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Monday, October 7th, 2019
4:26 pm - LJIdol S11 - Week 2 - Living Rent Free in Your Head
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Thursday, September 19th, 2019
4:14 pm - LJIdol S11 - Week 0 - Introduction
Our story begins, as so many stories do, in the past. I mean, our only other options are to start it in the present or the future. There's very little present to work with compared to how much past there has been. There's some future left, but not as much as you might think, if those doomsday cultists are to be believed.

Anyway - the past. Some of it was pretty great. There were trilobites, and dinosaurs, and time traveling dinosaurs originally from the future, and lots of ice, and significantly fewer surveillance drones recording your every word and action.

Fast forward to now, and - no, wait, you've gone too far! Aagh, giant crabs! Giant crabs everywhere! Go back, go -

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Thursday, September 5th, 2019

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Monday, April 29th, 2019
7:33 pm - LPF week 22 - The Final
We are a land divided. Traditionally, there has only ever been one way to resolve such conflicts - borrow a child from the human world to sort things out. The outside perspective can be refreshing, and it helps simplify the narrative. Ideology A wins out over Ideology B, and then are after the fact labeled as Good and Evil so everyone can feel good about the outcome. The child goes home a little older and a little wiser, with all sorts of character-building experience under their belt. It’s a win-win for everyone involved - or at least for those who triumph, and of course they are the only people who matter anyway.

We’ve run into a bit of a problem with this method, though.

At first, things seemed to be going quite well with out latest visitor. He had met some friendly talking animals, been given an overview of the current political situation, and was just about to embark on a perilous quest to retrieve an artifact of power, when all of a sudden his mother showed up.

There was a great deal of shouting. Foreign adults are, of course, strictly forbidden. She made an enormous fuss about us “abducting” her child, and even after the situation was explained to her she was adamant that her child not go on such a dangerous adventure. Furthermore, she was very displeased by the adult concepts he would be exposed on his coming-of-age journey. Eventually we were forced to send them both home prematurely, and now the poor boy will probably remain a weird loner with no self-confidence, and we’re still stuck with a complex period of social upheavel with no clear resolution.

Now what are we supposed to do? Take a long, hard look what we believe in and then have a mature and reasoned discussion and try to reach a compromise we can all live with? That sounds booooooring.

Maybe we’ll just flip a coin.

current mood: dichotomobile

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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019
3:44 pm - LPF week 21 - OK
At first, no one realized the true importance of the message. Its manner of arrival was certainly nothing remarkable, delivered as it was sealed inside a hollow diamond and carried in the talons of an osprey made of copper and glass. Oh, the fact that it was an osprey was a bit unconventional, but the gargoyles at the post office had seen far stranger things. They accepted the parcel and fed the bird some crystal fish.

There was a bit of confusion as to the identity of the intended recipient, but eventually one of the truly ancient gargoyles recognized that the archaic glyphs etched into the diamond labeled the contents as a diplomatic message from the Embellished Khanate. This rendered the message mildly more interesting, since no one had heard from the Khanate in so long that most people assumed that there had never actually been such a place, and that it had been concocted by cartographers who thought that the edges of their maps looked a bit dull and could really do with an few extra islands.

A minor functionary who was out of favor with his superiors was given the tedious task of descending to the archives to wake up the appropriate Minister of Exceedingly Foreign Affairs, who had been entombed in honey uncountable years ago when contact with the Khanate had officially been deemed to have been lost. The minister composed a brief poem granting access to the message to the scholars laboring at the Ziggurat of Enlightenment, and a graduate student in Obscure and Possibly Imaginary Languages translated the message as probably saying something along the lines of "Everything will be okay."

It was deemed very thoughtful of a legendary lost civilization to send such a thoughtful and reassuring message all the way across the Devouring Sea, and then no one thought anything more of it. That is, until the ships started to arrive.

Well, several of the things were ships, while others were more properly described as floating islands being pulled through the water by massive domesticated squid. The ships were elegant but had a look of being pushed to their limits, and some of the trees on the floating islands looked a bit shabby. All of the vessels flew the flag of the Embellished Khanate. People began to doubt the accuracy with which the message had been translated.

As the first ship coasted up to the docks, an actual professor of Obscure and Possibly Imaginary Languages was lured out of his office to see if more reliable communication might be possible. The Khanate sent forth an emissary who had a similarly academic bearing, and the two of them set about the task of trying to talk to one in other using obsolete and outdated words from each other's languages.

Eventually, an understanding was achieved. The news was not good.

The visitors were refugees. The original message had been, in fact, a dire warning: the world was falling to the mundane. This did no seem terrifying at first, because people had forgotten what the mundane truly was.

The truth was, people experienced the extraordinary every day. But, seen every day, the extraordinary becomes perceived as merely ordinary. When everything is exceptional, the exceptional is seen as the rule.

But now, all of the wonder that people no longer truly saw as wonderful was fading away. Back in the Khanate, most of the floating islands had already become stuck in place and immovable. It was growing impossible to sing autonomous constructs like the messenger bird into existence - the one they had sent was the last they were able to create. Clouds no longer listened to reason. The tame gargantuan squid in the bay were already growing feral. People had started simply eating toast for breakfast.

From the perspective of those who had so much, enduring the merely ordinary sounded terrifying. Where else could they go? How long did they have before the mundane caught up with them here?

Out in the bay, one of the floating islands started to sink.

current mood: humdrumageddon

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Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
5:55 pm - LPF Week 20 - Nostos
"Your days of evildoing are done!" Hugo shouted as he thrust his prop sword just to the left of the 'evil wizard,' who clutched at his chest and gave a cry of anguish before toppling to the floor. The audience cheered enthusiastically. Hugo struck a triumphant pose over the 'corpse' as the curtain closed in front of him.

A few minutes later, Hugo was headed for the back room where he would change out of his costume. He opened the door, expecting to find some of his fellow actors already changing, and was surprised to find it occupied instead by a single stranger. She did not look pleased to be there.

"Before I say anything else, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am not here and that I never was," said the stranger.

"Forgive me, but I'm fairly certain that you are," said Hugo.

"I am from the government," the woman said. "I am here in an official and highly secret capacity."


"Are you familiar with the recent exploits of Astartos the Invincible?" she asked him.

Hugo nervously pointed back towards the stage where he had just been portraying Astartos the Invincible, certain that he must have misunderstood something.

"The recent exploits," the woman emphasized impatiently.


"Several weeks ago, Astartos journeyed across the sea to thwart the Dread Horde of Hellgrund. They were apparently quite keen to come over here and raze our cities, devour our children, and bathe in our blood."

"Oh dear!" said Hugo, who was so used to speaking in front of an all-ages audience that he'd forgotten how to use profanity.

"Yes, well, Astartos put a stop to them, and back at the capital we have planned a big festival and a parade to celebrate, timing it perfectly to match up with his arrival home. It is all paid for and ready to go, and is going to be just wonderful. There is only one tiny little detail out of place, which is that that Astartos will not be in attendance."

"Ah," said Hugo.

"Yes, it is most inconvenient. Apparently, his ship ran into some sea monsters and whirlpools and islands full of sorceresses and giant man-eating cyclopses and such, and he will be significantly delayed."

"How delayed?"

"We are fairly certain that he is dead, so there is no telling. For all we know it could take him weeks to trick or gamble his way out of the Underworld. By the time he has come back from the dead and harnessed some sharks to pull a raft made from driftwood all the way back to the capital all of our preparations will have long since gone to waste."

"That does sound unfortunate."

"You will come to come to the capital and pretend to be Astartos for the parade and the duration of the festival. You are a few inches too tall and your nose is too flat, but you sound enough like him that we believe you can pull it off."

"I will what now?"

Two days later, Hugo found himself at the head of a parade. He shouted to people he had never met about how happy he was to be back among them. He pretended to be delighted to see landmarks and places that he had never seen before.

It was all terrifying.

Hugo hadn't realized how much of a difference it would be to be surrounded by his audience. The distance between the stage and the crowd had always created a sort of buffer that he hadn't realized that he needed so badly. Also, his 'costume' was real armor, which was much heavier and itchier than fake armor had been. At least the sword belted at his waist was still fake - if it were actual metal it probably would have had him wilting to one side by now.

It was almost a relief when the dragon showed up and the parade disintegrated into a panicked mob. Then someone ran up to Hugo and clutched at his hands.

"Save us, Astartos!" they pleaded.

Oh. Oh dear.

current mood: imposterous

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Friday, April 12th, 2019
1:54 pm - LPF week 19 writeoff
The bird feeder is on fire again.

We used to have a serious problem with squirrels stealing food out of the feeder and scaring off the birds. We tried hanging it in a bunch of different places, and then tried attaching weird things to make it hard for the squirrels to climb it or hang on to it, but apparently the neighborhood squirrels are ninja acrobats or something. Eventually, we decided to try one of those ultra-high frequency devices.

They chewed through the wires.

The only thing left we could think of was to fill the feeder with food the squirrels won't want. It means we're attracting rather different birds than we'd originally hoped for, but we were out of ideas. And it's not all bad.

Phoenixes do have lovely plumage.

current mood: unworded

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Monday, April 8th, 2019
4:18 pm - LPF week 19 - rancor
"It's the final challenge of the semifinals," said one of the hosts. "For one of you, this will be your last ever Showstopper Challenge." Everyone had a few seconds for this dramatic pronouncement to sink in, and then the other host spoke.

"This is the last chance any of you have to impress the judges before they determine who will be going on to the finals, and who will be going home. Today, the judges would like you to make - a curmudgeon." The other host smoothly took over the patter again.

"You may use any method and life experiences that you like to create your curmudgeon, but the final product must be a bitter, ill-tempered shell of a human being."

"On your marks!" "Get set!" "Bake!" As always, their enthusiasm was simultaneously charming and slightly embarrassing.

The four bakers scrambled into action. The two judges walked over to the first workstation, where one of the bakers was already busily crafting the events and circumstances that would shape the life of his curmudgeon.

"Tell us about your showstopper," said the first judge.

"My curmudgeon is choosing personal wealth over human attachment, and then in his later years ultimately realizing that his wealth brings him no joy whatsoever." The baker continued stirring the ingredients for some formative school years as he spoke. "At that point it's too late for him to try to connect with people, and so he'll just retreat even further into his work and his money until he ultimately dies alone and unloved."

"That sounds delicious," said one of the judges, "but how are you going achieve that level of isolation?"

"Well, he'll lose his family quite young, and then have a serious romantic relationship that will end badly. He'll decide it's better not to open himself up the possibility of being hurt like that again, and he'll push away anyone he might come to care about even a little bit."

"All right, good luck." The judges moved on to the next workstation. "Okay then, tell us about your curmudgeon."

"I'm going to start my curmudgeon off with a happy early life and then a brief period of success. Then, when it all comes crashing down, he'll know exactly what he lost, and that should really crank up the bitterness and resentment he feels for people who still have things that make them happy."

"Are you worried that there might be any lingering sweetness from his early happiness?" asked one of the judges.

"No, I'm going to pour in so much misery you won't be able to taste even a hint of joy," the baker said.

"Okay then," said the judge.

"What sort of success are they going to have?" asked the other judge.

"Well, I'm going to go with traditional flavors like a career and a marriage, but eventually he'll lose both of those. The catalyst for the collapse is going to be his participation in a competitive amateur baking television program."

"How meta!" said the first judge.

"He'll make it all the way to the semifinals and then suffer a humiliating failure during the final challenge that will lead him to give up baking entirely."

"That sounds wonderful. Best of luck to you," said the second judge.

The third baker was preparing a recluse who retreated completely from the world after the industry he worked in simply ceased to exist, leaving him to feel that he didn't really have a place in the world at all anymore. The judges cautioned her that her curmudgeon might turn out more sad than bitter, but she was confident she could make it work. Then the judges moved on to the fourth baker.

"I'm making a writer," she said.

"Ooh!" said one of the judges, "that's a risky move!"

"We want bitterness, but there's such a thing as too much bitterness, you know." said the other judge. All three of them laughed at that.

"My curmudgeon is going to write several novels, but be unable to get any of them published. He'll watch best-selling authors spew out a steady stream of garbage that will sell on the basis of their existing fame, and which people will read and claim to like because they've been conditioned to think that it's good. Meanwhile, his own work will be regarded as too weird for mainstream audiences, and he'll be rejected again and again."

"Are you worried about your curmudgeon curdling into a full-blown misanthrope?"

"I think as long as I cook him at a low enough temperature he'll -"

"Oh no!" cried the first semifinalist in despair. The two hosts rushed over to see what the excitement was about. The judges watched from afar with mild interest - they'd seen plenty of disasters, and become pretty jaded about it.

"This is just awful! My curmudgeon has experienced a transformative spiritual event and become a kindly old man!"

The second baker smiled wickedly.

Distracted by the commotion, the fourth baker inadvertently added a teaspoon of meta to her own recipe, rather than the jealousy she'd intended to pour in. She looked down in dismay at the convoluted mess that her author curmudgeon was turning into as a result. The baker checked her watch - was there enough time left in the challenge to start over? There would have to be. She brought her mixing bowl over to the garbage bin at the end of the counter and tipped the bowl to pour out the -

current mood: rancorporeal

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Thursday, March 28th, 2019
4:50 pm - LPF week 18 - keep it safe
Back again, are we? I wonder if soon I might be seeing some of you children for the last time. No, I'm not dying - don't be ridiculous. But some of you are getting old enough that soon it will be time for you to go out into the world and seek your fortunes. Hmm, that reminds me of a story.

Long ago and far from here, there once lived a mighty dragon and her three young hatchlings. Dragons are, for the most part, very solitary creatures, and the little dragons were quickly reaching the age that their mother would drive them from her lair to forge their own futures. She prepared them for that day as best she could, teaching them all that they would need to know and warning them of the perils they might face, for the world is a cruel and dangerous place, even for a dragon. She even, in the end, let each of them have a tiny share of her hoard.

Now, a dragon without a hoard is a pitiful creature indeed. A dragon that does not sleep on gold sleeps a fitful, restless sleep, and is often plagued by nightmares. Also, gold is very pretty.

The mother dragon's instinctive greed fought her quickly fading sense of parental responsibility as she allowed each little dragon to carry away a third of their weight in gold. She admonished them to do their best to protect themselves and their hoards from grubby humans, and then sent them on their way with a mighty roar that shook the heavens. Or at least it shook the sky. I don't have any reliable accounts as to whether the heavens were affected. Probably not - they tend not to notice much of what goes on down here.

Now, most people can't tell the difference between one dragon roar and another, but there lived in this land at least one man who knew what this particular roar meant. It meant that there were young, inexperienced, and relatively small dragons out in the world with great shiny piles of gold in their possession. And when you're a dragonslayer, as this man was, that is exactly the kind of dragon you want to be trying to slay, because dragonslayers who hunt mature, experienced, enormous dragons tend to die gruesome, violent deaths. So the dragonslayer set about hunting these vulnerable young dragons.

The first little dragon made her lair in a dead volcano. The lingering aura of fiery, destructive power reminded her fondly of her mother, and the lava tubes made excellent caves. She liked the way the jagged obsidian reflected the gleaming gold of her hoard. It would be a wonderful place to build her new life.

The dragonslayer found the first little dragon's cave, murdered her, and then stole her gold.

What? Life is harsh.

The second dragon made his lair in a karst cave filled with marvelous speleothems. What's a karst? What's a speleothem? Don't they teach you children anything in schools these days? It means that it was a cave formed by groundwater dissolving bedrock, and that it was filled with all sorts of wonderful dribbley stone formations like stalactites and flowstone. Well good, you learned some new words today. Any day you don't learn a new word is a day wasted. Actually, that's a ridiculous oversimplification - you can have very productive days in which you learn no new words, such as days you spend digging a tunnel out of your prison cell, or days that you finally figure out which berries are safe to eat on the uninhabited island where you've been shipwrecked. But learning new words is a good thing. We're getting badly off topic.

Anyway, the dragonslayer eventually found the second little dragon's cave, murdered him, and stole his gold.

The third little dragon made her lair in a bank. Through a combination of predatory lending, savvy investment, and tax evasion, the dragon eventually gained a controlling interest in several key local industries. When the dragonslayer showed up, he encountered the dragon's lawyer, who presented him with documents showing that the dragon had purchased herself a title in the local peerage, and was now a viscountess. When the dragonslayer protested and made it clear that he still intended to do the dragon harm, she had him arrested and eventually hanged.

The lesson to learned here is that there are lots of different kinds of caves formed by different natural phenomena, and that any one of them could have a dragon in it. That, and lots of wealthy and powerful people are monsters.

Now, run along, all of you. I'm a very solitary being.

current mood: speleothematic

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Tuesday, March 12th, 2019
2:35 pm - LPF Week 17 - fatberg
Our world teeters on the bring of ecological disaster. Whole species of animals and plants (and probably stuff like fungi that no one really cares about) are vanishing from the planet every day. Habitat loss is the number one killer for many of these vanishing, irreplaceable parts of our world. Isn't it time we realize that there are places that humans simply don't belong? That there are places we should leave aside for the rest of the world's inhabitants?

And that's why I'm calling for an end to urban spelunking.

Yes, I know that many people would claim that these environments are already the domain of human beings, having been constructed by humans in the first place. But we turned our backs on those places, and other things moved in, and it's not fair to suddenly say we want them back again.

It's estimated that there are fewer than a hundred giant albino sewer alligators left in the world today, but every day people invade their homes and risk trampling their eggs. We abandoned those sewers when they became too clogged with congealed garbage, and the alligators thrived. But now that disgusting mass is a tourist destination, and the alligators are on the brink of extinction.

It's not even illegal to kill them when they try to eat you! Personally, I think that if someone is thoughtless enough to invade the home of a precious endangered species, then they deserve to be eaten, along with their entire tour group.

And what about ghouls? If we didn't want ghouls moving into our abandoned graveyards, when we shouldn't have abandoned those graveyards in the first place.

Don't even get me started on the giant, radioactive, all-consuming "monster" in the Nevada desert's old nuclear testing grounds. It's the only one of its kind! Probably! Doesn't it deserve a place in this world as much as we do? I mean, why do people even want to visit radioactive parts of Nevada?

Please, the next time you're considering venturing into the dark, forgotten corners of our world just...just don't, alright? Those little baby white alligators are just so darned cute.

current mood: suburbling

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2:27 pm - LPF Week 17 - "Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life"
"You didn't write anything today. Why didn't you write anything today?"

I didn't feel like it, okay?

"You have to write something. The deadline is coming soon, and you're so far behind. Look at how behind you are!"

I know I'm behind. It's just...this is hard. And I've been busy with other stuff.

"None of that was really important. Besides, everyone else has stuff going on in their lives, and they still manage to write things. I bet that one person has already written like, a thousand words already."

Yeah, well, good for them.

"You know what? You'll never finish in time. Why even bother to start at this point?"

I don't want to just give up. Maybe I can throw something together at the last minute.

"It's already the last minute! Why did you put this off for so long?"

Look, I can't just perform on command, alright? Sometimes the words aren't there. And there's just so much pressure.

"Yes. It's going to be humiliating when you fail completely."

That's not helping.

"You're disappointing everyone."

Well, not 'everyone.'

"No, you're right, there's that one person who swore to destroy you and everything that you love."

I thought that was a bit extreme, but I guess they really didn't like my entry that week.

"Meh, you can't please everyone."

Okay, look, I wrote something. See, that's not bad.

"That's garbage! You can't submit that garbage! They'll all think that you've been replaced by a pod person replicant of yourself that can't write as well as the original you could!"

Okay, how about this?

"That's pretty good. You can be proud of that one. Of course, it was a waste of time if you don't finish the others."

I know, I know.

"You know, if you're really having trouble, we could probably replace you with a pod person replicant. They might have better luck with this week."

No way. Remember that one week that I let the robot take over for me?

"People loved that week."

I know! I don't know which was worse - the fact that the robot me was more popular than I was, or that it set expectations so unrealistically high for the next week.

"Plus it tried to kill you and permanently take your place."

Yeah, that sucked.

"You could bargain away something to eldritch forces from beyond space and time. That usually helps."

Again? I feel like I do that every other week.

"Well, it's gotten you this far."

Ugh, fine. What do I even have left I can offer them, though?

"Let me check. Okay, they want a couple of fingers."

They want what?!

"Do you have any better ideas?"

No. I guess I don't.

"Well then."

this suscks. I..m goigns to have so manyu more typso now.

"Eh, no one said writing was easy."

current mood: sie;ajenvisos

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2:20 pm - LPF Week 17 - Vigilance
When Fiona Cassien's name came up in conversation at high society gatherings, there were two aspects of her person most likely to be discussed. One was that she was, depending on one's point of view, either carving out exciting new discoveries on the frontiers of science or trampling all over the laws of nature and God. The other was that she complained all the time. Of the two, it was the latter that was more frequently discussed, and not just because it was the subject less likely to devolve into friendship-ending bickering.

Fiona's current foremost complaint was with much of human civilization's compulsive need to bury objects of value with corpses. As far as Fiona was concerned, it was a waste of valuables, and she was convinced that many people shared her view, and only perpetuated the practice due to societal pressure. It would be simply scandalous if she didn't bury valuables with her dead uncle even though he had no possible use for them now that he was dead. Also, the likelihood that he would be buried with valuables made it that much more likely that unscrupulous persons would dig up his corpse in order to steal said valuables. Should this happen, she would then have to pay for his body to be re-interred, possibly with a new collection of valuables, which might then result in the process repeating itself. Fiona was tempted to have inscribed on his tombstone "Buried with Nothing of Value," but knew enough about the human mind to know that this would absolutely guarantee his grave was robbed in a matter of hours.

It was not that he had not loved her uncle - she had, in fact, been quite fond of him. He had been a sensible and practical man in a world that seemed to be filled with credulous idiots, and she was quite certain that he would rather she spend money on new glassware, surgical tools, rare isotopes, or even eye of newt rather than bury his body in an expensive box along with his rings, his best cuff-links, and his prosthetic eye that according to urban legend was actually a giant ruby.

Fiona had an idea for a possible solution to this problem, and invited her colleague Kasimir over for coffee so she could bounce the idea off him. Kasimir was ideal for this sort of thing because he was an intelligent, thoughtful man who would understand any technical language that might arise during the conversation, and because there was no possible way that he could misconstrue the invitation as any kind of romantic overture. Also, he was willing to put up with her complaining.

"I was thinking I might make something to guard Uncle Valerian's grave," Fiona said before either of them had even managed to sip their coffee.

"It's lovely to see you too, my dear," Kasimir said. Then he rather theatrically rubbed his chin and considered her statement. "Hmm. That sounds ghoulish and horrifying. I approve. How many tentacles were you planning to give this something?"

"Kasimir, not everything needs to have tentacles," Fiona said. Kasimir's eyes grew wide with astonishment. He stiffly placed his cup on the table.

"Fiona, you are dead to me," he said solemnly.

"Oh, stop it," Fiona said. "Fine, I won't rule out tentacles completely." Kasimir smiled and picked up his coffee cup.

"I am pleased to renew our friendship," he said.

"Yes, I too am pleased that the terrible rift between us has been mended. But seriously, I was thinking that some kind of guardian - a very conspicuous guardian, mind you - would say to the world that I don't want anyone digging up Valerian's corpse. But, since that will also convey to certain people that it might be worth digging it up, it's got to be able to follow through and discourage people in an overtly physical manner."

"You mean you want it to be able to rip off people's arms if necessary," Kasimir said.

"Well, obviously."

They discussed the matter at considerable length. In the end, they agreed that the guard really only needed to be active at night, because who robs a grave in broad daylight? It needed to be able to see in the dark. It needed to be able to incapacitate two or three physically fit adult men wielding shovels. It should look terrifying. It should have at least three tentacles.

It felt like a cliché, but she also gave it eyes on the back of its head.

Several weeks and a dozen or so fatalities later, after the debacle had completely run its course and the renegade creature had been tracked down and "decommissioned," someone at Fiona's hearing asked why she didn't just cremate her uncle.

"Don't be stupid," she said. "What if I wanted to talk to him?"

current mood: amalgamad

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1:37 pm - LPF Week 17 - My Happy Place
Edric couldn't understand why so many adults in the village seemed unable to remember his name. He would often overhear people talking about him, but they never referred him as "Edric." Instead, they called him "that strange little boy," or "the weirdo," or even "the freak." When he heard this, Edric would helpfully shout "My name is Edric!" from whatever tree branch or rooftop he'd climbed up onto, but for some reason this never seemed to help. Also, people always seemed to be startled to discover that he was sitting on a nearby rooftop or tree branch, which seemed odd, because he was always climbing up to those places, and shouldn't they be expecting it by now? And why didn't adults look up more, anyway? Up was a wonderful direction, full of interesting things like clouds, and the stars, and the moon, and certain birds. Edric did not understand adults.

One day, after the baker had shouted at him to stop climbing on her roof "like some kind of awful little gargoyle," Edric decided to visit the nearby woods. It was filled with really wonderful trees for climbing, and even some pretty great rocks, and there was an excellent chance that no one would shout at him while he was there.

On this particular day, however, Edric discovered that some of the other young children from the village were already playing at the edge of the woods. Edric would have preferred to avoid them, but his mother was always encouraging him to try to get along with other children and attempt to make some friends. Edric understood other children even less than he understood adults, and couldn't think of a single reason he would want one as a friend.

"Hello," Edric said, startling the children.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people!" one of them said, which made no sense to Edric. He had clearly announced himself, which was the opposite of sneaking.

"What are you doing?" Edric asked, trying to show polite interest, even though they were almost certainly doing something boring like playing with mud or a ball or a ball made of mud.

"None of your business!" one of them said, rather rudely. Well, that went about as well as expected.

Edric decided to go find some other part of the woods that was not infested with disagreeable children. And so he found himself wandering around in unfamiliar parts of the woods, which was a marvelous way to get lost and then eaten by wild animals, both of which would probably have upset his mother. Edric reasoned that if he became lost he could climb a very tall tree and then spot some landmark to guide him home. Also, he could climb a very tall tree in order to evade wild animals that wished to eat him. Really, climbing tall things was the solution to every problem Edric could think of.

So it's easy to imagine how delighted Edric was to discover the crumbling old tower. Edric could immediately tell that it had been abandoned for quite some time. The whole top was missing, and so much of the mortar had crumbled away that the vines overgrowing the entire structure were probably the only thing holding it together.

It was beautiful.

Up close, it was even more beautiful, as Edric was able to better see the veins of blue and black in the predominantly gray stone, and to better observe the many lichens growing on said stone. Edric thought lichens were a very underappreciated forest denizen.

What with all of the vines and gaps between stones, the tower was very easy to climb, and soon Edric was perched on the highest part of the remaining wall, gazing at the sky. It was so peaceful here, away from all of the people. He wished he didn't have to go back.

Several hours later he heard a flutter of wings, and something landed on the stone next to him. It was a cuckoo.

Edric sighed. He could pretend that it was a coincidence, but that would only make his mother angry. She had obviously sent it to remind him to go back to the village. Edric was still quite young, but he was old enough to understand the joke - the cuckoo laid its eggs in the nests of other birds to be raised by unwitting parents, in much the same way his mother had placed him in the human village.

"I'm going, I'm going," he said, and started to climb back to the ground. He glanced longingly up at the sky one more time.

Edric hoped he'd soon be old enough to leave the nest.

current mood: abseilant

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Friday, March 8th, 2019
4:35 pm - LPF Week 17 - Salad Days
I think that most people can point to a specific incident in their lives that marked the end of their innocent youth. Maybe a beloved childhood toy came to life and ate one of their siblings. Maybe they experienced the joy of their first great love, only to have that love turn out to be exploiting their relationship in order to gain access to nuclear launch codes. Or maybe it was the moment that an evil space eel attached itself to their spine.

These sorts of stories are commonplace, and will likely remain so through the ages. Oh, certainly the details may change, but the essence will remain the same. Perhaps we will finally achieve nuclear deproliferation some day, but then our first great loves will betray us for some other classified information instead. Maybe we'll finally vanquish the evil space eels, but then some other malevolent alien entities will hijack our central nervous systems and turn us into their puppets.

Youth will forever remain the time in which we learn our most important life lessons through our mistakes. We learn not to brag about our security clearance on social media, or not to leave our little brother alone with that possessed stuffed tiger that crazy old uncle Silas gave us. True, many of these are mistakes that it would be hard to repeat, since we only had the one little brother, and it's hard to get another security clearance after foreign agents use your passcode to gain access to the secret government facility where they had the evil space eels imprisoned. But hopefully we learn enough to avoid other, similar mistakes.

Even these darkest moments in our lives can lead to some good. Sure, you infected the moon with self-replicating nanomachines, and that's pretty bad. On the other hand, now that the moon is a featureless perfect sphere of shiny nanomachines it reflects light a bit better, and we have more moonlight. Pretty!

So I encourage all young people to take chances and not be afraid to live their lives. Maybe that ancient tome of forbidden knowledge will turn out to have a great story and fun characters, but you'll never know if you don't try reading it. Maybe the artificial intelligence you create and give access to the internet will just learn to be a great conversationalist. Maybe uplifted sentient mutant bears will enjoy being used as a source of free manual labor. Maybe the idol isn't cursed. Maybe you can outwit the devil. You won't know until you try.

But seriously, I'm sorry about the evil space eels.

current mood: Croutoned

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Saturday, February 16th, 2019
6:54 pm - LPF week 16 - Inkling
Petra fondly remembered a time when the idea of attending the knitting circle didn't fill her with dread. For the tenth time that day, she considered simply not going. After all, what was the point if it wasn't going to be fun? And there again was the problem - it used to be fun, and maybe it could be again. Maybe Naomi wouldn't be there this time. Or, maybe Naomi would be there, but she would look less like a walking corpse and would have abandoned working on her evil blanket.

The Knitizens met every other Thursday at the town library in a conference room where they could chat as much as they liked without disturbing the other patrons. Attendance was quite consistent, with a core membership of regulars that you could expect to see unless someone was ill or the weather was truly horrendous.

Kathy crocheted little stuffed animals, which she sold on the internet. Eliza made mostly mittens, which she donated to the local homeless shelter. Alice also made mostly mittens, which she donated to her grandchildren, who could lose mittens almost faster than she could make them. Jackie and Selene mostly knitted sweaters. Naomi used to make whatever new thing that caught her eye from the books of patterns she was always buying, often abandoning a project in the middle to start something new. However, for the last few months she had committed herself to a single project, and was busy knitting a huge blanket that was so obviously evil that Petra couldn't figure out why no one else had said anything about it.

Petra hadn't said anything about it herself because she was a very quiet person not prone to starting conversations, and even under ordinary circumstances she almost never said anything at a meeting beyond "hello" and "good night." She didn't go to these things to talk - she went to them for a stress-free evening surrounded by people that shared one of her interests. The very thought of confronting Naomi about her sinister project nearly gave Petra a small panic attack.

There was also the problem that if Petra had been going to say something to Naomi, why hadn't she done it sooner? In retrospect, she should have seen that there was a problem long ago, but she had managed to rationalize away all of the signs. Naomi had that sunken look in her eyes because she was tired. Her knitting needles weren't actually sharpened to points, that was just a trick of the light. That wasn't blood on the table. There was some perfectly normal reason why every time Petra looked at the blanket she thought she could smell burning meat and her mouth tasted like ashes. Anything to keep the illusion of her peaceful refuge from the world intact.

Finally, Petra decided to go to the meeting after all and hope for the best. Unfortunately, Naomi was already there, and was already hard at work on the malevolent piece of stitchcraft. She looked worse than ever. Her skin was sort of grayish and looked unwholesomely shiny under the harsh fluorescent lights. Petra opened her mouth to say something, but just couldn't bring herself to do it. She scurried over to an empty chair and tried not to look in Naomi's direction.

Petra had almost managed to lose herself in her own knitting the soothingly normal chit-chat of the group when she started to hear the whispering. She glanced nervously at the blanket, and sure enough, the eerie voices seemed to get louder. Also, that stench of burning meat was back. Petra steeled her nerves.

"So," Petra started hesitantly, "Naomi. You've been working on that blanket of yours for quite a while."

"Why, yes, I have," said Naomi, who sounded delighted that someone was taking an interest. "But it's not a blanket, exactly, my dear. It's a death shroud for the world."

All activity in the room ground to a halt at this pronouncement, except of course for Naomi, who cheerfully continued to add loops to the open edge of the shroud.

"It's what?" said Kathy after a moment of stunned silence. Naomi smiled horribly at her.

"A death shroud for the world!" Naomi repeated. "The symbols I'm stitching into it are from a language that hasn't been spoken in thousands of years, and they sing the praises of Tlaguuyar, That Which Is Interwoven. Tlaguuyar will one day consume all that we know, and I'm hoping to have the shroud ready by then."

No one had an adequate response for this statement.

"Actually," Naomi said, turning to Alice, "I could use some help. Could I have some of your blood? Mine's pretty much run out."

"I can't believe I'm hearing this!" Eliza practically shouted, finally recovered from her shock. "Tlaguuyar, That Which Is Interwoven! I thought this entire circle was dedicated to Hragthiir, That Which Interweaves!"

"Wait, this is a cult?!" said Selene. "I thought this was purely secular knitting!"

"Don't be ridiculous," said Jackie, "all knitting glorifies the Unspooled Ones."

"The what now? It does what?" Alice said, clearly stricken. She suddenly felt ill about all the mittens she'd given to her grandchildren. She turned back to see Naomi still smiling at her expectantly. "No! No, I'm using all of my blood!"

Petra watched in growing misery as the group she'd come to depend on so much disintegrated before her very eyes. She wished she'd just kept quiet and left well enough alone. And really, she should have known better.

This was almost exactly what had happened to her scrapbooking club.

current mood: sinistitched

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Saturday, February 9th, 2019
7:26 pm - LPF week 15 - Periphery
People like to think of the world as having definite boundaries. They want a line that they can see and point to and say "everything on our side of this line is the world." The truth is that the edges aren't fixed in place. It's more like the divide between a beach and the ocean, ebbing and flowing all the time. And yeah, we built a fence pretty far up the beach to mark where you're theoretically safe from high tide, but sometimes there's a storm and that fence gets washed away, and then the beach is covered with seashells and pieces of old shipwrecks and colossal prehistoric squid. Well, metaphorical seashells, shipwrecks, and squid on our metaphorical beach. In reality, we mostly get unicorns.

Oh sure, now and then there's a chimera or a dragon or a giant flying space jellyfish or something, but those don't particularly care for reality, and they tend to go back home on their own. Unicorns, on the other hand, like nothing better than prancing around leaving a trail of flowers and rainbows everywhere they tread. And don't even get me started on the sparkles all over everything.

Unicorns are an incredible nuisance, and it's a huge pain to get rid of them. It would be lot simpler if we could just (brace yourself if you have a pure heart filled with childlike wonder) shoot the wretched things. Alas, that would be a public relations nightmare of legendary proportions. It doesn't matter how destructive a pest they are. It's like, even if pandas weren't endangered, you would catch enormous backlash from the rest of the world for shooting one just because it ravaged your bamboo farm. Same thing.

Also, I gather that hearing their dying scream plunges you into a profound and irreversible despair. But seriously, some days I just want to grab a pair of earplugs and a shotgun and chance it.

All I want is to have a nice lawn. Is that so much to ask? Apparently so, because every time reality recedes a bit and magical fantasy land rushes in to fill the gap I end up with wildflowers in full bloom all over my yard and sparkles all over every damned thing. And I have to rip up all of those weeds by hand, because last time I tried to just cut them all down with the lawnmower it got clogged full of sparkles and died.

I know, I know - it could be worse.

Heck, I heard about one guy who woke up one morning to find his whole front yard was a beanstalk several miles high. And you know that story doesn't end well.

current mood: fantasticurmudgeon

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Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
6:44 pm - LPF week 14 - Firebreak
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current mood: Deciduoussible

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Friday, January 25th, 2019
6:44 pm - LPF Week 13 - Enjoy Every Sandwich
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current mood: oldfangled

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Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
5:03 pm - LPF Week 12 - MacGuffin
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current mood: foolliterative

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Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019
6:21 pm - LPF week 10 - nadir
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current mood: participlankton

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