Almost the End of The World

Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a young mother looks past the kid learning game on the computer.  “I’m sorry, Princess.  I just need to– just a minute.”  She pulls the tiny chubby hands away from the keyboard and looks intently at the image.  “Oh, this is not good right now.  I can’t deal with it right now.”

********
In North Carolina, an accountant looks at the blog comments and calls out to his beloved spouse, “Dear, is Foxfier trying to pick a fight with me, or is this a code?”

CACS rushes to the computer and looks at it.  She gets a pad.  “I see, let me check a couple of anime references…”  Half an hour later, she hands RES the notepad.  He blanches.  “I see.  Well. There’s only one thing for it.  Wayne Blackburn must be told.

**********

Wayne thinks long and hard, and then writes a seemingly innocuous email to Bobtheregistered.

*********

Bob the registered gets off Baen’s bar and sighs.  “This won’t end well,” he says to himself as he sends a message off to Emily Nelson.  Who reads it, discusses it with Steve and says “So, what do we do? We can’t send Nemo.  I refuse to risk him.”

“I know, but I think I can write some code that delivers the message.  Let me see, who would it be safe to send to?  Do you think Herbn will get it?

********

A day later, Herbn pauses in the middle of reading a kindle book.  No, this paragraph definitely doesn’t belong.  How did it get there?  Is it time to let 60 guilders know?

*******

Three days later, Shadowdancer opens a jar of vegemite, and finds a folded paper inside a carefully sealed bit of plastic.  She opens it and reads the message from 60 guilders.

She calls Dorothy Grant on a carefully secured line.

*******

“I see,” Dorothy says.  “Pass word onto Dave Freer, I’ll rally Alma Boykin.”

**********

Meanwhile Orvan Ox, on his delivery route notes that a certain house has a flag displaying three daisies hanging from its front porch.  It would be normal in Spring, but in January, really?
He gets on the phone and calls roommate “Call Amanda Green,” Ox says.  “Tell her to pass on the word and get ready  It’s a real one.”

********

In a small house in TX, Amanda Green opens the trapdoor on the floor and gets out the equipment that’s been waiting this day. She makes a comment on Suburbanshee’s blog and hopes Banshee gets it.  Did she get that word play about St. Catherine’s birthday jsut right, that banshee will get “Wheel in the sky?”

********

Joel gets the message from Banshee’s encoded email and starts plotting access to a tall roof.  The problem is carrying the weapon through New York City.  Everyone is so suspicious these days.  Maybe he can disguise it as a flowerpot?  Oh, yeah, and he has to get a message to Kate.
After long thought, he sends her a postcard showing the Empire State Building, with a single sentence “The butterfly sings.”  That should do it.

******

In Pennsylvania Kate Paulk is getting the secret equipment assembled in the outbuilding.  “Bugger if they get away with this.”  Almost casually, she dials David Pascoe and tells him “The kilt is purple.  I repeat, the kilt is purple.”

******

David Pascoe rescues a crucial piece of the weapon from the baby girl and glares at it.  He has to assemble it before the toddler finds another use for the parts.

********

Drak Bibliophile sighs, then starts removing his books from the bookshelves.  Why had he thought it would be a good idea to put it behind the shelves?

*********

‘Nother  Mike in Japan, is trying to remember where he hid his equipment.  Oh, yes.  He’d put it in the classroom, disguised as a student project.

*******

Around the world, Cyn Bagley, Alpheus, William Stoddard, Francis Turner,  Mary Catelli, Eamon,  C. Taylor, Uncle Lar, Caitlin, Dr. Mauser  and TXR and many, many others set up their weapons, and look at the messages they received, make sure they have the right coordinates and struggle to program them in.

*****

Deep in her secret laboratory, Sabrina Chase checks the calculations.  “D*MN it,” she says and sends a hurried correction through the grape vine.  Stephanie Osborn receives the correction and adds solar activity effects.  Then corrects the corrections.

******

At Pete’s Kitchen, having a seemingly innocent dinner with the Denver contingent, Sarah asks Kortnee “Did anyone tell Chris Chupik?”

*******

In the frozen wastelan…. we mean civilized parts of Canada, Chris gets a phone call from Captain Comic.  He’d earlier failed to get a message sent by moose, because there are no moose in his neighborhood.  Really, what do you people think Canada is, eh? And some people thought that Bieber was disproportionate aggression.  Ah! I’m glad we send you Bieber. Yes, I am that heartless. He thinks all this, but aloud he says,”What?  Again?  ALL of us?  Are you sure?”

“Sarah said the carp fly at midnight. She used that phrase at instapundit last night, too.”

“Yeah, yeah, right code.  Oh, damn, I planned to write tonight.”  As he gets off the phone he thinks, “I bet no one has told Kirsi.  I’d better call Finland.  Us great white North people have to stick together.

***********

Five hours later, as the alien ship approaches the Earth, it is hit by coordinated rays from the secret weapons long ago distributed, secretly, to the seemingly normal readers of an unassuming little blog.

*****

A few minutes ago:

Sarah struggles to her blog.  These emergencies really need to stop being so tight.  You’d think the galactic alarms would get tripped before yet another invader is less than a month from attacking the Earth.  Coordinating a defense all over the world is not easy.

But hey, the Huns did it again.  She makes coffee by touch, because her eyes refuse to open until the second cup.

Better put up a seemingly silly post on the blog, to let everyone know the danger is past.

No one will suspect such a far-fetched thing is real.  It’d be like suspecting us of having gone back to change history after that horrible election.  No one would ever believe any of this drivel.

Good work, everyone.

249 thoughts on “Almost the End of The World

  1. Fortunately for you lot, the Vegimite was conspicious because such an abomination does not normally reside in my pantry, thus noticed. (The Housemate and the kiddles like Promite, which had staged a revolution and ejected the Vegimite from their domain with extreme predjudice.)

    1. The vegemite weapon was probably the one that really caused the most damage to the invaders. The fact their advanced sensors showed humans eating this tar with enjoyment shocked them so much they failed to take evasive action.

      Mind you if they’d caught sight of marmite they’d probably have killed themselves before the attack could have been launched

      1. Judicious application of great whites and crocs via weaponized whirlpool launcher took advantage of the distraction.

        It was a more merciful decision, you see. If any of the local men (and possibly a number of women) saw, they might’ve decided that invading the invaders would’ve been a fine way for a bunch of larrikins to spend the weekend!

        “Yoink! Mine now!”

        Also, such an acquisition means having to pay no more petrol, even if the application for a pilot’s license is required for the use of the …liberated… craft…

        … *suspiciously looks in the general direction of Husband and the Housemate, hearing “I’m sure I can get it to interface with Debian!”* Shades of ID4! What mischief are they up to now? I thought they were going to clean the facehuggers away!

          1. Not until you destroy the EPA (Good job of putting Trump in, but stay ready in case he goes squishy.).

      2. “The fact their advanced sensors showed humans eating this tar with enjoyment shocked them so much they failed to take evasive action.”

        Stolen for use with my Australian sister-in-law. Thanks!

        I make no promises on attribution.

      1. Mouth ulcer/canker sore cure. The salt dries it out and the B vitamins help it heal. Hurts like hell, though.

  2. *embarrassed face* I actually made the cut and I’m considered a Hun.

    Also, the only possible use of vegemite is making very, very bad beer on a scientific vessel and if you need beer that badly….

    1. Nonsense. Even very bad beer has its uses. I’ve made beer brats, beer bread, and beer beef stew with some of the most vile products of hops to be made by man or alien- and they turned out mostly okay.

      Heck, even PBR has its uses. Properly frozen it makes a dandy projectile. *grin*

      1. And I’ve voluntarily drunk homebrewed peach beer. Really, it’s not so bad… if you don’t start on it until after the third Negra Modelo.

        1. My dad
          1) knows what hipsters are, and
          2) finds them annoying– not because of the standard issue foolishness, but because they made his favored beer cost a lot more.

          1. Not a big PBR fan (it is the house beer at The Star and probably due to hipsters) but their passion for it both amuses me and annoys me.

            I suspect it is a sign they know what frauds they are and the drink it trying to be like the people they wished they could measure up to (ie, working class men, quite possibly their grandfathers).

        2. Always drink coffee unironically. Otherwise, you burn your mouth, like the hipster who drank his before it was cool.

          Beer, however, can be drunk either way.

      2. Heck, even PBR has its uses

        I assume you’re talking about Peanut Butter and Rutabaga sandwiches. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

      1. ” the snow is getting silly.”
        I got a sudden mental picture of a snowdrift making faces.

          1. Totally. It’s totally all Calvin making those snow sculptures!

            Personally, if I had a kid making those, that would be awesome! Heck I wished hat I had that much snow.

            I always wanted to make those snowmen. But I only made one snowman worth calling one in my life.

      2. Yeah, the temps last week in Dallas just got me acclimated for Albany NY… where it was a balmy 5 degrees this morning. No snow, fortunately.

      3. I got ambushed by a 6 year old with a snowball yesterday. She ended up in a snowbank, covered in snow and giggling so hard, I thought she was gonna hurt herself.

  3. “In the frozen wastelan…. we mean civilized parts of Canada”

    Today’s high in Calgary: -23.

              1. Oh, pish-tosh! Here in central NC we have had temps in single-digit territory and touching seventy just in the last five days.

                Stupid state doesn’t have sense enough to just freakin’ do winter so that fol can get accustomed to it; noooooo, we dribble it out in fits and starts over three, four, five months.

      1. Finland got a heatwave. In some place the temperature went from -30 C to 0 C in a day.

        Oh, it had to do with that… sorry, I just read the instructions that came with it, and they told only what to do with it, not what it was going to do. I get it, just in case somebody else got hold of it before it got to me. (Sulks. Need to know deals suck)

        1. Yeah fine, fine. Enjoy it while you can.

          As a result of the frontal displacements we we here in the Piedmont of NC have seen several days below freezing and two nights in a row with the temperatures the single digits. Very unusual.

          The tulip should be spectacular this spring and we should see less fleas. It does have that going for it.

            1. Mosquitoes are pretty hardy. In the states New Jersey claims to be the home of terrible mosquitoes, and they are pretty bad there. Still I have it on excellent authority that it is the mosquitoes of Minnesota that are the true terror.

              1. The story goes, up there, that people have heard mosquitoes wondering where to hide the moose so the big guys won’t find it. 👿 👿 👿 👿

                1. Mosquitoes are the state bird of Minnesota and the provincial bird of Manitoba, or so I’ve been told. The black flies are fighting the mosquitoes for the title in Alaska.

                  1. I’ve heard that down Florida way, Navy pilots use the local mosquitoes as targets in air-to-air combat training.

                    Sometimes the mosquitoes win.

                    1. Are you sure that those are biologic mosquitos? And not Japanese? I have heard that vermin grow to immense size in FL. Are they really big enough to shoot with 20mm guns?

              2. Nah, it’s Alaska, where the mosquito is the state bird.

                However, cold weather does have some effect on the varmint population. Witness this last summer — a drought following a ridiculously mild winter — and you could not walk into a garden shop and say “chipmunk” without getting horror stories.

    1. “…and I leave my entire estate of $10 million to the people of Calgary so they can afford to move somewhere decent!”

        1. “What flavor is it?”
          “Boot-to-the-head.”

          [for those in the dark, a skit from a Canadian comedy group called The Frantics called “Last Will and Temperament.” Loosely connected to other skits called “Boot to the Head” and “Army Careers.”] Versions on YouTube for your merry enlightenment!

    2. And you can bloody well keep it this time. We don’t want it over here, we just finished getting rid of the the last cold weather you sent us. I want snow not -25. Although, the the Canal could use the cold.

            1. Not making the cut is a sign of honor, as the emergency wasn’t REALLY bad enough to need one’s help.

      1. Are y’all ok in Castle Rock? Odd day for a disaster story; in downtown Colorado Springs and Old City it’s about 40mph wind and gusts of fifty or so.

        1. Hey, when I lived in Idaho, we had a name for weather like that!
          I believe it was “Spring”.

          (I’m not dismissing that this type of weather can be damaging, Especially with lots of trees and wet ground. But it’s still in my wheelhouse as “unremarkably normal”.)

        2. We ended up not going to Castle Rock, because the insurance hasn’t approved the spinal fluid draw yet. I’ve been hearing this a lot lately. maybe when they do another hospital closer to home will have an opening.
          I haven’t looked at the weather reports so I don’t know if we’re having bad wind. The trees seem to be moving in the park, as far as I can see, but nothing out of the ordinary.

          1. I think I mentioned this before, but you need to keep a close eye on billing. The modern trend is to split what used to be a single procedure into three or more separate billing items, each with its own deductibles and co-pays. They can nickle and dime you to death if you don’t get the billing information ahead of time.

            The other thing we’ve run into is places that wait until you’re in the office before they tell you they won’t bill your insurance – they want 100% in cash, right then (with handy 34% E-Z credit applications on hand), and you’ll have to get reimbursed from your insurance company. Which probably isn’t set up to do that, so you’re screwed.

            The last trick is a *hefty* charge for them to submit their forms to your insurance carrier. Why something that used to be a minor part of office overhead when it was done laboriously by hand is now worth $100+ for a few moments at the computer is beyond me…

            1. We’ve had a few medical places try to bill us in violation of our insurance agreement, too.

              “Amazingly” it stopped as soon as we politely “reminded” them we’re in-network…but argh.

              1. I know a lot of people have trouble with the Mayo Clinic model, where the insurance is part of the hospital and all of the doctors that work there, but we have Kaiser (which is similarly integrated) and it is so much smoother. If the doctor approves it, it’s approved, and not segmented out, and the doctors are not paid piecemeal either, so they have no incentive to recommend things just to get paid.

                (The problem a lot of people have is the model is very much standard care—if you have something out of the ordinary, it can take a lot more pressure to get appropriate treatment. FWIW.)

                1. Kaiser is pretty good most of the time. We have had some screwups but not enough to make us leave. On the other hand, we are kind of locked into living where there is Kaiser available and AFIK that isn’t Texas or any other red (Constitutional) states.

            2. There have been times when the insurance company sent the doc the money after I had checked that they were reimbursing me.

              1. Our particular repeating problem is being dunned by third parties we never heard of for “lab work.” Sometimes months after we last saw a doctor.

                Oh, and both doctors and third parties who don’t want to provide an itemized bill by US Mail. Or think it’s worth some substantial “service charge” to provide one.

                Since they’re usually the same ones who don’t want to bill the insurance company, I’m pretty sure *something* crooked is being attempted.

                1. “Since they’re usually the same ones who don’t want to bill the insurance company, I’m pretty sure *something* crooked is being attempted.”

                  Or they’ve figured out something that most people haven’t: they don’t work for you. Their employer is who pays them. And most of the time (90%+) that isn’t you. That’s the nasty part about free markets.

                  “Minerva, if I sell a horse, I won’t guarantee that it has a leg on each corner; the buyer must count them himself. ”
                  –Lazurus Long, Time Enough For Love, pg 208

        3. Just got a phone call from Mother Unit, who’s driving through Colorado Springs. The amount of semis flipped over and trees snapped off is awe inspiring.

            1. One of our patrons just told me that Fort Carson sent a “Hunker in Place” order for the base. That’s gotta suck for some of the positions.

                1. Ooh, wow. Down here in Florence, all we’re getting is the occasional breeze as the snow rapidly melts off.

            2. When I was growing up one of the local weathermen had a scale for wind ranging from “small dog warning” to “small car warning.” Sounds like this is closer to the latter.

          1. I “impressed” my mom by predicting inside of three hours when Snoqualmie Eastbound would close, and when it would close going Westbound.

            Based off of “when will Seattle be heading home?”

            I don’t wanna even think about what it’s going to be for monday…..

          2. During my recon run, I saw the power line along highway 115 outside Cheyenne Mountain was blown down, five or more snapped poles. I counted twelve overturned semi tractor-trailer rigs.

  4. Sigh. When I finally get my decoder ring, the message will most likely just be an advertisement for Ovaltine.

    (Still better than Vegemite, mind you.)

  5. Well done team. As members of the unorganized planetary militia this mission will be recorded in all your files. Please remember to allow your flower pots to recharge for 24 hours before returning to concealment.

  6. The imaginary weasel pokes his head around a corner of reality to better view the aftermath…

    Ma’am, when you try to alert me, please take signal polarization into account. You instead reached a distant cousin of mine, around a different corner of reality, who forwarded the message too late for me to come help.

    The imaginary weasel walks away muttering about humans and their inability to do simple 5-d geometry…

  7. Gaaah, the lack of sunspot activity has thrown off ALL my hyperspace models like you wouldn’t believe. This, children, is why we have code reviews! Oh, and did anyone *slightly* misplace the Olympic peninsula drain plug? It seems to have sunk again.

    1. Um, I think I found your problem; the cat dropped a toy in the drain hole, and everybody assumed it was the actual plug. *sigh*

      I keep telling the boys that there’s no call for jerry-rigging when you can do it right with the proper parts, but they keep insisting that they need to stay in practice…

    2. Somebody had Steve coding instead of code review. Give him him the specs ahead of time so he can properly test it. I’m sure plain coding is a refreshing change from all the testing he does.

  8. The Phantom lurks at the ready, awaiting the next callout. They also serve, who only sleep comfortably while others work. 🙂

    Incidentally, rural Southern Ontario is experiencing a heatwave today, +20F. Soon I shall break out the beach wear.

    1. I’ll just throw out a quick comment about the forecast low of 49F here tonight.

      /innocent whistle

        1. Got down to 45 here, last night. Not having added alcohol and/or caffine to my circulatory system, I practically froze! (At least we didn’t get the 1/4 inch of snow of Hotlanta!) 😀

  9. Wait! “the carp fly at midnight“????

    Was that Mountain Standard Time, Eastern Standard or Greenwich?

    Oh dear. I wonder if we haven’t made a terrible mistake.

  10. <> And to think that all the non-odds are worried about folks having defensive arms more modern than a musket. If they only knew! 😉

    1. If they knew what a drunk Russian can do with a shovel and a cutting torch, they’d have a nervous collapse.

      1. Between the Russian landmass and the Arctic there’s a sea passage. Not every year, but most years, ithe ice is thin enough for icebreakers to clear a way for ships to make it through. (that’s how the Nazi pocket cruiser Komet made it through to Alaska in WWII)

        Later, to facilitate navigation, the Soviet Union built nuclear powered icebreakers to clear the passage, and set up a chain of nuclear powered lighthouses for navigation.

        After the fall of the USSR there was no money for maintaining the lighthouses, so the keepers simply locked the doors and walked away.

        There wasn’t any money for maintenance, so there certainly wasn’t any money for decommissioning. They left them running. Unattended.

        Years later, Russian scrappers found them and started disassembling them for their metal. And they were still running…

          1. The article on Englishrussia didn’t say. You’d expect them to be simple thermoelectric sources like we used on satellites, but they were talking about them still working more than 20 years later… and you need kilowatts to run a lighthouse.

            I’d like to know, myself…

      2. They don’t even need the cutting torch.

        By 1944 German doctrine was not to retake ground via local counterattack if it could not be done within 24 hours on the Eastern Front because after that Russians would be too well done in for ad hoc attacks to dislodge them.

  11. You know, any properly prepared invader would LOOK at the climate statistics, not the open media broadcasts and propaganda, er state tourism documents. But no. *surveys frozen invaders* Texas in winter is COLD, you fools. I wonder if the metal can be recycled or if it shock-cooled too much?

    1. *raises finger* Winter in parts of Texas are cold, even for those who don’t have thinner blood.

      I totally don’t get the folks who go “desert, that must be warm all the time!” Uh, no. Desert means it’s basically naked, so can get bleep cold at night!

      Husband keeps sending weather reports where they’re flipping out about the extreme cold snap…even if their lows are 20 degrees higher than reality, it’s not REALLY cold. I swear, he’s going to get BOTH of my parents willing to retire and move down there just for jacket weather nights.

      1. There have been times ice formed in Galveston Bay. Not often, but it can happen when the Canadians forget to latch the gate.

        1. *shudders* I don’t even want to THINK about that with houses designed for dealing with “hot.” I guess the insulation would be OK, but the stuff designed to take advantage of winds…..

        2. I can’t claim to have seen that, but I was on duty as a volunteer paramedic in League City the day Houston set a then-record (dunno if it still stands) with a high of +9 F. We had a half inch of snow. Made life *really* interesting.

          (For the uninitiated, League City is halfway between Houston and Galveston on I-45.)

      2. Usually, though it got below freezing both nights last weekend in Houston. It’s already in the 60s today, though. Around February we sometimes get an ice storm that paralyzes the city since a thin sheet of ice is not good to drive on.

        1. The difference from the norm can make it very dangerous.

          No, I can’t explain why Seattle can’t figure out how to drive when it goes a whole week without raining, then rains.

          1. I’ve been warned the beginning of rain is slipperiest because of road crud interacting with the water, but I’m not sure if a week is long enough for buildup.

            1. Don’t know about a week, but the joke about Californians forgetting how to drive because of rainfall usually has at least five months of accumulation to deal with. It’s slick.

              1. As of yesterday, we’ve had the most rain this rainy season in years.

                If things keep up, it looks like it may become cumulative.

              2. keep in mind a lot of California drivers have trouble in the rain because they were, um, ‘down south’ the last time it rained and missed it.

              3. Oh yeah. We get warned up here in soggy New England about how slick it gets, and it’s an odd month where we don’t get some form of water falling.

    2. My first visit to Texas was a long weekend in Dallas… which got hit with a snowstorm about the time my flight landed in the evening. I woke up to find the lawn of the Dallas Union Station covered in snow, and in a stroll down the streets people had built a small snowman on the table of the outdoor part of a cafe. The next day the snow was gone.

      I was in Houston on a business trip about this time of year. It was usually about five degrees warmer than Cincinnati, despite Houston being a good 600 miles further south. A colleague from Calgary was also present, and complained because he missed a warm spell due to the trip – for about three days it was 15 degrees warmer in Calgary than Houston. OTOH, for a couple days it was warm enough for me to walk outside with just a light jacket.

  12. I haven’t logged onto the bar in a very long time, I don’t think I have contact information for the Nelsons, and I’m flattered.

    I forget to check my email for months at a time about as often as I forget breakfast until evening.

    1. We’re listed Bob. Known as hiding in plain sight. High Tech Red necks are always ignored. Did anyone notify Dr Pournelle? I believe he wrote the original plans. 😉

    1. They should know better by this point in time. I mean, seriously! The first dozen dozen failed invasions weren’t a hint? Why did they think that this time would be any different!?

        1. So you’re saying that there’s an “Invasion Licensing Department”, or something like that, and this latest batch drew the short straw when determining which planet they were licensed to invade?

            1. “Those fools again? Don’t understand the word ‘no’, do they? *sigh*”

              “No, they don’t. But we can avoid the blathering followup to a rejection.”

              “How?”

              “See this apparently innocuous little planet over here?”

              “Apparently innocuous? The one we generally avoid as they set off fission-fusion-fission explosions in their own ecosphere? Ohh…oooohhh. Yeah, even if they succeed Ha! they’ll fail. Where’s that PROVISIONAL APPROVAL stamp?”

          1. Haven’t they been informed that the misquito is an endangered species? They’re putting it at risk!

  13. So how much alien alloys and elerium was salvaged from the wreckage?

    (Okay, maybe I’ve played too much or watched too many Let’s Plays of X-COM.)

      1. Or, if you watch Beaglerush’s Let’s Plays: No such thing as too many proximity mines.

        1. Original X-COM or the remake?
          I loved Diane Duane’s novelization of the original game.

          1. The remake. Actually the Long War mod for the remake. He also recently finished releasing videos of his first X-COM2 playthrough.

          2. I recently read a nice fanfic that crossed RWBY and New XCOM. (IIRC DrAmishMD on ffn.)

    1. I really don’t know. They went up in the … you know, and got it down in Texas. Ask Dorothy. My older son wants the aliens to dissect, but I don’t know if any survived intac–
      Um… Fed the Fred should KNOW this is just fiction, of course.

      1. Neither Dorothy nor I know anything about anything that might or might not have happened this weekend. Aside from the consumption of brisket, pulled pork, and eeeeeevil good chocolate cookies.

      2. “We need to dissect the aliens.”

        “How do you know they’re aliens?”

        “We don’t know until we dissect them, of course.”

        “What if they were really humans?”

        “Then we’ll blame it on the aliens.”

        1. You *really* don’t want to know.

          And it has absolutely positively nothing to do with cooperative Alien AIs.

          Swearsies!

        2. You do realize lasers specifically for the first two are sold by human companies…it’s just cooler to do it with alien items.

          Just remember, as a general rule men don’t want to use laser removal (or electrolysis) for the face.

      1. Hah! As if anybody here would believe allegations of you cooking, rapidly or otherwise, this side of Hell.

  14. Note to self; Move the weird looking flowerpot to the top of the hill out back, and not next to the woodshed.
    Or, what’s left of the woodshed.

  15. Why had he thought it would be a good idea to put it behind the shelves?

    Advantage: unauthorized personnel will become so distracted by reading material that they will stop looking for it.

    Disadvantage: authorized personnel will become so distracted by reading material that they will stop looking for it.

  16. It cheers me to see how many tinylings are in this, on the periphery. To ensure the planet survives in years to come, of course. 😉

      1. Eight months this past Saturday! Learned to crawl (and pull up… and climb) over Christmas, and boy are we glad we moved to a one-story… have to watch her like a hawk, it’s just amazing how fast she moves around now that she isn’t just pushing herself backwards by the hands.

        Still loves strangers, still acts a dream in public. When cooped inside, though…

        🙂

  17. Ehem.

    Fluffy is keeping the BBQ nice and warm for the pork and chicken and beef, and boiling the water for the corn on the cob, and the sea serpent is running the clam bake and lobster, and the aardvark is offering all sorts of beverages from hot chocolate to Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters, and that’s just the dishes I notice.

    Just ’cause they’re feeling nice, mind you.

    Not a victory feast or anything.

    1. I’ll bring the bean dip!

      …and pureed carrots. In case anyone is into that sort of thing.

        1. The Laws of Thermodynamics are quite clear: any ray that generates heat in one place must draw heat from another venue. As it is written: one man’s heat ray is another man’s freeze ray.

          To thaw Alberta is to freeze Oregon, Saskatchewan, and/or Montana (to name a few likely targets.)

          1. Although it has been done in fiction, I’m working on a way to make a wormhole from the sun to a targeted area.

            Some of the best ideas come from science fiction….

        1. I’ll use the neat trick! I’ve wondered how to do notes but was always too lazy to look it up.

              1. BTW, you can find these things (and the names of special characters) In the Start Menu under Accessories/System Tools/Character Map You can cut and paste them from there.

        1. I suspect I’d hurt myself trying that with those high kicks.
          On the other hoof, I am of the belief that one should respect the wishes of a lady as much as is reasonably possible, so if your should wish it, I will not outright reject the idea. No promises as to quality of the result, however.

  18. Hey! How did *I* get dragged in on this?

    (Googles screen name and ATH)

    Oh, right. All that live-trolling at WorldCon.

    Fair enough.

    “The chair is against the wall. John has a long mustache. The pearl is in the river.”

    (Whispers aside to hopeful Meryl Streep: We mean Madame President Nikki Halley)

    1. “Oh, right. All that live-trolling at WorldCon.”

      Yeah. We’ll go with that. That’s the reason. Really.

  19. Grist for the mill, grey goo o’erwhelming our childhoods, strip-mining our memories. It is clear that this industry despises innocence, which does sorta explain their fight for Roman Polanski:

    NBC’s ‘Emerald City’ travels to a violent Oz that wants to be the next Westeros

    … [H]ere’s the network’s “Emerald City,” a gloomy, violent and often sluggish take on L. Frank Baum’s storybook world of Oz that premieres Friday night. Long in development (it was touted on NBC’s menu a season or two back, then vanished, then returned), “Emerald City” vividly imagines an Oz that more closely resembles the worst of Westeros, the chaotically dangerous continent of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Most of us know Oz mainly from the Technicolor wonders seen in the 1939 MGM musical version of “The Wizard of Oz.” While it could certainly be a fearsome place, at least it had lollipops.

    This Oz is bleaker, steampunkier and far more cruel — and if you haven’t clued in already, “Emerald City” is not a good choice for younger viewers. An adult Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona), a small-town Kansas nurse with all sorts of unanswered questions about her real parents, seeks shelter in a police car during a tornado and is swept away through a dimensional portal, crash-landing in Eastern Oz. (A German-shepherd K9 is in the car with her and becomes her loyal companion, Toto.)

    A fierce tribe of locals, believing Dorothy has killed a witch, begrudgingly sends her off on a pollen-dusted stone path (a.k.a. the Yellow Brick Road) to the Emerald City and the all-powerful, deeply neurotic wizard (Vincent D’Onofrio) who rules there. It isn’t long before Dorothy and Toto come upon the ruins of a burned village, where they free a man named Lucas (Oliver ­Jackson-Cohen) who has been tarred and feathered and left on a cross to die. Beset by amnesia, he offers to accompany them to see the wizard.

    Other basic outlines of Oz lore are similarly established bit by bit, with little cues and symbols to reward fans of Baum’s entire oeuvre — which, as children’s literature goes, was always an acquired taste. Unlike some other inventive modern adaptations (such as the Broadway musical “Wicked”), “Emerald City” is devoid of charm, relying mostly on malevolence as its central theme. Its tone is far more bitter than ABC’s storybook drama “Once Upon a Time,” yet the seriousness doesn’t rise to a “Game of Thrones” level.

    [SNIP]

    My hunch is that those who’ve read and studied all 14 of Baum’s “Oz” books will find more to appreciate here than the casual Oz visitor; they may also take umbrage at some of the pick-and-choose ways that “Emerald City” has adapted the saga and its metaphors to modern use. Further subplots follow the woes of Jack (Gerran Howell), who, after a traumatic injury, has his limbs replaced with tin and his heart replaced with an artificial ticker; and Tip (Jordan Loughran), a boy who becomes a girl, who, a Baum reader may well presume, is destined to become Princess Ozma.

    There’s a lot here to sort through; unfortunately, the makers of “Emerald City” are not particularly skilled at the sorting process necessary for a sprawling tale. Oz is a fascinating place at first, but, like Dorothy, one soon gets the itch to leave.

      1. Oh lord, you have NO idea.

        “Our story is a reflection of society today, through the point of view of Dorothy.”

        1. I gained some comprehension of how the dystopia had become standard in alleged entertainment when I wound up in Los Angeles (wasn’t a place I wanted to go) and saw residential Los Angeles, Los Angeles… at night. It felt wilder in some uncomfortable ways than the ‘wild’ places I’d been. I felt kinda like I’d blundered into a modern movie set only sans crew.

          1. (Nods) If you want to understand Hollywood, you have to understand Los Angeles.
            Once you understand that, a lot of things make sense, and you stop hating Hollywood writers–instead, you pity them.

    1. I don’t mind imaginative retellings, even adult versions, but “often sluggish” tells me they failed right off the bat. Play with it all you want but don’t make it dull.

    2. Sounds like the other dragging and dull, tribute with no love for the source, “Tin Man.” (I’m sure at least half of he budget was the long distance bill from Zooey Deschanel phoning it in.)

  20. Thank Ghu you didn’t need the aid of this Junior Hun for THIS one. That timey-wimey expedition to change the elections was just a bit harrowing, and I lost my fez in the process…

    Computer’s been down for more than a week, and who knows what would have happened when I passed on the code words from the teeny-tiny Kindle keyboard AND auto-corrupt thrown into the mix!

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