A Very Special Shopping List for Your Holiday Season

Happy Cyber Monday! Have you already been shopping all weekend? Do you already have a robust list for all of your loved ones holiday gift needs? Are you wondering what niche gifts you can purchase for the pop culture fan in your life? Why check out Oprah’s Favorite Things when you can check out this fully curated list of random things that I think are cool for the holiday season?

To wear:

Duckie and Andie pins, $16, Mondo

To read:

Pop Culture Trash, $24.99, ModCloth


To write:

HiFi Greeting Cards, $12.95, Chronicle Books

To decorate:

Stranger Things Funko Pop Ornament, $4.95, Barnes & Noble

Halloween 2018: Phoning it in

Full disclosure: I’ve covered MANY a Halloween episode on this blog (head on over to the side of the page there and you can check them all out on “A Very Special Halloween.”) And this year I didn’t really have it in me to do a full week of episodes again.

Instead, I watched The Haunting of Hill House, which was AMAZING and this is coming from ME the person who had a traumatic reaction to Scream.

But tonight, I decided to get reflective and was like…huh…so what were my favorite episodes from every single Halloweek on The Very Special Blog?

In short, I’ve loved every single Halloween episode of Boy Meets World, especially the one with a Sabrina bonus. It’s not a show I can usually write about on The VSB (frankly because it’s too good and doesn’t have very special episodes), but this episode of That 70’s Show is one of the greatest Halloween episodes of all time.

The Halloween episode of Happy Days is so aesthetically pleasing that it gets an honorable mention, but I don’t really recommend it overall because it’s a bit boring. Watch it for the set decoration and costume pieces alone.

And finally, nothing could ever hold a candle to one of the weirdest pieces of television I’ve ever seen: The Miami Vice episode with the aspiring-mime, amateur artist, raw-meat loving, cover your face in flour, cat burglar. This episode is a GIFT, people.

God bless the person who made this higlights video:

The BSC: The Baby-Sitters Remember

This post was originally posted in September of 2014.
Once upon a time in the ‘90’s, there was this little gem of a show based on Ann M. Martin’s classic book series about a group of middle school girls who spend their free time in a club devoted to babysitting. This show must have been filmed at Astoria Studios because even Dawn, who is supposed to be from California, sounds like she’s from the tri-state region. If you were a girl child of the ’90’s you could not escape this book series. There was bossy Kristy, artsy Claudia, fashionista Stacey, California Casual Dawn, good-girl Mary Anne, ballerina Jesse, and Mallory who had red hair, wore glasses, and other than that had no defining features. I hated this episode as a kid because I thought it was a flashback episode full of clips from episodes I had never seen. As it turns out, it’s a clip show full of new material. I guess these were ideas Ann M. Martin had but never felt like turning into a full length book, and the TV show decided that these random clips would make the best series finale, which just goes to show you that not all very special episodes are about terrible topics. It’s the last day of school and the BSC is having a slumber party. Jessie is nervous about going to dance camp, Kristy is excited about going to softball camp, and Mary-Anne is totally bummed that she see won’t see her friends every day for two months. All of these thoughts about their impending separation lead the girls to reminisce about how they first began the club.

Is this jersey from a 1970's athletics store?
Is this jersey from a 1970’s athletics store?

Cue Memory #1 in which Kristy is wearing this bizarre jersey that says Sport Shack in some seriously old school lettering. She gets in trouble for cheering when the last bell rings, and some hard-ass teacher makes her write one hundred words about the importance of decorum. Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom is stressing because she can never find a sitter. Most thirteen year-olds would totally ignore this because it’s not really their problem, but like two and a half seconds after talking to her mom, Kristy’s eyes get wild and she casts aside her homework to plot out her magnum opus: The Baby-Stitters Club. She tells everyone how she didn’t think she would survive her first job, in which the mom meets here at the front door and describes how she must keep her rambunctious three year-old twins locked in the laundry room until it’s time to “go out.” Kristy can’t resist the promise of some cold hard cash, so she doesn’t run screaming from this house of apparent child abuse. Luckily, the twins turn out to be two dogs instead of toddlers.

Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.
Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.

Memory#2: The girls head downstairs for snacks and Claudia finds her dead grandmother’s teacup, so the girls reminisce about that relationship for while. Kristy does a really offensive fake Japanese accent which all of the girls find funny except for Claudia who is too lost in her thoughts to call Kristy out for being such an insensitive loser. Truly, the best part of all of this is that the very next scene is a flashback with Mimi (Claudia’s grandmother) and she has no accent whatsoever. This is a truly rare very special episode because it doesn’t involve any drugs or pregnancy and includes a racist joke. Also, in this scene Mallory ends up being the only baby-sitter with lucky steam rising from her tea. They had to throw her a bone because Mallory never has anything else going for her. Memory #3: The baby-sitters share a creepy memory about “staging a ceremony” before Kristy’s mom’s wedding. This ceremony turns out to be a full on mock wedding between two of Kristy’s younger siblings, which has clearly been orchestrated by the baby-sitters club. They make everyone attend and the they make the two young siblings exchange wedding vows. Luckily, the little boy runs away when they tell him to kiss the bride,so no almost-incest was committed.

Creepy Fake Wedding
Creepy Fake Wedding

Finally, all of the baby-sitters get sleepy after a night of reminiscing and fall asleep at midnight in what must be the tamest slumber party ever imagined. Note: I didn’t include all of them memories. Some of them were really boring.

Very Special Lesson: You don’t always have to have a very special lesson to have a very special episode. Or maybe friendship…friendship was the lesson.

P.S. This set came from Ikea before everyone shopped there:

claudia ikea

The Baby-Sitters Club: Stacey Takes a Stand

Words cannot describe how much I hate the saccharine theme song at this point in the review process. Thank GOD for 10 second advance!!

hqdefaultFirst of all, everyone on the internet will tell you that this show had its full run in 1990. But I’ve noticed the recurring kids (mostly Danny Tamberelli) having major growth spurts that would be a real-life version of television-kid rapid aging syndrome. But that is simply not true because here we are in the penultimate episode of the series and the girls are talking about the 1992 revival of Guys and Dolls on Broadway.

Anyway, the sitters are jealous that Stacey gets to hang out in NYC with her dad, but Stacey is like guys it is actually kind of hard to have two parents in different cities and have to split time with them. It gets even harder when her dad asks her to move back to New York for high school.

snapshot151Stacey tries to reason through this very difficult decision with the shortest pros and cons list of all time. It’s NYC: 1. Dad 2. Museums; StoneyBrook: 1. Mom 2. The Baby-Sitters Club! She calls the club from her Dad’s, so they all head to NYC for the day to cheer her up. They rent boats in central park (this is legit filmed on location btw). I love this episode. It is so sweet and they’re such a nice group of friends.

mv5bmtg3otiynzqzov5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjuwmjezmje-_v1_uy268_cr870182268_al_Stacey decides to talk to both of her parents. She explains how she’s constantly keeping things from one parent or another because she’s afraid of hurting one of them. She also asks them to stop shit-talking each other in front of her. She hasn’t even invited her dad to attend a special Father’s Day event that the BSC is putting together in Stoneybrook. But luckily, her mom comes through and invites him at the last-minute. He agrees to back off on the moving to New York thing and also to make a better effort to get over to Stoneybrook more often. I mean people literally commute from CT to NYC daily, so yeah he needs to get his shit together.

Okay, that was kind of a bummer, so let’s round things out with the most 90’s dance ever.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t try to violate your custody agreement by asking your kid to move across state lines.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn Saves the Trees

7986_300The baby-sitters take the kids for a picnic by a brook. (Woah, do you think this is THE Stoney Brook??)

They find an injured bird, but Dawn cautions against getting too close. Kristy says, “Sometimes it’s better to let nature take its course.” And an adorable little preschool boy replies, “You mean let him die??” GEEZ, KRISTY. But instead they agree to call the parks department.

On their way to find the proper bird-authorities, Dawn stumbles upon some surveyors who plan to build a road through the woods. She goes to city hall and requests information. They give her a copy of all of the plans and permits. She promptly throws all of these papers into the trash because she figures they only gave them to her to slow her down with READING. So much for informed civic duty…oh and saving the trees. That is not a recycling bin, Dawn. Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 11.50.28 AM

She also meets a new teenage boy (played by Zach Braff) immediately after that so Dawn has a LOT going on right now.

Dawn decides to plan a demonstration. She’s even going to make one of the kids dress up as a tree! Geez, these parents give the baby-sitters a lot of latitude with their children.

Dawn is supposed to go on a date with Zach Braff, but he comes over to pick her up and sees her picket signs…which prompts him to tell her that he supports the road and his mother is the Commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

Dawn yells. A lot. And refuses to go out with him. Even Kristy tells her that Dawn was rude…and like Kristy is THE rudest.

mv5bntqyntq1mtu4mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotmwmjezmje-_v1_So Dawn goes to the hearing and tells everyone it’s wrong to cut down trees. And Zach Braff’s mom is all like um sounds like you didn’t even read the plans because we’re going to build an access road so elderly people and those who can’t trek over rocks like you and your friends can enjoy this park and also we’re building recycling facilities there so that people don’t throw their trash in the water. I guess Dawn wants to save face because she still tries to tell them they’re ruining everything, but it is just embarrassing at this point.

Afterwards, Mary-Anne tells Dawn, “You have to learn to persuade, not just scream and yell.” That’s insightful stuff, Mary-Anne!

Dawn finally does some research and with input from the club and drawing by Claudia, she creates plans for an accessible packed-dirt pathway that winds around the trees. She goes to Zach Braff with the idea. He has his mom meet them by the park, where she reviews the plans. She is impressed and agrees to take the plans back to the commission for further review.

Very Special Lesson: I think Dawn best sums this up when David asks her why she didn’t come up with the great packed-dirt road idea earlier: “Because I’m a jerk. Well, a nice jerk that just gets a little too worked up.

Also, fun fact. This is kinda based on a true story or life imates art or art imitates life or idk but here’s the park they filmed at in NJ:

Screen Shot 2018-08-12 at 12.22.58 PM.png

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Babysitters and The Boysitters

s-l300Logan, as you may recall, is both Mary-Anne’s boyfriend and a BSC associate member, meaning he babysits occasionally but isn’t really in the club. When the official club members are all booked out and Logan can’t help, Mary-Anne suggests that they extend affiliate membership to more boys.

But Kristy–is shockingly into gender roles. Like, Kristy, seriously, have some self-awareness. She doesn’t want to have the boys babysit, but the rest of the group convinces her.

And then they teach the boys how to diaper baby dolls. They also pretend to be screaming/crying children who want cookies, which is weird and kinda freaking me out. Mallory even wears a bib while a boy her age attempts to feed her baby food, which she refuses. WTF. WHERE ARE THE PARENTS.

I understand most people are like worried about their kids drinking or doing drugs, but if I ever find my teenaged daughter wearing a bib while a teenaged boy tries to feed her baby food, I will lose my *$%#ing mind.

Meanwhile, Kristy follows a boy around on a trial-sitting date, with a notepad, and a judge-y face. But this boy sitter teaches the kids to make french toast right on the counter and I think that’s chill as long as he cleans up because all of those germs are getting killed in the frying pan anyway, right? I dunno…I’m not a big cooker…so please don’t take my word on food safety…but it looks like they’re having fun!

TBH these boysitters seem like fun and none of the kids are sick or injured or failing school or whatever…so it sort of seems like the BSC members are being sticks in the mud for no reason.

Some of the kids climb on the roof while Kristy is sitting, so yeah, I see how that is a problem…um but maybe you should have been WATCHING them Kristy instead of talking to only one of the children while you didn’t even know WHERE the others were.

She tries to blame the boysitter for teaching them to climb, but the little boys tell her that he didn’t let them climb on the roof. EYES AND EARS, KRISTY, EYES AND EARS. All he did was show them how to climb a tree and Claudia was all like, “it could be dangerous.”

SMH. YOU’RE KILLING ME, BSC. I don’t want to side with the males, but like they’re right. There is nothing wrong with teaching a kid to climb a tree as long as you pay attention and don’t let them climb buildings because you’re chilling and not watching out. And you know what, teenage girls know that just as much as teenage boys. So, frankly, I’m mad at this TV show for acting like having fun while still being appropriately safe is a male-centric trait.

Vindictive bitch that she is, Kristy has the boysitters take the kids to an arcade for the day, hoping they’ll fail. Oh right, child’s best interest at heart, always, Kristy? Like this was all about keeping the kids safe??

bsc-tv-10-baby-sitters-and-the-boy-sitters-38-game-centerThe two boysitters loose the kids and they panic. It’s totally heart-wrenching to watch. Honestly, I’m not sure that two BSC members could have done any better. They probably have enough experience at this point to have a better sitter:child ratio and it’s sketchy and cruel that they set less-experienced sitters up to fail.

Luckily, the BSC happens to be walking by when the kids appear unattended, so Mallory and Dawn low-key swoop in to make sure nothing bad happens. But they don’t announce their presence to the boysitters and instead hover in the periphery because they still want to be self-righteous and mean…ahhh junior high school over-developed sense of superiority…

Kristy finally confronts the boys and tells them that no one could have handled the situation. Realizing that they’ve been setup, one boy asks why Kristy let them take the kids to the arcade on a busy Saturday when she knew it would be bedlam, but the other boy interrupts him and says they wouldn’t have listened to her anyway.

I mean…but that still doesn’t really make it okay…

Oh well, they all decide to be friends.

Very Special Lesson: When hiring new employees, criticize their approaches, set them up to fail, and somehow, miraculously, they will still like you and want to work with you.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Jessi and the Mystery of the Stolen Secrets

Jessi learned sign language so she could communicate with a kid she sits for. First of all, that level of dedication is amazing. Secondly, I’m just flat our impressed.

She’s also babysitting for a top-secret charge. He’s a big star in HOLLYWOOD but he’s from Stoney Brook. The only people who know he’s in town are the people in the BSC. And they would NEVER EVER gossip!!!

So when a bunch of reporters show up at his house, the only logical conclusion is that someone is SPYING ON THE BSC.

Kristy calls an emergency meeting of the BSC. How many emergency meetings have we had in this club? What do you think an emergency is, Kristy?!?

spyingAfter searching Claudia’s bedroom for a bug, like normal-average paranoid teenagers, they realize that they’ve all been super careless with the BSC notebook – a binder where they write down everything that’s going on with the kids, so they’re all informed when they switch sitters. Most of the members admit to leaving the kids alone with the notebook, where they could have easily read it.

Jessi demands they do something because the famous kids mom thinks that she cannot be trusted…and it’s like well YEAH…you cannot be trusted. You wrote down the whereabouts of a famous child and then left that information unattended in a library where the kid you were with or any other person could have happened upon it.

Kristy is stressing because the business implications are BAD. So Dawn suggests that they leave the notebook out on a table in the library and see who reads it.

Oh…okay so you’re just going to leave a book open in a library and then accuse whoever happens to read it of being a spy?? Geez. Like. Where are the adults? Why are they letting these teenage girls get so weird and obsessive about babysitting. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.

They leave this notebook out for all of the kids to see, and they tell them that it’s all super private. They’re like we write all about the kids we sit for in it, even you, and you can’t see it. SO DUH THE KIDS GET PISSED. [The simple days before social media.] And then the parents get pissed.

So then the BSC has to go around explaining to everyone that it’s a private, confidential notebook that is only meant to help them be more effective babysitters. And like who wouldn’t want a fourteen year old keeping case notes on their kid?

bsc-tv-9-jessi-and-the-mystery-of-the-stolen-secrets-13-jessi-matt-phoneBut during the meeting with the kids, they realize that the deaf child can actually read lips. So he didn’t realize when Jessi was talking on the phone that it was a secret because she just assumed he couldn’t understand and didn’t take any extra care to conceal her conversation from him.

Very Special Lesson: I mean, don’t you think it would have been important to tell your child’s babysitter that he was learning to lip read?