Friday, December 21, 2012

To be continued...

You know when you’re watching a TV show and you happen to glance down at the clock and realize there’s only five minutes left? And suddenly you realize, there’s no way they’re going to wrap this all up in five minutes. It’s going to be a cliffhanger. Those three words are going to flash up on the screen: “To be continued...”

And you’re so annoyed because you want to know how everything turns out, but at the same time, you’re a little bit glad because the story’s awesome and you really don’t want it to end.

That’s what New Year is to me. I mean, technically, that’s sort of what every day is, but the New Year always makes it seem more dramatic.

What’s going to come next?

Are all the characters in our lives still going to have top billing after this next season? Are some of the “recurring” ones suddenly going to be promoted to “regular cast?”

Are the storylines that seem so overwhelming to us right now going to be overarching or are we going to be all “Remember that episode? So melodramatic,” a few months from now? Am I going to find out that the breaking of my navigational system charger set off a series of events which I will be dealing with for years to come? Or am I going to, you know, just get a new charger?

There’s a world of possibilities (except with the charger thing. I’d be really surprised if that turns into anything) and apprehension. And I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what the next plot twist is. 

This is my last blog of 2012. Not because of the whole end-of-the-world predicament (probably), but because I’ve got holidays plans and a first draft to finish. But, provided we’re all here tomorrow, I’ll be back in 2013.

See you then!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa and Sardonicus

My sister was always afraid of Santa.

Well, that’s not entirely accurate. She wasn’t afraid to sit on Santa’s lap at the mall. She was a big fan of Santa on Christmas morning. But Christmas Eve? Not so much.

Every year, the family collects by one of the upstairs bedroom windows to look for Santa’s sleigh. I was always beside myself with excitement. The magic was about to begin. I’d been waiting for this since December 26th of the year before.

My sister, on the other hand, had one goal – get the hell to sleep before the big guy got there. And looking for reindeer just slowed down the process. She could handle at most a couple of minutes of it before she was yelling at all of us to just get in bed.

As I was a big fan of Mr. Kringle, I could never really understand her discomfort. Maybe it had something to do with his being able to get into locked houses. Or maybe she just took the whole “you better watch out” sentiment more seriously than I. All I know is that she was equal parts excitement and fear on December 24th, while I was just pure excitement.

Except for one year.

Now the blame can’t be laid on Santa for this one. Nope. I place it squarely on the shoulders of another bearded man – my dad.

You see, his birthday is just a few days before Christmas. Today, in fact. (Happy b-day, Pops!) And one year, my older cousin gave him a birthday card during our Christmas Eve dinner. On the front was a cat with a huge, human smile.

The first time I saw it, I thought it was mildly creepy, but then my dad started talking about a movie that the card reminded him of. Well, not the card exactly, but the smile. That damn smile.

My cousin had never heard of the movie, so my dad regaled her with the tale of Mr. Sardonicus a poor man cursed with a grotesque smile after digging up his deceased father to acquire the winning lottery ticket in the older man’s pocket.

Dad has a flare for horror stories, so he was particularly dramatic as he told of the moment that the man’s wife first saw his cursed face. Wondering why her husband wasn’t speaking, she slowly lifts a candle in the darkness and there he stands in all his glory.

Later that night, lying in bed I was suddenly struck with the image of looking over at my sister only to have her looking back at me with the smile of that stupid cat. The Mr. Sardonicus smile. The thought scared me enough I started crying.

Well she heard me. And thought I was crying over Santa. So she started crying.

Shortly after, my parents came up to check on us and found us sitting next to each other in bed, still crying. Needless to say, not what they were expecting.

My dad felt horrible. He hadn’t realized that I was lurking and listening in on the horror stories and it certainly hadn’t been his intent to scare the bejeepers out of his little girl.

I got over it, of course. Somewhat. I mean, I stopped crying and stopped being scared that all the people I knew were going to be cursed with evil smiles. The thought of Mr. Sardonicus stopped being something that popped into my head every Christmas. I remembered the card as being unsettling, but not the exact image.

It was nice. 

Years later, I came home to spend Christmas with the folks after my first semester at college. As I put my stuff down in my bedroom, I noticed something on my pillow.

There, smiling up at me, was the cat card.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Books of Christmas (Adult Edition)

And now to follow up last week’s post, here is a little Christmas reading for the older set:

  1. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
How do I not kick off my Christmas book list with this classic? After all, whose holidays don’t incorporate some aspects of the past, present and future? Plus, I just love the opening discussion about the phrase “dead as a doornail.”

  1. The Autobiography of Santa Claus (Jeff Guinn)
Very possibly my favorite Christmas book ever. Guinn’s later books in his Christmas Chronicles series are arguably stronger in terms of narrative, but I read this one first and it laid claim to my heart. It had me at the opening line, “You’re right to believe in me.”

  1. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Agatha Christie)
Getting together with the family for the holidays can sometimes be stressful, but the Lee family takes dysfunction to a new level.

  1. Little Women (Louis May Alcott)
So, this book isn’t technically about Christmas, but there are enough March Christmases to make me come back to it every year around this time. And, if I’m being completely honest, tear up a little. Or maybe a lot. Whatever.

  1. Skipping Christmas (John Grisham)
If you’re feeling a wee bit overwhelmed with holiday preparations, go hang with the Kranks for a little while. They know what you’re going through.

  1. The Santaland Diaries (David Sedaris)
Ever wonder what’s going on behind the scenes with those department store elves? Look no further. Crumpet the Elf is going to give it to you straight.

  1. How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas (Jeff Guinn)
Clearly I’m a sucker for Mr. Guinn’s Christmas tales. But seriously, who could resist getting to know the Mrs. a little bit better. She so rarely gets the spotlight. And, spoiler alert, she’s awesome.

  1. Politically Correct Holiday Stories: For an Enlightened Yuletide Season (James Finn Garner)
Nothing says “Happy Festivus to the rest of us” like reading about reindeer organizing a union and how non-viable Scrooge’s buddy Jacob Marley is.

  1. The Twelve Terrors of Christmas (John Updike & Edward Goery)
Not into the warm and fuzzies? A little creeped out by elves? Got a fifteen minute break? This is the book for you.

  1. The History of the Snowman (Bob Eckstein)
It makes me so happy that there are people out there writing books like this. That way, when I suddenly wonder, Who the hell decided piling large snowballs on top of each other and slapping a face on them was a great idea?, I have a place to turn to.

  1. Rock Your Ugly Christmas Sweater (Anne Marie Blackman & Brian Clark Howard)
The perfect place to get inspiration for any Christmas party garb. And let’s be honest, isn’t it everyone’s goal in life to be showcased in a book like this? Just me? Fine.

  1. A Wallflower Christmas (Lisa Kleypas)
A lovely follow up to Kleypas’ Wallflower series. There’s tree decorating, caroling, and readings of Dickens’ Christmas Carol.

And look at that, the list has come full circle.

Happy Wednesday folks!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No boughs of holly, but still...

I don’t know about you, but my halls are all sorts of decked. The Roomie and I don’t have an enormous amount of space to work with, but we make it festive. Well, technically, I do the decorating whilst Roomie fulfils her holiday tradition of napping on the couch in red sweatpants and a Santa hat. But, regardless, we both play our roles and the apartment gets its seasonal makeover.

It would be really difficult for me to pick a favorite decoration, but for the sake of my efforts here, I’m going to discuss the Department 56 houses. While every decoration reminds me of a story, the houses are the only ones that can be set up to tell one on their own.

I grew up setting these houses up. My mom collected them and I liked to sit and watch their little lights twinkle and myself stories about where in the village or city I would live (the yellow house that generally sat atop the kitchen cabinets) and where I would work (the movie theater that constantly showed White Christmas). At least this is what I thought about when I wasn’t being tortured by questions of why the people were doomed to grow to such heights that they could never fit into the doors of the buildings where they lived.

Even crouched over, Gramps here is about a story tall.

Over the years I started collecting them as well, sometimes receiving them as gifts, sometimes taking them from my mother’s horde under the dark of night.

Whoops, guess the cat’s out of the bag. 
(Tangent: Why are we carrying cats around in bags in the first place? 
Seems like a great way to get scratched.)

Our apartment is not quite large enough for me to showcase all of my houses every year and for whatever reason, the Roomie will not agree to sleeping in her closet for the month of December so I can transform her bedroom into a showroom. She’s selfish that way.

Still, I manage to do some sort of display whenever the holidays roll around. It takes me hours to get it all together and decide not only where the buildings are situated this year, but also how all the city folks are going to be interacting.

She’s covering her mouth to hide a smile. He totally said he was going to come courting and never did. 
Serves him right to get jumped on by a wet dog. Even if that middle-of-the-face beard is hard to resist.

And then I’ve got the folks who are new to town. This gentleman, for instance, only found his way to my city this year.

He goes by Melvin and is my soul mate: 
Carrying way too many books and kind of blurry. 
What more can a girl ask for?

How about you? Any holiday decorations that you look forward to every year?

Monday, December 17, 2012

They're Not Enough, But Sometimes They're All We Have

I rely heavily on words. I always have. In good times and bad, I have depended on words to express my thoughts, opinions and feelings. And, the vast majority of the time, they have served me well.

But sometimes words fail.

Sometimes there is no way to string words together into a coherent thought that will make sense of what goes on around us.

We can say that our hearts are heavy as we think about the recent tragedy in Newtown, but placing those words next to one another does not do adequate justice to the physical manifestation of our grief over the horrors which unfolded there. There is no pairing of phrases that will ever make us understand such actions. No amount of flowing prose that can ever undo the harm done.

Even the good words aren’t quite sufficient enough. “Hero” is overused, but what better to describe the teachers and faculty who laid down their lives in defense of their students? “Courageous” seems like too small a word for the children who followed the directions of their teachers during this nightmare, but there doesn’t seem to be a better one.

No matter how hard we try, we won’t find the illusive, perfect words that will make everything better. They do not exist.  

No matter how many times we want to assure ourselves and other that “everything is going to be okay,” it won’t be. Nothing can make this okay.

It's true, words do a poor job of conveying the tempests that wrack our heads and hearts during a time like this, but they still remain one of our best tools. So, we will strive for sentiments of comfort and hope, as we go through the wake of this devastation.

Words can’t make it better, but they can remind people they are not alone. They can be used to assure others that through the hardest times, the rest of us are here to carry them through. 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Newtown.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Naughty List

I love Christmas music. Not really much of a shocker. But, in addition to loving the songs that embody the true spirit of the season, I also enjoy those whose characters seem to be headed for the naughty list.

  • This kid

    • To his credit, he’s pretty up front about it. But, seriously, kid, a tack on your teacher’s chair and a sugar bowl full of ants? Those are hard to come back from. Of course, I was told that tattling wasn’t nice, so maybe some of those who “snitched on him” are also in trouble.

  • Pretty much all the reindeer but Rudolph

    • An entire group that shuns the one different kid to the point that he’s not even allowed to play games with anyone. Oh, but suddenly he’s all famous and they’re singing a different tune (well, it’s all the same tune, but you get what I'm saying). I don’t think prejudice and opportunism are really going to get you that high on the right side of the list.

  • This grandpa

    • His wife gets killed on Christmas Eve by a rouge sleigh and he’s “in there watching football, drinking beer and playing cards with Cousin Mel”?? I mean, there’s putting on a brave face for your family and then there’s plain callousness. I’m starting to wonder if the whole blaming Santa thing is just a front. I’m calling Christmas conspiracy.

  • Dave

    • There’s some serious rodent favoritism going on here. I get it, Alvin can be a bit of a troublemaker. But to tell Simon and Theodore that they’re doing great, but calling Alvin out on being a smidge flat? That’s not very nice, Dave. This isn’t American Idol. They’re chipmunks. The simple fact that they wear turtlenecks and can carry a tune is reason enough for celebration.

  • The Backdoor Braggart

    • It gets a little lost in the story of the sweet little boy with the sick mother, who naturally one feels for, but what this song is really about is some guy making sure everyone knows that he’s the one who laid down the money for those shoes. Would have been a much more touching tale if he saw the clerk do so instead.
So, consider these tunes cautionary tales - or, you know, just really catchy - and have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Books of Christmas (Children's Edition)

Across the tables in my living are currently strewn many of my favorite childhood Christmas stories. I generally don’t look at these books from mid-January to late-November, not because they’re not just as charming in May, but because when I take them out after the halls are decked I am immediately reminded of when I first discovered them.

I can remember sitting with my sister in our bunk beds reading them as we tried to stay up late enough to catch a glimpse of Santa. (At least that’s what I was doing. The little sis was probably staying up to ward against the man in red. She was terrified. But that’s a story for another day.) And as I page through the books again each year, all that childlike Christmas anticipation comes rushing back in.

If I read them in May and felt that, I think waiting six months for Christmas would just be too much. And then I’d become one of those Christmas in July people, and we can’t have that.

So, for all of you who have children to read to or just want to feel that childhood glow once again, I present to you my 12 Books of Christmas (Children’s Edition):

  1. Christmas Always (Peter Catalanotto)
As I’ve mentioned before, how could I not love a book where the Sandman, Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost are working together to get a little girl to fall asleep before Santa shows up?

  1. A Wish For Wings That Work (Berkeley Breathed)
Who doesn’t root for a penguin who’s biggest Christmas wish is to fly? Especially when by the end Opus realizes he’s awesome with or without altitude.

  1. The Jolly Christmas Postman (Allan Ahlberg and Janet Ahlberg)
I loved getting mail. I loved fairy tales. I loved Christmas. Hello, all my childhood loves rolled into one awesome book.

  1. The Night Before Christmas (Clement Clarke Moore)
Every year I would re-memorize this one, so I could recite to myself as I fell asleep. Sort of the book version of my Homeward Bound experiment. Far more effective.

  1. The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
Honestly? I still get a little teary about the whole hole-in-the-pocket situation.

  1. Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (Tomie dePaola)
My sister and I were in the habit of calling my grandma “Strega Nona” after reading the first of dePaola’s stories of the woman. So, we would read this with grandma and clap as the town came together to help “Grandma Witch” on Christmas.

  1. The Wild Christmas Reindeer (Jan Brett)
A young girl is called in by Santa to train the reindeer. Not only did I get a better understanding as to how those reindeer do what they do, but Brett’s story also showed that bossiness doesn’t really get the job done.

  1. Santabear’s First Christmas (Barbara Read and Howard B. Lewis)
Not only was the book awesome, but we had a stuffed Santabear who continues to spend Christmases sliding down the banister.

  1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dr. Seuss)
Was it just me or was Max the best character in this book?

  1. Samantha’s Surprise (Maxine Rose Schur, Nancy Niles and Robert Grace)
I was a big fan of all the American Girl books, but Samantha was always my favorite. Her Christmas plans don’t quite work out the way she expected, but she still ultimately has a wonderful time. It’s a good message for kids as plans will generally go awry.

  1. Madeline’s Christmas (Ludwig Bemelmans)
You can always trust Madeline to take charge. Plus, magic carpet rides!

  1. The Small One (Alex Walsh and Jesse Clay)
A little boy from Nazareth can’t afford to keep his donkey anymore, so he sells him to a man who is traveling with his pregnant wife to Bethlehem.

Check back next week for the 12 Books of Christmas for the older set!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Authors Tagging Authors

This past Friday, the lovely Lauren Grimley was nice enough to tag me into a game of Author Tag.

This was so much more fun than the tag I played as a kid. Though, those games did reveal to me that my running was hazardous to the wellbeing of others. Off the top of my head, I can think of three times my scampering ended in stitches for the other person. And you thought my avowed hatred of athleticism was laziness. Nay! My sedentary lifestyle is a public service.

But thanks to Authors Tagging Authors, I have finally participated in a game of tag that didn’t end in blood or tears or my profuse apologies. So, as you read on, know that you are in the presence of a veritable Christmas miracle!

What is the working title of your book?

Inner Flame.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always been completely enamored with fairy tales, particularly the ones more in line with original Grimm stories. Morals and magic, of course. But also with creeping darkness at every turn and endings that aren’t simply happy forever after. 

The story that I originally set out to write bears almost no resemblance to the one I’m now working on. The original was fun, with a lot of magical hi-jinx and fish out of water moments. I enjoyed writing it, but noticed that I kept getting distracted by one of the tertiary characters. No matter what I did, she kept taking center stage. And when I wasn’t writing about her, I was wondering what she was off doing during the scene I was writing. Eventually, I had to just admit I’d been beat and let her take over. And thank goodness for that, because she knows what she’s doing far more than I do.  

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a young adult fantasy. There’s a little bit of romance, some allusions to the paranormal, but, at its heart, it’s a fairy tale.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This was actually really difficult and, after compiling this list, I realized I'm apparently partial to actors with dark hair. The things you learn, right?

  • Allison Scagliotti
    • Rosaline - Our occasionally pyrotechnic heroine, determined to save her family, especially from herself.
  • Matthew Lewis or 
    • Cole - Future king of Drapning, provided Rosaline can convince him to go back home.
  • Niall Matter
    • Ragnar - Willing to do anything for Rosaline, as long as it doesn’t involve answering any questions about his past.
  • Hayley Atwell
    • Fee - One of the few fairies who still believes in godmothering.
  • Kelly Macdonald (voice)
    • Thea - Always going to be a part of Rosaline’s life, no matter how angry it makes the other dragons.

You’re it! The authors I have tagged:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Made Me Think of You"

Have you ever had someone say, “I don’t know why, but when I saw this, I immediately thought of you,” as they were giving you a gift?

I used to have that happen frequently with books. People saw one that seemed interesting and they would pass along the information. It was a logical progression, given my non-stop talking about stories.

Recently, however, there has been a shift. I was given gifts by two different friends, one around my birthday, one a couple days ago. The first gift was a candle. The second was a salt and pepper shaker set.

They were both shaped as gnomes.

I was told by both friends that something about the gnomes just made them think of me. Now, I wish I could say I had a propensity for donning lustrous white beards and wearing pointed hats, but beards are itchy and, much to my constant sorrow, I just don’t look good in hats.

So, I’m not entirely sure what it is about these little guys that have people picturing me, but let me tell you, I’m a fan.

I am now the proud owner of a burgeoning gnome collection that I did not set out to start. It’s both cool and weird (the two words I would most like used to describe my life). And to know that in a word association game, if my friends were given “gnomes” their go-to would be “Kelly” --- well that’s even better.

All pictures of me in my various gnome-y disguises. 
(Except for the dog in lederhosen. Total photo bomb.)

I assume it’s only a matter of time before I’m recruited by Travelocity.

What weird things make your loved ones think of you?

Monday, December 10, 2012

When Carolers Go Bad

Despite my love of singing and old-timey costumes, I have never been caroling. (And for all of you out there thinking to yourself, You don’t have to wear old-timey costumes to carol correctly, I respectfully disagree.)

You see, while a large part of me would love nothing more than going door to door and sing at the top of my lungs for unsuspecting homeowners who thought their pizza was finally being delivered, fear keeps me from doing so. Not fear of the aforementioned homeowners. I’m sure they’re lovely folk who will either enjoy the attempt at harmonious singing or politely slam their doors in my face. Both fine, understandable reactions.

No, I’m scared of the other carolers.

And all my fear stems from one song – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Sure, it starts out all nice. A group of carolers singing for the sheer joy of it. Hearts brimming with holiday spirit and goodwill toward men.

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year

See? Lovely. The good intentions can not be disputed. But you see, one of the carolers invariably points out that while singing’s great and all, shouldn’t the get a little something for brightening up the evenings of everyone in the neighborhood? Not money, of course. But they’ve been at this for hours and it’s cold and they’re hungry. So, maybe just a snack. That’s not too much to ask for, is it? Just a little snack. And to show people that their demands are indeed friendly, they’ll ask for their sustenance in song.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer

And here’s where things take a turn for the worse. The recipients of the carols don’t get why they have to provide treats when none of the previous houses did. They balk at carol inflation. And, see, the carolers don’t take too well to that. They want some damn figgy pudding (side note: fire person in charge of snack choice) and mob mentality takes over.

We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some, so bring it out here

So, in the course of one song, we see initially well meaning people transform from a group of happy souls wanting nothing more than to spread happiness, to an angry gang roaming the streets and terrorizing homeowners for pudding. One can only assume that their threatening antics are successful, as the song then reverts back to it’s original verse, proving the carolers voracious pudding needs have been sated. If not, I imagine the song would have continued on like this:

We ransacked your kitchen pantry
We ransacked your kitchen pantry
We ransacked your kitchen pantry, but found only one beer

We can’t all share one beverage
We can’t all share one beverage
We can’t all share one beverage, let us make that quite clear

We’re just gonna take your money
We’re just gonna take your money
We’re just gonna take your money, as a little souvenir

Now, let’s all go get some dinner
Now, let’s all go get some dinner
Now, let’s all go get some dinner, and never again volunteer

And this is why I don’t carol. I’m afraid of what would happen to me if I tried to be the voice of reason. And I’m even more afraid of getting swept up into the belligerent horde. I mean, it would be bad enough to wake up the next morning, having come to my senses, and realize that I sang-yelled at the little old lady who always waves to me from her porch. But to know that I ate figgy pudding? I don’t think I have the strength of mind to deal with that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bad Movies/Good Party Themes: Trapped in Paradise Holiday Heist

Nothing says holiday fun like Nicholas Cage movies. Throw in Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey and you’ve got yourself a party, with or without a theme. But seeing as we like themes here, let’s give it one anyway.

Go ahead and get a group of friends together and take a page out of the Firpo brothers' book -- steal from each other against a backdrop of holiday cheer. Not real money, of course (unless you and your friends are much higher rollers than me and mine).

Encourage your friends to dress up for the party in ugly holiday sweaters. As people get there, give them their original allotment of money, to be placed on one’s person, but at least partially visible to start. Once everyone has arrived, let the thievery begin!

This initial money can not be hidden, however all moneys taken from others should be dealt with stealthily. If the person who you are trying to steal from catches you in the act, you must forsake the pursuit and give the victim of your attempted crime one of your own bills. If you see a friend stealing from someone else, you are left with the choice of calling attention to the act or trying to form an alliance.

Person with the most money when the credits roll is the party winner. And by rights, should be hoisted upon the shoulders of all others there and paraded down the hallway with appropriate fanfare. Or given an extra cookie, or something.

Fair warning, if you let yourself be sucked into the wonder that is this movie, you may be leaving yourself open to being left with nothing when it ends. And, trust me, it is not difficult to fall under Paradise’s enchantment.

I made the Roomie watch this movie for the first time last year.

She did not thank me.

I’m assuming because she was too overwhelmed with the strength of her emotion.

It’s the only thing that makes any sense.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
-          “Well. That enhances my state of security.”
-          “This is your basic yoga, I learned it in prison. It’s good for stressful situations like this bank robbery.”
-          “I won’t throw her out the window as long as you do the right thing.”

Tagline: The Firpo Brothers can get away with anything. They just can’t get away!

For a Trapped in Paradise Holiday Heist of your very own, here’s what you need:
-          Trapped in Paradise (1994)
-          Fake money – Monopoly money is good, but strips of paper with amounts written on them work just as well.
-          Holiday themed snacks – Candy canes, latkes, Santa cookies, chocolate gelt (not to be counted as stealable money), etc.
-          Ugly sweaters. If nothing you have seems horrifying enough, throw some tinsel on it. Works like a charm.
-          Holiday decorations. At your discretion, but I say go big or go home.
-          A group of folks who enjoy ostentatious holiday celebrations and/or aspiring criminals and/or people whose distaste of going out in the cold will outweigh their need to run from this movie.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Seanan McGuire Edition

Happy Thursday folks! It's that great day when you know the bulk of the work week is behind you and the Friday anticipation has started a-buildin'. To amp up your excitement even further, I've got the next segment of Not-So-Guilty Pleasures!

Today we welcome Seanan McGuire, author of the fantastic October Daye series (seriously, check them out if you haven't already. Worlds of awesome).

Here's what she had to say about guilty pleasures:

I have no regrets! 

Okay, so that's not true, but about the things that make me happy? NO REGRETS. There isn't time for regrets. Regrets would take energy away from more important stuff, like doing the things that make me happy and then not regretting the fact that I have done them. But here are some of the more wildly silly things that make me happy.  

5. Watching really craptacularly bad horror movies on the SyFy channel while drinking enough port that I start thinking that they're actually good. You know the ones I mean. They have names like Dragonwasps or Sharktopus or Megapython vs. Titanoboa, and the acting is so bad that you could have done better in third grade, and the CGI is okay except that they can't actually decide on a size for their monsters so one minute the wasps can carry off a full-grown adult man and the next minute the wasps can squeeze into a human adult's ear canal (to pick a non-specific example). I love them I love them they have zero redeeming value it's like eating a can of cinematic frosting that may or may not contain chunks of ground beef I love them.  

4. Monster High dolls. I am a grown woman. I write well-regarded science fiction novels that have been published on multiple continents, in multiple languages. People ask me to come and speak on the practical logistics of surviving a zombie apocalypse. I own every Monster High doll every made, all the accessories, and all the play sets. And they are out of their boxes. And I play with them. And this is not the extent of my toy collection. Because honestly, if I can't be the writer I wanted to be when I was twelve, what's the point?  

3. Diet Dr Pepper. I am a very very very very very brand-loyal girl, and I am most loyal to Diet Dr Pepper, the nectar of the gods, the drink of champions. You don't want to know how much I drink. Know only that were we to spend a day together, you would probably see me go through the better part of a twelve-pack, all while singing the praises to the bubbly brown sweetness. There is nothing in this world that cannot be improved by the application of sufficient Diet Dr Pepper. Nothing.  

2. Maine Coon cats. So most cats, like, normal cats, they're between six and twelve pounds, and they're pretty chill, and they probably won't, say, figure out how plumbing works and start flushing things down the front hall toilet to express their displeasure with the life choices of their humans. And then there is the Maine Coon. These are the largest domestic breed of cat. I call them "bonsai yeti," and anyone who thinks I'm exaggerating has never met a Maine Coon. My female, Alice, has a skull the size of a human toddler's. My male, Thomas, is long enough that he can stand on his hind legs, put his front paws on the counter, and have a good look around. They're enormous squishy throw pillow cats who just want to hang out and snuggle and be chill, and I have honestly never known better felines in my life. I have seen the dark side of the force, and it is fluffy.  

1. Visiting Disney Parks, yes, all of them, what do you mean, I was just there? IT IS ALWAYS DISNEY O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE, AND I WANT TO GO. So I am a Disney Park fanatic. Disney World is paradoxically my "home" Park, even though I'm closest to Disneyland, and I'm working on a four-year plan for visiting all the Parks, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Paris. There is almost nothing that I don't feel can be improved by the addition of some Disney. If some Disney doesn't do it, try a great deal of Disney. I started 2012 at Disney World, I'm finishing it at Disneyland, and as I said before, I have no regrets.

It's a small world, after all.

I'm guessing now you'd like to know more about Ms. McGuire? Who wouldn't? Diet Dr. Pepper lovers are always the best people. So, check her out at her website ( or on Twitter (@seananmcguire)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Believe

I never stopped believing in Santa Claus.

Sure, I heard the same things most kids do on the playground. How it’s impossible. There’s no way he could get around the world, to all those houses in one night. It just can’t happen. And when I asked why, I was treated to all manner of logical explanations. All of them made sense. Every one of them was a completely believable reason as to why someone could not possibly do the things that Santa supposedly did.

Not one of them made a dent in my belief.

To me, what was always missing from these explanations was magic.

There are people, particularly some of those kids on the playground, who would roll their eyes at the thought of magic. Maybe these people feel too grown up to indulge in such childish thinking. Maybe they’re frustrated that regardless of how calmly and rationally they argue their point, there are some who they will never convince (namely me). This is not to say that I don’t appreciate their line of thought. Logic is wonderful and something I think should be utilized daily, but I’ve never been of the opinion that it should be the sole perspective from which any issue should be viewed.

After all, doesn’t everything start as fantasy?

We are members of a species that has made absolutely remarkable strides in the sciences. Over the years things have been proven that previously were thought to be declarations of insanity.

The earth is not flat, nor does it occupy the center of the universe.

“Atom” comes from a Greek word that means “indivisible.” Turns out it can be divided.

Humans are born sans wings, but countless take to the sky every day.

We live in a world that if described to our ancestors would have been considered magical and, most likely, insane. Why? Because of men and women who believed in the possibility of their fantasies.

As Albert Einstein put it, “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

So, in honor of the people who have gotten us this far and the people who will one day make it possible for me to drop by grandkid off at Quidditch practice in my flying car, I will never stop believing in possibility of those things that defy logical explanation. After all, if there’s one thing we’ve historically proven, it’s that we’re never as smart as we think we are.

Now, I’m not here to convince you to believe in Santa (that can be left to Francis Pharcellus Church), but I do strongly encourage the belief in possibilities. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if we turn out to be wrong, the fun of life is keeping an open mind while we have the chance.

If you will excuse me, I have to go mail out my letter to the man in red. Really want to know what those elves have been up to.

Tonight’s Christmas Viewing:

  • “Little Minnesota” (How I Met Your Mother)
  • “The One Where Rachel Quits” (Friends)
  • The Christmas Card
  • The Shop Around the Corner

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Finish What You Start

So, I’ve developed this fun new habit in the last month or so, where I stop writing mid-sentence, go do something else, then come back and expect my brain to remember exactly where I was going with the beginning of the thought.

Fun revelation? My brain never remembers. And it becomes my own personal mid-season cliff hanger.

“Desperation hung heavier than the humidity, but he”

That’s it? No, that can’t be it. There has to be something more because I don’t know what he did.  What did he do?!?

And then, as it does with TV shows, my mind starts running through possible outcomes to the situation.

Maybe he – No, that doesn’t make sense with what happened a couple pages ago. I know that I always wanted him to – but, I decided that wasn’t going to work awhile back. Didn’t I? It can’t work. Not after what happened in chapter 10. So, it’s got to be something else.

Round and round I go, until I generally reach the point where chucking the sentence and writing a new one is the best option. Hopefully the new sentence is better, but I’ll never really know.

And the worst part? When I think back on the things that I stopped mid-sentence for, they’re always ridiculous. The need to check Twitter was so overpowering it couldn’t be postponed for five or six words? Did I really need a soda refill right that very second? I couldn't wait five minutes to dodge than falling meteor? (That last one sounds urgent. But no excuses. Finish the sentences you start.)

I don’t know why this started exactly and as of right now, I’m choosing to chalk it up to my preoccupation with being done with all Christmas shopping by Thanksgiving (total fail, by the way). At least that is what I’m hoping it is, because otherwise I

Whoops. Went to get some candy. Not sure what I'm doing "otherwise." Let's just assume it was something witty, shall we?

Tonight’s Christmas Viewing:

  • “The Man in the Fallout Shelter” (Bones)
  • “The One with Phoebe’s Dad” (Friends)
  • Snowglobe

Monday, December 3, 2012

"And You Are...?" Blogfest

Emily King and Tammy Theriault are trying to help out Mrs. Claus this holiday season. And who can refuse Mrs. C.? So, in an effort to aid the Claus cause, here are my answers:

  1. How many speeding tickets have you gotten?

  1. Can you pitch a tent?
Can’t say I’ve ever tried. I’m hell on wheels when it comes to blanket forts though.

  1. What was your worst vacation ever?
No such thing.

  1. What was the last thing you bought over $100?
Boots. But they were necessary. Needed something flat with which to traverse cobblestone paths, right? Right. So, you know, necessary….and just so pretty.

  1. We’re handing you the keys to what?
The Beast’s library. Hands down. Pretty much nothing in the history of all things that I’ve ever wanted more than that.

  1. What was the last meal you cooked that made even you sick?
Okay, so technically this isn’t a meal, but last year around this time I was feeling all sorts of festive, so I thought, What’s better than mint hot chocolate? I have hot chocolate, I have peppermint extract. I can do this. Didn’t quite get those measurements right. Tasted a wee bit like poison and had the Roomie convinced I was trying to off her.

  1. Fill in the blank: Oh my gosh! Becky, look at her butt! It’s so big. She looks like                      .
So, this is weird, but I’ve got to admit this song always makes me think of my grandma.

I was probably in fifth or sixth grade and this song came on the radio while I was riding in the car with her. She was silent at first and then said, “I can’t really make out what he’s saying, but I like the beat.” She had a similar opinion of “The Thong Song.”

My other grandmother favored “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

  1. What was your first car?
Volkswagen Station Wagon. Made many a trip up and down the east coast during our short time together.

  1. Your best friend falls and gets hurt. Do you ask if he/she’s okay or laugh first?
Definitely make sure she’s okay first. There will be plenty of time to laugh later. And possibly recount the event to all our friends…and a couple of strangers.

  1. What’s the worst song ever?
Lou Christie’s “Lightning Strikes.”

Not because it’s not well done or fun to sing along to, but more because I just always hoped that the response to this song’s plea was an actual lighting strike. 

Where do you guys fall on these topics?

Tonight’s Christmas Viewing:

  • “False Positive” (How I Met Your Mother)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • “The Greatest Gift (Warehouse 13)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gang's All Here

I’m looking forward to seeing Rise of the Guardians (hopefully soon) for a number of reasons.

One, I like it when established characters cross over into each other worlds. It’s just interesting to see characters from one story interact with characters from another. (And who didn’t smile when Detective John Munch stepped in to help out in the investigation against the Bluths?)

And while it wouldn’t bother me if Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren’t the best friends ever, I would be a little surprised if their paths never crossed. My guess is that there are only so many people in the bringing-holiday-treats-without-anyone-seeing-them line of work. There’s got to at least be a contact list. You know, Santa finds out (the hard way) that one house has a new, rather unfriendly dog – he shoots out a quick email: 

Subject: Dog Alert
Date: 25 December 2011 1:06am
To:; fa!;

The Piedmont family in Galena, Illinois have a new pup. Not an easy-going sort. Seems particularly excitable when it comes to the color red. Plan your trips to that house accordingly. Might I suggest body armor? Or at least some Snausages?


            Subject: RE: Dog Alert
            Date 25 December 2011 2:10am
            To:;; fa!

I’m so sorry about that. I tried to get a message out earlier, but service out here is quite poor. I met up with the canine in question when I was trying to get the Piedmont children asleep. Point of interest, in addition to red, he really doesn’t care for dust.

~ San

Really, that they would run in the same circle seems only logical. So, to see a movie them about fighting evil? That’s pretty much all the things I love wrapped up into one bundle of animation.

And then, of course, there’s the fact that it reminds me of one of my favorite childhood holiday books, Christmas Always… by Peter Catalanotto. (A book that is currently sitting on my living room table.)

Catalanotto’s story does not have the gang fighting evil and the Easter Bunny makes no appearance. Rather the Sandman, Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy are all working to get young Katie to go to sleep before Santa’s arrival.

This book was one of the first things to get me thinking about connections between the more magical figures in my life and is one I re-read every year. And every year it maintains it's awesome-ness.

Now, I get the sense that in Rise of the Guardians the problem at hand is going to be a tiny bit bigger than getting one little girl off to dreamland, but I’m sure the team is up to the challenge. And, I’d also like to point out that if any of these legends are ever looking for an intern to paint eggs, catalogue bicuspids, fill sandbags – whatever – I’m your girl. Hell, I’ll even make the list and check it thrice.