Pajama Party

When I was a kid, I loved a pajama party (or whatever euphemism you’re used to—sleepover or slumber party being the most common). I particularly loved going to my best friend’s house with my sleeping bag, pillow, and of course, my pajamas and slippers. My friends and I stayed up well past midnight, playing games like Twister, eating pizza and popcorn, and watching Svengoolie (Rich Koz) on TV (who featured really tame monster movies). After that, we’d tell ghost stories until we fell asleep, frightened out of our wits.

Mostly, I loved being with friends, away from my brothers (who hosted their own sleepovers in the tent in our backyard). I also loved the coziness of sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag and the convenience of having junk food within reach. (My BFF’s mom was very hospitable and hooked us up with snacks on the hour.) So, coziness, camaraderie, and convenience are three words that come to mind when I think about pajama parties.

Those words also come to mind when I consider why I love mystery books, especially those written by Agatha Christie—one of the queens of the cozy mystery. I love plots that involve people spending at least one night at a remote estate—the ultimate sleepover. Thinking of mysteries causes me to add a fourth C to the list—clues. The amateur detective, who of course is among those invited to the gathering, has to solve the mystery based on conveniently placed clues. But the clues that seem the most obvious are often red herrings placed to lead the detective astray. “Curiouser and curiouser,” Alice from Alice in Wonderland would say (to add a fifth word beginning with C to the list). (By the way, did you know that Lewis Carroll coined the word curiouser? Check this out.)

While I haven’t been to a pajama party in ages, I can always attend one vicariously, whenever I pick up a cozy mystery.

What’s your favorite cozy mystery?

  

Everyone agreed that the highlight of the sleepover was when the uninvited T-Rex sneaked in to wreak havoc, but wound up staying and having a good time when the bunny started telling ghost stories.

Pajama party image from fbccranbrook.org. Son of Svengoolie from Pinterest. Book cover from somewhere on the internet. Other photos by L. Marie. Squeezamals are a product of Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company. Pop Hair Pets are a product of MGA Entertainment. The T-Rex came from Bath & Body Works.

Wanna Be Relevant? Be Yourself

Basically, the moral of this story is in the title of the post. But allow me to elaborate if you have a little more time.

Yesterday, my younger brother asked me, “What are you doing to make yourself relevant?” (This is the same brother who convinced me to start a blog.) He didn’t elaborate on what he meant, however, so I didn’t answer. But I thought about his question today as the spring snow flurries gently wafted to the ground. (Yes. Snow flurries.) I knew he meant relevant to my audience, which covers kids elementary age through high school.

My thoughts on the subject ran thusly: If I really wanted to be relevant I would have a YouTube Channel like John and Hank Green. Yeah, I wish. (If you’re not sure who the Greens are, click here for one of their channels or here for a bio.)

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Hank and John Green

Or, I thought, I’d have one like the crew at How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) have. At this channel, they produce videos of alternate ways popular movies, movie trailers, and videogames could have ended.

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I LOOOOOOVE this channel. Of the videos they produce, this is one of my favorites:

To show the relevance of this channel to the audience, another YouTube channel, this one by the Fine Bros, catalogued the reactions of teens to HISHE. That’s here if you want to see that video. They have other videos that show kids reacting to other aspects of pop culture.

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The Fine Brothers

Or, I considered, instead of a YouTube channel, perhaps I could do like my good friend Lyn Miller-Lachmann does and collaborate on Instagram with other storytellers. Lyn set up a Lego village in her home called Little Brick Township and has come up with stories based on it. Check out this post or this one at her blog. (Or better still, check out one of her young adult books, like Rogue.)

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I took a quick inventory of my assets.

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(First photo) A Dancing Oh from a McDonald’s Happy Meal (based on a character from the DreamWorks movie Home), Kitty, and Gandalf. (Second photo) Jordie, Frodo, and assorted sheep who strayed from the bookcase herd.

Okay, so Instagram storytelling was probably not the way to go with this motley crew. I needed another angle. . . .

Once I drank a few cups of coffee, I realized the answer to the question was staring me in the face all along. A comment Tina Alexander made in an interview at About Entertainment (an article written by Nancy Basile) helped. When asked, “How did HISHE come about?” Alexander replied, “Truly just from a love of movies and discussing them.” So, Lyn, the Fine Brothers, the Greens, and the folks at HISHE (Daniel Baxter, Tina Alexander, Tommy Watson, Otis Frampton, and many others) were all doing what they love to do. That’s how they keep relevant.

That’s when I realized: I’m already doing what I love to do: talking to kids and teens about the books, movies, YouTube channels, and videogames they love and I love. Best of all, I’m writing stories I love in order to share those stories with them.

So, the best thing I can do to be relevant is to be myself. It really is true: everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten.

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How would you answer my brother’s question for yourself?

The Fine Brothers from Wikipedia. The Greens from pinterest.com. How It Should Have Ended logo from tardesocio.blogspot.com.