Apes In Toyland

…did I mishear that?

 

CatCon4: Day 11 (Con Day 4) Last day of the con…mucho merch is bought… games are played…seminars are attended…pie is eaten…we head home via the old spacey wacey/timey wimey

This being the last day of the con, our merry band of travelers hit the Dealer’s Room early and hard. There are a whole bunch of sellers who are going to sleep well tonight after counting the $$$ we spent.

At 10 AM, it was time for Spike and I to hit the “What We Hate!” seminar, which was packed and lots of fun. It lasted until 12, at which point we had an hour for lunch and then went on to the last seminar of the day “What We Did At CatCon 4”. As you might imagine, this was a best/most funny/most awesome/strangest con memories thing and it was often screamingly funny.

Once that was over, at 2 PM, Grace (who had been doing even more shopping) joined Sharon, Avis and I for the Charity Pet Walk (or, in Winker’s case, the “get towed by Dad in a wagon”). People once again ponied up big bucks for local animal charities.

At 3 PM, it was one last sweep of the Dealer’s Room. At 4:00, the dealer’s room closed and we all went back to the hotel for packing up.

At 4:30, we all went to Pizza My Heart for some chow, but left plenty of room for the deliciosity that is the “Post Con Cool Down Party” where pie is the star attraction.

When 6 PM rolled around, we went to the party and just ate the hell outta pie. There was much chatting and goodbye saying and at 7:00, we headed out, got on the Magic Bus and bid adieu to Critter City and CatCon 4.

About an hour after we left, and fortunately after she had told us all goodbye, our duplicate Avis popped out of existence. Two minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was the original Avis calling from GenCon to say what fun she had at both cons. I’m not quite sure how she keeps so many memories of the same days straight.

Fifteen minutes later, Joe flipped switches and turned dials and we popped up in the middle of London, circa 1972. We had not been moving, so when we popped out of nowhere, it was a real crowd stopper. Joe said we had to wait 5 minutes before we could hop again, so I gave in to a mad urge. After running to one of the closets, I hurriedly threw on a rather gaudy outfit, complete with a top hat and cane. Then I left the bus, where a couple of hundred people stood looking at it in slackjawed wonder and traffic was backing up badly.

I walked up to a largish group and said “Hello, I’m the Doctor. Can any of you tell me how to get to California in 2011?” Jaws REALLY dropped then, plus three people fainted and one guy dropped his bag of groceries.

I then got on the bus and, while the Doctor Who theme played through the external speakers, we hopped. Joe informs me that we most likely created the trigger event for spinning off an alternate reality. Cool!

We popped into Toronto, at which point we then drove the Mystery family home. Next stop was Dundalk, Maryland, where the Joneses said goodbye. From there, it was home, sweet home, California.

That was an hour ago. Grace is snoozing, Sharon is gone, Zach is driving home, The Girls are asleep, Flash is in his imaginary cat tree, Abby is in her fictional pygmy goat house and I am drinking a glass of iced tea.

Next year, as always, we hope to get to GenCon. If we don’t, there will still be DogCon 5.

Of course, even if we do make it to GenCon, there’s still that “tempro-spatially replicated” thing that duplicated Avis. It’s a big bathroom…big enough to hold several people, plus critters.

Hmmmm…

Winker: Oh, Daddy, you’ll never learn, will you?

CatCon 4 is over, but the Cross Family and Friends will return in…

DogCon 5

 

Caution: Contents May Include Strangeness

…heh heh…”may”…heh heh

 

CatCon4: Day 10 (Con Day 3) An even quicker recap

Grace: Spent very nearly the entire day in several board game tournaments, two of which she won (Bean Trader and a giant sized live action version of Kill Doctor Lucky)

The Critters: Played in two LARPS (as a team) and went to an Old West pet park.

Flash: You can call me The California Flash now, pardner.

Winker: And I’m Kid Winky, fastest woof in the West!

Lucy: You outlaws better vamoose, because Judge Lucy is in a hangin’ mood.

Abby: And Marshall Abigail will hunt ya down!

Doc: Once again tried to kill himself with the following schedule…

9-10 AM: Seminar titled “How to Be Funny”

10-11 AM: Seminar titled “How To Write Stuff”

11-11:30 AM: Ate world class chili dogs for lunch

11:30 AM-12 PM: Got ready for the annual “Old Time Radio” broadcast…but this year, the whole damned show was improv, including the music by a local swing band.

12-2 PM: Did the above mentioned show with a cast of 16, a live audience of 300 and live streaming to the whole fuckin’ world via the internet. We managed to squeeze out a detective drama, a variety show, a newscast and a comedy show reminiscent of the Jack Benny Program. All more than slightly skewed from the normal due to the improve aspect. Doc Mystery and I each played at least 7 roles. Mary played 8 or 9.

2-3 PM: Caught my breath, used the bathroom, drank iced tea

3-5 PM: played in “The World’s Biggest Superhero Steel Cage Match” where 48 players had their characters slugging it out with, basically, anybody in the cage that came near them. My character, a kind of Metamorpho knockoff) lasted 1 hour, 22 minutes before a teenage girl had her character use molecular manipulation to turn Morpho into glass, at which point a Hulk like fellow shattered him.

5-6 PM: Seminar titled “Everything I’ve Learned, I Learned from Bad Movies”

6-8 PM: Smooched wife, loved pets, showered, dinner at a great Indian place

8 PM until-3AM: Played in a Savage Worlds game, “Attack Of The Zombie Ninjas”, which was actually a lot more serious that the title implies. Avis played in this one with me and her crack shot, hard drinking, two fisted adventuress saved the bacon of my absent minded and somewhat mad biology professor (as well as most of the rest of our group.

More bloggage after a few hours of sleep.

 

Lucy In The Sky With Dogtoys

…she likes the Squeaky Snake

 

CatCon4: Day 9 (Con Day 2) Again, a quick rundown, but with added critter comments

Grace: Took a tour (with Mary and Miranda) of a local herb garden…bought several books at a local used book store…went with no less than 15 other gamers folks and several pets to the mud baths and spa, where we all first lounged about in warm mineral mud, then got cleaned and massaged to within an inch of our lives (lunch was also included)…went to watch our now wonderfully clean canine children participate in an all dog LARP…took a nap…entered Abby and Flash in the Pet Costume Contest as Donkey and Puss in Boots from Shrek (they took third place)…played in the Killer Bunnies tournament…ate dinner…went to the Couples Only Dungeon LARP with Your Humble Narrator.

The Critters: Spent the morning at the Pet Jungle, which is a really cool jungle themed park…

Flash: They have fake alligators in a pond! I nearly pissed myself when one swam toward where I was standing!

Abby: They had a fun “Jungle Pyramid” that I climbed with a bunch of other goats and several cats & dogs.

Lucy: I ran all over the jungle with a bunch of other dogs chasing a mechanical monkey.

Winker: I played with two little girls and their dog. He was a Cocker Spaniel named Boo.

…went to the spa with us…

All Critters: We love the spa! They cleaned us and combed us and massaged us and gave us lots of treats!

…played in LARPs…

Winker & Lucy: We were the McWoof Sisters in the dog LARP “The Haunted Doghouse”

…wore costumes…

Flash: I made a pretty dashing Puss in Boots, if I do say so.

Abby: I looked good as Donkey, but the contest winner was a pig named Louie dressed up as Iron Ham.

…had long naps in our suite…ate a great dinner and watched movies with Arcadia (Sharon was playing in a game of some sort)

Doc: Toured the Dealer’s room…took part (with Spike) in the annual “Ask A GM Anything!” Q&A. This year, one of the questions was “Can you do a few lines from one of your favorite movies?”, so I did a few from the original “King Kong”…did the spa party thing…watched about half of The Girls doggie LARP…ran an OTE game titled “The Revenge Of The Dead”…sat in on a seminar whose panel included Spike and Christina Stiles. Subject was freelancing…ran yet another Toon game, “The House That Jerks Built”…played a card game about war in the barnyard…ate Mexican food for dinner…went with my spouse, Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Doc & Mrs. Mystery and my nephew Zach & Avis Crane to the Couples Only LARP. Obviously, it is not just for married folk, or even folks in a relationship. You just had to be two people that were a team. It was a Murder Mystery with Fantasy and Steampunk elements (and drinks & eats). The object was not just to solve the murder and expose the killer, but keep from getting killed AND expose the vile bastards behind it all. Both Spike and I got killed, while Mary nearly drank poison. Players were dropping like flies for a while, but we all got to come back as zombies (some good, some evil). It was big fun and ran from 9 PM until 2 in the morning.

After that, we were very glad to see our beds, you betcha.

 

George Washington Did Not Sleep Here

…but he and Martha did knock off a quickie in the woodshed

 

CatCon4: Day 8 (Con Day 1) A quick rundown of what transpired

The Pre-Con Party on Wednesday night: Rocked, plain and simple. Everyone had loads of fun and at one point, we had a group of sock puppets doing various Monty Python sketches.

On Thursday, the con officially opened and…

Grace: Toured the Dealers room (which features not just gamer stuff, but pet stuff…went to a couple of seminars…took a virtual stroll through the computer generated Village of Hemdale (which she said was totally cool)…played some board and card games…joined Sharon, our hired pet co-nanny Arcadia and our critters at a water park…and took a nap.

The Critters: Went to the above mentioned water park…went to another pet park…took naps…ate treats….played in the pets only LARP “Lost In The Dungeon”…ate more food.

Lucy: The LARP was fun, but not very challenging. Funniest moment: a very chubby beagle named Tug got stuck in the cat door leading to the Hall of Zombies.

Doc: Toured the Dealer’s Room…participated in the panel discussion on “Why Vampires Suck!”…went from there straight to a seminar on “How To Scare Your Players And Their Characters” (which was SRO and full of sick and twisted GM advice)…ate lunch at Gonzoburger with the above mentioned sick & twisted seminar panel…ran “Kill The Wabbit!” a 2 hour Toon game that had 14 players…played a couple of card games…got a massage in the Relaxation Room…ran another 2 hour long Toon game entitled “Night Of The Living Bread”, this time for convention GMs only…stood in the Dealer’s Room chatting with several gaming industry folks…ate dinner with Grace, Avis, Sharon, Zach, the Joneses and about 15 other folks…talked, drank and played a traitor to the Reich in the awesome pulp adventure “Sky Raiders vs The Airship of Satan” (players included Avis, Spike and Doc Mystery). Big fun was had…hung out with other GMs at a dive bar until closing time.

More bloggage later. Friday looks to be even busier for everyone!

 

Greedy Moose Infuriated My Albino Lungfish

…we had to pour him a stiff drink

 

CatCon4: Day 7 We wake up to the sound of music…breakfast riots occur…swag is gotten and plots hatched…dogs & cats race together…more food is eaten, sans rioting…a fine party is attended

Since this entire town is wired up for every sort of electronic communication you can imagine, the ConCom woke up damn near everybody in town up by playing the Star Trek Next Generation theme song as done by meowing cats.

Flash: On the one paw, that was cool, but on the other hand, I nearly fell off of Mom’s chest when it started up.

Lucy: I woke up thinking that the Cat Uprising had begun!

Winker: I thought the room was full of Space Kitties!

Abby: I slept through it.

It drifted in through our slightly open (so pets can use the small balcony yard to do their biz) balcony door at 8 AM. Since Grace and I were both hungry, we got up and got ready for breakfast. Once calls were made to various and sundry friends, we and the critters headed out to “Waffles From Outer Space”, which we really enjoyed last year, not the least because it has Bacon & Butter Flavored Syrup.

Flash: Also, they make Fish Pancakes (catfish, in this case) for cats!

Lucy & Winker: They make beef stew for dogs!

Abby: For non-carnivores, they make cornbread with veggies in it, placed on a kudzu salad.

Well, it would seem that a whole lot of people liked it, because the place now has about 4 times the seating it had last year, including pet seating and a kids play area. It was the pets and kids that started the riot just about the time I was digging into my country fried steak, gravy, two scrambled eggs and 2 huge eggnog waffles.

One moment, everything was cool, but the next thing we knew, kids and dogs and cats and goats and pigs and birds and ducks and a whole menagerie of other animals were running hither and yon and screaming and barking and meowing and such. There did not appear to be any violence, fear or animosity involved, it was just some sort of instant happiness explosion that lasted about 5 minutes and pretty much left the place in great disarray. Unlike some of the folks, I had no trouble rounding up my pets. A simple “Fooooooddddd Fooooorrrr Doooooggggssss!!!! in a booming voice did the trick.

Flash: It was really cool! We were just all going nuts!

Lucy: We were having fun!

Winker: It’s called a flash mob, which is a pretty appropriate name for sudden unthinking mayhem, if you ask me. Of course, this one was truly spontaneous, since none of us had cell phones.

Flash: Say what?

Abby: Sometimes Winky is a bit strange.

Lucy: You get used to it.

After breakfast was over and everyone was stuffed, we strolled over to the convention center to grab our badges & swag. Badges this year looked like police badges (except for the pet badges, which looked like Old West sheriff stars on a day glo collar) and the con book looked like a “true crime” pulp magazine. Swag in the bag included…

A t-shirt…a convention only comic book featuring the adventures of Cat Boy and Dog Girl…a commemorative D20 (each side had a number and a critter)…a coupon book for dealers at the con and various businesses around town…a fist full of game company fliers…a pair of miniatures from the new war game “World War IV”…a countdown poster for DogCon 5 and a hologram postcard. If you were a pet, your bag held treats, treats, more treats and a brush.

Flash: Mmmm…they have excellent treats here.

Lucy: Yeah, I love those dog brownies.

Abby: We herbivores get alfalfa cubes and dried fruit.

Winker: And after we eat all of our stuff, we can get brushed so we look beautiful. Except Flash, who will always look like a little scalawag.

Flash: That’s MISTER Scalawag!

I must speed this post up, because I’m heading out to the Pre-Con Party in a few minutes, so here are the highlights.

1: While in the fast moving badge/swag line, we chatted with a great many friends. Made plans for several get togethers and games. We also met plenty of pets.

Winker: Yay! Nibbler is here!

2: Entered Flash & Lucy in the big Charity Dog & Cat Race. This had the cats riding the dogs, which Flash & Lucy do pretty often anyway. Bets are placed and all proceeds go to local animal shelters. The winners get food prizes and a free deluxe grooming. The race is an obstacle course 500 winding feet long. The dog chases a fake rabbit over, under and though obstacles. The cat hangs on and tries not to fall off.

Since Lucy is only part basset hound, but is much more some longer legged sort of hound…and Flash is the smallest adult cat you’ll ever see…they were heavily favored in the odds. When the gun went off, they were in third place pretty quickly…BUT, the lead dog lost his cat about ¼ of the way through when he went through a long tube.

Flash: Yeah, he scraped that snotty little American Shorthair right off! Hahaha!

By the halfway point. Lucy and a smallish pitbull were neck in neck. Then they hit the pond and the pitbull ran into it while Lucy took a flying dive and pulled ahead by 6 feet.

Flash: Yeah, that pond…not fun!

Lucy: Damn, that pitbull was fast!

After that, it was Team Cross all the way. We were all very proud of Flash & Lucy. Later, they ate more food than your average lion.

Lucy: Beef stew…for dogs!

Flash: Tuna cakes! TUNA CAKES!!!

3: Lunch was Chinese, dinner was barbecue pizza. In between, there were various baked goods and ice cream consumed. We also found out that starting right after the con ends this year, the whole town of Critter City is going to be covered in a huge dome, which will be finished by the start of next years con. Cool!

Abby: If by “cool” you mean no more humid Texas heat, I’m for it.

Flash: Yeah, I’m down with that.

4: The theme of the Pre-Con Party is “Me and My Sock Puppet”. Everybody is going to get a sock puppet that they must wear AND converse part of the time through. In my opinion, this beats the Playing Doctor theme from a past party.

And now I’m off to said party, accompanied by many of my traveling companions. More bloggage will surely occur sometime soon.

Flash: Meanwhile, we critters will just hang out in the Pet Lounge and play Dungeons & Dogs.

 

Gnomes Reading Tomes In Their Homes Made Of Domes

 

…would have been longer, but I’ve yet to have my tea

Hey! Stay tuned after the CatCon 4 report for my 600th Doclopedia post!

CatCon4: Day 6 A short entry

Our trip report for Tuesday goes like this…

8 AM: Wake up, eat, hit the road

Abby: Mom and Mary took me on a walk and I got to eat my fill of kudzu.

Winker: Dad gave Lucy and I Dog Rice with Canned Dog Food Gravy. Yummy yum!

Flash: I got a can of sardines. Dad rules!

10 AM: Short stop (15 minutes) at “The House Of Blue Glass”. Small house, but really made entirely of thick slabs of blue glass. The man and wife who live there are more than a little strange. We bought…aw, hell, you know the drill.

Noon: Stop for barbecue and chili because we are in TEXAS, damn it!

Flash: Never feed chili to dogs. Just sayin’.

2:30 PM: After fully securing all pets, especially those named Flash and Lucy, we go watch the 20 minute show at “Big Mel’s Trained Rat Theater”. They show was pretty good and the rats were smart and well trained, but I was too paranoid to really enjoy it after last year’s unfortunate incident at “Uncle Ferdie’s Trained Squirrel Review”.

Flash & Lucy: Even once you’ve paid your debt to society, you are forever branded.

Abby & Winker: You two spent the whole time we were locked down trying to escape so you could “chase us some rats”!

By the way, for those of you interested, it seems that Uncle Ferdie has put his theater and show back together and will reopen in summer of 2012. He has apparently moved the pet waiting room to a large steel building with good security.

Flash & Lucy: Well, that sucks!

4:30 PM: We arrived in Wilted Springs, which has officially changed the town name to Critter City. We checked in at the Hyatt and napped before dinner at “Pizza My Heart” and then a strolled around town, meeting gamers and pets every few yards.

All Critters: We LOVE this place!

And then we slept.

No Music

No Destination Sign

.

.

.

The Doclopedia #600

A New Breed Of Dog: Giant Basset Hound

Earth 58 is a fantasy based world with plentiful magical energy. On it, the islands that make up Great Britain and Ireland are considerably larger and known as Gargantia, home of the giants. Everything there is about 10 times larger than normal. It is on Gargantia that the humans bred those lovable, but somewhat dangerous dogs known to the rest of the world as Giant Basset hounds.

Their description is simple: just imagine an average 60 pound, 12 to 15 inch tall, 2.5oot long (not including the tail) Basset Hound, then make him ten times as big. You now have a sweet tempered, loving pet that stands at least 10 feet tall, is 25 feet long, weighs about a ton and has ears that are up to 11 feet long and 4 feet wide.

The giant humans use these hounds for hunting and as pets. Like all Basset Hounds, they can run and play or hunt for long hours, but then collapse into a big pile of loose skinned sleepiness for a few more hours. As we said, nothing about these dogs has changed from their smaller relatives.

The danger of these huge hounds comes from them accidentally laying down on a normal sized human…or knocking them over with their big waggy tails…or slobbering on them…or just trying to play with them. The dogs don’t realize how big they are.

Iceboxing

…it’s a polar bear martial art

 

CatCon 4: Day 5 A lazy day…Critters Assemble!…we view two houses made of stuff

Our Monday got off to a later than usual start. This can be blamed on: adults going out for adult beverages and fun the previous night…and everybody being tired from walking around the city streets yesterday…and it being a vacation…and it’s friggin’ New Orleans!

So after rising at the crack of 10:00 AM, we humans went down the street for a hearty breakfast and left the critters on the bus with a movie playing on the big screen tv.

Flash: It was “The Incredible Journey”. I love that movie!

Abby: It would have been better with a few goats.

Unfortunately, in my muzzy headed and hungry state, I neglected to activate the security system, so when we came back 45 minutes later, we found the front door open and heard all hell braking loose inside.

I hurried in just in time to see Abby head butt some young street punk in the ass while he tried to simultaneously remove Flash from his neck, Lucy from his pants leg and Winker from his arm.

Flash: Just walk in to our house, will he? I think not!

Lucy: Little punkass hoodlum!

Abby: Have some Goat Fu, you little punk!

Winker: He tried to hurt Lucy, so I bit a piece outta his arm!

He wasn’t doing very well, as was indicated by his pleas to me to call them off and his profuse bleeding. Being a kindly sort, I only let them fuck him up for another minute before I called them off. He thanked me as he sat cowering. When he saw everyone else enter the bus, he began the street punk chant about “just messing around” and “didn’t mean any harm”. He was still saying that when I tossed him off the bus face first into a parked car.

Then I raided the pantry and fridge for rewards for the Animal Avengers.

Lucy: A whole pot roast! Oh yeah, baby!

Abby: Man, that was a lot of apples and grapes. *BURP*

Winker: Pizza! Delicious all meat pizza!

Flash: Smoked salmon and raw shrimp! I’m gonna go pass out for a day or two.

Minutes later we were back on the road and hauling ass for Texas. We made good time and were coming up on Lake Charles when Avis, who has been sitting in the co-pilot/dog chair, pointed out a sign that said “World Famous Manure Mansion: 20 miles” and had an arrow pointing north. A quick vote said that no damned way could we pass up that bit of roadside greatness, so we made the turn. In less than 20 minutes, there we were, in front of a huge mansion made of (as the big sign out front said) cow manure mixed with concrete.

Flash: A house made out of cow crap? And they get upset if we pee on the floor?

Lucy: Humans are the only mammals who would build something like that.

But it looked pretty damned ordinary to us, because it was painted white and styled like pretty much every southern plantation house ever made. The sign went on to explain how the owners brother ran a cattle feed lot in Texas and had lots of manure, so blah, blah, blah! It was a big disappointment. We were expecting stacked cow patties or a house shaped like a giant turd or something. What a ripoff.

Abby: Dad thinks not getting to see a house more obviously made of shit is a ripoff? WTF, Dad?

We were, however, more than repaid for that bitter disappointment by what we found just over the Texas state line near Beaumont: “The World Famous Gator House”.

Winker: They all got excited about that one, because humans = crazy.

Friends and neighbors, this place is not only right off the highway, it’s cheap ($3.00 a head), has a guided tour and is by God alligator fuckin’ central! The house itself is 120 feet long, two stories high and looks like a very realistic alligator. But wait, there’s more! The entrance arch over the long driveway? Made of 4 big concrete gators! The pond in the middle of the front yard? Fenced and full of live gators! All of the furniture, appliances, artwork, rugs, etc? Looks like gators or is covered in gator hides! Hell yeah!

They had FIVE different t-shirts…about a dozen kinds of fridge magnets…scads of postcards and a bunch of other gator related stuff. I may need to have Joe create a new room to hold everything we bought.

All Critters: ALLIGATORS! BIG HUNGRY FUCKIN’ ALLIGATORS! We all hid in the shoe room!

And then we drove on to Plum Grove Texas and our stopping point for the night.

More late ass blogging later.

Music: The Zombie Jazz Quartet “Brain Music”

Destination Sign: Downtown Atlantis

 

Doc Tempest And The Castle Of Dr. Loveless

…from the  March, 1913 issue

 

CatCon 4: Day 4 We perform musically for Yazoo City, Mississippi, then make a quick escape…Clowns are viewed…We enter New Orleans

If you are going to do “The Time Warp” in full costume with pre-recorded musical backup, where and when better to do it than in Yazoo City, Mississippi on a Sunday morning in an intersection where there is a church on every corner just letting out after services?

Abby: Dad’s logic makes a pretzel look like Interstate 5 cutting straight down California.

Flash: Dad? Logic? Hahahahahahaha!

In fact, it was two flavors of Baptist, one Methodist and a Catholic church. There were a couple of other churches within earshot. There were pickups with gun racks everywhere. We had a big old hippie bus disgorging a bunch of made up people and animals. Our Destination Sign read “Transexual, Transylvania”. Loud rock & roll music was playing out of 10 speakers. What could possibly go wrong?

Lucy: Let me count the ways…

Abby: Actually, almost every human on the bus except Dad & Mary counted the ways. I think they got up in the high three digits.

Actually, for most of the song, not a whole lot went wrong. I was singing the Riff Raff part, Mary was Magenta and her daughter Miranda did the Columbia part (with tap dancing!). Everybody else was a Transylvanian. There was plenty of pelvic thrusting, which seemed to render the good churchgoers of Yazoo City speechless. It went well until the end, when silence fell, the audience began an ominous murmuring and we heard police sirens getting closer and louder.

Flash: Fortunately, cops seldom arrest cute kitties.

Abby: Yeah, with a rap sheet like yours, they’d just shoot you.

Flash: D’OH!

At that point it was time to quickly get back on the bus and out of town with just a short dimensional hop via someplace that was on top of a high desert mesa and had three moons. We popped back into our dimension 15 miles outside of town and only 2 minutes ahead of when we hopped. I commend Joe on his skill with the quantum whatevers.

Winker: That was fun! I’m sure that Mom is wrong and we will someday be able to visit Mississippi again. They wouldn’t really lynch Dad.

About two hours later, in the small town of Wesson, we saw a sign reading “Clownland! Only 3 Miles ahead! Bring the kids!”. Since we were all still hyped up and full of adrenaline from our little musical production, we decided to give it a look.

Lucy: Clowns! Why’d it have to be clowns?

What you find in Clownland are clowns in a clowny looking village. Scarecrowy clowns,

Lucy: Because, you know, regular clowns aren’t fucking creepy enough!

big fiberglass clowns, carved wooden clowns, garden gnome sized clowns and about 50 real live clowns.

Abby: The real live clowns are the creepiest.

Flash: Yeah, and they don’t smell all that great, either.

Winker: No kidding! They smelled like booze and pee and sweat. Ewww!

Lucy: Have I mentioned how fucking creepy clowns are?

The deal is, the founder of this little village, Hobart Franks, was a retired circus clown who had inherited the land. He started inviting other old clowns to move there and they started building the clown town. Soon, younger clowns began coming here for vacations or during the off season (who knew clowns had an off season?). By 1987, Clownland covered 45 acres of land and, if our Sunday visit is any indication, gets a fair stream of visitors.

The entrance fee is $4.00 and to tell the truth, the whole affair has a pretty high creep factor

Lucy: PRETTY high? Off the scale is more like it!

due to A: Clowns are creepy anyway and B: Old (and by the smell, alcoholic) clowns are even creepier. We stayed about 30 minutes. They had t-shirts, postcards & fridge magnets, so…well, you know. Also, it appears that Lucy, a nervous dog at the best of times, finds clown particularly scarey.

Lucy: I need a drink and a long nap. My nerves are shot.

At 4:00 PM we rolled into New Orleans and began trying to eat the town clean of food while also seeing as much as we could, all to a soundtrack of jazz music.

Winker: Love that ‘Nawlins jazz!

Tomorrow, we begin the long haul to the con, with at least 4 roadside stops along the way. More bloggage later.

Music: N’awlins Jazz!

Destination Sign: Barad Dur

 

Soggy Sock Tricks

…not as much fun as you might think

 

CatCon 4: Day 3 Your Humble Narrator plays catch up…we again encounter Jesus…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: Afterward, 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.

Flash: You could hear them all wheezing and gasping for air, and the echo from inside the statue made it sound like Jesus was having an asthma attack. It was pretty cool.

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.

Lucy: What is it with humans building elaborate rooms to poop in?

Winker: Beats me, sis.

Flash: They could save lots of money by just using a litter box.

Abby: They should just pee and poop outside.

Winker: Well, Dad does pee outside pretty often, usually on Compost Pile F/65, code name Fuzzy Bullet.

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. Zach did well with his carrot crackers with spicy ground turkey and cream cheese.

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

 

It’s All Fun & Games Until Somebody Causes A Temporal Anomaly That Traps Your Starship In A Causality Loop

…I hate when that happens!

 

WOOHOO! CatCon post AND Doclopedia entry in the same blog entry!

 

CatCon 4: Day 2, Part 2 We venture into the wilds of Alabama…Project Applesauce revealed!…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.

Flash: Oh yeah, nothing could go wrong with that.

Lucy: I predict a rapid getaway from angry rednecks.

Abby: How does Dad come up with these crazy ideas? And why does Mary help him?

Winker: Well, the technical reason is that they are both crazy.

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.

Flash: Dad and Food are old friends.

Winker: Plus, Dad will eat just about anything that is edible.

Abby: What’s wrong with that?

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 (Fun Fact: 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. Who am I to say otherwise?

Winker: Those same children also love tummy rubbing and petting chubby little one eyed Basset Hounds.

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. They also had doggie bandanas, which all of the critters are now wearing.

Lucy: We are looking very cute!

Flash: I look like an idiot.

Abby & Winker: Well…

Flash: SHUT IT!

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.

Flash: I wanted SO badly to sharpen my nails on those toothpicks!

Lucy: I was almost overcome by the urge to start attacking them.

Abby: You two are completely mental.

Winker: That’s why dad locked us in the bus.

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.

Winker: And if someone does, my money is on Dad, maybe with help from Uncle Kelly.

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 Doclopedia #594

WaRPed Characters: Missy Ng

18 year old Vietnamese American girl, 5’6′, 120 pounds, short black hair, brown eyes, glasses.

Missy lives in a heavily Vietnamese area of Los Angeles. Her parents are both lawyers and Missy, the youngest in her family, is expected to become either a doctor or a lawyer. Arguing about this is not allowed.

Sadly, Missy will be disappointing her parents, since she has a career as a City Explorer all planned out. You see, all Secret Cities link to at least a couple of other Secret Cities, but about 1 in 7 links take you through what are called “the Other Secret Cities”, places that are not found on our planet. Well, maybe not on our planet. Nobody is really sure.

Anyway, Missy was first taken into Secret L.A. By her Auntie Kay and her Uncle Vanh when she was only 4. They were salespeople who dealt in products the Secret City can’t make and they knew Missy was special. Missy loved the place and was soon going there on a regular basis with her aunt & uncle.

Missy has an exceptional sense of direction and memory for places. She has visited two of the Other Secret Cities and is eager to explore more. She has a small team of friends that will be helping her, once she graduates from high school.

In her spare time, Missy likes running, boxing, watching adventure movies and checking out cute guys.

Traits

Sense of Place (3 dice) Missy has many attributes that prevent her from ever getting lost. She can retrace her steps for several days, if need be. (never gets lost)

Tough (3 dice) Missy is young and very healthy. She has very good musculature and seldom get sick. (tanned, buff and fit)

Good Hearing (2 dice) Her hearing is very good and has saved her ass more than once. (often says “did you hear that?”)

Flaws

Nearsighted (3 dice) Without her glasses or contacts, Missy has very blurry vision past about the end of her nose. (carries extra pair of glasses and contact lenses)

 

Cliff Diving For The Complete Idiot

…the title answers the question “who would do that?”

CatCon 4: Day 2 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.

Flash: Watching Dad eat cereal is truly inspirational to those of us who like to eat.

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.

 Flash: Hey, dad, how about entering me in a tuna eating contest?

 Lucy: Or me in a Foooddd Foooorrr Doooggggssss eating contest?

 Abby: I could win a salad eating contest!

 Winker: Put me in a cookie eating contest! I wouldn’t care if I won.

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 humongous live gator.

His name is Dewey and he’s really big…the biggest recorded alligator ever, in fact. 21 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 once a week. Dewey has also fathered many children, although now he’s so big that the only female he can mate with is petite little Lulu, who is a mere 16 feet long and only 50 years old.

Flash: Holy shit! That was one enormous reptile! He looked like he walked straight out of a Sci Fi Channel movie.

Abby: Yeah, I kept expecting Megasnake to start a fight with him.

Lucy: If he had made a fast move, I think everybody would have pooped!

Winker: I’m glad we were locked on the bus.

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.

All Critters: Our Dad Unit is insane!

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

When I stepped through the front 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 with wild abandon into the humongous pile nearest the Shoe Room door, 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!

Flash: Yeah, and cats gotta…umm…drag shoes around!

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?

Abby: Shhh!

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 and a pair of loafers for Doc Mystery.

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

Abby: Oh noes! Dad has another secret project!

Winker: I hope he feeds us before he starts it.

By the way, My framed picture of me laying on Dewey’s back (which is not very comfy) is now hanging on the living room wall.

More bloggage later. 

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

Destination Sign: Cimmeria

Chipmunks For A Better America

…one without predators, but with more peanuts

CatCon 4: 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 alternate Earth 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: I also managed to catch a couple of mice as snacks.

Abby: I love getting rowdy!

Lucy: Nothing like some crazy running & woofing before bedtime.

Once the frolicking was done, we were all off to bed.

Destination Sign: Freedonia

Music: Lots of snoring.

The Rare And Beautiful Balloon Squirrels Of Potawango Island

…they float gently on the wind, then drop nuts on your head

 

CatCon 4 Trip: 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.

Winker: That’s right, folks, always look for the World Famous label before going to see strange stuff!

Flash: Our house ought to have the World Famous label!

Lucy & Abby: True dat!

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, which is enclosed to reduce humidity.

Flash: Mmmm…tasty waterfowl!

Abby: Oh, Flash, you know those big geese would have handed you your ass.

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.

Lucy: I’m not sure, but I think those monkeys were making rude gestures at us.

Winker: At least they weren’t flinging shit.

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.

Flash: Hmmm…I’ve never eaten turtle. I wonder if Mom would buy me some?

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.

Winker, Lucy & Flash: BARBECUE!

Abby: BREAD, MAC & CHEESE AND MACARONI SALAD!

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, plus chicken and side dishes. It was absolutely delicious and we left a pile of bones that, if buried for 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 & smoked 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.

Flash: All of that driftwood stuff was cool and all, but once us critters were back on the bus, it was time for walking through the warehouse room with Miranda and Lauren.

Winker: We saw lots of boxes of stuff and an old tractor.

Abby: What about the 57 bicycles, all in different colors?

Lucy: And don’t forget all of those bags of old clothes!

We’ll be pulling in to 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

Dr. Silkmelon Adjusts His Plans And Builds A Robot

…using tin cans, old radios and a 1915  Locomobile roadster

 

Today, I begin the reposting of last year’s CatCon 4 report, edited and somewhat expanded/rewritten. Posts will go up every day until it is done, then it will be time for the DogCon 5 report. Enjoy!

 

CatCon4 Trip: Introduction

(As always, commentary by non-humans are 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 trans-temporal 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. She stared at me, doing an excellent impression of Grace.

Flash: Winker, Lucy, Abby and I all just sat their in slack jawed 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 in the clear and she just might not be a pod person, 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 afterward drive home. Having had a similar idea some years earlier, I praised her on her great and original idea, 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.

Winker: Joe doesn’t take chances, especially where Mom is concerned.

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 and a big electric motor, so it’s adiós 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.

Winker: The tires are nanotech infused ultrarubber that regenerate while the bus is stopped. The suspension is a Hoxxinian style that uses reverse gravitic technology.

 Flash: Say what?

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 200 X 400 foot area for the critters to frolic in), the hot tub 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.

Lucy: We love the meadow room.

Flash: And we’re damned fond of the pantry, 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.

Abby: I like the greenhouse, even though Dad keeps a very close eye on me in there.

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.

All Critters: The shoe room rocks!

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!

Winker: Really? I smelled desert winds and big birds.

Flash: You dogs are nuts. Those smells are definitely coal smoke and steam.

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

On 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, just past Stockton, we do a shift that puts us on the Trans Canada Highway back around 1965. It’s a pretty scenic drive and traffic is very light. 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!) and then we are back on the road. 

Flash: And yet again, poor starving animals only get animal food! Where is the love?

So when we get past El Paso, Texas, Joe does his thing again and we are on a humongous 20 lane highway on some planet with two moons and houses that look remarkably like giant perky female breasts. After 20 minutes of driving there, during which time we learned that the people looked like a cross between a wallaby and a hairless orangutan, we popped back into our reality 12 miles west of New Orleans at 10 :15 AM. About twenty minutes later, we popped 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 terrorizing the populace, we popped back into the present a mere 20 miles from Orlando, Florida at 1:30 PM on July 28th. We then picked up our friends at the airport, did a jog back a week to July 21st and started our vacation.

 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 Wednesday, August 3rd. This meant jumping back a day to the evening of August 2nd so Peter, Holly, Avis and my gaming group could all fly to GenCon, arriving at the con as we were leaving the hotel in Orlando.

Flash: Reading all that time hopping stuff made my eyes cross.

Winker: Oh, how I dream of being able to have crossed eyes! Heeheehee.

Flash: Very funny, Winky.

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…

 Abby: I don’t like baths!

WHICH caused a Vemellian Transverse Coupling Circuit to reset itself in the wrong way…

Winker: I told Joe those circuits were faulty. He should have used Ulaxoid Industries circuits. They have intrinsic wave loop technology.

Flash, Lucy & Abby: Huh?

…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!

Flash: Twice as many Auntie Avy laps!

Yes, yes, this caused much freaking out and yelling and finger pointing at Your Humble Narrator until Joe informed us that it was only temporary and the two of them would merge back into one in about 12 or 14 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.

Lucy: Dad’s ideas often engender looks of disbelief.

Abby: Ya think?

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 so we could have a few days of driving to the con, which is lots of fun and without which we’d be short many fridge magnets, t-shirts and bumper stickers. 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.

Lucy: Sweet Mother of Dog! That means that there were two Flashes in the world for awhile!

Flash: That’s why I felt doubly awesome!

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!

I’ll point out that nobody congratulated me on my solution to Avis’ money problem. I tell ya, I don’t get no respect!

More con reportage soon.

Music: Tom Waits Sings The Great Broadway Hits

Destination Sign: The Room Of Requirement