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Mystery #12: Dawn and the Surfer Ghost - Baby-sitters Club Snark-fest! [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Dissecting the unintentional hilarity of The Baby-sitters Club.

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Mystery #12: Dawn and the Surfer Ghost [Dec. 17th, 2010|04:46 pm]
Baby-sitters Club Snark-fest!
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[Current Location |California]

 First snark here, so go easy on me. I picked this one out of my collection because I had literally forgotten that it existed. It’s one of those Dawn-in-California books, so I don’t get to make fun of the Brook much, but there is plenty to snark here, so I’m just going to jump right in.

This actually does happen in the book, amazingly enough. Dawn is wearing some of the most hideous brown sweat pants I’ve ever seen, and they may or may not have a little heart decal on the hip. Lookin fly. Also she’s wearing the same shoes as a 9 year old boy.

Chapter 1
We open with a letter from Dawn to Mary Anne. I really don’t mind Dawn’s handwriting. At least it’s legible, unlike SOME people (*ahem* Jessi *ahem). Blah blah blah, exposition, Dawn’s taking surfing lessons. Dawn was always one of my favorites because she was from California (so am I), despite the fact that Palo City is literally nothing like where I grew up. As I get older I see that Dawn is, in fact, an obnoxious little twat.

And we have a typo on the second page! Nice one, Ellen Miles.

Oh joy of joys, she’s explaining her living situation with an outline, “something [she’s] been learning in English class.” For some reason this strikes me as painfully dull. I can’t bring myself to read it. Moving on.

Dawn’s waxing on about her surf lessons. Apparently she just loooves surfing, even though she only took the classes to fit in with her California friends. But she wouldn’t have stuck with it just to fit in, because OMG YOU GUYS Dawn is soooo true to herself.

Dawn and Sunny get dropped off at the beach (for some reason I remember that Dawn always makes a point about how her house is not walking distance to the beach. Why would AMM be so adamant about that? Isn’t it more “California Cool” to live right on the beach? Plus they’re always going there in the California books anyway… why bother with all this getting rides business?). Apparently they know a guy named Thrash, the hottest surfer on the beach. And their instructor’s name is Buck, seriously wtf is up with these names. Have Ellen Miles/AMM ever interacted with other human beings? Evidence points to no.

Chapter 2
Another letter from Dawn, this time to everybody. There is mention of Claudia passing around ring-dings. Is that a real thing? I feel like they get brought up a lot in BSC books and yet I have no idea what they are.

Ahhh, here’s the Dawn I know. At the We <3 Kids Club meeting, she snarks on the BSC for eating ring-dings and junk while these super healthy Cali girls pass around veggie trays, spinach dip, and organic corn chips. And that brings us to obligatory chapter 2 description, which I will sum up for you in point form:
-Kristy: go-getter
-Claudia: junk food
-Mary Anne: trendier than Kristy
-Stacey: diabetes
-Jessi: African-American
-Logan: luscious Southern accent
And the winner is Mallory: “She’s in an awkward phase right now, but I think she’s going to be really pretty in a few years.” Seriously, this girl cannot catch a break. This is one of the books where she has mono, too. I’m almost sad that this book doesn’t take place in the Brook, because I feel like it has great potential for being a shit-on-Mallory fest. Alas.

Dear god I hate the We <3 Kids Club. If the clients can call whenever and anyone can take a job, what exactly is the point of holding meetings? Oh wait, it’s so they can work on their healthy recipe book, complete with Granola Snack Squares and Veggie Bursts (the fuck?)! Which the kids just love baking, because what 9 year old likes brownies? Ugh, disgusting.

Fun fact: Sunny’s full name is Sunshine Daydream. “Her parents used to be hippies, I think.” Maybe Dawn, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Oh, and now we’re hearing that none of these girls are stereotypical Californians, despite the fact that all of their character traits are based on the imagination of someone who once heard a Beach Boys song. Good lord, now Dawn’s going on about Maggie referring to Tom Cruise and Winona Ryder (weirdly current for a BSC book) nonchalantly by their first names Seriously this is every bad California stereotype I’ve ever heard, and I get a lot of them living in Canada.

Ok, enough ranting, plot time. Dawn and Sunny are working at a kid’s program at the beach, and Dawn just took a sitting job for Clover and Daffodil (this book is going to be the death of me).

Chapter 3
There is mention of my all-time favorite BSC book, “California Girls” (except “Baby-Sitters Beware,” which is indisputable the most bat-shit insane BSC book ever written). Good continuity.

Some talk of the kid’s program, really boring. Dawn and Sunny finish up and head off to the surf shop, where they see (gasp!) Thrash. Apparently he is deeply tanned and blue eyed with shoulder length white-blonde hair. This sounds pretty unattractive to me, and also is too reminiscent of descriptions of Dawn herself. Oh well. He also wears a snake ring, and somewhere deep in my BSC subconscious something tells me this will come into play later.

After Trash assaults my eyes with such hideous 70s surfer slang as “screamers,” “gnarly,” and “radical,” the girls meet up with those people Stacey surfed with in “California Girls” and go surf. Where is the damn mystery???

Chapter 4
Ah, here we go. A letter to Kristy mentions that “something terrible happened” to Thrash. OH NO NOT THRASH!!! But he’s such a pro!!

Apparently he might be dead. This is rather heavy for the BSC. His board washed up looking like it had been attacked by a shark. Yikes. Dawn skips out on her kid’s program duties to talk to the cops and other surfers (Gonzo and Spanky) about what happened. Gonzo thinks Thrash skipped town because he knew he’d lose the surf competition, and the cops think he just moved on to another beach. After mangling his own board and leaving it out in the water to wash ashore. Great detecting, guys.

A newspaper article says Thrash’s board may have been tampered with. Foul play! This sounds like a job for… certainly not the police.

Chapter 5
Dammit, Mary Anne handwriting. I’m tempted to skip it but I’ll plow through, just for you guys.

Ok apparently there was an accident that will change Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold’s relationship. I think it’s safe to assume that this will be a space-filler Stoneybrook babysitting chapter.

The Arnold twins have a one-off, never to be mentioned again interest in gymnastics and their parents set up a mini-gym in the basement. Despite the fact that this is clearly the work of over-indulgent upper middle class parents, Dawn (or Mary Anne? This is one of those awkward, I-wasn’t- there-but-I-tell-the-story-in-way-too-much-detail chapters) is quick to point out that the tape player is “obviously used.” Um, ok. Thanks for the heads up.

Mary Anne leaves the gym-room while the girls are practicing (so responsible) and Carolyn sprains her ankle. Marilyn for some stupid reason feels guilty and ominously vows never to leave her side. We will be hearing more about them. Damn.

Chapter 6
Wooo nighttime beach party! Oh wait, but they’re making the kids clean up trash on the beach first. Sounds SUPER fun. We get some anti-littering propaganda from young sitting charge Stephie. Thanks boo.

After some deelishuss tofu dogs and veggie burgers, a bunch of the kids fall asleep (sounds like a bangin party) and some older ones start to tell ghost stories. But wait! Could that be… someone surfing? At night? Who disappears a few seconds later? Clearly, this is the ghost of Thrash, come back to haunt the beach.

Chapter 7
Dawn writes an extremely forced, 5 sentence letter to Jessi, which gives us no new information. Is it really necessary to start every chapter with a letter?

Dawn takes it upon herself to solve this mystery, and decides that the ghost of Thrash will haunt his murder until he (or she) confesses. How exactly Dawn fits into this is unclear, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking about it day and night, almost failing a math quiz, and cracking herself up wondering whether the ghost wears glow-in-the-dark “jams.”

After a while Dawn decides to talk to the police about Thrash. Sunny, being the sensitive and understanding soul that she is, thinks Dawn was in love with Thrash and tells her to get the hell over it. The police basically say that they don’t give a shit what happened to Thrash, and Dawn figures out where his body would have washed up and searches for it, which could have taken this book into some seriously gruesome, Bones-esque territory. She doesn’t find a body, but she DOES find Thrash’s special custom-made wax in the sand, omg, and figures the ghost has been using it. Then Sunny and Dawn tear off their shirts and run into the water.

Chapter 8
Jessi letter. I skip it.

The Arnold twins subplot rears it’s ugly head. Apparently Marilyn has been staying with Carolyn every second since the accident. Which includes sleeping on a cot in her room. I’d be all GTFO but apparently Carolyn is into it. The subplot is not resolved. This chapter was useless. I just want to know what happened to Thrash DAMMIT!

Chapter 9
Letter to Mallory. Things are pretty exciting in California, but the action might be too much for weak, pathetic Mal.

Kid’s program is over, so Sunny and Dawn meet up with the other We <3 Kids Club members on the beach. Jill and Maggie are described as “floundering” through the sand. This strikes me as strange. Floundering to me sounds very helpless, as though the two of them were laying the sand, waving their arms about and crying while Sunny and Dawn looked on disdainfully.

We learn that there have been a few other small accidents lately, clearly caused by the ghost of Thrash. Dawn piles on the surfing lingo, which she thinks is just as fun as surfing itself. God Dawn is lame. Suddenly, the beach clears out and an eerie fog starts rolling in. But there’s a surfer out there! And it’s not Thrash’s ghost! Oh wait, but he does a trick only Thrash can do. So apparently Thrash’s ghost got a haircut. And Dawn sees a creepy guy working at the concession stand with short dark hair and a deep tan.

Chapter 10
Ok, now Dawn is writing to Shannon. This letter thing is getting out of control. They never say anything in the letters that advances the plot in any way, it’s basically just a short summary of the coming chapter. This is useless. I am officially boycotting all of the letters.

Oh no! Thrash’s ghost strikes again! This time a kid in the program cuts her foot in the sand and Dawn can’t find the thing that cut her. That Thrash, so cunning, so anti-children.

Then someone’s eyebrows get burnt off in a freak grill-flare-up, and I’m really loving Thrash’s ghost. For some reason eyebrows burning off is just inherently hilarious. Also some random guy is dive-bombed by an angry seagull. This book is suddenly awesome! Maybe the best part is how Dawn’s going to wrap this all up at the end by mentioning that all the beach accidents were random coincidences, even after building them up as so freaky in this chapter.

The surfers are having accidents too, and Dawn (of course) suspects foul play. She may actually be right for once. Spanky even gets so nervous that he drops out of the competition! Oh Spanky. It’s all fun and games until Sunny wipes out, although I’m willing to bet it’s just because she’s a shitty surfer and not the work of Thrash’s nefarious ghost. Dawn, of course, doesn’t see it that way and is more freaked out than ever.

Chapter 11
Stacey handwriting means a twins chapter. True to my word, I didn’t read her letter, and then I went ahead and skipped to the end of the chapter. Some elaborate plot involving Margo inviting Marilyn over to listen to a tape is set in motion. Marilyn is all, no way, can’t leave my sis, but when Haley invites Carolyn over to play Princess Power, she’s all peace sis! And they separate. It’s thrilling, really.

Chapter 12
Sitting job for Stephie (from the kid’s program, and also that asthmatic girl MA sits for in California Girls). They run into the creepy guy from chapter 9 at the concession stand, who Dawn is still anti, despite the fact that he seems like a totally normal guy and is doing literally nothing suspect. Hmm, this guys neck is weirdly pale, indicating a recent haircut. And what’s that strange pale spot on his finger, almost as if he had been wearing some sort of snake-shaped ring for a long time? Amazingly, Dawn figures out that this is Thrash, which I honestly hadn’t expected her to be able to do. She tells Sunny, but they decide not to go to the police, because they really don’t give a shit.

Chapter 13
They start a Thrash-stake-out, and find that SHOCK! He just does regular concession stand work. Omg guys, you’ve really got him now. Sometimes he even makes french fries!!

Meanwhile, Dawn is turning into a radical surfer, and people are still reporting ghost surfer sightings. But what’s this? Undercover-Thrash has taken a day off from the concession stand. Dawn stalks him out at the surf shop and catches him tampering with someone’s board. She goes right up to him and he candidly admits to being Thrash, then says he’s messing with this guys board because he did it to him first and he almost died. He doesn’t reveal who the mess-er is (my money’s on Gonzo) but denies tampering with any other boards.

Somehow, Dawn STILL had not put together that Thrash was the ghost. This girl, I swear. He tells her he was, and then they flirt, which is creepy because Dawn mentioned at the beginning of the book that Thrash is 20. Dawn decides to help him get revenge. How does it feel to be in cahoots with a real, live ghost, Dawn?

Chapter 14
Competition day! Thrash rolls back into town with his hair dyed back to normal and the snake ring in place. Everyone freaks out, but no one more so than Gonzo, who lets out a “strangled scream,” drops his surfboard, and runs off. Subtle, Gonzo. A bunch of undercover cops chase him down and arrest him, who were there because Thrash told his story to the police, with special thanks to Dawn, that wise old sage, who convinced him to do it.

Thrash gives Dawn a little pep talk, and she competes and gets third. Thrash of course wins his division.

Chapter 15
Seriously, what else is there to talk about? Everything is resolved!

Oh right I forgot about the kid’s program. Apparently they were rehearsing for a play, which they put on in this chapter. Thrash tracks down Dawn and thanks her for being the brilliant, sexy goddess that she is and stopping him from messing with Gonzo’s board. He’s leaving for Australia, but not until he tells Dawn all the wonderful things he learned from her friendship and gives her the snake ring. It’s illegal even if she consents, buddy.

Dawn calls the BSC during meeting time. They congratulate her for winning the contest and she doesn’t bother to tell them she actually got 3rd. Dawn tells Stacey all the surfers on the beach ask about her, then is immediately like JK they don’t give a shit about you, especially after you ratted them out in that car accident. Oh, and apparently the Arnold twins got in a fight and now hate each other, in case anyone gave a damn about that plotline.

Dawn mopes about missing the Brook for a bit, then leaves us with a cheesy little blurb about how there’s nothing like friendship, because OMG her and Thrash were SUCH good friends.

And that’s all, folks! Hope you enjoyed reading reading it as much as I did writing it.

[User Picture]From: diana_molloy
2010-12-18 01:05 am (UTC)
Your post is killing my flist, dude. Can you cut it.
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[User Picture]From: xcarex
2010-12-18 02:59 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: cryptaknight
2010-12-18 03:36 am (UTC)
ALso asking for a cut.

And yes, Ring Dings are a real thing. And they are goddamn delicious.

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[User Picture]From: eurohackie
2010-12-18 04:33 am (UTC)
Helpfulness on the LJ-cutting of it all: http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=75

Thanks in advance! =)
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From: staceys_perm
2010-12-21 08:37 am (UTC)
thanks! this helped
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[User Picture]From: corduroyspocket
2010-12-18 06:21 am (UTC)
I'd love to see one of these Mysteries go into "Bones" territory. I wonder if anyone has written a Bones/BSC crossover fic yet.
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[User Picture]From: glitterberrys
2010-12-18 08:44 am (UTC)
There needs to be a rule that once a genius crossover is pitched someone HAS TO WRITE IT. Because I would read this. And it would be amazing.
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[User Picture]From: adamant_turtle
2010-12-20 08:05 pm (UTC)
Hahaha...and every chapter we'd have Brennan telling one of the BSC girls, "I don't know what that means!"
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[User Picture]From: glitterberrys
2010-12-20 10:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Brennan totally wouldn't know who Cam Geary is, would she?
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[User Picture]From: corduroyspocket
2010-12-21 03:31 am (UTC)
Booth would be continually trying to shake Stacey cause she would be OMG IN LUV with him.
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[User Picture]From: glitterberrys
2010-12-18 08:47 am (UTC)
I wonder if Ellen Miles is the reason I abuse parentheses. I choose to blame her.

Ring Dings are real. They're okay but I prefer the similar cupcakes that have the little white icing swirl on top. It's just fancier. I like my 49-cent snack treats to be classy.

A mini gym setup in the basement would either require an ultra handy parent or a fair amount of money. I'm just sayin'. Don't care how used that tape deck is.

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[User Picture]From: miss_myu
2010-12-18 06:32 pm (UTC)
I do seem to recall some emphasis that the equipment was second hand, and I always assumed they just got a low beam, a horse and a couple of crash mats on the cheap.
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[User Picture]From: adamant_turtle
2010-12-20 08:06 pm (UTC)
...not to mention, you'd need a fair amount of room for that kind of thing. The beam and mats, not so much, but a horse needs enough room for you to run toward it and gain some speed, etc.
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[User Picture]From: cassandraclue
2010-12-18 09:20 am (UTC)
I would've hit it with Thrash.
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[User Picture]From: queen_emily
2010-12-19 08:19 am (UTC)
Seconded! All that built up tension due to the risks associated with statutory rape? omgz ! hot

OP: Ugh this was such a ridiculous book! Loved the snark though. : )
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[User Picture]From: funkix10
2010-12-18 05:01 pm (UTC)
I originally misread the title as "Dawn and the Surfer Goat." Now *that* would have made a good story. Lol.
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[User Picture]From: miss_myu
2010-12-18 06:29 pm (UTC)
other surfers (Gonzo and Spanky)

I so forgot the surfer names. Hahahaha.
Ugh, I hated how Stephie became the Californian Charlotte Johansson.

Maybe this is just triggered by my watching some old episodes of Sailor Moon recently, but does different hair really change someone's appearance that much?
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[User Picture]From: frankdbunny
2010-12-19 03:14 am (UTC)
Your icon is glorious.

And a hair style can change someone's appearance to an extent. Sarah Lancaster comes to mind:

As a blonde on Scrubs
As a brunette on Chuck

Of course, it isn't such a big change that I can't tell it's the same friggin person.

Edited at 2010-12-19 03:28 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: corduroyspocket
2010-12-20 11:46 am (UTC)
as if we needed an East Coast and a West Coast Charlotte...
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[User Picture]From: design_star_21
2010-12-24 05:41 pm (UTC)
That bugged me too, since I also was told that. To this day, it is hard for me to accept compliments about how I look.
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[User Picture]From: design_star_21
2010-12-28 02:04 am (UTC)
That is so sweet of you. :-)
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[User Picture]From: frankdbunny
2011-01-02 07:15 pm (UTC)
That's a wonderfully sweet thing to do :)

I create a facebook event for this very idea. I'm only sharing it with you because you mentioned doing this above. Hope you don't think I'm spamming :)
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[User Picture]From: adamant_turtle
2010-12-20 08:08 pm (UTC)
And the winner is Mallory: “She’s in an awkward phase right now, but I think she’s going to be really pretty in a few years.” Seriously, this girl cannot catch a break.

They did that in a few different books, and it always struck me as so WTF...that is so condescending and clearly something an older person (a mom or an aunt or somebody) would say about a kid, not, say, a 13-year-old about an 11-year-old...
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[User Picture]From: buggrit_1979
2010-12-24 06:17 pm (UTC)
OP, please delete this comment; if they give you options to report for spam and/or ban from commenting, please do so.
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From: staceys_perm
2010-12-21 08:35 am (UTC)
sorry about the cut fail, new to LJ. i figured it out though
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[User Picture]From: kakeochi_umai
2010-12-23 11:14 pm (UTC)
“Her parents used to be hippies, I think.”
You KNOW they were, dumbass! You spent a whole goddamned chapter snarking about it in Dawn's Book and only changed your tune when she used her hippy Morse Code skillz to rescue people trapped in an elevator!

Maggie referring to Tom Cruise and Winona Ryder (weirdly current for a BSC book) nonchalantly by their first names
I wonder what she'd have to say about the current trend of referring to celebs by HALF their first names (Brangelina, etc) or by random nicknames (R-Pattz, etc).

Which includes sleeping on a cot in her room.
Lol, in NZ "cot" means a crib, so I totally pictured Marilyn regressing to babyhood in the name of her codependence kick.

Sometimes he even makes french fries!!
GASP! He serves DEEP-FRIED foods!!! No wonder he had to pretend to be someone else!
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