Or else you can just work for an extra three minutes a day. Your choice.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!! Or, if you’re Buzzfeed, here’s a list of the one time that wonderfulled the most that those who grew up this year can understand. On a related note, here’s a ranking of the only dick you’ll ever need to eat, Buzzfeed:
Yes, as of 9:13 yesterday morning, Jeff put me on email notice. Despite some rumblings on my part about not doing the advent calendar blog this year because I didn’t think anyone was reading—no one passed the quick straw poll of “Name a single thing that happened last year”—I’ve been informed that the world is simply too ugly a place at the moment and what it really needs is an outdated internet format filled with the adjectiverous rantings of a girl who’s like one train delay away from going insane. YOU HEAR THAT, THE PHILLIPINES? Relief is on the way!
The advent calendar has been ordered, and as with all classical art forms, the medium must evolve. Changes afoot:
- The website will now be hosted on its own domain, located at www.bricksfordays.com. I’m boning up my Google analytics, web dev, and general digital skills, so this was a necessary move that in no way means that I am looking for a new job at your awesome company (resume available on request).
The next post WILL be on the new site, as soon as I quickly learn PHP coding and destroy the families of every single person who works at WordPress in front of them, looking deep into their eyes without blinking as I do so. Also, some bastard is squatting on abrickaday.com, hence the name change. Once I figure out whether I’ve installed a new template or launched a WarGamesesque missile strike on Romania, I can begin planning retribution. Feel free to start without me, though.
- Genre and format change!
I’ve now spit out more crime noir than Dashiell Hammett’s wife, and there just ain’t enough grit and exposition left in the tank for another story.
I also realize that y’all barely give a shit about the story, so this works out neatly.
Hence, this December we’ll be switching genres and format, and our main character will be…TIME TRAVELING. Posts are going to be more insular so anyone can jump in on any day without having to ask questions like “Who is that geisha and why does she have a semiautomatic weapon?”, and will be in the vein of a Bill and Ted style adventure through events from that day in history.
Same rules still apply: no contradiction of previous events, and that day’s box contents MUST be used; in this case, to stage an event from Wikipedia’s On this Day section, with much room for interpretation and general silliness. Massive room. That room in Tron.
There will be some recurring characters and themes, but less of a narrative plot than in previous years. We’ll establish a bit of a background with our lucky little Lego protagonist on the first day as to why this happens (I, um, hope), but from then on, he’ll be jumping around and we can see this thing go off the rails in a whole new fashion. Everyone is encouraged to speculate, talk, influence, and most importantly bribe me as to which event to use.
(an assist to George on this one. Use Google Wallet, people)
- No more fuckery.
That was fun. Let’s never do it again.
More big announcements this week on the new site (tentacles crossed), which ideally will be a pleasantly intuitive, Milton Glaserish journey from the screen to your eye, designed with the user experience in mind. Right now, we’re at “Yellow text block” and I think I made a GoDaddy CS rep cry yesterday.
Well folks, we’ve come to the end. For those of you still reading, I hope I’ve stolen a few pleasant minutes from your employers; for those of you just checking in because it’s Christmas Eve and you’re stuck on an interminable car ride with your father and deaf, decrepit grandfather, and a GPS that apparently “doesn’t know what the hell it’s talking about”, I SYMPATHIZE. BELIEVE ME, I SYMPATHIZE.
All right, the butcher’s bill for the month:
We received 7 characters, 13 hats, 4 mugs, 24 shitty little gubbins, a mere 4 weapons (5 if you count “cardboard box on fire”), a practically bacterial fire truck that makes me apoplectic with rage, and a staircase in a pear tree. As far as fuckery goes, I received far less bodily fluids than I expected, and also waaaaaaay more figurines; ht need some help. We ended up with a geisha, a disco dude, an Elite Fighter Droid, a reanimated limo driver, a sociopathic 800-lb gorilla, a Lego version of me during Hurricane Sandy, a flaming pegasus skeleton with a mummy rider, and an Armenian DJ whose candle burned out long before his legend ever did. This on top of the two envelopes that I didn’t open from George (sorry dude, the cast was reaching “incredibly fucked up Downton Abbey” proportions) and some fuckery from Courtney that never arrived and will likely be the death of several postal workers, as that girl scary.
Thanks to everyone (and seriously, thanks) who sent stuff in–as soon as I finished cursing your family tree, I thought very warm thoughts about each and every one of you. You can see the 2012 ABAD Class Photo at the end of the post, and guess who got voted “Most likely to consume bananas and souls”.
The almost schoolgirlish naivete with which I thought I might attempt to write a different genre makes me chuckle now; it was all I could do not to have this thing turn into Lost: Season 2. I tried very, very hard to keep continuity up; if you can find a single thing I contradicted, then I will give you two dollars, you cheap pedantic bastards.
All right all, have yourselves a merry little Christmas.
DAYS 23 and 24
Ew. Even I don’t know what those wet spots on my desk are.
What we have here is some pretty standard Legos. They are so straightforward and echt-Lego that this Day Box must be a trap. It’s really the only explanation
Oh, yawn and a half. You’re making the days I got wall storage units look positively orgasmic.
Also, NO one wraps presents like this anymore. My friends and I did our Secret Santa night last week and the haul ranged from a (very nice) ball gag in an old Tiffany’s box to a bidet toilet seat wrapped in Lannister/GoT covered printer paper (ahemthankyouverymuchahem).
OK, Day 24’s inevitable Santa. Let’s do this.
Opening up a package and receiving a dismembered Santa will never cease to skeeve me out every time.
Santa drives a snowmobile??? I’m dreaming of a white trash Christmas, jeez. There’s not even room for presents. This is just Santa’s utilitarian way of getting between Point A and Point B when he needs to run errands. Where’s the fucking magic?
If his world was going to end, then Robbie wanted to be at the bottom of a glass to see it. A fire chief with no water is no better than a sweatshop without children, and Robbie felt he’d earned himself a beer in the past 16 years of fire chiefdom. Knowing he was free of all of his responsibilities, there was a spring in his trudge on the way to the Dead Canary.
The Canary looked infinitely happier than when he left it last. Carl had obviously stepped in to bartend when he heard the fire alarm sound, and Leroy was a few whiskeys in, ranting about 9/11 in the corner, and DJ Trig looked rather peaceful lying in state next to Old Captain Mickey (“Cheaper than crematin’, might just make it a side business” said Carl). Robbie sidled up to the bar and ordered a Coors Blight.
Carl blew the dust out of a mug and slid it down. “Well, if you’re here and the whistle’s still blowin’, I guess we’re all in for it.”
“Yessir. Guess there’s a kind of poetry to it all,” said Robbie. “At least we’re going out in the place we loved most.”
“Mine’s actually my home. With my wife and kids.”
“Oh.” Robbie took a moment to recollect everything he’d loved, and began to replay Stevie’s voice in his head, saying “Robbie? Is that you? I’m alive, I’ve been held captive in the mines for the past 13 years,” which was what she used to cry out during sex.
“Robbie? Is that you? I’m alive, I’ve been held captive in the mines for the past 13 years!” This time, it was for real. He turned around, and there she was: paler and older, but ultimately, definitely the same Stevie Nicks he had fallen in love with. He ran across the bar and they tangled themselves into a happy reunion knot.
“Who did this to you?” That was the only question Robbie wanted to ask, preferring to save the rest of the explaining for a later time, perhaps December 25th.
“It was the Outlaw Jesse James.” Betty stepped out from behind her sister. “I’ve been tracking him for years. He will get his payback.”
“Oh. I just ran into him in the parking lot by the station. I killed him a few minutes ago,” said Robbie, shrugging his shoulders. “So…all good on that front.”
Betty looked shocked, and then relieved, and then just kind of homely. “Oh. I guess I’ll be going then.”
Leroy looked up from his beer and slurred: “The roof…the roof….the roof is on fire.”
In all of the happiness of remeeting the one he loved on their anniversary, Robbie had briefly forgotten about his impending death. “Oh–the water in the town has been turned off, so we can’t put out this year’s blaze and I don’t see how this ends any other way than in tragedy so a drink.”
Betty turned around suddenly. “Wait. I think I can help.” She pulled a wand out from her cavernous hair and concentrated, summoning thoughts of waterfalls, running faucets, snow in non-frozen form. A sudden whooshing sound filled every empty space. The crew rushed to the windows in time to see a tidal wave drain into the valley, and smoke plumes rising from the now extinguished town. A dead gorilla and droid leg floated by.
The bar exploded with non-flammable joy, and the music started up again. As the clock struck midnight, Robbie went over to pull the lever that released the balloons and confetti that signified a fatality free Christmas EVe, which hadn’t been touched since the night of his birth. As he did so, a panel in the wall opened and an evil lair with a bound and gagged Dick Dickey appeared.
“DId you know that was there?” asked Robbie.
“Nope,” said Carl.
Betty and Robbie rushed back to untie the breathless Assistant Captain, who had very few questions despite his situation. “Ahoy! Robbie! Happy birthday!”
“Thanks man! I got your present already. Came in handy,” he said with a smile. “I was wondering where you were. Thought maybe this was the day you finally decided to go take back your kid from Sharon.”
“Did you say Sharon?” Stevie piped in. “I met a woman by that name today, it stuck out because you don’t hear that name very often. And also because she was the first woman I’d seen in thirteen years.” She paused for a second. “Not that she was much of a woman, barely put an ounce of effort into her appearance. Anyways, she’s dead.” She went back to the bar to get another nog.
“What? That means…I get my Little Dick back!!” yelled Dick, not really wanting to know more. “In the morning though. I’m sure he’ll be fine with that asshole Scott til then.” They had doubled down on the celebration and come up winners.
Stevie and Robbie looked at each other with thirteen years of latent love. The balsam sparkled in the corner, the bodies rested in the barroom, and Silver Springs smoldered.
Coming to you live today from Logan airport, which is the second of four airports involved in my trip back to Northern NY, and also my second least favorite place on Earth, right after Texas and right before my oral surgeon’s chair. Luckily, I’ve scored a couple of passes to the United Club Lounge so I can abhor/impress the bartender with the sheer amount of bloody mary required to cushion my system for a week with my mother.
I’m a huge fan of the chaos and randomness of any given airport population; air travel is the great equalizer, as everyone has to go somewhere eventually. The idea that Jon Stewart and a 22 year-old from Texarkana on a bachelorette party might share the same rareified, pressurized cabin air is a real tickle, and these lounges are always a great snapshot. I’m sitting here writing about my toys while the man next to me acquires Kraft Inc. We’ll exchange a knowing nod–“No rest for the weary, huh?” –and then he’ll file a certificate of merger while I shove a bushel of free apples into my peck-sized purse.
DAYS 21 + 22
Since 20 days of Lego Smarming has remapped my brain, I can look at any given set of shapes, process its gestalt, and determine whether it is fun, disappointing, or an Armenian DJ. It’s sort of like being Lego Rainman. And this? This is definitely. Definitely, definitely disappointing.
“Mommy, what are these?”
“They’re traffic cones, honey.”
“What are traffic cones?”
“They’re used to warn and divert cars when the normal rules of the road don’t apply.”
“Mommy, what are the rules of the road?”
“Well, little Lyle and Erik, the driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right of way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway…”
Moral of this story: Don’t give your kids boring Legos or they’ll murder you in your sleep one day.
Have I already gotten one of these? They’re all starting to look the same. Which I know is A. sort of the point of Legos and B. Lego racist, but I honestly don’t remember if I have seen this permutation of Legos before.
I’ve developed names for certain pieces in my head throughout the month–the grey things are “droid arms“, the black hook things are “hitches” (as in the back of a pickup, not the movie you assholes), and the black winged things are “skittletits”, which is my very favorite word in the iPhone autocorrect lexicon.
“Sled”. Eight friggin Legos and three leftover droid arms and we end up with the exact same thing you get when you sit on a cafeteria tray. I only hope that upon completion, every child also suffering through this Day Box was reminded of the awesome wonder of the outdoors and gravity and then demanded that their parents take them to plummet down the nearest hill, stat.
After saving the broad, Robbie felt particularly heroic and decided it was time to switch out of his bartender hat: the Canary could run itself for a night. As the fire alarm rang out through the town and Silver Spring citizens made their way to the tree lighting ceremony (“Fight Recurrent Fire with Fire” was the town motto), Robbie hopped into the towmobile to go fetch the broken down fire truck and ladder, just in case any townspeople were trapped on the first floor.
As he rounded the corner to the station, which was on Stage Three fire (Mostly; Stage Two was Kinda, One was Ish) a roadblock halted him in his tracks. Up ahead, a groovy but evil looking man stood in the parking lot surveying the damage as he cackled maniacally and strummed his fingers together. That’s a little much, thought the chief. He grabbed Lucille and stepped off of the vehicle as badassedly as he could, considering Alicia Keys’ “Fallin'” was blaring from the radio.
“What’s going on here?”
The man’s afro swiveled a full six seconds after his head. He smirked at Robbie, and shrug his shoulders. “Why nothing, captain. Just seeing what I see, out for a fire stroll.” Fire strolls were a common stress buste in Silver Springs.
Robbie recognized the voice in an instant: this was JJ, of Volume Pumping with JJ and Doctor Ridikulous. He had never been seen in person in the 13 years he had been on the air, and there were dozens of rumors surrounding his existence (most notably, he was actually a she, and having an affair with Mayor McQuaid). After Stevie’s death, the show had been a main source of consolation, and he had cried himself to sleep (in a manly a way possible) to the dulcet tones of JD & the Scammps. Although he was normally quite placid, Robbie could hardly contain his excitement. “WAIT ONE MINUTE. STOP RIGHT THERE.”
JJ, mistaking the man’s celebushock for accusation, immediately turned dark. A lighter flashed in his hands as he moved ominously towards the chief. “YOU don’t tell Jesse Janes to wait, OH CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN.”
A fireman’s instincts do not turn to displays of force very quickly; they are by nature peacekeepers and element controllers. However, a barman’s instincts turn to violence on a dime. Upon seeing the man’s stance and the flicker of fire, Lucille started purring, and with one arc of his arms, the Outlaw Jesse Janes became the Outlaws Jesse Janes.
In the space of the moments that Robbie gathered his thoughts, a flame lept onto the lower half of Jesse Janes’ body and it caught fire. The fire in town had escalated to Stage Four (Oh, Balls), and imminent death was nigh. Robbie ran to the fire hydrant, but found that the water had been shut off and the wrench had melted and fused the valve shut.
He sighed. Well, imminent death it is then.
OK folks, we’ve got three posts left, and hopefully yesterday provided as much of a recap as anyone is willing to tolerate. I have about three grown men’s worth of Vietnamese food coming to my office any second, and the choice between writing integrity and vermicelli is not even a choice; I would pick the noodles over most of your lives, to be honest. Only good vermicelli, though.
So as we round the final bend, I hope everyone’s all caught up on where we’re at with the story; feel free to chat or text me if you have any questions. If this were a movie in the theater and you really had to pee because you’d been drinking a delicious microbrew that you snuck in because that’s what you do in NYC movie theaters even though it’s weird when you see an animated film and you’re surrounded by children and judgy concerned looking parents, then this would be the exciting part where you cross your legs and sit tight because the going gets good. Or rather, the going starts to possibly make a modicum of sense.
OK! This is progress! It’s not a terrible stretch of the imagination, and it could not have anything less to do with the holidays (unless this is a Kwanzaahauler or something I’m too narrowminded to recognize), but it’s kinda nifty, and kids really dig wheelbarrows.
That’s sort of a universally odd predisposition in kids, now that I think about it.
Contest time! What the hell are the little white things that Lego has been adding into every single Day Box? And don’t say snow. Prize is…a Lego wheelbarrow and some (now famous!) leftover vermicelli. And fine, I’ll toss in something else.
“Aiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” screamed Susan as the enormous ape reached for her pretty hair. “That’s my best feature!”
The insane gorilla’s sudden appearance was not entirely what Betty had been hoping to conjure as her spirit animal; she had always thought her inner beast was more cunning and wily, like a marmot. Still, the spellbook (well, spell PDF) had said that one’s true inner sorcerer would manifest itself at times of great need, and so it had. Buoyed by the knowledge that she had almost half a ton of ape to protect her from whatever the secretary had been threatening, she decided it was time to abandon the inner monologue. “Stay back, lady! My business is of no concern to you!”
The door to the station flung open, and a stunningly beautiful, nearly translucent woman wielding a gun and fan stepped inside. She surveyed the scene and looked understandably confused, but spoke up. “I am looking for the outlaw Jesse Jane.”
“Join the club,” said Betty, carefully inspecting the woman.
“Aiiieeeeee!” said Susan.
“Wait, why are you looking for him too? He locked me in a cell in the mine for thirteen years. I think I should have dibs on revenge here,” said the woman.
“He murdered my twin sister thirteen years ago,” said Betty. “We found her body in the wake of a fire he set on Christmas Eve.”
“That’s when I was kidnapped!” said the woman. “To the day!”
Susan opened her mouth to scream, but thought better of it.
Betty was also performing some mental arithmatic. “Actually, we never really found the body. Just a wool sweater. We just assumed she was dead.”
The two women looked at each other head on; it was almost as if they were looking in a mirror, if one side of the mirror was really dirty and haggard and also a bit bloodstained. “…Stevie?”
“Betty?” The long lost twins embraced, and started talking at the same time. “I thought you were dead!” “I was imprisoned in a mineshaft!” “I’ve been on a thirteen year quest to avenge your death!” “I’ve eaten four different rats!”
The gorilla had stayed silent during all of this, still somewhat shocked by its existence, but the delighted squeals were too much of a trigger. With a beat of its chest, it lunged for the nearest human, which happened to be Susan. Susan, predictably, screamed.
Two things happened at that moment with such balletic simultaneity that it was if they had been choreographed. One, Betty cast two shoddy spells meant to stop her angry spirit animal from attacking. Two, an older man bearing two teacups charged through the opposite door. The effect of the latter was merely a loud slam; the effect of the former was that Susan was turned into a shovel and Stevie’s weapons were transformed into a wheelbarrow.
The ape, finding itself with a handful of spade, corrected course and reached for the prettier twin, who was now unable to defend herself with a wheelbarrow. Just as Stevie was ready to pay Charon’s fare, the older man sailed through the air, brandishing his mugs. He was surprisingly dense after all of those years eating Shithouse on a Shingle, and managed to bring the ape down. The ladies were given a moment to cheer, before the ape tore swallowed the man’s torso. Grizzly Bob’s mugs got lodged in its throat, and it asphyxiated shortly thereafter.
Had the day been any less remarkable, or the previous thirteen years any less grueling, the twins would have been astonished by the course of events that had just unfolded before them. However, as it stood, they merely looked at each other, shrugged, and headed for the door. The 800-pound gorilla could just be tossed in someon else’s backyard.
“When I came in a few minutes ago, the entire town was on fire.”
“Yeah. That happens a lot.”
The two women stepped outside.
I went to a bar showing of various Muppet Christmas specials this past weekend (via the fantastic Muppet Vault) and we got to watch a German version of a Sesame Street Christmas segment, the title translation of which alone makes me hide in an attic: Santa Claus kommt heute in die Stadt. Melodious it was not,and it retropillaged a bit from my childhood in the three minutes I spent unable to turn away. I’m not saying Cookie Monster needs to like, liltingly trill his Rs, but let’s just say I get why the little German kinder aren’t exactly gonzo over their days being brought to them by the letter Ü.
Going back to those Germans, who can combine a million and one complex sentiments, subjects, and adjectives into one helluva a gutteral gumbo of a word, surely they have a word for “world weariness with Lego figurines”? I’ve usually got whimsy and bushytail in spades, but right now when when it comes to Lego people, I have a thousand yard stare.
Also, THREE more hats and mugs? IS THIS THING FUCKING MOCKING ME?
Hey now, look at thisguy. His hat has hats. His mug has mugs. He is the master of his pate, he is the captain of his bowl.
Christmas Eve, normally a nice respite after the downtown chaos of the shopping season at Grizzly Bob’z Hat + Mug Emporium (slogan: “Containers for your soup and skull!”), had taken a different turn this year. While the morning lull had given Bob a chance to restock inventory, grab lunch at The Shithouse, and wrap his grandkids’ presents, the hours leading up to the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was unlike any other year.
It had started when Bob leaned out the side window to ask the boys at the fire house whether they had just seen a flaming, stoic dog run down the street, but instead he caught a glimpse of what appeared to be an enormous crazed gorilla. As he was rubbing his eyes, an extraordinarily pale woman wielding a pistol whizzed up to the station, seemingly hellbent on…well, you can only be hellbent on success or revenge, Bob figured. And only revenge requires a gun and fan.
He went to the other window, navigating around the fedora display, and saw a guy he knew from Copper Creek, JJ, standing behind a flaming pile of trash, which was coincidentally the name of the gay bar where Scott’s late dads (friends of Bob’s from back when) had met. JJ had always been an odd kid growing up, but last he’d heard he’d settled in Copper Creek with Dick Dickey’s wife and son and Bob hardly ever saw him around, save every single one of the past sixteen Christmas Eves just before a town fire started. I wonder what he’s up to these days? Bob thought.
The sound of a chainsaw outside the Emporium jolted him back to reality, and the smell of burning evergreen, dog, and town filled the air. Bob grabbed a couple of mugs and ran to the station.
Christmas really isn’t as much fun without children around, because something something their infectious joy but mainly the toys for adults to play with. I celebrate Christmas with the Adams men (my mother has once again recused herself from Christmas, as she sees any holiday where she is required to put on pants as no holiday at all), and was the only child in the family for a solid 14 years; the disgust felt in the room when I opened up a rare piece of jewelry was palpable. When I reached the age where I started desiring things that were not laser tag and explosives I had two little cousins who took over the reigns so that we might have another generation’s worth of Christmas mornings spent constructing targets (melee weapons being the Adams equivalent of scented candles and new socks). Now they’re of that boring age where they want iTunes gift cards and textbook money or some shit, and the whole thing is just one morning long slog til we can go see The Hobbit.
Luckily, I’ve got about two weeks’ worth of my mother’s virtual advent calendars to spread some Christmas cheer.Checking in with London I watched an elf contract mesothelioma in the name of keeping Santa pristine and clean:
A pack of suicidal dogs:
And then also this nativity scene, which I like only because even the artist has 100% control over what she draws, the kid/horse is still like “What the fuck?”, and rightfully so:
Oh boy. Here we go again. Last year’s fit of rage fortunately used up every ounce of Lego dog-related anger in the tank, so I can find two small upsides to a Day Box that makes me pine for hats and staircases. 1. At this rate, I’ll be able to run an all Lego Dog Iditarod Team in just ten more years. And 2. The other flotsam is actually a fire hydrant, meaning Lego Corp is asking you to imagine this dog pissing, albeit unconventionally.
With one righty-tighty of the wrench, Silver Springs’ only fire hydrant was disabled, and Jesse Janes’ Christmas Eve tradition of lighting the town on fire could begin. His method had evolved throughout the 16 years since he inherited the mantle from the town’s previous evildoer–the man lived in Boca now, made artisanal honey– but his current method of lighting a pile of trash on fire and then letting a cold, emotionless dog run through the streets spreading it was tried and tested.
Oh, how Jesse loved the look of horror on people’s faces as they realized what was happening (again, a year to the day, like clockwork). Sure, his everyday atrocities were engaging and lucrative enough to keep him and his girlfriend and her little rat child in a comfortable home in Copper Creek, but it was this annual celebration that had inpired his #6 hit mashup “Stop, Drop, and Rock-n Roll”, and truly reignited his passion for arson. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a combustible night! he laughed to himself, unwarrantedly.
As he dropped the fuse into the pile of jetsam and ignited this year’s dog, he remembered that he had not yet fed all of his captives. Jesse was not completely without compassion, and usually tried to mete out twice the amount of bread and water to the girl he’d inexplicably kept alive in the mine all these years, and to give Little Dick extra kale chips for his dessert. He had to constantly remind himself not to refer to the kid as a “captive” in front of Sharon, but she was a forgiving (and incredibly forgettable) woman and there usually wasn’t a problem when he slipped up. His doting “Scott” persona was also a useful alter ego to retreat into when JJ and Doctor Ridikulous fans came a-calling.
Oh, crap. Jesse had forgotten about his newest captive, who scored double points on Randall’s Villainy Scale, which was the industry standard. In one quick abduction, he had nabbed not just the Assistant Fire Chief, but the ex-husband of his current girlfriend. Granted, these sort of nefarious coups were easy enough in small towns where everyone was connected in some way or another, but the scale didn’t take into account sample size and so he’d soon be sailing up the ranks to “Mastermind”.