Habit Patterns [Educational Short, 1954]

Dear Barbara,

What a creep that narrator is! I’m so sorry that her vile words must overlay your needless suffering. Let me say—as a fellow slob who’s done quite alright for herself—I think you’ve got a lot going for you. Once you ditch the toxic narrator, I’m sure you’ll be unflappable. As for the narrator, what does she know about being a person? She’s just a cold voice with no veins for her blood to travel through. Don’t let her hogwash derail your spirit.

Here’s what I’d advise:

Ditch the scarf. All it would take is for one devotee to discern the face of Our Lady in that sweater stain and the devout would make pilgrimages for a glimpse of your bustline. They’d hang Milagros from you, crossing themselves in prayer. Each thread of your garment could be sold at the price of diamonds. Centuries hence, guards would protect your remains behind velvet ropes in a cathedral where your suburban domicile now stands. I am, as we speak, soiling my décolletage in solidarity.

Befriend Helen. The narrator is stubbornly bent on pitting you girls against one another, but Helen seems perfectly benign . . . and who has time for infighting anyway? If other fictional pairings are anything to go by, you two could really help each other out. Think Laverne and Shirley, Rhoda and Mary Tyler Moore, Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibler. Shipshape types have been coupling with freaky slob dreamers since the dawn of time. The shipshape ones model self control for the freaky ones; the freaky ones help the shipshape ones get loose. Everyone wins! Also–news flash–binaries are limiting, but for the sake of this example, we’ll let that slide.

Keep telling stories. So those girls at the party failed to see the genius in your brilliant (if slightly embroidered!) account of you summer at sea. Whatever! Keep up the good work, I say. I like how you lit up while recounting. Someday you’ll be telling a story and the listeners will light up in return. It will feel awesome and you will have real friends and not zzzz acquaintances.

Here’s a novel idea . . . be yourself! So you were too busy sleeping in to come up with party quips about Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It isn’t the unforgivable act the narrator makes it out to be. You only go around once, old girl. Any person worth your time will shrug at the sight of your crumpled robe on the bedroom carpeting. It is what was formerly filling out that old robe–brains and entrails and all–that counts.

Get mad if you must. Slaying the narrator might be taxing, so I suggest screeching along to a little curative Alien She (which, in my opinion, is thematically appropriate to the task at hand)! Care for an appropriate rage read? Check out Sylvia Plath’s In Plaster.

Yours,

Li ❤

You go girl!

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Seven Minutes in Heaven [Movie, 1985]

Tagline: Being in Love is More Than . . . Seven Minutes in Heaven

The most perplexing (and perhaps only!) oversight in this movie is that there is not a scene in which the characters play Seven Minutes in Heaven. WTF!!

File:Seven Minutes in Heaven.jpg

Synopsis: Once upon a time there were three best friends: the wacky, libidinous one (Maddie Corman); the prudish, introspective one (Jennifer Connolly); and the rascally-yet-charming one (think Eddie Haskell–hey, I just realized that Haskell rhymes with rascal!). For fewer than 90 minutes, these pals participate in desperate and/or reticent attempts to ditch their respective virginities, anger their respective parents, and come to grips with their respective lacks of freedom. This is an exceptionally underrated film–not yet on DVD–but the ambitious among us can find the whole thing in 10-minute increments on Youtube. Score! Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from Spalding Gray!

Every tortured boy dreams of dousing his step-father in gasoline OJ, am I right?

In the YA universe, your best chance at having any kind of depth as a girl character is to have recently lost your mother, who—as if by magic!—also happens to be the same age as you.

Well that’s a fine how-do-you-do! For a wiser girl, finding a boy in this state on her doorstep would be a red flag; for this girl, it’s a sign they should cohabitate.

Apparently when you’re a child of divorce, you must hide beneath the covers with a flashlight to covertly read the comics that speak to your unique plight.

When stalking a professional baseball player named Zoo Knudsen, the trick is to act natural.

How to seduce a professional baseball player in an Ohio strip mall: Ask to have a chunk off his cotton candy. Affix the chunk to your upper lip. Allow him to sensually ingest the mustache as a preview of what’s yet to come. Swoon.

When she gloats to her gal pal about this experience, she describes it as “a wonderful pain.”

Jennifer Connolly fantasizes about bitch slapping an Ohio senator for using the word “loggerhead.” You go girlfriend!

If slapping a senator is the entree, this is surely the dessert. What teen girl doesn’t dream of having a presidential aide mansplain politics to her in front of the White House? Somebody grab the smelling salts!

The quintessential “my folks are so square” moment.

Dad [accusingly]: What are you putting your girdle on for? We aren’t going to a nightclub.

Mom [as if it were so obvious]: Well I don’t want to look like an animal!

In this scene, an ever-appropriate tween asks a thirty-something sad bachelor to tell her what an orgasm with another person feels like. His answer? “Exquisite relief from torture.”

Who among us hasn’t woken to a “did we hook up?” moment with our best friend’s dad?

It’s idyllic scenes like this that make me wish I weren’t deathly afraid of rollerskating.

Here’s where the zany, libidinous one realizes in total shock: OMG it was this guy all along! Note to single guys in the audience who wish to speed this process along: take up fancy basketball tricks.

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Does Your Nose Get in the Way Too? [Arlene Erlbach, 1987]

“By the time I’m a dog doctor, I’ll be about 26. By then dating won’t matter so much. After so many years of social isolation, I’ll be like one of those fish in the caves that have adapted by having no eyes. All my pay as a veterinarian I’ll put into a special fund. I’ll call it the Harriet Zelda Zimmerman Nose Job Foundation: a special fund to provide plastic surgery for motherless girls whose uncaring fathers won’t allow them to have one. The main criterion of need will be physical unattractiveness.”

Best teen pick-up line: “It seems like we’re destined for calamity together.”

Best putdowns from a big nose: “Go kiss a mouse trap.” “I hope a big pin will come out of the air and deflate [your] breasts.” “[Go contract] a terminal case of acute psoriasis.”

Synopsis
Harriet “Henny” Zimmerman, who instead of having a “cute turned-up or artistically sculptured nose” has a “hideous lump of flesh in the center of [her] face that resembles a pear,” experiences the cruelest form of class oppression. Her positively draconian father, unlike her friends’ fathers, refuses to spring for rhinoplasty. She has to stand by looking like “Jimmy Durante in a long red wig” while her friends—post-op and fabulous—abandon her for the woe-free world known only by those with button noses. TRAUMARAMA! Realizing she’s predestined for spinsterhood, Henny is this close to saving up for a loom. Her sly father can rest easy knowing the sticks can stay in the yard. No boy’s hormones will be addled on account of his daughter, and thus nary a beating must occur. Phew.

I have to hand it to Henny. As someone who also suffers from severe nasal angst, I realize how easy it can be to fool yourself with adjectives like regal, classic, or roman, holding out on the off chance that God’ll give you a lucky break. But Henny has a nose for these things: unless she does something drastic and fast, she’s sure to be passed up on repeat for perpetuity, growing ever wiser and ever sadder as time creeps by in slow motion. No quantity of house cats or house plants can fill the void; even they will shrivel and predecease her (if she’s lucky). Ever enterprising, Henny thinks of daddy-manipulation by near suicide (specifically, ingesting anti-fungal toenail ointment, no joke) or “moving to a planet where there’s only one sex and people reproduce by spores.” Good call!

Here is our protagonist’s doppelganger, sans red wig. Good thing she knows she’s hopeless!

Here is Arlene Erlbach, our adorable authoress, who knows that felines are far superior to suitors.

Amazon.com Bestseller Rank as of 10:25 p.m. on 10.3.2011
(The Amazon.com bestseller ranking is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item ever sold on Amazon.com)
Does Your Nose Get In The Way, Too? #7,240,957

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Ice Castles [Movie, 1978]

This gem had a younger Roger Ebert wondering “is it possible to find true love these days outside of the hospital?” and “isn’t there something creepy about an audience that walks in knowing the girl is going to blind herself and waits for it to happen?” Well, old boy, I am one of those creeps! I have to disagree with the delightful codger on this one: this movie makes me weak-kneed every time, even if it is improbable, problematic, and full of visible strings.

IT RULES.

Singletons out there: marry me! Our wedding song can be the love theme from Ice Castles!

Real quote from this love scene: “It’s healthy to sweat just before you die!”

Behold the inimitable Colleen Dewhurst of Anne of Green Gables fame! “Regal my eye!”

This is what Lexie’s innocence looks like: plain leotard, make-up-free face, and a bed that’s used solely for sitting on. Stare long and hard, because that one thing that can never be recaptured is about to make like a tree.

Hello limelight! Here our protagonist proves that it is possible to be the lone 1970s figure skater without a Dorothy Hamill haircut and still look bomb on the ice!

Better hold on tight there, Dad. Her humility won’t be restored for at least another 45 minutes.

Mixed signals, people! Right after our haughty protagonist stamps her foot and wails “I’M NOT MOM, DAD!” she lays a big wet one on her father. Who can blame her? If your dad was a young Tom Skerritt, you’d do the same thing.

The lap of luxury in ‘78? Servants and gaucho pants.

I am pretty sure someone slapped Robby Benson’s head when he was looking dreamy and wistful. His face seems to be stuck that way. If this is your personal brand of heroin, there are plenty of shots of him making this face in his scant chonies!

I know this a long shot, but maybe fame is like a jail cell.

Here’s what it looks like when a French girl chokes on the ice.

“We’re on display, aren’t we?” “That’s right, and damn lucky someone wants us to be.”

Pygmalion much?

Well I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is you’re blind. The good news is it only makes you hotter and more compelling.

Linda Blair impersonation time! “She was so promising and now she just sits in the attic in her dead mother’s clothes.”

Who better to dom you out on the ice than your ex who still feels spurned? Swoon x2! “Do an axel!” “You’re gutless!” “What’s the matter? Can’t you do it without all the TV cameras?” This is way dreamier than R.B. in goober mode! Also, it is the perfect prelude to the other masterpiece we know and love him for (“And when we touched she didn’t shudder at my paw!”).

En route to try! “Not trying is pointless and cruel. Not trying is wondering your whole damn life if you gave up too soon!”

Alright human spirit: ready, set, triumph!

I should never have doubted old Robby’s range. Here is a second facial expression.

And here’s what makes Ice Castles the most romantic movie of all time:

❤ ❤ ❤ @}—>— WE FORGOT ABOUT THE FLOWERS! —<—{@ ❤ ❤ ❤

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The Third Eye [Lois Duncan, 1984]

TEEN PSYCHICS! TEEN PSYCHICS! TEEN PSYCHICS!

Synopsis OR Why the Third Eye is like Stephen King’s Carrie
Ever wonder what would’ve happened to Carrie White’s community if she’d only demonstrated a little self control and instead used her telekinetic powers to move stuck kittens off of tree limbs or reroute all those speeding bullets making beelines for our most beloved politicians and rock musicians? Maybe if she’d been drop-dead gorgeous, like the protagonist of this book, the beautiful people wouldn’t have head-tripped her and she’d get to do a good deed or two. In the case of The Third Eye, our darling TEEN PSYCHIC helps sexy young policemen recover missing children with her mind! Like Carrie, this book is about a zealot mom whose daughter just won’t take it any more. Instead of religious fanaticism, the mom here kisses the feet of the Normal American Teen and stands in full support of pizza parlors, tackling the mall with Daddy’s plastic, and necking at Make-Out Point. She’s the kind of mom who’d be a tad disappointed if her lady-descendent didn’t get a sleazy motel room with her future husband/prom king after making prom queen on a unanimous vote.

In The Third Eye, being a red-hot TEEN PSYCHIC is like being a geode in reverse. It is a metaphor for being a secret freak on the inside. Lo and behold, under her pint-size-pretty-girl veneer, this protagonist is an oaf spackled with rough patches. Her power? She sees lost people. When she closes her eyes, she conjures toddlers trapped beneath driveways. She can’t help but replace her own psyche with a drowning girl’s. All of this is cruel and unbidden. Her angst, most of the time, is on par with what the average teen feels when she accidentally sits on a jelly donut in the cafeteria. She’s petrified that her peers can not only smell the freak on her, but they can see it as plain as an oblong, red stain on the rear pocket of her Guess? jeans.

To me, the most compelling part of this story is Lois Duncan’s rendering of the harrowing physiological aspects of being a TEEN PSYCHIC. Who knew the brain had a dark wall obstructing it or an inward eye that could squint itself shut?

Verdict
Pretty damn good, despite implausible mysteries! TEEN PSYCHICS RULE (and it doesn’t hurt if they’re easy on the eyes, either)!  I ❤ reverse geodes, especially when they (spoiler alert!) yield to their inner freakdom.

Amazon.com Bestseller Ranking as of 6:11 p.m. on 9.11.2011
(The Amazon.com bestseller ranking is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item ever sold on Amazon.com)
The Third Eye #653, 296

***While Lois Duncan is by no means a Forgotten YA author, this book is largely forgotten compared to her more popular titles like I Know What You Did Last Summer, though not nearly as forgotten as her 1950s publications like Debutante Hill***

Check out Lois and progeny being adorable before a typewriter.

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I Thought You Were My Best Friend [Ann Reit, 1988]


(in case you can’t tell, the drip in the dingy yellow sweater is the smart one)

Now that’s what I call a first kiss
“It was like nothing. I mean it could have been a fly that just sat on my mouth for a second and flew away.”

Synopsis
Two vapid BFFs—we’ll call them the pretty one and the smart one—find themselves in a G-rated polyamorous vee, the hinge of which is a hunk named Quent Younger. The main conflict is that the smart one can’t deal when Quent realizes he prefers to take the pretty one as his primary; instead of compersion, the smart one feels cattiness and jealous rage. Who can blame her? As is often the case in real life, it turns out that the smart one is also the bitter one. She says of herself, “Oh great, I’m about as mysterious as Donald Duck!” I guess I’m a fogey, but I cannot fathom the adult world being so blase about teenybopper nonmonogamy. All the dads are relieved! I can only presume it is because they suppose that with two girls, the courtship will take twice as long and thus delay the inevitable rupturing of hymens.

A very worthy question posed by the pretty one
“So if guys like the Tarzan-Jane bit, why are we knocking ourselves out liberating ourselves all of the time?”

How to cope with being embodied on a first date
If you have to “do what ladies do in the ladies room” (direct quote), the pretty one suggests that you “DON’T!” If you really have to, “then just say you have to call your mother or something.”

If like a total slob your hand gets damp in the picture show, the smart one suggests a little mind game. “I just pretended my hand was fine and his was the sweaty one.”

How to rub your friendship in to the rest of the tween universe
“Eve and I had a ritual. When we went to a party we would wear the same colors in reverse. If I had on a green skirt and a yellow top, she wore a yellow skirt and a green top. We even bought our clothes so we could always do that.”

Amazon.com Bestseller Ranking as of 8:30 a.m. on 9.20.11
(The Amazon.com bestseller ranking is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item ever sold on Amazon.com)
I Thought You Were My Best Friend #3,785,275

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Are You in the House Alone? [Made-for-TV Movie, 1978]

This movie takes Richard Peck’s bleak issue novel of the same name and transforms it into an R.L.-Stine-caliber thriller.

Say that for whatever deranged purposes you want to see a doe-eyed young girl with Crystal-Gayle-length tresses get stalked and fade-to-black brutalized to the tunes of Charles Bernstein against the backdrop of 1978. Or maybe you just want to see Dennis Quaid portray a rich-boy teen psychopath with a vengeance. Whatever your poison, the whole thing is streaming on Hulu. Be forewarned, despite some rad campy moments, you may be tempted to wash this one down with a bleach cocktail.

are you in the house alone

Title screen in ransom speak.

stalker are you in the house alone

Stalkers being all predictable. Also, pretty pumped about the effect of that misplaced comma. It gives this otherwise creepy message an “Oh, you!!” feel.

doo wop are you in the house alone

High school in 1978 meant doo-wop groups for no reason. And freeze-frame!

sexy are you in the house alone

This was her pose when her photography teacher asked her to stage a “sexy self-portrait” in front of the class. The other portrait on the day’s lesson plan was a “macho self-portrait,” presumably for the blokes in the room.

blythe danner

In 1978 it was hip for your bedspread to blend in with your wallpaper.

sexy darkroom are you in the house alone

See our protagonist submerged in a bath of caustic chemicals which also force her to “develop”?

silhouette are you in the house alone

Shadows! Clearly this director’s work is in the tradition of German expressionism.

are you in the house alone

Geez, stalker. Subtlety is not your strong suit.

are you in the house alone

Look at all the cool things that get eroticized!

eyeball are you in the house alone

This, pals, is what we call modern medicine.

hot cop are you in the house alone

Model by day, lady cop by night. Banana nails!

dennis quaid are you in the house alone

Dennis Quaid as Phil (who’s worse than a creep). “Phil’s got tramps and angels! You’re an angel and everyone else is a tramp!”

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