Saturday, September 22, 2007


Hey, y'all! My name is Petronella Nightshade, but everbody calls me Punkin, and I am speakin to you through this here computer blog. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The MonsterGrrls, what was written by Mr John Rose, who I have been thinkin must had some witchery way back in his family as he is such a creative sort of feller. (I have read his book and it is a right smart, with the occasional bit of kerfluffle here and there.) 

Somethin I was noticin was that a while back, the movin picture folks was makin a whole bunch of scary movies about zombies, which shows that most folks are scairt of bein eaten by zombies. This is all twaddle, as anybody with any common sense can see that dead folks do not need to eat,* even if they are roamin around a bit. However, I am postin this first recipe so that some of these folks may regain their self-confidence and well-bein by gettin to eat zombies instead of zombies eatin them. This here's pretty simple and is most efficacious for those households with young ones as it will give them somethin to do, but mind them whilst they are about the stove as we don't want nobody gettin burnt. Also, it is right nice for Hallowe'en, which is fastly approachin.

What You Need:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

What You Got To Do:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Cream butter and sugar together (this means beatin it with a hand mixer till it gets all fluffy). Add the egg and mix. Add your remainin ingredients and mix until smooth. Refrigerate your dough for 2 hours.
Roll out your dough about 1/8 in. thick on a lightly floured surface, and dip cutters into flour before each use. Use one of them gingerbread-man cutters, or make your own pattern, cut it out and trace around it on the dough with a knife. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Place on a coolin rack for 5 minutes,
remove from sheet and cool.

After the cookies has cooled, you decorate em to look like zombies. This decoratin recipe come to us from Mistress Keetha DePriest Reed, who has written a couple of cookbooks and I reckon is a right smart when it comes to bakin. You can divvy up the frostin and add a few drops of food colorin to each batch to get the different colors you need. Some folks reckon that since these is zombie cookies they ought to be decorated in black and gray and such, but I am of a mind that you should want to look at what you're eatin. Here's Mistress Keetha's recipe:

Royal Icing
All manners of cookies can be decorated with this icing, which can
be tinted virtually any color. It’s great for simply
outlining cookies and can also be used to create elaborate,
detailed images. Simply thin icing with water until it reaches
the consistency you like.

1 pound confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons meringue powder*
4-6 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons flavoring (such as vanilla, lemon, butter, or


*Meringue powder is available at cake decorating supply

shops as well as many craft stores and large discount stores.

Sift powdered sugar into large mixing bowl. Add meringue

powder and combine. With mixer running on medium, add
about 3 tablespoons warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add
desired flavorings and additional water as needed.

To outline cookies and pipe details, icing should be fairly stiff.

After outlining and piping, simply return any unused icing to
the bowl, mix, and add more water until icing is thin enough
to spread or pour easily.

To quickly fill in large portions of cookies that have been outlined,

fill a squeeze bottle (like ketchup and mustard are in at
hamburger joints) with icing and use it to fill in the areas. This
is a quick method, great especially if you are making a large
quantity of cookies. Be careful not to overfill the cookie, causing
the icing to run over the “dam” created when you outlined
the cookies.

Allow cookies to dry completely, several hours, before stacking.

Mistress Keetha also tole us about somethin called Candy Melts, which is from a company called Wilton that makes all kind of pans, tubes and equipment for decoratin cakes and such. They come in ever kind of color and taste like chocolate, and can be melted up real quick in a microwave oven or over low heat on a stove for decoratin with. These can be found at craft stores and that old Wal-Mart place.

So that's it. Next time I'll be back with some more recipes and maybe some other stuff. Hope y'all enjoy this recipe and have some fun with it, 'cause you can make any kind of cookies with it, for other holidays or just any time of the year. Y'all take care, and peace be to you.

Punkin Nightshade

*They really don't. But we has noticed that zombies got a right smart taste for human fast food burgers, which I am thinkin says more about some humans than it does about zombies.

POST-MORTEM: If you got a recipe you want to share with everbody, send it through the e-mail to, and be sure to give us your name, city and state. We will sure put it up as we go, but please allow us time to get everthing straight. --P.N.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


One of my personal heroes died on September 6, 2007, the same day that one of my best friend's personal heroes died. Hers was Luciano Pavarotti; mine was Madeleine L'Engle, who wrote A Wrinkle In Time.

When I was a kid, there were reading lists of important books you were supposed to have read, that someone somewhere felt would enrich you in some way or another. I think the only book I ever read voluntarily from any of these lists was Mark Twain's Tom
Sawyer, which made me yearn for a lost age in some way that I couldn't define. Then I encountered Twain's Huckleberry Finn, which more or less handed Tom Sawyer its behind, and stands to this day as one of the two most important and inspirational books I ever read, where writing was concerned.

The second of these two was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time.

I first encountered Madeleine L'Engle through the library of the now-defunct Jefferson Davis Academy, one of several places in Meridian, MS where adults sent the children they wanted to keep out of public schools. There was a book there called Spooks Spooks Spooks, which was a children's compendium of poetry and short stories about ghosts, goblins, witches, and other mysterious things. Among the pieces in the book was the climax of A Wrinkle In Time, titled "The Black Thing," where Meg Murry returns to the planet of Camazotz to save her brother Charles Wallace from the
grasp of IT, the disembodied brain that has taken over Camazotz, and the Black Thing, the red-eyed human-looking agent of IT. She realizes that the only way she can stop IT is to use what IT does not have, and never will--her love for Charles Wallace.

People use phrases like "burned off the page" to describe how words
affect them. That was not what happened to me the first time I read this story. Instead it was as if Madeleine L'Engle stretched her finger from Manhattan or Connecticut or wherever she may have been living at the time I read her words, tapped me on the forehead and spoke directly to me. It didn't have anything to do with the love she wrote about, or its importance or power; at the time I was in fifth grade and a perfect representation of callow youth. I didn't understand love by any means; I had the same vague, usually self-centered comprehension of it that every child of that age has.

But something about the way she explained it, described it, said it, spoke to my soul. It spoke to the part of me that very desperately wanted to see and believe that there were other worlds apart from this planet, and said, This is important. Keep this in your heart.

Later on, when I was (thankfully) old enough to fully appreciate it, I read all of A Wrinkle In Time. I have three copies of this book; an old paperback, an even older hardback and an almost brand-new omnibus of The Time Quartet, the series which this book begins. I would cheerfully hand over all seven of my Harry Potter books to be burned to ashes before I would part with any of them. It is, and has been, that important to me.

And as for Spooks Spooks Spooks... well, I eventually left Jefferson Davis Academy, but I returned at one point, for two reasons. The first was that I had decided to watch my old class graduate, and I now shamelessly admit that this was my cover story. The real reason I was there was that I hoped to steal the copy of Spooks Spooks Spooks from the JDA library to have for myself. I did not succeed. But later on I found it in a library sale for all of $2.00, and snapped it up.

I suppose you know which part I read first.

In pace requiescat, Mrs. L'Engle. And thanks for everything.


We were saddened to hear of the recent death of Madeleine L'Engle, who served as a great inspiration to us. The author of The Time Quartet, which included A Wrinkle In Time, A Wind In The Door, Many Waters, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, L'Engle's work was, in addition to being some of the best science fiction ever written, an eloquent and heart-felt statement on the power of love.

Born in Manhattan on November 29, 1918, L'Engle was considered a 'stupid' student by an elementary school teacher, and retreated into writing due to feeling like an outcast among her peers. She would eventually graduate with honors in English from Smith College.

In 1959, she had the idea for A Wrinkle In Time. When the novel was completed in 1960, it was rejected by 26 publishers. Finally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1962, it went on to be regarded as a masterwork, winning the 1963 John Newbery Award and gaining sales of eight million copies. It is now in its 69th printing.

We bid a fond farewell to a wonderful and inspiring writer, who wrote one of the most important books ever read by those here at the Monster Shop, which colored everything that was to come from us. Though we never met her personally, her words made her feel to us like a friend.

Click our title link above for the New York Times' article on L'Engle, and click here for more thoughts on Madeleine L'Engle at Notes From The Monster Shop.

Monday, September 03, 2007

PITILESS OBSERVATIONS By Bethany Ruthven: Review Of THE MONSTER SQUAD Two-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition DVD

Good evening, darlings, and thank you for reading. An auspicious DVD debut has come our way: after twenty years of fond remembrances, traded tapes and DVD-R copies by a fanatically devoted cult following, one of the Eighties' most overlooked genre films has been resurrected at last. The Monster Squad, which was notable at its release for being the only horror-themed film to feature classic legendary monsters instead of masked serial killers, receives a brand-spanking new release in a special 2-DVD set loaded with goodies.

The Monster Squad tells the story of Sean (Andre Gower) who leads a pack of rabid preteen monster-fan misfits in serious discussions of "who is the coolest monster" (well, I would say it's vampires, but I'm prejudiced) and contemplating the real identity of the neighborhood's Scary German Guy (Leonardo Cimino). In the course
of the film, Count Dracula (Duncan Regehr) awakes from an eternal sleep (yeah, right) and calls together a gruesome gang of the world's greatest monsters: the Wolfman (Carl Thibault), the Black Lagoon's Gillman (Tom Woodruff), the Mummy (Michael Reid MacKay) and the Frankenstein Monster (Tom Noonan) to search for the only thing that can stop Dracula: an amulet crafted of pure good. When Sean acquires the diary of Abraham Van Helsing (which his mother secures for his monster collection at a garage sale; isn't that always the way) and learns of the evil scheme, the gang snaps into action as the Monster Squad, enlisting the help of the Scary German Guy (who turns out to be not so scary after all, and has pie--a true mark of the forces of good) and receiving the unexpected assistance of the conflicted Frankenstein Monster, who gains the friendship of Sean's little sister and becomes an ad-hoc member of the Squad. The movie quickly escalates into a race to find the amulet and stop Dracula's plan for world takeover.

Upon its release in 1987, The Monster Squad gained little fanfare and was considered a failure because of its preference for old-school monsters over maniacs with knives (doesn't that sound familiar). The movie had a brief appearance on VHS before disappearing, but rabid monster fans everywhere traded illegal tapes and later DVD-R copies of the film on eBay for years, whipping the demand for a legitimate DVD release into high dudgeon. This release, from a remastered print, is pristine, flawless, and brings forth the true glories of this movie: a raucous Goonies-esque teen comedy mixed with an uninhibited love letter to the classic monsters of old. It's rather a crime that Universal Studios refused to let director Fred Dekker use the original makeups of the monsters for this film, but the Squad makeups, created by Stan Winston (who I've heard is a master effects artist), give this movie a look and charm all its own.

(An aside: my werewolf grrl-friend and colleague Harriet Von Lupin has verified the Wolfman makeup as being startlingly close to the real thing. But we confess to being quite puzzled by what is considered the movie's most famous line, "Wolfman's got nards!" When we heard this line as we watched the film, Harriet looked at us with some confusion and responded, "Well, yeah. All boy werewolves do.")

DVD features include audio commentary with director Dekker, Gower and other Squad members Ryan Lambert and Ashley Bank, and another commentary with Dekker and his director of photography Bradford May, for those who are interested in such things. There is also a five-part retrospective, Monster Squad Forever, featuring new interviews with Dekker and several other stars of the movie, including Duncan Regehr and Tom Noonan (who played Drac and Frank), and A Conversation With Frankenstein, an interview with Noonan about his character. There are also deleted scenes, still gallery, trailer, TV spot and most of the usual paraphernalia--widescreen mastering, Dolby sound and such.

A splendid film, created with love and passion for its subject matter. Serve without reservation to older children, but perhaps allow younger children to watch only as a special Halloween treat (there are some language issues). Do allow yourself and other adult friends to enjoy this fine movie as well.

POST-MORTEM: We've learned that Duncan Regehr, in addition to being a fine actor, is also an accomplished artist. View his work online at

In the event that anyone who owns the rights and such may be reading, there is a long-lost Saturday morning show, also called
Monster Squad, that our Mad Doctor John often venerates. If anyone could see their way clear to creating a DVD release of this series, it would be much appreciated here at the Monster Shop, as we're all rather tired of him nattering on about it. --B.R.