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Saturday, December 28th, 2013

The Christmas Thing Has Come & Gone

The children were rewarded with several things that they had declared that they could not live without and yet somehow, they manage to survive despite the fact that all such wishes were not granted. However the day that Science actually manages to clone "Real, live My Little Ponies®" we'll be in trouble. Many Swedish Meatballs were consumed, and a good time was had by all. Hopefully this was true over at your end as well.

Like everyone (I assume), we have several family holiday traditions unique to our household (there has to be a squirrel in the Christmas tree), and we managed to touch base on all of them, so it "felt like Christmas". You would imagine that it actually being Christmas would be enough, but no, not really. No matter what your philosophical leanings and considered opinion about the way the universe works, it's been shown that people need a bit of ritual in their lives, and the more bizarre and theatrical it is, the better. Around here? Not a problem.

The big news is that we have come to the end of Girl Genius Volume 13- Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City. What makes this different, is that we are now going to take some time off. This is something we have not done since we started posting Girl Genius online, which you old–timers will recall was back in the spring of 2005. In all that time we have never missed an update, despite hospitalizations, business trips and the occasional computer meltdown. Well, rest assured that we're not doing it now, either. While Kaja and I are recharging, we will be presenting one of the Girl Genius Radio Plays in comic form, and this will be illustrated by fellow webcomic impressario Mr. Christopher Baldwin. The savvy webcomics reader will be quite familiar with Chris' work, as he's been slapping photons onto computer screens since 1996. He's the creator of Little Dee, and recently, he just finished up his wonderful science fiction epic; Spacetrawler (http://spacetrawler.com/). Like us, collections of Chris' webcomics can be purchased in well–printed book form from TopatoCo (http://topatoco.com/), and now that the Christmas rush is over, they're all just standing around waiting for something to do, so if you wanted to click on over there and spend some of that holiday money you got from grandma, you'd be performing a public service.

We will be resuming the Main Story on March 3rd of 2014.
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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

It Is Christmas Eve

In our house, we stretch Christmas out for as long as possible. We have family over for Christmas Eve dinner, which typically consists of Swedish Meatballs and strong ginger-beer, and then afterwards, we do our inter-family gift giving. On Christmas Day, we open the gifts from Santa, as well as gifts from family and friends who are located elsewhere in the world. Then we clean everything up as best we can, and that evening, we have a open house/potluck for our local friends who have also spent a significant amount of time with their family and now have an overwhelming urge to go somewhere where they can drink strong eggnog and vent. The day after that, we sleep in and walk around in our pajamas all day. Livin' Large.

This year, as part of our party invites, we encouraged our friends to each bring a favorite eggnog recipe, and we will let them duke it out. My entry comes via a delightful little book that Kaja found for me known as The Gentleman's Companion (an Exotic Drinking Book) by Charles H. Baker, Jr., which was published in the late 30's. Apparently Chuck was a rich layabout who avoided Prohibition by traveling the world through the 20's and 30's while drinking like a fish. Each of the recipes contains a fascinating little snippet about when and where he collected it, and they provide a delightful glimpse at a long gone world. This is a book you can just crack open and start reading and find solid entertainment, as well as a desire to drink copiously. Charles' recipe for eggnog is different from the usual run, in that it does not use cream, and thus: "…is more refreshing and not so likely to be gastrically disastrous as the over-rich customary formulae we have consumed on certain festive occasions."

The whole book reads like that. Interestingly, there is a companion volume dedicated to cooking, which is notably less rhapsodic in its writing. I think it's pretty obvious that there was much testing going on while the book was being written. Anyway, here is the recipe. Because Chuck lived for this stuff, he gives the measurements in 'ponies'. A pony is 1 fluid ounce (or 29.57 mL);
1/2 pony of good cognac
2 ponies of good Spanish dry sherry
1/4 pony of Carta de Oro Bacardi
1 tsp of sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup chilled, whole milk

Beat egg yolk and sugar together.
Add spirits and 4 cubes of ice.
Stir or shake briskly, strain into goblet, add cold milk and dust with both nutmeg & cinnamon on top.

If you try it, let us know if you liked it, and if you didn't- happy holidays anyway!
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Monday, December 10th, 2012

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree.

Which we put up and decorated today. We went out and purchased said tree last night. The kids are always astonished how quick a procedure this is, but after all, there are certain set variables we adhere to (our ceiling is only so high, we prefer Noble Firs, etc.), and when you get down to it, it's just a Christmas tree. ( Hint to all future parents; Never say this out loud.)

We use LED lights, and thus worry a lot less about our house going up in flames. Kaja's mother, who is loath to throw anything out, is determined to bequeath us a cartload of ancient lights. I have seen these things, with their gigantic, burning hot, buzzing bulbs, strung together in clusters of individual wires (which have slightly sticky insulation), and I cheerfully tell her that of course we'll take them! Unfortunately she has twigged to the fact that whenever she does give them to me, I immediately stuff them into the garbage before they spontaneously explode, so she's holding onto them, possibly under the mistaken impression that if she does so until she dies, they will be magically transformed in heirlooms, which no sane person would ever throw out. Dare to dream, Ma'am.

We have two boxes or ornaments. One is full of ornaments made of metal, cloth, or plastic. For the first few years of the Experiments existence, these were the only ornaments that we used, in case the Experiments became so excited at the whole Christmas thing that they tried to climb the tree, or sleep under it, or try to eat the branches. None of this ever happened, and I suspect that my expectations were shaped by the various brain–damaged cats I have owned over the years, who have done all of these things, and more. These days, they get hung closer to the ground, and if the dog eats them, we'll cope.

The other box contains the Good ornaments. We've collected them over the last twenty years, and while some are fancy, German glass ornaments, most of them have what people in the Insurance Industry call "Sentimental Value". Kaja and I try to find a new addition to this part of the collection every year (with mixed success). Our primary guideline is that, ideally, it should have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. We formulated this after finding a jaunty manta–ray wearing a bow tie, and it's gone on from there. These are the ornaments that get hung near the top of the tree, where our friends can marvel at them during slow parties.

This is also the time of year where we haul out the decorations. Some of these are indeed heirlooms, and some of them can be mighty odd. My particular favorite is a pair of Santas screaming at each other that my mother passed down to me. Oh, she didn't die or anything, I think she was just glad to get them out of the house. Apparently in the 50's, there was a fad for humorous ceramics, and anyone who trawls through junk shops of a certain vintage has seen their share of them. But these guys are weird even by the standards of the day. I was fascinated by them as a kid, and always wondered what it was they were argueing about. I suppose I'll never know.

In New Product news, we received a package from the effervescent ladies at Z.O.M.G. Smells! (http://www.zomgsmellsshop.com/) who are the ones who put together the Girl Genius perfume line (yes, you can also buy these from the folks at TopatoCo (http://www.topatoco.com/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=TO&Category_Code=GEN) It appears that they are branching out into soap! They sent us two samples: The Baron & the Nuremburg Pudding Incident, which, we can assure you, make for a delightful shower experience. I don't see them up on their site yet, but perhaps this is because they don't have enough people yelling at them. Yet.
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Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Oh look, It's Christmas again.

If you need proof of this, here is a picture of a dog dressed as two dogs carrying a present. (http://boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/A809deoCEAErLT_.png
) It is delightfully creepy.

Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. I'm just a bit gun–shy about it. I'm not one of
people that hauls out the lights after I finish the pumpkin pie at
Thanksgiving. No, I like Christmas to sort of sneak up on me. Get used
to it gradually. Usually I go fetch a tree about 2 weeks before
Christmas, and it stays up through New Years, and then 2 weeks after
Christmas, everything gets packed away for another year. In this, I am
markedly different from my parents, who, until I was in my teens, used
to pack us kids off to bed Christmas Eve, and then put up & decorate
the tree, and put out all the presents, and decorate the house,
ensuring that "Magic of Christmas–wise" we were properly shocked and
awed when we got up the next morning. Yes, they were insane, but to
their credit, it was pretty cool, and when they realized that we were
old enough to not be crushed by mundane reality, they had us hanging
lights and ornaments or else while they supervised from the couch.

So– The Experiments growing up seeing stuff get hauled out of boxes and
such 2 weeks before? Wonder crushing reality!!! Doesn't really seem to
have spoiled them, though. They had their firm belief in Santa phase
(Experiment # 2 is a bit unsure, but, as Kaja has said, if you tell us
that you know that there is no Santa Clause, then we know that it is
okay to start filling your stockings with socks and granola bars), which
we continue to play along with, and will do so until they both roll
their eyes at the mention of his name. Then it's socks for everyone!!

Our Kickstarter campaign continues to do well (http://kck.st/U5IzHH).
We will be getting together with the folks from Gizmocracy later this
week to talk about stretch goals. I can't give details at this time, but
I will say that their latest proposal had both Kaja and myself sitting
their with our mouths hanging open, and Experiment # 1, who will no
doubt have a very successful career, as long as it involves playing
video games, declared, "No one's ever done that before." So we're pretty
excited about it. I promise I'll give people details later in the week.

Got a head–scratcher of a note from Titan Books. They are working on
advertising and publicity for the Girl Genius novels, and they asked us;
What other books would you compare Girl Genius to? I don't know why
they want to know something like this. Possibly so that they can figure
out how many copies to print or get a hook about how to spin the
presentation. With that in mind, I told them that we're remarkably like
Harry Potter, in that we have an orphan who discovers that they're a
magical person who everybody has expectations about. I felt unclean, but
if it helps sell a few million copies, I'll cope. Any suggestions?
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