Baby, It's Cold Outside -or- The Sweater That Didn't

I braved some favorite clothing stores recently looking for what would amount to a decent, festive Christmas sweater.

Something without brown snowflakes, or gender-non-specific penguin families, or herds of puff-paint moose galloping with merry holiday abandon. And that's when I noticed...

What's with all the short-sleeved sweaters?

Now, I may be wrong, but it seems to me a sweater without anything to keep your arms warm is not, in fact, a sweater. Sweat doesn't enter into it, see? Frostbite, yes. Goosebumps, yes. Freezing to death on a sooty stoop selling matches for two-pence in the snow, yes. Sweat-- highly unlikely.

To paraphrase the character Edmund Blackadder, "What you have there, Percy, if anything, is an -Er."

And I am well-aware that Fashion-- the people that brought us fake eyeglasses for people with perfect vision, and jeans that only begin in the posterior under-awning region-- isn't exactly the industry of practicality. But this... this just seemed like the whole sweater rack is having some low self-esteem identity crisis.

"Oh, I'm sorry," the sweater says, slouching a little more on the hanger. "I just don't feel comfortable tackling the duties of being a sweater all by myself. My generation of sweaters was taught the importance of teamwork. It's all group projects these days. Achieving total sweater success by myself would just be arrogant... above myself... showing off. So, um, I'm gonna just need you to pick up my long-sleeved yet more lightweight thermal undershirt friend over here to go with me. That'll be an extra $20, please, 'kay, thanks."

"But... but I don't want to layer," I tell it. "I just want one single-tasking sweater."

"Well," continues the short-sleeved creation, fringe purposefully preventing it from meeting my gaze, "I'm afraid it's either the two of us, lady, or you freeze your pinecones off this holiday season. I never go anywhere without my BFF. Or," suggests the sweater with a new, flirty tone of hope, "you could always add my friend over here..."

"Another friend?" I ask hesitantly.

"Meet... the poncho!"

"Hiiii," says the poncho giggling. On closer inspection, it appears that this poncho was designed to only go around the neck and shoulders. It is not a poncho. It is, in truth, some sort of micro-poncho, a pon or perhaps a cho, a wooly dinner napkin with a hole cut through for the neck. If it were in white, it could be the collar of a Carmelite nun-- who also, coincidentally, does a lot of layering. In fleecy purple, however, it looks like Aunt Dottie's arthritis kicked up in the middle of a thoughtful Christmas gift which will be pushed back to next year.

"I'm leaving," I tell the garments. "That sweater I saw with the brown snowflakes perched on the yellow snowbank wasn't really so bad..."

"But wait!" the sweater shrieks. "You can't go. You-- you haven't even met our vests yet!"

"Heeeey!" greet the vests, flashing their linings, their buttons winking in the light.

"Oh... get knit!" I say, the only holiday bell jingling here being the one on the door marked Thank You, Come Again.

Orange-Ray Junior, Where You At?

So over the past few weeks, I have come home from work anticipating my next installment in a brand new form of entertainment-- the answering machine message saga featuring the family of one "Orange-Ray Junior."

Now, part of this is my fault, and I take responsibility for it; on my landline answering machine, I had left the default computerized male voice that instructed callers to leave a message at the beep without recording my own message. This was for two reasons-- one, every time my power goes out it wipes out any customized message and I have to re-record it. And two, I didn't really want strangers to know who lived at the address. Safety reasons, dontchaknow.

But to the family of one "Orange-Ray Junior," the fact that they kept calling a number day after day, and Orange-Ray the Younger never connected with them, appears to have been no major red flag that something was amiss.

Initially, I couldn't tell what name it was these determined folks were even saying due to the uniqueness of the name and the family's hearty Southern drawl. But last night's episode, courtesy of "Nana-Pam," clarified the moniker of our remarkably social leading man.

The series began like this:

"Now, Orange-Ray Junior, Paw-paw said he'd go huntin' with ya, so you give him a call back." (Click.)

I suspect Orange-Ray the Second did not make that call.

Two days later:

"Orange-Ray Junior, you got that appointment you gotta git to, so you be there, you hear me? I think this is yer phone, ain't it?"

I'm not clear on how asking an answering machine could resolve that question when you never leave a call back number, but maybe the family has a nuanced insight into that which I don't.

About four days after this:

"Orange-Ray, you coming over the hill yet? Okay now, bye." (click)

At this point, I'm dying to know where in tarnation, with a Pittsburgh city area code, these people were calling from.

And presumably if they knew O-R, Jr. should be coming over the hill, they talked to him at some point between the answering machine messages I received. So did no one ask him over the Thanksgiving festivities about his number?

Apparently not. Because, last night, as I swept in from work, I saw another red light flashing on my answering machine. My hand reached for the button with excitement. Could it possibly be?

Yay! It was!:

"Orange-Ray Junior, this is Nana-Pam. This is your answering machine, ain't it? 'Kay, bye."

Once I got done laughing, I decided I would let Orange-Ray's family off the hook-- in a very literal way-- by leaving them a message. It is as follows:

"You have reached the answering machine of a person who is not, in fact, Orange-Ray Junior.  
"If you'd like to leave a message for me, that would be terrific!  
"If you're a member of Orange-Ray Junior's family, I'm sorry, I don't know where he is, but he doesn't live here. I think he gave you all the wrong number. Good luck!"

And I imagine this should clear up any confusion on their end. But I admit, I'm going to miss the messages.

I am going to miss the visions I had of the Orange-Ray Junior clan, heading up over hills, going hunting with Paw-paw, hanging out with Nana-Pam, and using a compact, sectionable fruit as a name that carries on from one generation to the next.

Thank you for the joy, Orange-Ray. You have made the past weeks merrier ones.


If you can believe, I came home last night to another flashing light on the answering machine. And yes, there was another message for Orange-Ray. THAT'S RIGHT-- even after changing my outgoing message to address the problem.

The latest installment went as follows:

"Orange-Ray? Did Pappy let you in? 'Kay, bye."

So there's a Nana-Pam, Paw-Paw AND Pappy. The cast of characters grows!

Also, in listening to this message, I think I MAY be wrong about the Orange-Ray name. It might be some very drawn out, multi-syllabic version of "Andre." (Owendre?) But I can't make my vowel do the stretching exercises to make it work realistically.

So the mystery continues.

Wonderful "What's That?" Wednesday Winners!

So today, my friends, we have the answer to last week's "What's That? Wednesday" game, and I have some giveaway winners to announce! Woo-hoo!

The correct answer to the mystery object is...

A deodorant protective cap!

So the first person to guess that correctly was Ms. Hartz! Let's give a big round of applause to Ms. Hartz for her awesome eyes on this one!

And for the question of what the item's alternate use in my house is, the answer is:

A cat toy! This was not, of course, by my design, but through popular demand at my house. Apparently, that little tab at the top makes it perfect for tiny furred beings to bite onto it and bring it to me, over and over and over again, for endless sessions of fetch... HARRY. (Yes, I'm talking about you.)

So that means the first person to guess the item's alternate use-- a cat toy-- is Reforming Geek! Way to go, Geek Gal! You do know your cat toys!

So each of you two nifty people will win a copy of my humorous space fantasy novel, There Goes the Galaxy. I will need you to just email me at jennthorson {at} earthlink {dot} net with your addresses and I will mail your books out to you right away.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in ordering their own copies of the book, in either paperback, for Kindle, or Nook you can do that here. They also make fun gifts for folks who like a little humor with their sci-fi. (Both Nook and Kindle versions are currently priced at $0.99, so it's easy on the wallet, too!) :




Thanks for playing along, everybody!

What's That? Wednesday

Greetings, folks! Today we're going to play a little game I have lifted from my friend Kathy of the Junk Drawer because 1.) Kathy is an innovator and 2.) it has been a case of "long time no blog" here on Cabbages and I didn't want you all to think I had fallen off the face of the Earth or that I didn't love you anymore.

The game is called What's That? Wednesday. All you have to do is guess what the object up at the top of the page is and share your answer in the comments section. The first person to guess correctly will win a copy of my comic space fantasy novel There Goes the Galaxy.

And for some added fun, for the person who correctly guesses what alternate use this item has in my household, that person will also win a copy of my book. (No, no one person can win two copies. We want to spread the freebie goodness around here.) I will announce the winners next week at this time so everyone has a chance to play.

It should be noted that I personally am terrible at these sorts of games, which Kathy can attest to because I have left many a lame answer in her comments section over the years. I am also horrible about guessing how many items are in a jar, or how much change I have dropped on the floor because my purse wasn't closed, holding up the line and annoying the heck out of the people in line behind me.

Good luck!

There Goes the Galaxy Chapter One-- Now with More Talky-Soundy

Just because I thought it would be fun to try, I've done a reading of the first chapter of my novel There Goes the Galaxy-- complete with bad accents!

However, any bad accents you might hear in the paperback or ebook versions are solely the reader's responsibility.

Thank you.

The Comforting Cacophony of Infomercial Shouting

"And if you act now, you'll get twice the amount of shouting for your grouting FREE!
That's two times the number of decibels per ear than you'll find in stores!"

I was having the morning java and checking email messages when a sound in the background caught my attention.

It was an infomercial ad with a loud, gravelly-familiar voice that I knew Simply. Could. Not. Be.

Billy Mays?! But Mr. Mays has passed, leaving a void in the all-important Product Demonstration and Shouting niche market.

Sure, an Australian guy had tried for a while to sell us super-mops and shammies and made us aware of the deep, infiltrating inadequacy and safety issues of our dirty car headlight covers. But that guy didn't really know us, did he? He didn't really understand that we are unmotivated to remove pet stains on our carpet for a low price of $19.95 and even doubling our order if we act now, when the benefits are told to us in a bright Aussie accent.

No, we need a good old-fashioned American Man to shout at us with all the zeal of that uncle who dines on meat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. One who hugs all the kids in the family just a BIT too hard causing the occasional rib fracture, but only because it's done with love.

So when I looked up from my email, I was unsure what I would see. Had Billy Mays been cryogenically sealed in a vacuum-protected food preservation device that makes tomatoes and other produce last twice as long, just pay shipping and handling, and now he had returned to us?

Why no! This was a new Purveyor of Products. A fresh new face in As Seen On TV treasures!

Marc Gill is his name, he tells us, and while his head may be shinier than that of his predecessor, his style is eerily similar. Yes, Marc has come to save us from the Australians, from the ShamWow scandals, from not having tile grout that glows as brightly as Tom Cruise's teeth.

I realized then how great our loss had been. It had been at least a year since I had been shouted at regarding pipe drains and dirty sinks and whites that could be so much whiter. I had not been informed at great volumes how my clothes could all fit into a Ziploc sandwich bag to save more space.

But now, we have Marc Gill to fill the empty spaces that only jolly ear-bleeding vocal projection can soothe.

I sunk back into my chair, a sense of renewed peace washing over me, and looked at my coffee mug. Why, this mug wasn't travel-safe and impact resistant, able to take the force of a two-ton car running over it or a herd of water buffalo...

Ah, but it's all okay, isn't it? Because I know in a few months, our new friend Marc will undoubtedly have the answer. And I'll be sure to hear it, no matter where I am.

The Mum of All Fears: 70s and 80s TV Taboos


I was talking with a friend the other day about what, as children of the 70s and 80s, we were and weren't allowed to watch on television. And looking back, the overarching results are pretty entertaining:

  • If the stuffed clown doll tries to strangle a child protagonist: Jenn can watch it
  • If a dude with an axe threatens his wife Olive Oyl in remote hotel location: Jenn can watch it
  • If a boy is eaten by a possessed tree: Jenn can watch it
  • If possessed trees uproot themselves for world domination: Jenn can watch it
  • If a hotel owner pokes lots of holes in Jamie Lee Curtis' mom in a shower, while dressed like grandma: Jenn can watch it
  • If plague-ridden, scythe-carrying seamen go after Jamie Lee Curtis, her mom and Adrienne Barbeau during a weather anomaly: Jenn can watch it.
  • If Melanie Griffith's mom gets nearly killed by pretty birdies, and Bob Newhart's first wife gets pecked to death: Jenn can watch it
  • If little creatures live in the fireplace and go after a housewife named Sally: Jenn can watch it.
  • If Kurt Russell is in Alaska with aliens: Jenn can watch it
  • If Kurt Russell is in San Francisco with ancient Chinese evil: Jenn can watch it
  • If Kurt Russell has only one eye in a post-apocalyptic society, and Adrienne Barbeau isn't being chased by plague-ridden seamen: Jenn can watch it

(Hmmm, now starting to wonder about this Mom-Kurt Russell trend...)


What Jenn could not watch, under penalty of no-phone-calls-to-friends-which-might-as-well-have-been-death was:

  • Charlie's Angels. I never did find out what my mother's problem with this show was, other than she said she felt they were poor role models for a girl. Ironically, I was allowed to watch James Bond films with Dad because, apparently, Pussy Galore was candidate for a Nobel Prize or something. Go fig.
  • Any John Waters films. I knew why I wasn't allowed to watch these films. It was explained to me like this: these movies were about teenagers who "Sassed Their Parents." 

So now that years have passed, I've finally figured it out. The logic was, monsters and evil clown dolls (and Jamie Lee Curtis' boobs) weren't real. But Kids who Sassed Their Parents were real.

And that was the most horrifying thing of all!

(Insert bone-chilling b-movie horror scream here!)

So tell me: what weren't you allowed to watch on TV growing up?

Humorous Space Adventure Short Story: The Hyphiz Deltan Job

I had posted this tale a few months ago, prior to giving my novel the launch. But I thought now that There Goes the Galaxy is officially out there in the world, I would repost it for the folks who missed it.

This short story uses two characters found in There Goes the Galaxy, and it takes place a Universal year or so before that storyline. People who are reading or have finished the book are likely to recognize 'em.


The Hyphiz Deltan Job

Never agree to be Lookout when you’re pressure-locked into a Personal Smoking Enjoyment helmet, Tseethe Tsardonee decided.

It was a lesson learned.

Sure, the headgear met Greater Communicating Universe public safety standards. And since Tseethe had been smoking so long, he’d evolved to actually feed off the stuff, well, it wasn’t like the helmet was exactly optional these days. It was medicinal. Survival. Prescribed even.

He was smoking his way to continued good health.

But the heavy bubble around his head and neck reduced his peripheral vision. It compromised his reaction time. As a result, Tseethe looked out across the desolate Hyphiz Deltan street and jumped at every shadow before his smoke-fogged lens. He leapt at every crackle of sound that filtered through the in-helmet audio.

So much for that air of brusque, fearsome self-possession he’d worked so hard to craft. It was the first time, during any job, Tseethe felt like a liability.

Not that he’d ever tell Rolliam Tsmorlood that. Tseethe still needed the yoonies from this job to fund his own Underworld endeavors-- projects light years more profitable and dignified than busting into a Print Liberation Lounge to steal something that sane lifeforms across the galaxy couldn’t get rid of fast enough.

Of course, “sane” and “Rollie” were rarely said together. Here, Tseethe’s partner fragged the LibLounge surveillance system to nanoparticles, as if to make the point.

“Um, nice little fire ya got going there.” Even Tseethe could see the flames licking what was left of the Klinko® Intruder Repellant System.

“Aw, it’ll burn out in a minute,” Rollie assured him.

The camera box melted in on itself.  

“Er, prob’ly.” Something spit and flared. “Any time.” Rollie cleared his throat and redirected his XJ-37 handlaser to the LibLounge front doors. “Besides…” he said, finger on the trigger, relish in his voice, “now comes the fun bit.”

But The Fun Bit hit a detour, as the doors whisked open. A voice shrieked, “Don’t shoot! We’ll give you anything you want! Just don’t hurt us!”

Frantically, Tseethe whirled from his post, scanning for the source of the voice. Was it a ploy or an employee?

The LibLounge stood strangely still under the early morning moons.

And Rollie Tsmorlood began to laugh.

“What?” hissed Tseethe, “What is even a little bit funny about this? And who the frag was that?” He’d turned so fast, sweat from his forehead had splattered and trickled down the inside of his helmet. He flipped on his dehumidifier. “Some poor froob better not be in that shop. Because you know I don’t do hostage situations.”

“Relax, mate… It’s a Property Personality Module.” Rollie was still chuckling. ”Read about ‘em in Creative Criminal Weekly. ” He vanished into the darkened Lounge. His gear on the hovercart followed him dutifully.

“Property Personal whats?” said Tseethe from the door.

“Fear sensors,” came Rollie’s voice. “Same basic tech as in Non-Organic Simulants.”

Tseethe frowned at the clear street before him. “For what possible purpose?”

“Real estate insurance lobbied for it. Architecture that does its own threat assessment and acts accordingly. Supposed to reduce property damage claims.”

Tseethe sniffed. “And how is it on theft?”

“Funny you mention it. Turns out, most people want security systems that don’t give up under duress. So it’s all being hashed out in court.”

A lantern pierced the darkness, and Tseethe turned to see Rollie crouching beside a drop-off bin just inside the door. “Meantime, it’s all gone silent alarms again.” Rollie pulled an electronic lockpick from his toolbox and slapped it on the bin. “Which reminds me: aren’t you supposed to be looking out? Never know when the night shift RegForce’ll make their rounds.”

“I’m lookin’. Just make it quick, will ya?”  


Tseethe checked the clock in his helmet. “Little after Regimentation Hour Two,” Tseethe said. 

Rollie nodded.

That was Mandatory Sleep on the planet of Hyphiz Delta, a time when all sensible native Hyphizites completely shut down, hearts slowing to nothing, brain activity minimal…

They wouldn’t feel a growing night chill, the pinch of a passive-aggressive spouse or even hear the friendly sounds of, say, breaking-and-entering.

Due to this biological quirk, Hyphiz Delta was well-protected from outside invasion, but the government hadn’t really focused on rebellion from within. Its people were prosperous and crime rates were practically microscopic. Since criminal activity was never formally scheduled, no one ever tried it.

Okay, occasionally there’d be some renegade who challenged Regimentation in a public way. But the offender would be captured, labeled a prib and promptly exiled from the star system.

Tseethe knew it happened. He’d done it. Of course, there were always ways of getting back in.

“Y’know, it’s been a fraggin’ long time since I’ve even been to a LibLounge,” Tseethe mused now, leaning against the wall. “I get my infopills delivered these days. Cheap, easy, saves time.”

Rollie didn’t respond.

“I mean, what’s the allure of sitting around, sucking down capsules and yammering with strangers about what you just digested? Like anyone cares. They’re probably just talking to hear themselves talk.”

A beep and a curse emanated from the Lounge, as Rollie adjusted the lockpick’s settings.

“And it’s not like I have any print to bring in,” Tseethe continued. “I gave you what I had when the Purges began. So as far as needing the public incinerator…”

Shrugging, he could hear the device start up again. These electronic lockbusters were kinda hit-or-miss with decoding non-residential items. There were no standardized systems. So mostly, you had to make an educated guess and hope for the best.

“Plus the food here… those mud-thick nutrients shakes…” Tseethe grimaced. “Sure, some people love ‘em, but I say, ‘Give me a bottle of Carsoolian pod liquor and a funnel and I’m a happy—‘”

At the end of the street, something wavered, something Tseethe hoped was a simple trick of the streetlight on his in-helmet smoke. A second glance proved, as always, that hope was not quite enough. “Rollie, they’re coming. About five hundred kroms and closing.”

“How many?”

“Two. Looks like a standard surveillance patrol. Haven’t spotted us yet, but...” He turned to check on progress. The device flashed an unhelpful yellow.

“RegForce,” growled Rollie, “If only they’d sleep the sleep of the Just, Productive and Fraggin’ Dull, like everyone else on the planet.” The man’s orange-gold eyes were fixed on the lockbuster. His fingers moved across the device slowly, methodically, as he scanned for the right unlocking sequence.

Tseethe turned back to the street, tracing the progress of the uniformed beings. Now that they were closer, he could see they were short, dark humanoids—pretty much the opposite of your average native Hyphiz Deltan—all of them with the same bland features, the same perfect hair. It only meant one thing.

“Simulants! Flamin’ Altair, they’re Non-Organic Simulants, Rollie! Our local boys outsourced the night shift to the polymer people. You’re gonna have to hurry.”

Rollie was still fooling with that decoding device like it was some Vos Laegos showgirl at an after-hours party.

Tseethe let out an exasperated sigh. “Will ya laser the fragging bin, already? We don’t have time for this stuff.”

But Rollie fixed him with an astonished glare. “Laser it?! There’s print in there.”

“Oh. Of course,” Tseethe snapped, arms to the heavens. “What was I thinking? We can’t laser it; there’s print.”  He laughed and shook his head. “Un-fraggin’-believable! Here you are, happy to stun, melt, disintegrate or blow up anything in a thirty krom radius, unless it happens to be a completely obsolete hard copy of…of…” Tseethe pulled a title off the top of his head. “,,,P.K. Flutterbitt’s Field Guide to Deep Space Fauna and What Will Eat Your Ship. Or… The Black Hole Vacation Planner.  Or The Intergalactic Gourmet’s Supernova Meals in a NanoSecond.”

Rollie opened his mouth to protest but Tseethe wasn’t done. “Ninety-eight percent of the GCU has gratefully switched to infopill for its flexibility and instant knowledge. Yet you approach the LibLounge purging bin like you’re looting the Mighty Regal Coffers of—“

The metal bin opened, sending an echoing avalanche of print rumbling, tumbling to the floor.

The robo-RegForce heard that all right and, almost as one, they blazed a trail straight for the LibLounge.

“Incoming!” Tseethe checked the settings on his handlaser. It was an XJ-36, an affordable model, but versatile enough for both distance and close-range.

Rollie was stacking the print into his hoverbox as fast as he could. “It’s the smell, isn’t it?” he said meditatively. “Of time, and use and experiences. You don’t get that with an infopill.”

“It’s fire-or-bail time, man.” Tseethe braced his helmet against the doorframe and prepped to fire; the XJ-36 had kick.

“Print’s tactile. Requires a bit of effort,” Rollie went on. “And portable, but never gives you indigestion.”

“Fire-or-bail!” Tseethe shouted. “Fire-or-bail!”

“Whereas, you down an infopill with a Feegar bourbon-- I guarantee, mate, you’ll be coughing up whole paragraphs of chemical coding before the night is through.”

Tseethe fired-- one! two! In seconds, the Simulant RegForce officers were flat-out and fried across the LibLounge Welcome mat. Systems sparked. Fluids oozed. The fear sensors in the front doors were crying hysterically from witness trauma.

Tseethe stepped over to admire his laser work, and was impressed how much collateral damage had come from two clean shots. Sure, the Simulants could probably be rebuilt, but it would cost the RegForce more than a few yoonies. Not to mention all the paperwork they’d have to file with the Non-Organic Simulant labor union. Those guys were sticklers.

Turning, he saw Rollie holster his own still-smoking weapon. Tseethe had suspected there had been more laserfire than just his, but with lasers, you never could tell. He always wondered why the manufacturers didn’t add a little noise, make ‘em glow blue or something, just for safety and dramatic effect.

Somebody should send them a comm, he thought.

“Time to launch,” Rollie announced. The filled hoverbox rose from the ground and hummed gently, stirring up crumbs and wrappers and print ash that hadn’t been caught by the LibLounge cleaning robots. It ruffled the top-layer of print in the hoverbox.

It ruffled the pages of Moople the Mootaab Goes to Mig Verlig.

Tseethe gave a short, sharp inhale. “Stop!” And he slammed his hand down on the hoverbox power button. The box sank and whirred to the ground. The print settled.

“Frag it all, Tseethe, what gives?”

Tseethe barely heard him as he smoothed the book’s cover with a trembling hand. Moople the Mootaab Goes to Mig Verlig. Through smoke, he read the title twice, just to be sure.

The slim volume was faded and stained. It depicted a young mootaab running away from home, separating from the Great Purple Herd. This uncertain creature stood in the busy mass transit depot of the Farthest Reaches Cosmos Corral, holding a ticket in one of its six feet, and leading luggage twice its size. (Unusual behavior for your average livestock, Tseethe granted, but Hyphiz Deltan kid lit took liberties.)

“Tseethe, mate, something wrong?” he heard Rollie say faintly.

But far from wrong, it was all flooding back. Suddenly Tseethe recalled dozens of important life lessons Moople the Mootaab had taught him. Like why you should never even think of separating from the herd. Why you should adhere to a strict daily Regimentation Schedule. And why you should never, ever, ever discharge an XR-25 handlaser without proper supervision.

“You’re not hit, are you?”

“Nah,” Tseethe managed.

He was hit, though-- stun-gunned by memories, lasered by time. He hadn’t seen Moople the Mootaab Goes to Mig Verlig since he was barely out of Didactics classes. His second-level maternal archetype-- he called her “Nana” --used to read the tale to him in a hard copy version, just like this. That book once belonged to her M.A. Sure, the story was total Hyphiz Deltan propaganda, but it was also a Tsardonee tradition. There was even an XR-25 handlaser-- really just a starter weapon-- that they passed down along with it, from generation to generation.

If it hadn’t been for Moople the Mootaab and his whiny conformist ways, Tseethe Tsardonee might never have become the creative, independent thinker that made him the up-and-comer in the Underworld he was today. And he had that brainwashed, six-legged purple skein of fiber to thank for it.

“Look, mate, we’d better launch,” Rollie was saying. “Don’t know how many Simulants signed on for night shift, yeah?”

“Oh.” Tseethe looked up, as Rollie powered the hoverbox again.

It rose, swirling up more crumbs and blowing an old bookmark from the collection bin.

“Right,” said Tseethe. “And, um… this is mine.” His hand shot out and grabbed Moople off the stack. He drew it toward his helmet, turned off his air filters and inhaled deeply. The book smelled like the impact-resistant polymers and tangy astrodynamic metals of a good old-fashioned in-ship toy storage unit.

Tseethe realized Rollie was staring at him. “It’s y’know: payment. For my help.” He cleared his throat. “Along with the yoonies you owe me, of course.”

Rollie glanced from the book to Tseethe and back again, one pale eyebrow reaching new stratospheres in query. “Of course…”

“Stellar.” Tseethe tucked the book under his arm. “So let’s go. What’re we waiting for-- the whole fragging RegForce to bust down the doors?”

“NOOOO!” screamed the doors, electronic voice buzzing in terror. “For the love of Hyphiz Delta, NOOOOO!”

But Tseethe and Rollie were already slipping through darkened streets on their way to the ship, the hoverbox of print trailing close behind. Some might have said it was a little like a young mootaab reunited with its herd, after a tiring adventure.

Of course, Tseethe wouldn’t have. He barely noticed it through the smoke.

Cabbages' There Goes the Galaxy Book Giveaway Winners

Ah, the excitement! The drama! The... er... two small, furry creatures butting in front of the camera trying to get involved in every aspect of the event whether I want their help or not...

Such was the Of Cabbages and Kings blog drawing for copies of my new humorous sci-fi novel, There Goes the Galaxy!

Now, this was a highly-technical process. First I wrote the names of everyone who left a comment on the giveaway post on small slips of paper and placed them in a bowl. Then my whiskered companion, Harry, got in the way while I went to take a photo to prove I had done this. So I moved him out of the way. (Repeat ten times and ultimately give up, leaving the following...)
Lovely plumage.

And then we closed our eyes and drew the following two names:

Yes, congratulations to John and Shirley! You have each won a copy of There Goes the Galaxy. Please email me at jennthorson [at] earthlink [dot] net with your addresses and I will send you your book.

If the books remain unclaimed by noon of October 5, I'll redraw a new name, so someone else can receive the copy of the book.

Also note: the separate GoodReads giveaway has closed, too! I have to pop off and see who the winners are there. GoodReads notifies those winners directly and I will be shipping off those book copies today.

Lastly, for anyone still interested in purchasing a copy of the book for their very own selves-- either in paperback or ebook versions-- that can be done on Amazon by clicking here:

Thanks to everyone for participating. Honestly, you all-- with your kind support and enthusiasm-- have helped make the whole publishing process so much fun.

The "There Goes the Galaxy" Book Giveaway

It's got humor... fantasy... science fictioniness... and all the other things you want in a good book like, um, pages that turn and a spine that holds it all together! And best of all, if you leave a comment answering the question below, I'll put you in a drawing for one of two free copies of my novel, There Goes the Galaxy.

So, think about it... pages that turn, a spine, and I'll even throw in a totally cosmic cover attached to it, designed by my friend Dave, all for FREE if you're the lucky commentor chosen from the drawing!

Okay, I know: you're saying, "Get on with it. What's the fragging question already?"

And the question is: "What's the last book you read that you'd gladly recommend to a friend?"

(See, that was virtually pain-free, wasn't it?)

Commenting will be open until midnight next Tuesday-- that's September 27th. Then I'll do the drawing and will let you know on Wednesday the 28th who the lucky winners are.

If you want more info on the novel, you can check out my book site here:

And if you don't want to go through all the hassle of a drawing, but think you might want a copy of the book in either softback or ebook form, you can order it on Amazon here. (It's also in ebook form on for my UK friends.)

Thanks for playing along!

Henry the Eighth for Kids: Count Along with Henry Tudor!

This was prompted by a Google search that came to my blog the other day. Someone was looking for "Henry the Eighth for Kids." Once I stopped snickering over the image of The Tudors filmed for a pre-school crowd--- ("you see, Timmy, when a King and his courtier love each other very, very much. Or, well, y'know, they dance together for five seconds at the Royal Ball and find they both don't have plans for afterwards...") --anyway, it really got my creative mind a-turning. So today I give you the Please-Don't-Read-This-To-Your-Children version of 'Henry the Eighth for Kids'":

Count Along with Henry Tudor!

Henry Tudor was a king, 
In England long ago
Seven Henrys ruled before
This Henry had his go.

Now, Henry Eight, he had six wives
Though not at the same time
For that, dear kids, is "bigamy"
With no place in this rhyme

So count to One and we will meet
Queen Catherine Aragon
She was the One who bore no son
So Henry said, "So long."

See, boys back then were very prized
But girls were not so blessed.
Today each child is loved the same.
(Still, Dad likes Junior best.)

So Catherine was sent away
And now we count to Two
It's Anne Boleyn, the courtesan
Who Henry sought to woo

This Anne, she had a daughter Liz
But still no bouncing boy
Two children now King Henry had
Yet no heir brought him joy

And in these days was no divorce
So Mommy stayed with Dad
And Dad with Mommy, even if
She had a new friend Chad.

So Henry said good-bye to Anne
In his medieval way
Without divorce, he saw no course.
She lost her head one day

The word "decapitation" means
"To leave without your cap."
Mention it to mommy once
When she asks you to nap.

No, nevermind-- let's move along
Quick now to Number Three
Jane Seymour stepped upon the stage
(Without Kay Jewelry).

Jane had the son of Henry's dreams
The apple of his eye
But birth was rough and times were tough
And Jane, she sadly died.

So let's count Four to Anne of Cleves
That's two queens now named Anne
Since this blind date won't turn out great
Annulment's Henry's plan

"Annulment" means to marry and
to say it doesn't count
Like "cooties, no takebacksies" does.
It gave the King an out.

This brings the count to Five, you see
Miss Howard-- Cathy Two.
But Henry learned the darkly news
That Cathy wasn't true

Our Henry was a little miffed
It was his pride, you see
So soon, as with dear Anne Boleyn,
Her wig flipped-- permanently

So here we come to number Six,
Last wife, and none too soon
This Catherine Parr she got so far
Outlived the Royal goon.

Three Cathys and Two Annes, he wed
And don't forget One Jane.
The moral? Keep above the Parr
When playing numbers games.