July 25th, 2009


Valentines, part the first

Together, we recorded [the story] into many forms -- computer printed, handwritten, cassette tape, CD, DVD. Each copy was then torn, cut, or shattered into small fragments, which were then distributed into each piece of jewelry, along with assorted other pieces of information. When you buy a "Valentines" piece, you get fragments of the story in a bottle, a hardcopy of the full story, and the knowledge that you are supporting fascinating new forms of storytelling and collaboration. Each bottle is wrapped in silver wire and accented with Swarovski crystal, matte glass beads, and tiny silver beads. No two are alike, and each bottle contains different fragments of the story. The series will be available until we run out of story fragments.

2 5/8" (67 mm) high, 1 3/4" (45 mm) wide. Story by Shira Lipkin, jewelry by Kythryne Aisling.

This piece will have something in it that no other piece in the series does. Shh. It's a surprise.

Retail value is $150.00. Bidding starts at $19.99.

Click here to bid!


The waiter’s name is Valentine. He has long, slim fingers, and he writes down my order instead of pretending to commit it to memory. I like that, his pen on the paper bringing forth one simple thing about me. My lunch. Just a tiny fragment of information. I honor him by doing the same. “The waiter’s name is Valentine,” I write in my battered notebook, “and he has long, slim fingers.”

Information is sacred. I don’t remember why, or who told me. But I know that information is sacred, so I write it down, scraps of knowledge and observations. I used to write in leatherbound journals with elegant heavy pens, but the fetish for elegance has fallen by the wayside in my rush to commit everything to paper. Now I use cheap marbled composition books, purchased by the dozen. The pen is still important, though. It must write in smooth lines of black, not catch on the page. There is too much to capture.

I order chai tea and butternut squash soup. I write that down as well, just after Valentine does. I watch him walk to the kitchen, slender and graceful, and I wonder what Valentine does when he is not refilling coffee mugs. I wonder if he dances. I write that down: “Perhaps Valentine dances.” I watch him flirt with the barista, their movements around each other a careful ballet of hot espresso and soup and witty banter, and I curl up in my armchair and wrap my hands around the mug of tea when Valentine brings it to me with his usual smile and nod. I observe. I record.

I write on the bus, on my way home. I write about the bus driver, and about the woman sitting across from me, wearing a too-heavy jacket (“perhaps she is sick”). I write about the barista and the patterns of her movement around the large copper espresso machine, the way she admires her reflection. When I get home, I carefully tear the pages from my notebook, and I tear fact from fact, isolating each bit of information, and I file them accordingly in the rows of small boxes nailed to my walls. Miniature pigeon coops filled with paper instead of birds. Facts. Ways to build the world. I copy things over when necessary, when I must file “perhaps Valentine dances” under both Valentine and Speculation. I must separate speculation, after all. My shreds and fragments of information comprise my image of Valentine (for example). I cannot allow speculation to color that. I can allow his grace, but not the possibility of his dancing.

With enough data, maybe I can figure out the world.


Welcome to Blogathon 2009!

Current total: $1,062.24 out of my goal of $3K. Sponsor me!

And so begins our 24 hours of madness. Every half hour, I'll post storybits, poetry, and auctions to raise money for BARCC. This will get really amusing around hour 20. Heh.

Enjoy! In my next post, I'll continue "Valentines" and introduce Team Venture!

Valentines, part the second

Blooddrop Huile de Parfum is hand-blended perfume oil available in a large selection of blends. They can be used on the skin as a traditional scent, mixed into your favorite body product or used as a room scent. Scents are made with a jojoba oil base and come in 5ml bottles. Donated by Astrid.

Café Zazou: Incredible dark and smooth French roast coffee with whole milk and two sugar cubes, a piece of dark chocolate and a petit gateau sec au marrons. Café Zazou is the perfect response for a little afternoon rest in between visiting Montmartre and Le Centre Pompidou.

Click here to bid!


The waiter’s name is Val. His hands are stained a burnished yellow from nicotine, and guitar-callused. He is bored and impatient, waiting for his shift to end. He does not write down my order - which is fair because it’s just coffee and blackberry pie, and the pie is right at hand. He slices it and slaps it on the plate; it falls over just a bit, slides, and blackberry oozes out onto the plain white plate, the color almost shocking. I write that down, and the way the steam dances over the coffee mug. The mug is smooth and unadorned, the same bone-white, and the coffee is rich and dark and bitter. The diner is a diner, no more and no less, retro-50s tube with aproned waitresses and meat loaf and pie and Val, leaning forward by the register, staring at the door. Waiting for something else.

He talks to me. I think out of sheer boredom - I’m the only customer at the bar, the only person here alone. His dark hair is frosted blond at the ends, and his eyes are seaglass-blue. He is in a band, but he worries that now that the guys have day jobs, they’ll stop playing music. He doesn’t think he’s good enough to go solo. He shrugs a lot - he has developed his own fake-casual rolling shrug, a silent “whatever”. He asks why I care, and I tell him that these are the things that make him *him*. That we are collections of information. We are what we are because our dog died or our dad left or we won the lottery or whatever. And I like to figure out what people are by examining what they’re made of.

When I close my eyes, I imagine Val made of paper, all the little strips of paper I’ll file later under “music” and “loss” and “resentment”, cross-reference him with others, see if I can figure out “loss”.

See if I can figure out data loss.

When I open my eyes, Val has gone on to the next customer. I eat my pie and write.



Meet Team Venture!

* mllelaurel is blogging for Planned Parenthood - Sponsor her!
* nevacaruso is blogging for Amnesty International - Sponsor her!
* jennaria is blogging for the Nature Conservancy - Sponsor her!
* thesilentpoet is blogging for St. Jude's. Sponsor her!

Jennaria and TheSilentPoet are last-minute additions; Verizon never showed up to fix their DSL, so we took them in rather than have them miss Blogathon.

Valentines, part the third

12-to-14-ounce bottle of ginger syrup by Deb Counts-Tabor of Sage and Sea. Add to water or soda - very sharp and dark and sweet and yummy.

Click here to bid!


The waiter’s name is V. It’s a new restaurant, scifi-themed; all of the waiters have names like Klaatu or Ripley. I point out that V is a series, not a character, and he laughs. “No one remembers character names from V. But everyone remembers the show. Everyone remembers the lizards.”

He writes down my order, and I write down that everyone remembers V. I will file it under “television” and “things everyone remembers”. “Things everyone remembers” is one of my bigger boxes; it is not nearly full.

Not nearly as full as it needs to be.

Data loss. I do not remember the things everyone remembers. And I need to. In order to build a self, I need a foundation. So I write everything down, and I am always hoping that someone will let slip one of the things “everyone knows” or “everyone remembers”. V and the Challenger explosion and 9/11 and the Smurfs. Sometimes when I get home, after I file the day’s newly-gathered information, I take the slips out of that box and spread them out on the floor, subcategorize them. Everybody knows this about politics. Everyone remembers that song.

My food arrives, a faux-Klingon dish I’ve already forgotten the name of. I must look it up later and record it. The drink V brings is not what I ordered - it’s a neon-blue thing in a Klein bottle with dry ice fuming out of it. V grins and drapes himself over the chair beside me. “You looked like you could use it.”

“What is it?”

“Dunno. Try some.”

“I have… trouble. With things I don’t know.”

V looks around; seeing no manager, he takes a quick sip from my glass. “Perfectly safe.”

I sip. It’s sweet. V grins as I lower the glass. His hair is frosted silver, and I wonder if he’s dyed it, or if he sprays it on every night. His hands seem to have a mind of their own; he gestures incessantly when he talks. Italian, he says, with a shrug very unlike Val’s. I write that down: “Italians talk with their hands”, and also, “V is Italian.”

He has to get up eventually, as the restaurant gets busy. He brings me spoo for dessert, with a wink like Valentine’s.

Up to $1,082.24!


This has been the beginning of "Valentines", which will appear in Interfictions 2. Pre-order now!

Want to make something based on this story for the Interstitial Arts Foundation auction? Click here!

In other news, Frank the Rubber Chicken had a accident. His beak? Melted off. Kat will post pictures. Our mascot is beakless, oh noes!

And Max is lounging on a spare laptop, in a sunbeam. His life = so good right now.

Clever Vasilissa

Necklace by sihaya09 of Sihaya Designs.

Note: in the STYLE of one of my The TimeKeeper's Daughter-- True North necklaces. Not the exact one pictured, but very close. Details:

This necklace features a focal pendant of a compass which reorients to the north, paired with gleaming brass watch hands and gears. I have also used gleaming glass beads metallic shades, as well as freshwater pearls. They are strung on a chain of brass gleaming wilth silver accents. This necklace measures 19".

Click here to bid!

This is but an excerpt of "Clever Vasilissa".


One day, Vasilissa’s stepmother left to go into the city, setting each daughter a task. The fire had run out, and on her last match, she lit just one candle. The older stepsister waited til her mother was far away then, as instructed, she put out the candle. We cannot do our work in the dark, the stepsisters cried, and they told Vasilissa this:

There is a witch in the woods. And Vasilissa must go forth and fetch light from the witch.

Vasilissa had her misgivings, but felt that she must do as her stepsisters bid her. She packed some bread, some books, a Geiger counter, and two of her favorite small robots in a bag she slung over her shoulder and across her body, and she set out.

The woods had suffered in the war, but they would soon be a proper forest again. There were not as many tall trees as Vasilissa had seen in her storybooks, but there were a respectable amount, and all around her were saplings. She followed the path for most of the day, nibbling at her bread as she did so. Finally she came upon a thick copse of full-grown trees; pushing through, she beheld a wonder.

The house looked nothing like the shabby things in the city. It was like something out of a picture book, tall and arched and perfectly undamaged, glittering all over with what Vasilissa recognized as solar panels…

And it stood on two mechanical legs that looked like nothing so much as those of a chicken.

Vasilissa yearned to examine those legs, but surrounding the house was something that intimidated even her - a fence made of bones that looked human, long and brittle and scorched, clattered one atop the other, humerus and femur, tibia and radius, held together she knew not how. And stationed every few feet, atop the bones, were human skulls - oddly beautiful, with light shining from empty sockets.

Just as she was reaching forward, quite frightened, to examine a brightly-shining skull, there was a great commotion. Wind howled, trees bent, and in thundered a great brass mechanism that looked like nothing so much as a giant mortar on legs like those of the house. The mortar leapt, landing neatly over the fence; with a hiss of escaping steam from its joints, it lowered, and out clambered a woman who could only be the witch, complete with broom.

The witch marched up to the fence, peering closely at Vasilissa, who could only look back, astonished. The witch was neither young nor old; her hair was plaited back, and she wore a heavy cloak and a cunning expression. “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”


Team Venture is rocking out to Tricky Pixie's "Tam Lin".

We're all mad here. (And that's okay.)

My internet kid is blogging for jennifer because Jen had to withdraw for medical reasons. Kat will be posting at zarhooie_blogathon@Dreamwidth, but has graciously decided to crosspost to LiveJournal. You can follow her LJ-thon at zarhooie_athon. She goes into detail about why she's blogging as a Jen-stand-in here. Jen was going to be blogging for St Jude Children's Hospital, so all sponsorships should go there.

Sponsor Jen! (and Kat!)

Poor Frank.


I made this! Copper wire strung on a copper hoop, with all manner of space-station debris in glass, pearls, kyanite, and bismuth.

Click here to bid!


You might feel a little pressure.

She winced, face down, head cradled in cold metal. Words seemed to flicker before her eyes: Are you all right?

"Yes," she whispered aloud.

He continued.

Images flashed, searing her mind - the last cries of her gods, silenced one by one as he extracted her implants. Dear goddess of hydroponics, dear god of gravity, thanked daily as a reflex. Dear goddess of clean air, dear god of AI.

It was the whispers - the crosstalk of a dying station, no longer shielded from the neural network of its human occupants. The contradictory information, the conflicting instructions. Many had learned to balance the contradictions in their daily lives - her father went to the chapel in the heart of the station daily, praying, finding it in himself to listen to all of the voices in his head. She could not. Gods all around her, no, she could not. And it was whispered in the hallways, the tunnels of the station that she need not - that there was a way, there was a man.

There could be silence and freedom.

Burst of static from the generator-god, and she cried out, whole body tensing - he could kill her at a distance, they all could, and she waited for it, but instead there was only one word hanging before her eyes:


Then -


"Not like this," she muttered.

"Final step," the man said, hand on her shoulder. "You sure?"


pressure, yes, and pulling, and tearing, and the wail of the great mother goddess, the station herself, as she felt her connection severed forever

She heard a clatter to her left, and the man patted her back. "All done," he said quietly, expertly bandaging the raw red socket behind her ear. "Sit up - slowly."

She did, pressing her hands to her face, wiping away her tears; she eyed the metal tray next to her, ugly dataport plug and tangle of bloody wires. Gone. Silence in her head, for the first time in her adult life; senses stripped back to three. She looked up at the man, noticing for the first time the hole where his 'port had been - it was sewn shut with thin copper wire, strung with colored glass beads.

He gave her a slight bow. "It is done. Now find your own gods."

Am still at $1,082.24. SPONSOR ME!

And remember - when bidding, do so by replying to the comment of the previous high bidder! Otherwise, how will they know they're being outbid? Please don't make me have to spend all Monday managing this. :)

And bidders - you might want to track comments on the items you're bidding on. Just in case.

Team Venture showcase: thesilentpoet

More information here: http://thesilentpoet.livejournal.com/162298.html

Sponsor page here: http://www.blogathon.org/login.php?action=pledging&blogid=65

I have lost too many people I know to cancer. Both maternal grandparents. A great-uncle. Yes, I am still blogging for their memories, and their sakes. But this year we're bringing bringing it round. In 2001, a girl in my sister's high school class passed away from leukemia, specifically ALL (Acute Lymphomatic Leukemia). At the time, she was fifteen. She had been fighting the leukemia for two and half years. What it comes down to? I believe in cancer research. I believe in the stand St. Judes has built itself on. I believe in doing what I can when I can. I believe in helping this cause. So, that no one has to lose another grandparent to cancer. So, that never again will a fifteen year old girl have to lose her life before it's even begun.


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I made these, too! Silver branches, firepolished glass leaves, and single drop of blood Swavorski crystal, on silver earwires.


We saw him tip the wineglass,
Spill the drugged draught into his shoe.
We are not so stupid as they'd have you believe.

The rustle of silk and velvet, chime of jewels
The soft leather of new dancing slippers
A secret smile, a secret door.

Silver trees glistening in unnatural light,
In the silence beneath the earth.
Behind us, he breaks off a branch and thinks we do not hear.

The avenue of gold, its light warming our passage;
The leaves are sharp. They cut his hand.
We smell his coppery life and smile.

Leaves of diamonds reflect light, silly cloak or no.
We laugh as he gapes at our wonders,
Our voices like the tinkling of the leaves he steals.

He weighs down the coracle. He is a big man.
The youngest of us complains prettily.
Men like to think they know more than us.

And finally, the banquet-hall! Twelve princes underground!
No room for you, soldier, sneak-thief.
We are taken, all of us, in every sense. Watch.

The music is dizzying; we lose ourselves in dance.
Spinning across the cold marble floor
Exchanging partners; we share.

There is nothing for us in the world above.
Not when there is this: the princes. The dance.
The trees of silver and gold and diamond.

Between dances, the feasting. Sweets and fruits.
They watch us eat, avidly as they watch us dance
Pomegranate seeds between our teeth, fresh and sharp.

This is the twelfth night, the end of a spell.
He is shocked when we tear the cloak from him.
No return, we say. Never again to the world above.

The end of a spell; a new hunger, fresh and sharp.
We share. He was a big man.
There is plenty of meat for all.


Still at $1,082.24. SPONSOR ME!

"Twelve" was originally published in Cabinet des Fees, which you should totally check out if you're into fairy-tale poetry.

There is a baby having his/her first birthday party next door. There are balloons and baby pics all over the neighbors' back porch. Adorable!

Team Venture showcase: jennaria!

Because sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart around us -- global warming, global cooling, deforestation, natural resources running low or out. I love this world, and the creatures in it (including humans, at least sometimes): I love being able to go for long hikes and wade through cool streams. (Not so much for the mosquitos, but that's what bats and dragonflies are for!) The Nature Conservancy isn't the only charity out there that's working to preserve the world, and those parts of it that can't speak for themselves, but it's one of the better, and that's why it's mine. Sponsor her!

Spiders Spinning Lace

Lacy white iridescent doily approximately 14.5" in diameter sprinkled with 176 light purple beads, by fiddle_dragon.

Click here to bid!


Excerpt from Swanleigh-Fulcrum's Guide to Household Arachnids, by Octembre Swanleigh-Fulcrum, PhD

It is well known that spiders spin the most fascinating and bizarre things while intoxicated. Marijuana, alcohol, and many other drugs will cause a spider to spin wild, patternless trash.

Convincing a spider to spin lace is far more difficult.

First, one must put the spider in the proper frame of mind. Your spider should be installed in the parlor. Frequent salons should be held; between salons, play audiobooks of Regency romances for your spider. If you treat your spider as a lady, she will act as one.

Secondly, one must prepare her food in an appropriate manner. Keep an aquarium full of flies; instead of water, give the flies tea. Earl Grey is preferred, but any proper black tea will do. (Green or red teas will produce markedly different results. Herbal teas are not recommended for reasons.)

Thirdly, while your spider is devouring her tea-filled fly, sip cognac (port will do in a pinch) and exhale gently across her web. This will make your spider pleasantly tipsy - not enough to get her drunk, just enough to make her feel quite agreeable.

Whisper your request to your spider. Politely. She will comply, spinning loop after loop of the most intricate lace. When she finishes, she will bow slightly; bow to her in return. With her permission, and after transferring her to a new web, sever the lace from the web and dip it immediately in the preserving agent of your choice. Treated properly, spider-lace is perfect for hats, samplers, and the edging of gloves and bodices.


emilytheslayer is using a food chopper. It is loud and rhythmic and making us giggle.

Fellow blogathonners who want a spotlight - e-mail me a blurb!

dulcinbradbury is now my co-mod on blogforbarcc; she'll be nudging people into replying in-thread.


Calligraphy by ladydrakaina; illustrations by sheistheweather. Parchment paper, ink and colored pencil.

Click here to bid!


You are always everything you have ever been -
you are moments of joy and of pain,
layered to form your heart and mind,
your self.

You will always be the child on the swingset,
and the student with your books,
and the lover, and the loved.
Some part of you lives there always,
and you would not be yourself
if not for that fight,
that heartbreak,
that moment where everything paused -

You are always everything,
you have ever been.
And something, some secret place in you
knows all that you will be.

Perhaps it was the child,
swinging higher and higher,
propelling yourself up with
momentum and will,
until you could finally see
over the playground fence,
over your house,
over the setting sun,
over the horizon,
over into that moment of knowing...
and down, back to that summer evening,
and the promise of the life to come.

Up to $1,097.24. SPONSOR ME!

Team Venture is having lentil soup for lunch. Om nom nom.

Lily sez: "I just Googled Google. Go me. I win at Stupid."

Hey, let's answer a question!

What do you do as a counsellor?

I'm a member of BARCC's Community Awareness and Prevention Services (CAPS) team. Here's a partial list of things we do!

In addition to that, though, CAPS is the catchall team - basically, we handle everything that isn't covered by hotline, medical advocacy, and legal. One of our big missions is identifying the needs of our communities and providing community-specific services, so really, every volunteer does something different! We are flexible and adaptable.

Ask questions here!

She lived in an old sea chanty

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She lived in an old sea chanty, interpreted by emilytheslayer. Gray Merino wool laceweight yarn, nylon ribbon yarn knitted into a fishing net or scarf. Hand wash only.

Click here to bid!


She lived in an old sea chanty, on the shores of the great big sea. Some of the eaves were out of tune, but that was to be expected - most of the singers lacked any sort of advanced vocal training. The singing swept in a few times a day, just like the tides, the whole chanty moving with it - for a sea chanty's a live thing, not locked down and stable. A sea chanty grows and changes. She'd hum counterpoint to keep it as steady as possible, keep it from breaking the china, and later she'd explore. New rooms opened up sometimes, with new verses, or old ones might shift and change. Later she would tidy up, because the singing would sweep in all sorts of things, shells and seaglass and driftwood. She made windchimes from the song-storms' leavings, and they shone in the windows and chimed glissando like the sweetest eighth-notes and sixteenth-notes.

Sometimes the singing swept in an unwary singer, one who closed their eyes during call and response and smelled the sea air and let the chanty carry them in; for a few measures, she had lovers.

And after, she curled up in a bed hung with fishing nets and baubles and let the sea rock her to sleep, her heartbeat in perfect 6/8 time.


Hey, let's have a post about rape culture, shall we? Awesome. This is what rape culture looks like.

I often get asked what the phrase “rape culture” means. And while, honestly, the answer is no further away than wikipedia, it’s sometimes easier to grasp a concept by observing it in the wild.

Ben Roethlisberger is the Super-Bowl-winning QB of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last summer he was in Lake Tahoe for a celebrity golf tournament. While there, he flirted up a female host at Harrahs, the casino hotel where he was staying. Whether or not she voluntarily flirted with him is unknowable – as a rich, high profile celebrity, he knew that it was her job to flirt with him, and so did she. That’s rape culture. When men make choices about what women do with their sexuality, that strengthens the idea that men can control women’s bodies.

The following night, he called her to say his TV wasn’t working – would she come take a look? She couldn’t find a tech person to do it, so she went herself, knowing that she had to do everything possible to keep her celeb guest happy. Once up there, she discovered a perfectly functioning TV. And then, allegedly, Roethlisberger blocked her exit and raped her. That’s rape.

When she reported the attack to Harrah’s security chief Guy Hyder, he declined to investigate and allegedly told her that she was “overreacting” and that “most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger.” He also told her to either keep it from their boss at Harrah’s, or to tell their boss they’d had sex voluntarily, in order to keep everybody happy. That’s rape culture. When people in power refuse to take women’s rape charges seriously, it means there are no consequences for rapists, which makes them more free to rape.

Please read the whole thing.

BARCC is steadfastly committed to changing rape culture; one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal is conversation. Is going into schools and having the kind of talks that expose people's preconceptions about rape culture, and about getting them to think critically. I have seen that little light go on over people's heads as they realize "Oh, hey, that's not okay. And here's why that's not okay."

Sponsor me. Then e-mail ESPN and tell them that their "do not report" order on this reinforces rape culture, and that you find that unacceptable.


Calligraphy by ladydrakaina; illustrations by sheistheweather. Parchment paper, ink and colored pencil.

Click here to bid!


A game in several forms: Aarne-Thompson 510A.
The Persecuted Heroine.
Add one girl, one wicked mother, and one or more shoes.

Spill the other pieces out on the table.
See what fits.
A pharoah, a courtesan, a magical fish,
talking bones. Lizard footmen. A wishing tree.

The shoe may be gold or glass,
stylish pump or rose-gilded sandal.
Loss of shoe at ball is optional.
Sometimes a bird steals it. Be creative.
Show your work. Make it fit.

The stepsisters make it fit in at least one version -
hacking off toes or heels,
leaving a trail of blood.
Sometimes, the girl forgives.
Sometimes, their eyes are pecked out.
Sometimes, they are not there at all.

But one girl -
A poor unfortunate soul,
scrubbing clothes in the river,
scrubbing floors in the house,
all full of woe, but never complaining.
Sometimes there is a fairy godmother.
Sometimes she saves herself.

And one wicked mother,
step or not,
jealous of the girl's youthful vigor
or place in the father's heart
or shining hair.
So many choices, really.

Do anything else you want,
Talking mice and singing bones,
Pumpkins or turnips,
Fur slipper or fur cloak,
make her Thracian or Chinese.

Without these, it is not the story:
Girl. Mother. Slipper.

Scatter your pieces.
Tell me her story.
Again. And again.


This one? Totally an experiment, me just messing around with increasing and decreasing stanza length.

Another question answered!

what's the number one myth/misconception you've come across?

Hm. There are lots! One really prevalent one is that women allegedly "cry rape". Now. False accusations do happen. But they're incredibly rare. False accusations or carjacking and mugging are for more common than false accusations of rape - and they're very rare.

Another one that bugs me... there used to be the stereotype that rape was usually a stranger jumping out and grabbing you. Which led to a lot of doubt and the perception of a grey area in the cases where the perpetrator isn't a stranger. Which is vastly more common.

75 percent of all survivors know their attackers; 80 percent of all rapes occur in the home.

90 percent of rape survivors on college campuses know their attackers.

93 percent of juvenile sexual assault survivors know their attackers.

This is known now. Which is good. But the pendulum has swung the other way, and now there's a misconception that stranger rape is a myth. And me? I was literally grabbed off the street by a stranger. So. It does happen.

She Tastes Like Coffee

Mixed-media art by iambliss:

Inspired by "she tastes like coffee", acrylics on canvas. Her smile is filled with ground coffee, and several beans will be affixed, "growing" on the plant.

Click here to bid!


She tastes like coffee, as she so often does in the morning. The stimulant was outlawed years ago, but she grows it in her garden, well-hidden by thriving vegetables. She's a chemical rebel, his beautiful wife with her flashing eyes and reckless smile, pulsing with an illegal quickness.

She sees the fear in his eyes as she draws back, lips still curving around the kiss. "Hey. Relax."

"I can't help it. One of these days..."

"I've never in my life been selected for a sampling. I'm a public figure, love. We're allowed our eccentricities."

"I worry. I - don't want to lose you."

Another kiss, her mouth still warm from her illicit drink. "You won't. Slap on the wrist is all I'd get. Help me get my rig on."

He parts her scarlet hair, dabs on glue, affixes the small cameras and microphones - a halo of hardware. She grins up at him, and he smiles despite himself. She does need the energy, after all. Eighteen-hour days on the gravbike, mining the city for newsbites and stories. Eighteen-hour days of watching her on the screens, breathless and bouncy as she chases bad guys and interviews politicians. She's entitled to small vices.

A kiss on the cheek, and she's out the door.

He turns the television on.


And - aagh! My rubber chicken continue to melt! Kat made a tinfoil bed for him so he doesn't stick to the couch. Poor Frank.

Questions answered!

We hear and donate to BARCC (which is AWESOME!!!!) but how do we find out about resources in our cities? (assuming we can't access BARCC at a distance)

Call RAINN - 1.800.656.HOPE. They can connect you to your local rape crisis center. :)

What color would your shirt be, on the Clothesline Project?

I have two in the national exhibit (made them in Atlanta) - one red, one blue. I honestly don't remember what I put on the first one. I was shaking so hard just making it.

The second one says "I lit 236 candles, one for every rape survivor I know. The light filled my whole house."

Got a question?


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Chainmaille bracelet by amigone.

Bracelet in byzantine weave in shiny silver aluminum, made from tiny little 1/8th inch rings. 8.5" long including the barrel clasp. Length can be altered for winner.

Click here to bid!


It was her scent that raised my hackles. Part of the curse of being godspawn - heightened senses. Too loud in the club to bother listening for footsteps. But just like no one smells like Ben (amber and saffron and light), no one smells like Ananke. My back to the door, hunched over my drink like it was a life preserver, Ananke's scent punctured my buzz and hooked straight into my hindbrain. Rusted metal and blood and musk, and leather. She shifted behind me, chains jingling around her hips. "Magic-Merveille," she said, and her quiet voice cut right through the thrashcore band and into me.

Thought I'd run far enough. Nothing could be far enough. Not from my father, and not from her.

"Maggie," I said simply. "My name is Maggie."

"Your name is irrelevant. You are meant to be ten years dead."

"I fixed that." I kept my eyes steadily on the bar, willing Jack not to come back from his break and see this. Counting whiskey bottles.

"You ran."

"I chose-" gripped my glass tight - "to walk away. I chose to not blow up half the city."

"Silly child. You don't get to choose." She paused. "Look at me."

There are things I cannot do, and one of them is ignore her. I turn on my barstool and look at her. Ananke. Goddess of necessity, of destiny. Of compulsion. She's dressed for the occasion, in what looks almost like retro dominatrix kit, but with more chains - chains dangling from her waist, crossing over her legs and ass, chains wrapped around her arms, going slimmer as they went to terminate in something almost delicate. Her hair was braided into a complicated sort of net, bits of chain snaking around the knots of silky black. Wide dark eyes that swallowed me whole, hit the mute button on the rest of the world.


You cannot do this to me.

"You will go back," she said, crossing her arms.


She raised an eyebrow, and the corresponding corner of her mouth quirked up. Oh, great. I amused her. "You were created with a purpose. You must fulfill your destiny."

"I was created to be a single-use high-yield psychic explosive with a twenty-year fuse. H-bomb of the gods, right?"


"Well, no thank you. I'm not killing a bunch of people for no fucking reason."

"Your father has a reason."

"Well, he's never shared it with me. Just left me with a mother gone half-crazy from loving a god and a note to be opened on my fifteenth birthday. Telling me to destroy the city. Telling me -" I'd hopped down off my stool and stalked up to her, having to look up thanks to her fucking high-heeled bondage boots - "that it would come naturally."

"It did, didn't it?"

I remembered. I remembered every excruciating day of struggling with my power, trying to figure out how to defuse myself.

Trying to figure out how to make a godspawned weapon into a normal girl.

And, finally, half-succeeding.

"Not anymore." I aimed my words like daggers, but she brushed them off. She's an elder. A primal. She's older than my father. We scattered godspawn really are insignificant to her.

So why is she here? Why is she bothering -

She seized my hand, and I was too startled to pull away in time - there was a flash of pain, and I reached up to deck the fabulous primal goddess bitch who was fucking with my wrist, and she swatted me aside like I was a fucking fly. Shoved me back. Contemptuously.

"Do your duty," she told me. "Do what you were built for. It must be done. You have one month."

She vanished into the crowd, and the thrashcore sound returned, stink of machine oil and chemicals and designer drug sweat and cheap synthleather. Wincing, I raised my wrist to the colored lights.

Embedded in the skin of my wrist, encircling it, was a thin, but very distinct, chain.

SPONSOR ME! I am stuck at $1,097.24!

Blogathon is now 1/4 over!

This is part of Maggie's yet-untitled story, the cyberpunk mythology novel-to-be.

Hey, how about combining forces - a question answered with a post about rape culture!

What would you consider the best way to call out someone who makes a rape joke? Do not assume you know this person well.

I read a fantastic post yesterday on just this topic. Here it is.

I quote:

Welcome to a post about rape jokes.

Let me tell you a thing you might not know: the inability to hear rape “jokes” without flashbacks, Hulk rage, and “air quotes” is one of the enduring parting gifts of a rapist.

Here is how this goes:

It is a lovely summer day. You have some beers, and you and some friends are sitting on a front porch in the breeze and the sun, shooting the shit. You start talking about politics, and then the Army. You mention that you have considered joining the Army in the past, but won’t, because you can’t pledge loyalty to an organization that discriminates against gays (a round of agreement ensues, so hugely moral are we), and as a woman, you can’t reasonably aspire to join an organization that is far more likely to brutally rape you (and brutally cover it up) than the general population.

One of your friends says, “But isn’t that actually a benefit of the Army? Hur hur hur.” Oh, how you wish your friend were an ardent feminist, so you could interpret his comment as a dry observation of the brutal truth, framed humorously to prevent suicide all around. But no, you know he is making a funnay, the punchline being you and every woman you know.

Several options flash through your head.

1. Say Nothing. Hope the conversation does not continue extolling the virtues of rape, making saying nothing harder. Hate yourself for saying nothing. Notice girl sitting on the porch of the house next to you who has heard what was said. Notice her similar reactions. Hate yourself more for saying nothing, because she has probably been raped, too, because you don’t know any woman who hasn’t. Hate your friend, because he doesn’t know that every woman he knows has been raped. Have minor flashbacks of what was done to you. No feeling the sun, the breeze now, just his hand on your shoulder to get leverage. Simmer with stopped-up rage that this thing he did, his hand on your shoulder, has just been joked about as fun and exciting. Simmer with stopped-up rage that you said nothing then, too, even though that’s not really true. You just said nothing that was listened to, deemed important. Like your silence and obvious rage is being ignored now. Stop enjoying the day. Stop enjoying the company of your friend. Make a mental note to withdraw from others before they can casually, “jokingly” remind you of your rape. Feel bad. It’s not like they know you were raped. Feel angry. It’s not like you’re ever going to tell them, now. Feel alone and angry. Assume bitterly that you will feel this way forever.

2. Be Edgy! Jump in with some even MORE offensive humor! Run with the rape joke! Make it even more rape-y! Now your friend will never guess you have been raped. Bonus prize: if he ever finds out, he will respect you for not making a “big deal” out of your rape, for not making it the centerpiece of your life and his on a hot and lazy summer day. Settle in with the smug knowledge that you are not like those other broken, damaged, traumatized victims. Withdraw from “those” kinds of victims, who might try and drag you down into their hysteria with them. Throw them to the goddamn wolves. Throw your flashbacks to the goddamn wolves. Toast to rape!

3. Initiate a Very Serious Conversation, out of nowhere, like. Tell your friend that joke was not funny. Tell him rape is never funny. Keep talking after his face has pinched up in resentment and disgust, because you are RUINING his day and his BEER and his FUNNY. You know you are actually ruining his sense of himself as a good and decent person, but you cannot communicate that to him, because he is smug and disengaged, and you are shaking and stuttering and trying to explain the experience of women to a man who has grown up among women, known women, loved women, and somehow doesn’t know this already, which means he doesn’t want to know, doesn’t care. Feel vulnerable. Feel angry that you feel vulnerable. Consider stopping mid-sentence, getting up, and walking away. Promise yourself that after this you will never speak to this friend again. Immediately break the promise, because you know if you don’t, he will tell everybody that you stopped being friends because you are Andrea Dworkin all of a sudden.

4. Initiate A Very Serious Conversation Version II: Follow version one, except also disclose to your friend (who thinks rape is funny and exciting) that you have been raped. Be surprised, all over again, that this does not immediately change his perspective, the way it changed yours. Realize that to him, rape is conceptual, even when it has really happened, even when it is real. Wonder if he has raped, without knowing it, because it was just a concept. Realize you now wonder this about every man. Are you Andrea Dworkin? Do you have any right to ruin this lovely summer day by dumping your rape on everybody? Did he? After this, will he now tell everybody that you FREAKED OUT just because you were apparently “RAPED” and you can’t GET OVER IT when it was just a JOKE, SERiously? Will everybody know you have been raped? Will everybody think you are a humorless rape-bot from now on? Feel like shit afterwards. Be reminded that you cannot trust anybody, now. Because you were raped. Because you are Andrea Dworkin. Because you didn’t prosecute. The reasons don’t matter anymore; the result is the same. You are Angry About Being Raped, which just compounds the stain of Being Raped. Add in Unable To Take a Joke, and you are officially Female.

5. Find Some Other Way. Can’t count on this one; sometimes an alternative pops into your head, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you manage to say “Rape is funny!” and laugh away in such a sarcastic, biting voice that it communicates everything you wanted to say, and you all move on. Or you do what I did, which was threaten to break my beer bottle on the railing and stab my friend in the fucking neck with it if he didn’t shut his fucking maw. Ha ha! I said. A joke! Not really, man. Ha! Am I kidding? Am I? Fun-nay. The simmering rage remains, the distrust, the wondering if you should speak to this person ever again, the flashbacks. But the day moves forward rather than grinding to a screeching halt.

You guys, the entire post is brilliant. If you read none of my other links today - and you should read all of them, because they're all great! - you should read that.


Then come back and let's discuss.

Shayara scarf

By surreal_rebirth - all the colors of the Dasaroi, and then some.

Made with a wool/nylon blend yarn. About forty-five inches long and 12 inches wide. A very wavy, textured stitch pattern. Machine washable/line dry.

Click here to bid!


Victor sat beside Joseph and Sara on what could only charitably be called a hill - the park was fairly level - and surveyed the celebration. "You guys danced yet?"

Sara Tallart smiled, leaning over a little more - she sat between Joseph's legs, having her light brown hair braided with ribbons of Tallart gold and Keleyn silver. "Not yet. Waiting for him to finish!"

Joseph nudged her with his foot, a hands-free version of a friendly swat. "Your hair gets longer every year, y'know."

"What, you want me to cut it?"

"Hell no." He kissed her cheek as he tied off the braid. "My turn." They switched positions, and Sara began to do her best to sort out his unruly curls.

Victor eyed his handful of red ribbons and looked back down at the bonfire. Dasaroi whirled around it in ancient pattern-dances or in patternless glee, ribbons flowing from hair - every ribbon its own shade of meaning. Sara's ribbons, House colors of her and her partner intertwined in one thick braid, signified that she was married or otherwise very taken. Kieran, on the other hand -

As usual, Victor could not stop watching Kieran.

Kieran was gorgeous on any day, but today - clad in a casual version of his Court garb, intricately-embroidered deep red vest and all - he was breathtaking. Three slender braids in his long dark hair: one Lhri'nahri grey, one in Bartomni blue (causing wild speculation on those not in the know) and one, optimistically, in Tamrani green - green for the lost Lishaya, his kiri'totharan. The rest of his hair hung free, knotted here and there with loose-flowing Narsani-red ribbons signifying his willingness to dance. And he had been dancing for much of the afternoon, slipping ribbons from his hair and tying them into the hair of partner after partner with a courtly kiss on hand or cheek.

Sara nudged him with her elbow. "You should ask him."

Victor laughed nervously. "He wouldn't."

"He might. Victor, you know you're adorable, right?"

Joseph snorted. "Oh, he knows. Trust me, he knows."

Victor rolled his eyes. "Kieran's different."

"Here we go."

"What's the deal?" Sara finished Joseph's braid and patted him on the shoulder.

“He’s my Kithrayn.”

“And that means you’re not allowed to want him?”


Sara leaned forward, frowning. “You seriously think that?”

“Well – yeah.”


Victor gestured, frustrated. “He’s… he’s Kithrayna, Sara. They are more than us. They’re next only to the gods.”

“Do you think he sees it that way?”

“I’m sure he does. How could he not?”

“I don’t see how he could. If he did, he’d be insufferable – and he seems like a pretty nice guy.”

“He is nice,” Victor said softly. “He really – yeah. I mean – I’m lucky. House Narsan is lucky. To have him.”

“But you don’t think you could get lucky, so to speak?”

“He’s my Kithrayn!”

Joseph sighed. “Okay. What does that mean to you? Why is it such an insurmountable barrier?”

“Like I said, man. They’re more than us. Almost a different race.”

“Just in terms of the magnitude of their powers, is all.”

“Why would he want someone so… beneath him?”

“Okay, for one thing – you’re not. For another, Kithrayna date non-Kithrayna all the time. There aren’t enough Kithrayna for them to only date each other, after all. And truly, Vic, I don’t think they see people like us the way you think they do. I’ve never gotten the impression that Jana thinks of me as being in any way inferior. And her husband is about the same strength as me.”

“Jana’s different. Second Circle is different. Kieran is blood of the Firstborn.”

Joseph cocked an eyebrow. “You trying to tell me I’m inferior?”

“No! No, man. Just – the seven Kithrayna were first. For gods know how long, they were the only Dasaroi. Who knows what bonds they have? They’re just different. And Kieran… Jana may have married someone not on her level, but Kieran is the soulbonded of the Lishaya. And he’s dating Ryan. Kieran… wouldn’t be interested in some grubby Kirayth kid.”

“If you say so. But I think you should talk to him.” Joseph stood and pulled Sara to her feet; they headed down the hill, toward the fire, half-dancing already.

Victor eyed the little nest of ribbons in his hand and looked back down at the dancers. Seemed like the whole city was down there, having fun - save only Fenris, who hadn't danced since the Purges, and a few other on-duty Kirayth. Save Alanna, the Hounds, and most of the Council. Save one girl in a tower clear across the city. I hope you can hear the music, little one.

She would want me to dance.

Shaking his head ruefully, he knotted ribbons into his thick, wavy hair. He'd ask Leah Tallart for a dance. Perhaps Lily ni'Tarak, too. He scanned the crowd for them as he walked into the thick of things - and was surprised by a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Kieran, slightly out of breath, blue eyes sparkling, sliding a ribbon from his hair. "May I have this dance, my ki'anthra?" he asked with a small bow.

Victor answered him with a deeper bow and a foolish grin. "It would be my honor, my Kithrayn."

Kieran grinned and tied his ribbon into Victor's hair. "Oh, good," he purred. He ran his hands through hair and ribbon, letting the ends of the ribbon fall against Victor's neck. Letting Victor feel the cool metal at the end of the ribbon. Kieran's token. Not just a dance, Victor realized. An invitation. "I've been waiting all day for you to put those ribbons in your hair..."


(Ribbon by charitypomaybo.)


Each of the Houses has a traditional color; this scarf put me in mind of Shayara because it has just about all of the colors of the seven Great Houses, and then some.

Yes, Victor has a bit on a complex about the idea of setting his sights too highly. There's a reason.

One of these days, I'm totally dancing with ribbons in my hair, just like this.

Me: "I am willing to swallow my... whatever. Yes. I am willing to swallow whatever."

There will soon be a video up of me showcasing Elayna's cat's lack of dignity.

Question answered!

I hope this isn't too personal, but as a survivor, what's your personal coping technique?

Hm. It's definitely not too personal, but it's... a very large question! There are so many things to cope with and so many techniques that get used. I could talk about nothing but that.

One thing that was very important to me was dismantling triggers. I did not enjoy the PTSD freakouts. Oh, no. So I examined them, when I was able, and... well, basically took them apart. A combination of relentless application of logic and confrontation self-therapy. One of the first things I did was start walking at night again - I stopped for a long time after the rape, but it was important to me to get that back. Walking is my stress release! So I started taking short walks without my Walkman, in areas I knew were safe. Then longer walks. The I got my music back. And it's fifteen years now, and I have not had any trouble during a walk since.

But it was very much a gradual, methodical process, with that and with working through all of my triggers.

One thing that's really important = talking to your loved ones about this. Because if you have a flashback during sex and tense up and panic... you want your partner to know what's going on. You want them to be able to help you, not freak out because their partner is suddenly having a breakdown. And your loved ones can be a tremendously helpful resource. They want to help you.

And that's a big thing right there: they want to help you. And you are not alone.

Persephone's Return

Persephone's Collar, by ojouchan of ViolentBelle. Meant to evoke the strange beauty of artificial nature in the underworld. Fiery tear drop Austrian Crystals, hang from vine- like spring green glass beads, along with "flowers" made of blood red Austrian Crystal and pale yellow orange cut glass. Clear leaves dot the flowers while daffodil crystals twine like flowery serpents through the black satin lattice framework.

Click here to bid!


She meets me at the gates,
pulls me from the earth,
my silken skirts catching like roots
in the cold, soft clay
of the underworld.

It gets everywhere -
under my fingernails,
in the seams of my shoes,
in my hair.

She washes my hair,
combs out the last bits of clay,
washes from me
the perfumes of below.
She braids my hair,
braids in early blossoms
that bloomed just for my return.

There are no flowers, under.
There are jewels that sparkle
all the colors of flowers
in the cave walls,
clasped to my ears and wrists,
in the hollow of my throat
never warming to my skin.

She gives me a hat
(I am too pale
and it is too bright up here,
so bright to eyes accustomed to
the flicker of candles on the banquet table)
and puts me to work in the garden.
Spring planting.
My mother and I,
side by side,
quiet, for I am always quiet at first.
Our hands in rich warm crumbling black soil,
the best kind
for growing things.

It is so warm, the soil
and I press my hands into it,
feel that,
feel the sun warm my skin.

My mother grounds me
the best way she can.

Later, there are apples
drizzled with honey -
simple fare after
elaborate meals of reductions and glazes
and chilled wine made of fruits
my mother holds no dominion over;
the food is sharp and well-spiced, but

my mother's food is
warm from the ground
or fresh from the trees.

I bite into an apple,
closing my eyes
to draw in the taste,
and if I crave the tang
of a pomegranate,
I will never tell her.



Emily says, re: someone not here, "Okay, here's the point - and she? Is in Egypt. Destined to wander for forty years before she gets to the actual point."

wired_lizard brought us Tuscan bread from a Cordon Bleu baking school!

Also? This is how we roll during Blogathon. (Yes, I look like crap. It's Blogathon. Deal.)

That is Victoria. She has no dignity. Don't worry, she actually enjoys this treatment.

This next rape-culture post was forwarded to me by multiple people; apparently, when you guys see rape culture stuff, you think shadesong!

ArsTechnica says:

I can't imagine what it's like to be a booth babe, especially not at a show like Comic Con. You're being pawed at by huge amounts of sweaty geeks, you have to smile and be pleasant to people who may or may not have showered... it always seems like a hellish existence. What doesn't help? Having your employer offer a bounty if people sexually harass you.

At Comic Con, if you commit "an act of lust" with an EA booth babe and take a picture, you could win dinner with said babes, as well as a great big pile of prizes related to the upcoming Dante's Inferno. That's right, the babes won't just get the standard behavior and awkward advances—if someone is really obnoxious, they get rewarded for it, and then you get to see them again socially!

Technically you're only supposed to take a picture to be entered, but I can't even start to imagine how people are going to get creative with this one. I hope they gave their models a can of mace or, better yet, an actual mace. Or maybe just a few sharpened sticks. Going into that throng, in a thong, with prizes being awarded for lustful actions being enacted upon you? Dear Lord.

This may fit in with the theme of the game, but those poor, poor women. *shudder*

Jezebel has a post on it, too.

The usual defenders of this sort of thing are saying things like "It's just taking a picture!" and, charmingly, "Well, they were hired to be a piece of meat." But I point out two things:

1. It says commit an act of lust. The person who does it "best" gets rewarded. So no, these guys are not just going to be taking a picture. I predict a lot of nonconsensual groping to get "points". What's another name for that? Oh, yeah - sexual assault.

2. It says to do this with EA's booth babes or any other booth babes. This means upskirt pics of the girl dressed as Supergirl at DC's table. This means Catwoman assgrabbery. At the least. EA's booth babes may have signed up for this. No one else did. But they have all been made targets by one reprehensible company.

And at a con... how can you tell for certain who's a booth babe and who's a costumed attendee? So that target has now also been painted on every female ComicCon attendee.

SDCC security should boot EA out, like, doublequick. If they don't? They're leaving themselves open to the inevitable lawsuits.

Keep in mind that SDCC was full of sexual harassment/assault fail last year. This? Is not a step in the right direction.

Galen - from "Flying Lessons"

A far-off gryphon in flight, by sweetevangeline. 4x5" acrylic painting.

Click here to bid!


“Not far out of the city-states’ borders, you can see the forest coming back. There are bears ambling down the streets, hawks overhead. There are fields of dandelions, overfull rivers. Reclaimed plains. Wilderness. Long stretches of it between your jam-packed, locked-tight cities. Nothing but me and my cousin and all the wild that was here before man, taking back its own.

“It was out there that I saw the gryphon - my head tipped back to watch the clouds amble past, and here’s this shot of gold going past, whirling about, sweeping in to take our measure. He landed easy beside us and nodded, and I nodded right back - wouldn’t you?

“Turns out he’s not the only one. He says they’re re-forming their colonies up in the mountains. Says there’s all manner of weird wonders up there, scattered around - that now that the humans are all sequestered and not plugging the holes where myth seeps out, their world is getting freer and freer.

“Ever wonder where stories come from? Bedtime stories, fairy tales, the things Hollywoodland started with? All stories are true. Just like all the best lies have a seed of truth. Myths and stories and all of that, they seep out of the world, into dreams, into action. They become books and movies and weavings and patterns, gryphons and shapeshifters and unicorns.

“And hope.

“There is a whole world outside of here, outside of car graveyards and nightclubs and nanofibers and performance drugs. The city has got you locked in tight, cousins, locked into this swirl of little machines. They told you you needed to be here, for your own safety. Well, maybe that was so in the beginning, but it’s been a lie for a long time now.

“I flew with the gryphon. Flew for glorious miles, watching the country spread out beneath me, all rippling greens - and saw the cities, dull steel blots on that green. And I had to come here.”

This is an excerpt from "Flying Lessons", which will be a webcomic by me and charitypomaybo. I really need to get to work on scriptifying it!


The couch contingent of Team Venture wishes it to be known that they are on a boat, motherfucker.

Question answered! Or, well, comment answered.

comment on this story please

*sigh* I think it's awful. False accusations of rape can destroy the lives of the wrongfully accused.

And they make it that much harder for people who have been raped, because they contribute to that pernicious awful myth about false accusations. When we ar not believed, it is directly because of people like this doing things like this.

And I stress again that these things are so rare. But when one of them sweeps the news, it makes the rest of us less likely to believed, and in some cases less likely to come forward at all.

One of the most potent sentences in a rapist's verbal arsenal is "No one will believe you."

Flying Lessons

Earrings by sealgair! "Verdigris" feathers, copper wire, turquoise chips and sterling silver lever-back ear wires.

Click here to bid


“Why?” That’s Dela talking, shocking me out of my reverie - I swear I could see the dandelions. I shake my head. Did she dope us? “Why come here, if it’s so great out there? Why throw it in our faces?”

The girl shakes her head, feathers moving with her hair, one gold among the brown and black. Gryphon? “That’s not why. Quite the opposite.”

“Why, then?” Hand on her hip, head cocked, all belligerent. I wondered if she’d seen the story like I had.

“Because you have to remember, “ she says. “Because you need to know there’s a life outside of this. The corps are blotting out your history, your freedom.You need to keep that alive. And someday, you need to get out of here. Escape this poison culture. Make your own.”

“How?” I asked, startling myself as well as Dela.

At this, the girl grinned and scooted down off the car. ”Well, first - by wanting to. And then… by telling other people about this.”

Dela snorted, clearly jealous that she wasn’t getting the girl’s attention. “Ara? She hardly ever talks.”

“Why’s that?” the girl asks. Asks me, not beautiful wild Dela. She’s standing close to me now; she smells musky, cinnamony, and she smoothes my hair back behind my ear like my mother used to do, dark eyes searching mine. Beads in her hair, too. Beads and feathers, and those feathers striking across her cheek…

“I don’t have much to say,” I whisper, a bit ashamed of that in front of this story-packed woman. ”I have no stories.”

“Do you want to?”

I nod. Don’t even have to think about it. And she kisses me.

She kisses me, her hands on my face, and I feel myself fill up with…something. Feels like a flutter of wings in my mind, in my belly, in my hands, in my heart - and I know things, things about the way life used to be, campfire stories, the gryphon… she kisses me, and I feel like I know everything; I am dizzy and fair to bursting.

She pulls away, and all I can think to say is “I know who you are.”

She backs away, grinning and spinning. “Good for you, little cousin. Do you know who you are?”

“Not yet.”

She nods. “Right. But you’ll figure it out. Tell stories, Ara. You’ll know how. Tell stories wherever you go; bring story back to this place.”

“What about me?” Dela cries.

The girl cups Dela’s face in her hands. No kiss, just a smile. “Art. You already know how.”

She pulls away from Dela and bows grandiosely, feathers fluttering around her head. “And now I am off. Tell your stories. Don’t let mankind forget what they had - what they can have again. And when the time comes to leave this place - you’ll know what to do.”

And she takes off running. Half-running, half-skipping through the car graveyard, down the one straightaway, warm against my skin as she passes, and she makes this leap -

And she does not come down.

She leaps up into the sky, and wings spring forth from her back, full and muscular and feathers shimmering glossy black in the streetlight, the podlight, and with a flap of those wings she is airborne, and the rest of her shifts, and she is an enormous black bird. She circles once, making a sound that’s half-caw, half-laugh, and she is away, leaving a little shower of feathers in her wake, falling around me and Dela as we watch open-mouthed and full of wonder.

More "Flying Lessons".


I am not even looking at the auctions. There's too much to keep track of! dulcinbradbury is quite awesomely reminding everyone to post in the thread.

Shout-out to the pit crew! emilytheslayer has been cooking & providing for us all day. Adam is also rocking our world. Tory was here earlier, and mgrasso is swinging by a little later. Hopefully with pie. feste_sylvain is taking the sheer madness of the 4am-9am shift.

Dinner will be chili, beer bread, and mashed potatoes. (Lunch was a delicious red lentil soup.)

Kat: "Put your skirt down."
Me: "I *like* my skirt up."

I have just filmed an impromptu plastic-knife fencing duel.

Comments! Blogathonners live on comments!

Question answered!

What are some statistics on male rape/sexual assault?

I'm assuming that you mean male survivors rather than male perpetrators, as the stats are less available for male survivors - yes? Correct me if I'm wrong!

This I can tell you:

* About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.
* In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.
* 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.

So you see why it pisses me off when people try to call rape solely a women's issue, or handwave away the experiences of male survivors. They're out there. I know several personally. And the stigma here can make it harder for them to recover than for women - and it's pretty damn hard for women. Yes, it's mostly women, just like it's mostly not strangers. But sometimes it's strangers. And sometimes it's men.

A survivor is a survivor.

Got a question?

When Her Eyes Open

"When Her Eyes Open", interpreted by sweetevangeline. 11x14", clay and acrylic.


She runs—
feet pounding the desert,
shove off, get more momentum
harder faster
legs like pistons
half meat and half metal,
and the meat slowly cooking,
sizzling, searing
not yet not yet—

No time for goodbyes, for anything.
When the siren ripped through the station,
her clock started ticking down
to absolute zero.
No time to fight with him, to explain.

This is the thing: when you take this job,
managing a new terraforming station
on a new world,
they give you this body.
Long list of specs, but it boils down to:
you can go outside.
you can take massive acceleration
You can take all kinds of things.

They take you aside, and they tell you:
These are the risks.
And you are the failsafe.

They tell you:
if everything goes wrong,
if the shit hits the fan—
it has to be you.

And you sign,
and you get your augmentation,
because it's a new world,
an adventure.
And you think,
never in a million years
will I be hugging a blown reactor,
screaming through gritted teeth,
tears evaporating,
sucking the power in
so the station doesn't explode.

You think,
I will never be running down the corridor,
past my friends, past him,
no time no time,
out the airlock
onto the scalding weirdness of this planet.


Meat is cooking fast,
charring sizzling;
she smells like dinner,
and she'd laugh if she wasn't trying not to scream.
faster faster
farther farther
impact jarring her legs where joints have seared away
running blind,
just got to get far enough away

I'm sorry—

When her eyes open
the desert turns to glass.


"When Her Eyes Open" was first published in the much-mourned Lone Star Stories, and was reprinted in the 2009 Eaton Science Fiction Conference's speculative poetry sampler.


zarhooie is meandering around the house, taking pictures.

Kat: "Is it half over yet?"
Me: "It is half over at 9pm."
Kat: "Can it be 9pm now?"
Me: "No."
Kat: "What if I move to Singapore?"
Me: "If you can pull that off by the end of Blogathon? I would love to see that."
Kat: "Aaaaadam, can you give me a ride to the airport?"
Me: "Adam can put you on a bus."
Kat: "To Singapore?"
Me: "Yes. Take the bus to Singapore."

We make our own fun.

Another question answered!

Why do I still feel "I put myself in the situation, so it's my fault" THIS many years later? What's stopping from placing the blame where it truly belongs and letting it go?

Aii, hon. Yes. This is rough.

We always look for what we should've done. If I hadn't been wearing that, or doing this, it would not have happened, and I would have been safe.

Maybe the way to look at it is to look at situations where the survivor did nothing that you think could've been done better, nothing "wrong"? And if that happens even in those situations - there was nothing you could have done to keep it from happening to you.

It is not your fault.

But it's natural human instinct to try to find what you "did wrong". And people do it to each other, too. In lots of workshops, I encounter women who say "She shouldn't have been at that party" or "She shouldn't have worn that skirt" or whatever, and where this is coming from is a desire to feel that they themselves are safe.

Because if the survivor put themself in this situation, all the critics have to do is *not* put themselves in that situation. And so they will be safe.

Which you can see the illogic of from the outside. But it's a normal emotional self-defense thing, crappy as it is.

You didn't put yourself in that situation. Your rapist did.

Wind and Thorn

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Thorn and Bone jewelry set by sofiaviolet (Etsy shop here).

Necklace: silver-plated chain, a green agate thorn, and a piece of bone with a garnet drop of blood.
Bracelet: a piece of bone, black onyx leaves, green agate branches, and garnet.
Earrings: bones, green agate thorns, and black onyx leaves on silver-plated leverback findings (which can be swapped for sterling fishhooks if desired).

Click here to bid!


Was there ever a princess? Did a beautiful girl ever fall under a bad fairy's spell, lose herself to curiosity and a spindle? Or was it all a lure to trap young princes, third-born sons, ambitious merchants? A kingdom for the having - simply come through the thorns and kiss the girl!

Ah, the thorns.

They twist tightly around the palace (was there ever a palace, or is the castle-shape just mimicry?), sprawl over the moat, slither thick and spiny across the land. The impenetrable wall of thorns.

When the wind blows, you can hear a soft chiming for miles. Swords and shields, sickles, spears, shears, daggers, slivers of rusting metal thorn-pierced and dangling, glinting in the sun.

A soft chiming - thorn-pierced bones, too, flesh long-gone.

You enter, sword in hand, ready to rescue the princess. The thorns part before you, rustling, let you in just far enough to seal off your escape. They let you in far from their last meal, so as not to alarm you.

And the thorns close in. The thorns tear through your skin. It's the blood they want - you can see it rush through them, dry and cracked vines growing thick and glossy, dark greens and blacks, pulsing with life.

Your life. And hers. If there ever was a princess.

Blood first, all of the blood, and then the flesh, and then the marrow, and it leaves the bones - does not bother to drop them. Leaves them hanging like obscene flowers, long slender thighbones and delicate fingers. Rattling against each other for all time in a susurrus of dry bone.

In the wind, it sounds almost beautiful.


I've been stalled at $1,097.24 for much of the day. *twitch* *twitch*


When you start getting cranky over historical inaccuracies in Facebook quizzes, it's time for more coffee.

Annie: *lists her fandoms, searching for a topic*
Kat: "Oh! Do my favorite Doctor Who pairing: The TARDIS and the suit!"
Everyone: *wary yet quizzical look*
Kat: "See, at night, the Doctor takes off his suit. And puts it in the TARDIS. And they make sweet love all night. And that's how he gets more suits."

This is a really good Blogathon so far, guys. I mean, I am fervently hoping to raise more money! But I am calm and have energy and am relaxed. By this time last year, I was already wanting to punch people. Not trying to write spontaneous fiction while hostessing helps, clearly. And we have a great group. (We do miss slipjig and his hat, though!)

Question answered!

Do the flashbacks ever stop?

They slow. They can stop. They don't always. But they get less and less frequent.

I have not had one in ages. But that doesn't mean I never will again. This one doesn't have an objective answer, unfortunately.

faceted crystal

Two items! (Well, three. In two batches.) One story!

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Jewelry set by sofiaviolet (Etsy shop here).

Necklace: a big chandelier crystal and vitrail/aurora borealis/crystal fire polished glass, on silver-plated chain.
Earrings: chandelier crystals and vitrail/aurora borealis/crystal fire polished glass on silver-plated earwires (which can be swapped for sterling if desired).

Click here to bid!

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Key pendant by arianhwyvar of Silver Owl Creations.

Antique key, vintage bronze enameled copper wire, faceted crystal, glass teardrop beads. 3 1/4" long including the bail, just over 7/8" across. Comes with an antiqued bronze steel cable chain with an antiqued brass lobster clasp, 20" long, fully adjustable; if the bidding goes over $50, the pendant will instead come with a nicer antique brass rollo chain, adjustable between 15" and 20", like this one. The extender part of the rollo chain is basically what the entire antiqued bronze steel cable chain looks like.

Click here to bid!


David gave the bell on the counter another peremptory tap. "Where the hell is this guy? Does he not want our business?"

Anna winced inwardly. Another Saturday squandered in the idea shops. They'd planned to go to her sister's potluck; at the last minute (as usual), David had emerged from his study seething (as usual) that he was out of ideas. So. Off to the little shops that lined the side streets in the next town over, the ones that were only sometimes there (and oh, was David furious when they weren't!). Off to a day of badgering and haggling in dark little storefronts full of stoppered glass bottles full of writhing mists. It always made her dizzy and a little ill, watching the way the ideas moved. It was making her a bit queasy at the moment, matter of fact. She set her hand down on a nearby table to steady herself.

Hello - what's this?

She picked up the small, surprisingly solid object. It looked like a prism from an old chandelier - a teardrop-shaped faceted crystal that fit comfortably in her palm. She peered at it, looking for the familiar swirl of idea-fog.

"Ah. An excellent choice."

She started, nearly dropping the crystal. "Oh! I'm sorry, sir - I didn't see you there." The man was typical of idea-shop proprietors - small and stooped, elderly, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

"I wasn't there."

Anna pondered this for a moment, then helplessly gestured toward the counter, where David was striking the bell yet again - this time with a bit more force than necessary. "My husband - he needs ideas."

The man chortled. "He certainly does. But he isn't the customer."

She realized she was still holding the crystal, running her thumb absently along its edge. It had warmed in her hand. "Oh, no - I'm not a writer, I don't need ideas! I just bumped into this."

"Ideas, dear girl, are a bit of a sideline for me. What I primarily deal in is possibility." He grinned. "And no one 'just bumps into' anything in this shop. If it leapt into your hand, you're meant to have it."

She held it to the light. "What is it?"

"Turn it," he said quietly.

She did - and gasped. Through the crystal, she saw herself having tea with Carol - Carol, who she'd lost touch with years ago. The crystal-self laughed, looking ten years younger. Looking... happy. "What...?"

"Turn it," he repeated.

She did - and saw herself very pregnant, and smiling. Turned it again - saw herself by her mother's side. "My mother is dead," she whispered.

"In this world."

"This crystal... shows different worlds?"

"Worlds where things happened just a little bit differently."

She looked over the crystal at her seething husband. "Where I didn't marry David?"

"Where you married someone else. Where you never married at all."

She clutched the crystal tighter, edges digging into her palm. "But how?"

"That doesn't matter. What matters is that it does more than just show you."

She looked at David again. She'd made that choice long ago, and knew where it led - the loss of her friends, isolation, David's black moods, his drinking. She looked back down at the crystal. "Does it...reverse time?"

"It gives you one-time access to an alternate universe."

She looked at the man sharply. "One-time?"

"Pick the one you want. Close your eyes. And you're there." The twinkle had left the little man's eyes. He was solemn. All business. "But you only get this chance once. So choose well."

"What do you want for it?" Surely it must be more than what she had, surely...

But the man smiled gently. "Your sadness."

She looked at her husband, eyes brimming with tears. Looked at the somber little man. Looked at the crystal - watched her reflection smile.

"It's a deal."

Closed her eyes.


SPONSOR ME! We're up to $1,107.24 - keep it coming!

As you can tell by this and "And to my wife...", I have a fondness for old-fashioned scientifiction.

mgrasso: "I gotta tweet that I'm here."

Your questions, um, not answered yet: I got two very interesting questions that I don't have the resources to provide a good answer for yet.

Have you seen statistics about whether legalizing prostitution in an area decreases the incidence of sexual assault?
how many victims fight back? how many rapists are seriously damaged by their victims (scars, missing body parts, compound fractures)? how many victims go on to learn self-defense techniques?

So this is just to let you two know: Your questions are fascinating, and I am not ignoring you! I asked my BARCC supervisor for stats on this, but she took a long weekend and hasn't gotten back to me on it yet. I'll post answers as soon as I have them.

Mangrove Dryad/Mermaid

Postcard-sized print of the Mangrove Dryad/mermaid by haikujaguar.

Click here to bid!

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A set of necklaces by niftybabe313, for the dryad/mermaid before and after.
Approximate length of the blue/aqua/clear necklace is 18 inches
Approximate length of the green/gold/copper necklace is 20 inches
Both are made of glass seed beads on .5 mm "Stretch Magic" cord, no clasps. Wear together or separately!

Click here to bid!


A mermaid, form only coyly cloaked by green-streaked pale-brown hair that flows around her, drifting in the shimmering water. Her tail is not the traditional smooth green-scaled muscle, but seems ragged - tendrils of deep brown rather than scales. Her arms are at her sides, palms open and facing out; her eyes are closed.

All my life I had dreamed of the sea - when I was but a sapling, I yearned for it, pushed my roots seaward, strained my branches. But dryads cannot become nereids. Not just by wishing. Not even we mangrove nymphs, with our roots in the ocean and our proud salt-rimed leaves. I learned, I grew, I sorrowed. I tried to content myself with the things that washed up from the sea and tangled in the cage of my roots - kelp and bladderwrack, crabs and mollusks. I tried to content myself with watching the fish dart through my roots, shimmering and sleek and fast and free. And I despaired of ever being free. Oh, to be a mangrove nymph is to be of both worlds and neither; oh, how I wished I had been born an ash or yew, oak or maple, and not to suffer these longings!

And then the storm.

A night of darkness and fear and exultation, of branches thrashing, of waves pounding! I prayed for the waves to crack me, pull me out to sea. I prayed to find a way...

My prayers were answered that night.

He slammed into my root-cage and held fast, steeling himself against the storm; he pulled himself inside to safety to wait it out, sleek tail flashing. Chest broad and human, tail sleek and scaled, eyes the shade of my leaves beneath the salt.


For seven days he stayed. He stroked my roots, my trunk; he sang for me, tales of his people, tales of the deep and open sea. He licked the salt from my leaves.

He told me of the witch. The selfsame witch who made legs for a mermaid could make a tail for me. I would shed my bark for shimmering iridescent scales. I would shed my salt-rimed leaves for flowing hair. I would shed my roots for the freedom of the sea.

And I cared not what price she would demand of me. It must be given. For I had dreamed of that wild open sea all my life; it had called me, and I must go. I must.

When the witch came, I submitted willingly, and I was transformed. The only price the witch asked of me? The language of the trees. I considered it no loss at the time - my language stripped from my throat, but followed by the language of the sea, cool and blue and soothing.

I am deeply ashamed to say that I did not even look back at my tree. The moment I was free, I dove, I swam, I fled.

For seven days, all was well. My lover and I explored the sea together, playful and sweet, and it was everything I'd dreamed of.

On the seventh day, we swam to a boat. My prince kissed me, eyes sorrowful - and surrendered me. He'd owed the Ringmaster a mermaid, you see, and was honor-bound to protect his own people; he saw my yearning for the sea, singing to the waves, and he contrived to seduce me. It had not taken much. I was eager to swim, to dive - and glad to sacrifice leaf and root for it.

I was seized, hauled aboard, sputtering and gasping and screaming in the rough hempen net, air chasing water from my lungs. The Ringmaster locked the collar on my throat with a practiced hand, and his men threw me into an enormous tank, thick glass walls that I pounded on all the way back to shore, screaming for my faithless lover, screaming for the sea... and for my sisters, who could no longer hear me. I screamed all the way to the carnival, salt in my throat, and I screamed as he displayed me night after night, screamed and sobbed - and he told them that I was singing.

The truck that carries my tank has windows, and I can see the trees in the distance as we speed by, watch the leaves rustle as they speak to each other.

But I no longer know their language, and cannot plead for rescue.

It was never for love of him. It was for love of the sea.


SPONSOR ME! Still at $1,107.24.

The mangrove dryad has had more art created for her than any other character - painting, yarn, jewelry, knitted things. So much. She is loved.

She originated in the original November '07 round of Wind Tunnel Dreams (inspired by the prompt "sea-dreams" from solcita), and found a home in "Fortune", the first long-form WTD; this is a chimera, a blending of those two appearances. You'll see her once more later, in the epilogue to fortune. Two posts from now. :)

After all of my fretting about auction-item-wrangling, we ended up with more than 49 items - fortunately, they're grouping very naturally. There'll be a few more posts that have two items per storybit, but most will have one item per.

mgrasso: "I'm looking, like, right into Frank's anus." "Frank has the word "accoutrements" on his ass. It's like a clue. Like Rosebud."

Kat: "Hey, Mike, guess what?"
Mike: "What?"
Kat: "We're on a boat!"
Mike: "Oh. I thought you were going to say 'chicken butt'. That would have been apt for a change. It would've been OT. Or is OT "off-topic?"
Me: "It's off-topic. Hm. OnT?"
Mike: "That's Ontario."
Emily: "It's OP. Original Post. Hot & spicy Texas style."

Next time you see mgrasso, ask him to tell you the Drinky Bird story. Insist upon it.


A chapbook of my short story "Fortune", with illustrations by ultra_lilac, bound by themaskmaker of Listening House Press. #9/10.

In the first picture, you can see the dust jacket. Since the story is narrated by a fortune teller, I chose a light Indian tissue, hand-printed with copper ink, to evoke the silk scarves fortune tellers use to wrap their cards...

A close-up of the interior, showing what the pamphlet stitch looks like on the inside, and how I mounted the illustrations so that they would look like individual cards.

Click here to bid!

Autographed Sirens CD by SJ Tucker.

Click here to bid!


The serpent-girl, seated, in profile. She holds a massive snake aloft, twined around her arms. Iridescent scales glitter along her limbs, everywhere not covered by the simple green silk dress, slit to the hips and sleeveless to show her off all the better.

I am alone among my friends; I am the only one who is not a creature of myth and magic. I was born to utterly normal parents who recoiled at the sight of my shimmering scales. Mutant, they said. Freak. Something in the water, maybe. Some secret corruption.

I was not yet five when my father sold me to my first carnival, and I stayed there until I was fifteen. It was a good place, as these places go. No collars, and no magic - just us freaks of nature and those who performed feats of stage magic, trained animals. It was there that I learned to sing to the snakes, to charm them with my voice as they do with pipes in India.

I do not know if there is some affinity because of my scales, or it it is just that they like my dance, and that I am kind to them.

I grew up in the carnival, singing my snakes out of their pit and dancing with them, skirts flaring around my ankles. I watched it fall apart over time - the show was no longer intriguing enough. People were no longer willing to pay just for sword swallowing and the guessing of weight. They wanted more, and the owners of my carnival were tired and growing bored, and it did not take much of my disgracing myself and them for them to sell me.

The boy had made eyes at me during my performance. I was used to that - I was not very womanly, and still am not. Slender as a reed, he said. But the dancing, the singing - any girl who sings and dances like I must will get those looks. This boy, though, came to me after the show. He brought me flowers plucked from just outside the fairgrounds, and I thought that I must be falling in love, and so must he. The third night that he courted me, I met him behind the big top, long after midnight, when everyone else was asleep.

In the morning, he recoiled from me.

He had thought that the scales were painted on. He did not know - he called me a freak, and the word had never hurt before the way I did that morning. A thing. He spat on the ground beside me, and I wept - hollow, frozen, despairing.

It was that morning that the Ringmaster appeared. He looked down at me, into my tear-streaked face; he helped me up, and stroked the scales on my arm soon as I was on my feet. I pulled my arm away, and he begged pardon for being forward and begged directions to the owners' trailer. I led him there... and before I knew it, I was sold, and before my snakes and I were more than a mile away, I had a steel collar locked 'round my neck.

It will be seven years tomorrow that I have been his. Seven years that I sang my snakes out of the pit, danced for him, for them. Seven years of the Ringmaster's bed, of his cruelty. Seven years of basilisks and gryphons and pegasi; seven years of magic, and I the only true freak among them.

I alone am not a being of magic.

And I alone am mortal.


SPONSOR ME! We're up to $1,177.24 - keep it coming!

I wrote the serpent-girl out of s00j's song "Carousel", because I wanted to give her a better ending. Which you'll see in the next post.

mgrasso: "If I fall asleep in this chair, promise not to draw on my face?"
Me: "I... cannot make that promise."

Kat: "I'm related to you on the internet!"

Mike: "You can use your butt for wrestling?"

Mike is making a shuriken out of Saltines.

Tem Venture is now discussion Lucky Golden Poop. Because we're classy like that.

Also, with NSFW language:


Fortune: Epilogue

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Made for Blogathon auction with designer's permission, this shawl is handknitted and hand dyed by Andrea O'Sullivan of Natural Obsessions and is inspired by the stories about the dryad who wanted to be a mermaid.

This handknitted lace shawl is made out of hand-dyed 50/50 Merino Wool/Silk blend laceweight yarn with rootbeer brown colored beads. Finished shawl will measure approximately 82 inches wide and be blocked to open up the lace fully. This shawl should only be hand washed and laid flat to dry, but Andrea also offers lifetime blocking for the cost of postage only.

Click here to bid!


"Your fortune is told," she says. "But I can tell you one more thing. I can tell you what happens; I can tell you her future."

"Yes," you reply simply.

She gives her dented copper bowl a gentle shake; coins rattle within, and the faint rustle of paper money. "For a price."

The fortune-teller smiles as you place the money in her bowl. She looks fondly after the serpent-girl. “She never asked, you know,” she muses. “Most of them ask. She never did. I think she never quite believed she’d have a future to be told.

“This is what happens to Susan.

“They drive all the way across the country, her and the sphinx and the gryphon and the mermaid. Susan has a truck full of maps, and they take all the back ways. When she takes days off from driving, she paints the trailers - dark blue over garish reds and yellows. She uses the Ringmaster’s money sparingly, but well, buying cushions for her beloved beasts, small things to make their long journey easier. When she drives, she rolls the windows down; the wind tangles her hair, but it’s worth it for the feel of freedom. Melantha the sphinx tsks at her as she brushes out the knots, but she likes brushing Susan’s hair, and Susan knows it. It becomes a nightly ritual - the caravan stops, Galen hunts, and they eat around a campfire while Melantha brushes Susan’s hair out and tells her all of the stories the mermaid told her that day, which she has already told to a fascinated Galen.

“They reach the Everglades. The mermaid weeps for joy when she returns to her estuary, but also for sorrow; she still cannot speak to her sisters, the mangrove-nymphs. So Susan turns herself to the study of magic. She kept all of the Ringmaster’s books, you see, fearing what would happen if they fell into the wrong hands. So Susan studies as Melantha and Galen adapt the trailers, turning them into a sturdy and serviceable little house. Susan experiments, and soon she is able to turn the mermaid back into a mangrove-nymph - and from that, back to a mermaid, at will. She gives her back the language of the trees, and she gives her the language of humans, as well. And she gives her the ability to change herself. The mermaid spends her days in the deep ocean, her nights as a tree - her evenings, at Susan’s hearth-fire with her dear friends.

“Susan causes a stir the first time she arrives in town with a dead gator slung over her shoulders, but the townsfolk soon grow accustomed to her - this strange woman who wears trousers and long-sleeved shirts even in the heat of summer, toting around gators like they were nothing. She sells the meat to restaurants, sells the skins, and soon she has enough money for an airboat. She skims around the Everglades, skillful and wild, hunting down unusual plants for her experiments and bringing in gators for the bounty.

“One day, in town, she’s caught singing to herself. A talent scout hears her and makes her record a song. She acquiesces, and the song is a hit - but she won’t record any more, won’t leave the Everglades, won’t even give the man a last name and address. The song and the mystery of the singer become a folk-music legend.

“Susan lives and loves for decades more. She never stops dancing. She curls up every night with Melantha and the mermaid, cooks and serves up Galen’s kills for dinner, sings after. She is a friend to the mermaids, to the trees, and especially to the animals the gators had been eating.

“And, in this way, Susan grows old.

“The end comes suddenly; no painful lingering. Her body just up and gives out on her, at about the age of ninety. Melantha and Galen curl up, make a cradle of sorts, and that’s how she spends her last days and nights - resting between her sphinx and her gryphon, holding her mermaid’s hand. They hold her, her beloved immortals; they hold her until she slowly, finally, breathes her last, a small smile on her face.”

The fortune-teller spreads her hands. “And that is what becomes of her. A long and happy life, lived on her own terms. She has freed herself today, and free she shall remain, forever.

“The mermaid’s revenge upon the witch and prince? The future of the gryphon and the sphinx? Those are other stories. And I must be on my way.”

She gives you a slight bow, eyes sparkling. “I wish you good fortune.”



Yes, the epilogue is mostly about Susan the serpent-girl - but the shawl reminds me of the mermaid's new ability to shift from dryad to mermaid. To be both.

Team Venture is collecting cracked-out writing prompts in a ViolentBelle hat. And Elayna's fedora.

Also? Team Venture is quoting Shakespeare inappropriately.

zarhooie is posting pics from around my house. So if you ever wondered what my house was like, check that out. Kat says: "'Song's house is an adventure. Everywhere you look is something unexpected: a kitty, random little figurines and things on the shelves. I love just sitting in the living room and being surprised by $THING that I never noticed the previous 10 times I've been sitting in this exact spot, looking at the same bookshelves."

We are all full of chili, garlic smashed potatoes, and beer bread.

Kat: *sings "When I Am King"*
Me: *spins in swirly skirt*
Kat: "I can totally see your underwear."
Me: "I like my underwear."
Kat: "They are not bad. I just wanted to tell you you were showing them to the classroom. This is a classroom now."
Thia: "What are we learning?"

nevacaruso actually wrote TARDIS/suit fanfic for Kat.

Question answered!

When is it appropriate to say "victim" versus "survivor"?

I would default to "survivor"; people are rarely offended by that, but "victim" is... unfortunate language with a message I don't think you want to send.

Some people self-identify as "victim" rather than "survivor"; if that's how they choose to self-identify, I guess call them that? But I'd says use "survivor" first and continue unless corrected. Thoughts?

The Things We Value: Ruby

Ruby's necklace, interpreted by sofiaviolet (Etsy shop here).

A simple strand of pearls and sea glass opals. Closes with a toggle, into which is set a ruby.

Click here to bid!


My eldest sister cried when she was married off to the terrible foreign king, and I have not seen her since, nor heard from her. Pearls scattered behind her as she walked up the aisle, tumbling forth from her lips with her stifled sobs. The-king-her-husband only leered. The-king-my-father kept his gaze forward, steadfastly ignoring my sister's plight.

Oh, how familiar for him. How comfortable.

My other sister wept opals at her wedding, glistening on her slim throat, falling at her feet with a soft tinkle.

And me? Third child of a fairy gift, a fairy curse. Oh, my parents were so delighted - a blessing upon my mother, that all of her daughters would produce what she named them for. My eldest sister, Pearl. My other sister, Opal. And upon menarche, they began to bring forth gems with every utterance. Our kingdom grew wealthy, and neighboring kings grew greedy.

I was born far later than my sisters. I saw what happened to them, and resolved that it would not happen to me.

It is more difficult than you can know, learning to catch the gems with your tongue before they emerge. I have grown skilled over the years. A deft twist of the tongue, to hide it in my cheek til I'm alone. I came of age, and my parents saw no bounty from me. After a few years, they gave me up for a lost cause. They've not seen the fairy since, so can't complain.

My gowns are beautiful - embroidered with pearls, encrusted with opals. And heavy - for the hems are lined with my own jewels. I spend my nights stitching and unstitching hems, collars, cuffs, filling them with the product of my curse.

When I marry, it will be for love. I spit forth no dowry, and will draw no foreign kings. I will marry who I please, and bring wealth where I choose.

I wear only one piece of jewelry. A necklace of pearls and opals, spoken for me by my beloved sisters. Pearls and opals... and set in the clasp, a single ruby, red as blood. A silent secret symbol of all that you do not know about me.


SPONSOR ME! Am still at $1,177.24.

feste_sylvain Gchatted Emily saying that the maple-bacon ice cream tamidon made is "the nads".

Which sounds to us like it tastes like testicles or like it could remove hair.

We are quite sure that's not right.

Team Venture is me and mllelaurel at the table, zarhooie and jennaria on the couch, thesilentpoet and nevacaruso on the loveseat, emilytheslayer on the crockpot, and yendi on tambourine. Sponsor us!

nevacaruso actually wrote TARDIS/suit fanfic for Kat.

The Things We Value: Opal

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Key pendant by arianhwyvar of Silver Owl Creations.

Brass tone skeleton key, vintage bronze enameled copper wire, antiqued brass chain, goldtone bead cage, topaz swarovski crystals, citrine, opal swarovski crystal, freshwater pearls, red fire polished beads. 4" long including the bail; the cage and the top of the key are each approx. 3/4" across. Will come with an antiqued bronze steel cable chain with an antiqued brass lobster clasp, 20" long, fully adjustable.

In fact, let's say if the bidding goes over $50, the pendant will instead come with a nicer antique brass rollo chain, adjustable between 15" and 20"

(If you look close, there's an opal swarovski crystal hanging inside the cage. And I can't help but think of the pearls and red gems running along nearby like a rescue party, just waiting to jump in.)

Click here to bid!


It is the way of kings to shower their queens with gifts; it is the way of queens to develop fondnesses, hobbies, collections. And so the master jeweler and I, his apprentice, noticed a pattern in the requests coming from the castle.

The new-wed queen wanted cages.

Jeweled cages, cages of gold and silver, copper and brass; cages set with rubies and garnets like blood fresh and spilled, set with emeralds like leaves in summer. Every three months, like clockwork. She would request a cage, we would spend two months crafting it - for the cages were ornate, fanciful, each one different and more elaborate than the last - my master would deliver it, and a month later she would request a new one.

"Why cages?" I asked my master. "Why so many?"

He barked out a laugh, short and unpleasant. "How should I know how royal minds work? Ask her yourself."

So I did. When the new cage was finished (topaz and citrine like the sun), I brought it to her myself. I climbed the winding stairs to her tower, claustrophobic in cold rough stone, and knocked hesitantly on her door.

"Come in," she said softly.

I opened the door.

Oh, we had made so many cages! They hung from the high ceiling, sat on shelves, on windowsills. I gasped at the sight of them, glittering in the sunset, and it was a moment before I noticed the queen. She sat before the window, nearly blending into the wall in her simple dove-grey gown. Her lips quirked in a slight smile at my dumbstruck expression. "May I?" she asked, reaching one hand toward me, toward the golden cage, and catching the opal that slid from her lips with the other, setting it in her lap. As I handed her the cage, I saw the way her gown sagged from the weight of opals. They flashed, milky and bright all at once. I marveled at this, her fairy gift and the source of our kingdom's new wealth.

She cleared her throat gently.

"Ah! Oh - I'm sorry! I have never seen so many. I - I have never seen you." For she was as beautiful as her opals - no, more so.

She smiled as she examined the cage. "Most haven't. Your king keeps me here. To keep me safe, he says. Safe from the commoners who would mob me for my opals." The opals fell gently as she spoke, clinking into her lap. "Would you do such a thing? Would your family?"

"Of course not!"

She nodded, latching the small door, her fingers trailing down metal curls.

I screwed up my courage. "Your majesty? Why cages?"

She half-smiled again and raised a hand. My gaze followed hers - her room, her small study, a circle of stone, circumscribed by bands of iron. I looked back down at her, and she inclined an eyebrow. I flushed, understanding.

I bowed my head. "I-"

"Sapphire next, please," she interrupted, looking steadfastly out the too-small window, at the dying light. "Like the sky. Tell your master."

"Yes, your majesty."

She looked down. "Thank you," she said quietly. She caught the opal that fell from her lips, patted it dry, and pressed it into my hand - still warm, bright and iridescent and veiled. I bowed to her, and I left.

And to my shame, I have never returned.



With this post, Blogathon is half over! Team Venture burst into applause at this news.

How to feed blogathonners, by emilytheslayer.

Team Venture is singing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego". The couch contingent is making up a secret handshake.

The Things We Value: Pearl

"Freedom Singing" necklace by spoothbrush of Possible Daydreams.

Necklace in freshwater pearl, moonstone, with ruby czech glass. 17.5 inches.

Click here to bid!


Pearls are the wealth of my kingdom; everything here, from goat to cabinet to tapestry to handful of grapes, is bought and paid for in pearls. Pearls swing from my daughters' ears, wrap 'round their delicate wrists. Some things are worth their weight in pearls. I am worth more, for it is I who bring them forth, sing them forth - luminous nacreous spheres tumbling forth, scattering on the ground. It is I who must be protected above all else, the king my husband says - so I am more mine and mint than wife and queen.

I received word today of my sister.

Not Opal, in her own stone tower to the east. My youngest sister, flame-haired and stubbornly silent, who was only a child when I was married off.

The messenger from my childhood home brought, with his scroll of news, one shining ruby. He pressed it furtively in my hand when I handed him pearls for his courier service, and I slid it into my pocket and did not look at it until later, when I was alone.

A ruby. One perfect faceted ruby. Proof that the fairy gift, fairy curse, had worked its magic on my littlest sister.

It must be tonight.

On Opal's wedding night, I began to sing pearls not just for my kingdom, but for myself. Through years, through three pregnancies, through what seems a lifetime, I have sung in secret, hid the excess pearls; my daughters have grown up plunging their hands into those barrels, feeling the pressure on their hands, soft grainy spheres.

A sympathetic laundress found a sympathetic jeweler. She sneaks pearls out to him, and he drills them. I lose half in the bribes, but enough come back to do our work. Rather than needlework, I have taught my daughters knotwork.

I gather my daughters close, strap the baby to my belly, and whisper to them. The eldest must go down first, then the middle girl, then me with the baby - then east and south, to free my sisters. I tell my eldest daughter to sing to herself as she climbs.

I tie the ends to my curtain-rod, and I spill the ladder out into the night sky - perfect white pearls like stars, knotted rungs.

I have always cursed my long-dead mother for naming us so. The fairy told her that we would bring forth whatever she named us for, and in her avarice, she named us for gems. A fairy gift. She could have used it for anything, and she used it for mortal wealth, and never dreamed of the consequences.

I do not know if the gift carries down through generations. But just in case... just in case, I have tried to name my daughters wisely.

Beginning her climb down, Freedom begins to quietly sing.



This is the first of two pieces by spoothbrush - and guess what? She's doing Blogathon too, for Doctors Without Borders! You should go say hi and sponsor her.

Elayna just called asking to be picked up from Explo... apparently she is exhausted and overstimulated from her Six Flags trip today, and she'd rather sleep in than attend the baking class tomorrow. That's cool. And we can always bake when I wake up post-'thon, if she likes. And watch Gilmore Girls. zarhooie is very excited that she'll get to see her internet sister!

And yes, Elayna has been warned that we are blogathonning and that the house will not be as quiet as usual. :)

And this is totally the way to do Blogathon, man. I am still trucking along, all energetic.

Hansel & Gretel, before and after

Two batches of cookies for Hansel and Gretel, one for each of the witch's houses, by dulcinbradbury.

Before: Homemade ginger snaps. Good balance of snap and flavor. A very traditional witch's shingle, don't you know?

After: Why settle for mere cookies when you can have bacon? But why settle for just bacon when you can have both? Bacon chocolate chip cookies. Candied bacon (bacon baked with a sprinkling of brown sugar) added to a traditional chocolate chip cookie. Perfect for those who love that salty-sweet combination.

Click here to bid!


My house was perfect. Years of market research, charting sales at candy store, conducting clandestine "interviews" with chubby schoolchildren, all culminating in this: a perfect gingerbread cottage, festooned with all sorts of enticing candy. A treat for the eyes, the ears, the mouth, the greedy little belly...

And yet - nary a nibble.

I watched in disbelief as the children - brother and sister, by the looks of it - spared a mere glance at my delicious cottage,then kept walking down the path. This was the third time this week! What on earth... "Hey!" I yelled, hanging half-out my window, long fingernails digging into the frosting.

The children turned, surprised. "Yes, ma'am?" the boy stammered.

"What's wrong with my house?"

The girl tilted her head, confused. "I don't know. Maybe you should call a housing inspector?"

"That's not - it's structurally sound, okay? What I meant was... doesn't it look delicious? Doesn't it look tempting?"

They both nodded. "Like something out of a dream," the girl sighed.

"Then why doesn't anyone want to eat it?"

"Atkins," the boy piped up.

"What the hell is an Atkins?"

"A diet plan," the girl replied, shaking her head mournfully. "There's a rising tide of obesity,'specially in children. So we're on Atkins. Can't eat candy."

Can't eat candy? Well, I never! What was this world coming to? I sighed, dismissing the children with a wave, and returned to my computer, booting up the CAD program...


My new house was perfect. I'd just finished it this morning, and already - is that? - yes! Grubby little hands pulling the bacon off my shutters! I grabbed my pointiest hat and prepared to meet my lunch.


Still at $1,177.24 - SPONSOR ME!

The lovely dulcinbradbury is moderating blogforbarcc for me, gently reminding you to bid in the thread, replying to the current high bidder. She rules.

That is mllelaurel and zarhooie, duelling with plastic forks. Just because.

Tory and Sarah are here, bearing with them a book of 500 cookie recipes. Mmmm.

Team Venture is petting Max en masse. He is so adored.

this smells like him

Blooddrop Huile de Parfum is hand-blended perfume oil available in a large selection of blends. They can be used on the skin as a traditional scent, mixed into your favorite body product or used as a room scent. Scents are made with a jojoba oil base and come in 5ml bottles. Donated by Astrid.

Diabolique: A wicked little core glossed over with a misleading bat of the eyelashes. A blend of richly spiced woods and ambers, red musk, vanilla musk, cinnamon leaf, dark patchouli, ginger, vetiver, honey galore, allspice, myrrh, almond and golden herbs.

Click here to bid!


I saw him as soon as I emerged from the tunnel - an elegant enormous beast, settled on his haunches, limned by the sunrise. His feathers ruffled slightly in the breeze. "Agent Scott, I presume," he rumbled without turning to face me.

"Galen," I acknowledged, approaching the gryphon slowly. "How did you know it was me?"

He gave a wry huff. "Any of the others would've shot first and asked questions later. How did you know which of the tunnels I was actually using?"

"It smelled like you."

At that, he turned. "What do I smell like to you?"

I picked up a shed feather. "Musky, of course. But also... like amber. And saffron."

"Saffron." He flexed his powerful wings. "I think I like that."


He huffed again, this time in annoyance. "I know. I have to go back."

"I'm sorry."

"I wanted the fresh air, is all."

"I know."

"And I want to fly."

"You can't. The collar -"

"I know. Would shock me dead. Can't risk the rest of the world seeing the monsters."

"You're not monsters. You're wonders."

Galen regarded me skeptically. "You still feel that way? Even after your encounter with the sirens?"

"Even so." I reached up and scratched Galen under the collar, the only spot he could never get to, and he hissed in contentment. "Maybe not the sirens; they still scare the shit out of me. But the rest of you? Wonders."

"Agent Scott?"

"Yes, Galen?"

"Promise me something, will you? When imprisonment becomes more than I can bear... let me fly."

"Even though -"

"Even though. I would rather die flying than live in a cage, Agent Scott."

I rested my head against his wing, breathing in his warm soft scent - saffron and amber, cinnamon and musk. "I promise." And inwardly, I promised something else - that I'd find the code to unlatch Galen's collar. To let him fly and live - to release all of the wonders (expect perhaps the sirens). There is not enough magic in this world.

Galen bobbed his head and stood, stretching. "We can go back now." And I led the gryphon back to his cage.


Am holding steady at $1,177.24. *twitch* Need more sponsorships. Tell your friends! SPONSOR ME!

Okay, so he doesn't smell diabolical, but - the notes are very him. I <3 Galen.

emilytheslayer is spinning yarn for "wool and silk and wood" as we speak! And human Tory is cuddling cat Tori.

Lily: "Oh, ass, I'm getting hair in my tea."

Much love to all my fellow Blogathonners!

Elayna just got home. First thing she said: "Okay, I gotta see Frank. OmiGAWD."

Places You Haunt

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Doodle dreamcatcher by shadowwolf13 of Catch a Dream.

This 5-inch hoop is wrapped in caramel thread for Doodle's hair and webbed in aqua for his eyes. A crystal hangs from the center for his preference for quartz crystal. His art supplies are scattered over the webbing and his name formed from wire and sits at the top of the web. An aqua thread is provided for hanging.

Click here to bid!


Later, Doodle reflected that he should have known something was up. Something beyond Crystal’s now-normal erratic behavior and flatline post-meth, post-partum depression. She’d been slinking around Hathaway House for weeks, alternately avoiding baby Kaylin and holding her close, not letting anyone else touch her. The whole house was in a state of perpetual mild alert. Hypervigilance. Ready to jump in if anything happened, and making sure Kaylin was okay.

So Doodle was actually relieved when the knock on his door turned out to be Crystal, lugging Kaylin in one of those carseat baby carriers, diaper bag slung over her other shoulder. “Can you watch her?” Crystal asked. Abrupt. No hello. Her voice was hoarse, crackly, and her energy crackled around her like solar flares around an eclipse. She got that from Kellen, that eclipse.

Doodle nodded, of course, opening the door further. Crystal hauled the carrier in and set it on the cleanest spot of his table, dumped the diaper bag on the floor. She squatted down and stroked the baby’s hand. Just once. “I have to do something,” she said, and he never knew if she was talking to him or Kaylin.

Doodle shrugged anyway, picking up scattered tubes of paint and getting them out of the baby’s reach. He eyed Crystal furtively. Shaking a little, but she didn’t vibrate like she would if she were high. She hadn’t since she got back from the desert - stayed clean for the pregnancy. “It’s cool. You go do your thing. I’ll take care of her.”

She stood and looked at him, and there was something in her eyes, in her expression, that hadn’t been there in ages. Maybe not since her first month in Vegas. She looked young again. Young. Lost. Broken. And he itched to draw her like that - but she turned away, headed for the door. “Thanks. I - I gotta go. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he replied to a closing door.


He squatted down as she had, stroked the baby’s hand. She was sleeping, but grabbed his finger reflexively. He smiled and sat beside her, grabbing a nearby sketchbook and pencil; he fumbled it open with his free hand and began to sketch chubby infant cheeks, a nimbus of soft golden hair, the sweep of eyelashes, the dimpled elbows.

He spent a few hours like that. Freed himself from Kaylin’s grasp after a bit and drew her from more of a distance. Drew Crystal in the doorway. Drew til his hand tightened; wincing, he worked it back and forth, fist and flex, until he heard the baby starting to fuss. Smiling, he popped the lock and lifted the baby, settling her warm little self against his shoulder to jiggle her -

And saw a slip of paper on the back of the carrier. Plain white, folded four times.


Giving him custody of Kaylin.

He didn’t remember the rest of that night very well - panic set in. Shock. Disbelief. He ran down to Martin. Couldn’t find Griffin or Axis. Martin drafted Petra and Arthur to go look for Crystal, helped Doodle figure out how to manage for the night… dragged the crib up from Anthony’s apartment, where Crystal had been staying. No clues there - Crystal hadn’t taken anything.

Just gone.

He should have known.

Days later, when he flipped back through that sketchbook and saw the picture of Crystal leaving…

He’d drawn her wearing the charred remains of Kellen’s jacket.

Still at $1,177.24. SPONSOR ME!

Elayna came home with "remember pin for voodoo baby" scrawled on her arm.

And she's blogging with us! Follow her here!

Rocky Horror Peep Show.

Cat Tori curled up on Human Tory's bag. Yes, she has thumbs.

Places You Haunt

Custom wool baby pants by magenta_girl.

The longies represent a style of longies I'd be happy to make for someone (with a design stitched on the bum--I didn't make this pair), and the shorties are representative of my work, so people can see that I know what I'm doing! I will knit a pair of infant/toddler longies in a custom size for the winner, either in a striped pattern like the jolly roger pair, or with variegated yarn, their choice. If they choose variegated I'll send pictures of the yarn I have available, otherwise I'll let them pick the colors for striped longies. I don't know if it matters, but custom longies generally run $60 and up for a pair. I use really good, soft wool, and will prep longies for wear if desired. These are generally designed to be worn over cloth diapers, as wool is very absorbent and stink-repellant!

Click here to bid!


Petra batiked a basic white baby sling, and people got used to seeing Doodle-and-Kaylin everywhere - laughing baby strapped to goofy guy. She picked up nicknames - Doodlette, Doodlecita. She was the darling of a group that had never had a darling… fawned upon in coffeeshops and studios. She wore Petra-dyed dresses until she went through a phase of wanting to wear denim overalls like Doodle. She may have worn overalls every day of her toddlerhood. She was wearing them when she took her first steps - pulling herself up on the easel Arthur had helped Doodle bolt to the wall and launching herself across the apartment at him, one two three and falling into his lap, grinning. She was unstoppable from then on, mastering the stairs quickly and wanting nothing more than to drop in on her neighbors all day. Doodle bought cheap white t-shirts for her in bulk, because she was forever spattering them with Petra’s dyes or Wendy’s clay.

It was setting up Kaylin’s bedroom that brought Petra and Arthur together, Doodle thought. Arthur carved a bed, a monster of a four-poster with animals carved into the posts. The animals were carved with variable success. Petra, affixing the canopy, fell into helpless giggles at Arthur’s rendition of a platypus. Arthur retaliated with tickles. And Kaylin emerged from the room triumphantly announcing “Atha kiss Petta!”

She went on Arthur’s bike-messenger route with him, golden hair streaming out behind her Hello Kitty helmet, sometimes tipped with the colors Arthur used on his mohawk. She made pinch bowls with Wendy and curtains for her room with Petra.

But mostly she was Doodle’s girl, toddling along behind him with her own sketchpad and pencils, wearing paint-spattered overalls and tiny battered Chucks - saying “Wait! Wait!” and thumping down on the ground butt-first to draw whatever small thing had caught her eye. Doodle, who had always focused on people, found himself also focusing on the things Kaylin saw from her much-shorter vantage point - the water stain that looked like an angel, the arc of the manzanita in the front yard, the dance of the ribbons on the back porch.

And Doodle had a family for the first time in his life.


Still at $1,177.24. Who will get me to $1,200? Will it be you? SPONSOR ME!

Team Venture is anime-geeking.

Lily: "Tomorrow I will dead. Dead will be a verb, and I will do it."

Elayna is sitting literally at my feet - and Gchatting me.

Adam's off to bed; Emily has napped and is back on duty. Mark is due at 4.

Team Venture: slipjig says: I tried personal-messaging this to folks, but I think I may have screwed it up, so reprinting here: Hi! I'm sending the following message to anyone doing Blogathon tonight: I'm reinstating the Hat of Destiny! If you need an idea for a Blogathon post, ping me on AIM or e-mail me, and I will randomly select a topic from the list I started making up while bored off my ass at work. All topics are list headings, stuff like "Top 10 Songs to Get Drunk To" or "Top 10 Things Not to Feed Your Cat" (10 items is preferred, but you can do more or less than 10 as necessary, at your discretion).