Friday, April 21, 2017

The Unicorn Club #3: The Best Friend Game


It's been awhile since I did one of these books, so you should know that the Unicorn Club now consists of Mandy, Mary, Ellen, Lila, Jess, Liz, Maria, and Evie, a new girl who is in the sixth grade. During a meeting at the Wakefield house, they watch an episode of Best Friends, the hot new show, and talk about how much they hate the Eight Times Eight club, which is a club of eight girls in the eighth grade. They decide that they have to go on the show to prove that they're cooler and nominate Liz to write in for them.

Their other big problem is that during a prank gone wrong, they ruined Mr. Clark's toupee and he wants them to pay the $300 it will cost to replace it. Ellen gives him this tape all about how hair loss isn't such a big deal, and he sends the club a stern note in response. Mandy then buys him a can of that spray on hair stuff. During her presentation though, the “artificial hair” drips everywhere and causes a huge mess. He tells them that they need to give him $50 a week until they pay off their debt and that they absolutely cannot just use Lila's money.

To make money fast, they hang up flyers all over town and offer to do odd jobs. They wind up sitting kids, cleaning floors, scrubbing bathrooms, and that kid of stuff. Jessica does take the time to tell the Eight Times Eight girls that they're going on television before they actually hear anything. It's pretty convenient that they get a call and wind up on the show. Unfortunately, so do the other girls, and they announce that they will go up against each other the next week.

No matter what the Unicorns do, the Eight Times Eight girls compete. Lila gets the club an article in the newspaper, so the other girls get an article in the junior high paper that their friends actually read. They even show up at the big game in matching outfits and do a new cheer they created. When both clubs come to school to hang up banners for the show, they make a bet. The club who loses will have to sing Puff the Magic Dragon in front of the whole cafeteria.

The Unicorns spend days getting ready and going over all types of questions before the show. It turns out that all their practice doesn't help though. They score zero points, while the Eight Times Eight club gets every question right. Liz thinks they got harder questions and that it wasn't fair. The girls all either fight all the time or just stop talking.

When lunch time comes the next day, Liz is the only one who shows up. Everyone else flakes. Though they keep avoiding each other, she finally calls Mandy who schedules an emergency meeting. They decide to go through with the song in their own way. It becomes a rap song with its own hip hop dance, which I would totally pay money to see. Everyone loves their song and goes crazy, but Amanda, the leader of the other club, storms off. Liz realizes that the Eight Times Eight club won because they all think alike and are basically the same person but the Unicorns are all different, which makes them better.

*Lila says that she helped form the Unicorns, Liz says she thought it was always Janet, and Lila says she was there anyway and that there wouldn't be a club without her. I thought this was a club that had been around for several years?

*Elizabeth gets super annoyed when they ask her to write the letter to the show and then when they ask her to write an article for the paper. She's the one who goes on and on and on and on about how much she loves to write!

*While I agree with Mr. Clark to a point, where does he expect girls in the seventh grade to come up with $50 a week without them asking their parents?

*Elizabeth says that Mary had a rough childhood until her foster family adopted her. Say what now? Does anyone else remember the book where her mom came back and got her? And all the other books in SVT where she lived with her mom and stepfather Tim?

*Steven is on some weird diet where he eats vegetarian one day and then can eat anything he wants the next day. That sounds not at all healthy.

*Mandy is surprisingly one of the only Unicorns without pierced ears. That seems oddly strange to me.

*The Eight Times Eight girls literally wear the same outfit every day, which I'm sure their parents love. They wear matching sweatshirts with khaki shorts and white socks with eight balls on them one day and jeans, black boots, and flannel shirts another day.

*The Unicorns all wear their matching club jackets to the show and decide to wear something else purple. Since Liz wears a lavender sundress and Jessica wears a purple turtleneck, black skirt, and striped black and purple socks, I have no idea who that twin on the cover is supposed to be.

*Questions asked on the show include stuff like favorite sport or where you want to travel most, but the Unicorns mainly get stuff like describe so and so's idea of perfect happiness or how so and so would spend a perfect day. So, not exactly fair.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #41: Something to Hide (1989)


Ned is back in town for a class project and desperately needs help from Nancy and the gang. Though he refuses to tell them what they'll do, he picks them up and takes them to the mall. It turns out that he has an assignment for his marketing class. His team will hand out samples of Spotless, a new acne cream, and get feedback from users.

The team consists of: Justin, a smart ass and super smart guy who reminds me a lot of Winston; Marcia, a kind of rich girl who seems nice; Brad, a super hot guy who falls head over heels for Bess despite her being super sick; and Heather, who makes it clear from the very start that she's out to snag Ned for herself.

Bess volunteers to try some of the cream for herself, but Justin freaks out when she grabs one tube. He laughingly claims he poisoned it before running out to his car for more. After doing some work, Bess starts feeling even worse. Brad volunteers to grab her a lemonade and winds up with so many things to pick up for others that he has to take help with them. Not long after finishing her lemonade, Bess passes out and winds up rushed to the hospital. The doctor determines that she was poisoned.

To make things worse, five more kids show up at the hospital with the same symptoms. Tests reveal that everyone has arsenic in their bloodstreams and that they most likely used something on their skin with arsenic in it. Gee, I wonder what that could be?

Since Bess is recovering nicely, everyone goes to a party at Heather's house. She gets Ned alone to give him a tour of her house that probably leads to her bedroom and seems pissed when he ignores her in favor of his actual girlfriend. Marcia gets Nancy alone to warn her that Heather has a reputation on campus, I bet she does!, for breaking up happy relationships.

Though she doesn't have any suspects, Nancy does learn that Justin did an internship at Asco, the maker of Clearly, which is the main competitor to Spotless. She sneaks into the head office, goes through their employment records, and learns there is no proof he ever worked there. Nancy calls and pretends that she's checking references for him, but HR tells her that no one by that name ever worked there.

Not a whole lot happens for a good chunk of the book. Nancy and Ned double with Brad and Bess to some concert. I guess being in the hospital isn't an excuse to miss a party. She also overhears Marcia having a heated phone conversation, which makes it odd when Marcia suddenly gets sick and winds up in a coma. The doctors announce that someone gave her a lethal dose of arsenic.

Though everyone seems to think it's Justin, I have my doubts. Heather claims she's so scared that she's changing majors and dropping out of the competition. George, while in Chicago though, sees Heather dressed smartly and walking out of an advertising agency. Ned and Nancy talk things through and decide it might not be Justin working for the competition because corporate espionage doesn't happen in the real world. Sigh.

Brad's family conveniently owns a big ass orchard, and since it's Halloween and there's a big party coming up, Bess convinces them to visit and pick up some pumpkins. Brad's dad lets it slip that they use arsenic in the greenhouse where they grow the pumpkins, and Brad then gets Nancy alone to gossip about Justin. He tells her that he doubts the guy did it and that he thinks Marcia just used too much of the cream. Too bad the doctors already determined that was impossible. Nancy then hears from Ned, who talked to his professor who is best buddies with the owner of Asco. The owner vehemently denies that his company would ever stoop to such low tactics.

The gang shows up to the big party dressed like characters from The Wizard of OZ. Bess is Dorothy, Nancy is the Scarecrow, Ned gets the Cowardly Lion, and George is the Tin Man. Nancy tells them her suspicions about Brad, and even though she literally has absolutely no evidence, they all agree with her. Bess, who was in love with the guy 60 seconds ago, now agrees it was him and says she won't go anywhere alone with him.

Brad cuts in on Ned and Nancy dancing and begs her to go outside with him to get away from the crowd and talk. As soon as she tells him she knows he's behind everything, he attacks her. The two fight, and he hits her over the head and knocks her out. When she comes to, she has her hands tied in front of her. They fight some more until she head butts him and runs away.

This leads to a fight in the woods that has Nancy clasp her hands together and punch him in the throat, which slows him down until Ned arrives. The cops are right behind him and take Brad away. We then learn that Heather was at the ad agency in Chicago to tell them in person that she was no longer interested in the job. Also, Justin really did work for the company, but his personnel file was on someone's desk because they were calling to offer him some work. Ned jokingly says that he wants to fight for the Spotless job, and Nancy silences him with a kiss, telling him that marketing is way too dangerous.

*Nancy sneaks into the Asco corporate office by walking in with her toolbox and claiming she's a computer repair tech. I realize this was the 80s, but what kind of repair tech carries around a normal toolbox?

*Bess wears a black leather miniskirt and a bright blue silk shell top on a date with Brad, which is just about the most 80s thing I can think of right now.

*So, Nancy and Ned are on their way to see Marcia and find a bunch of cop cars there because of her poisoning. The freaking chief of police pulls them aside to ask how they knew the victim and acts super suspicious of Ned. Like my beloved Ned would ever do anything wrong!

*How realistic is it anyway that the chief of the whole police force would come out for this?

*Ned has a good point in that if the cream was tainted, it might turn people off from using all kinds of acne creams and not just one brand. That's why he doubts Asco was behind the poisonings.

*Asco must not be a very big company if it literally has one file for everyone who works there!

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #86: Let's Talk Terror (1993)


Nancy and George scored two tickets to Marcy!, the hottest teen talk show around because their high school friend Susan works for the show. Poor Bess is stuck at home sick. Susan invites them to the studio, shows them a brand new publicity shot for the host Marcy Robbins, and introduces them to people working on the show like Jack, the stage manager. He makes a joke about Marcy sending him out for a magazine just as the star herself shows up and shouts at him for taking too long.

Marcy then brings them back to her dressing room and opens the package with her new publicity shot in it to find that someone ripped it into pieces. When Nancy puts it back together again, they find a threatening message on it in magenta marker. Her and George scour the building for the same marker. Nancy eventually finds it just about to get tossed in the dumpster and decides that since it's almost empty, it must be the one used to write the message.

After the show, Marcy has an argument over the phone with Vic, her ex-boyfriend. He suggested she sell an idea for a talk show, and then instead of asking him for help since he was/is a television producer, she went behind his back. Vic now wants to sue her because he thinks he deserves some of the profits. I have to say that I kind of agree with him. He's also touting some new chick named Samantha. Marcy watches Samantha on another talk show talking about how Marcy is a hack.

Susan invites them to a fundraising party/silent auction at the country club. Nancy finds a note that falls out of Samantha's pocket, which is from some guy named Morty telling her to just ignore Marcy. She stumbles across Jack backstage and listens as he tells her all about knowing Marcy as a kid. They also overhear Marcy and Vic fighting because he volunteered a date with himself and Marcy deliberately ignored some of the bids. Nancy and George head back to Susan's apartment and find a note warning Nancy to get out of town or else.

The only clue they find is a slip of paper left behind with a number on it, which is for a popular parking garage. Nancy and George check it out, get permission to tour the facility, and see Vic and Samantha having a very public fight. Vic sees them and throws a hissy fit, but they pretend that they're just fans. Nancy also goes to the magazine's office to get copies of all issues with Samantha or Marcy in them and find that all are missing.

During the next call in show, someone calls in and threatens Marcy again. The cops somehow trace the call, but the caller is naturally gone when they get there. Nancy then gets a note from the woman she talked to at the magazine, asking her to meet her in another building. When she gets there, someone locks her in and sets it on fire.

Luckily for Nancy, she gets to the second floor as George arrives to help. George drivers her car down the ally, wraps the rope that Nancy keeps in the trunk around an AC unit, and hits the gas. The AC falls out, letting Nancy escape through the hole in the wall. Damn, that's like Jason Statham level stuff. Anywho, they also hear a rumor that the producers want to fire Marcy and offer Samantha her job.

A newspaper runs an article about Samantha and Vic going out on the town together and how she'll sign autographs, so they go to the same club. George gets Vic to dance with her so Nancy can get closer, but Samantha flips out at him ignoring her to dance with someone else and explodes. She reveals that Vic will be the new producer of the Marcy show but that he's replacing her with some random woman. Vic then sees Nancy, shouts at her, and the girls run away.

The next couple of chapters are pretty boring. A random woman who had like four lines at the silent auction is the one chosen as the new host. Nancy and George visit her, pretending to be reporters for a new magazine. She grants them a short interview that is just long enough for Nancy to put it together that the woman is somehow involved. They confront her again, and she breaks down, reveals that she made the threatening calls, and tells them that Jack was involved. It turns out that he's secretly been in love with her for years and wanted to get back at her for rejecting him in the past.

This book really annoyed me, so I want to kind of wrap it up quickly. Jack knocks Susan out and ties her up before kidnapping Marcy. Nancy and George find where they are, try to talk some sense, into him, and when that fails, Nancy attacks him. She literally kicks him several times hard enough that he cracks his head on the concrete wall, which knocks him out.

The cops show up, Marcy thanks Nancy, and she invites them women to dinner at a fancy restaurant as a treat. When they all go out, they find her there with Vic. The two of them got back together, and Samantha even called to ask Marcy if she could come back on the show. Marcy then thanks them for saving her show.

*They go to this party at the country club and meet the editor of the biggest teen magazine around. She has them call her by her first name and not Mrs. because, as she explains, that's for women 40 and older and she still has a decade to go. Um, I don't think there were 30-year old magazine editors back then.

*Nancy's marker theory is just plain weird. She says that the marked used must be almost empty because it would take so much to write the message. The message is like six words long and written across a standard picture.

*Samantha hates Marcy because Marcy revealed on her show that the other woman's image was fake. Samantha always build herself as a bad girl who grew up on the streets, was beaten by her parents, and experimented with drugs. It turns out that she's actually from a middle class family in the suburbs and was even a Girl Scout.

*Of course Nancy keeps a big ass length of rope in her trunk just in case she might need it, of course.

*Um, I'm pretty sure if this show was as big of a hit as everyone says that the producers wouldn't fire the host and replace her with someone else for no reason.

*The suspect list in the front included Jack but mentioned that he had romantic feelings for Marcy. That actually never came up until like page 120-130 of a 150 page book.

*This book was super confusing. Jack was pretty much behind everything but never really did anything suspicious. I also think he only had maybe three scenes before the end too!