Wednesday, December 31, 2014


The party's already started in Glasgow...and the fireworks in Edinburgh. Is it New Year's Eve? Yeah, but with a twist. This is New Year's Eve in a kilt..Hogmanay! (“Lá Caille” or “Lá Bliana Nua” in Ireland.)

So, there are tons of old variations on the name, and just as many guesses as to the origin of the term (now pronounced “HUG-me-NAY). It could be French, Swedish, Viking..ish. Regardless. It's the celebration that starts New Year's Eve and continues into January 1st, or 2nd (a bank holiday).

Why do the Scots make merry on December 31st in lieu of Christmas? Simple. The Kirk. Christmas was viewed as Catholic, too Popish for good, hard-working Presbyterians. Plus, many folks had to work on the Solstice and Christmas, so the New Year was their time to gather with family and friends. (Yes, they celebrate Christmas now, but old traditions die hard!)

First things first, however. The house had to be cleaned, top to bottom, before midnight. This is the same as in Ireland, where the house was cleaned and Christmas bread banged on the walls and ceilings to loosen and chase any evil from the house, and to welcome good spirits.

Next, debts had to be cleared before the ringing of the midnight bells. The idea was to make a clean start in all things.

Friends, neighbors, and strangers were welcome, but there was the tradition of “First Footing” - the first person to set foot into your home. This should be a dark-haired male, bearing gifts of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun, and whiskey. Where the tradition exists today, whiskey and shortbread does just fine. (Ireland has the same belief. Dark-haired, good looking male at your door? Good luck. Blond or -especially- ginger woman? Bad luck. What would happen if this pair showed up together? ...)

In both Scotland and Ireland, blond or ginger strangers could mean an enemy Viking at your threshold! (I told you – old traditions die hard. Brace yourselves! I'm coming to raid your pantries!, read it again. I said PANTRIES)

In olden times, people in Scotland dressed in hides and were hit by sticks. Tar barrels were set alight and rolled downhill. There would be bonfires, and flaming hides on sticks (also called Hogmanay) would be carried through the village. In modern day, there are fires, fireworks, parades, name it! The entire idea is to chase away the sadness, evil, and negativity of the fading year, and welcome in the crisp fresh energy of the new. Party hardy, it's Helter-Celter!

Meanwhile, in Ireland, there would be a special meal, setting a place for our deadly departed. In Scotland at midnight, while our Scottish kin sing “Auld Lang Syne”, Irish homes were entered through the front door and exited through the back, showing the good energy and luck the way into our dwellings. In places like Dublin, there would be a huge parade on New Year's Day.

Here on the East coast of the USA, mid-atlantic area, we have hold-overs. Naturally, there is drinking. TOO MUCH drinking. Stewed to the “Gaels” as well as the gills. We sing “Auld Lang Syne”...and in Philadelphia, there is a beauty of a parade. The Mummer's Parade, adds the old folk tradition of Mumming with New Year. The parade is 115 years old! (If you've never gone, GO!)

I love a man in feathers

Here's a YouTube video from Ern  Kavangh of the 2013 parade. I can't resist a string band!
No matter how you celebrate, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


So, my dears, we have arrived at Christmas week. Everyone is waiting for the Great Shaman to make his appearance. Who is this shaman, you ask? Why it's Santa Claus in his true form! If you want to read all about it, check out my blog post from December 12, 2012.

Santa would be my #1 fey of the holidays. There are, however, those people who wait for other personages to visit during this sacred season. Who might they be? Well, let's take a brief look. All I can say is: kids today could certainly benefit from a visit or two from some of these darker figures! Here, then, are the rest of the twelve “feys” of Christmas:

Hans Trapp: (France/ Belgium) This scary tramp follows St. Nick on his rounds, dispensing lumps of coal to naughty children, and flogging those that behaved the worse. He is sometimes called “The Whipping Father”. I bet he'd replace visions of sugar plums in your sleep!

Gryla: (Iceland) Gryla is the mother of the Yule Lads (see below). She is a giantess who lives in a cave. Throughout the year, she can smell the children who misbehave. At Yuletide, she leaves the cave, seeking out these children. When she finds them, she eats them. And you thought YOUR holiday menus were wild!

Yule Lads: There are 13 of these gnome-like creatures. These show up in the village 13 days before Christmas, leaving either rewards or punishments on the window sill. These could be either toys or rotting potatoes. How nice.

Befana: (Italy) Basically, Befana looks like a witch, riding a broom and dressed in a soot covered shawl. She comes down the chimney, like Santa, to deliver treats to good children. She does this on the Eve of Epiphany (November 5th). She may be a latter day version of Strenia, a goddess who presided over the giving of gifts.

Belsnickel: (German). This little guy, dressed much like Santa, comes to town two weeks before Christmas. He carries with him a switch. This is to frighten children into being good, so Santa will leave them presents. (Nothing like positive reinforcement!)

Pere Noel: (France) Papa Noel comes to your door on Christmas Eve. You must leave out your shoes filled with carrots and treats for his donkey. He will take these offerings and – if you are good – leave toys and treats for you. If you are bad – you get coal. The treats or coal are only big enough to fill your shoes. See, I like this. It cuts down on unleashed greed. Happy Xmas! Here's a ball, a pencil, and some caramels. Here's some marbles, an orange, and a peppermint stick. Be happy with small things! (Or course, a new cell phone, or a ruby ring, would also fit in my shoe. Ya hearin' me Papa?)

Ded Moroz: (Russian) The Soviets had to secularize the Christmas holidays. But, how do you kill off Santa? Simple – replace him with Ded Mozor. He is the embodiment of an old Russian folk figure, “Old Man Frost”. His companion is his granddaughter, “The Snow Maiden”. Together, these make personal appearances and hand out little gifts. (It's Russia. They probably PRAY for extra coal!)

Yule Cat: (Iceland) The Yule Cat lurks around the Christmas countryside. If it comes across someone who did not receive new clothes, it eats them. See? Stop complaining about the socks and underwear from Granny – she's saving your life!

Krampus: (German) Krampus is my favorite! He looks like the devil, has a sack or basket with him, seeks out terrible children and, when located, hauls them off to hell! Talk about being direct! How Teutonic! There are Krampus parades, Krampus's glorious! There are tons of old postcards featuring Krampus. Search for them on Google. They are special!

Perchta: (German) Perchta is “The Bright One”, a possible version of Holde the Goddess of Winter. She has a “light” side, which brings luck and fortune if seen, and a “dark” side which chases away demons. Either way, seeing Perchta is a good thing – unless you're a demon.

Tomte: (Sweden) Tomte is a little, elderly man who brings gifts to good children. I guess he is kinda like an elf on the shelf...with dentures.

Baker Street Babes - 221B door

A few weeks ago, SNL introduced a new character for the holidays...Sump N' Claus. Check it out!

And finally, a new mascot for Christmas? You decide!

Baker Street Babes Xmas Tree
Happy Holidays, Everyone, from me and the Rufus!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


This isn't the blog I intended for this week. In fact, I was never really going to go into details on this incident from last year, but it's happened someone else. I'm just a little sick and angry about this, especially during the holidays.

Stores worry about theft of property, particularly this time of year. Five fingered discounts happen despite security folks and equipment. Merchandise walks. It's wrong – obviously – but there is insurance coverage available and a means to be made whole again. However, there is a different kind of theft from which there is usually no means of redress for the “little guy”. It's called theft of intellectual property.

Over a year ago, while at an Expo, I was approached by a reporter from Weird NJ. She was interested in my books, but especially Graven Images Oracle, the oracle deck created by Natalie Zaman and yours truly.

In the course of our discussion, I was asked what other projects I had going. I mentioned a few, including a story I was researching on the odd life and death of a local University dean. I had even mentioned a little known book written about this individual.

I am a ninny. I believe in integrity and honor among journalists. I got schooled. The next issue of Weird NJ had nary a hint regarding GIO or the Expo, but there was a full story about the life and death of discussed dean. It was ironic that the writer mentioned there was a book on the subject, but that she did not have access to it. (I guess I was suppose to hand over my research as well as my article!)

I have always said that the Gods didn't give me a pretty face or a hot body. My gifts were wit, intellect and creativity, and I cherish them. Robbing one of my ideas is like kidnapping a baby. Yet, I could do nothing. It would be a typical “she said vs. she said”. I had to walk away, lesson learned. I will, eventually, write my article because I had an entirely different slant on the subject (as well as research!), but I am a less trusting, more jaded individual for the experience.

Now, there is no secret when it comes to my love of all things Sherlock. I read several blogs religiously and, in one, I came across a story of another case of intellectual property theft. I'm going to borrow the words directly from the blog:

Well, how’s this for some holiday suck. One of my most popular items, my 221B key, has been copied exactly (albeit cheaply) by some overseas wholesalers. Yay me. This is no coincidence, the items are PRECISE replicas of two of my most popular keys:
        My original 221B key design, which I’ve been selling for over a year now:

The replica key, being sold by over a dozen other sellers on Etsy now, let alone Ebay and other outlets:

NOT a coincidence, I think. From the scroll work to the dots at the top of the keyhole, this is an EXACT replica of my design. Even the part of the key meant to turn the lock is the same. It’s facing in a different direction, but that is the ONLY difference between these mass produced keys and my own personal design. Well, that and these versions are significantly cheaper, both in construction and for purchase. And of course they’re cheaper to buy! My keys are hand-embellished by me with transparencies and UV reactive resin one at a time. I can’t compete with mass manufacturing. As of now, at least six or seven other Etsy shops are now selling these cheaper versions of my keys, and for less money than my original designs. To say that this is going to directly impact by business and my sales is an understatement.
        To say I’m devastated by the whole thing is an understatement too.

And as if that wasn’t enough… Oh wait, there’s more. These overseas wholesalers weren’t content to steal just one design, oh no. They had to go for my top TWO keys.
         Again, my original design:

The new, cheaply made copies:

There’s only one or two sellers of this version of the key but seeing as you can go on any one of several wholesaler websites and buy them for under $2.00 a pop there’s going to be a lot more in the future. And not just on Etsy, on Artfire and Ebay and all sorts of places that my business doesn’t have a presence in and therefore can’t possibly compete with a corporation.

I just. I don’t even know what to do. To say that I’m massively depressed about this is an understatement. This business is my whole life, and my only source of income especially now that I can’t return to work thanks to some crippling back issues. I was SO PROUD of these designs, and their success, which is INTEGRAL to my shop. It kind of makes me want to just pack up everything and take it all down. My etsy store, my con business, everything. I mean, if everything I do that becomes even remotely successful (I’ve sold barely over a hundred of the first style of key… that’s a lot for one person but not indicative of massive overwhelming viral Internet success you know?) is just going to get stolen and cheaply copied cheaply what the f**k is the point of any of it? All I’m doing at this point is just providing mass producers with more ideas to steal. I’m not going to be able to make a living doing this if every time something gets popular it just becomes another thing for big businesses to steal. And because they’re overseas and I’m one person and ACD stuff is public domain anyway it’s not like there’s anything I can do about it except rant here.

I guess the only thing I personally can do at this point is to appeal to the Sherlock fandom and community. You guys have been great, so wonderful, so supportive over this past year, and I hate to ask for anything more than the wonderful amount of business you’ve already provided me with, but I could really use the help. Please, please spread this post to raise awareness of my predicament? I get that it won’t stop people from buying the knockoff keys or the knockoff keys from being made; but if you are considering buying one of these please, please don’t. And please let your friends know. Sales this time of year are CRITICAL for making sure that my business makes money, and for this to be hitting now…. well every person I get to reconsider buying one of the cheaper keys and going with my original design is a huge help to me at this point.
        Thank you.

P.S. Please don’t harass any Etsy sellers that are selling these keys. They probably don’t even know the design was stolen; they probably just bought the things from wholesalers and thought it was all on the up and up. Of all the people at fault here, the other Etsy shops carrying these items are NOT the bad guys. So please don’t make their lives hard. They’re also just fandom folks trying to make a living, and I respect that. But if you are a fandom person using this key in any of your designs please reconsider selling it for all the reasons listed above such as theft of my original design? Thank you very much.

Visit us on Etsy:

I went on Mazi's Etsy shop, and I bought a key. It was partly support, but mostly because I found it to be well made and lovely. Know what else I found? Some really cool, handmade items...Super/Wholock, Sherlock, Dr. Who, Supernatural..she does it all. There is a Simply Sherlock bracelet that just may end up being my “after Yule, it's my turn” gift to myself!

I know a number of you folks reading my blog are also writers and artists, and involved in various fandoms. You know how this feels. Let's give this fellow artist and Sherlockian a little support! Good luck, Mazi! Looking forward to my key.

I got an early Yule gift myself: My article was accepted by Circle Magazine and will appear in the coming issue. Well, jingle me!

For the rest of you, another little Yule treat...Smaug being interviewed on the Colbert Report!


..and Martin Freeman playing reindeer games with Jimmy Fallon:

Happy Yule, everyone!

I am Fire! I am Death! I am Santa.. NO! Wait! I mean Satan! I am Satan! I am...ah crap....

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Hello, folks! I have just come through a very weird and stressful week. In trying to do Yule cards, locate presents, start to wrap said presents, decorate the flat...
 and put up my little tree,
this place has turned into either one of two things: 1) An episode of “Hoarders”, or 2) a giant Jenga game.
                                            (Bet you thought I was kidding.)
 I have my notes and research for an interesting Holiday blog...just not the time to put it together until next weekend.

However! I have been saving a few “Sherlock” fun videos, which I'll share with you this week. Consider them a Yule gift, oh ye fellow Sherlockians and Holmesians. 
For the rest of you, it's a chance to sit back, say: “How can they really be into this crap?”, and feel superior. The gift of superiority! Oh, it's Christmas!


                                                      WHOLOCK - THE MUSICAL

                                                     SURELOOK. THIS ONE IS IRISH
                                         ..  AND THIS ONE, JUST BECAUSE I LOVE IT!