Monster High

Just a bit of book blogging here.

When I first started in retail, before I became a pharmacy technician, I worked in the toys department. Mattel had a new line of (unrealistically skinny) fashion dolls that are supposed to be the daughters of the classic movie monsters. Frankie Stein is Frankenstein’s Monster’s daughter, Draculaura is, of course, Dracula’s daughter, Cleo deNile is the daughter of the Mummy, and Clawdeen Wolf is the daughter of the Wolfman.

There were other dolls, too, including my personal favorite, Ghoulia Yelps, who is a zombie. One of the boy dolls was Deuce Gorgon, Cleo’s boyfriend and the son of Medusa.

Mattel created two tie-in book series. One, Monster High, by Lisi Harrison, is a young adult series that includes the same characters in a different universe from the one that the dolls and tie-in web series occupy. Our POV character in this series, which begins with a book called, erm, Monster High, is a new character named Melody Carver*, whose family has moved to Salem, Oregon because the pollution in Los Angeles was bad for Melody’s asthma. Each of the four books in the series focuses on a different one of the central “ghouls” (the Monster High word for “girls”). In order, they are Frankie, Cleo, Clawdeen, and Draculaura.

The other, Ghoulfriends, is a middle-grade series by Gitty Daneshvari and that is in the same universe (or one that’s close enough to kiss) to the webisode universe. The middle-grade series is way cuter, or I guess I should say “cutesier” than the young adult series.

While going through my Goodreads account, I noticed that I had never put read dates down for either of these series. So I knocked out the first three of the young adult books pretty quickly. Going on to the first of the middle grade series too soon gave me whiplash, though, so I put it aside for a couple of weeks.

I’m going to tackle the cutesy middle grade series soon, though. I seem to recall from my first readthrough that I adapted to the cutesiness pretty quickly. I’m posting here because I’m going to start reading them tonight, December 17, 2020, and will finish this post once my brain adjusts, just so that I can memorialize the adaptation.

I’m finishing up this post now, at 2:42 am on December 20. I actually cracked the first Ghoulfriends book on December 17, then put it right back down and read another couple of books. I started it again on December 19 and just finished the first Ghoulfriends book, and I adapted to the cutesiness by Chapter 4

*Who was, unfortunately, never turned into a doll.

24 Hours of Happy 9:00 pm to

I found the document! I still can reach it through the OpenOffice app that I used to write it.

Now to give Mr. Williams some money. He’s apparently gotten big in the shoe design business lately. So I’m probably going to just pretty much do all Pharrell Williams branded athletic shoes from here on out. The highest rated of these on Amazon is these, described as adidas Pw Tennis Hu Mens Trainers (sic). I have no idea what the “Hu” means, but the “Pw” is pretty clearly Pharrell Williams.

Now, on to the post:

9:00 Have we moved? We suddenly are in a strip mall with an ACE Cash Express and a Subway. There’s some kind of a cell phone store. I can see the word “Galaxy” through the window. Does Samsung have stores like Apple does?

It looks like it’s downtown. There’s a CVS back there.

Wait. There’s an H&R Block. I think we’re in the same strip mall that we were in at 8:00. We just passed a Time Warner office. Yeah, we’ve got to be in the same strip mall. Other strip malls might have the same stores, but in the same order? That’s stretching credulity, I think.

9:04 We’ve moved again, I’m pretty sure. We’re in a parking lot. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing.

9:08 We’re outside that parking lot and this area looks familiar. The dancer passes a sign that says, in part, “Labor Commission Court House.” One of the labels says “Angel’s Flight,” as well. So let’s see if we can work with that.

We’re in luck. It looks like the parking lot is at Hill and 3rd. We follow Hill to 7th, then cross Hill and keep going northwest on 7th. I really wish the streets downtown were oriented to the cardinal directions.

The 9:28 dancers look to be someone (well, two someones) who work behind the scenes of this project. They’re carrying some kind of glowy monitor screen things and at 9:28:48-ish they turn the screens towards the camera and if I’m correct, the monitors show them showing the monitors to the camera. Actually you can see one of the guys in one of the photos on Jon Beattie’s website. And evidently they filmed this part the same day that they did 5:32 because he’s wearing the same shirt. Is the guy standing next to him in that photo the other 9:28 dancer? He might be. We pick up another guy from behind the scenes at 9:29:55 or so and another at 9:31. Meanwhile, we make a left onto Hope.

Our 9:32 dancer passes the same place where our 12:56 am dancer was. We cross Hope and then make a left so that we’re going southeast on 8th Street. They then pass a mirrored building and Beattie turns the camera so that we see the reflection of everyone in the entourage and someone guides Beattie towards the glass so that we can see the man behind the camera.

We make a right onto Grand and at the door of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising is a sculpture of an angel wearing a cat mask standing on a blue rectangle. The angel a sculpture called “Transforming Yourself into Fashion” and is by Gwynn Murrill and the blue rectangle leads into the lobby where there is a rotunda with “flying figures” on the ceiling. I haven’t had much luck finding pictures of the rotunda and from what I can find, Google Maps’s indoor photos of the building are limited to pictures of the museum in the building. The images of the main reception area are not the same place, from what I can tell.

We make a right onto Olympic Boulevard and another right onto Hope.

9:56 Now we must be at the high school that we see in the official video. I wonder what high school it is? I wonder if it’s Hollywood High for the, like, fifth time in this video. The image is flipped again, judging by the lettering on the signs. Also, it’s a different day than when they filmed 5:32 and 9:28 because we see someone who sure looks like one of our 9:28 dancers and he’s wearing a different shirt. Beattie goes backwards up a flight of stairs this time. Even knowing how large the crew on this is, I’m still impressed.

What Did I Have for Dinner Tonight?

December 5, 2020

I made another dish from Diane Seed’s The Top 100 Pasta Sauces (repeat Germane Amazon Link) book. This was the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (literally, “Whore’s Spaghetti”). The story is that after a long evening of work, the sex workers in Italy would just throw whatever was in their larder together to make dinner, or they wanted an easy sauce to make between clients, or that they begged nearby restaurants for whatever cast off ingredients they had, etc., and that’s how the sauce got its name. There aren’t really any sources to back this up, however.

It is a pretty good sauce, though. The recipe is basically just tomatoes, olives, and capers. Some, such as the one in Seed’s book, include garlic, others include red pepper flakes, and some include both garlic and red pepper flakes.

I know that the image isn’t centered in the ellipse. I decided at the last minute that I needed a photo of the dish and didn’t have the time or energy to clean off my counter. So I cropped as much clutter as I could in Paint.Net and then used the ellipse display to cut out the rest of it. Hopefully when I tackle cheap knockoff Chicken Lo Mein later this week I’ll think ahead more.

Now, I’m not really a foodie or anything. I don’t even know how much really hard core cooking I’ll do in the future. So I didn’t want to buy a jar of anchovies or a whole head of garlic or anything that might go bad.

As a result, I ended up using garlic powder and anchovy paste. I did buy the capers, though, and Seed’s recipe called for more than half the jar. I ended up putting just about half the jar in, so that I would have half a jar for a second batch if I liked it. I already had the olives from when I made pasta salad earlier in the week. I’m not really sure what the capers added to the pasta, but the olives were tasty.

My Reading History

Part Something of Some Number

Wow. It’s December 5, and I’ve completely gotten out of the habit of writing every day. Well, not out of the habit as such, but, well, I realized that I hadn’t finished posting my 24 Hours of Happy project (and I missed a couple of hours along the way, too) and now I can’t find the file it was in.

So I’ve spent the whole month so far with File Exploder* (or whatever they’re calling it nowadays) searching my entire computer in the background for the word “Pharrell.” So far it’s found some music and a backup of my blog. This is no help.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping, so I started organizing my reading projects in my head and I realized that I’ve had a lot of “phases” in my reading. The first phase I had was probably Nancy Drew starting at about 10 years old. Then I had an Agatha Christie phase. After that, was maybe gothic romance? I think that was late middle school or early high school.

Somewhere around then was my Erma Bombeck phase. I still love to reread those books.

Then it was genre fiction. Mostly it was epic fantasy with a side order of science fiction, but there was a lot of supernatural stuff, too. That phase lasted years.

I never left genre fiction entirely, but I did go back to gothic romance again. At some point, I attempted to read all of the books of Victoria Holt. I think I only scratched the surface, but I’ll have to do some digging to figure out what percentage I read. I think that might have been around the time of my Ann Rule phase.

At some point, before Amazon became a thing, I began to scare myself with how fast I was killing off the books, so I joined the History Book Club in an effort to slow myself down. I still have a bunch of books from back then that I haven’t read. I’ve got to make some decisions about them.

Then I had cancer and my reading became no longer as fast as it had been. There’s a condition known as “chemo brain” where people who have had cancer have more trouble concentrating than they did before. And that was definitely me. I left the history books behind then, because reading anything successfully was a challenge at that point and haven’t really gotten back into them. I did go back to focusing on epic fantasy, supernatural, etc. for a while.

At some point, I entered a kidlit phase. I really enjoy this in a way that kind of resembles my enjoyment of epic fantasy, but in a way, it’s actually maybe more enjoyable. I think this is because the books are shorter and they may deal in heavy topics like interpersonal relationships (not just romance, but friends, family, coworkers, etc.), trauma, etc. but they do it in a way that isn’t so traumatic. Or something like that. The other thing is that since the books are shorter, I can cover more genres. Science fiction, fantasy, thriller, mystery, whatever. If it sounds interesting, I’ll give it a shot.

Crap. I had a historical fiction phase, too. When even was that?

When I say “phase,” I don’t mean that I read this to the exclusion of all else. Rather, it’s more like, I don’t know. I just read so many books that I don’t know if I could ever read just one genre to the exclusion of all else. I’m trying to come up with a good analogy. Or even a bad analogy. Maybe it’s like meals. You can have the same thing for breakfast every day for a long time, but you’ll still have a varied diet for lunch and dinner? I think that’s as good as it’s going to get for now.

It feels odd to have a Gratuitous Amazon Link here, since this was about books, but since I didn’t discuss any specific book, it’d be weird to shoehorn that in just so that I can have a Germane Amazon Link. Looks like Men at Arms, a City Watch book of the Discworld series is up next. Let this be a warning to anyone reading this — be careful how many books in the same series you read. You may have to end up posting links to them in your blog someday, and that will be *really* monotonous.

*I don’t know if that’s original to Thomas or if he got it from somewhere else. It certainly isn’t original to me.

More Language Updatey Stuff

November 30, 2020 3 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

So. It’s November 30, which means that tomorrow I change languages to Italian for December and January. I suspect this will go more easily than October and November did, simply because I have an easier time reading very, very small Latin script than very, very small traditional Chinese characters.

Italian is great. I love Italian. I love Italy. I’m going to do Italian for Duolingo and my games and go back to ChinesPod in the car (because I always work on Chinese in one way or another). This dovetails nicely with my current cookbook, which is Italian, and the next cookbook, which is also Italian.

It’s the language I’m going to do in February and March that’s causing me some consternation. I don’t want to go right from Italian to Spanish, so I’m looking for a language for between them. When I looked for a low-corruption country to maybe consider specializing in, I ended up mostly in Northern Europe. Okay, I thought. Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish. I can work with those.

Only apparently I can’t. It’s my phone. I can set my phone on each of those languages, only at this point, Android is only slightly compatible with them. I set my phone on Danish, with Spanish secondary and my phone ended up being this kind of disturbing combination of the two languages. The same thing happened with the other languages.

So. I guess that’s not going to help me decide.

Maybe I can do a non-European language next, though. and leave the Northern European languages for later. I think I have a pretty convincing case for Vietnamese in February and March. I wonder what apps will come out in Vietnamese if I put that first on my phone?

Ooh! Android likes Vietnamese! Let’s try my other apps. I know that neither Wizards Unite nor Design Home are available in Vietnamese. No on Pokémon Go. Not Candy Crush, either. Also Kindle. Well, Samsung Health is available in Vietnamese. Babbel’s a no, too. Duolingo has Vietnamese for English speakers.

That may end up being what I do.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’m doing yet another Discworld book, this time a Witches one: Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett.


November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 30, 2020 2 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

Tonight’s dinner is going to be a pretty short one, probably. Tonight we’re having what Alex and I refer to as “Election Night Chicken.”

Back in the early 2000s, I worked as an election clerk. It was pretty good money for one day’s work. I’d work the entire time, from 7 am until the last voter left and we’d packed everything up, so maybe 12.5, 13 hours. At $10 per hour, that was pretty good for one day. I also got to know a lot of my neighbors that way, which was nice.

I didn’t take a lunch hour those days, more like a lunch long break. I’d buy chicken legs and stick them in the freezer. Then, the day before Election Day, I’d stick them in the refrigerator to thaw most of the way through, and then at noon, I’d run home, throw the chicken and 1/3 of a cup of Liquid Smoke into the Crock Pot (I can use the brand names for both because I was using the brand names of both), set it on low, then go back to the election.

At about 6 pm, Alex would start checking the temperature, and when it hit 165, he’d turn it down to warm, and wait for me to come home.

After a while, Alex decided it needed a name so that we didn’t have to keep calling it “chicken in the Crock Pot with Liquid Smoke.” I believe the recipe I stole this from was originally called something like “Faux Barbecued Chicken” and was more complicated than we made it, but since we pared it down to just the Liquid Smoke and the chicken, we decided to just call it Election Night Chicken, since we had it on, well, Election Night.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. I though we were getting close to the end of the Discworld books, but it looks like we’ll still be there for a while. I do have a break from them today, though. Our book right now is Generation Why, the second Ms. Marvel compilation by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona.

My Goodreads Account — OMG

November 30, 2020 1 of 8

Every once in a while, it hits me — I have a shelf full of Ranma 1/2 manga and a couple of Naruto ones. I’ve read all of them, but can’t remember when.

It’s the 30th and thus the end of NaNoWriMo. I’m definitely not going to make it to 50,000, but 30,000 is looking good. And so I don’t really *need* to keep going lockstep through all of my comics compilations, graphic novels, etc.

But I really probably should. I am, after all, going to try to take another stab at writing 8 posts per day going in February, 2021, so I may well need the additional books some day.

Or maybe not. I was going to do the words “Ranma 1/2” above as a not-gratuitous link to the first volume of the series only to find that you can only get $14 used copies of volume 1 right now. So, I guess it’s going to be Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Small Gods, which is a standalone book. I get a kick out of how it is currently titled at Amazon: Small Gods: Discworld Novel, A, like the computer finally figured out how card catalogs worked and is going a little nuts with it.

NaNoWriMo Update

November 28, 2020 3 of 8

It’s 6:27 pm on November 28, and I’m not even to 30,000 words yet. I think this is definitely a personal best for me, as the last time I registered at the website, I only got in the 15,000s, but I’m not going to make it to 50,000.

I also have 16 scheduled unposted posts. I was scheduling them out a week, and then for some reason, I did several days of scheduling for November 30. So I just spent half an hour straightening out my future schedule. I think they’re technically out of order, but I’m pretty sure that I have Alex’s suspected COVID case (his test was negative) in order, so there’s that.

Now since I have 16 unposted posts, I’m too far ahead to schedule them for a week out without messing up my schedule, so I’m scheduling them for Christmas now. This is scheduled for 1 am on Christmas. I’ll go in later and move it to the . . . 8th, I think?

I was also going to start socializing with the other WriMos, but that never worked out either. Variable work schedule, stress from Alex moving out this month, COVID, Thanksgiving. Yeah.

I think that writing a bunch of posts in a row and scheduling them ahead of time will work pretty well, though. I don’t think I can do an unofficial NaNoWriMo in December or January, but February might work. I may have to go back in and spread my scheduled posts out to one a day or one every other day to fill in the blanks of December and January, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. We’re back to Discworld today with Reaper Man, a book featuring Death.

Content Creators: Yes Theory

November 28, 2020 2 of 8

I really thought I was going to make it to eight posts today, but then I went back to bed and slept until I woke up naturally and now it’s 2:30 pm. So maybe not. But we’ll try.

I think I found Yes Theory because YouTube recommended them to me. Nothing really exciting there. Now I’m trying to remember which video I started with. I’m pretty sure it was the one where two of their members went on a bus ride from Miami to Seattle. Yeah, looking at it, I think that was it. That was in October of 2019, and I enjoyed that so much I went back and watched their entire body of work.

Yes Theory started out as a comedy channel called Project 30, which was three young men (Ammar Kandil (from Egypt), Matt Dajer (born in NYC, raised in Paris), and Thomas Bragg (born in Paris to Swedish parents)) spending 30 days doing things they’d never done before, like dancing in public with strangers. A fourth young man, Derin Emre (from Turkey) started out as just the camera man, but by the end of Project 30 often appeared on camera as well.

The four original members of Yes Theory met in Montreal. Matt and Thomas met during college and then Thomas met Ammar at a party. They then met Derin through a mutual friend. There’s a whole video about exactly how they met, and this is just a sort of Cliff’s Notes version.

They were searching for meaning in their lives and decided that they wanted to make videos that made an impact on the world. Their first impactful video actually was covered on the news. Right after the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, Ammar, Matt, and Thomas wore t-shirts explaining that they were, in order, left to right, from NYC, a muslim from Egypt, and from Paris. Derin also wore one saying he was from Turkey, but he didn’t really appear on camera. They stood in a train station in Montreal holding hands with signs saying that they’re roommates, best friends, and brothers. Then people came up to talk to them and hug them, which looks really unsafe from the COVID world we’re living in today, but the video still gives me goosebumps.

After Project 30, they stayed together and created more videos, evolving into what they called Generation Y Not and doing more elaborate things, including getting Matt into Montreal Fashion Week as a model, telling bad jokes in public places, sneaking into expensive hotels, and so forth.

After about a year, they were offered a chance to move to California and make videos for money and they changed their name to Yes Theory.

The meaning of the name “Yes Theory” is that they believe that saying “yes” to things that make you uncomfortable are the things that help you grow the most. And I’ve done quite a few since then and it certainly seems that they might be right.

Over time, their lineup has changed. Stress between the United States and Turkey led Derin to return to Canada. He still appears in videos from time to time. When they first moved to California, they opened their home to a bunch of their friends, who appeared in some of their videos. Matt’s younger brother, also named Thomas, started out as an editor but he spends a lot of time in front of the camera now. I’m sure that the lineup will change more in the future.

They’ve gone to a bunch of other countries (including, but not limited to, France, Egypt, Italy, Colombia, and Cuba). They’ve taken some of their followers, and also some strangers, on adventures with them. And if you’re aware that Will Smith went bungee jumping out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on his 50th birthday, well, that was Yes Theory. It started with a dream that Ammar had.

And, for me, my life hasn’t changed too much from Yes Theory (it has only been a year so far). I’m still going to my regular job and living in my suburban house. But I do leave my comfort zone once in a while. I go to concerts in Spanish. I walk for distance in new-to-me parts of the city. I tried to go state parking by myself with Mila a couple of weeks ago. And their videos allow me to dream of the travel and adventures I want to do. Seeing them do it means that someday, if I can ever get my financial ducks in a row, I can do it too.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we have Nancy’s Mysterious Letter, by Carolyn Keene. A while back, there was a lot of angst about Dynamite Comics killing off Nancy in honor of Nancy’s 80th birthday this year. My first thought was of this book. Nancy gets a letter addressed to Nancy Smith Drew (our Nancy doesn’t have a middle name) in Nancy’s Mysterious Letter. I wondered if that was the Nancy Drew who was going to die. Spoiler: No Nancys died in the comic book. Nancy faked her death.

I really need to reboot my computer. This post has taken an hour and a half. Much of that was waiting for pages to load.