LDBCer Dispatch: Just Desserts

kokos-kitchen-drop-dead-cookies

Ever see that old Night Gallery episode where John-Boy Walton‘s mom asks him to be a sin eater, which means he takes in the sins of the dead person so the departed can go to Heaven? If not, I’ll ruin it for you. His mother tricks him and forces him to eat the sins of his father, who was the village sin eater, which means he’s taking in the accumulated sins of someone who’s already eaten everybody else’s sins. A holiday classic, I tell you.

Anyway, today’s tale is something like that. But I’ll let Rick Damigella take it from here with his LDBCer Dispatch.

I’m writing on behalf of a friend regarding an event I’ve nicknamed the Company Holiday Party Drummassacre and ask that you rule on the actions of a notorious individual we will call DJ Fun Ruiner. A good friend of mine works for a large company. Large enough that different divisions have their own holiday gatherings. Yesterday, their division gathered for a mid-day holiday lunch and party. The very moment the party started, the DJ immediately played a classic instrumental version of “The Little Drummer Boy.” The collective groans and gasps from the revelers indicated a very large number of them were playing The Game. This was absolutely intentional on his part because at this point DJ Fun Ruiner began laughing hysterically. Laughing hysterically at nearly 1,500 people who he thought were just drummed out.

The egregiously evil DJ laughing at the upset players resulted in a large number of the party goers to begin pelting him with cookies. Now, as you can imagine, there were a lot of very distraught people at the Company Holiday Party Drummassacre who believed they were eliminated. Now, while I know the rules, I was hoping you could find it in your heart, to publicly post a ruling on this particular incident, so that I can share it with my friend, who can then let their coworkers know that they are in fact, still very much alive.

John-boy Walton

The dyspeptic John-Boy

Well, those of you already familiar with this year’s new “Hoist with His Own Petard” rule know what comes next. The partygoers are still in the game, but the jerk DJ is himself out due to the jerkiness of his jerky attempt. Even worse, he’s out 1,500 times over—once for each attendee. Which means his face probably looks much like John-Boy’s did at the end of the episode. [Editor’s note: John-Boy is no relation to The Boy.]

I’ve helpfully included an image for those of you who never saw that Rod Serling classic. It ain’t pretty. But it helps if you can imagine cookies launched by angry attendees bouncing off it.

Anyway, we’ve reached day 22 of this thing of ours, and we’re approaching nearly 600 victims of The Boy who’ve reported in via the form. Those who’ve turned in LDBC-elfies since our last report are featured in the gallery below.

We nearing the home stretch, people. Let’s not go wobbly now.

For Mike!

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Photo credit: cookies by Koko’s Kitchen

Day 23: Yeeeeee-HAH!

Happy Granny

It’s happy-dance time, friends. It’s over. (Well, it is on the East Coast and in the Midwest, home of LDBC Central, anyway. Our friends on the West Coast and all points further back in the Earth’s rotation have to make it for a bit more since the game ends at midnight your local time.)

Everybody out of the cee-ment pond.

Little Drummer Boy

Southern California Little Drummer Boy by Susan Biddlecomb

Time for the bastard Boy to wave goodbye for another year while we bind our wounds, collect our dead, and celebrate our survival—if indeed we have survived.

You know the drill. Over the next few days, please fill out the official reporting form (linked here and embedded below) with your loss or victory if you haven’t done so. I’ll post a few reminders to catch the stragglers before I start compiling our ever-lovin’ stats and put together the hallowed LDBC Wall.

Also, all you lucky, lucky survivors, please post a gloriously happy LDBC-elfie to the Facebook wall, and I’ll share all your celebratory faces in the 2015 wrap-up post.

Before all that, though, I want to share an LDBC-elfie gallery and two tales. The first, from Wes Flinn, is short and light-hearted, but inspiring all the same:

My wife held the door to a gas station bathroom closed so I could not get out. She did it because the Boy was in the station and I couldn’t hear him in the bathroom. (She was taken out a couple of weeks back.) I love her so much for this.

The second, from Thomas Carpenter, is honestly one of the most touching posts I’ve seen in the six years we’ve been doing this (right up there with Sue Carkner‘s 2013 Tale from the Trenches):

I’m out! And under the worst possible circumstances.

My husband and I have a dear friend who got a leukemia diagnosis over the summer. She responded well to her initial round of chemo, and pretty quickly found a 10-point match for a bone marrow donor through the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

The problem is, that she’s single, and lives alone in NYC, so the hospital wasn’t willing to do the bone marrow transplant unless she had caregivers. My husband and I stepped up and said that she could move in with us while she re-built her immune system.

Here’s the thing about having a bone marrow transplant. You can’t really be out and about among other people. You’ve got no immune system, whatsoever, and the slightest thing could set you back, or worse, could kill you.

Our friend is slowly, but surely recovering, and one of the most important things for her, at this point, is to visit one of the restaurants in our neighborhood, where we’re regulars. We might be pushing it, in terms of going out to eat before her immune system is totally rebuilt, but it’s so important for morale, so we’ve done it. And the restaurant wiped down the bar with ammonia before we even sat down, and the food was served piping hot, so…it seemed a safe bet.

Well, while it was safe for my friend who’s recovering from cancer, it was not safe for me. No sooner did I finish explaining to the bartender the terms of The Little Drummer Boy Challenge…

Etta James. Singing “Come, they told me…” Not the worst version. Actually, probably the best, if you have to hear the song. It doesn’t make your ears bleed, at least. But I immediately shrieked in pain, and everyone around me said, “WHAT? Are you okay?”

I was not okay. They eventually heard what was playing, and knowing what it meant to me, promised that they would delete that song from their playlist forevermore.

So, I’m out. But my friend is cancer-free, and I persuaded a restaurant to amend their holiday playlist, so, I can fall asleep with my soul intact, tonight.

And that’s about it ’til the countin’s done, folks. So fill out the form, people, and in a few days, we’ll put this thing to bed for another year with the post-game wrap-up.

For Craig!

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Day 23: How Much More?

Sammi Esterman Balik

Fallen LDBCer Sammi Esterman Balik

How much more? A bit more than three days. An eternity, in other words.

There are pluses and minuses to being blasted by The Boy early in the game. On the one hand, you’re in the LDBC afterlife right off the bat and don’t have to walk in fear anymore. On the other, it’s kind of humiliating to get cut down right out of the gate.

Similarly, while it’s frustrating as hell to get thisclose to winning, only to be clotheslined within days of the finish line, there is some pride to be taken in having made it that far.

Mrs. LDBC and I just returned from a light, late lunch at neighborhood favorite Taste of Heaven, where we were absolutely certain we were going to buy it amongst the tasteful holiday decorations and tempting cupcakes. (The Elvis and Cho Cho Cho offerings are among my recommendations.) The joint was chockablock with Christmas music, and I was all set to snap a tragic selfie. Only The Boy didn’t show. Likewise yesterday, when I made it out of my doctor’s waiting room in one piece after a enduring a veritable tempest of yuletide tunes.

Still, not all is phew and relief. We have a whole new batch of LDBC-elfies, and yet again, it is our duty to doff our caps to observe a silent moment of solemnity for the fallen pictured below. They started this thing with the same hopes and dreams as we did this year, and they were done in by the dastardly drum before they could even glimpse the finish line at the end of Santa Claus Lane.

The moment we wake up, before we put on our makeup, we say a little prayer for them.

Speaking of prayers, this noir LDBCer Dispatch from Cathy D Thomas is simply divine and deserves to be included in its entirety:

Three o’clock in the morning, And, I’m supposed to sleep.

I said I’d be dead by Friday. Of course, The Boy didn’t let me go that easy.

The first thing you should know is that Denver had a snowstorm this week. That must sound to others like, ‘the sun rose today’, but really, in Denver, snowstorms mostly dust the grass, then melt on the pavement in midday. This snowstorm closed the Denver Public Schools; that meant that the bus drivers couldn’t see far enough to drive, and kids couldn’t climb the snowbanks caused by plowing, if their neighborhoods were lucky enough to get proactive clearing overnight.

The next thing you need to know is that after a protracted period of periodic employment, I started my first full-time job in over a year. That meant getting up at 5 am, to allow for the bus delays on the commute, and coming home to massage the bruises and strains on my legs and knees going over fairly rough ice terrain. By the time of yesterday’s party, I was tired enough to assume I needed cabs coming and going. I learned to depend on the kindness of strangers, and have cash ready.

The third and final thing to know? Denver has a barbaric system of ordering every bar to clear out its patrons by 1 am. That means drunken brawls and shootings occur in the parking lots, because bingers get frustrated. It also means that after midnight, finding a cab outside the LoDo bar sector becomes nearly impossible.

My tiredness should have stopped me from assuming The Boy would forget my winning streak, my dodging of Him during this week’s several corporate holiday festivities. Tiredness, the cold, and my desperation to get home led to arrogance — and, The Boy was waiting for me.

After getting through the first cab ride, with a driver who didn’t know why locals still call Sports Authority Field at Mile High “Mile High Stadium”, I got to the party, ate, drank, pocketed luscious chocolate bonbons from the table-setting bowls, and settled down to bet $1000 of play money toward the eternal bitch goddess of Roulette… where I left the table with over $2000. (This never, ever happens with real cash.)

I then observed my co-workers careen through hands of Blackjack, a game I love, but never will be good enough to play. (Too lazy to count, for Blackjack, too wussy to be an asshole, for Poker.) Throughout all this, the DJ played classic hits. Someone, bless him, asked for non-Christmas music — you see what this led me to? Yep — I thought I’d dodged Him.

By midnight, we ended our hands, as the dealers were getting loopy with the overtime, then gathered our coats. I’d asked a co-worker to get a lift to a downtown cabstand, but we missed each other in the rush to leave. At 12:15, I called a taxi (no smartphone, nor the desire to support scab drivers, to call Uber). By 12:45, it was clear no one would take the ride, so I called another company. By 1:30, after three calls to the dispatcher, and two to the driver, we finally found each other, in one of the large parking lots in front of the stadium. He was new to the city, and his phone’s directions suggested taking the highway, a cab-rider’s sucker bet. I told him, step by step, how to take me home.

1:40 am. We were on the homestretch, with clear traffic and no need to speak. The radio was on low, playing K-Love Christian Rock. I barely heard it, but knew, once I did, I had to acknowledge the truth. There it was — Pa rum pum pum pum — and, it was over.

“Turn it up,” I sighed.

“Off?”

“No — up.” Why not? These fuzzy, faux-hep, Jesus-Freak monsters did the equivalent of tripping me on the sooty, disgusting street ice, twisting my ankle on someone else’s tracks, then stomping on my hand, as I tried to struggle back up. The joy of the season will remain, but tainted by their harmonies.

At least I still have the bonbons, and can take my muscle relaxant and try to sleep 12 hours, in my nest of Snuggies, down comforters and regret.

But, The Boy? God damn the man and his music. And triple damn MercyMe, who saw fit to use The Boy as their signal bombast on their Xmas album.

Three days-plus and counting, people. It’s stiff-upper-lip time now.

For Craig!

(The usual reminder: should your lip wilt and you find yourself among the fallen, please report in via the official form so that you’re included in the gratifyin’ game-end stats. And if you’re feeling photographically frisky, post an LDBC-elfie of your sad, shocked face on the Facebook wall.)

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LDBCer Dispatch: Don’t Tread On Me

Tire Swing Kid
Jojo at dentist by Mandy Rose

As the late Maude Flanders used to say, won’t somebody please think of the children? Somebody other than The Boy, I mean. You see, while the dreaded kid is actually 72 years old, and while he’s known by many other names—among them Randall Flagg, The Walkin’ Dude, and Walter o’Dim—he’s pretty much called The Boy by everybody. Which would make you think he’d leave his fellow kids alone rather than use them as pawns in his dark game. But no, as you’ll see below in the tragic tale of Mandy Rose and her radial-catalyzed trip to the dentist. (Please note: Ms. Rose wishes you to know that Jojo emerged from this situation just fine. Had he not, she’d certainly never joke about it.)


With apologies to Emily Dickinson:

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The carriage held but just Ourselves —
And LDB.

After avoiding LDB at several stops, my son lost the daily battle of boy vs. playground when a tire swing claimed not one, not two, but three of his teeth. One upon impact, two pulled in the dentist’s chair.

As I held my son still for the numbing shot, it was me feeling the sting of the rum-pa-pum-pum. No salve for my pain tonight. Just the cold comfort of ice cream for dinner and the knowledge that he was too busy being brave to hear the song for himself.

Version unknown, location the seventh ring of extraction.

Tire Swing: 3
Jojo: 1
LDB: 1
Mandy: 0

LDBCer Dispatch: House Skochko Is Felled in the Court of Foods

Evil Nutcrackers
Evil nutcrackers by Sam Howzit

Many thanks to Ms. Julia Skochko, a veteran LDBCer who went out too soon, but gave us some giggles in the process. The kids are all right. And sometimes parents should listen to them to avoid getting the entire family mowed down.


Friends, Facebookians, Drummer-Dodgers: it is with profound sorrow that I must inform you of our family’s elimination. A scant eighteen hours passed betwixt the start of the challenge and our downfall (Nov. 26th, 6 pm). I can scarcely bear to write it, but it was my own hubris that sealed our fate.

“Let’s go to the Christkindlmart in Bethlehem!”, I said. “There’ll be ice carvers, and glittery pinecones, and mulled cider ‘n’ shit!”

The children protested, bless them (“No! We wanna play Minecraft and smear Cheese Doodle dust on everything you love!”). We arrived, and still they attempted to save us (“This sucks! Let’s leave and try to startle the ice carver while he’s using his chainsaw!”).

Alas, the poor dears’ efforts were for naught: a fusillade of drumbeats felled us moments later as we supped in the Court of Foods. Even eggnog rice pudding and zesty Cuban flatbread taste like ashes in one’s mouth after such a horror.

Be not like me, friends. Arrogance is as useless as a glitter pinecone when contending with this Boy.

LDBCer Dispatch: Ms. Dixon Takes a Fall Down Under

Mark Jacko Jackson
Shock to the system: the surprising Mark “Jacko” Jackson

The Aussies are some of my favorite people on the planet, and I mean that in all seriousness. Whether trekking in Nepal or blowing my knee out in the Alps, I’ve found them to be among the toughest and best-humored travelers around. Which is why it disturbs me that we’ve been at war with them for decades. We make them look stupid on The Simpsons and give them a bad name in medium after medium. They send us Yahoo Serious and Jacko. Frankly, I think we’re losing. (Don’t believe me? Have we ever come up with adequate retaliation for the commercial below? I think not.) Anyway, LDBCers such as Jennifer Dixon, who contributed the following account of her demise, help give me hope for a lasting peace between us.


I’m out.

You northern hemisphere types won’t appreciate this: it’s 104 degrees out there, in country NSW Australia. I’m in this town doing a locum whilst my family is thousands of kilometres (sorry, MILES) away and I’m bored. I’ve come to the closest thing that passes for a mall in these parts. Just browsing goddawful summer dresses in the plus-size section…. Damn! Unidentified boy band (the worst kind).

A friendly stranger asks me what the matter is (friendly, country folk are everywhere) and, try as I might, I just can’t explain my outburst of obscenities to them. “but it’s just a Christmas song”. They shake their head and walk away from the crazy big city type.

LDBCer Dispatch: Ms. Andrews Goes for Coffee

Caravaggio's Medusa, 1597
Artist’s representation of LDBCer Andrews when unduly provoked, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, 1597

No reason for us here at LDBC Central to do all the work hog the limelight when our terrified devoted community has so many harrowing delightful tales to tell. So here’s one, and more are on the way. First up: Shamela Andrews, with a rollickin’ report on what not to do before she’s had her caffeine. Enjoy, and keep your posts a-comin’. We’ll continue to highlight our favorites.


(SCENE: Time—7:55 a.m. Place—a local coffee drive-through. SHAMELA groggily pulls up. Bouncy, chipper CO-EDs #1 and #2 are staffing the joint. SHAM turns down her Freakonomics podcast to place her order.)

CO-ED 1: Gooood morning! What can I get you today? (with huge smile)

SHAM: (yawns) Sixteen-ounce peppermint mocha, please.

CO-ED 1: Okay! That will be $3.25!

SHAM: (hands CO-ED 1 $5 and her frequent buyer card)

CO-ED 1: (to CO-ED 2): Sixteen-ounce peppermint mocha!

CO-ED 2: Sixteen-ounce peppermint mocha coming up. OH HEY! We need to turn on the Christmas music!

CO-ED 1: Oh! Yes! (reaches towards iPod dock)

(Regular time slows to BULLET TIME. CO-ED 1 is reaching in slo-mo.)

SHAM: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

(SHAM is suddenly 3 stories tall, with hair writhing like snakes, lasers shooting out of her eyes, claws for hands with pointy knives as nails, a black nimbus cloud around her head, and her face is melting off like that guy in Indiana Jones. CO-EDs 1 and 2 register shock and awe and pants-pissing fear. Time speeds back up. CO-ED 1 snatches her hand away from iPod deck as if burned.)

CO-ED 1: (wide-eyed, skittish) O…kay… (takes several steps back)

(SHAM is herself again. Pats her hair down, clears throat. CO-EDs 1 and 2 avoid making eye contact. CO-ED 1 hands the coffee gingerly out the window.)

SHAM: (brightly, graciously) Thanks! Keep the change.

STILL IN.