bop.

You would think that now, when I could find any book on Amazon in seconds, the Scholastic orders wouldn’t seem like such a big deal. But I found a few Troll and Arrow Book Club catalogs online, and I can almost smell the new book smell … and feel the papercuts. That thin-ply book order paper was for some reason notorious for paper cuts.

This has everything I remember about 90s book orders. There are pencils that, even 20 years ago, you could have bought for far less at a grocery store. Athlete bios. An inside look at the cast of 90210 with a RAP ROUNDUP (not sure what that is). I especially like how they call it “book club news,” as though they aren’t trying to sell us stuff, just keeping us informed that Midnight In The Dollhouse is only $.95.

Friends, we truly lived in a magical time. On the same page, you have Hook and Addams Family novelizations, Laura Ingalls, American Girl, and Babysitters Club. This is calling up more childhood memories than looking at family photos (because when the photos were taken, I was probably somewhere reading a book).

Ah, yes. 1991. When all the kids were clamoring for a paperback about Nelson Mandela. The Room Upstairs, an Anne Frank-y tale of World War II peril, contains a surprising number of exclamation marks in the blurb. And that pig eraser… just me, or did those gummy jumbo erasers never actually erase anything?

Lincoln, MLK, Edgar Allan Poe, medical mysteries … just some chill light reading for 9-year-olds. Boomers can knock millennials all they want, but don’t they see that we spent our childhoods heavy-burdened by their hopes, dreams, and expectations? As well as by a complete set of Boxcar Children books? That series was dope. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and the other one, right?

It’s so weird to think that most of us got these orders regularly as kids, and then one day – and you didn’t even know it was the day – you read your last one. You started buying your books at stores, and eventually the internet. You recorded over the Ann M. Martin tape doing fake commercials in Austin Powers voices at a slumber party. I haven’t seen a pencil topper in decades. But the memories live on … as do the large stack of unauthorized biographies sitting somewhere in your parents’ attic.

Goosebumps Books That Give You Anything But

I’m not particularly one for being scared. I don’t make it a habit of watching horror films and you won’t see me participating in one of those haunted mazes. When I was younger, I thought going on haunted hayrides and watching “scary movies” were fun, but my coping mechanism was to laugh off everything. HAHA THAT CREEPY STRANGER IN A MASK IS FOLLOWING US WITH A CHAINSAW THAT’S HILARIOUS AND MY KIND OF COMEDY. False. This is the exact opposite of what I wanted and needed in my life.

As a result, I pretended to watch every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? (I’ve seen a handful, because some of them are actually frightening) and also bought Goosebumps books from the Scholastic paper “catalog” but only really read one or two of them. Many say there are a number of R.L. Stine classics that really are spooky, but let’s leave it to them to critique. I’m here to echo my younger self’s sentiments and cope with the scariness that is Goosebumps by poking fun of the books themselves. The contents of the novels may have been horrific, but some of these titles are laughable more than anything else.

Why I’m Afraid of Bees

In my head, scary books or movies have titles that are intriguing to the consumer, that make you want to know more, but is inherently frightening. Like The Blair Witch Project or I Know What You Did Last Summer or The Evil Dead. Why I’m Afraid of Bees just sounds like a three-page paper a 9 year old wrote in science class about his summer in the Vineyard.

Go Eat Worms!

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!

My Hairiest Adventure

A cautionary tale about puberty, probably.

Say Cheese and Die – Again!

… Die… AGAIN, THO?

Beware of the Purple Peanut Butter

Maybe the peanut butter just got too mixed with the jelly? IDK, just an idea.

A Shocker on Shock Street

Honestly, it’s your own damn fault if you go to “Shock Street” and expect something other than death or a good fright when you go there.

How I Learned to Fly

That same 9 year old wrote a follow-up essay, and it’s part of Batman’s secret origin story.

Bad Hare Day

Puns, amirite?

Calling All Creeps!

Do we, as a society, use the word ‘creeps’ enough? I feel like we don’t. In which case, I’d like to call on everyone to reach out to the creeps. But not like, actual creeps. Just the word. Okay, good talk.

My Best Friend Is Invisible

My best friend is invisible too, so honestly this book does not scare me at all. Also if my invisible BFF was ordering pizza, that’s definitely not a nightmare, but rather a dream.

I Live in Your Basement!

Why is this monster blob so excited to exclaim he’s living in my basement?!

Chicken, Chicken

 

I mean, honestly.

 

Forever Scarred: Traumatizing Moments from YA Novels

Like Joey Tribbiani, we believe that some books belong in the freezer. If you aren’t a Friends fanatic, that’s a reference to the episode where Joey kept The Shining in the freezer because it was too scary. When he and Rachel do a book exchange, we learn that it isn’t just overtly gory fiction that makes you want to freeze away your feelings:

Whether gross, creepy, or just plain sad, these are some moments in YA fiction that had us reaching for the icebox:

The One Where Dobby Dies

I admittedly was very late to the Harry Potter game. Like, I didn’t start reading the series until the seventh book came out. I blame my parents. Anyways, as I was reading the books from the beginning, I would discuss my thoughts and feelings about what was happening to my friend who had read them already. In particular, I remember being so incredibly annoyed and mad at Dobby. Inherently, I disliked him for his affiliation with the Malfoys, but also I couldn’t stand the way he spoke in third person. “Listen to Dobby!” “Bad Dobby!” “Dobby is fed up with this Malfoy bullshit!” As I continued reading, he began to have a soft spot in my heart and soon became one of my favorite characters. So when he was killed by Bellatrix’s knife after essentially saving HP, I was absolutely gutted. He was devoted and loyal to Harry, and passed away in the most heroic way. I had to stop reading because I was so stunned and also the tears were clouding my eyes and prohibiting my ability to read.

Hazel’s ‘Fake’ Eulogy for Augustus

SPEAKING OF BLUBBERING AND TEARS. THIS ENTIRE PASSAGE:

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

The Hunger Games in General

Like a lot of other people, I like and appreciate the world Suzanne Collins created, it’s easy to forget just how troubling the premise is. Before the first movie came out, I was explaining to someone (a mother of three) what the books are about. It wasn’t until then, when I was saying it outloud to someone who has kids that I realized just how effed up it must be that we get entertainment out of these books, in particular the first one. As a parent, she must have been picturing what it would be like if her kids were put in that situation, when you have no choice but to watch your kid fight to the death in a televised sport. I know the series is more than this, but, still. How messed up.

Stacey McGill’s Diabetes Pee

Everything I know about diabetes I learned from Ann M. Martin. But the most traumatizing lesson was when Stacy hadn’t yet been diagnosed, and she wet the bed at a sleepover because diabetes makes you pee a lot. This led to her losing her best New York City friend. The diabetes also caused Stacey’s divorced parents to fight all the time and to bring her to some sort of quack doctor. When she tries to play it cool and not tell her BSC friends about the diabetes, they assume she has a shady secret. AND when everyone is tucking into Claudia’s food hoarder snacks, the narrator always explains that they have saltines or something for Stacey. Basically if you get diabetes you will pee everywhere and your life will be ruined, is what I learned. For more BSC thoughts, see our The Baby-Sitters Club: The Musical — Excerpts From The Libretto.

Jonas’s Dad Kills Babies

Ah, The Giver. Probably one of my favorite YA books of all time. Except for that part where Jonas’s usually-chill dad is seen cooing at an adorable little baby then shooting it up with death drugs because it was a twin, which was against the rules. Then Jonas learns that the baby who has been hanging out with his family is also on death row so he escapes into the wilderness with it. Damn.

You Might Get Cancer. Love, Lurlene McDaniel

Remember Lurlene McDaniel? She wrote treacly, vaguely Christian books about teens with terminal illness. She covered all manner of diseases but I knew her best from the Dawn Rochelle books, which were about a 1980s teen who has leukemia. McDaniel probably did a lot to teach the youths that kids living with disease are just like us. But it’s almost like she did a little TOO good a job because as someone who bruises easily and is prone to violent, cascading nosebleeds, I definitely spent my junior high years being like “you know who had these problems? Dawn ‘Leukemia’ Rochelle.” Most traumatic moment: when Dawn’s friend and hospital roomie died and Dawn got her Bible with that one part of Ecclesiastes underlined.

Open-Air Mating In The Alien Zoo

Our high school was notorious for ridiculous eight-book-long summer reading lists, where most of the books were 400-page tomes set on the British moors. But Junior Year, they assigned at least one “hip,” “modern” book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that these disgusting slimy aliens abducted the main character and he had to live in a human zoo. They brought a porn star in and the two of them, like …. mated. In front of the disgusting terrible aliens. Who were cheering, maybe? It was horrible.

Those Disgusting Button Eyes

Coraline discovers Other Mother and Other Father, who are alternate-universe parents who have button eyes. Then Coraline, a human person, is supposed to sew buttons over her own eyes to “match.” And THEN she meets ghost children onto whom the Other Mother had sewn button eyes. Nah.

 

 

 

What I Think Happens In Popular Young Adult Novels (That I Didn’t Read)

When we were “young adults” I feel like Harry Potter was the only acceptable book series to tout being a fan of. As of late, there’s been a trend of reading YA novels to be “cool”, and the authors are considered superstars. Like John Green and his entire bibliography or The Hunger Games and Katniss braids left and right. Reading teen lit isn’t something to be ashamed of anymore, and as an adult, I feel a weird opposite reaction to this, in that I sort of feel ashamed I HAVEN’T read the most popular series in YA.

For our first day of TEENS BE READING Week, our companion to YALSA’s Teen Read Week, we’re giving our best guess as to what these books are all about – even if we have no clue where to start.

Sweet Valley High

Blonde twins, Ashley and Jessica, live in Sweet Valley, California and the series chronicles their their normal teenage life. They attend the titular Sweet Valley High, and encounter drama with friends, drama with boys and drama with each other. They probably fight over the same boy at one point, and do the good ol’ switcheroo to get make sure one of them passes a driver’s test or something. They also have a mortal enemy in the most popular girl in school, Lizzie, who has hated them ever since they were in second grade when they (accidentally) embarrassed her in gym class. Also the twins’ parents are divorced, and they split time in between houses, which also causes drama within the family.

The Maze Runner

The setting: dystopian future, specifically the U.S. The government puts all kids starting at the age of 14 through a rigorous test to be in the military (defense from the Canadians). If they don’t pass, they get three more tries, and if they fail, they go to live in what is now the South on labor fields. The final portion of the test is a huge maze (in New Jersey), which includes multiple traps, logic puzzles and endurance tests. Dylan O’Brien, on his third and final test, decides both options, whether win or lose, are horrible, and attempts to fight the power. Hence, The Maze Runner. The subsequent books are about the repercussions of him running through the maze. I’m also assuming there’s some kind of romance going on at some point because, young adult.

Twilight

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison have a showmance and it ends with a public scandal of her cheating on another vampire who is married. Taylor Lautner is literally so hot he has to have his shirt off at all times and Anna Kendrick is better than this entire franchise.

Lord of the Flies

A group of kids are stranded on an island in Micronesia and have to fend for themselves. They start a new civilization, led by a kid named Mowgli who’s always drinking coconut milk and attracts a lot of flies.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

After the death of her mother at age 12, Margaret is sad, confused, and doesn’t know where to turn. Her and her family would go to church occasionally throughout the year, but not religious by any means. As she enters a new chapter in her life without her mother, she finds herself asking a lot of questions, and feels like the only person (or entity) that can help her is one she can’t even see.

Go Ask Alice

This is written in the style of a found diary or autobiography, and is unattributed in a Blair Witch-y way where it’s supposed to be real but it isn’t. Alice is a normal girl until something bad-ish happens (parents’ divorce, maybe?). Then she gets peer pressured into trying “dope” (I’m never 100% clear on which drug “dope” is supposed to be so I just use it as the generic word for the kinds of drugs you learned about in the D.A.R.E. program). Things spiral and long story short she ends up homeless and faces a whole slew of Cautionary Tale problems, like cutting, eating disorders, and premarital sex. Shouldn’t have tried that dope, Alice.

A  Wrinkle In Time

Meg, a bookish girl from a garbage family, discovers a magical object/place/ability/person, which allows her to travel through time. But she doesn’t travel through normal time, she travels through Game Of Thrones, Lord Of The Rings-y time where everyone’s a dragon or whatever. She meets a cute boy who is sensitive but also a little gruff. There’s some sort of monster/ event / astrological phenomenon that threatens Meg and the cute boy, which they have to outsmart and outrun to make it back to the normal world. They do, but they never forget that wrinkle. The wrinkle… in time.

The Outsiders

Let’s say you’re a teen and nobody really “understands” you. You’ve read The Catcher In The Rye and have decided that everyone’s a “phony.” Your nice parents are totally obsessed with society and so are the kids at school whose parents have bought them cars.  You just know when you grow up you’re not going to have a 9-5 job and live in the suburbs, you’re going to support yourself somehow without working and live on the beach and not file your taxes ever. So you read this book, about a bunch of misfit, wrong side of the tracks 1950s kids who are all James Dean or something. It’s a bunch of boys who aren’t into acting like everyone else, and they live somewhere in the Midwest perhaps. There’s one girl in the group, like Anybody’s in West Side Story. Actually, the whole thing is kind of like West Side Story if it was about only the Jets. If your favorite book was The Outsiders in High School, you’re going to have a Bob Dylan poster in your dorm in college.

The Hobbit

Hobbits are basically these really quirky small people. They live in Tiny Houses and are obsessed with food and make up weird meals, like Fourth Meal, which the Hobbits are as excited about as modern humans are about Brunch. They live in Middle Earth, which looks exactly like New Zealand it turns out. And they dress in a lot of natural fabrics with tunics and low-slung belts. They’re mostly like hipsters. And kind of like the peasants in the Feudal system, where their whole year is punctuated by meaningless festivals and holidays to mark time and keep them joyful. And they’re sort of a little like rabbits, in that they like burrows and hanging out in little spaces and eating produce. Bilbo Baggins is one such Hobbit, and he has to go someplace or find something. The Hobbits are good guys and the bad guys are always kind of like evil wizards or bad trolls, things like that.

Hatchet

A boy, from modern times when the book was written but now clearly the 1970s or 1980s, gets stranded in the woods. It’s basically just him and this hatchet that he has. Thank God for that hatchet. He uses it to cut down trees and build a fort, to forage for food, and to survive in the cold, harsh world. The boy befriends a forest animal, who looks out for him. At one point he loses or breaks the hatchet and you’re like “nooooo!” But then he signals for help and you’re like “YES.” It’s a lot like My Side Of The Mountain, which I was obsessed with so I’m not sure why I didn’t read Hatchet.