Day 9: Some Gave All

Julie Robichaux’s doomed wee one

We fired our guns, and the British kept a comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago

Like Johnny Horton’s British, dear LDBCers, there aren’t as many of our compadres as there were a little over a week ago. It’s getting right nasty out there. (I myself dodged two bullets yesterday—once when a hunt for some half-and-half led me into shooting distance of a combo playing holiday music at work and then in our neighborhood Jewel. (I took extraordinary measures and donned earbuds in a long express-checkout line. Whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right.)

Another passel of LDBC-elfies to share, alas, with 160-plus reported passings on the official reporting form. A few highlights from those turning in snapshots:

Kate Curran Hagel:

Why do my kids have to love polka so much?!

Deanne Stone-Juilfs:

Having a nice family dinner and my daughter thought she should play Christmas music on the iPad.

Julie Robichaux:

My son and I were just mown down at his dental appointment. Had I only known what lay ahead, I’d have let his teeth rot right out of his head instead of leading him into this bloodbath.

And then there’s Kristin Fletcher’s creation of a new tradition: LDBC Shaming, in which one posts punishment pix of the person responsible for their downfall. (It’s not petty or vindictive. It’s justice!)

Let’s be careful out there.

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Day 5: Is It Just Me, or Is It Getting Bloody In Here?

Laura Scandura Rea and Mr. Laura Scandura Rea

The good news, friends, is that we’re coming up on nearly 2,300 brave souls on the Facebook page. The other good news is that LDBCers Laura Scandura Rea and Anne Sussman have both survived frighteningly close retail calls.

Here’s Laura (also pictured above):

An emergency run to IKEA for drapery rods (don’t ask—he’s the one needing the hardware). We heard the now dreaded Christmas playlist as we hit the escalator! “Oh shit! We’re going to have to run the gauntlet! No meatballs at the finish line! Mooooooove!” And we did…. With each new track, a moment of relief as we knew we had 3-4 minutes more of safety. Would our luck hold? He snagged his hardware (not a euphemism) and we sprinted through the furniture self-help warehouse to the registers just as a medley began on the playlist…. “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland”….. And we were out! We survived another day… Stay strong and shop fast, friends!

And here’s Anne:

I danced with the devil tonight.

After reading of our comrade Susan [that would be official First Fallen Susan Campbell Beachy—Ed.], who was taken from us far too soon at a Michaels with no apostrophe, I was the poster girl for hubris as I strolled into a Harmon Face Values—which shares a foyer with the Michaels on 6th Ave., and very likely a demon sound system. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” was the first hint. Then “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Holy hell. I just needed some generic brand apricot scrub. But where was it? “Holly Jolly Christmas” was up next. I felt weak. My palms were sweaty. Jesus Christ, is this what’s going to take me out? Some cut-rate blemish control?

And then, sweet Jesus, I found it. I grabbed two. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I muttered as I waited in what seemed like an interminable line. “White [Fucking] Christmas.” I had to get out. Finally, it was my turn at the register. I thrust the Bed Bath & Beyond gift card at the cashier and nervously tapped my fingers. Hurry.

And then I was out. I had made it. I was lucky. But how long will my luck last? There was a time, before the war, that I would have described Susan as lucky.
Stay alert, soldiers.

Of course, I led with the good news because I’m a hopelessly sunny fellow, as you’ve surely realized by now. But the bad news is that nearly 90 of us are down. (At least, nearly 90 have been dutiful despite their tragedy and reported in via the official form.)

And many have joined Sarah Jenkins, the first to send in an LDBC-elfie this year, in documenting their downfalls. Now, I sincerely hope there are no more photos to be posted because I sincerely hope the rest of us all make it. But I know that cannot happen so long as The Boy hunts. So if and when you take a fall, feel free to share it on the Facebook wall or email it via our contact page.

For Susan! (Remember the recently invented rule: each year, the First Fallen is honored by having his or her name inserted into our war cry. Until we get tired of it or forget that’s what we’re supposed to do, that is. Those things happen a lot.)

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The 2014 LDBC Has Begun. Boy, Has It.



Thus, we’ve begun, friends. Not even 12 hours into this, our annual battle between darkness and light, and one of us has already been snuffed. Sadly, Susan Campbell Beachy, who contributed the “Not Marie, Though” header image to last year’s roundup post, was felled by nasty Natalie Cole at Michael’s on Northern Boulevard in Woodside, Queens this morning. In order to make her feel a little better (and because we happened to think of it, and anyway why not?), we’re creating the designation of First Fallen for those unlucky enough to be number-one victim each year. Thus, we bring you our first First Fallen: Susan Campbell Beachy.

And we’re also kicking off the 2014 LDBC with another stellar offering from jammin’ James Barnett’s Fright Club series, our shockingly sharable images based on classic horror flicks. (And keep in mind, please, that Mr. Barnett is your man in Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale for wedding photos and portraits.)

Now, to start of this year’s game right, I’ll just throw in some housekeeping reminders:

  • Though we always hope that all of us (yes, all 2,000-plus of us now) make it unscathed, that ain’t gonna happen. So if and when you do go down valiantly, please stop by the Facebook page for some sympathy and/or mocking (depends on who responds).
  • Also, please fill out the reporting form (handy link: so that you’re properly enshrined on the Wall of the Fallen—and so that we can properly track the most dangerous locations and musical acts for this year.
  • Feel free to share some of your kids’ holiday artwork for consideration as a post header this year (you can post it to the Facebook wall or email it to us via this page).
  • Finally, we love the tradition of the LDBC-elfie, which just started last year. Document your moment of tragedy with a snapshot, send it to us via the Facebook wall or our email page, and we’ll share it with your fellow LDBCers. Here are last year’s offerings by way of example:


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Above all, let’s be careful out there, people. Let’s bring as many of us home alive as we can.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

For Susan!

So What Kind of a Game Did We Have?

Marie's List for Santa
Marie’s list for Santa from LDBCer Keri Boyle

Winners, losers. We’re all in this together. One of us stumbles; another accepts the burden and carries on. And as one, we’ve cold-cocked The Boy and brought the 2013 LDBC to a close. (Sorry I went to bed too early to call it for you West Coasters last night, so a belated congratulations to our friends out left!)

And speaking of left, all that’s left now is the counting, the commentary, and the colorful graphs and charts. Leavening the task for us today is a delightful graphic Santa’s list from seven-year-old Marie, daughter of LDBCer Keri Boyle. Like Michael Kraiger, Ms. Boyle answered the call for art and was generous with the attachment function. (It appears, from her signature, that Ms. Boyle also is the proud owner of Balloons with a Twist, with locations in both Las Vegas and Boise. I cannot endorse her balloon-twisting abilities based on personal experience, but I do love Marie’s crayon work, so I’m betting you won’t regret following that link for your inflatable needs.)

You know where this is headed, faithful LDBCers. It’s been going there all along. If you haven’t filled out the official reporting form, please do so in order to get yourself up on the Wall for the post-game wrap-up. (Everybody loves the post-game wrap-up.) Also, if you want to give us your victory face (or your sad one, if you lost), please post your best winning/losing mug on the Facebook page or send it to the email address you’ll find here. (For samples of others’ submissions, see Day 23: The Fall of the Brave, the Rise of the LDBC-elfie.)

Looking forward to the counting, LDBCers. And, as always, thank you for your support.

Day 25: Almost Home

Michael Kraiger's Winter Visitor
Winter Visitor by Michael Kraiger

I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Boy.

This is it, LDBCers—the final approach. All we need to do is make it to midnight, and then we can go into the light. It’s not so hard. It’ll be just like Beggar’s Canyon back home.

To paste a happy face on the final hours of The Challenge, I share with you the artwork of brush-blazing LDBCer Michael Kraiger, who was kind enough to send us a couple of his watercolors when none of the rest of you lollygaggers (and your lollygagging offspring) responded to our call for children’s art. Well, Michael heard, and he did what he could, sharing not art by children, but art for children. And we thank him for it. (It’s not too late for your kids’ best crayon work to make it in, by the way. I’ll even apologize for calling them names if you do. Just post it to the Facebook page or send it to the email address you’ll find here.)

Me, I’m counting down the hours hunkered down here at my place of employment, blasting a little of the Ludwig Van into my ears (The Mexico State Symphony version of the Ninth, if you must know) to combat the holiday music coming through the wall from my colleague’s office. And I like to see Mr. Kraiger’s little snowman as delivering stirring oratory to that wee cardinal, who most likely just dropped in because his Lipitor-sized brain is unable to distinguish between living humans scattering seed and stacked balls of crystalline water ice.

Chins up and upper lips stiff, people. But should you fall between now and Game End, please remember to post or submit an LDBC-elfie and also fill out the official reporting form so that you’re properly memorialized on the wall.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends. We’re almost home.

Day 23: The Fall of the Brave, the Rise of the LDBC-elfie

The numbers are cold in this cruel, cruel game of ours, fellow LDBCers. (And I mean “fellow” as in “we’re all in this together,” not as a gender thing. The terror of the holiday is a very inclusive community.)

Twenty-three days of mayhem, with just over two to go. Just shy of 1800 of you on the Facebook page. And 341 of you have filled out the official form to report the details of your downfalls, with a handful of others settling for commenting on the page because Google changed something behind the scenes, and the stinkin’ form doesn’t show up on all browsers, operating systems, and mobile devices. (Sorry about that; I’ll have it fixed for next year.)

Gillian Beebe pulled a Janet Leigh and bought it in the shower just because she wanted her lonely pooches to have music to listen to while she was away from them. David Goldfarb and Matt McGuire were done in by a Mulholland Drive-like harmonica-blowing busker on two different New York subway lines. Phil Smy was gunned down among the Shaka Shaka Chicken and Fillet-O-Ebis in a Sendai McDonald’s. (He thought himself invulnerable because he was in Japan, but The Boy needs no passport to do his dirty deeds.)

Yet the brave fallen would rather light a flame than curse our darkness. And in keeping with that spirit, they’ve taken it upon themselves to post poignant selfies (to be forever known as LDBC-elfies) to capture their shock and grief visually where words alone are not adequate. Christine Moers and Jamie OcainAdrienne MartinBrian White. All brave souls whose tragic countenances are presented for that mix of tears and laughter unique to freaks such as us. Jennie Horn Godwin, who wasn’t able to snap herself, but managed to save herself from the cold-case files with an image of the perfectly charming pianist who unknowingly sent her to puh-rum-pum-pum-Purgatory.

They’ve created the trend. So how can any of us not pick up where they’ve left off? We’re nearly there, beloved colleagues, dear friends, complete strangers. From here on out, should you lose, feel free to submit an LDBC-elfie. And should you make it across that line come midnight of the 23rd (12 am of the 24th—however the hell you want to say it), snap your happy faces and submit those, too.

Smile. Caper. Gloat. Honor the fallen. Whatever. I just want to see faces, and so do your fellow LDBCers. (Well, the losers may not want to see the winners so much, but they’re just Bobby and Betsy Bitter-Pantses. As I will be, if I get clipped this year.)

And remember to look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the east.

No, that was Gandalf.

Cool your jets?

No, that was my fifth-grade playground monitor when me and my friend Tom Shuck refused to stay out of that dangerous tree, and she made us sit out the rest of recess on the ancient balance beam that no one used since just looking at it gave you a splinter. Because that was somehow safer. So we ran in circles—arms out like wings, making Blue Angels whooshy-engine noises—just to show her she couldn’t break us.

Anyway, as the noted philosopher Tyler Durden once said, it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. Which is great and all, but I prefer the imprisonment of winning this hellish thing and sending The Boy back to Rat-a-tat-tat-Ville with the tread of my boot embossed firmly on his ass.

Should you fall, please be sure to tell us about it via the official form as well as on the Facebook page.

But otherwise, here’s to your boots, LDBCers—those who we’ve lost and those who stand defiant still.

We’re almost there.

Day 9: A Favor for Mr. LDBC, Your Favorite Tally Ho

Saint Jerome in His Study
Saint Jerome in His Study by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1480

I won’t try to sugar-coat it for you, good people. These are Dark Times with initial caps. We’re only a month in, and already brave LDBCers are falling like Sunday Bills fans from the third deck.

On top of that, the new versions of the dread tune just keep on coming, from the likes of Pentatonix and Walk Off the Earth. (I purposely didn’t link those names, lest you click them and inadvertently step into the kill zones of their respective aural Claymores.)

Which is to say in my usual verbose manner that I’m asking you for a favor.

We’ve added a new wrinkle to the process this year. (Well, actually, we added it near the end of last year, but bear with me, please.) As the game grows ever more popular, keeping track of the ballooning carnage has become more challenging, and I was already a very lazy man who has trouble focusing to begin with. So we need some help on top of everything else you do for us.

If (notice I didn’t say when) you go down, by all means, please continue to comment on the Facebook wall and via Twitter so that you may be soundly soothed and/or mocked. It helps with our engagement numbers, and we do love us some engagement. But please also fill out the official recording form, thus feeding your data into a Google spreadsheet and making our lives just a tad easier.

I love you all like the little sister I never had. Even you men. Even you burly, hairy men. (Though I try not to picture you in flannel ‘jammies with feet, carrying your precious stuffed bunnies.) And with that love comes the responsibility of documenting your losses so that the fallen are not forgotten.

All of which, I repeat, is a very long way of requesting that you please complete the form should you meet with tragedy.

Thank you from the bottom of my rhythm-evading heart, and best of luck with your continued survival.

Let’s be careful out there.

Day 5: Near Misses, Direct Hits

First Coast Pops
C’mon, get happy: The First Coast Players leave us blissfully Boy-free

Forgive us for indulging in some survivor’s guilt, loyal LDBCers, but this past holiday weekend was a lesson in the power of positive thinking. Or the nonsense of negative thinking. Or not thinking clearly. Or something.

You know that scene in Pulp Fiction when the guy comes out of the bathroom and unloads his pistol at Jules and Vincent … and doesn’t hit them once? Me and Mrs. LDBC, friends.

We were visiting Papa LDBC in Jacksonville, FL, when we stumbled upon an impromptu free concert given by the fabulous First Coast Pops Orchestra. We can be a bit slow—well, I can, anyway—and we thought it might be plain old classics rather than those of the holiday variety. As Yoda might say, wrong we were.

It would have been rude (and boring) to leave at that point. So I sat back to await our demise. Mrs. LDBC, for her part, predicted we’d be fine.

And we were. They worked their way through wonderful renditions of “Silent Night,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel,” “Joy to the World,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and a host of others. But the dreaded Boy did not show.

I really need to listen to my wife more.

Others haven’t been so lucky, alas. Jack Emery Taylor was dispatched in the desert by a Christian prog-rock station. Deb Campbell was murdered awaiting a mammogram. (Hold the jokes, please.) Shari Golden never made it to Hebrew school. (I said hold the jokes.) And Jenny Runde got her bell rung while setting her alarm, never to wake up again.

That’s just a small sampling, and we’re barely into this thing. Seventy-five brave LDBCers have reported their losses on the official form, and if that stupid Pentatonix a capella version continues going viral, the form may well melt down. (You’ve been warned. Don’t click the link if you see it.)

Stay safe, friends. But again, if you don’t, please let us know via the official reporting form so that you’re included on the Memorial Wall, and stop by the Facebook page for equal helpings of sympathy and mockery.

Oh, and don’t forget to send along some of your kids’ holiday art for me to share. Amid the grief and bloodshed, we need the kind of cheer that only a child with a crayon or a set of paints can bring. (Send it along to the email address you’ll find here.)

Day 2: Morning Mourning and a Return to Good Day Sacramento

Good Day Sacramento Appearance

Oh, LDBCers. It’s only the second day, and the blood-dimmed tide rises anew. Susan Campbell Beachy, Sean and Nikki O’Connor, Sarah Wenk, Lee Ann Shollenberger, Michael Santoro. We’ve already lost both veterans and rookies alike to the usual suspects—Bing and Bowie, Faith Hill, the Harry Simeone Chorale, Bob Seger. And our fellow warriors have fallen at home, in retail establishments, at live events, in the car, while ice skating, and even at the library.

Of course, my grief didn’t prevent me from once again shoving my mug into the trusty old iSight for a Skype interview with the good people of Good Day Sacramento, however. They cared enough to check in on how this year’s struggle game is going, and they were able to patch me through from our East Coast Annex, better known as Mother LDBC’s house. So there’s that.

Anyway,as Mrs. LDBC has long said (or has said since at least yesterday, when she thought of it), may the odds be ever in your favor.

Let’s be careful out there. But if that doesn’t work out, please be sure to report it via the official form as well as on the Facebook page.

Day 20: You Can’t Handle the Youth

Village of the Damned
The eyes have it: the choir of the damned, from the perspective of your hard-luck host

I agree with those who insist that today, 12/12/12, should have been the date of the apocalypse, not 12/12/21. I also agree with the great Humphrey Bogart, who, on his way out, reportedly said, “I should never have switched from scotch to martinis.”

Your hapless host headed to the chapter eternal on the way out of the office this evening, dear LDBCers, when my trip down the office escalator became a descent into defeat and disgrace as the puh-rum-pum-pum-pum of a children’s choir pierced my eardrums, and my head exploded, Scanners-style. Just this morning, I passed those same kids on the way in and said to myself as the stairs carried me aloft, “Those little fuckers better not take me out.” Well, I guess those little fuckers heard me and took me up on the dare.

Ah, but why make it all about me? Might as well update the body count for everyone. As of Saturday (yes, I’m that far behind in my tallying, alas), there were 201 down. That’s more than five platoons’ worth of valiant LDBCers gone, and as I say, because I’m a slow-moving bum of a host, I haven’t even counted everyone through today. Oh, the humanity.

Did I mention, by the way, that when I reached the tracks at the bottom of my death plummet, I found that all trains on my route were blinking a red “delayed” on the board as the horrid children segued into “Silent Night”? Thus, the day ended in what the poets Benjamin Grimm and Riley used to refer to as a revoltin’ development. Or, to paraphrase LDBCer Greg Sorenson, what a kick in the junk.

Finish what we started and carry the fight to the enemy, stalwart ones. I knew Mrs. LDBC would be distraught at the news of her beloved’s demise—and since she chuckled at my news, I can only conclude that her beloved is another man. I wish victory to each and every one of you. That stick-slinging little bastard can’t get us all.

Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum, people. Make me proud. — Mr. LDBC