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No games, no spoilers.

Butch:

Nothing. What about you? This is getting bad without games. We need long winded discussions of sweaters and treats and ways to wrap games in such ways that they resemble things that are not games in order to amp up the surprise factor.

Cuz CHEERY! We gotta get our CHEER ON!

I’m tired.

Feminina:

I’ll do my best to come up with some good holiday themed conversation ideas.

They might be mostly about my panicking over the stuff I still have to ship to the other coast and stuff.

Clever ways to hide the fact that you didn’t finish shopping in time: blame the post office!

Tip: wrap a game inside a holiday-themed sweater sprinkled with cookie crumbs to really double up on the joy!

Butch:

You, my friend, are a natural at this.

Though that “blame the post office” tip didn’t work so well when I showed up at my parents’ house empty handed that one time…..

Man, I gotta shop. I get so caught up in “What do I get the kids?” that I forget about Mrs. McP.

But nice work coming up with these wonderful tips on the fly!

You’re like a damn elf!

Feminina:

The Magic of Christmas is strong in me today.

Tomorrow…I don’t know.

Butch:

Nah, man. I can tell. The holiday bug has bitten you this year. Soon you’ll be humming Mariah Carey and wearing green (your hair already does the red) and actually smiling at those dudes ringing bells instead of wanting to shout “OH FUCK JUST STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT I WILL PAY YOU TO STOP IT!!!!”

Like a tall, middle aged, stressed out half drunk elf.

Cheery as a fucking hallmark card.

Feminina:

I’m going to have that description put on my business cards.

Butch:

I’m surprised it’s not already there.

Ok, last game thing of the week:

So that Outer Worlds game, the ones from the New Vegas guys? It has role playing mechanics where your experiences can affect your character. One is phobias. If you get attacked by, say, five creatures, or die in fire five times or something, you’ll be asked if you want a phobia of said thing, which changes your stats toward it. But it has to happen to you. And there’s other little things like that that are just in there, that you can’t plan for.

That’s pretty awesome.

We’d still wind up with the same damn phobias.

And chem addictions.

This has been a weird day.

I’m trying to stay cheery, though! Just did some present shopping. Got some makings for cookies. Now I’m off to check out the new “European” chocolate, nut and dried fruit store that opened in town. They really should know that dried fruit isn’t really something as exciting as chocolate. We shall see. They might have some motherfucking prunes, you know.

Feminina:

Ooh, cookies! Fancy cookies! With fancy European dried fruit, which is WAY more exciting than our pathetic local dried fruits.

They probably have, I don’t know, cloudberries or something. Which are apparently kind of like raspberries or blackberries, but sound way cooler. GET SOME.

Butch:

I’m very curious as to the nature of the dried fruits.

Don’t get me wrong: buying the chocolate. But curious all the same.

It’s kinda sad, cuz there’s this old school candy shop down the street that’s been there forever, and I feel this new joint is gonna doom it. It’s right on the corner, and nothing screams “Hey tourists! Get in here!” like “European Style.” Poor, poor old school candy shop.

I’ll go there, too. Just cuz. You know. Loyalty.

And candy.

Feminina:

Loyalty and candy: two of the most compelling reasons imaginable for anyone to do anything.

Butch:

Man, shit. Cloudberries? At those prices, those fuckers should have been grown in the clouds, fed by moonbeams and harvested by fairies. Then covered in chocolate.

I went to the old school place. They had chocolate santas and chocolate trees filled with peanut butter which is what the kids actually want.

Have you noticed that trendy assed places seem to think you can charge three times as much for something if you say where it’s from? Like: Cashews: 7.99 a pound. Cashews (South Africa) (Or wherever the fuck they grow cashews): 22.99 a pound. People will just be all “Ahhhh…South African cashews! Must be good! Why else would they say they’re from there?” Really, for all I know, and I know quite a bit about food, every single cashew on earth comes from South Africa. Or the worst fucking cashews on earth do. Or whatever. Who cares, though? Say where it’s from, especially if you WRITE where it’s from in different colored in, by hand, in smaller print in the corner of the card, and it gets more expensive.

I have no idea where these chocolate santas are from. Kids won’t care.

The good news, and don’t we all need good news these days, is that the old school place was doing a better business.

Guess there’s not much of a market for moonbeam berries (*from Trinidad).

(*And Tabago).

Feminina:

It’s so true! Say where it’s from, especially in handwriting, and it’s an instant markup. It just makes you feel the thing is more special.

Talking about the method of cooking is also good. Restaurant menus love this. “Slow-roasted South African* cashews lightly dusted with French sea salt” sounds way cooler than “roasted salted cashews.”

And wine–wine just gets completely unhinged with the descriptive text sometimes.

And here I’ll tie it back to the usual topics of our blog and say that it’s because we crave narrative and meaning! In all things! In our food and wine, as in our games!

Tell me a little story about this nut and how it came here to be eaten by me, and I will be more invested in the outcome of the story (i.e., more likely to pay the money to have it end happily ever after in my belly).

Tell us a story about the pixels on the screen, and we’ll happily spend hours moving sticks around to make one picture bump into another picture in just the right way.

We need stories.

*The internet informs me that Cashews are native to Brazil, but are now grown in Africa, India and Vietnam.

Butch:

Ooo! Yes! Even if you just mention what you cooked it in! “Iron kettle simmered soup.” Like, whoa.

Oh, dude. Dude. I do read the little tasting notes, as they can give you some vague idea if the stuff is fruity or dry or whatever. Fine. But yes, some of the comparisons they make. The all time winner was “leather.” Seriously. Cruising along, getting things like “Blackberry” and “cherry,” (acceptable, as these are foods), “Vanilla” and “spice,” (also acceptable, as these are tastes, even if “spice” is a little vague). Then things derail around “tobacco.” I guess it’s a smell, but a nasty one, and one I don’t want in my wine. But seriously, leather. Leather is not a food, not a taste, not something you should ever put in your mouth. You shouldn’t put tobacco in your mouth either, but at least tobacco is designed to be put in your mouth, whereas leather is not. I held a wine, a not inexpensive wine, in my hands that thought that saying it had notes of “Blackberry, cassis, vanilla, tobacco and leather” was a way to get me to buy it. Mostly, that made it sound like a cowboy dropped a pie.

I picked something else. Probably something that tasted of elderberries, passion fruit and moonbeams.

But…In games, we do need stories. But we have never once suckered for these gimmicks. Have we? Maybe we have at some point, but I didn’t today. I went and got the “peanut butter filled tree,” not the “Evergreen crafted from Peruvian cacoa pods enrobing Georgian peanut puree.” I know you well enough to know you’d do the same.

Feminina:

Yeah! Or “pan-seared.” Why the hell would it matter whether it’s seared in a pan, or on a griddle, or in the bottom of a stewpot? I mean, some of those are probably more convenient for the cook, but to the eater? What do I care?

But it sounds all…something.

Although you’re right, at a certain level of suspicion and/or narrative sophistication, one begins to mock these designations rather than find them appealing.

As for wine, leather is not great (mmm…cowboy dropping a pie…pour me another glass!), but ‘barnyard’ is the one I find particularly unappetizing. I think they mean it to refer to the scent new-mown hay or something, which is not really a drink but is fairly harmless, but I’ve been in barnyards, and it always suggests to me that they’re saying it tastes like manure. Which is just bad in a drink. Bad, bad, bad.

“Subtle hints of fine Spanish leather and pan-seared Peruvian cow poop. Drink up!”

Butch:

Yes! I mean, shit. If you’re gonna mention what you used to cook it, surprise me. Make it, like, “hubcap seared.” Anyone can use a pan.

We mock so much. “Pan seared” is the least of it.

Barnyard? You’re making that up. Many a wine I have purchased, and I have never seen “barnyard.” Grass I’ve seen, but not “barnyard.”

Where the fuck are you buying wine?

See, wouldn’t drink leather and cow poop, but when you give it such a sense of place, makes me want wine.

Feminina:

Dude, it’s a thing. Read! 

Barnyard Odors In Your Wine Can Actually Be A Good Thing

And, surprisingly, it does apparently refer to cow poop…more or less. Here I thought it was just a clueless way to refer to fields or something. My bad, wine describers, assuming you didn’t know barnyards were full of manure.

Anyway, I don’t BUY that wine.

I would buy something seared in a hubcap, though. That gets my attention. Makes me take notice and think “hey, this is REALLY exciting and must be a good idea or they wouldn’t have mentioned it!”

Butch:

Wow….that’s…..wow.

I’m starting to think that the dudes who write for vinepair and food and wine and whatnot are just trolls.

“Hey! Let’s tell them that it’s fancy if it smells like low tide!”

“I bet I can get them to pay extra for wine that smells like wet dog!”

“HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Feminina:

I would honestly not be surprised at all.

Which is why I tend to buy the bottle that says “red.” Bonus points if it tells me where it’s from.

Then again, it’s always possible to go too far the other way.

Butch:

I remember one we, as in actual we, used to drink back right when we got out of college and had no money that proudly proclaimed “Made from 100% real grapes.”

Good enough!

Feminina:

100% real grapes! Wow. I don’t remember that one, but it certainly sounds like the kind of thing any sensible person would happily pounce on when money is tight.

Real grapes! None of those synthetic grapelike substances or random vine worms you find in our competitors’ product! Sounds good to me.

Butch:

I think it was this one.

But honestly, that one looks WAY classier than the one I remember….

Plus, these were the days that 12.99 was a splurge.

But if you look at the label of this one, it DOES say “100% grape wine.”

Feminina:

Ooh, “100% grape wine.” Yes, you’re right, that was probably it.

I mean, not that I’m opposed to wine made from other fruits. Nashoba Valley Winery has many fine beverages. I’m partial to their cherry, which is essentially just a dessert in a bottle. (Conflict of interest declaration: sadly, we are not receiving any compensation for this endorsement. In fact, if they knew about it, they’d probably just as soon we not.)

But if you’re going with grapes, “100% grape wine” seems the safest way to play it. I don’t want to hear about “95% grapes!” and some nameless additional 5%. Cashews? Peanut butter? Actual leather?

No no. 100% grape will be fine.

Butch:

Man.

This month will, in the annals of our bloggage, be remembered as the best or the worst.

Or both.

Probably both.

Feminina:

I’ll raise a glass of 100% grape wine to that.