Day 9: The “Cuss” in “Percussion”

Dawn Doherty

Hang In There, Baby: Dawn Doherty’s Attempt at a Holiday Card

Putting the “cuss” in “percussion.” That’s how LDBCer Tara De Lis characterized this struggle of ours, and given the carnage we’ve seen thus far, it strikes me as particularly apt. The “no” in “noel.” The “ailing” in “wassailing.” The “oy” in “Boy.”

Day 9 finds us with nearly 330 brave brothers and sisters down already. And with Ribert, our First Fallen. A reminder of what the holiday truly means: fear. That’s what occurred to me as I reminded the latest victims to report their losses via the form. What if terror, I thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if terror, perhaps, means a little bit more?

Anita Purdie McKee

Anita Purdie McKee‘s Kitty, Milo, “Helps” with the Tree

It means a whole lot to The Boy, certainly. Cruelty’s his bag. Choir member Julia Kuhn, who, like so many others, had her love of singing twisted and weaponized against her. Lynne Brown, who absent-mindedly gave voice to the deadly notes and self-immolated while placing Baby Jesus in a nativity scene. Countless unfortunates drawn in by what was promised to be a cute Jimmy Fallon/Alanis Morissette bit.

Jen Brown Talley's Daughter Thought She Wanted a Bike

Jen Brown Talley‘s Daughter Thought She Wanted a Bike

Nature can be beautiful, but she sure as hell isn’t guaranteed to be kind. Why, just consider that she decided the tarantula hawk wasp should exist, and then try to tell me about how gentle Mother Nature is. So it only follows that the holidays carry their own brand of cruelty, and The Boy is that spite and viciousness personified.

Dave Draper

“And obviously drunk”: Dave Draper as a kid, with family

So I bring you two sides of the same coin, people: the tragedy of the LDBC-elfie and the flip-side fun of awkward photos, Christmas-tree cheer, hideous sweaters, and all-around jocularity. The season giveth, and the season taketh away.

Spock and Kirk in holiday garb, courtesy Jon Jackson

Spock and Kirk in holiday garb, courtesy Jon Jackson

First, the tragedy. None of them asked for this fate. They actively tried to avoid it, in fact. Yet the evil of the season didn’t factor their desires into its plan. It just went ahead and had its way with them like a kitten with a roll of toilet paper. Shreds of what used to be joy and promising vitality draped over the toilet handle and floating in the water itself, waiting to be sent, spinning whichever way the water goes, depending on your hemisphere, to the sewer of despair. (Please note: the Coriolis effect doesn’t actually determine which way your toilet flushes; that’s a myth.) The holiday is the handle, and The Boy is the giant palm that slaps it to the rhythm of his mirthless guffaw.

Paradise Lost: The Fallen Thus Far

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Anyway, after venting my despair, built up by documenting the piles upon piles of atrocities already visited upon those I love, am acquainted with, or just met via the magic of the Internet, I won’t leave you with that dark taste in your mouth. Rather, here’s the promised second helping—one flavored with a lot more levity. Sweaters. Costumes. Trees. Pets. Kids. Awkward family photos. Surely, there’s something to smile at in here, right?

Candles in the Darkness

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And there you have it, people. Once again, remember to report in via the form, should you fall, and post an appropriate LDBC-elfie documenting your demise on the Facebook page or on Twitter. Remember: ever vigilant.

For Ribert!

Day 1: Alas, Poor Ribert…

Little Drummer Is Watching

Little Drummer Is Watching by James “Big Brother” Barnett

The darkness has descended once again, fellow LDBCers, and already we have a First Fallen. Bow your heads, and say a word for our 10th-anniversary First Fallen, Ribert Economu, taken down at home, as so many of The Boy’s victims are. (Yes, I suspect there’s at least one typo in there, but you fills out the form, and you takes your chances.)

So we have our battle cry for the season. And all those who find themselves still standing as the sky lights up with each new morning shall shout it to the ceiling to honor those who’ve passed on and gird themselves for the battles to come. Remember, should you fall, please fill out the official reporting form. And if you wish, take a photo of yourself at the moment of your demise, and post it to the Facebook page so that you’re visually memorialized. (Scroll to the bottom here for some inspiration from the past.)

For Ribert!

Pre-Game: After Midnight, We Gonna Let It All Hang Out

Apocalypse Boy

Apocalypse Boy by Jungle James Barnett

Part of me was afraid of what I would find and what I would do when I got there. I knew the risks, or imagined I knew. But the thing I felt the most, much stronger than fear, was the desire to confront him. — Captain Benjamin L. Willard

Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, people. After midnight, local time (wherever you are), it’s Black Friday, and we’re under way. Check your playlists, step lively, and watch your backs. Remember, first one to get taken down and fill out the reporting form is our First Fallen for the year.

Ever vigilant!

Day 29: Hey, Blood—Let’s Party

A night to dismember: art from Kristin Fletcher's & Emily_Guinn's kids

A night to dismember: art from Kristin Fletcher’s & Emily_Guinn’s kids

Yes, that’s a desperate channeling of Jeff Spicoli, but I’m still in this thing, and I’m drop-dead exhausted from the fear of it all. I mean, do you even remember a time when we weren’t running from The Boy? I’m not sure I can recall what normal feels like anymore.

Nevertheless, LDBCers, we’re almost there: midnight of the 23rd. The end of the struggle. And what a struggle it’s been. We’re closing in on 1,000 victims who’ve reported in via the form (Mrs. LDBC among them), and we’re at that point in the game where those who get taken out now break my heart. So close. But that’s our Boy, bloodthirsty to the last.

How bad is it? Well, take a look at the gallery of LDBC-elfies below, which is comprised of those who’ve taken a Boy-inflicted dirt nap since the last time I posted a Dispatch. Seventy-two in all. (Okay, so that’s a rather large gap between updates, but as noted philosopher Luther once said, I been busy.)

There’s no sugar-coating it. It’s bad. So bad that LDBCer Sara Starkowski wasn’t even safe in Bethlehem. As in, the Bethlehem.

Every morning I awaken and pray that today will be the day that nobody is caught out in the open. And within a few hours, a dozen or more prove that prayer is useless in this Thing of Ours. Sadly, it seems that our list of toxic media isn’t exactly getting the job done, either, as people keep stepping on clearly marked landmines. (Don’t watch that Pee-wee/Grace Jones video, folks. Just don’t. Same goes for those episodes of The West Wing and American Horror Story.)

Anyway. This’ll be the last Dispatch before the finish, when we can finally breathe easy and take time to both celebrate and mourn. We’re almost there. Hang in. We can do this.

Spare a thought for the fallen below; honor the memory of our First Fallen; keep the rules ever in mind; and for God’s sake, whatever you do, keep moving. You don’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary this late in the game.

For Sloppy Joe!

Faces of the Fallen: LDBC-elfies

 

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Day 9: the Sound and the Furry

Kayla Roche and Kim Drogan Prentice

Material issue: Kayla Roche, Kim Drogan Prentice, and their potentially complicit cloth compatriots

Our cute and cuddly critters won’t save us, fellow LDBCers. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests they may be part of the problem. If nothing else, they’re certainly not helping. The two ladies above were done in while in the company of an assortment of wee, fuzzy pals. Kayla Roche was shopping among them when The Boy found her and laid her low. Kim Drogan Prentice was trying to find a good home for those she created. Think about that. Behind the fabric visage, could there lurk the spirit of a being that would happily create musical matricide? (Yes, this paragraph is polluted with a lot of alliteration. I fall into that now and again and have no doubt posted about it before, though I’m too upset to go find where and when.)

The body count, going by those who’ve reported in via the official form, has now topped 300—and the real number is probably higher. Some were felled by already documented toxic media. Others simply shopped when they should’ve stopped.

I don’t know. After a while, it’s all we can do to resist the temptation to go numb. But to resist is the point. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I don’t tend to zombie-walk through our struggle like an over-injected famous face full of Botox. (And there I go again, plus I’m mixing metaphor and simile.)

What can I tell you? I’m rattled. And I think that’s understandable, given that our casualty rate has just passed that of the Spartans at Thermopylae. And all we can do is run, hide, and earbud our way to safety. No stabby solutions for us.

I have nothing more profound or promising to offer on this cold, rainy Chicago Saturday, folks. If we’re to weather this thing of ours, it’ll be together—hand in hand, heart beating against heart. The Boy’s a hunter. A tracker, as noted bounty hunter and philosopher Leonard Smalls once said. Some say part hound dog.

Tex_Cobb

The most recent casualties are pictured below. Mourn them. Learn from them. Pay your respects, and then do your damndest not to suffer their fate. But should you fail and fall, post it to the Facebook page, add it to a comment on an existing post, or Tweet it to us.

And one more thing. I don’t want to flog our new charity effort to the point of being tiresome (too late, maybe?) and keep asking people to donate to Americares, our official charity this year. (Though I’ll note that the donation button is on this Facebook post.) But I wanted to call out fallen LDBCer Justin Fermenich, who pledged a very generous 50 dollars whether he won or lost. He went face first into the turf, alas, but he is a man of his word:

Justin-Fermenich

Love and altruism will get us to the other side of this thing, friends. Well, that plus cowardice, planning, panic, and dumb luck. But who’s counting? I am. And we’ve topped 500 bucks in donations thus far. So again, there’s absolutely no obligation to give. But if you can and you feel like it, here’s that link one more time.

Live or die by the rules, comrades, and don’t forget our First Fallen.

For Sloppy Joe!

Faces of the Fallen: LDBC-elfies

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Day 5: Can We Go Home Now?

Jaws pier

So long, holiday roast.

You’ll notice that certain movies get mentioned a lot in this thing of ours, people, and Jaws is certainly one of them. But the parallels between the shark terrorizing Amity and The Boy are fairly obvious. And I was reminded of another earlier today, when I pre-ordered a two-bag venti English breakfast and walked into Starbucks to drink it there, only to realize they were in full holiday-tunes mode.

I have nothing but respect for those who try to alter their circumstance using earbuds or careful planning, but lately I’ve been more in organic mode, taking normal care to avoid obvious places but otherwise trusting my luck to get me through. It often results in my exit, but today, I was able to finish my tea as harmless Christmas song after harmless Christmas song ticked by.

Though I did panic a bit when I was packing up and getting ready to leave because I was almost home. And it took me right back to sitting in a darkened theater the summer before fifth grade, freaking out as Charlie, one of the knuckleheads using a hunk of meat chained to an old pier, swam for his life while the shark approached, and his pal yelled for him to just keep swimming and don’t look back.

That was me, wet shoes slipping uselessly on wet planks as I struggled to get to safety before doom struck. I couldn’t get my Mac into my bag fast enough. Why were people blocking the trash can? And was the music playing outside, too, through external speakers? I couldn’t recall.

Still, I survived, which is in stark contrast to the 180-plus unfortunate LDBCers who’ve already reported in via the official form as having gone down. Some missed out on the warnings from our list of toxic media. Others just decided to play fast and loose and drew a bad card.

Some submitted LDBC-elfies (gallery below), and you can, too, should you be taken. Just post it to the Facebook page, add it to a comment on an existing post, or Tweet it to us.

Also, if you’d like to donate to Americares, our official charity this year, the donation button is on this Facebook post. Using that allows us to track how much has been given thus far. (We’re almost at $500, so thanks very much those who’ve contributed!)

And again, below are some of those who’ve already left us.

That’s it for now, faithful LDBCers. Step lively, keep the rules in mind, and honor our First Fallen.

For Sloppy!

Faces of the Fallen: LDBC-elfies

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Day 1: Already, a First Fallen

Moby Dick and Ahab

“[F]rom Hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”

The fun part of this thing of ours? It just keeps growing. The tragic part of this thing of ours? There are enough people playing that it doesn’t take long before we have a First Fallen. And so we do, people. For the rest of the game, let us cut loose with our battle cry for Sloppy Joe, taken down while testing his music-playing clock. (And if I do say so myself, I think it’s my favorite name since starting the tradition of First Fallen.)

As always, check the rules for a refresher and updates. (Parodies count this year.) And should tragedy strike, be sure to report in via the official form.

Ever vigilant, people. For Sloppy Joe!