Friday, April 28, 2017

Sweet Valley Kids #6: Lila's Secret

For some reason, Elizabeth and Jessica are hanging out in their backyard with Amy. They build a tunnel of cardboard boxes that ends in a creek that I'm pretty sure never existed before and will never exist after. Liz comes up with a fun idea for a backyard camp out, and they make plans to invite all their friends.

The only one unhappy with this plan is Lila. She suggests having the party at her house, which leads to a fight over whether her in ground pool is better than the above ground pool at the Wakefield house. Lila keeps whining about the bugs and the wild animals to the point where the others tell her she can just stay home. Todd and Winston overhear them and joke about showing up in the middle of the night to scare them. Liz calms the group down by pointing out that since they can't sneak out, Todd probably can't either.

Ned and Alice go all out for the girls. They put up a tent, let them cook hot dogs and marshmallows, and then leave them alone outside. Everyone brings some type of stuffed animal to sleep with, but Lila acts really haughty. She says she's too old for that but does have a paper bag that she won't let anyone see. Later, she pulls out an old blankie and says she can't sleep without it when away from home.

The girls all start hearing weird noises and freak out until they hear laughter. Steven and Todd worked together to make them think there were wild animals outside before spraying the tent with water. Ellen cries so much that Alice takes her inside to call her mind before Ellen can decide whether to stay. Ned then walks Todd home.

Liz wakes up in the middle of the night to hear Lila crying. It turns out that Lila has a little bed wetting problem that only occurs when she's away from home. Jessica wakes up to hear them talking, and even though she initially finds it funny, she agrees to help her keep her secret, especially when she sees how much it hurts her best friend. When they wake up for breakfast the next morning, Jessica gives her that look, which lets her know that her secret is safe. Aw.

*Though I totally had an above ground pool growing up, there really is no competition: in ground pools are way better.

*Lila says that her parents are super strict and might not let her go. This makes me once again point out that her mother actually left when she was a baby and was not there when Lila was in the second grade.

*Ned and Alice pretty much do nothing to Steven, even though he literally made Ellen cry for like an hour. Would it be too much for them to punish one of their children?

*As soon as Lila pulled out that bag, I knew she was a bed wetter. We also learn that Steven wet the bed until he was in second or third grade, which is something I would bring up every time he brought home a new girlfriend...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #156: The Secret in the Stars (2000)

Nancy and the ladies are off to attend a stargazing party at a local park that butts right up against Woody Acres Estate, some fancy gated community. Bess keeps talking about how the tabloids reported that her favorite actor, Will Ryder, was secretly in town to marry his pop singer girlfriend. George finds it much more interesting that they can see Dr. Stars in person. He's some huge radio personality with his own radio show and the man responsible for the party.

A cop stops them and over cars to explain that they need to turn around. There was a prowler spotted in Woody Acres that takes priority over everything else. After getting to the park the back way, they find the place deserted. His van is still set up, but no one is there. While checking things out, Nancy finds a journal entry that he started that night and a promo photo that shows he's a good looking younger man. She nearly slides off a cliff while snopping around before a man saves her.

That man is a boring older guy named Randall. He tells them that he teaches astornomy at a local college and considers Dr. Stars his main competitor. They both found a comet, but the other man reported it first and got to name it. Randall thinks he somehow fixed things. After he leaves, they actually get to meet the real Dr. Stars, who actually sounds completely different than he does on the radio. He apologizes for no one being there and says that someone printed the wrong date on the flyers but asks them to come back the next night.

Nancy checks out the astronomy store in town the next day – aptly named Stare Wars – and meets Richard, a college student studying astronomy. He recommends a book for beginners for her and encourages her to come to a party the next night that his astronomy club will put on. When she heads to meet Bess for ice cream later, she finds her friend being practically assaulted by a private security guard.

The guard rips her camera off her neck, breaking it in the process, rips out the films, slams the whole thing on the ground, and then shouts at Bess to stop stalking her client before getting on a Harley and riding off. It turns out that Bess spotted Will and his girlfriend in a shop and took a picture, which led to this altercation. Nancy gives her a lecture on how stars deserve their privacy before calling her dad for legal advice. Carson then calls back and tells them to go the security company.

They get there in time to hear the owner yelling at Marie about how the cost of the camera will come out of her check. Though he apologizes to the girls, he chides them on how they can't just do whatever he wants and how his clients have the right to privacy, even when out in the middle of a public spot apparently. Marie storms off, and they meet Bruce, who apologizes again and tells them that they won't have a problem with her.

At the next stargazing party, Dr. Stars keeps making mistakes. He gets some info right but then says stuff that intro to astronomy students would know. Richard tells Nancy that some people think he's a phony and that someone else much smarter just tells him what to say on the radio. Research shows that he's married to a botanist who is in South America on a special project. Though they usually chat and send messages to each other online, she's worried because it's been awhile since he reached out.

Nancy can't give that much thought because Bess shows up at her door. Will and his girlfriend are at the local movie theater for its super popular midnight showing, and she wants Nancy to go with her. While there, Will heads to the concession stand, Bess chases after him, and someone else follows them both. Nancy spots Dr. Stars following Will with a camera in his hands, but he hides when he sees her. He denies that he had a camera before admitting that he just wanted to take a picture for his niece. Bruce, the guard assigned to Will for the night, lectures them both and accuses Bess of being a stalker.

Nancy then does some more research and finds out that Dr. Stars should actually be almost 50 and that he has no siblings and no nieces or nephews. At yet another stargazing party, someone finds a telescope set up to look directly into Woody Acres and the engagement party for Will. She goes over to check things out and finds that someone broke the electric fence to keep it from working. Bruce catches her sneaking around and personally escorts her from the property but not before breaking her camera and the film and accusing her of being a stalker too. Oddly enough, she sees him with a camcorder and filming the party.

On the way back to the park, she accidentally stumbles over a telescope knob and some other things that make it look like someone left a trail. She gets close to a small cabin, only to have someone hit her over the back of the head. When she wakes up, she's stuck inside the cabin with all exits sealed and Marie staring at her. Marie explains that she was checking out the cabin when she heard someone dragging in Nancy and hid.

They talk over their suspicions and share evidence, which points to someone kidnapping the real Dr. Stars and posing as him. Marie tells her about a warning the office got about Jake, a photographer who chases celebrities, which makes them realize that it must be him. After finding evidence that someone kept Dr. Stars tied to the bed in the cabin, they break the bed down and use one of its supports to break both a window and the shutter on the window to escape.

The two women track down Bruce, who's in on everything, and Jake. They hear Jake warning Bruce not to hurt the real Dr. Stars and Bruce telling him that Jake only hired him to keep an eye on the guy for a few days. It turns out that Jake and Bruce kidnapped the man the night of the first party and hid him in the cabin until Jake could take pictures of the party and wedding to make a crap ton of money. Nancy bursts through the door and takes Bruce out with some sweet karate moves, and Marie grabs Jake when he makes a run for it. The real Dr. Stars profusely thanks them both before grabbing his laptop to contact his wife.

A few days later, Nancy and the gang are hanging out at her house and eating a cake Hannah made when someone knocks on their door. It's Will Ryder and his soon to be wife. They thank Nancy for saving the day and getting rid of that evil photographer so they can have the type of quiet and intimate wedding they always dreamed of with their 300 closest friends and family. Both girls get brand new cameras from the couple, and Will laughingly calls Bess a stalker when she asks for a picture with him. Ugh.

*The first party is a huge bust because the date was wrong, but dozens of people were still going to that party, so what happened to them? There is literally no one there when they arrive, and Dr. Stars even admits that he forgot to put a sign up about the wrong date. George found the flyer on campus, so it's not like she was the only one who thought it was that same night...

*The whole thing with Marie and Bess's camera ticked me off. If some random woman came up to me on the street and did something like that, I wouldn't hesitate to punch her in the face. I would assume she was some type of thief.

*I may be in the minority here, but I don't think stars deserve the same right to privacy as everyone else does. If you want to pay me $20 million a year, feel free to follow me around with cameras all you would like!

*Will isn't exactly trying to remain private though either. He rides around town on a motorcycle, shops at popular stores, and goes to the local theater for its most popular show. Those aren't the actions of someone who wants a life out of the limelight.

*After they get out of the cabin, Marie wants to stop and call the police, but Nancy tells her that they don't have time for that. Say what now? If you really believe a man's life is in danger, there is always time to stop and call the cops.

*This whole calling a Bess a stalker thing for taking one picture of Will and then being in the same spot with him days later is pretty ridiculous. Plus, I find it hard to believe that no other teenager in River Heights wasn't following him around like a little lost puppy dog.