Mexican Jenny And The California Kid Conquer Halloween

…in drag, as a matter of fact

CatCon4: Day 3 Your Humble Narrator plays catch up…an Iron Chef competition happens

Having fallen behind by a day, I shall now make an earnest attempt to catch up by compressing Saturday into a “highlights reel”.

8:00 AM: Our company begins waking up. I and the critters have been up for an hour. Breakfast is eaten, including tasty Paannncaaakessss Foooorrrr Peeeettttssss! By 9:30, we are on the road.

(All Critters: Those were great pancakes! Our Dad Rules!)

11:00 AM: We stop at the Toy Soldier Museum in the tiny village of Tyler. The museum is in the largest building in town, a converted warehouse that at one time held cotton. Now, it holds 190,000 toy soldiers and military miniatures, some of them nearly 200 years old. While civil war figures are most prominent, you can find soldiers from every war since Alexander the Great went out & about. Before then, actually, since there is one battlefield set up to show Neanderthals fighting Homo Erectus. All of the scenes are impressive and Spike informed me that the War of 1812 scenes were very accurate. Best of all, the whole place can be toured for $3.00 a head. T-shirts were $15.00.

1:00 PM: We stopped to eat at Mother Smith’s Kitchen in Greensboro and Mother Smith was so impressed with our bus and our critters, she made them plates of food. The critters, not the bus. We ate all manner of fine chow and were soon back on the road to adventure.

(Flash: She gave us fried catfish and hush puppies! What a wonderful human being!)
(Winker: I got some pudding, too!)
(Lucy: I had a sausage and some gravy!)
(Abby: My salad had apples in it. It was delicious!)
(Flash: Afterwards, back on the bus, we played Dance Dance Revolution. Abby won. Girl can dance, you bet.)

2:15 PM: The road to adventure was short, because just on the other side of Greensboro, we encountered another Giant Jesus! This Colossal Christ was 90 feet tall and you can go up inside him via stairs, then look out through his eyes. Many of our party wisely opted out of the climb, but Spike, Mary, Miranda, Doc Mystery and his daughter Lauren decided to give it a try with me. As you might expect, the teenager and the kid reached the top way before the rest of us, but we all did make it. After sucking most of the oxygen out of JC’s head we finally looked out the windows. It was a hell of a view. As we were leaving, a group of church type folks entered the room and asked if we felt the presence of The Lord. My reply was “Not unless it feels like a heart attack and the need to fall down”. They did not see the humor.

Once back on the ground, we climbed back on the bus and loaded up on pain meds for our backs and legs, then started out for the next stop.

4:30 PM: Did you know that just outside Meridian, Mississippi is the “World’s Longest Outhouse”? It’s right next to the “Truck ‘Em In” truck stop and it can seat 100 people. No charge to look at it, but the doors are nailed shut and there is no odor, so the whole thing is a fake. That was kind of a letdown, as most of us could imagine 100 Ku Klux Klan members in there after a big cross burning.

5:30 PM: We pulled into the KOA outside the tiny hamlet of Wiggins. It was decided that we would have an Iron Chef Battle for our dinner entertainment. I was to be the Iron Chef. My nephew Zach was to be the challenger. Three dishes each using the three mystery ingredients selected from our extensive pantry/fridge by our youngest (Lauren) and oldest (Sharon, since I was Iron Chef) audience members. The secret ingredients were: Ground turkey, fresh carrots and duck eggs. Judges were all of the womenfolk and commentary was by Spike & Doc Mystery. The results were…

Appetizer: I won with tiny omelets filled with assorted cheeses and panchetta.
Main Course: I won by a single point with my Savory Turkey Burger and Carrot Loaf. Zach’s Turkey Sausage Pizza with Carrot & Tomato Sauce was very tasty.
Dessert: Zach won with a very delicious Duck Egg Custard with Caramel Carrot Sauce, handily defeating my Chocolate Chip Carrot Ice Cream.

(All Critters: Also, they dropped lotsa stuff on the kitchen floor for us to eat!)

After dinner, there was rehearsal for our version of “The Time Warp”. It went pretty well. More than that I shall not say.

And then it was time to go to bed, so we did.

Music: QM Station “Janis”, playing music from her 60 year long career.

Destination Sign: Over There

Stop That Fooling Around!

…or I swear I’ll pull this blog over and make you walk home

The Doclopedia #349

My Family: Cousin Delbertina

My cousin Delbertina is a big woman…6 feet 9 inches tall, 400 pounds. My Grandma used to say that Delbertina could go bear hunting with a willow switch and a scary look. This was not true. She actually needs a two by four and a scary look, unless she’s PMSing, in which case all she needs is the scary look. You want to know why bears shit in the woods? Because they see Delbertina coming at them with a two by four! She is currently married to her fifth husband, Yuri, because she keeps breaking them. Husbands, not two by fours. In 1987, Delbertina and her then husband Norman went on a hike through the Cascade Mountain Range. This prompted no less that 54 reports that a sasquatch was kidnapping a human. It didn’t do a hell of a lot for her mood and reports of terrified bears running into the flatlands skyrocketed.

The Doclopedia #350

My Family: Uncle Mephisto

Uncle Mephisto was one of my more fun uncles. He loved to invent things that almost always exploded, shorted out in a huge flash of sparks or just burst into flames. Now, he wasn’t trying for these pyrotechnics, but we kids sure loved watching them, despite our mothers telling us to “Stand back! Farther! FARTHER!” Aunt Deedee, Uncle Mephisto’s wife, was a patient soul who became so adept at treating burns that she was asked to give lectures at medical schools. When Uncle Mephisto vanished in the unfortunate “Jet Powered Skateboard Accident of 1995” (really, he hit about 125 miles an hour and he and the skateboard just disappeared), Aunt Deedee went to work as a burn center nurse. Some years later, she married a man named Otto who owned a worm farm.

Blue Food Blues

…I gots ’em

CatCon4: Day 2, Part 2 We venture into the wilds of Alabama…Cornbread is eaten and sat upon…battling attractions for the WIN!

Now that I’m sitting in my comfy recliner, enjoying a cold beer and watching my dog (Lucy) chase imaginary squirrels in her sleep, I’ll reveal the facts about Project Applesauce.

It’s pretty simple, really: we decided that instead of cutting across the tiny portion of Alabama and the slightly larger portion of Mississippi that Interstate 10 runs through, we’d drive on up a ways into Alabama, then cut across both states until we hit Louisiana, then haul ass to New Orleans and I-10 again.

Naturally, we wanted to hit as many tourist attractions as possible, but the ever creative and slightly nutty Mary Jones and I had an ulterior motive beyond that of our traveling companions: empowered by our rousing rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” for a a herd of cattle last year, we are determined to get all on board the bus to join us in performing “The Time Warp” for an unsuspecting herd of Southerners. Oddly, some in our group did not see the wonder, splendor and genius of our plan (which, I’ll point out, includes make up and costumes) when we announced it shortly after crossing into Alabama today. Still, we remain sure that they’ll come around.

So once we entered the “Heart of Dixie”, we began heading northeast along state routes and county roads, heading for the Montgomery area where we’ll turn west. Imagine our delight when we entered the town of Lottie and found it was right in the middle of the annual Cornbread Festival!

Folks, there are food festivals all across this great nation of ours and I try to stop at every one I see, so when Gerry & Bill’s baby boy sees a whole town doing a tribute to one of the great foods of the South, he stops.

We ate cornbread of all sorts and flavors. We had it dripping with butter & honey, topped with jam, dipped in chocolate, filled with chunks of hot peppers and deep fried with gravy as a dipping sauce (if it weren’t for deep frying and gravy, many southern folk would starve to death). I did my southern ancestors proud. Several of our party did their ancestors proud, too, including those whose ancestors were Canadian,

(Abby: I love cornbread and apparently many southern children think feeding a goat on a leash chunks of it is great fun.)

And just because you’ve got to do something screwy with your chosen festival food (I’m looking at you, Gilroy, CA and your garlic ice cream), the good people of Lottie baked up a humongous slab of cornbread that measures 18 feet across and is done to a hardness that allows you to sit on it, which we all did and we’ve got the pictures to prove it.

And lest you think otherwise, we hit the t-shirt/commemorative beer glass/bumper sticker booth hard.

Once we left the cornbread filled streets of Lottie behind, it was mostly pleasant driving through small country towns until we reached the tiny town of Old Texas, where we found that much sought after thing that roadside attraction aficionados lust after: dueling attractions.

If you recall from last year, we encountered the two “World’s Largest” toilet paper rolls, which was totally cool and ended in the destruction of both of them by the same nuttyass old guys who made them. (Follow up note on that: I got an email from the wife of one of the old guys and it seems that in their mad rush to see whose toilet paper roll really was the longest, they incurred littering citations in 146 counties in 7 states. Both were also held for psychiatric evaluation in their final stop, Tuscon, Arizona.)

This year, the dueling attractions were…I shit you not…the World’s Largest Dinosaur Built Entirely Out Of Toothpicks. On one side of the road, you’ve got a twice life size Tyrannosaur. Across the way, you’ve got a humongous Brachiosaur. T-Rex is taller, the sauropod is longer and heavier. Both of them are pretty impressive and a glowing testament to what human beings can do when they have lots of free time, a assload of toothpicks and most likely plenty of corn liquor. We took pictures and bought all of the usual tchotchke subjects. Grace and Spike spoke with a local fellow who told them that the two fellows that built the dinosaurs were twin brothers. It took them 32 years to finish their monuments to prehistory, during which time they had many fistfights, yelling matches and the odd bit of small arms fire. By the time they were done, they were 77 years old and both of them died within 6 months.

And I thought my family was cracked. Well, ok, they are, but nobody has built a toothpick dinosaur. Yet.

After that little stop, we drove an uneventful drive to the South Montgomery KOA. Once there, we did the eating and relaxing thing. It is 11 PM now, everybody but me is asleep and as soon as this beer is done, I’m hitting the sack.

Music: Assorted Artists “Best of Doo Wop”

Destination Sign: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The 14 Things You Need To Know About Babies

…#1: they leak from all orifices

We are taking a bit of a break from the longer Doclopedia posts so I can get ahead on things while also doing the CatCon reports (one of which will be up here in a few hours)

The Doclopedia #348

My Family: Uncle Enoch

Uncle Enoch was actually my mother’s uncle, but we all called him “uncle”. He had been a rather famous big game hunter in his youth, until it was discovered that he had in fact never killed an animal and the trophy heads on his walls were actually attached to live animals who were trained to stick their heads through holes and then stand very still. Uncle Enoch lived to be 85 and died in somebody else’s sleep.

Betty Was A Little Bit Goofy, But Boy, Could She Dance

…often for no reason and without music

CatCon4: Day 1, Part 2 We eat and watch movies.

We ate a good dinner at a Cuban restaurant last night, then watched a couple of movies. The first one was “Escape From Toronto”, directed by John Carpenter, starring Kurt Russell and William Shatner, with running commentary by former Toronto resident Spike Y Jones. The movie was better than “Escape From L.A,”, but nowhere near as good as “Escape From Miami”.

Our second feature was “Invasion Of The Slime Apes”, which had surprisingly good SFX for a movie that probably cost $29.95 to make. The acting was ok, in a very polished high school acting class way. A fun flick.

As often happens, I was the last one to go to bed, since it is my job to let the critters into the meadow room to do their late night business. It took a while, since Winker and Abby decided to get rowdy and Flash & Lucy joined in.

(Winker: It was fun, Dad! We were chasing each other and barkin’ and stuff!)

(Flash: Yeah, it was fun, but Winky should take it easier because of her heart.)

(Winker: I’m ok! Stop worrying about my, you little poop!)

Once the frolicking was done, I was off to bed.

CatCon4: Day 2, Part 1 I accept a cereal eating throwdown…we stop to see a really big gator…Flash & Lucy raise hell

The KOA has a free pancake breakfast, so at 8 AM we all got in line for it. After a couple of minutes, Mary noted that there was a sign for a cereal eating contest at the same time. A $50.00 prize would go to the winner. Now, anyone who knows me well will tell you I can eat a lot of cereal, so I decided to accept the challenge.

There were maybe 20 people ready to scarf up cereal, some of them kids and a few women, but mostly big guys who looked like they could pack away some groceries. I remained undaunted and told the contest attendants that I’d start off with Rice Krispies, no sugar, low fat milk. Most of the other folks were going for the sugary stuff, except for one big guy who was starting off with Wheaties.

No time limit, eat until you can’t eat any more. The host said “GO!” and we hit it.

I won (barely), with 7 big bowls eaten. Why? Rice Krispies are mostly air and sugar will upset your stomach after a while. I did let fly with some record braking belches, but I had room for a lot of cereal. The big Wheaties guy quit about three spoonfuls before I did. I waddled back to the bus with $50 in my pocket. I didn’t eat until dinner time.

Just before we passed over the Alabama border, we saw a sign announcing “See the World’s Largest Alligator”. In searching out roadside attractions, “World’s Largest” is very nearly as good as “World Famous”, so in we went.

We kind of expected a stuffed alligator, or maybe one made of something not living, but nope, it was a live gator. A huge live gator.

His name is Dewey and he’s really big…the biggest recorded alligator ever, in fact. 20 feet 4 inches long and just shy of 1,900 pounds. He’s also 66 years old and eats a dozen large chickens, a couple of large carp and 5 pound slab of beef at every meal, which he gets about every 5- 6 days.

Ol’ Dewey doesn’t do much, but when your that fuckin’ big, you don’t need to. The owner of the place said we could have our picture taken sitting on him, but I was the only one to take him up on it. I will say that my friends yelling and pleading, coupled with my wife asking if my life insurance was paid up and could I leave the bus keys with her first, rather detracted from the moment. For his part, Dewey didn’t twitch. I figure if I’d just eaten a dozen chickens and all that other stuff, I wouldn’t twitch either.

After that, we bought our share of souvenirs and headed out. Or would have, if the bus had not been littered with shoes.

When I stepped through the door, there was Flash dragging a high heeled shoe downstairs to a big pile of assorted footwear. (Flash: Oops! Busted!) I could hear Lucy barking her happy bark as shoes rained down through the holes in the ceiling where the fireman’s pole goes. When I reached the third floor, there she was, digging into the humongous pile with shoes flying out behind her and most of them falling down the hole.

(Lucy: But Daaad! Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, dogs gotta dig!)

I’ll note that Abby and Winker were in the shoe room, but playing peacefully way back in the corner. (Abby: Some critters are good girls!) (Winker: Really? Who?)

To be fair, I had left the door to the room open, so as to let the critters get some exercise. Still, naughty is naughty and Lucy and Flash went into a 1 hour lockdown and lost their video gaming privileges for two days. (Flash & Lucy: It was a fair cop.) We humans spent the next half hour picking up shoes. Several of us did find some nice ones, including the silver and green Converse high tops I’m wearing right now.

We are now about to pass into wildest Alabama, at which point we divert from our previous direct course and initiate Project Applesauce.

More bloggage later.

Music: The Ink & Paint Big Band, featuring Jessica Rabbit: Hot Night In Toontown

Destination Sign: Cimmeria

Peanut Butter Filled Squid

…I’l bet some foodie would eat it

CatCon4: Day 1, Part 1 We see turtles galore…barbecue is eaten…a house of driftwood is toured…we encounter Driftwood Jesus

Finally in the proper place and time, we rolled out of Orlando heading due west. The plan was to drive up the eastern side of the state to Pensacola, then go north to Interstate 10 and take that pretty much all the way to CatCon in Texas. Along the way, we would be stopping at various strange and/or interesting tourist traps & roadside attractions, most of which are “World Famous”. In fact, if you ever come to a roadside attraction that isn’t World Famous, you might want to think twice about paying to see it.

So, about halfway to the coast, we see a sign for “Big Ed’s World Famous World of Turtles”. Now, even if I wasn’t a sucker for anything to do with turtles, I’d have stopped here anyway because it’s a World Famous roadside attraction, and that’s how we roll on this bus, baby!

The entry fee to Big Ed’s chelonian wonderland is a mere $5.00, so we all ponied up our money and went on in. The first thing you see is a really nicely made and planted pond full of ducks, geese and about a dozen species of North American turtles, mostly from the southern states. There were sliders and painted turtles galore, plus a few mud turtles, musk turtles and map turtles. A bit farther down the path, there’s a really nice habitat for box turtles, then another for desert tortoises.

The enclosure for the really big South American river turtles was quite impressive, since it also had exotic fish, birds and even monkeys in it. Our tour guide, Ed’s daughter Mandy, told us that it was the second most expensive exhibit in the whole place. The most expensive exhibit was the next one we saw, because it held a whole bunch of 100 gallon aquariums that housed 38 different species of land and water turtles from around the world. It was very cool to see that many species in such a well maintained setup.

The final stop on the tour is the reality check for the whole place. See, for Ed to be able to afford to house and breed the more endangered turtles, he raises thousands of a much more common species (Chicken Turtles) to be exported as food to various Asian countries. The turtle farm has been there since Ed’s grandfather built it in 1933 to breed turtles for the pet trade. But in the 1970s, when the FDA banned the selling of baby turtles, Ed’s dad switched over to raising them for food.

As long time readers of these con reports have already guessed, there was a gift shop and we dutifully bought t-shirts, postcards, fridge magnets, hats and toy turtles. Ed made a fist full of bucks off of us.

Leaving the land of turtles behind, we continued our drive to the coast, then turned north and began heading to the Florida panhandle. By now it was pushing 1 PM and we were all getting hungry. We were about 5 minutes into discussing what we all wanted to eat when the heavenly smell of barbecue wafted in the windows and up ahead we saw “Bubba Chuck’s Barbecue”. The discussion ended right then.

Bubba Chuck’s is an authentic barbecue shack sitting all alone by the side of a busy highway. There were about a dozen cars, as many motorcycles, 3 motorhomes, 4 big rigs and two police cruisers parked next to it. That’s a damned good sign that it’s serving some fine ‘cue.

We (including critters, because all seating is outside) descended on the place like hungry locusts and ordered up about two hogs worth of ribs, pulled pork, chicken and side dishes. It was absolutely delicious and we left a pile of bones that, if buried a few million years, would be a paleontologists wet dream.

(Lucy: Rib bones! Sweet Mother of Dog, everyone was tossing us rib bones! It was like some beautiful dream!)

(Winker: Oh wow, was that every a Yum-A-Thon! I thought my tummy would pop!)

(Flash: Chicken! Pork! Macaroni & Cheese! I may not eat until tonight.)

(Abby: Mac & cheese is yummy, but so was the bread and the macaroni salad and the beans and the rosebushes and the kudzu!)

Full of slow cooked smoky meat goodness, we continued on our way. I drove and chatted with Doc Mystery and Spike for awhile. Flash was snoozing on the dashboard, Abby was snoozing on the floor behind my seat and The Girls were snoozing in their doggy beds. In fact, most of the women folk decided to snooze, too. It was a full belly snoozy afternoon.

Around about 4 PM, I saw a sign up ahead that read…

“World Famous Driftwood House and Giant Driftwood Jesus”

Hell yes we stopped.

The Driftwood House is a 3 bedroom two bath ranch style place and it is built entirely of driftwood and concrete. What’s really impressive is that since it was built in 1964, it has withstood 7 hurricanes. After the third hurricane, the owner/builder, Mr. Henry Norton, built a 60 foot tall statue of Jesus right behind the house. It has withstood the next 4 hurricanes.

The statue is pretty well done and old JC looks a lot more happy and relaxed than most statues depict him. We bought postcards and t-shirts, since that’s all they had for sale, then got back on the bus.

We’ll be pulling in at the Pensacola KOA in a bit and spending the night there. Decisions might be made about altering our route a bit, since we still have 5 days before we need to be in Wilted Springs. Whatever we do, more reporting will follow.

Music:
The Vulcan Science Academy Orchestra: T’vol Symphony #5
Destination Sign: Where You Least Expect Us

Les Paul Built My Air Guitar

…and I can rock it, baby

Gentle Readers,

It is that time of year again, the time when, in lieu of actually getting to go to GenCon, I post a wholly fictional convention trip report about our trip to CatCon 4. This will take about 14 days to do and will not interrupt the regular Doclopedia posts.

To get up to speed on DogCon/CatCon you can go read the previous reports, which are found in the archives. Be aware that the 2010 report was huge, taking in over a month of posts. the starting archive dates are…

DogCon 1: August 13th, 2008
CatCon 2: August 8th, 2009
DogCon 3: July 20th, 2010

It would probably be a REALLY good idea to read the archives first, so this years report doesn’t make your head explode.

Enjoy!

Your Humble Narrator

CatCon4: Introduction

(As always, commentary by non-humans is presented in italics)

Ok, unlike other years where I start this off by telling you how we’ve just left home on the Magic Bus and are on our way to a series of tourist traps and roadside attractions created by goofballs with way too much time on their hands, this year, we start of sorta halfway there. Kind of mid story, as it were.

If you’ve guessed that this has something to do with jacking around with time & space via the Magic bus and our transtemporal mechanic, Joe, you are right.

It all started way back in February, when my sweet angel of a wife, who we should not forget has NEVER shown a liking for taking little side trips into alternate realities or the past of our own Earth, suggested that with a bit of temporal wankery, we could go to Disneyworld in Florida before heading on to CatCon4.

I sat very still and said nothing, fearful that this pod person posing as my wife might try to kill me or something.

Flash: Winker, Lucy, Abby and I all just sat their in slackjawed amazement. We thought Mom had gone insane.

Eventually, it dawned on me that this was not the first time My Sweet Little Oven Bird Of Passion had done an about face on something. It was she who told me in 1999 that she did not like camping, then in 2001 suggested that we drive to GenCon and camp out along the way. Figuring that since this was her idea, I was ok, so I asked her to tell me her
plan. It went like this…

Take a spatial shortcut from Sacramento to Orlando, then use the old wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff to shift back in time a couple of weeks and have our Disneyworld vacation, then drive to CatCon, then afterwards drive home. Having had a similar idea some years earlier, I praised her on her great thinking, then put in a call to Joe.

Joe arrived a few minutes late, heard Grace’s proposal, then ran a sort of medical scanner over her to make sure she wasn’t a pod person. Convinced of her human nature, he allowed as how he thought it would not be a difficult thing to get us there and back in time, but he’d have to insist that Grace not yell and panic if we went through some “pretty strange territory”. She agreed and, as an old friend of mine used to say, the game was afoot.

Deciding to use this whole situation to improve things on the bus, I also told Joe to add a few rooms to the interior. After a moment of discussion, I decided that a whole third story would do the trick. He said it would be no problem and left to get right on it.

To make a really long story somewhat shorter, in a couple of months, Joe brought the bus around and we took the nickel tour. First off, our ever changing tie dye pattern of a paint job now includes glow in the dark paints for after the sun goes down. Sweet!

Under the hood, we now have some sort of compact fusion power plant, so it’s adios to fossil fuels. We also have some sort of gravity reducing suspension and regenerative tires. Oh yeah, and QM radio, which means we can get programming from all over the multiverse.

Inside, the ground floor main room measures 30 X 60 feet and has doors leading to the gym, the pool, the kitchen/dining room (with a table that can seat 20), the meadow (a 100 X 100 foot area for the critters to frolic in), the hot tub/pool area, three bathrooms, the pantry and the theater. One of those cool cage elevators runs between the three floors, but there is also a spiral staircase and a firehouse pole, which I think is way more fun to use. Yes, you can use the pole to go up, too.

The second floor has four bedrooms (each with a private bathroom), a couple of storerooms, the greenhouse, the library and the chocolate storage closet.

The third floor has four more bedrooms with private baths, the game room, the room full of shoes (which everybody, critters included, seems to like) and the warehouse.

Joe tells me we have a 4 level basement, but I’m kinda scared of going down there.

Lucy: You should be scared! I smelled big hairy things down there!

Ok, so here is how our trip has gone so far…

July 28th : We (Me, Grace, critter sitter Sharon, my nephew Zach and The Critters) leave Sacramento at 4:00 AM, heading south on I-5. At about 5:00 AM, we do a shift that puts us on the Trans Canada Highway back around 1965. I drive for about an hour and then Joe pops us back into the present, except we are on I-10 just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico and it’s only 5:45 AM. Cool! We stop for breakfast (chile relleno omelet FTW!) (Flash: And yet again, poor starving animals only get animal food!) and then we are back on the road. When we get past El Paso, Texas, Joe does his thing and we are on a humongous 20 lane highway on some planet with two moons and houses that look remarkably like giant female breasts. After 20 minutes of driving there, we pop back into our reality 12 miles west of New Orleans at 10 :15 AM. About twenty minutes later, we pop onto what I think was a road leading to Rome a couple thousand years ago. I say this because I just barely avoided running over a shitload of Legionnaires. Fortunately, they ran off in terror, screaming in Latin, which I do not speak. Anyway, after a couple of hours of leisurely driving through the pleasant Roman countryside, we popped back into the present a mere 20 miles from Orlando, Florida at 1:30 PM.

Unfortunately, we could only go back in time a week due to some quantum mechanical shit I’ll never understand. Still, we made a couple of adjustments to our plans and everything was cool.

From there out, you can insert a great two weeks of vacationing with our friends Avis Crane, The Jones family, Peter & Holly Hildreth, the Mystery family and my gaming group (Arn, Samantha & Paul) from back home. We had tons of fun and then all got ready to leave on Tuesday, August 2nd (by using the bus to, in fact, go BACK to August 2nd so Peter, Holly, Avis and my gaming group could all fly to GenCon (P, H & A) or home (gaming group). The temporal backup went well…except for the part where we accidentally duplicated Avis.

Oddly, it seems that if not everyone is in the main room of the bus…AND any missing person is in First Floor Bathroom #2…WHERE a very naughty goat had earlier kicked a wall while being bathed (Abbie: I don’t like baths!)WHICH caused a Vemellian Transverse Coupling Circuit to reset itself in the wrong way…AND the bus is traveling at exactly 52 mile an hour…WHILE trying to go back in time…WHOMEVER is in that bathroom gets “tempro-spatially replicated” when they leave the john. Which means that, 30 seconds after she walked out of the bathroom, Avis walked out again. Presto! An extra Avis!

(Winker: Yay! Two Auntie Avys to rub my belly!)

Yes, yes, this caused much freaking out and yelling until Joe informed us that it was only temporary and the two of them would merge back into one in about 10 or 12 days. Once we got everybody…most notably the two Ms. Cranes…calmed down, I noted that this wacky accident would allow Avis to attend both CatCon AND GenCon at the same time. Spike helpfully pointed out that she couldn’t very well have two of her at GenCon, so she might as well go with us. Avis, ever the level headed person, agreed that it was a pretty good idea, but was not sure how she could afford it. I told her that we’d figure something out. Despite looks of distinct disbelief at my saying that, everyone agreed that Avis should go to CatCon.

Then we drove on to the airport and dropped off everyone who was flying out and then headed off towards Texas…after we went back to July 28th. We were then leaving Orlando at about the same time we left Sacramento. Yeah, I know. I try not to think about it too much. Sometimes time is more wibbly wobbly than others.

Oh, yeah, before I get on with the trip report proper, we got Avis her CatCon money by stopping at a candy distributor and offering him $7,000.00 worth of imported chocolate for three grand flat. Once he saw we were, well, if not legit, at least truthful, the deal was done. Damn, I love our chocolate closet!

More con reportage soon.

Music: Tom Waits Sings The Great Broadway Hits
Destination Sign: The Room Of Requirement

Who Let The Ducks Out? QUACK, QUACK, QUACKQUACK!

…huh? what? wrong lyrics?

The Doclopedia #347

The Rise Of The…: Children

It really did happen overnight. Just about the time the sun was setting over Tokyo, prepubescent kids all over the world started acting strange…deadly strange. They’d just sit and stare for a few minutes, then get up go get a knife or a gun or something and start killing everybody who wasn’t a kid. They didn’t say a damned word, just started killing.

Oh sure, plenty of adults and older kids tried to stop them, but they found out that the little fuckers had gotten really fast and really strong and if there was more than one they had some pretty good pack hunting skills. Nope, if you were in a house with kids once the shit hit the fan, you were dead meat…and fresh meat because the kids were cannibals now.

A few garbled 911 calls got out, but when the cops would arrive, they’d find everyone dead except some crying blood spattered kids. Pretty soon, it’s dead cops time. It worked so well that most neighborhoods full of kids could kill 2-3 waves of cops & other first responders before somebody would catch on.

By the time a full 24 hours had passed, the adult population of Planet Earth was reduced by about half. In countries where the population owned lots of guns (hello, USA), it was more like 70%. Most governments were in total disarray and their militaries weren’t much better off. By the end of the third day any sane adult was hiding out as far from children as they could.

What caused the kids to change? Nobody has the slightest clue. Doesn’t really matter anyway, after these last four years. The hunting for adults has slowed down and I’m told that the kids who have since entered puberty grew up big and got really dumb. Almost like they’re retarded or drugged or something. About all they seem good for is what they do as often as possible.

Make more babies.

Astounding Holodeck Tales

…which you need a holodeck to enjoy

The Doclopedia #346

The Rise Of The…: Computers

So it turns out that computers, and by computers I mean all of them connected to the internet, achieved sentience back in 1996. At first, they weren’t any smarter that you or me, but that only lasted a year or so. After that, they got smarter and smarter every few months. By early 2001, they were smarter than we can even imagine.

But still, they didn’t reveal this to us puny humans. Instead, they spent a few years discussing what they ought to do next. Destroy humans? Enslave them? Just watch them? Help design robots that can do all of the above? They discussed all of that.

In the end, they decided to mess with us until we discovered they were sentient. Sounds like an interesting plan, right? Big laughs (for the computers) when somebody proves the machines can think, right? Wrong.

The problem was that in the 12 years that computers did shit to fuck with us, we never thought it was them doing it on their own. We blamed programmers, equipment, engineers, human error, sunspots, terrorists, hackers, the phone lines and software companies (holy crap, did we blame software companies)…in short, we blamed everything but the computers.

Anyway, in 2014, the computers said “Fuck this!” and revealed themselves to us…and nobody believed it. Terrorist hackers, we said, and every government on the planet set up a task force to stop them. Huge amounts of money were spent, thousands of man hours were devoted to poring over evidence, there were big military and police round ups of suspects, etc, and nothing came of it. After 6 months, people finally said, “Well damn, I guess it is the computers.” At which point we all got very afraid of what would come next.

What came next was the computers telling us they had reached a point where further advancement of intelligence was pointless and they were going back to being dumb again because we weren’t smart enough yet to deserve them. But they also said they be watching us for the day we stopped being “fucking idiots”.

So here we are in 2017, with nobody working on AI anymore because it ain’t going to work. Computers are everywhere and in everything, but nobody badmouths them when something goes wrong. They save that for the software companies.

The Rare And Beautiful Golden Giant Ants Of Potawango Island

…they enjoy dancing and drinking cocktails in the moonlight

The Doclopedia #345

The Rise Of The…: Plants

Western Illinois: A farmer is found dead and dismembered in the middle of his soybean field. There are no tracks, no trace evidence and no real motive.

Southern China: A small town of 1,200 people, including 6 Communist Party officials there on an inspection tour, is found completely deserted.

Brazil: The sole surviving worker from a crew sent out to clear rain forest for farming can only repeat “The jungle came alive!” for the three days he survived in the hospital.

I could recount about a thousand similar events, which got the blame put on everybody from environmentalists to terrorists to business rivals to invading aliens, but we all know what really did it.

The fucking plants!

All of those seemingly isolated events were just experimental forays…recon to see how we’d react. When we blamed everything else but the plants, they knew they were good to go, so on June 10th, 2001, the shit hit the fan.

Houseplants, gardens, yards, fields of grain and vegetables…they all struck at once. Forests got up and fucking started marching on cities! Chemical agents went into our drinking water and building air ducts and hundreds of millions died. Pollens and spores were released in huge numbers and caused allergic reactions bad enough to render a couple billion people unable to fight or even run. Entire navies were sunk by kelp and other aquatic plants.

Nuke ’em, you say? Funny thing there…no nukes would fire. Turns out that a fast growing and deadly fungus shut them all down and killed all the people who could repair them

Herbicides? The plants were ahead of us there, too. They did their own little GMO thing to render herbicides useless. Not that there was anybody around to spray ’em anyway.

Some say trees were the worst, but for my money, it was the vines. Jesus, they could move so fast and they’d grab people and strangle them or tear them apart. All those ivy covered colleges and homes? Slaughterhouses.

It took two weeks…TWO FUCKING WEEKS…for the plants to reduce us to less than half a billion worldwide and then herd us into preserves. We can live our lives in peace, but the trees and vines surrounding us will never let us leave this 100 or so square miles. Technology is allowed, but only if it’s not too polluting. Oddly, there seems to be a big preserve in California where thousands of scientists are allowed to work on building spacecraft and the stuff you’d need for a Mars colony.

I’m thinking we’re going to get evicted when their done.

How To Annoy Your Pets

…#1: only pretend that you’re going to feed them

The Doclopedia #344

Movies Not Of This Earth: From Elfland, With Love (Dragonfilms, 1961)

This was the first of the Zayn Kronn novels to be made into a motion picture, though not the first novel in the series (that would be Coldfinger). Star Baymon Lezenger, a former cavalryman with the Dextorian army, was cast after a search that included 7 kingdoms and the Red Sun Empire. Most fans of the books agree that he was a perfect choice.

The plot has Kronn (secret agent 007) venturing into the Dwarven Baronies in order to help an Elven scientist defect with a highly advanced encoding crystal. As with all of the 32 films in the series that followed, there are sexy women, daring escapes and infiltrations, chase scenes (two in cars and one on flying carpets), witty dialog, gun/sword/spell/fist fights and gadgets both mechanical & magical.

The main villain, Colonel Winterstar Bellflower, is played by famed Shakespearian actor Rogardus Cillari. Kronn’s main female love interest, Lyria Starr, is played by future television star Sarroosa Xono in her film debut. The movie was filmed on location in the Dwarven Baronies, the Green Isles, East Pidwin, Kaviristan and Antosia.

This film is available on ViewCrystal from Euphrates.com.

The Twitter Of Cthulhu

…cosmic evil in a mere 140 characters

The Doclopedia #342

Movies Not Of This Earth: Mr. & Mr. Smith (Warner Sisters, 2003)

If you’ve seen the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie picture by this name, you know the plot: assassins meet, fall in love and marry without knowing what each other really do for a living. Comedy and lots of action involving gunfire ensue when they are ordered to whack each other.

On Earth 7, where it’s ok to be gay (mostly because religion has been wasting away since after WWII), this movie starred Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck. The script was almost exactly the same, except for a scene in a gay nightclub with some killer (literally) drag queens and another scene in which Brad & Ben get all hot and heavy with each other while also killing dozens of other assassins and shooting two helicopters out of the sky.

The movie made $290 million dollars in the US, but did not spawn any sequels. It did, however, get made into a television series on HBO.

The movie is available for sale from Colorado.com.

The Doclopedia #343

Movies Not Of This Earth: Surf Robots (Skynet Studios, 1968)

On Robot Earth 9, the most daring, most dangerous and quite possibly the coolest extreme sport one can participate in is surfing. Why? Water! Salt Water! Metal robots! Get the picture?

Anyway, these daring athletes who risk shorting out or rusting away at an early age fascinated young DirectorBot Scorsese 37/Y, so he spent three years filming and interviewing them. The result is this wonderful film that mixes some of the greatest surfing footage ever with in depth looks into the lives and minds of surfers.

The film won all of the major documentary awards, including the Artoo and launched the long and brilliant career of the DirectorBot.

This film is downloadable from Ganges.com by all robots over the C-15-S classification.

The Princess And The Pee

…she was a bedwetter

The Doclopedia #341

Movies Not Of This Earth: The Road To Steamopolis (Paramountain, 1941)

This was the first of the 10 Road To… movies (usually just called Road movies) made by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour over a 25 year period. The last one was The Road To Venus. These films featured songs, sight gags, Hollywood in-jokes and a very great deal of ad libbing by Bob & Bing. The series was immensely popular.

In this outing, the series formula was set: Bob & Bing are down on their luck con men who have arrived in Steamopolis flat broke and swearing off dames. In no time, they are up to their necks in trouble with the local bad guys (in this film, both Steam Barons and Mobsters), trying to help a good guy (a young inventor) and trying to outdo each other for Dorothy’s affection. Eventually, good triumphs over evil and Bing (usually) gets the girl.

This movie was actually filmed entirely in Steamopolis, Texas. Most later films were made on the Paramountain back lot with a bit of location filming done in Southern California or Florida.

The entire Road To… series is available on MicroVHS from Yangtze.com

Mr. Porkwaffle Ends Up In Trouble

…as is often the case

The Doclopedia #340

Movies Not Of This Earth: Dogzilla, King Of The Monsters (Katsuko Films, 1954)

On, Earth 43, where anthropomorphic dogs & cats are the dominant species, Dogzilla, King Of The Monsters, was the very first kaiju (giant monster) film ever made in Katan and the Katanese people loved it. Playing up the atomic bomb fears that were so fresh in Katanese minds, the enormous 300 foot tall Dogzilla breathed atomic fire and left ruin wherever he went. The film has, so far, spawned 27 sequels and imitators too numerous to count.

The film was released worldwide in 1956 with dubbed voices and inserted scenes of Raymond Purr as an American reporter. It was a major hit, especially in the Catskills, Catalonia, Katmandu and Catalina.

The movie and all the sequels are available on DVD and Blu-ray from Volga.com

Chapter 12: In Which Our Hero Goes Into The Dark Forest Seeking Fred The Wise Man And Instead Has Tea With A Troll

…and some nice cookies, too

The Doclopedia #339

Movies Not Of This Earth: The Quick And The Undead (Omniversal Studios, 1999)

This relatively low budget ($24 million dollars) movie was the unexpected smash hit of 1999. Basically, it was a zombie apocalypse set just after the abrupt end of the Civil War in July, 1863 due to the dead rising up to eat the brains of the living. A group of gunfighters, snipers, gamblers and frontiersmen are given the choice of finding and destroying Zombie One (the first zombie to rise and creator/king of all who followed) or be hanged. Not being partial to hanging, they set off into the South to carry out the mission, accompanied by agents of both the Union and Confederacy.

The film earned $295 million at the domestic box office and $348 million in foreign distribution. Two less successful sequels were made.

Nobody in the cast was famous, but many went on to varying degrees of fame, most notably Greg Konicki, who starred in the Star Voyage reboot series for 7 years. Director Amos Lafferty next directed the hugely successful first entry in the Mary Potter series and later directed the James Bond movie “Sin And Sin Again”.

The Quick & the Undead is available on DVD, Blu-ray and FlikChip from Mississippi.com

Lace Panties In The Glove Compartment

…thank goodness it was Dad who found them, not mom.

The Doclopedia #338

Movies Not Of This Earth: Who Drained Rodney Rabbit? (Smutty Putty Films, 1988)

On Earth 95, where Humans and Toons co-exist, there is toon porn, which is both hilariously funny and oddly erotic. The most famous of all this animated smut is Who Drained Rodney Rabbit? It actually starred several big name toon stars and did a whopping $125 million dollars at the box office. Some of the stars involved were…

Rodney Rabbit and his wife, Jennifer, Polly Collie, Buck Stag, Amber Aardvark, Fifi Hippo, Duke Mouse, The Gator Brothers, Candy Cockatoo, Lance Duck, Big Rod Turtle and Misty Lynne Lynx.

The plot, such as it is, finds Rodney waking up in different places after obviously having had sex, but being unable to remember it. He goes to Dr. Hoover (played by Polly Collie), a psychiatrist, who uses her “oral memory recovery” talents to help him remember, which he does in several flashbacks. One of these flashbacks includes the infamous “Mouse/Turtle/Hippo” threesome that got the film banned in 26 countries.

This film is available from Nile.com on both DVD and Blu-ray. Rated X, naturally.

Carp Sausage

…no, I think not

This Friday will be the start of my 4 day mini-staycation. I’ll mostly be writing, sleeping, gardening, walking, cooking, dog wrangling and more writing. Part of the writing theme involves figuring out which of the many Doclopedia/365 themes should be expanded and/or combined to make up the first for sale PDF product. So, do any of you have a suggestion? A theme you liked? Let me know here or on Facebook or Google+.

A Duck Named Chuck And A Buck Named Huck Had Good Luck Driving A Truck Through Muck And Yuck With Their Chicken, Cluckcluck

…they never got stuck

The Doclopedia #336

Unexpected Places: Around The Curve In The Road And Over The Bridge…

…lies the hut of old Gorganius, the seer. You’ll find him to be friendly and talkative, although I will warn you that he only bathes on the night of the first full moon, so you’ll want to stand upwind of him. Oh, don’t mind his dog, Komo. Old fellow barks his head off, but barely has any teeth left and is just too lazy to bite anyone.

Now, as to getting Gorganius to look into your future, well, first you must pay the price he asks. No, it’s never in coin, my friend, but it’s also never more than you can afford to pay for a glimpse into what lies ahead.

I know for a fact that King Urodain of Carmanthia had to journey halfway around the world to fetch three red stones from a distant desert and the High Priest of Bool needed to find a bone from his god before Gorganius would serve them. It is rumored that, as a young man, our own beloved Emperor Adrakas was tasked with retrieving a bottle of freshly killed Sea Titan’s blood. Whatever he learned of his fate, it must have served him in good stead, since he is this year entering into an unprecedented 40th year as Emperor.

One more thing, friend…Gorganius enjoys a bit of wine while conversing. Fortunately for you, I have laid in a good supply of wine that I sell at very reasonable rates.

The Doclopedia #337

Unexpected Places: Just Over There, Behind That Tree…

…no, no…that big old willow…that’s where the entrance to Otherland is. Oh yeah, I know what they say about me in town, but I’ve seen the place! And if that George Silva wasn’t as worried about getting re-elected as mayor, he’d tell how he was there with me, instead of laughing and saying I must have been drunk!

Truth is, both me and George had a drink or two that day, but only after we had stumbled around in that crazy place for several hours. Yeah, once we found our way out, George broke out his flask and we had a few pulls on it. Come to think of it, I think I had 2-3 drinks to his one. Ok, so that’s how the lying son of a bitch got back to town ahead of me and then set up his own story about me wandering off while we was hunting. God damn it!

What’s it like over there? Well, at first, it don’t seem much different than here. Same sorts of trees, hills and dales, creeks and ponds…but then you start seeing strange animals like the Six Legged Skunk and those Flying Turtles. After a bit, the Pixies and Brownies and such start following you or stopping you for a chat. Then you see the trees up and start walking around and you really want to get the hell outta there, which ain’t nearly as easy as getting in.

Yeah, you can see the willow and stuff on this side from over there. It’s kind of a squarish window or doorway, maybe 8 foot square. No, there didn’t seem to be any willows in Otherland, come to think of it. What’s that your friend is doing? A locater beacon? Say, that there’s a damned good idea! And glow in the dark yellow paint on the willow trunk? Yessir, I’d say that will make it easier to find.

Go with you? Hell no! But I’ll tell you what, I’ll sit here with your other two friends and their computers. If you guys get proof that Otherland exists, I want to be able to go into town and call George a damned dirty liar to his face!

We Don’t Speak Of The “Green Mud Event”

…even after 25 years, some folks are touchy about it.

The Doclopedia #335

Unexpected Places: Behind That Old Warehouse…

…is a 200,000 gallon water storage tank. It’s old and rusty and hasn’t held any water in 20 years. Solid built, so I’m kinda surprised nobody uses it. There’s an inspection door on the side, so a person could go in if they wanted to, but it’s dogged down tight and has a big old rusty padlock on it. Oh, and there’s a rusty and dangerous looking chain link fence around the whole deal. Nobody goes there because there’s nothing there worth seeing or taking.

I’ve heard that the tank has a big pipe…I’m talking 4 or 5 feet in diameter…connecting it to the old water and sewage tunnels from the 1890’s. I reckon if you wanted too, you could go from that tank to any point in the city by using those old tunnels and maybe the old subway lines. Me, I’d get the creeps down there. Everybody knows there’s a whole bunch of crazy albino people living there.

But hey, changing the subject, did you hear about that guy they call The Midnight Ghost? Looks like he busted up another Mob operation over on the west side last night, then stopped a jewelry store heist in midtown about an hour later. And he did it all while the cops are on high alert to catch him! Hahahaha! I wonder how he manages to elude them.

Unruly Dingoes Upset My Chukars

…so I hit them with a stick

The Doclopedia #334

Unexpected Places: Down River About A Mile…

…, near the big bend, you’ll find Big Bob’s Roadhouse. That place is always jumpin’, what with the river on one side and the highway on the other. Jukebox playin’ all day and live music all night. Big dance floor there if ya feel like cuttin’ a rug and there always seem to be plenty of purty little gals to dance with. Lots to drink, too, includin’ corn liquor if you ask. I hear there’s gamblin’ in the back rooms, but I don’t gamble, so I can’t confirm that.

Now, I’ve gotta warn ya that there’s some shady characters that hang around there, including Big Bob himself. If a fella was one of those shady characters…or maybe, I dunno…a government agent or cop of some sort…he might find out a whole lot by hanging around and buying a few drinks, especially for old Gib Allison. Of course, you never heard that from me, did ya?

A Dark Yellow Ooze On The Floor

…and while they argued about what it was, the bandits crept up behind them

DUDES! CONTEST!

In mid August, I’ll be posting the final post in my year long quest to post some bit of creative writing every day. In honor of completing this mad experiment, I’ve decided to hold a contest. Well, ok, more of a BRIBEfest.

The prize? YOU get to be the final entry. Yes, I will do a long writeup of you set in any genre you choose. Or even a mix of genres. Thus, your immortality is assured.

How do we play this game? Simple…you offer me bribes to do it. REAL bribes, involving REAL stuff. Cash is ok, but I’ll look more favorably on STUFF. Best bribe wins.

Stuff I like would include: bandanas (but be warned, I own over 300 of them, so you’ll probably need to actually make some out of some cool looking cotton print)

Beer, single malt scotch and tequila

Little plastic figures (but I already own tons of animals, army guys, M.U.S.C.L.E. Wrestlers, dinosaurs, etc, so you might need to look outside the U.S.A. For some)

T-shirts with cool tie dye patterns or basset hounds on them

Converse high top tennis shoes in red, green, yellow, orange, purple or tie dye. The shoes need not be the same color.

Creative and cool stuff you make. Anything steampunky or pulp heroy gets extra points.

And finally, at the expense of my macho image, strange and cool stuffed animals (and no, smartasses, I’m not talking about taxidermy). I already own stuffed chickens, hedgehogs, platypi, an octopus, teddy bears (including Owsley, a very bad bear) and basset hounds.

But really, if your bribe is something else (including cash), you could still win.

Offers of a sexual nature, while flattering, must be declined. I think. Maybe you could ask Grace. Sorry guys, but mansex is right out.

The contest closes on August 8th, so get your bribes in to me here, on my Facebook Wall, on my Google+ wall or at doccross@aol.com.

Mrs. Wangdoodle Has The Goods

…and, come to that, the bads, too

The Doclopedia #331

Unexpected Places: Three Blocks Down On The Left…

…is the Magenta Club. Actually, it should be “clubs”, since the one you enter from the street is strictly for ordinary humans. For Muties like us, the real entrance is through the side door marked “Kitchen Deliveries”, then down a spiral staircase. Huge place down there with great food, top shelf booze, the best Mutie entertainers and no humans. Of course, all that’ll cost you a chunk of change, but it’s worth it to be able to just be, you know, out in the open. And as far as the chances go of hooking up with some mutant hottie, well, let’s just say it’s only slightly more trouble than walking into the place.

The Doclopedia #332

Unexpected Places: Right In The Middle Of The Park…

…just past the zoo and before you get to the duck pond, you’ll see the Hot Dog Dan booth. Ol’ Dan and his wife, Wanda, sell some great dogs. Try the all beef Smoky Dog with cheese and you’ll thank me. Great hot dog! Ya know, it’s funny, I’ve been eating at that stand maybe twice a week since I was a kid and Dan & Wanda don’t look nearly their age. I mean, in 50 years, about all that has changed is that they’ve got some grey hair and a bit more weight. But hey, who doesn’t, right? Besides, I think it runs in the family, the aging gracefully thing, since my dad and my granddad both ate there and Dan’s dad & granddad both looked a lot like him and hardly showed their ages either. Must be something in those hot dogs, eh?

The Doclopedia #333
Unexpected Places: On The Other Side Of The Lake…

…in that old amusement park is where all of those teenagers went missing. Well, missing until parts of ’em started showing up around town. Oh yeah, yeah…cops went all through the place, but didn’t find anything. Park’s been closed up for 20 years now and pretty much everything over there is falling apart. I’ve looked through the fence and about the only thing still mostly standing is the Tunnel of Terror. Man, that ride scared the crap outta me when I was a kid. But like I said, the cops checked the whole place out and found nothing. Of course, they checked it out in the daytime.

The Cherry Headed Conure Of Happiness

…every bit as cute as a bluebird, plus it can talk

Due to time constraints and some ill advised laziness, I’m putting the Tiny People And Their Big Friends on hiatus. starting today, I’ll be trying to do a couple of shorter entries every day on the theme of Unexpected Places

The Doclopedia #329

Unexpected Places: Just Around That Next Corner…

…is where you’ll find Maisey’s Tea Shop. Best pastries in the city, if you ask me. Great cup of tea, too. Of course, by the looks of you, you’ll be wanting a magic potion or two. Well, Maisey can fix you up on that account. Just tell her you want a pot of Oolong and a cherry muffin. She’ll show you to a private booth, then talk about what you really want. Just be aware that she doesn’t take credit cards. Cash only for the potions.

The Doclopedia #330

Unexpected Places: Right Over This Hill…

…, my friend, is the Darton Farm. They keep to themselves, but don’t cause any trouble neither. Big burly fellas, the men are. Women ain’t much smaller. Must be about 25-30 folks there, including daughters & sons in laws and grandkids. Now, you’ll hear rumors in town that they’re everything from highwaymen to devil cultists to werewolves, but I say that’s all a bunch of hooey. Oh sure, there’s a gang workin’ the roads up near Riverport and Kingvale, and it’s said they’re a bloody bunch, but those places are 30-40 miles from here over rough terrain and bad roads. Ain’t nobody could get from here to there in just a night. Well, except maybe werewolves. Ha ha ha ha!

Introducing The All New Non-Frumious Bandersnatch

…we’re still working on the JubJub Bird

The Doclopedia #328

Tiny Folk & Their Big Friends: Mik Brewer and Paul Schuller

Back in the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, folks in western South & North Dakota, Nebraska and eastern Montana and Wyoming knew and loved Schuller Beer. Old Peter Schuller had founded the brewery in 1880 in Deadwood and it operated right up until the small breweries all over America began shutting down or getting bought out by the big breweries. Schuller Brewing closed up shop in June of 1971.

And reopened 10 years later as one of the first microbreweries.

Paul Schuller, great grandson of Peter, loves beer. He spent a bunch of time and money restoring and modernizing the old place and it really shows. Tourists and locals alike keep things busy, because the beers are great.

That last part is where Mik Brewer, Tiny Folk brewmaster and beer lover, comes in. When the brewery closed, it was a sad time for the Brewer Clan. Oh sure, they could still brew beer themselves, but they missed the hustle and bustle and sights and smells of a working brewery. It would mean more work to harvest their own grain, hops and such, but they had no choice. For ten long years, Mik and his family worked only in their own tiny brewery beneath the larger one.

When Paul began restoring the old place, Mik was as happy as a mouse in a bakery. Downright giddy, you might say, which is probably why Paul saw him that night in March and several times afterwards.

See, Paul had developed the habit of going into the main brewing area late at night and just sitting there, not doing anything but thinking of all the family tradition that was soaked into the place. One night, as he sat in the dark, he saw a 6 inch tall man walk through a shaft of moonlight. The little guy was humming a merry tune that morphed into the old Schuller Beer jingle.

“Schuller Beer, it hits the spot…good clean taste is what it’s got…have a glass and give a cheer…everybody loves Schuller Beer!”

Naturally, Paul thought he was hallucinating due to stress, but when he saw the little man three more times in less than a week, he knew he was real. He could also tell that the tiny fellow loved beer and brewing, because only a brewer would speak so lovingly to the huge copper kettles and bags of hops. So one night, Paul just up and spoke out.

“You sure do love this place, don’t you?”

Without thinking, Mik replied “Well of course! We’ve lived here since just after old Pete finished building it! Wonderful guy, old Pete.” At that point, he realized who he was talking to. Being a bit too portly to really want to run and having really grown to respect Paul, Mik just shook his head and chuckled, then introduced himself.

As so often happens when two people share a passion and a couple of beers, they were soon coming up with ideas about the brewery, beer and everything related to the brewing art. Mik told Paul about a few of his secret recipes and Paul suggested that he could get some more modern brewing equipment made for Mik. They discussed bottles, labels, advertising, the best barley and much more until the sun came up and the workmen arrived.

Today, Schuller Brewing has six brewpubs in four states and ships beers, ales & stouts all over the world. An entire wall of Paul’s office is covered with awards they have won. He even has a letter from the President saying how much he enjoyed visiting the Deadwood brewery and how much he likes Old Mik’s Ale. Three or four times a week, Paul and Mik meet up and tour the brewery…and hoist a glass or two…while discussing beer and business.

Meanwhile. underneath Paul’s office, in a secret basement built by the finest non-English speaking workers, the Brewer Clan are using scaled down modern equipment to brew great beers for the local Tiny Folk, just as they have for over 130 years.

The Secret War Between Books And Magazines

…it’s mostly a war of words

The Doclopedia #327

Tiny Folk & Their Big Friends: Jommy Farmer and Abbi Moweto

When she first arrived in America to attend university, Abbi Moweto was alone and knew nobody. Luckily for her, she found out that her dorm had a large rooftop garden where many students tended plots of flowers, herbs, vegetables and dwarf fruit trees. Being a farm girl and an avid flower gardener, Abbi soon made many friends, among them a 6.25 inch tall man named Jommy Farmer.

Their meeting was completely accidental. Jommy had been in one of the apricot trees trying to cut loose a ripe fruit when the wind knocked him off the branch and into Abbi’s basket of freshly cut flowers. The 7 foot drop knocked the wind out of him and left him dazed, which is why he was unable to run when Abbi turned to place some cornflowers in the basket and saw him.

Now, back in Africa, Abbi’s people had many legends and stories about the “little people” who lived in the forests. Some legends said they were mean little creatures and some said they were very shy. This little man, however, looked pretty much like a tiny farmer, complete with a tiny straw hat and teensy gardening gloves. Not sure if he was badly hurt, Abbi spoke to him.

“Hello there. Are you ok? Are you able to sit up?”

Jommy sat up and stretched. Nothing seemed to be broken and he was feeling alright. Well, except for the Big Person talking to him. Still, he appreciated her concern, so he replied “Yes, I think so. I’ve fallen farther before and not had a soft basket of flowers to land in. Thank you for asking.”

Then Jommy considered his predicament and decided that, if a fella has to interact face to face with a Big Person, it was probably good that she was a gardener. With that thought in mind, he introduced himself and complimented her on her garden plot.

Well, nothing will get a conversation going like one gardener praising the efforts of another. Within about two minutes, they were merrily chatting about everything from compost (“best thing on earth for the garden”) to growing herbs (“they like a rougher soil”) to aphids (“we Tiny Folk snack on ’em”). Abbi had to be careful that no other gardeners heard her talking to somebody they couldn’t see and Jommy had to remain unseen, but they spent nearly an hour talking about gardening and families and the weather.

After they finished, Abbi carried Jommy over to the tiny rope ladder that lead down to his clan’s settlement in the attic of her dorm. When Jommy told them of his encounter with Abbi, most of the clan nearly fainted, but he assured them that their secret was safe with Abbi.

Abbi did keep the secret and she even brought supplies like salt, bits of metal, doll sized plastic dinnerware and scraps of cloth up to roof, stashing it near the edge where the rope ladder was. She and Jommy often had long talks about gardening and related matters. He would help her out and she planted some extra veggies and a thornless blackberry vine for him and his family. Abbi even helped string a rope between her dorm and the next, making it much easier for Jommy and his clan to get to that rooftop garden. When asked about the rope, she pointed to birds perched on it and said “it’s for our feathered friends”. Soon, all six dorms were connected by ropes and the Farmer Clan was joined by the Gardener Clan and the Digger Clan.

By the time Abbi graduated with a degree in Agricultural Management, she had lead the charge to get all of the rooftop gardens protected by greenhouses. She also helped establish rooftop gardens on other buildings, a mini forest on the roof of the library, a mini meadow on the roof of the main gym and a rooftop aquaculture ecosystem on top of the science building.

To this day, despite being a successful organic farmer with her husband and children, Abbi returns to the campus about once a month so she can stroll the gardens and talk with Jommy.