More Phrases I Never Expected To Hear Uttered

Went a fabulous party last night at buddy Mur’s. Mur’s parties are always fabulous–she has great friends–but the high point was arguably talking to an infectious disease doctor, who told me exciting things about leprosy (always a favored topic) Buruli’s ulcers (worse than, but related to leprosy) and the shocking number of cases he sees of syphilis contracted by people over 80, which fills one with simultaneous dismay and sneaking hope for one’s old age.

And of course, the inevitable stories of people in the emergency room with things inserted in places where Some Things Should Not Be Inserted. Like two baked potatoes and a jar of Smuckers. Simultaneously. (And apparently actually tried for the "I was in the kitchen, naked, and there were these two baked potatos balanced on top of the jam jar, and I slipped…" defense.)

Being me, I couldn’t NOT ask. "The baked potatoes…longways, or sideways?"

The good doctor drew himself up with all the dignity that several mixed drinks could muster and said "The human sigmoid colon is not designed to accomodate a sideways baked potato."

So, yes. If you’re the sort of person who is inclined to insert multiple baked potatoes into your ass, you probably have some overriding motivations that drive you, and there is no stopping you by conventional means. Just be aware that when you wind up at the ER that, yes, the staff WILL be telling this story about you over cocktails for years to come.

Yesterday, I went Christmas shopping for Kevin for his kids.

He had documented the basic horror of this experience here so I need not duplicate the effort, except to note that A) our trip was ultimately successful, and B) since we were going to a formal party immediately after the Christmas shopping, we did the entire four-hour junket wearing evening wear (which in my case involves cut velvet and The Boots, and in his case involves the kilt.) However, since it’s the Christmas season, nobody in retail notices or cares what you are wearing, as long as you are not shrieking like a chimp and flinging feces at them. The occasional fellow shopper would notice–"HEY! Is that a Utilikilt!?"–but that’s about as far as it went. (You know it’s been a long day for employees when you can walk into a GameStop with cleavage cut down to your navel, and the staff looks at you bleary-eyed and never glances below the collarbone.) 

I will note that it’s a little strange to be ogling saltwater fish in formalwear. (The mandarin goby was better dressed than I was, and would always be better dressed than I was, but that’s okay.)

Kevin’s article, however, highlights a much different question, a clash of cultures that was as profound as it was unexpected. (Well, and also the problem of having small children who want cheat-devices for their Pokemon games for Christmas, which you, as a gamer parent, are morally opposed to, because goddamnit, in OUR day we had to buy the damn hint books with our own money and do the bloody walkthrough of Wizardry or whatever ourselves, none of this plug-and-instant gratification crap what is the younger generation coming to etc, etc. But that’s a minor note.)

WE always opened presents on Christmas Eve. The tradition was that you bake cookies for half the day, you make earnest plans that really, this year you’ll go to Midnight Mass, you go out to dinner (always Chinese food) you come home, too bloated to even think about going anywhere, let alone anywhere with a lot of athletic kneeling, the stockings have magically appeared (Mom always seemed to have to run back in to get her purse before dinner) and you open all the presents. Then you sleep in on Christmas Day. This is normal and logical and sane and everybody gets lots of sleep and no one is awakened by small children screaming about Santa at four AM.

Kevin, of course, belongs to the tradition that you open Christmas Day. This strikes me as inefficient. More, it strikes me that we’re getting no damn sleep the morningof the 25th. He, on the other hand, thinks that opening Christmas Eve is unnatural. In his family, the presents don’t even APPEAR under the tree until sometime on the night of the 24th, so you have that authentic Santa-arriving experience.

(My family was very lackadaisical about the existence of Santa, because my mother recalled finding it very traumatic to learn that there was no Santa. So she never particularly maintained the illusion, much to my grandmother’s chagrin.) 

Any other readers belong to the highly logical tradition of the 24th?

ETA: Kevin’s article is going to be a feature on Intrepid Media in a couple of days, and has thus been pulled (in order to be featured.) I’ll re-link it for y’all when it goes back up.

OMG I have Dragonbreath ARCs OMG OMG There is BLUE FOIL on the title and my name OMG OMG


I suppose that eventually there comes a point when you’ve written so many books that you go "Ho hum, another ARC, better throw it on the pile…" but I am not there yet. I suspect it’ll be awhile.

Every now and then I wake up with a phrase running over and over again through my head.

This morning–which I did not remember until dinner–when I woke up, my brain was chanting "The dogs are in the Giant’s Causeway, digging up the stones."

Since I had been dreaming about gingerbread men, to the best of my recollection, this made little or no sense, but it was an interesting phrase anyway.

Gingerbread Revolution!

So last night at Game Night, our buddy Mur GM’d a quick little RPG called "The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men" (you can order it on Lulu.)

In this game, you play gingerbread men at Christmas. Each one has a Dark Secret. You are in a world where all cookies are eaten or the magic stops after Christmas, unless you can hitch a ride with Santa Claus to the North Pole, or you are chosen to be the one Cookie Ornament that is put on the tree.

It’s a very fun little game, very easy to jump into. You come up with a basic background–I was a birdwatching cookie, Kevin was an angry punk rocker, our buddy Angi was a fire starter, we had Jason the Cookie Revolutionary–and a Dark Secret (I wanted to be eaten by birds, Kevin was licked by the cat before baking and deranged as a result, someone’s mother was killed by a pumpkin, etc.) You use magical candy for various items–licorice ropes, peanut glue, red-hots for grenades, etc.

As with all games, the first act is to utterly foil the GM.

The NPC who was supposed to be our Story Hook–last year’s Cookie Ornament–was in a box of ornaments. We broke into the box with explosives, got inside, discovered everything was wrapped in newspaper (Kevin was screaming "SMASH THE ORNAMENTS!" Jason was screaming revolutionary slogans.) and that there was a strand of tangly christmas lights. The NPC ornament, at the top of the box, yelled down that the lights were dangerous and we should avoid them. 

Tearing through all that newspaper to find an ornament heavy enough to smash the windows (we wanted to get outside) seemed like a lot of work. Newspaper burns, however. Our firestarter had JUST pushed a box of matches onto the floor…

"Burn the box!"
"Burn it, then smash it!"
"Fire? Fire?"
"Don’t worry, comrade! We will liberate you from the oppression of the box!"
"I’ll throw an explosive red hot into the lights! Then they won’t be a problem any more!"
"Up the revolution!"
"Power to the cookie!" (After awhile, we all fell into cookie revolutionary mode. It was sort of infectious.)
"If you are martyred, yours will be the first statue erected in the new cookie homeland!"
"If you live, you will be expected to help build the statues!"

Our GM went grimly to get another martini.

With the box ablaze, an electrical fire started in the corner, and the NPC cookie screaming from the top, we basked in the glow of a job well done. Cookie Guevara, in fine revolutionary form, staged a daring rescue of the NPC cookie–"The revolution leaves no cookie behind!" but had to glue him to his back in order to escape down the rope, as the cookie had taken a great deal of fire damage and had one arm and no legs.

Our GM put her face in her hands. "You…just…glued…the NPC…to your back. Permanently."

"Well, I couldn’t just let him DIE," said Jason.

"No, actually, he would have preferred that."

"You know," I said, struck by sudden inspiration, "If we burn the curtains, the house will fill with smoke, and they’ll HAVE to open a window."

"I have matches!"
"Burn the curtains!"
"Let the cleansing fires take the human oppressors!"
"Viva la revolution!"

Meanwhile, the other group of cookies, who were, y’know, being sane and crap, had successfully scaled the heating coils of the fridge in order to reach the Oracle who dwelt in a cookie jar on top. The Oracle told them to get out, now. "Santa Claus isn’t coming to this house," said Mur. "There is waaaaaay too much naughtiness going on. We might as well climb into the microwave and end it all now."

"…would you like me to help you get into the microwave?"
"AUUGH WHAT ARE YOU ALL, CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!? Burn this, burn that, glue my npc to your back, assist my other npc’s suicide, burn the curtains…"

"I prefer to think of myself as Chaotic Stupid," I said, with dignity.


The billowing smoke caused the family to flee the house, leaving the door open, and we escaped into the night. Our GM ended it there, as it was getting very late, and a good time was had by all.

It’s an awesome game. Anything where you have to put your head down on the table and cry with laughter for awhile–multiple times–is a good evening.

It is a grey, grim, gloomy day. The energy I had this morning has largely evaporated. Now I just want to curl up on the couch with comfort food and tea and a book.


Okay, does anybody else remember the episode of the Smurfs where they turned purple and rabid and began biting each other? (Swear to god, it exists.) It freaked me out completely as a kid, and is, to this day, the only episode of the Smurfs that I remember, except for vague bits of the one where Gargamel creates Smurfette as some kind of Manchurian Smurf. Gargamel had issues.* But the purple smurfs–that remained vivid.

I was half convinced that I had hallucinated it, since a number of people claimed to have never seen such a thing, and the sort of people who DID remember it were people like my friend Badger, which means I can’t rule out the possibility that they are stealing the image directly from my brain and that it never really existed in, y’know, consensual reality as we know it. Kevin had certainly never heard of it. But the internet confirmed that such a thing existed, although no clips of the Purple Smurf episode were on-line for viewing.

I had filed this into the odd memory vault until a chance read article pointed out WHY that was such a disturbing episode–it was a zombie movie. I mean, cute and blue (or at least purple) and all, but totally a zombie movie. The last survivors are barricaded into their homes while their friends and loved ones snarl and slaver and try to get in and bite them. Eventually Papa Smurf is the LAST survivor, locked in his lab, while all his little smurfs claw at the doors. It was like Dawn of the Smurfing Dead–and it was originally written, in the Belgian smurf comic book, nearly a decade before Romero’s movies arrived on the scene.

Fast zombies, no less. FAST ZOMBIE SMURFS.

God, no wonder I had nightmares.

*Seriously, eat them or turn them to gold, I don’t care which, but PICK ONE.

I am drinking this truly awesome thing that I can only describe as a sparkling sake cooler. It came in an incredibly girly pink bottle, and it shouldn’t get me nearly as drunk as it does, but half of one these little wine-cooler sized bottles is enough to get me nicely toasty. (Not quite "forcing each word out through the crushing weight of the universe" drunk, but there’s a definite heaviness across the bridge of my nose.)

I mention this because while I’m fooling with the design for the next tea label–Red Wombat Tea, via Ellen Million, will offer a chai tea next year–I am also drinking, and that’s sort of bad because by the time the sake is half-gone I start thinking that Screaming Lungfish Beer would be seriously awesome, and the problem is that when I put up fake labels, people ask to buy the products, and while Ellen has been amazing with the soap and the tea, liquor is probably asking a bit much.

So we’ll have to settle for

Cheshire Chai

(Seriously, though, wouldn’t Screaming Lungfish be an awesome brand?)