Day 15: ‘What the Tinsel-Bedecked Hell?’

Laura Scandura Rea and Heather Cvitkovic McGregor’s rightfully cautious son

“The power of The Challenge compels you!”

For Laura Scandura Rea, it’s that mantra, aural protection, and a watchful googly-eyed tree. For Heather Cvitkovic McGregor, it involves carefully separating the Boy ornament from the other decorations and never putting him on the tree. (“My kids and I take the challenge very seriously,” she stresses.)

Whatever your precaution or talisman, LDBCers, hew faithfully to it. It’s all you’ve got. If your friends mock you, avoid them until midnight on Dec. 23rd. Better yet, get new friends. Reckless dummies like that are bound to damage you one way or another, game or no game.

Even if you exercise perfect discipline, it may not help you:

‘Wait, what?!’ said my son. ‘Are we still out?’

What I said to him: ‘Yes, son. We’re still out. It’s very sad, I know. But it’s important to be honest with ourselves—and with the world.’

What I thought to myself: ‘What the tinsel-bedecked hell? We only heard ten seconds of the freaking song! What kind of hellish dreamscape is this? Is Lars von Trier going to leap out from behind a stack of lawn and leaf bags at any moment?!”

Despite this great blow, we have soldiered on, bloodied but unbowed. J.Q. directed his attention to the list of Things He Really, Really Wants From Home Depot. (Grout sealant! An oscillating belt sander!) I myself focused on Christmas songs that I hate more than “Little Drummer Boy.”

After all, we only get one go-round on this crazy celestial ornament called Earth. We can spend our time gnashing our teeth and cursing The Boy. Or we can accept our losses, smile, and fantasize about leaving a flaming sleigh full of pig manure on the lawn of the guy who wrote “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” — Julia Skochko

More than 350 of our people have joined Ms. Skochko and her spawn in being wished into The Boy’s cornfield. Their faces are below. And if you just can’t get enough of that sort of thing, here are more. (What are you, some kind of ghoul? What’s with you?)

And remember, please: should you join them—or should you find yourself still standing when this thing is through—report in via the official LDBC form.

Until then, stay strong. It can’t rain all the time.

For Craig!

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Day 8: No Respect

Beth Hayes Bailie and sons

The look on Beth Hayes Bailie‘s son, above, who may or may not have been trying to give us his best Rodney Dangerfield but succeeded all the same, says it all, fellow LDBCers.

The Boy does not respect us. At all. In any way. (No, not her son. The Boy.)

He molests us with Muzak. Silences us with Simeone and Seger. Buries us in a barrage of Bing and Bowie. There are more than 3,000 of us who’ve liked the Facebook page now, which just means a happier hunting ground for the little jerk. And with the growing numbers come the growing number of victims.

Your friends, neighbors, and loved ones. These are their faces and tales.

Joanne Carey Blanchard, who only wished to deal with some doggie things, but ended up being thrown to the wolves. (“It’s all up to you to rep for the Family now, Mom,” she posted—with a capital “F” in “family.”)

And a capital “F” for a much angrier word is sent The Boy’s way over and over. But he doesn’t care. He just marches on, tapping out his rhythm of doom.

Many have fallen prey to viral videos. (Appearances can be deceiving, especially when you’re laying LDBCers low right and left with your otherwise admirable social message.) Others have suffered double-whammies.

Christine Chase Sacchi: “So while I’m laid low, stunned, stricken, does he leave it at that? Can he not gloat in silence and let me pull myself together? No! Two songs later he came back in another version to trample me where I lay.”

More than 200 of us who’ll have an “L” next to their names in the game-end tally. (You know, the tally I’m always nagging about. The one that you’ll only appear in if you fill out the reporting form.)

Faces and names, friends. And on top of the chronological list of them is this year’s First Fallen, Craig Barker.

So stay alert. Step lively. And should you fall, post an LDBC-elfie to the page or, at least, report in via the form that can’t be mentioned enough.

Godspeed.

For Craig!

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2015’s First Fallen: Craig Barker

2015’s First Fallen: Craig Barker

Oh, it’s on, people. And we’ve already got our First Fallen for the year. Though last year’s First Fallen, longtime LDBCer Susan Campbell Beachy, tried her best to get a streak started, she’s the third to report in thus far. This year’s? Craig Barker, taken from us at home by Ringo Starr, who showed up to tell him: you’re beautiful—and you’re mine.

Thus, we have our battle cry for this year.

Keep in mind, please: if and when you go—and it pains us to see that happen—don’t forget to fill out the form: http://bit.ly/LDBCform

Otherwise…for Craig!

But It Is Not This Day

A day may come when the courage of LDBCers fails, when we forsake our struggle, and allow The Boy to roam unfettered, spraying the landscape far and wide with Bieber-esque treacle. But it is not this day. This day—well, the 26 days of the 2014 LDBC—we fight. Fought.

It’s done!

You see, fellow LDBCers, while some of you are doing happy dances ’til your shoes turn red and others of us are rubbing vitamin E on our scars in the hopes that they’ll soon fade, we’re all victorious when the shadow of The Boy has faded. I mean, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t one of those mushy-spined things where everyone gets a trophy. Many of us have fallen, while only some (about a quarter, on average) get to drink from the cup. We salute the winners. The winners mourn the losers. And we all make fun of each other without mercy because we all have that edge.

What the hell am I talking about? I don’t know. I’m all hopped up on the itchiness of a fresh haircut and the clippings that have worked their way down my shirt plus the caffeine buzz from my second cup of Numi Breakfast Blend.

I guess what I’m trying to say, really, is Happy Holidays to all! Relax! Play some LDB all you want! He’s like the Bumble after he’s been relieved of his choppers. (Mrs. LDBC and I recommend this and this.)

And as a reminder, if you haven’t posted or sent in your LDBC-elfie of victory, please post to the Facebook wall or email them to the address you’ll see by passing the humanity test on our contact page. (We do want some happy ones in the mix, after all, but check out the new, wondrous shots o’ tragedy—with a few wins sprinkled in—in the gallery below).

As yet another reminder, if you haven’t filled out the official reporting form, please report in so that your loss or victory is included in the official stats and your name goes up on the yearly Wall. (Last year, a little more than 700 reported in; I’m betting we can beat that number handily this year since we added more than 800 of you.)

Once I’ve posted a few rounds of nagging and have gotten everything I think I’m going to get, I’ll post the year-end wrap-up and put this thing to bed for another season. (The tradition has been that it posts about a week or so into the New Year, and knowing my sloth-like ways, that’ll be a tradition I honor.)

But again, all: Happy Holidays. We laugh. We cry. We mock. But you guys really do make the season a hell of a lot more special for us.

For Susan!

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Day 24: Does Anybody Remember Laughter?

Christine Moers takes the cake

Christine Moers takes the cake

Eleven days without an update, LDBCers, and so much has happened, both joyous and heartbreaking. (Heartbreaking, mostly—’tis the season and all.)

An interview on Time‘s website (seriously…an actual interview). Another appearance with the good folks of Good Day Sacramento, where the dim lighting of our first-floor apartment on a cloudy day and the Mac camera’s attempt to make up for it once again leaves me glowing like Obi-Wan when he comes back from the dead.

But enough about me. For now. The story here is the continuing tragedy and poetry of you lot, as the English say (and I love that expression). Last year, when the first downfall snapshots began appearing and I made up the term LDBC-elfie (awkward, but I’m sticking with it), only a few trickled in here and there. Now it’s a thing. And it’s beautiful. From the above shot of Christine Moers and her nod to religious iconography in the baking-supplies aisle (her 11-year-old suggested they might as well make a cake since she died in front of them) to Joey X’s one-finger salute, our faithful community has responded with such enthusiasm that I’m not sure I can even put them all in one gallery lest the page take a few weeks to load. (We’ll see. It’s a nice problem to have.)

But before we dive into all the grief and misery, let us first bask in the holiday miracle that is Christine Jolley Hill’s baby boy, who, in true Harry Potter fashion, survived the dastardly Boy attack that slew his parents in their automobile while he napped in the back seat. A little hero, that kid. So charge your shields up with the cuteness of wee and scrappy slumber before the wave of sadness that’s about to wash over you.

Sleepy survivor: Christine Jolley Hill's lucky little guy

Sleepy survivor: Christine Jolley Hill’s lucky little guy

And just in case you’re not sufficiently fortified, there’s also the following (albeit edited for brevity) exchange between LDBCers Mike Barish and the prophetic Joe Hobaica, who’s earned himself a double-mention in this post, both by his real name and his Echo moniker:

MB: Joe Hobaica says I’ve jinxed myself, but this is the deepest into the season I’ve ever made it (I’ve obviously never won). Having a newborn has kept me out of stores and limited my media consumption in general. Unless his mobile somehow learns LDB, I’m feeling confident!

JH: Way to go, Icarus! You’re invincible!

MB: And I’m out. Joe was right. I got cocky. WHO THE HELL BLASTS LDB ON THEIR CAR RADIO WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN?! I’m minding my own business on December fuckin’ 21, walking my dogs half-a-block from my house and hear the death rattle of my LDBC 2014 season from about a mile away. Bah humbug!

Submitted the form. Time to drink.

So there you have it. Careful with that cockiness, friends.

And with that, we watch the skies start to dim here on Day 24, secure in the knowledge that while this is the shortest and cruelest day of the year, tomorrow we’re over the hump and slowly heading for more daylight. Just two more days, those of you who are still hanging in there. (Remember that the cutoff is 12 am the morning of Christmas Eve day, your local time.)

Here’s your big ol’ honking helping of the latest LDBC-elfies, and we mourn every one of them.

For Susan!

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Day 13: Puh-Rum-Pum-Pum-Puppy!

Little Drummer Boy Doggie

Little Drummer Boy Doggie

Sometimes these things write themselves. His name’s Little Drummer Boy, so he’s balancing out the evil-incarnate nature of The Boy with some good old-fashioned cuteness. Even better, if you’re in the Chicago area, you can adopt him.

Faithful LDBCer Sammi Esterman, who brought this to my attention and who is unsurpassed in her love of all-things-puppy, informs me that should doggie LDB be lucky enough to be adopted, that linked-to page will disappear. However, you’re free to click on the image and get a gigantic version as much as you like.

And should you be so inclined, you can always make a donation to PAWS Chicago in the little fella’s name.

For Susan!

Day 10: Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

Little_Drummer_Boy_Challenge_ChildrenCorn
James Barnett‘s take on Children of the Corn

The cavalcade of tragic LDBC-elfies. The downfall of your loquacious leaders. It weighs on you.

Thus, it’s time to take a break from the constant carnage and focus on some sunnier topics, LDBCers. Like our final offering from admirably artistic James Barnett, whose Fright Club series of LDBC spins on famous horror-movie posters has been such a bright spot in a dark season. Above, he brings us his version of Children of the Corn.

First up, a tale of quick thinking, altruism, and a spirit of surfing to rival that of Bodhi himself as LDBCer Tracy Scarlato shares her tale of tasty waves and survival skills:

Fellow LDBC’ers, an amazing stroke of luck and good fortune came my way today. While looking for a sweatshirt in a surf shop just now, a surfer dude working the cash register nearly jumped out of his seat to complement me on my high top vans, and offered to pay me cold hard cash for them because they were so “rad.” (I declined.) I struck up a conversation with my new friend Josh, and since he was playing holiday music in the shop, I told him about LDBC. He looked at his computer and said, “Holy shit, it’s the next song on the playlist, we have literally 22 seconds to abort!” He immediately deleted the song for me so I could stay in the game (and invited me and Dave to a party down the street even though Dave isn’t here*). So here’s to all the Josh’s out there who are our guardian angels during this trying time. To Josh!

[*Editor’s note: Dave is Tracy’s husband. And that’s not a Cheech and Chong reference; Dave really wasn’t there.]

Also, while I’ve studiously avoided any hint of trying to monetize the LDBC over the years—my dream is to make it big enough that I can work in some sort of charitable component one day—I’m not averse to dropping in the occasional plug for LDBCers and their undertakings, particularly those who contribute their talents for free, help us out in some other way, or happen to strike me as just-plain good people. (I’ll include myself in that group, even though I’m not notably good because, hey—why not?) So without further ado:

  • I wrote a contemporary fantasy, The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman (the cover’s up there in the right rail). It’s ebook-only for now, but a print edition is due in the next week or two. It’s been described as a magical-realism/metaphysical-fiction mix of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury, with a bit of Vonnegut and William Gibson thrown in. More here.
  • The aforementioned Mr. Barnett is your man in Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale for wedding photos and portraits.
  • Your Name Gear is, as the name suggests, your place for personalized apparel. Hats, shirts, sweatshirts, and more—and they make perfect gifts!
  • For other nifty gifts this season, check out some of the designs on offer from LDBCer Claire E. Skinner’s Rocklawn Arts, including some truly neat phone cases, wrapping paper, mugs, and address labels.

That’s about all the can-do vibes I’ve got in me for this gray Sunday, people. But you’re always welcome to contribute more for consideration. I can’t and won’t include anything and everything, but if you’d like to have your business/hobby links or your kids’ holiday art looked at for potential future posts, make your way to the official LDBC contact page. (Please don’t post promo links on the Facebook page or in the comments here. Both places have been wondrously free of such stuff thus far, and I don’t want to have to get all censor-y and delete anything.)

That said, don’t you fret none about all this smile-slinging. The tragic LDBC-elfies continue to roll in, so we’ll return to the grim tidings soon enough.

For Susan!