What We Do for New Year’s Eve…

Squid vs. Sperm Whale animated gif
Embiggen this picture by clicking on it to see some hot squid on whale action!

…Or, at least, what I do for New Year’s Eve, which also happen to be my birthday, is refocus. Or try to.

As always, I have some areas that I want to refocus in. I wrote about these in my personal journal (which I’m keeping on my spiffy reMarkable 2 notepad computer! I bought this as an early birthday gift for myself). These areas are:

  • Friends and Family
  • Learning
  • Faith and Spirituality
  • Writing
  • Daikaijuzine
  • Community
  • Health and Fitness
  • Work

That last one was added reluctantly, of course, but it’s a necessity. While I’m not angling for a position as supervisor or (God forbid!) manager in my job, my boss does want me to take more of a leadership position in the project I’m part of, and to become a Subject Matter Expert in it. Considering I’m probably the least experienced programmer on the team (by no means incompetent, but I still have a lot to learn), this may be difficult to achieve.

I won’t go into details in all of the above, because it’s probably boring to you. I will say that I intend to go to church more, reach out to my friends and family more, take my writing even more seriously, set and achieve some new goals with Daikaijuzine, volunteer more, and take better care of myself. These aren’t necessarily resolutions. I just want to spend my time more mindfully.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s my next series of blog posts: each of these areas of focus in turn. Maybe boring. Maybe not. Who knows? We’ll see.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and things are mellow in my house and will continue to be so. I’m writing this blog post, and Jennifer is working on one of the jigsaw puzzles she got for Christmas. The cats are minding their own business. Even Guffaw, who is the rowdy crazy boy in the house right now, is leaving Jennifer’s puzzle alone, which is very good for him. Lunch will be soon. Soon I will go run some errands, including buying diapers for our foster kitty who has manx syndrome and is therefore utterly incontinent. I may do some writing too.

It’s raining, which cancels our plan to walk to Corti Brothers nearby and look to see what sort of food selection they have.

And so it goes. Which reminds me that I received a few books on writing and craft from my family. My very spiffy niece gave me Pity the Reader, by Kurt Vonnegut; my nephew and his girlfriend gave me It’s All Just a Draft by Tobias Buckell; my sister-in-law gave me Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. LeGuin; and my mother-in-law gave me Bill Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors. Consider that all the authors listed here are among my favorites, this should be a good writing and reading year.

I also decided to reactivate my GoodReads account, which I am really kind of loath to do, since GoodReads is owned by a certain major corporation that is slowly gobbling up all internet commerce. But I want to track my reading this year, and LibraryThing does not give me the functionality I need. Maybe I’ll spin up a tool of my own in PHP. That would be a good project, I suppose, especially if I integrate it into WordPress.


Happy New Year to you, and may your 2023 be a good one.

It’s a thoughtful day for Holidailies.

Publication Alert! Woo hoo!

I had two short story acceptances in 2022 (out of 100 submissions). The first acceptance, “Blank”, is available from the Dark Recesses website (see my Writing page for a link). The second, “How the Old Ones Saved Christmas”, is available now in the anthology LOLCraft: A Compendium of Eldritch Horror!

You can get to the Amazon page for this fine collection by clicking the picture above.

I’m quite pleased with this story, which features the Old Ones Hastur and Nodens trying to save Christmas after Santa goes insane, for reasons which are revealed in the story. I don’t remember the true origins of the story, but it does feature some of the same characters found in “Night of the Frozen Elf“, even though it’s not a direct sequel or prequel. More of a “sidequel”, if you will. Whatever. The characters are the same. The story is different.

If you go out of your way to purchase the collection, either in paperback or electronic, I really hope you enjoy my story. The other stories are enjoyable, I’m sure (I haven’t read them because I haven’t received my author’s copy yet), but rest assured, my story is quite fun.

‘Tis an eldritch season for Holidailies

The Next Adventure

Now that Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish have finished their journey and retrieved their wings and we have seen the glory that is a village of flying penguins, what should I do next for holidailies?

I have no idea.

I was going to write about a dream I had — I dreamed that there was a school with a haunted basement and it was quite scary until I got to the end, when it was revealed that Stephen King had written it all — but I long ago realized that my dreams are only interesting to me and not to anyone else. Unless they’re dream analysts, I guess.

Then I was going to write about Christmas, but I’m too tired to do that right now. I got books, I got games, I got an honorary adopted emperor penguin, and that was a good haul. My birthday’s in a few days, too, so there are gifts yet to come.

Then I was going to write about 2022, the year that was, but then I decided I’d do that on December 31 (which also happens to be my birthday). My post about goals and areas of focus for 2023 will wait until January 1.

So for now… It’s the third day of Christmas for those of you with a liturgical bent, so celebrate accordingly.

Day Twenty-Five: Wings for Everybody!

Wings! Wings! Everyone gets wings!

Penguin with golden wings
Uncle Nav with wings!

Here’s crazy ol’ Uncle Nav with his wings. They’re the golden wings that Pancake and Pep found in the magic chest. Uncle Nav is a big penguin — I don’t know what species of penguin Pancake et al are supposed to be, but if Uncle Nav is this large, then perhaps they are emperor penguins.

Another penguin with golden wings
Pancake with wings!

Here’s Pancake the Penguin with her golden wings! And still carrying that bowl of pancake batter.

And, of course, that’s the end of the adventure. They all get wings, according to the narrative, and then all the penguins in Waddleberg fly around, and it’s all stunning and magical and narrated by Morgan Freeman.

Cutaway box with a view of golden-winged penguins flying around
Behold! A scene of flying penguins!

If you embiggen the picture above, you’ll see a world of flying penguins, all with their golden wings. What joy.

And, finally, just to make sure everything’s fair and equal, here’s Pep the Lungfish with her golden wings as well:

Papercraft fish with golden wings
Pep gets wings too!

But flying lungfish aren’t as interesting as flying penguins, so let’s move on.

According to the narrative text that is printed on each of the little envelopes that these little papercraft critters come in, if you leave Pancake the Penguin with her wings on your Christmas tree, then on Christmas morning she might just take flight!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that you enjoyed following Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish through their adventures in the Ice Cream Forest, past the Mountains of Madness, and so on, as well as their defeat of the Ice Cream Fairy and Snow Monster Narlee. Have a happy new year, and all that jazz.

Day Twenty-Four: The Town Square

(This was written on Monday the 26th, days after the 24th.)

A papercraft snow penguin
They call this a snowguin! Complete with top hat!

It’s a day of jubilation in Waddleberg as Pancake the Penguin and her sister Pep the Lungfish arrive in the town square. No one believed it was possible. They all figured Old Penguin Nav was just bonkers, had gone mad from the sights he’d seen in his earlier quests, and that his stories of a Golden Key, of a magic chest, and wings were all delusions. But no! Pancake and Pep came zooming into town on the chest and spread wings to everyone who witnessed their grand arrival!

And then there’s a celebration in the center of town square, where the villager penguins all build a giant snow penguin (a “snowguin”, they all it). The honor of putting the top hat on top of the tree falls to Pancake and Pep because of their status as heroic adventurers.

This town has it going on!

But perhaps some lone, uninitiated traveler came across the penguin village of Waddleberg late at night when it was deserted, and saw the snowguin, and went quite mad. Remember the story of the albino giant penguin in the cave that Lovecraft wrote about? Perhaps the giant snowguin is the source of the legend.


It’s a time for Holidailies in Waddleberg!

The entry for the twenty-fourth of the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Rest) reads, “The conventional wisdom is that new parents should rest when the baby is resting. Make sure you take some time out to
rest with Baby Jesus — and marvel in the wonder of a fresh, new, clean, shiny, tiny, precious start. Take a nap and thank God for the gift of Jesus and for peace at Christmas.”

Christmas Eve is traditionally rather busy in my family, as Jennifer and I go down to visit my folks and the house is full of people. I got to spend some time with my sisters, with my mom and dad, and with my four-year-old nephew, playing some sort of game with balls and cars, with rules that I didn’t understand but he did, and that’s all that matters. I rested very little. We had a lot of presents to wrap before leaving, and even though I actually read the entry in the morning (the church cross-posts the entries to Facebook), I didn’t take the time.

This calendar ends on the 24th, so this will be the last minor reflection on it. I suppose, though, that some secular holiday calendars — like the adventures of Pancake and Pep — and on the 25th. Tomorrow is Christmas, it’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and a new adventure awaits.

Day Twenty-Three: Uncle Nav, I presume!

A papercraft penguin wearing goggles
Uncle Nav wears goggles! And he has a wing pin, like pilots get!

In today’s silly adventure, Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish arrive in Waddleberg and meet up with Uncle Nav, the one who had told them about the Golden Key, the magic chest, and the wings within in the first place. When the sisters tell him their adventures, Uncle Nav is “delighted” to learn that his fanciful story was true!

What does this mean, though? Does this mean that Uncle Nav made it all up? Or had he learned the tale from his forefathers long ago? Or was there a muse of some sort dictating the tale to him? Perhaps the intelligences from beyond time extruded the story into his mind, sort of like the Ab’d Al-Azrad, the Mad Arab himself, who penned the Necronomicon that Lovecraft wrote about in so many of his tales.

You probably have already guessed that the last possibility is my favorite. Natch.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. This particular Advent calendar goes through Christmas Day, I think, so we have to wait until then to discover whether penguins (and lungfish?) can indeed fly with magic wings.

Our wild ride is coming to an end! Strap in!

‘Tis an eerie day for Holidailies

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Turn) reads, “If you are gathering with friends and family today, consider taking time during the meal to turn to the folks on your right, and then on your left, to thank them for their love in your life. See how this might spread some joy and comfort around the table — or maybe even ease some potentially prickly guests.”

I did read this entry this morning, but by the middle of the day, the message was gone from my head. As it happens, we did have lunch with Jennifer’s family, and that was fun. I enjoy her family very much, and her two sisters are a hoot and a half. I sat across from her older sister and sat next to Jennifer, but didn’t share this message with them because, as I have already said, I simply forgot what today’s entry was. I did joke with them, had a good conversation, and some good fun. Maybe that’s the same thing, though.

Day Twenty-Two: WHEEEEEEEE!

A signpost showing Waddleberg
Waddleberg is an indeterminate distance ahead

But the wings don’t go on just yet. First, Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish have to go home to Waddleberg, which is a set distance from where the magic chest resided… though we don’t know exactly where that is. Well, that is, the readers don’t. Pancake and Pep do.

So Pancake and Pep clamber on top of the chest and have Narlee give a mighty push! And the two sisters go sliding down the hills, presumably through the icy forest, past the Mountains of Madness, through the Ice Cream Fairy’s domain, back to Waddleberg, where their adventures all began.

While I was reading the little narrative that came with today’s entry to Jennifer, she wondered why Pancake and Pep didn’t just don the wings and fly home. This seems like a logical question; it’s sort of like why couldn’t Gandalf have had the giant eagles carry Frodo from the Shire to Mordor to drop the Ring into Mount Doom from above (somewhere in my internet wanderings I found the answer to this, but sadly I can’t remember what it was). And as I write this now, it occurs to me that Pancake and Pep can’t quite don the wings and fly yet, because they’ll only be able to fly on Christmas Day, and we’re two days away from that yet! So it’s the long icy slippery slidey downhill road for them, just like Frodo and Samwise on their way home to the Shire. Except Frodo and Samwise didn’t shout “YAHOOOOOOOO!” all the way home.

Or maybe they did. It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Lord of the Rings. I suspect, though, that they were at least a little stunned when they returned to the Shire only to find that Saruman had scoured the Shire and turned it into a mechanistic, industrialized hellhole.

Is this the fate that awaits Pancake and Pep? Will they arrive in Waddleberg only to find that it has been taken over by a great evil, a servant of Sauron or Morgoth or Uncle Nav?

We can only wait and see…

Cat Rambo, writer, has issued a challenge for 2023: The Ray Bradbury Challenge. That is, write a short story a week every week in the new year. I’m signing up.

I know I did a short story every week for a year back in 2007/2008, and even sold a couple of those stories. I tried again a few years later, then again a few years after that and failed. This time, there will be a community of writers involved in the challenge on Cat’s Discord server, so hopefully that will help keep me focused. If you’re one of my writer friends and you’ve made it this far into my blog entry, what are you thinking of doing in 2023?

On a very random note, there doesn’t seem to be a way to download to my computer music I’ve purchased, ripped, and uploaded to Google’s YT Music service. This is extremely annoying. Before Google made the incomprehensible decision to get rid of Google Music, there was a way to do this. Now there is not. I’m really kind of upset about this.

‘Tis a squeeeeeee-ish Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Bless) reads, “Make sure to pick up an extra present or two — a nice candy sampler or a warm pair of slippers or pajama pants, just in case you have extra friends or guests drop by. Ask God to bless those who travel and those who may be alone in the coming days. Take some bottled water and sports drinks over to your local community cold weather shelter. They will be extra glad to have that during the winter months.”

I really ought to start reading these in the mornings instead of 9:30 at night when I am writing up this blog post. Sacramento, like the rest of the country, is experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures this winter season, and there are warming stations set up. I wish I’d thought earlier to pick up some water or sports drinks for them when I was at the grocery store earlier. The poor and the homeless are often on my mind, in a sort of “There but for the Grace of God go I…” sense, but not much more.

Day Twenty-One: The Treasure

Cardstock folder with paper wings attached

So, it seems there are actually six sets of wings in the Magic Chest, and on this, the twenty-first day of December, we learn this fact. At first, we were only told that just one penguin would be able to fly on Christmas Day, but now it appears six may be able to! Pancake’s papercraft form has a spot for wings, and you can see in the picture above the instructions for attaching them.

I’m very curious, though: If there are that many sets of wings in the treasure chest, does that mean everyone gets one? Pancake? Her mother? Her adopted sister Pep the Lungfish? The Ice Cream Fairy? Narlee the Snow Monster? Fuzz? Uncle Nav, whom I’ve forgotten until just now?

Will… Will I get a set of wings? Will I be able to fly on Christmas Day?

Probably not. These wings don’t attach to me at all. I’m just too big.

But think about this: Have you ever seen a penguin swim in the water? Seriously. Go to Antarctica (or your local zoo or natural history museum, if they have penguins) and watch them. They’re very graceful. Sure they’re a bit waddlesome on land, comical and silly, but in the water, they swim with ease and confidence. Their element is the water.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong for a penguin to year for airborne flight… Just that there’s something to be said for graceful swimming underwater as well (unless you encounter a seal).

A flighty Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Pray) reads, “Pray along with the Collect for Advent 4, found on page 212 in The Book of Common Prayer. Pick three or four of your beloveds to focus your prayers on today. Make sure to leave some silent space for God to offer you some wisdom about what they may need right now.” I know whom I praying for already.

Day Twenty: It’s here!

Papercraft model of a wooden chest with wings
It’s the Magic Chest! And it has wings growing out of it!

X does indeed mark the spot, and today, sisters Pancake the Penguin and Pep the Lungfish, along with their new friend Narlee the Snow Monster, find the Magic Chest that they’ve been looking for! It was right where the map said it would be! Huzzah!

Now, for me, it might just be the heebie-jeebies after watching Raiders of the Lost Ark too many times, but I always get wary when I see a wooden chest with wings on it. Holy Melting Faces Batman! Presumably, though, the wings can be removed and put onto Pancake (Pep and Narlee left out of the magic, as observed previously), and Pancake will be able to fly.

A Dream of Wings that Work indeed.

Not included: animated gif image of the face-melting scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. That would be too grotesque for this blog.

Speaking of music, last night I went to the final performance of Jennifer’s vocal group Vox Musica. It was a beautiful performance, especially the Magnificat of Mary, which had so many amazing movements I could barely keep track of them all. I highly recommend checking out Vox Musica when you can, and some of their music on their website. It’s not the Pogues or Dropkick Murphys, but it’s fantastic anyway.

‘Tis a magical and musical Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Learn) reads, “Read Habakkuk 2:1-4. Does this reading remind you of Thomas the Disciple? Why do you think the folks who organized the lectionary picked this reading from the Old Testament for this friend of Jesus?”

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Now I’m kind of embarrassed because I don’t actually know much about Thomas beyond that he was the doubting apostle who needed to have physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection. So I’m afraid I have no thoughts for this one right now.

Day Nineteen: What We Do in the Snowfall

Paper cutouts of snowflakes

Okay, Narlee, having seen the madness of the honey bells behind the brittle façade of reality (represented by a shrub), is overjoyed and returns the Golden Key to the sisters. This whole adventure makes me think of Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, even if neither writer would have ever deigned to have female main characters. This is a tale for a more modern and enlightened age. I’m not saying that ironically. Both authors were extremely problematic, perhaps Lovecraft more so than Poe.

At any rate, Narlee is so happy that he offers to accompany the two sisters on their journey to find the Magic Chest. We already know that the Magic Chest, when opened, will allow penguins to fly on Christmas Day, but will it let Pep the Lungfish and Narlee the Snow Monster fly as well? We shall see.

This story is taking on cosmic twists and turns I’m not sure the author intended!

Anyway, here’s some music for you, some of my favorite holiday songs. I’ve shared them before, but, you know, I can’t help myself.

First, “The Season’s Upon Us” by Dropkick Murphys, my favorite Boston-area Irish punk band. Loud and exciting, this really gets to the heart of a raucous family gathering which is probably nothing like yours or mine.


Second, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen” by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I’m not sure who did the video, but it was definitely someone clever. If I researched it more, I’d find out. But here’s the weird little video to a weird little song:


And, finally, a Christmas classic: “Fairytale of New York” by the one and only Pogues. A classic, it was even featured in the Netflix miniseries “Lily and Dash”, which I highly recommend. Be aware that this song contains a couple of slurs, so you may wish to skip it.

There are plenty of Christmas songs performed by classic punk bands, and I definitely plan on checking some of them out, although for now I am listening to some classic crooners sing their Christmas tunes. At the moment, it’s Vince Guiraldi’s “Linus and Lucy”. Always a classic, even if not necessarily a Christmas tune.

‘Tis a cosmic and musical Holidailies!

Today’s entry in the Episcopal Advent Calendar (Go) reads, “Go out into your neighborhood today. Where is God at work? Ask God to show you how you can celebrate that good work and name God’s presence in your community.”

The Episcopal Church is not without its problems, including dwindling membership and a growing schism over the rights of LGBTQ+ members of the church (should they be allowed to be priest? Should same sex marriages be blessed by the Church? I say yes to both). However, I really like that the church places its emphasis on finding the divine not in splash and money and what-not but in neighbors and the community. The Baptismal Covenant reads, in part, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” (The response is, “I will, with God’s help”). Compassion is central to the tenets of the Episcopal Church, which is one of the reasons I love it.

Tonight I’ll be wandering into Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Sacramento to watch my wife perform with Vox Musica in their 2022 Christmas concert. I’ll keep an eye out for God in the midst of that.