Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 2006


She's baaack! And it feels like it's been such a long - wait, it HAS been a long time. That's what I get for casting my own horoscope and discovering it wasn't safe to get out of bed for a whole that Alls Fallow has come and gone while I wasn't looking, and now that everyone's made their traditional post-Fallow dentistry appointments, it's as good a time as any to concentrate on the astro-illogical interpretations on monsters and demons and personal Bugbears of Horrorscopic Horribleness. Not your actual Bugbear, which is a harmless insect-mammal hybrid that lives in the Forest of Skund and produces a wonderful milk-flavoured honeycomb, but the more mettyforical sort of bugbear. The sort one has to beware. Or more properly, bewhere, as in "be where these creatures aren't". So for your edification and protection (after all, Alls Fallow will come around again next year), I present the most dangerous and distressing bugbears for each Sign. Bewhere!

The Adamant Hedgehog 21 Mar - 20 Apr

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Truth Fairy; Al-Zyma, Lord of Forgetfulness and Confusion

Unlike the Tooth Fairy, who gives you money for each tooth you put under your pillow, the Truth Fairy gives you nothing but trouble. Oh yes, sometimes people may commend you on your honesty after a visit from this bothersome creature, but what they're really thinking is more along the lines of "you know, there's a ship leaving for HungHung at six o'clock, and I would very much like you to be on it." It is particularly important for Hoggers, with their tendency to loud voices and positions of authority, to be where this Fairy is not - as confessions about one's private business tend to diminish respect amongst employees, troops and student bodies. You wouldn't want your wet-eared new recruits to know about the time you gave your trousers an inner redecoration at the Battle of Wounded Kneecap, or about those secret meetings you've been having with the nubile young second wife of your main business partner, or about - well, I leave it to your imagination. The truth can set you freer than you ever wished to be. Literally.

Another creature to avoid at all costs is Al-Zyma, rightly feared by scholars, executive officers, wizards and elderly single persons everywhere. The dreaded touch of Al-Zyma can lead to embarrassing public outings (without clothing, for starters), unwitting explosions (various), and spells going horribly wrong and opening a rift to the Dungeon Dimensions. Worst of all, Al-Zyma can make you forget to avoid...the Truth Fairy. Bewhere!

Gahoolie, the Vase of Tulips 21 Apr - 21 May

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: Count Specula; the demon Ankulta

Count Specula, once a minion of Lord Astfgl of the Underworld but now an independent Dis-harmony contractor, is the secret motivating force behind unwise investments, foolish major purchases, ill-considered business expansions, national lotteries, and the Antiques Roadshow. Patron demon of economists and financial advisors everywhere, Count Specula can always be counted on to find you when you've just discovered a stash of dollars the tax collectors overlooked, or when Great-aunt Anaesthesia finally dies and leaves you that promising block of flats in Empirical Crescent. Don't listen to a word he says, unless you really enjoy dining on old boots and keeping company with Foul Ole Ron.

Few demons are more terrifying than Ankulta, who presents a face of great fairness but whose evil influence causes sane, gentle folk to experience sudden attacks of rabid nationalism; social, moral and religious intolerance; and an addiction to supporting pointlessly repressive laws. Her honeyed words, poured into the ears of the unsuspecting, have ruined many a sweet soul! One day you're sporting a nice green ASK ME ABOUT FREEING THE BOROGRAVIAN REFUGEES badge; the next, you're declaring war on Klatch. A must to avoid, especially if you live in a large city-state. Bewhere!

Herne the Hunted 22 May - 21 Jun

BUGBEAR TO BEWHERE: Trihuga the Softener; the Heedless Horseman

As Hernians, it's good that you're caring and sharing and sensitive to environmental issues (especially ones involving lots of teeth and a taste for innocent Hernians). But if you fall under the curse of Trihuga the Softener, you'll discover, to your woe, what "too much of a good thing" can truly mean - because Trihuga the Softener doesn't make your laundry fluffy and fresh-smelling, oh no; he does that to your brain! You'll find yourself espousing every crackpot cause, every well-meaning-but-ridiculous lifestyle, every faddish cult in the book (and some that have quite rightly never been written there). Crystals? You'll buy a quarry-load. Animal rights? You'll be right there in Sator Square, shouting "CRUEL TO SCORPIONS, PATRICIAN OUT OUT OUT!" and having your particulars taken by the Watch. Water-saving? You'll be the one who refuses to bathe for a year (and having your entire self taken by the Watch for creating a public nuisance). There's one born every minute, and if Trihuga gets his way, it could be YOU.

The Heedless Horseman is a more physical sort of monster, but no less a sower of discord. An Elemental disguised in vaguely human (plus equine) form, the Heedless Horseman is the evil force that causes crop circles, trampled fence and unexplained stampedes and is the bane of sheepdogs trials and wrecker of military tattoos and municipal parades. Whenever a coachman swerves to avoid "some crazy bugger, just tore right past me, you'd think he never heard of brakes" and the crazy bugger can't be found, you know the Heedless Horseman has struck again. String piano wire across your gates and never farm unarmed, and you might just avoid him. Bewhere!

The Wizard's Staff and Knob 22 Jun - 22 Jul

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: Old Man Tribal; Tah-Beh Loyud

Old Man Tribal, a cousin of Hoki the Jokester, loves family gatherings. Specifically, he loves to demonically compel all those upsetting relatives you never wanted to see again, never ever, to attend your most select family gatherings and make absolute donkeys of themselves. That time Uncle Gurgury accidentally hanged himself from the chandelier whilst attempting to imitate competition Rim divers at your sister's wedding? - no prizes for guessing who was behind that! Old Man Tribal also infamously foments family arguments at holiday times, leading to broken marriages, broken china and broken heads. The only ways to avoid a visit from Old Man Tribal are 1) stay single (though you'll have to move out of Mum's house), 2) become a hermit, 3) try your hand at extended polar exploration, or 4) make serial killing your new hobby and start your practice close to home. That last option tends to be a bit messy though.

And if you catch the attention of the snoopsome Tah-Beh Loyud, also known as the Goss Whisperer, those family mishaps won't be confined just to your own neighbourhood; they'll be reported in The Times, complete with every cringemaking detail...or more likely in whatever scurrilous "newspaper" the Dibbler Media Group publishes in any given week, with cringemaking details that never happened but which the reading public will find all too believable. Of course, if fame at any price is your goal in life, try Option 4 (above). Bewhere!

Bilious, God of Hangovers 23 Jul - 23 Aug

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: P'Hulu of the Sewers; Modzilla

P'Hulu, tentacled monster of the urban deeps, was once thought to be an Elder God from the endlessly black, endlessly cold, strangely oblong-shaped Space Between the Multiverses, but has now been identified as the only survivor of a lesser species of demon from the Dung Dimension (note spelling). No less horrible for having been reclassified, though, P'hulu reifies the collected spirit residue of every bad meal you've ever eaten twice, every projectile hangover you've ever experienced, every bag of rubbish you ever forgot to put out before going on your summer holidays and all the less fragrant by-products of the duties of new parenthood, and brings them to you in full-colour nightmares with added SmellSurround. Not a lot else to say, is there? Eww. As if your life as a Bilian isn't already a world of noisome misfortune. You might want to pick a less colourful Sign to be born under in your next life!

The victims of Modzilla tend to find themselves in an unfortunate situation: not only do they experience a compulsion to dress in whatever passes for the latest fashion, but they also can't help but behave like sulky, rebellious teenagers...rather like the average wizard, really, only with more leather and sharper-toed boots. If you're touched by the claws of Modzilla, you will find yourself purposelessly hanging around street-corners, trying to turn your childhood wagon into a Brindisian-designed scooter, and gathering at the seaside for crumbles- um, rumbles. And refusing to clean your room. Rather like the average wizard, really. Bewhere!

Mubbo the Hyena 24 Aug - 23 Sept

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Blackbird of Uncertainty; Gothra

The Blackbird of Uncertainty was hatched from the same egg as the Bluebird of Happiness, and is thus known as the Ectoplasmic Avian Evil Twin. This incorporeal monster, recognised only by the flap of its unvisible wings, bestows foreboding, poor self-esteem, untimely attacks of philosophy and general existential dreeed upon even the most formerly blithe and untroubled; its victims have been known to abandon prosperous careers in favour of long, fruitless quests for the meaning of life (a tragic waste, as the answer can be obtained from any passing History Monk in exchange for a cup of buttered yak tea and a bag of chips, or from Mrs Cosmopilite for five dollars and thruppence), or to waste crucial consolidation-of-kingship time on musings about whether or not to be (a tragic waste, as the musers often find that the only answer is "not to be", delivered by a long pointy sword belonging to someone else). The only known antidote is scumble. Lots of scumble. Which ultimately delivers the same end...

Gothra, a low-budget Agatean monster, can often be found hanging out with the Blackbird of Uncertainty at celestial shopping precincts. Gothra's dreaded touch turns victims into a physical copy of itself - pale-faced, slump-shouldered, dressed in ragged black garments and sporting black or deep purple eyeliner, lipstick, nail varnish and hair dye - and causes an addictive desire to lurk in dark social clubs listening to lugubrious music and playing Hex games. A visitation from Gothra can be terribly distressing if you happen to be a community leader or rosy-cheeked grandmother...or, worst of all, a witch. Bewhere!

The Small Boring Group of Faint Stars 24 Sept - 23 Oct

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Fourecksian Yobbi; the Eater of Sooks

The Fourecksian Yobbi can be found in pubs. Or around pubs. Or asleep in the gutters outside pubs, sometimes stacked six deep. An active Yobbi (in its relatively harmless sessile state, it sits around watching sport, muttering about sport, or playing the ancient Fourecksian game Poh-Qiiz) will approach you sidelong muttering its feared cry of "Gissapint!"; if you are foolish enough to heed it, you'll soon be broke, brain-dead and suffering from terminal liver disease. Demonologists disagree as to whether the Yobbi is sentient, as its speech consists only of "Maaaaaaaate!", "Gissapint!" and "Aaaw, Warnie! Maaaaaaaaate!", but with much patience and cruelty a Yobbi can be trained to shear sheep. Or so it's said - no-one attacked by a Yobbi has ever stayed sober enough for long enough to attempt it.

The Eater of Sooks has a taste for Boring'uns, oh yes it does. While its natural victims are Mubboons, it is a voracious demon that will always go for timid, wet, unadventurous types, so Boring'uns bewhere! Avoid sulking in corners, because the Eater of Sooks will get you. Avoid sitting quietly in libraries, because the Eater of Sooks will get you. Avoid safe clerical jobs in cosy cubicles, because the Eater of Sooks will get you. And bewhere especially, because the Eater of Sooks often disguises itself as a stern headmaster, grumpy spinster librarian, leader of a Scout troop or fire-breathing boss. I'd say you have a problem...bewhere!

Androgyna Majestis 24 Oct - 22 Nov

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: VykiBekum; Kaatu and the Sisters of Hellton

Andies tend to fall prey to a host of sartorial and social weaknesses - and to the demons that cause the worst of these. Most fearsome of such demons is the VykiBekum. Bestower of wardrobe malfunctions, white handbags, terrifying lip-gloss and a craving to be iconographed whilst shopping, VykiBekum is the scourge of human women everywhere in the Multiverse. Respectable gentlewomen visited in the night by this she-demon have been known to awaken with unsought hair extensions and severe eating disorders. Worse yet, they find themselves obsessively drawn to handsome tattooed sportsmen of low intelligence, or even possessed of a desire to commit Music with Rocks In despite utterly lacking discernible talent. A minor relative of the VykiBekum, the Jakytila, is far less harmful - but whatever you do, don't let her in your kitchen, as she will put everything edible into your chip pan! Some say the Rohztila is also a demon of this water, but they're wrong; the Roztila is in actuality a type of Good Fairy and a saver of universes, lip-gloss notwithstanding.

Kaatu the Poseur, not a demon but rather a minor deity forever angling to become a major one, is the Small God of Social Climbing. Anyone touched by the acrylic nails of Kaatu will dedicate her or his life to marrying royalty, impersonating royalty at soirees and Clicks premieres, or snaring any heiresses or captains of industry who happen to be lying around loose (and lying around loose is also an embarrassing speciality of Kaatu's victim's). Kaatu is served by an order of blonde priestesses, the Sisters of Hellton, who are known by their shockingly brief habits, their briefly shocking other habits, and their penchant for keeping small vicious wild animals as lapdogs. Bewhere!

Great T'Phon's Foot 23 Nov - 21 Dec

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Gyyk Fairy; Rama-Kuni the Dancer

Footies already have a tendency toward unrealistic pursuits, so the Gyyk Fairy is a must to avoid for you lot. This Bad Fairy confers on the unwary an over-consuming love of technomancy, anoraks, bananana and sushi pizzas, insanely violent role-playing gamery, and terrible pulp novels about barbarian swordsmen (and impossibly gentle Noble Dragons...and impossibly over-endowed young princesses with bagels on their ears...and impossibly anachronistic weaponry...), and an insistence on sitting around to all hours discussing what sort of arm motions create maximum spell-casting power and who would win an arse-kicking contest between Granny Weatherwax and Cohen the Barbarian. On the plus side, victims of the Gyyk Fairy are much in demand with the UU High Energy Magic Department. On the minus side, victims of the Gyyk Fairy are much in demand with the UU High Energy Magic Department. It's a lose-lose situation.

Rama-Kuni, a demon once little known but now famously parodied in the Vitoller Players' theatrical series "Little Morpork", causes its victims to communicate only through the medium of Dance (not to be confused with Madame Smalls, the Medium of Dance - who practises prognostication in Dance Golightly, a notably clumsy-denizened village near Slice). Persons transformed by Rama-Kuni can be recognised by their fondness for tartan, tendency to become hostellers, and insistence on playing the flute. Bewhere!

Hoki the Jokester 22 Dec - 20 Jan

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Pterrordactyl; Worcta Ruul

The Pterrordactyl, a rare hot-blooded winged reptilian monster left over from the prehistoric days before the Fifth Elephant's crash-landing wiped out nearly all Discly life, is every Hokian's worst nightmare - or more exactly, everyone else's worst nightmare should a typical Hokian and a Pterrordactyl come together. The creature gives its victims both greatly enhanced power and a maddened desire to sow fear, mayhem and, yes, terror near and abroad. Especially abroad. Remember, Hoki is the Sign of powerful witches, powerful rulers and dangerously deep thinkers, all of whom are scary enough without the added boost of the Pterrordactyl's touch! Do we really want, say, a King or Patrician with the power of a Sourcerer, the cleverness of Leonard of Quirm and the murderousness of Lily Weatherwax? - um, that was a rhetorical question. If you needed more than one second to think about it, you definitely need to bewhere the Pterrordactyl!

Far less overtly dangerous but still capable of bringing entire societies to their knees, the demon Worcta Ruul sows its own sort of mayhem. Worcta Ruul, a distant relative of Count Specula (although usually working what could be described as the other side of the socioeconomic street), nests in featherbeds surrounded by picket fences and loves to foment strikes, go-slows and dogged adherence to the most minor and exacting small print in employment contracts. It frequently strikes at public works committees, road-building crews and distributors of tax rebates, but in a pinch is quite happy to stir up household wars over who has to wash how many dishes on Octeday night or whose turn it is to clean which square foot of the pig shed. Bewhere!

The Rather Large Gazunda 21 Jan - 18 Feb

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: Papa Rotsie; Kalmi the Wanderer

Papa Rotsie may have a jolly, avuncular name, but he's a bad, bad elemental. With his vast army of determined iconograph imps and his huge nose that can smell out any potentially embarrassing public or private situation, Papa Rotsie travels the Disc in search of victims among both high and low levels of society and marks them with his dread sigil, so that his icono-imps can take the worst possible pictures - where "worst" means "most likely to cause loss of face, loss of position, or loss of credibility" - and drop copies through the mail-slots of The Times and of every publisher of village newsletters, almanacks and scurrilous gossip-sheets. If you trip and knock over the Patrician at a stellar event, Papa Rotsie will find you (so will the Dark Clerks, but that's another problem entirely). And he'll also find you when you're trying a discreet exit from some famous Lady's bedroom window...or when you've travelled to Howondaland to secretly adopt a fashionably poor toddler...or when your latest Igor "facial" hasn't quite healed yet...a very dangerous manifestation, Papa Rotsie has even been suspected of causing high-speed royal coach crashes. Such is the price of fame. And unflattering iconographs.

A lonely demon on a lonely planet, Kalmi the Wanderer infects its victims with endless wanderlust, most of all with a desire to travel to the most remote and least safe of places, armed only with an oversized rucksack, far too few changes of underwear, and a badly dog-eared secondhand copy of Sir Roderick Purdeigh's "Rough Guide to Countries You Really Shouldn't Visit Without an Army". If called by Kalmi, you will immediately trade your watch for a compass, your cart for a pair of hiking boots, and your commonsense for, well, a Burton (remember, Purdeigh is the man whose most famous quotation was 'I only speak two languages, Morporkian and bad Morporkian'). Most victims find themselves far from home, freezing cold or sunburnt beyond recognition, and often inside a village's communal cooking pot - or a tiger. Bewhere!

Lesser Umbrage 19 Feb - 20 Mar

BUGBEARS TO BEWHERE: the Bewrick Rat; Habius, Server of Writs

Long ago, behind the rear entrance to what is now the Patrician's Palace, there stood a small laneway known as Bewrick Alley, where dwelt all the King's accountants, tax-counters and similar functionaries; and in this laneway evolved a small, tidy, harmless rodent that fed exclusively on scraps of the red ribbon used to tie up official scrolls. Then a storm of magical leakage from Unseen University swept through the area, turning the harmless rodent into a huge, slavering, insatiable monster (and coincidentally wiping out all traces of Bewrick Alley, so that the only surviving reference to it is the name of this dreadful creature. The Bewrick Rat is drawn to anything red-coloured to feed its eternal hunger, and thus is infamous for being able to extract blood even from a stone! It is also notable for being the Disc's only cold-blooded mammal, and for never deserting a sinking ship until all accounts payable have been collected.

Habius, Server of Writs, is perhaps the most dangerous of all the Proxi Demons. Known for its disregard of clocks, refusal to wait at locked doors, general rudeness, and uncanny ability to track its victims in crowded restaurants, pathless forests and mountaintop holiday chalets, Habius can prevail against the most carefully thought-out escape plans and never takes "NO!!!" for an answer. The best defence against this demon is premature death, although some members of the Fresh Start Club can testify that this doesn't always work. At least Habius does give its victims some warning, though - it's the only mystical creature that glows blue in the presence of... itself. Bewhere!

Haze of Octarine

by Weird Alice Lancrevic
(with apologies to the Beatles)

On the Disc where I was born
Lived a wizard, robed and keen
Who was known to live his life
In a haze of octarine

So he sailed around the moon
Safe in Leonard's space machine†
'Til he crashed beneath the Rim
In a haze of octarine

We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine
We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine

Dwarfs and trolls are playing Thud
Interspecies war: free of blood!
And the Band With Rocks In plays:

[dear filkers, insert two bars of cacophony here!]

We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine
We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine

As we live a life enthaum'd
From the Gods and kings to Foul Ole Ron (to Foul Ole Ron!)
Wizards fat (wizards fat!) to witches lean (witches lean!)
In our haze of octarine

We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine
We all live in a haze of octarine
A haze of octarine, haze of octarine...

(Repeat and keep drinking until falling over occurs)

† I know that Leonard doesn't call it anything that simple, but otherwise it wouldn't fit the rhythm of the song!

Privet Dancer

(with apologies to Tina Turner)
by Weird Alice Lancrevic

All the folk come to my forest
Their requests are never grand
They know that I'm the poorest
Hedge wizard in the land

Mostly, customers are human
Now and then, a dwarf or troll
I put my show on to please 'em
Keeping myself off the dole

I'm your privet dancer, a dancer for magic
Brew any potion for you
I'm your privet dancer, I'm rural and tragic
And any old hedgerow will do...

I want to live a life more thrilling
I wanna live out by the Rim
Eating pies with tasty fillings
Yeah, my pointy hat could use a brim

All the folk come to my forest
Desperation brings them in
Here comes another chorus
So here's your medicine

I'm your privet dancer, a dancer for magic
Spell-casting only for you
I'm your privet dancer, no shambles or gadgets
But any old hedgerow will do...

Don't want Ankh dollars
A flannel full of cress will do nicely, thank you!
Play my parts just like Vitoller
Tell me, do you wanna see me read your future again?

I'm your privet dancer...

** NOTE:
original lyrics for Private Dancer can be found at: