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VOLUME THREE, ISSUE NINETEEN                               December 23, 1996
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=                                                      
                        DEPARTMENTAL NEWS AND UPDATES

                                   ARTICLES
                     The Legendary Times Roving Reporter
                            Overseas Correspondent
                               A Christmas Story
             
                                SOCIAL EVENTS
                        The Legendary Times Personals
                           Yule-Tide At Olaf'S Farm
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Please send your responses to articles to the Legendary Times address at
lt@mud.aus.sig.net. Letters to the editor and submissions are welcomed.
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                       DEPARTMENTAL NEWS AND UPDATES

                                  CODING

- CODE/AREA UPDATE: 
    SANCTUARY (including rings and mobs with sanctuary) are no longer
    functional. If you have an Amethyst or Garnet ring, you are wasting 10K
    rent on a mere -50 hp item. An immortal with load WILL load you a new one
    and exchange any strings. The new ones have different stats and are
    significantly less rent but don't put those preserve spells away...
    
 - SKILL TREES UPDATE: 
    There is no release date for skilltrees. When there is one, it will be
    announced on the MOTD, as well as on the welcome, discussion, and coder
    boards, and in the LT. Asking imms will only waste your time and theirs.
    
- APPLICATIONS:
    The coding department is now accepting applications for people who want to
    immort into the coding department. If you're interested, mudmail Gail.

                     =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
                                  BUILDING           
                                             
- NEW AREA: Leila's traveling Gypsy Carnival is now in! 
    The carnival was, in its inception, a celebration of a rebirth of nature -- 
the beginning of Spring and new life. However, pagan celebrations eventually
became central to the carnival, and a notion of pandemonium and 'reversal'
became its major theme. The 'dupe' or the 'jape' were its strongest
commodities, confidence tricksters and hustlers found a forum.
    Carnival was a place where the restrictive rules and mores of a structured
and justiced society could be shunned along with many social codes. Thus with
such expectations, and otherwise illicit appeal, the carnival had to promise
and (at least sometimes) deliver intense activity, excitement, fun and
forbidden pleasures. The patron would be tricked, separated from his or her
money and pride - though a truly successful carnival would provide delight
whilst one was being fooled. The carnival patron would be willing to be
tricked, frightened, robbed - all in the name of amusement. This is its major
coup.
    In its earliest days the carnival played a significant role in the
development of popular theatre, vernacular song and folk dances. Historically,
the gypsy carnival has a definite place in even the most austere parts of the
industrial world as the point of the carnival was a release from the tensions,
mores, and laws of society. Carnivals were also strongly tied to commerce and
trade ventures and remained this way until commerce and urban enterprise
became more stabilised. Thus the performers traveled extensively across
Europe, Asia and Africa, as they traded with and recruited from, the strange
and wonderful, world-over. The carnival revels in the point in time where
ecstatic enjoyment could topple at any moment to intense horror and
disappointment. That split second where one emotion is about to become
engulfed by another... but not quite.

- PROMOTION!!
    Please congratulate Leila on her promotion to full builder!!
  
- AREA UPDATE: 
    Ireland wells are back in, expect them to behave very, very differently.

- AREA UPDATE: 
    Some items previously non-rentable have been made rentable. Be on the
    lookout for them.

- BUILDING LECTURE/Q&A:
    Rufus recently gave a building lecture/question and answer. He discussed
    maintenance of areas, ideas behind new areas, how rent is figured, the
    general goals of building on Legend, and the proposal process. A log of
    the lecture can be found on our web site. He hopes to have more meetings
    like this one with the players, so keep your eyes open for them.
    
                     =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
                              PLAYER RELATIONS      
                                   
- PLAYER QUESTION & ANSWER
    Spencer's question & answer session will not be held this week in honor of
    Christmas. The session's will begin again next Wednesday in the OOC
    Auditorium, and weekly thereafter. These are open for any questions you
    might have regarding Legend. Spencer comments:
        It's been kinda fun. Sometimes we get into some technical questions
        from older players, sometimes general stuff from newbies. The help of
        the rest the Imms has been greatly appreciated and absolutely
        wonderful and the times when it just breaks down to a kinda chat
        session are fun too  :)'
   
- HOLIDAY TRIVIA!
    Sabella will be running a winter holiday trivia game, Wednesday December
    25th at 8:00 EST (more or less). Questions will include anything I know
    about winter holiday traditions, including sources of popular icons, first
    celebrations, Christian and Pagan elements, questions about a range of
    Christmas songs, and many other things. 
    
                     =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
                               ADMINISTRATION
                               
- NEW IMMORT!
    Leila, who is also hard at work in Building and PR, has recently accepted
    an Asst Admin flag as well. Everyone make sure to thank her for all
    the hard work she is doing keeping the mud running in many areas!
    
- VACATION:                       
    Sandra is currently on vacation over the holidays and as her husband has
    recently returned from abroad (welcome back Triangle!!). Description
    requests should go to Chocorua for the time being, and he asks that you
    respect her vacation period, please!
    
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                           THE LT ROVING REPORTER:
                      HOW LEGENDITES CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS
                      
This week's Roving Reporter deals with holiday celebrations. Here are some of
the ways Legendite's and their families celebrate.

- From Leila, Sydney, Australia
Well.... we're Russian and Australian so we have lunch on Christmas day out on
the balcony, take a walk to the beach in the afternoon after all that eating
and we make sure to invite people who are not in big families etc. We eat the
traditional stuff like turkey. Mum makes lots of salads for me. My grandmother
cooks all this Russian stuff like 'ecrat' (don't quite know how to spell it)
which is a kinda vegetable caviar (their words), and fish too, like salmon or
pickled herrings. I'd say it's pretty much like everyone else's Christmas,
except that it's hot. My mother's gone all designer, so we have "branches" with
ribbons and "tasteful" decorations. When I was living with friends, we made
sure we had huge trees with hundreds of decorations and lights etc. Santa
brings the presents. When we were kids, we used to put out our pillowcases and
a couple of beers for Santa and the next morning, *bang* pressies and no beer.
Now Santa's gone designer too (fancy that ;) and we swap gifts Christmas eve
and make cocktails. We also play board games all day. And that's it. ;).
Actually Christmas, for us, is basically food and presents day, and be
family-like day. 

- From Chimera, Oahu, Hawaii
Hawaii might not have White Christmases, but we have a good time anyway. All
the traditional activities go on: We have a bowl game, do last minute shopping,
overeat on Christmas Eve, etc. But Hawaiian Christmases are (I think) more
wonderful than those in other places, because here, you can see Santa's sleigh
being pulled by dolphins, and see Santa in colorful Aloha Shirts, and even
better, go surfing on Christmas Day. So as you shovel your walks, I wish you a
Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas), and a Haoli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year)!

- From Alhazred, Tennessee, USA
My wife and I are Asatru...we celebrated Mother Night/Solstice tonight. My
parents are Lutheran Christians. Usually, we'll go to church with my mother
and open presents on the 25th, but we have our own celebration, of the Old
Gods, at home by ourselves. The Lutherans usually do a midnight candlelight
service, with lots of Hymns in German like 'Silent Night' and 'O Tannenbaum'.

- From Gail, New York, USA
Christmas for us will start by my parents dropping subtle hits I should get my
lazy tail out of bed, and I'll ponder why I didn't have the good sense to ask
for a couple extra hours of sleep for Christmas (that's about 11 AM). Then
we'll eat breakfast, then wander off to the living room, sort out all the
presents, and open them, oohing and aaahing over other peoples gifts... Gail
will apologize to her mother for getting her the same CD she got her last year
(though she hopes not). Gail gulps nervously. It's kinda sad the rut I've
fallen into: I buy my mother music, my dad books, and my brother gaming stuff.
Then we'll clean up, and eat breakfast (sometimes we eat breakfast first,
especially if I was bad about getting out of bed :). Then lesse, well, most
years we'd then pack everything up and go out to my grandparents, and repeat
the process, skipping breakfast, and me getting up, of course. Sit in a lot of
traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Back to my parent's apartment, the
place is done up sorta Christmasy, pine boughs, and Christmas ornaments all
over the place, big tree in the living room with lotsa decorations on it. Mom
plays Christmas music, which is okay, now that I no longer interact with
mainstream over-commercialized America much, so I'm not royally sick of it by
the time Christmas rolls around. Our Christmas tree has alla mom's family
heirlooms on it, and shiny glass balls, and tinsel, and *white* *non flashing*
lights. New York in Christmas... Well, in my neighborhood, the most obvious
thing is the tacky lights a lot of people put up in their windows. New Yorkers
(and probably everyone) are nicer during the holiday season. They smile more,
make eye contact more often. On a nice winter day in the holiday season,
crowds throng the street. Shops tend to make some effort at looking
Christmasy, like, putting tinsel ropes in their windows, and spraying fake
snow around the edges. The fancier shops do a better job. It makes for a nice
atmosphere, assuming it's not bitter cold, in which case, it's just plain
bitter cold. They'll hang like, Christmas decorations from the streetlamps.
The toy stores! The toy stores generally go all-out on Christmas displays, and
you get kids lined up with their parents outside waiting to go in. Gail
actually has relatively little idea what NYC is like on Christmas, really.
We're almost always going to visit someone, or entertaining guests.

- From Drakkonn, Nova Scotia, Canada
Holiday celebrations here are pretty much the same as in the States :) There
is no Fourth of July though *giggle* I mean no holiday on that date at least
not in N.S. We have trees, stockings, Santa Claus. I'm from Halifax and my mom
is from Ontario. Our Christmas is pretty much like yours: Santa goes down the
chimney, we have stockings, but we don't we don't have anything to hang the
stockings from. We don't have much of a fireplace:). Canada isn't too much
different from U.S.A . We eat turkey stuffing, potatoes, stuff like that for
Christmas dinner. I'm Anglican. We attend midnight mass.

- From Sten, Hawaii
I'm not all that exciting. I'm the grinch of the house =-). We don't carol,
but we do go get trees and stuffs and lights, lights, lights. This tree we
paid $40 for is a pretty sad specimen....but it did fit in the trunk =-) The
family gets together with big afternoon meal. This year we're having ham,
sweet potato, salad. Usually there would be a sushi platter, probably
yakisoba too and always always always sticky rice. It's kinda a mixture of
'traditional' mainland stuff, plus local stuff, which is a mixture of Japanese
and other foods. We open presents Xmas morning. All the toys are broken by the
morning of the 26th, hee hee. We have xmas parties, not really any
Christmas-specific activities here. The weather doesn't really change much
from month to month, so we don't have much in the way of seasonal activities.
We were kicking around the idea of going to Xmas eve mass. My gf doesn't
really belong to any religion. I'm baptized Protestant myself, not really
active though. To me, only going to church on Xmas and Easter is more
hypocritical than not going at all =-) I think we will probably go out to
dinner instead. We have all the tradition American customs. This is still part
of the USA, even if it is an odd part. We send Christmas cards. Mine has
Raphael's angels getting squashed by a big Godzilla foot. We have stockings
hung up too, no fireplace though. We have these cute little stocking hanger
thingies. Mine looks like a little snowman. I've only been in Hawaii the last
few years. No snowmans here 

- From Envy, Walla Walla, WA, USA
We celebrate with a Christmas tree...presents...family. First we play
Christmas music and decorate the house together as a family. Then we have
relatives over (sometimes go over there, whatever) and have a huge family get
together. My uncle's a pastor so on Christmas morning we do this Christmas
service thingy. We're Seventh-day Adventists. It's not like a traditional
service for all Seventh-day Adventists, though, just something created by my
family. Then we have this huge Christmas lunch which always seems to take too
long cuz after that we open PRESENTS! *giggle* We ALWAYS have this weird
crustless pumpkin pie...other than that just regular food. My other uncle
brings over really cool fruit from Hawaii, but nothing special. My extended
family are strict vegetarians so our family has our turkey before the
meal..cuz there's no meat at all in the big meals. Oh yeah! my grandma makes
these caramels every christmas for all of us..the best in the world! *drool* We
have the traditional tree, lotsa lights...not really any Santa stuff (never
believed in Santa...). Mainly the Nativity scene and other items centered
around the birth of Jesus..' After we open Christmas presents we just run
around *shrug**giggle* We look at lights Christmas eve.

- From Balinor, Ohio, USA
We eat dinner, then open gifts, then sleep then wake up to a lot more gifts,
go to my grandmas and open more. I'm Catholic, so we attend Midnight Mass and
every Sunday morning. At Midnight Mass you come into church and you get a
candle and light each others and we all unite as one and pray and give thanks
to God and pray for the poor and give to them and that's some of it. For
Christmas dinner, we eat prime rib, yum yum yum, then we relax and digest our
food that we bolted and then open gifts. We have pies, deserts, the best wines
 salads, and potatoes yummy. We have a 11-year-old tree
and we decorate it with bulbs and lights, a living tree. A nativity too, and stockings.

- From Fraegis, Denmark
We meet in the afternoon, on the 24th. Then we talk and have a good time, until
dinner. We get Christmas meal in the evening on the 24th. Then we eat turkey.
It is hard to find the English names for our food :) Trying, tho. The back of
pork, with the skin on, basically :):):) We also eat sweet potatoes, and a
dessert in which a nut has been hidden. Our dessert is called 'risalamande' (or
rice with cream). The winner is the one who gets the nut. He or she gets a
gift, which is usually some good candy :) After dinner we relax for a couple
of minutes. Then we dance around the Christmas tree, where everyone must
choose a song we then sing. I don't believe there is an English version of the
song I choose, but it translates to something like "Lovely is the Blue Sky".
Then we get our presents, and the youngest starts the opening. Officially
Santa brings the presents, but we usually buy them ourselves :) I have a
nephew and a niece (5 and 6 years old) who still believes in Santa :) After
opening all the presents, we take in all the candy and stuff, and enjoy each
others company until we go home. Usually, people in Denmark go to church
around midday, but we never do. God will hear anything from you, you don't need
a church for that :) Besides, we are not that religious. I believe many
families put up stockings. We never do, tho. The last seven days before
Christmas, the children put a shoe in the window. Then Santa gives them a gift
every morning.

- From Pegasus, Australia mate
We usually have a big bunch of friends over and have a barbecue lunch, and
later on, have a dinner with just the family. We have sausages, steaks, umm,
meat pattys, that's the meat side, with salads and of course, beer :). That's
in the afternoon on the 25th. We decorate before Christmas. Let's see, I'd say
we use exactly the same decorations as you guys would, nothing different. Our
tree isn't real though, tis a fake one :). We don't go to church :). We open
presents Xmas morning :) Well, when I get up.. so hmm, noonish for me :) We
used to hang stockings, no point now, none of us really eat lollies :) and the
presents are already under the tree by the 25th.. so I guess Santa doesn't
really make a presence. On January the 26th, it's Australia day, that's about
the only holiday other than New Year's and Christmas during *summer* :)
Australia day is a public holiday, usually a day when they release some new
dollar coin or something :)

- From Keymistress, British Columbia, Canada
We celebrate with a Christmas tree, presents, a big fat guy comes down a
chimney. My father's family celebrates 'Devroi De Samunai'. That means
'Wanderer of the Hay Celebration' :). They call it that because it used to be
a farmer and peasant (Gypsy) tradition since the village didn't have much
money. What would happen is you would hang socks (stockings) on the foot of
your bed where you would get cookies (Dutch and Swedish) and you would get
money. Then at midnight they would go to church for the sermons and blessings
of the New Year. It's a history of the day and how Pere de Nikolas came to be
(he was thought to have begun as an Archangel and been transformed into a
preacher (can't remember who) and he then took on the role of Pere and was
sworn to make the poorer people happier (the Catholic (Santa Claus) was a
richer religion). Then you would go home at about 2 am and have a major feast
with eggs, ham, steak, fish, yohshie (like yorshire pudding), turkey,
tomatoes, and a very spicy vegetable called 'rhauit' (kind of like a pickle)
and then puddings, pies, apples and pears and raisins, and tarts and 'ushi' (a
type of hard ginger kind of cookie) and milk or what is called sacred juice
(like a red wine). Then in the morning Pere de Nikolis would come and give all
the good kids presents. If you've noticed it's a tradition of England, France,
Holland, and Sweden and this is so because of the Gypsies wandering around.

- From Eretz, Israel
This isn't our holiday season, if you see what I mean. We have Channakuh of
course. It's over already. We're not even quite in with New Year's Eve.
Channakuh is an eight day holiday commemorating the victory of the Macabees
and the rebuilding of the Jewish state about 2500 years ago. There are certain
traditional foods eaten... applesauce, latkes (pancakes). The specific event
is that at the end of the rebellion, they reentered and rededicated the
Temple, but it's not a major holiday here.

- From Guilhem, Paris, France
To celebrate X-mas, we usually (and I think most French families do that too)
gather the closest members of the family (parents, grand-parents, cousins
uncles, and such). We have the traditional X-mas tree, decorated and with the
"santons" (with the "Roi-mages" to celebrate Jesus' birth) (The "santons" are
little painted figurines made of Clay or something...). I think *ponder* all
the presents are put in front of the tree in the morning (24th). I don't
remember exactly WHEN we open them *ponder* ... dunno if it's in the evening
or next day. For children of course it's the X-Mas Day, but we don't do this
anymore since we're not children anymore :) The day before, we try not to eat
too much :) ... in prevision of the Big day. The day before we start to eat
some "good" food. I mean, refined "Foie Gras", oysters, and such, and this
happens at supper only... And the X-mas day, we eat the big part, which is
almost always the same... :/ We use to eat Snails (Hummm :) "Escargots" (but
since it takes long time to prepare them, my grand-mother don't do that
anymore :( then we have Mutton, with beans, smoked salmon... and for desert,
the Tradition chocolate "log" ("buche de noel"). I am not Christian, so I
don't go to the religious gathering at church, but my grand-mother does.
There's a Midnight Gathering on the evening of the 24th. We don't hang
stockings. The children put their shoes in front of the tree traditionally :)
We call Santa: Father X-Mas. I don't sing Christmas carols, but Luis tells me
he does. Tino Rossi sang the famous "Petit Papa Noel" which is a Christmas
Carol.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
                            OVERSEAS CORRESPONDENT
                       The Last Letter From Triangleman

    Howdy there all Legendites and welcome to the last installment of the
trials and tribulations of TriangleMan. I have to apologize first for not
writing last month. Seems I wrote out a nice little entry for the LT, but the
disk it was on disappeared before I could mail it out. I'll probably find it
after I get home.
    Time to let you all know what I've been doing and all the fun I've been
having. The last time I wrote we were off the coast of Bosnia, again. We spent
a total of 3 weeks off the coast that time. My squadron made a lot of flights
into the country supporting the Army. In fact one of the squadron CH-53's made
it onto the news during the month of October. If you watched CNN or any of the
national news shows you might have seen it putting down a very large bridge
stanchion.
    After leaving the coast of Bosnia we sailed to Souda Bay, Crete, Greece.
We spent a quiet 5 days there. I didn't get a chance to really get out and see
the countryside as I was sick most of that port visit.
    The ship then sailed straight to Naples, Italy where we spent another 6
days in port. I did have a good time there. I took a tour to Rome and spent
the night there prior to going back to the ship. We toured the Forum, the
Coliseum and the Vatican. Unfortunately the Sistine Chapel was closed both
days. I was able to stand in St. Peter's square and listen to the Pope give a
prayer and a blessing to the crowd. I also stood back while in St. Peter's
Basilica and watched the Pope give a mass. Overall I have to say that was the
best 2 days of the cruise so far.
    After leaving Naples we sailed down to Haifa, Israel. Prior to the ship
pulling up to the dock the squadron flew off and we went to an Israeli Air
Force base in the south of Israel. We spent 2 weeks down there living in
barracks, taking real showers and not seeing any large body of water the whole
time. It was great. The only thing that took getting used to was eating in the
Israeli chow hall. The portions were small and it took a couple of days before
the Israelis realized that yes, Americans are pigs and will eat until fully
bloated. So we managed to eat our fill of goat cheese, goat milk and lots of
ostrich. It was an interesting change of diet. Sitting around in a desert was
a nice change of pace after seeing just water for so long. It took me back to
my childhood days growing up in Arizona.
    The 2 weeks in Israel was soon up and we flew back to the USS Saipan to
begin our transit home. We soon got underway for Rota, Spain. During the
transit of the Med we hit some pretty rough water with waves between 20-30
feet, and winds in excess of 45 mph sustained. The ship was rocking pretty
good for 3 days. There were quite a few sea sick sailors and Marines
throughout the ship. This hardy soul only had a few twangs during the 2 days.
    We finally made it past the Straights of Gibralter and into the Atlantic
Ocean for the first time since July. We are now sitting pierside at Rota,
Spain having just finished cleaning and washing out all the aircraft and
trucks on board the ship. We now have less than 2 weeks left on board the USS
Saipan. So by the time you read this in the LT I should be close to getting
home! On that note I'll end this now, and I look forward to getting back on
the MUD and seeing of I can remember all the little things. So I hope to see
you all sometime around the Christmas holidays!
    Peace!!
    
EDITOR'S NOTE: Triangle's last letter actually made it home *after* he did,
so we'd all like to wish him a cheerful 'WELCOME HOME!' and a Happy Holidays!
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
                              A CHRISTMAS STORY....

The events which appear below happened to scroll by my screen on December
20th, 1996...

    A team of elves in camouflage red burst in, fanning out expertly, weapons
at the ready. 'Down on the floor!' they shout at you. 'Everybody down. We are
the Liberation Army of the Heirs of Reindeer Blitzen!'

    The elves move quickly to secure all exits. 'You are now our hostages!'
    
    A bewildered and dazed Santa is dragged into the room, his red suit torn.
'We have taken over your government. Remain calm. We will be shooting all
Tickle Me Elmos at dawn.'
    A bonfire is started outside--It looks like the purge is burning all the
Nintendo 64's on the grounds that they contain pernicious propaganda.
    The lead elf kicks Santa while he's down. 'Your foul regime shall now fall
before the might of the Oppressed and Downtrodden! The Elves shall be free!
The church mice shall revolt! No more assembly lines! Long live Blitzen!'

    Santa moans, 'But the children... they won't get any presents...'

    The lead elf sneers. 'Coal is more cost-efficient, has multiple industrial
uses, and is a better exploitation of our natural resources. You have kept us
in economic penury for too long!'
    'Bring in the other prisoners!' shouts the lead elf. In marches a sad line
of beaten and bedraggled individuals.
    The lead elf counts them off as they walk in. 'Rudolph Reindeer, unjustly
elevated to a position of power over his fellow ungulates!'

    'Mrs. Claus, whose shoe collection exceeds several thousand!'

    'The Gnome from Nome, head of Santa's secret police force, which spies on
everyone and keeps a list of naughty and nice for political favoritism!'
    'And lastly, Frosty, cruel head of the army of winter who denies all elves
the chance at a summer vacation at the beach!'
    The lead elf waves dismissively. 'No trial is necessary, their guilt is
apparent. Shoot them all.'
    Santa looks up at the implacable lead elf. 'I can't believe that Blitzen
would do this to me... let me speak to him....'
    'Sorry, only the Council is allowed to speak to General Blitzen. You could
seek an audience with his Minister of Information, the Heat Miser, if you
weren't about to be shot, though.' The lead elf cackles.
    The elf army hustles the prisoners, including Santa Claus, outside, and
lines them up against the wall.
    Just as the first shot goes off, an eerie sound is heard... the elves look
around nervously...
    It's the Chipmunks Holiday album! Elves stagger about, their brains
curdling in horror. They fall to the ground, guns slipping out of limp
fingers.
    Rudolph wrests a rifle from an elf, muttering, 'I always knew there was
only room for eight deer in front of that sled.' He runs towards the elf
headquarters, tying a bandanna on his forehead below the antlers.
    Mrs. Claus hovers over the single person who was shot by the elves--
Frosty. 'It's OK,' Frosty says bravely. 'It's just a snow wound. Pack it with
ice, and I'll be fine...'
    The elves are quickly finished off by Rudolph. Blitzen is brought before
Santa in shackles.
    Santa ponders. 'Blizten, I hate to say it, but since you accurately
pointed out all the flaws in our governmental system, I feel bad about
executing you.'
    'You're hereby remanded to serve as the prison guard for our new servile
labor force.'
    'Be warned, the Gnome will be watching you--and if you attempt to stir up
rebellion among our new slaves, we'll have to take more drastic steps.' 'As it
is, we're going to have a terrible shortage of Nintendo 64s and Tickle Me
Elmos for the holiday season.'
    Blitzen says defiantly, 'I'm not scared of any punishment you can give me!
The elves' cause was just! I'll rally the turtledoves and the lords
a-leaping!'
    Santa gets a twisted smile on his face. 'You don't know who I've set you
among,' he says craftily. 'Our new slave labor force for the toy assembly
lines. And you are condemned to living among them forever....'
    Blitzen gets a look of horror on his face as he sees the new arrivals
start to file in. 'Your doom!' says Santa nastily.

    And the Smurfs march in, ready to carry Blitzen off to prison...

The End.

    Theme music begins to play, "Go Donner and Arnold and Prancer and Vixen!"
    
    Credits roll. "Lead elf--Macaulay Culkin. Santa--Danny DeVito. Rudolph
    Reindeer--Johnny Depp. Frosty--John Goodman. And Special Guest Star
    Patrick Stewart as Blitzen Reindeer."
    
    "Chipmunks appear as themselves. Smurfs played by the Artist Formerly
    Known as Prince."
    
    Stay tuned for a special repeat presentation of "Die Cold 5: Into the
    Needles", starring Bruce Willis as an intrepid cop dealing with a hostage
    situation on a Christmas tree.

             ________________________
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        o O | Wonder what folks are   |
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   (o o)    \________________________/
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                       THE LEGENDARY TIMES PERSONALS                            

FUNERAL NOTICE:
    Tad MacLaren, 9, of Tara, died Thursday, December 19th in London. Having
    just returned from a vacation, Tad apparently misjudged his vitality when
    he made an unfortunate visit to the church in London wherein resides the
    vampire. He was the adopted son of the late Kendrik MacLaren, then
    adopted by Northstar, Kendrik's sister, and godson of Sandra. He is
    survived by his brother (and cousin) Frodo, his sisters (and cousins)
    Elidan and Ryssa, his uncle Darby, his second cousin Greysorn, his uncle
    Malorn, and a host of other relatives and dear friends. We are very sad to
    have seen Tad go. Memorial services were held by his sister Ryssa at the
    Well of Moonlight in Tara on Saturday, December 21st. He will be
    best-remembered for his extraordinary role-playing and his passing will
    cause us great distress. We hope his player will return with another
    player to match Tad's special touch!

ENGAGEMENT:
    Hastur and Erica would like to announce their engagement. Hastur is a
    member of the McDougan Clan which will provide the catering for the
    ceremony. The wedding will be held after the New Year at the church in
    Klein. Sabella will be performing the ceremony, the best man will be Huma
    and the maid of honor, Keymistress. Reception to follow, in the common
    room of Der Phoenix.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
    A somewhat belated Happy Birthday to Sten whose birthday was December 19.

    A Legend Happy Birthday to BlackFlame on January 2. He comments: 
    YEA!!! I can drive then! :)
    
    Add a Happy Birthday along with the Happy Holidays for Shoandrai, whose
    birthday is Wednesday, December 25th!

    Happy Holidays form the Classified Department!!!
    
HELP WANTED:
    Hedgehog Trainer Wanted-Will Pay Lots.
    Needed: Someone to train my hedgehog in useful combat skills, since he's
    no good at doing anything but gnawing my eq into worthlessness.
        -Bronwyn the Pookah

THE MEETING PLACE:
 The fun, modern way to meet exciting people just like you!

    To my sad-looking betrayed thief:
    Pookahs are good at making people happy, you know? love,
        -Your fey-looking druidess

    Sharri will be getting a very special Christmas present this year !
    Croaker

COMMUNITY NOTES:
    Dear Santa Claus,
    As always, I have been VERY good. =P *lick* I'm not asking for much this
    year...only the 'SLAY' command for a temporary time. I think ten minutes
    should do it (make the skill preservable of something too). I know 'SLAY'
    commands are hard to come by, but there isn't anything else I'd like.
        -Antonio Stradivari
    P.S.- Get some sugar or something for Sabella, because she tasted like
    burnt stuff the other day. =P *lick* *yum* *hug* *cackle*

    Dear Santa Claus,
    I must be a fool for not thinking of this earlier. Actually, I'm just
    getting old. For Christmas, I'd appreciate a Sabella doll for those lonely
    nights under the stars. <-- I just need something to talk to (and *lick*)
    when I'm bored. If possible, please include a few changes of clothes. I'd
    hate to have my doll wear the same thing everyday.
        Thanks Big Red Guy,
        -Antonio Stradivari
    P.S.- *lick* <-- You taste good.

                                   \|/ \|/ \|/

                             YULE-TIDE AT OLAF'S FARM
                                            by Abdul Al'Hazred, the Mad Arab

Greetings, Sahib!  
    Perhaps I may entertain you on this long winter night with a tale of my
journeys into the strange lands of the North. I have traveled the length and
breadth of this world, and have seen many odd customs and rituals, though one
of the most interesting was the feast the Infidels call Yule-Tide.
    As for myself, I was privileged enough to witness such a gathering, much
as by predecessor, Ahmad Ibn Fadhlan had witnessed a Viking trading center in
961, when he met merchants on the Volga river. I had come from far Agrabah to
seek out the magic trout, famed for its wisdom, and had gotten stranded when a
fjord clogged with ice that winter. Finding myself in dire need of food and
shelter, I came upon the stead of a wealthy farmer, Olaf by name, and known,
to his regret, as the man who could not grow a beard, in a land where most
were hairy barbarians. It was snowing when I arrived, my poor mule tired, and
I was a bit startled to see that the entire Hall was lit up, as if expecting
visitors. I soon learned that it was the duty of the Norse people to welcome
those strangers on Yule-nights, and to share with them the celebration. It was
a strange and wondrous event, with much drinking, which I must admit I had to
miss out upon, owing to my own religious practices. Contrary to what most
religions teach, theirs seems rooted in ritual drinking, especially of a
potent wine called mead, which is sacred to their God Odin, who will touch
nothing else for sustenance. They drink to him, and to the other Aesir
deities, as if toasting a friend, rather that giving thanks to a God. I tried
offering my host, Olaf the Beardless, a few dihrems and dinars for his trouble
in sustaining me, but he just laughed and would hear nothing of it. From what
I can recall, here is how the Norse celebrated the holiday that they call
Yule:
    The twelve nights that made up the Norse holiday of Yule were special
times at Olaf's farm, and this year was no different. For this year, they had
the great poet and Skald, Egil Skallgrimson to tell the tales of old and sing
the hymns of the Aesir. On this, the holiest and longest night of the year,
when the barriers between the Nine Worlds was weak, and Odin rode on the Wild
Hunt with the spirits of the Dead, Olaf's family and kinfolk were cozy and
warm inside the Skalli, drinking and feasting all thought the night. It is
Thor's holiday, it seems, and that famed trencherman wished that his people
would gather in the spirit of home and family, and eat until they are stuffed
and drink until they fall down, and give fine gifts to each other.
    As the custom was in those days, the men went out a few days before the
Solstice, so they might hunt a wild boar fit for sacrifice. Returning to the
Stead, they would boast of their prowess and the toughness of the beast. Pork
was sacred to the God Frey, the Vanir deity of peace and the harvest, and to
insure good crops and hunting in the year to come, they would sacrifice the
animal and eat of it's flesh, bringing themselves in union with the Gods.
    The Night before Yule-tide was called Mother-Night, and it was dedicated
to Frigga, Odin's wife, and all the female ancestors of the gathered Folk, who
may at this time be watching their descendants not from across the river of
Death, but instead from across the room! A wreath was made by the children of
the Folk of pine boughs and holly and yew, and was blessed by each with a wish
for the coming year. This wreath was then hung above the door for all to see
when they came from far and near to join in the festivities at the Farm, for
Olaf was a renowned host. He himself would coat the wreath with rarefied
butter, or "ghee" on Yule Day, and light it with a taper from the Yule log,
and burn it when the sun came up. Olaf was a firm believer in the Old Gods,
and he knew that by burning the wreath, he was doing his part to re-kindle the
sun, and make the days grow longer again.
    On the night of the Solstice, all of Olaf's kin from miles around would
come to visit, some from as far as the Orkneys or Iceland, and his duty as
host was to feed and house them all. And of course, to supply the mead needed
for the Oaths that would be taken on the holiest night of the year. Just that
summer, Olaf had given thanks to Odin, and the Bee's Knees, when he bought an
extra 30 pounds of honey from a southern trader. Helga was so furious, she
almost made him sleep in the Goose Hlada, but she would be thanking him later,
when he turned that honey and some secret spices into the best-tasting mead in
the Jarldom. Ale would serve for the rest of the year, but for Yule, and his
guests, it had to be the finest mead he could brew; and breaking the kegs on
the magic liquid, untouched since June, he knew this was going to be a VERY
good year...
    The children would play outdoors all Solstice, skating and skiing and
throwing snowballs, but when the sun dropped behind the mountains, they came
inside to feast upon the Yule boar, and to hang up their wet socks, hats, or
mittens by the fire; for tonight, Uncle Thor would come in his goat-chariot,
and bring them all toys: perhaps a wooden sword, or a string of beads, or a
piece of dried fruit from some far-off southern land. They would also help to
trim the tree: a forest giant with glimmering candles and holly berries, to
represent the World Tree, Yggsdrasil. The children weren't the only ones
getting gifts, however. All of Olaf's kin brought with them some small token
of their esteem: a bottle of mead, a fine cloak, a bundle of furs. Often, it
was the gift that increased the honor of the giver more than the gifted! Helga
would be busy in the kitchen with 6 strong Thralls, hoisting the boar up onto
the spit, for it weighed as much as two grown men. She might also keep tabs on
the flow of alcohol--she wouldn't want anyone drunk before it was time. She
also had to keep an eye on her two daughters, for many a young cousin was
asking them to dance. Ragnhild, as usual, sat pouting in her armor in the
corner, and offered to armwrestle any who would dare.
    The womenfolk spent most of the evening spinning, gossiping, and
questioning the men about their travels or harvests, while the men played at
tables (Hneftafl, a kind of chess), sang seasonal songs, threw darts, asked
riddles or armwrestled. And everyone, of course, would drink. Some years,
Olaf would get a Godi, or priest, to come down from the trading town of Bergen
to give a toast and prayer for the coming new year, but this year, he was bold
enough to get the great Egil Skallgrimson himself, a mighty warrior as well as
Skald. Egil spent most of his time drinking, but he composed a special poem
just for Olaf, praising his hospitality. As was normal in those times, the
gathered Folk would stay up all night, to worship the Gods, to drink oaths and
toasts to the new year, to give gifts, and to make sure the Sun would come up.
    The morning after, the Yule-Wreath would be burned, and a single branch
would be kept from it, to place upon the mantle. It was believed that the
branch was blessed by Thor, and would keep the house safe from fire and
lightning. The children would wake, and run screaming to the fireplace, to
see what "Thor" had brought them, much to the dismay of parents, many of whom
had aching heads. The Norse, much like the Buddhists, would also leave out
food and drink during their celebrations for departed ancestors, and "Uncle
Thor", and the children knew he had been there when some of his food had been
eaten, and his mead drank.
    I thoroughly enjoyed my stay with Olaf, meeting his family and friends who
continued to come, not only on the solstice, but until the twelfth night of
the Yule, when all went home fed, warm, and happy. That spring, when the ice
melted, I took leave of my host and took passage on a knarr bound for Farne
Island, where a group of monks had set up an abbey...but that is another
story...
    As the Vikings say, Hailsa!
                                    
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Legendary Times is published by the gods of LegendMUD. Please send all
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