This piece was also from my writing class last year. Other appropriate titles were “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Tonya Harding’s Triple Axels Played on Loop,” “This Breakup Is Brought to You by Annie Lennox’s No More I Love You’s, TLC’s Creep, and Sara Mclachlan’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy with a Heavy Dosage of Milli Vanilli,” and 1st runner up: “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart? Milli Vanilli.” Also, I actually did blog about this at the time it was happening, but I mentioned only the data entry I was doing at work because my deadly sin is pride.
Listening to music is always hard after a breakup, especially if the foundations of that relationship were largely facilitated by music. There was the classic rock we traded on burned CDs back when computers had disc drives. And the late 90’s pop that provided the soundtrack to our late night drives.
It became clear to me just how far we had fallen since he played Smokey Robinson on vinyl for me in his dorm room when post-breakup I started binge-listening to Milli Vanilli. And if you have ever binge-listened to Milli Vanilli—though I’m fairly confident that I am the first person to complete this task since 1990—you know that this truly consists of listening to the same eight songs on repeat for about a week.
But maybe this was the most appropriate bookend to our relationship for me–a naive young adult who signed up for the deal of a lifetime only to find out that it was all a sham.
Underneath all of the charm and empty promises, he was the guy who went with me to hear my favorite band from high school play in Nashville and knew all the words perfectly. But it wasn’t his music. He had learned it like he had learned me.
I have deleted his number from my phone, given away of the gifts his family gave to me, and thrown out our old pictures. But I will keep Jenny Lewis’s guitar pick. The one he caught at the concert and casually slipped into my coat pocket.
Some of you may recall, that I valiantly vowed to review every episode of Murder, She Wrote to prove that Jessica Fletcher is truly the world’s most prolific albeit fictional serial killer. And while I still believe it’s an important mantle to assume, and am truly humbled to be able to share it with all of you, I have to admit that I’ve discovered that Murder, She Wrote is actually well, um, boring. I know, I know, plenty of people on the internet would disagree with me. And listen, I’m the first to admit that Angela Lansbury is a QUEEN. Seeing her in Blythe Spirit a few years ago is seriously one of the highlights of my LIFE. But I’m just not the kind of person who can watch every single episode of Murder, She Wrote. I am a person who can watch every episode of every sitcom that ever featured cocaine as a one-off episode plot point, but it’s important to know your limits and these are mine.
So, what now? Well don’t expect JB Fletcher to disappear from this blog entirely. I am of course under an ethical obligation to review “A Murderous Muse,” featuring patron saint of The Very Special Blog, Jenny Lewis. And I’m pretty curious to see the infamous oculus rift episode. But really I’d like to be able to cherry pick the episodes I review just like I do everything else on this blog. Okay, now that I’ve effectively assuaged my guilt of having willfully not completed a project I set out before myself (omg are you even still reading or have you switched to posts about Brad and Angelina?), I am replacing the “Murder, She Wrote” page with “Save the BSC!” a Baby-Sitters Club parody musical that I wrote a few years ago while temping.
And by musical, I mean I didn’t actually write any music. But I wrote some lyrics that rhyme at the level of a 5th grade language arts student’s pastiche to Shel Silverstein. It’s a short play, loosely based on Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls and largely based on my own strange brain. Anyway, it’s been chilling on my computer for a while doing nothing, so I thought I might as well let you all read it.
It’s girl scout cookie season, so I felt like this would be the perfect time to pay a visit to a movie that is near and dear to my heart.
For those of you that have managed to never see this movie (omg, you can rent it on iTunes for $2.99. Go, I’ll wait.) You’re not really going to stop reading this and watch the movie? Fine, your loss.
The Basics– Shelley Long (Diane from Cheers) is going through a divorce with Craig T. Nelson (Coach from Coach) and she’s pretty much lost her place in life because of it. By the way, she has insanely red hair in this movie, like so red it must have been the inspiration for Valerie Cherish’s hair. But I think that’s supposed to make her kind-of resemble her daughter (introducing Jenny Lewis). In order to be more present in her daughter’s life, she becomes the troop leader for the Beverly Hills branch of “The Wilderness Girls.” It’s a fish out of water story but it’s also a coming-of-age story–not the kind of “coming of age” you do when you’re a kid but the kind that happens when you’re an adult and you realize that you need to re-learn how to be an adult. In short, it’s awesome. Why is this not an Oscar winning film??
I mentioned the divorce above, but it’s so much worse than that. Basically Craig T. Nelson is no longer in love with Shelley Long because she didn’t turn out to meet his expectations of who he expected her to be when they got married like over a decade ago. So he’s a jerk. But she’s also mad at him because she supported him all through law school and he ended up being a muffler salesman.
Poor Jenny Lewis is the most mature person in her family. Her mother wakes her up in the middle of the night to ask her about the woman entering the guest house (where her father is staying during the divorce). Yuck. But Jenny is all cool about it and tells her mom to stop spying on her dad and the realtor (who it turns out he is dating but we don’t know that just yet…)
But you have to hand it to Shelley Long, she’s really dedicated to making this Wilderness Girl thing work for her kid–even if that means camping out beneath the Hollywood sign. Or more like “glamping out.” This movie may actually have invented glamping. Right after they finish their fondue and are about to start making espresso over the campfire, it starts to pour buckets of rain all over their campsite. What’s a Wilderness Girl to do?
Check in to the Beverly Hills Hotel and tell the best campfire story ever:
But it’s not all easy for Shelley. I mean sure, she’s got to learn how to help those kids earn some badges but that would be a lot easier without the regional director trying to ruin everything for her. She’s a crabby ex-army nurse who doesn’t like that the Beverly Hills troop isn’t earning dumb traditional badges.
But earn badges for tying knots and first aid when you could earn your badges for:
-Dancing the Freddy
-International Affairs (Laundering Money & Crushing Revolutions)
-Gardening with Glamor
But then it all comes down to the final Jamboree. And that’s the real woods, people. She almost bails but the girls tell her that they need her and they have to follow through on this. So it’s quite literally a game of survival for them now since all they’ve haven’t really earned any of the badges that prepare you for dealing with nature. And on top of all that, they’ve got these really annoying Culver City Red Feathers to deal with.
But it turns out that with a little ingenuity and extra-motivation from having to out-run a skunk, even a sad soon-to-be divorcee from Beverly Hills can learn how to navigate the woods.
Very Special Lesson: This is an inspirational film. And not the kind that requires you to have a special skill (see: any movie about athletes, musicians, prodigies of any kind) or tons of money in which to start a foundation (The First Wives Club). But I watch this movie and think, “Hey, I too could one day be a troop leader and inspire tons of young girls without having to spend too much time experiencing nature.” Thank you, Shelley Long. You’ve inspired me more than you’ll ever know.
Stay tuned next weekend as I trudge through every episode of Fuller House. Wish me luck! I hope I don’t OD on very special lessons!
Jenny Lewis was my very first girl crush. Before I knew what girl crushes were. Or maybe even crushes. Or maybe even girls. Well, no probably not before that one. But anyway, I thought she was just fantastic in literally everything. It didn’t hurt that she had hair just like The Little Mermaid. I liked that she seemed both friendly and sad. Even in roles where she played a total jerk, she still seemed like she’d be fun to hang out with. I went to see her in college during the Jenny & Johnny tour and was so devastated when she threw her guitar pick right near me, but I couldn’t find it. But I discovered on the walk home that my boyfriend had casually slipped it into my jacket pocket.
She wasn’t the type of child actor that created all of the pandaemonium of Jonathan Taylor Thomas or the Olsen Twins, but I think that’s what made me like her even more. I liked that I could watch her in a kids movie and enjoy how unassuming she was. It made it easier to pretend that I was a member of Troop Beverly Hills and just happened to be off camera in the slumber party scene or at the back of the line as we traipsed through the woods at the Jamboree. So when I saw her music video for “She’s Not Me” it was fun because it’s a great song and because I love kitschy nostalgia.
I got a lot of these more obvious references, but I felt like everything was done very purposefully here and I couldn’t help but wonder: Why is she sitting in a pile of teddy bears? So I did a little investigating…
The Golden Girls–Okay, so the first one’s not a movie. Before she played a girl scout in Troop Beverly Hills, she played a girl scout on The Golden Girls. She was an evil girl scout who bullied troop leader, Rose. Honestly, it’s like the most horrible role if seen her in. Like I totally would have cast her in a remake of The Bad Seed based upon this performance alone.
Troop Beverly Hills–This is probably the most recognizable of all of the reference in the video. But can I just take a moment to say how perfect Vanessa Bayer is at impersonating Shelley Long? Also, Zosia Mamet’s hair is on point. I was immediately like “OMG she’s Cleo!” But did you notice that Jenny Lewis also pays tribute to her character’s gymnastics training? Seriously, such a good movie. This may need to be a Very Special Movie…
Pleasantville–I feel like the Hell Ville reference has to be a reference to Pleasantville just based on the name alone. But the priest and the Jenny’s outfit don’t really make sense with the movie.
The Wizard–The movie that introduced us the super cool yet ultimately disappointing Nintendo Power Glove. But such a cool idea though.
Toys R Us Commercial–I’m pretty sure this is the inspiration for both the teddy bear (obviously) and braids scene as well as the tricycle scene (less obviously). Also, look out for Baby Steve Urkel!