Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 9

From behind came a scream of pure rage. Sugarplum Mary looked over her shoulder and saw Mrs. Claus pause in the kitchen doorway, her lace trimmed white apron was splattered with dark brown stains and her eyes were wide and not at all sane behind her round, wire-rim glasses. Raising a heavy cleaver in her right hand, Mrs. Claus screamed again and charged across the chocolate checkerboard floor.

Mary felt hot breath on the back of her neck, and then she was grabbed by the collar of her dress and yanked up and back, out of the Gingerbread House and into the snow-swirled night. Blitzen's great horns passed on either side of her and she landed astride his broad, shaggy shoulders, automatically grasping at his coat of shaggy coat of fur. Blitzen reared and his font legs kicked the door shut on the charging horror in the kitchen. Quick as frostbite, the great reindeer hopped backwards and leapt into the air just as Mrs. Claus came through the cottage door, splinters of layered gingerbread flying to all sides, her great cleaver swinging as Blitzen and Mary shot over her.

Blitzen was fast, but not quite fast enough. Mrs. Claus' cleaver carved a line of red pain across inside of his right hind-leg. "Santa's fucking balls that hurts!" he screamed.

Their flight over the house wavered, but Blitzen recovered with a snarl, lowering his head as they pushed into the snowstorm. Mary looked down at Christmas Village and gasped. Below them the cafeteria building next to the toy factory was engulfed in flames and while the surrounding elves and reindeer were doing their best to fight the blaze, their efforts were obviously too little, too late. The place was an inferno and the flames lit the arctic night like a hellish flare.

Sugarplum Mary turned away, and leaned forward to speak to her rescuer. "Blitzen, thank you, but I thought, I mean Sparky said that..."

"That I was behind all of the strange stuff happening lately?" Blitzen snorted in disgust. "Elves. I don't know how you people manage to breed, sometimes. Sparky went off half-cocked, as always."

"Well what is going on, then?"

"Tell you what... how's about we get somewhere safe where we can get back on the ground, then maybe slap a fuckin' band-aid or ten on Mother Christmas' little parting gift, and then I'll fill you in. Until then, why don't we play a game I like to call 'Shut the Fuck Up Mary'?"

They dove into the night, the only sounds the whistling of the air and Mary's quiet sobs.

Monday, December 26, 2011

BtVS's "Chosen" Live on Twitter From My Living-room Tonight

Well, it's been one hell of an eventful year Readers Mine, and one of those events is coming to an end tomorrow night at 8pm EST as the final post in the Great Buffy Re-Watch of 2011 goes up on Nik at Night. Great praise and burnt offerings go to the one and only Nikki Stafford (who has written lots of books you should buy) for what turned out to be a full year's worth of chasing down guest bloggers, editing and formatting posts, organizing the whole shebang, and cranking out not one but two blog posts every Tuesday night on top of all the other writing, editing, child rearing, and husband-wrangling this remarkable woman does. Many thanks Nikki! You're just insanely cool.

The Slayer and the Scoobies

In honor of the Great Buffy Re-Watch Finale, a few of us are getting together from our various points on this good Earth at 7pm EST to re-watch "Chosen," the final televised episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and to Tweet about it as we do so. You can find all of the fun under #gbrfinale over on Twitter, and of course, you're welcome to get there by following me via the handy and nifty button you see under the pic of yours truly at the top right of the page.

For those who may not be either fond or familiar of/with Twitter, you can follow the entire re-watch and Tweet-fest by simply typing in #gbrfinale in the search box at the top of the Twitter page, which will give you all the posts by everyone taking part in the live-Tweet. Then just sit back and watch the fun, or, even better, grab the last disc of Season Seven and watch and Tweet along with us. Remember, we're starting tonight at 7pm EST, and we'd love to see you there!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 8

Donner slid-staggered on the ice-covered flagstones, all four of his legs going wide before he caught his balance and his hooves dug through the almost invisible ice sheet. He snorted, cursed under his breath, and looked up at the home of the Krampus. It rose from the glacial ice like some clay-mation holiday special anachronism, the rough-cut stone of its thick walls a dark and brooding presence looming out of the blowing snow and Arctic night. No Disney fantasy or late medieval royal whim of a castle, the Fortress of the Krampus was the real thing, a squat and deadly 14th century fortification that promised only murder and pain to anyone unlucky enough to enter its walls.

Donner reached out, caught the bell-chain between his jaws, and pulled. From within came the first few bars of “Jingle Bells,” rendered in the screams of children.

“Fucking Krampus,” Donner muttered, and settled in to wait. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011


My wife and I live in North Carolina, where the state's General Assembly has whipped up a referendum to change the state constitution to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Of course a law stating the same thing is already on the books, so what the GA is trying to do with the proposed amendment is to make it more difficult to challenge that law through judicial review. I'm pleased to report that that many people in my state are speaking out against this amendment, and against discriminatory marriage laws in general. On a statewide level, Equality North Carolina is working hard, and I'm delighted to report that another group, Neighbors for Equality, has sprung up in a little town near my home whose biggest claim to fame is a private Baptist university. Neighbors for Equality is currently running their Twelve Days of Equality campaign, where ordinary citizens are asked to speak out against "Amendment One" and for equality. My wonderful wife is a part of this campaign, and has also been speaking out on her blog, and I am, as usual, so extremely proud to be married to such an incredible person. It's a shame that everyone in my state isn't allowed to experience that kind of pride... Yet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Very Whedon Christmas!!

In a nod to the holiday season, I'm pleased to announce the first-ever Whedon Christmas Shopping Guide here at Solomon Mao's!
Joss Whedon his own bad self!
In the comments below you'll find a (hopefully) wide selection of the best writing on the work and worlds of Joss Whedon, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Dollhouse and beyond, by some of the most brilliant and talented minds around. Here at last are the perfect gifts you've been searching for, and just (barely!) in time for Christmas! 

At this point I have to give a nod to John Scalzi, who's series of Whatever Shopping Guides inspired this little effort. You should read his blog and books too!

Here's the rules:

This comment thread is for authors and editors of books on the works of Joss Whedon and the Whedonverses only. Please do not leave other comments, as they will be removed by the moderator.

1.) Posts by authors and editors of books only. If you are not the author/editor of the book you're posting about, please do not post.

2.) Your book must currently be in print and available.

3.) One post per author, please. Those among you who have authored/edited more than one book, feel free to post about multiple works, but all in the same post please.

4.) Please keep your description of your book brief and entertaining, as if you were talking to someone at a signing who might buy your book!

5.) Include a link to your book at an online bookseller. You can use standard HTML link scripting, a useful guide for which can be found here.

6.) Feel free to share and link to this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, or any other social media.

7.) As noted above, comment posts that are not by authors/editors promoting their own books will be deleted by the moderator.

Okay: now tell us all about your book!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Noir No.7

Sugarplum Mary the Christmas Elf carefully tensed and relaxed the muscles in her legs, trying to keep her blood circulating and ward off the pins and needles that were threatening to settle in from so many hours spent cramped in the small cabinet. Suddenly, from outside the Gingerbread House she heard the muffled sounds of shouting, quick and panicked, but she couldn’t make out what was going on through the thick butter-cream coating on the House’s exterior. Her every nerve came alive, however, when she heard Mrs. Claus push up out of her candy-cane-back chair and move towards the front of the house, where the sugar glazed windows looked out onto Tannenbaum Lane. Now was her chance, probably the only one she would get. She waited until she heard the old witch’s heavy tread leave the dining room, and made a supreme effort.

Sugarplum Mary threw open the cabinet door and lurched out onto the checkerboard dark and white chocolate tiles of the kitchen, already turning for the back door, when her legs, numb despite all of her efforts, betrayed her sending her sprawling with a crash as she instinctively grabbed at one of the lollipop stools around the kitchen island to steady herself and brought it down with her instead.

“Mary?” said a delighted voice from the front room, “is that you dear?”

Mrs. Claus’ feet thudded on the floor, moving quickly. Crying now, Sugarplum Mary scrabbled across the kitchen floor on all fours, her nails leaving deep furrows n the hard chocolate flooring, as she heard the insane woman enter the dining room, just one small room away. Mary reached the door, desperately clutching the rock-candy doorknob. “Pleasebeunlockedpleasebeunlocked,” she chanted under her breath like the holiest rosary.

The doorknob turned, Mary fell out into the cold night, her mouth already open to call for help when she saw the great, hard hooves before her.

“Hello, Mary,” Blitzen said. “I’ve been looking for you.” 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 6

Polly Mistletoe rolled her pretty green eyes. “Oh it’s not that bad, silly! Okay, there’ve been a few accidents, bu…”

“Accidents?!?” Comet shouted, his nostrils flaring. “Accidents? A full third of the Christmas Elves burned alive, Rudolf torn into bloody gobbets and scattered over a square mile, Sparky gone, Sugarplum Mary nowhere to be found, and that psychotic bitch Mrs. Claus out roaming around doing God knows what, and you think it’s all accidental? Reindeer shit!”

“You’re blowing everything out of proportion, Comet!”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” He leaned in close; his wide antlers thudding against the wall on either side of Polly, pinning her in place as his wild eyes bored into hers, his hot breath on her fine-boned face. “This isn’t some twinkly-ass vampire movie, Polly! This is real, and it’s ugly, and you have got to face up to it. Someone is trying to kill every single one of us, and if we don’t figure out what the hell is going on, they’re going to do it!”

“It’ll be okay, though. Santa…”

“Santa?” Comet snorted. “The only thing that sack of fat is interested in is finding the bottom of every bottle in Miami. No. Santa abandoned us a long time ago, Polly. We’re on our own. God help us, but we really are.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 5

Third shift was in the cafeteria when the fires started. Later it would be discovered that the alarm and automatic fire suppression systems had been carefully sabotaged. By the time the Kitchen Elves realized there was a problem, it was far too late. The staff and worker elves had all beb well trained for just such an emergency, however, so at first everyone remained orderly and relatively calm. Until the doors to the outside wouldn’t open. Not the main entrances or the rear, and the side doors were blocked by the fires which were burning hot and fast, fueled by acetone accelerants that had the Elves all but surrounded in mere minutes. The panic started then, like something out of an old disaster story, the elves pushing against each other, the ones in front slowly being crushed against the unmoving doors, and everyone screaming, screaming as the fires moved in. That was what woke the rest of Christmas Village – the screaming. The screaming of the Elves.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 4

The snow fell more quickly now, coating his shoulders and the uppermost curves of his antlers. It was nights like this Donner wished he still smoked. Sparky and Sugarplum Mary had been missing for days, Santa was nowhere to be found, and Rudolph. Christ, what they’d done to Rudolph! To hell with it. Spotting a huddle of elves huddled in the sodium-arc glow of the Workshop’s loading docks, Donner shook off the snow and ambled over. The group of four little creatures fell silent as they noticed him.

“H-hey, Donner,” Skip the Christmas Elf said, “w-what’s up?”

 “Got a smoke?” the reindeer asked. The elf blinked, shivered, and dug out a butt, lit it for the waiting reindeer. Donner took a deep drag and sighed, thick grey smoke flowing out of his wide nostrils. “God that’s good. Thanks, Skip.” He turned to leave but the Elf’s voice stopped him.

“What are you gonna do now, Donner?”

Another drag, another, deeper sigh. “The only thing I can,” Donner said. “I’m going to see the Krampus.”

The Elves eyes widened in shock, and the wind picked back up, howling down the empty streets of Christmas Village. “The Krampus?” Little Ginny Gumdrop Elf asked. “Jesus wept.”

“Yeah,” Donner said over his shoulder as he moved into the night, “so will the rest of us before this is over. Whoever’s left, that is.”

The Elves looked after him until he disappeared into the blowing snow, and then scurried back inside.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Noir No. 3

Sugarplum Mary the Christmas Elf clutched her knees to her chest and tried not to breathe. The cabinet she was hiding in had no lock, and small as she was, and unarmed, she wouldn't stand a chance against the horror stalking the Gingerbread House. "Mary!" came the deceptively soft, comforting mother-voice, "Marieeee! Come out, come out where ever you are..." One of the candy-cane chairs squeaked across the hard-chocolate floor as it was pulled out from the lollipop table, then groaned as it took the heavy weight of its new occupant. "That's okay, sweetheart, I can wait. I can wait all winter, if need be."

Christmas Noir No. 2

Outside the wind came off the Arctic Sea like sleeting razors, and the Aurora lashed the night with neon fire, but inside the stable, everything was absolutely still. Comet shook his head, blowing air from his nostrils with explosive disgust to try and clear his nose and throat. No use. The smell of the blood was cloying; old pennies and rusted iron in an ozone haze. Rudolph had died hard.

Christmas Noir No. 1

From somewhere behind him there came the unmistakable sound of a pump-action shotgun chambering a shell. Sparky the Elf suddenly felt a cold certainty that he would never see the North Pole, Santa's Workshop, or that bastard Blitzen ever again...