Murder, She Wrote: Incident in Lot #7

2One of Jessica’s books is being made into a movie, so she gets to hang out on the Universal lot. The screenwriter is trying to change some essential parts of the book. For example, he wants to make a different character the killer in the movie because “who is going to pay $5 to go see the movie? They already know the ending!”

Then we see Dr. Klopek from The Burbs sneaking onto the studio lot by jumping into the back of an open truck filled with plants. And then Jessica gets a tour of the studio lot, specifically visiting The Bates Motel from Psycho. Why yes, this is the most random episode ever.

6515-2650Jessica meets up with her director at a restaurant and the creepy guy from The Burbs is spying on them. Then Jessica decides to look around The Bates Motel and finds the director’s dead body there. She claims to have seen someone through one of the windows and that this person probably “slipped out” after she entered the house.

Anyway, Jessica accuses some guy of being the last person to see the dead guy alive. And he points out that Jessica saw him at the exactly same time, so they were both the last to see him alive. YEP, she’s suspicious folks. That’s what I’ve been trying to say this entire time!

Suddenly, the creepy guy from The Burbs appears again. He’s at the production office this time and wants to see the lead actress in Jessica’s movie, but she’s not there…so he just leaves again. Meanwhile, Jessica rushes back to her hotel to see if her crime has made the news. She’s disappointed to find out that she didn’t make it in time, so she decides to cheer herself up by watching Psycho.

b9af30098678c7d19c57180b715005be1But that insufferable screenwriter interrupts her. And he also tells her some juicy dirt on the lead actress. So she goes to interrogate the lead actress over at the production office. When Jessica steps out to take a call, the creepy guy from The Burbs pops out of nowhere and pulls a gun on the lead actress. It’s obvious that he’s one of those stalker-types.

Jessica comes back from the phone and saves her buy pushing one of those rolling chairs into the back of the creep’s knees. Also, it turns out that the guy was just a prop gun from the lead actress’s first movie. He also admits to having seen Jessica over by The Bates House. He’s even spent the night in it, kind of making it his studio lodging during his stalking spree.

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Then he says that the house talked to him. So like he’s really not a credible witness, which sucks because he’s probably the only eye witness to Jessica Fletcher’s murderous ways. In order to “solve the case,” Jessica returns to The Bates Motel.

She starts up the stairs and I think we’re supposed to be worried that Norman Bates is going to jump out and stab her. But I’m not concerned She’s the only killer in this show. She heads over to the room where Janet Leigh was murdered and turns on the water in the shower because that’s normal and all.

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This dude named Willie comes up behind her. (He was the other last person to see the dead guy alive.) She accuses him of murdering the dead guy because he didn’t sign a new contract with him. This is based upon some blue papers and a glum look on Willie’s face when she saw them at the restaurant. She then shows him the blue papers (where did she get those??) and claims she can tell that the signature is a forgery.

He admits to the forgery and claims he’s sill innocent of murder. She then presents her “damning” evidence. He slipped in the dead guy’s blood on the way out of the house and had to wash it off in the motel bathroom. She’s confident that they’ll find his fingerprints everywhere.

Uh, where Jessica? In the shower that you just turned on? On the set in which you literally manhandled everything? Also, why is there still a source of water turned on for the Psycho shower?? So then Willie is like wahhh okay it was an accident. He hurt my feelingssss. And Jessica is all like yes, yes you’re horrible. 

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But here’s what really happened: Jessica obviously killed that guy. She was frustrated with the way that Hollywood was destroying her book. And we all know that our favorite little psycho likes to get her kicks by killing people and then solving their murders. The only question was who would be her victim. The obvious choice was that annoying screenwriter, but no, it would have been too obvious. So she waited for the prime opportunity–a business dispute between two long-time partners. She chose Willie to pin it on because he was the more emotional and bumbling one of the pair. She knew he’d get ticked off and probably try to knock the director out cold, which he did. But he didn’t kill him. No, Jessica kept stalking the Psycho house because it was the perfect crime scene. Plenty of places to spy and keep an eye on things. When Willie fled, she seized the moment to finish the director off and frame Willie. Then she proceeded to make it really obvious that she wanted to tour the house and then investigate it. She smeared her fingerprints everywhere, all under the guise of “investigation” thus destroying the integrity of any evidence. Only the lead actress’s stalker could have exposed her plot, but he was a total nut so no one would believe him anyway. J.B. Fletcher gets away with it again. But by this point it’s been eight years of this crap and no one is asking any questions.

Also, what’s going on here? Pretty sure I need to review this one next:
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Very Special Movie: Death of a Cheerleader

First of all, this is based on a true story and while I’m sure that the actual events were tragic–I’d like to completely forget that this has any element of reality so that we can all laugh with abandon at Tori Spelling in this harrowing role of doomed-cheerleader. Also, Wikipedia tells me that this was the highest rated TV-Move of 1994.

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This movie starts with Tori Spelling sweetly asking to use a phone at some random suburban home because her “friend got a little weird.” When no one answers at her house, the man from the suburban home drives her to her house. When Tori’s parents aren’t home, she decides to go next door. The random man whose car she’s gotten into is all like “I’ll wait until you get inside.” He watches her through the rearview mirror. When she’s out of sight, he turns to look through the back windshield. That’s when he sees an altercation between Kellie Martin (from The Face on the Milk Carton–another classic) and Tori Spelling. Then Kellie Martin stabs her to death. See, this is why you always drive people all the way to the door. You can’t do much good watching someone through a rearview mirror.

Then we flash back to a happier time. But just a heads up you’re about to hate Tori Spelling’s guts and totally fall in love with her friendly murderer. And if you’re anything like me at fifteen (when I first caught this movie on Lifetime) you’re going to have a total crisis of conscience and feel like a horrible person for sympathizing with a murderer because this is a TRUE story, right??? But like ultimately this is a Lifetime movie and not a documentary, so try not to have a crisis of conscience over it.

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Anyway, Tori Spelling is the Queen Bee of the 10th grade. And Kellie Martin is cute and friendly and really wants to be popular and “the best.” It’s pretty obvious almost immediately that Tori Spelling is a colossal bitch, who just tortures people emotionally for no reason. But Kellie Martin still wants to hang out with her because she is “cool.” So really like Kellie Martin probably sucks too. Much to Kellie’s chagrin, Tori thinks she’s “weird.”5410146838_f0aedae755

Anyway, the cool thing at this high school is to be a Meadow Lark. The Meadow Larks are a service club. You have to like be selected for this club and then you have to be initiated. It’s a freaking sorority. Anyway, Kellie and Tori are both selected to pledge the Larks.

Then they both try out for cheerleading. Being a cheerleader here is an even bigger deal than being a cheerleader in your average school. There are four new cheerleaders selected at the end of the school year to replace the graduating seniors. They winners all announced at an assembly and then they get to come up on stage and receive flowers. Barf. Tori makes the squad but Kellie does not.

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So then she shirks her morals and gets drunk with her friend Jill. Jill invites her to a party with this guy she knows. Kellie decides to invite Tori to the party so that Tori will be her friend. Actually, that’s pretty awful and social-climb-y. I think Kellie and Tori BOTH suck and I was just like feeling bad for Kellie being socially awkward back when I was fifteen.

Omg this is turning into a 2000 word essay, but stick with me! So Kellie calls Tori’s house when Tori is at cheerleading camp. Kellie says that they’re having a surprise dinner for all of the Larks and to have Tori be read at 9 pm for her to pick her up. (She doesn’t say who she is.) So Tori meets up with Kellie but doesn’t really expect to see her.

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Oh yeah, there’s a knife in the car because sometimes Kellie’s sister “makes lunch in the car” ?? What?? And it’s like a no-joke knife/the future murder weapon. So then Tori presses Kellie about the party and finds out that Kellie was not directly invited. Then Tori is all like I REFUSE TO CRASH A PARTY. And Kellie is like WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN? And then Kellie goes all Single White Female and is like obsessing over how pretty Tori is and how cool she is. So yeah. They’re both horrifying.

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So then Kellie kills Tori to essentially protect her rep. Like wtf. This is some freaking gang violence shit right here. She’s got to keep up that street cred. But honestly, this is horrifying. Unlike fifteen year-old in a terror-shock combo, I’m twenty-five and sipping my hot cocoa while giving both Kellie and Tori major side-eye.

Anyway, the cops have a few good leads. First, there was that call to Tori’s house about the Larks. Secondly, they have eye witness accounts of the car that Kellie was driving. But mostly, no one has suspected Kellie because she’s so “sweet.” Everyone thinks it was this girl at school who is kind of gothic. Meanwhile, Kellie really, really guilt-ridden. So she’s been getting more involved in the community. And then like she kind of starts getting popular. She’s elected to a leadership position in the Larks and she gets asked out on a date.
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Kellie takes a polygraph and she fails. So then the police really start zeroing in on her. Uncle Phil from Fresh Prince reads her the psychological profile of the killer and it’s basically her exactly. Also, like what is up with them questioning minors without parents present?? I know in this case that this person is actually a killer but still.

So then Kellie finally decides to confess by writing her mother a note. In the letter she feels like really awful and she asks her parents to still love her and to come meet her at the school so she can turn herself in. So like that’s actually really heart-wrenching and I’m sorry that I forgot this movie is actually really depressing. But I’ve written so much that I’m going to publish this anyway. But please remember that Tori Spelling was ridiculous and funny in this movie. And please, is this not a campy promo photo?

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Very Special Lesson: Omg there are so many lessons here: Don’t hang out with Tori Spelling in high school unless that high school is West Beverly High School. Oh also, if someone is really really mean to you, then don’t hang out with them. Don’t try to make that person your friend or spend anymore time with them than you have to. It won’t work and you will end up bat-shit crazy. Also, don’t make lunch in your car, especially not with sharp knives.

The Best Epistolary Chick Lit

When I’m not nit-picking hard-hitting, emotional, life-lessons from sitcoms, I like to read books.

A few months ago, I wrote about my totally ecstatic reception of the first Princess Diaries book for adults. This is not exclusively due to the fact that I love the protagonist and her weird behavior, but also because my childhood spoiled me with epistolary novels and the adult world is sadly devoid of them! I started with the Dear America series and then forayed into the classics: P.S. Longer Letter Later and Absolutely Normal Chaos. The Princess Diaries and Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series basically ruled my middle school life. Then there were of course the countless other books I devoured and have since forgotten. But basically, if the book was written in a diary, series of letters, or newspaper clipping format (or better yet, all of the above!) then I read it immediately and desperately searched for my next fix.

But then I grew up and no one wanted to let me read fun books of letters anymore. So I’ve decided to compile a list of the best epistolary chick lit I’ve managed to find. (If it’s a serious book, then I don’t want to read it in the form of notes between friends, so that’s why this is specifically geared toward chick let. But hey, The Very Special Blog does not want to be gender normative, so go ahead and partake of this list as well, gentlemen):

71zlxoecx4lAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
I loved this because it like really innocently fulfilled all of my Harriet-the-Spy dreams. It’s the turn of the millennium and this kind of glum-fellow takes a job reading a newspaper employee’s flagged emails. So basically he’s reading a lot of silly/crass emails that have nothing to do with work and then he like kind of gets inspired by those emails to…well I’m not going to spoil this for you.

Daisy Fay and The Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg
Daisy Fay is a precocious 12 year-old when she starts her diary, and she basically just writes about the weird things that happen in her family. Her family is REALLY strange, so it’s a very fun read.

whered-you-go-bernadette-book-coverWhere’d Ya Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
While this book isn’t entirely written in the epistolary style, in my opinion the best parts are. I loved reading Bernadette’s messages to her outsourced “personal assistant” and all of her husband’s bitchy admin’s emails. I just like really really really want there to be a sequel to this book.

The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot
Honestly, this one is kind of boring in places but I was really illin’ for some epistolary reading when I picked it up. Meg Cabot is definitely funnier in The Princess Diaries, but she’s pretty funny here too.

Notably absent: Bridget Jones’s Diary–I could not get through this book. I loved the movies, but the writing drove me nuts! Bridget’s thoughts are far easier for me to comprehend when spoken by Renee Zellwegger.

Growing Pains: Mike’s Madonna Story

I looked at my stats and my most popular post ever is The Facts of Life: The First Time. So in honor of all of you being perverts, I’ve decided to cover another episode about virginity loss.

Before, Kirk Cameron was an evangelical Christian, he was just a teenage actor who played a character who contemplated losing his virginity to a girl (Dana Plato, may she rest in peace) who dresses exactly like Madonna (this episode aired the same year Like A Virgin was released).
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This “Madonna girl” is named Lisa and she just broke up with her twenty-seven year old boyfriend. She calls Maggie “Maggie” instead of Mrs. Seaver, and Carol slut shames her for wearing a lace top. Then Maggie calls her a tramp for dating a twenty-seven year old instead of a fifteen year old–someone her own age. Good Lord, how far we’ve come in 30 years. I feel like at least now this episode would focus on like calling the police on the statutory rapist and improving that girl’s self-esteem, while also keeping Mike safely away from her because she is “troubled.”
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Lisa invites Mike on a date, but Mike has to babysit Ben & Carol…uh, isn’t Carol like 1 year younger than Mike and like 22 years more mature?? Oh well, since Mike has to babysit then Lisa agrees to hang out at the Seaver house with him.

Maggie gets all freaked out and wants to stay home instead of going out to dinner with Jason and friends. Jason tries to reassure her that they have raised Mike right and even if they haven’t, there’s not much she can do to stop him from having a good time with the ladies. Feeling marginally better, Maggie agrees to go out to dinner. And that’s when Lisa shows up in the full-on wedding dress from “Like a Virgin.”
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Lisa gets Mike to give her a tour of the house and then she only wants to hang out in the guest bedroom. So then Dana Plato tries to seduce Kirk Cameron, which is kind of funny in retrospect. Realizing that he’s in way over his head Mike tries the following diversions following this kiss:
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  1. Saying, “So how bout that Social Studies test?”
  2. Riding his parents stationary bike while claiming, very unconvincingly, not to be a virgin.
  3. And then we don’t get to see anything else because the camera zooms in on a picture of Maggie holding baby Mike.

So then Maggie and Jason come home and Mike’s all in a funk. Maggie tries to nonchalantly ask how things went with Lisa, but Mike sees through her rouse and yells at her that nothing happened. He feels like a loser, but it turns out that he doesn’t really like Lisa that much. Like they basically just like each other in the sense that they would both be sad if the other got hit by a truck. And Maggie tells him that he shouldn’t feel bad about  “wimping out” on “sharing something very special with someone whose face you wouldn’t want to see on the grill of an eighteen wheeler.”

Also, the B plot of this episode is that Ben kills Carol’s plant by accident. Not your finest work, Growing Pains.

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And then then episode ends with Mike riding the stationary bike in the guest room so like I don’t know if we’re supposed to read into that at all or not, but yeah.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t lose your virginity to someone who you only wouldn’t want to see hit by a truck. But also, don’t lose your virginity to someone who you would want to see hit by a truck. And for followers of present-day Kirk Cameron, don’t lose your virginity.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles/An Open Letter to Kevin Bacon?

There are not a lot of Thanksgiving movies to chose from, so this one always come to mind when November roles around. However, this movie makes me so angry. Only one John Hughes movie makes me more irate than this (She’s Having a Baby) and I don’t think it’s just because Kevin Bacon appears in both of them. But on that note:

  1. Kevin Bacon is such an ass. I mean, upon re-watching this I see that he and Steve Martin (btw, I just started to write Tom Cruise. Wtf? Where is my mind? I must be tired)…ah, yes where was I…Steve Martin and Kevin Bacon are running to catch the same cab and Kevin gets there first. But I’ve always remembered it as Kevin stealing the cab. I think I have just sort of hated him ever since he wasn’t very nice to my friend, who said hi to him when he and his daughter were touring our college theater. But like it was our space. She didn’t run up to him on the street or even approach him at all. She just excitedly said hello when he was near her and he acted like she was a bother. Jerk.
  2. Sorry, Kevin Bacon. It’s actually John Candy who steals the cab, which really makes sense with how the rest of the movie plays out. But we’ve still got bad blood. And it’s not because you’re a celebrity. It’s because I don’t like rude people.
  3. I love John Candy, but I just want to shake him in this movie. I mean Steve Martin gets mad at you for clearing your sinuses in the bed next to him (after John Candy spilled beer in it, I might add) and John Candy accuses him of hitting his kid if he spills milk. Like what the heck? I mean that’s just nuts. I feel like there are certain rules about sharing a bed with a stranger and they certain don’t allow for weird phlegm noises in the middle of the night.
  4. Okay, Steve Martin telling John Candy that spending time with him is “like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy Doll” is taking it a little too far. I think I just hate both of them.
  5. But this soundtrack, I am LOVING. It’s all like late-80’s light instrumentals and it’s exactly what I imagine would be the soundtrack to my life as a late 80’s business person, such as Steve Martin.
  6. Omg and Steve Martin was so mean to the really nice lady at the Marathon Car Rental desk. I feel terrible for anyone who has to work in any kind of service industry during the holidays. You’re getting blamed for so much crap that you have no control over.
  7. But then John Candy uses Steve Martin’s credit card to rent a car without telling him. And that car catches on fire. So now John Candy is the bigger jerk in this movie. It’s like a constant battle of who is the least tolerable!
  8. But then it turns out that John Candy really likes Steve Martin and he’s only been driving him away because he doesn’t know how to relate. 😦
    And then they actually start to have some fun!
  9. But I think they still suck…though they did kind of learn and grown from their experience together…how very special is that?
  10. And then there’s the ending which is the whole freaking reason why I watch this movie. Gets me every time. This is like one of the most beautiful thing in cinema history to me (right up with the ending of City Lights).

And suddenly we realize that John Candy was probably so cheerful and annoying during all of these weather delays just because he was really, really happy to have someone to spend quality time with. And like he is actually a nice guy. They’re both actually nice guys. And this song is just so perfect. And you know that Steve Martin’s wife is happy because she can tell that Steve Martin has grown as a person by simply witnessing this wonderful act of kindness. P.S. Did you notice tiny little Matthew Lawrence playing Steve Martin’s son?

BEST THANKSGIVING MOVIE EVER

Amazon Pilot Season

I guess I’ve been accidentally plugging Amazon original streaming content lately. Well, this post will be no exception. It’s “pilot season” on Amazon. And that means you get to watch a bunch of pilot episodes and then help Amazon decide which episodes will get a full season order.

So that’s pretty amazing. And basically it’s like they’re making all of my TV fanatic hopes and wishes come true.

There are 12 pilot episodes up for screening and feedback. Half of them are for children, but here is a brief rundown of the 6 pilots for grownups:

  • One Mississippi–Tig Notaro stars in this black comedy loosely-based on her life. But I have to warn you, I love Tig Notaro but I stopped watching this after 3 minutes because it was too even darker than her usual fare.
  • Z–Christina Ricci stars in this historical fiction piece about Zelda Fitzgerald. Atrocious southern accents abound, but if you can get past that it’s pretty interesting.

    I haven’t sampled the rest of these, so here are Amazon’s descriptions:

  • Highston–“Highston Liggetts is a kind and curious 19-year-old struggling to find his place in a world he doesn’t quite understand. To help him cope, Highston imagines a constantly changing roster of celebrity friends who provide him with comfort and advice – much to the concern of his bewildered but empathetic extended family.”
  • Patriot–“Intelligence officer John Tavner’s latest assignment, to prevent Iran from going nuclear, requires him to forgo all safety nets and assume a “non-official cover” as a mid-level employee at a Midwestern industrial piping firm.  A bout with PTSD, the government’s incompetence, and the intricacies of keeping his day job cause a barrage of ever-escalating fiascos that jeopardize the mission.”
  • Good Girls Revolt–“In 1969, while a cultural revolution swept through the free world, there was still one place that refused to change with the times: newsrooms. Good Girls Revolt follows a group of young female researchers at “News of the Week,” who ask to be treated fairly. Their revolutionary request sparks convulsive changes and upends marriages, careers, sex lives, love lives, and friendships.”
  • Edge–“Missouri, 1865. Josiah Hedges aka “Edge” returns home from the Civil War to discover his closest comrades-in-arms have betrayed him, sparking a bloody reign of vengeance. A mysterious beauty crosses Edge’s path, and together they will uncover a dark conspiracy that extends to the highest ranks of American power. From Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Iron Man 3).”

The Very Special Notebook is Missing!

Have you seen me?

On Saturday, I took notes on the (spoiler alert) 90-minute special The Facts of Life Goes to Paris. Sunday morning, I was looking for The Very Special Notebook so I could take further notes on something else that I’m not going to tell you about yet! As of this morning, The Very Special Notebook is still nowhere to be found! This is really putting a damper on my blog planning…

Oh just kidding…I found it under a pillow & in between the couch cushions. Guess I should have checked there before I sifted through the trash…yuck!

Things I Can’t Explain

It’s been decades since we’ve heard from Clarissa and when I started this book I was pretty nervous. There’s a lot of legacy to live up to here. Did she turn out okay? Will I feel okay reading about her outside of the TV series? Things I Can’t Explain, is written by series creator Mitchell Kriegman and will be released November 10th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

But full disclosure, I did not care for this book. Frankly, parts of it felt like a real chore to get through. I found myself a bit bored by the plot. And I found it hard to get past the fact that the math glaringly does not add up. I’m sure this was done for creative reasons, but Clarissa is such a cultural icon of the early/mid 90’s to me, as I’m sure she is for many other girls of that era. So to hear that she graduated from college in 2009 (and figuring that means she must have spent over a decade in high school for that to even remotely make sense) just doesn’t sit right with me.

Plus, financial crisis recent-grad millennial is not Clarissa as we grew up with her. Clarissa Explains It All first aired in 1991 and Clarissa was in the 9th grade. She’s on the cusp of the Gen-X/Millennial generation. She’s the teenager that all of the younger millennials (the one’s who actually did finish college in 2009 without any math tricks) looked up to and aspired to be. If she’s suddenly supposed to be the same age as a younger millennial, then it somehow spoils everything.

I’d be much more interested in reading about her in her early to mid thirties. She could still have a life-crisis. I’m down to hear about that. But something about this book rings false. Clarissa doesn’t belong with her contemporaries in this book. Suddenly, she’s a “millennial” and she throws around words like “SnapChat” but it doesn’t even sound like she knows how what she’s saying. She describes a friend, who is presumably Clarissa’s age, who changes her Facebook profile picture every “43 minutes.” That’s not something a late-twenties millennial would do. That sounds more like something a seventeen or eighteen year old millennial might do. And those kids don’t even have Facebook because Facebook is what “old people” use.

I feel like the character’s voice is missing, and maybe that’s a by-product of how amazingly Melissa Joan Hart depicted her on the television show. But I don’t think that’s entirely the problem. Rob Thomas wrote a couple of books using Veronica Mars as a character and the character was still very much Veronica Mars. This just does not feel like Clarissa. She feels like she’s in the wrong time and place and I feel like just about anyone could be telling me this story. Frankly I just do not care about this character, and that’s mostly because I don’t feel like there’s much of a character to care about.

I guess there are a few other elements of insincerity to me as well, but I’m not sure they’ll bug others as much. As a former New Yorker, I find it really odd that Clarissa, while trying to convince her parents that a near-stranger is her boyfriend, would mistakenly pick Riverdale as his neighborhood of residence. I’ll point out that this guy runs a coffee stand in the lobby of a corporate building in lower Manhattan, so he’s pretty much as far socioeconomically and geographically as possible from Riverdale. She also has all of these stupid rules about little New York interactions that require you to not know anyone’s names. So she’s been getting coffee from this one guy for years and has intentionally not learned his name. Aside from making her sound like a jerk, this is also another weird attempt at a “local’s characterization” of New York City–like people have these little interactions and then intentionally do not learn each others names? It’s odd and patently false, in my experience.

I hate to say it, but I couldn’t recommend this book to you. The best thing about Clarissa in the Clarissa Explains it All  years was that she managed to be a totally genuine kid while also being a trendsetter. Actually, the whole fact that she was a trendsetter stemmed naturally from the fact that she was genuine and creative. Now, it feels like she’s a square peg forced into the round hole of the 21st century, and the transition is not happening smoothly. And no, it’s not because she is having a “quarter-life crisis.” The few shining moments in this book are those in which we get a fun graphic or cool list that remind us of Clarissa’s glory days. Those are fun, but not worth the price of trudging through everything else.

I say this as someone who runs a nostalgia blog: this character is certainly better left in your memories.