« Bye, Forry | Main | I Would Like a Maypole Now »

December 14, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I cannot read about a gazebo without thinking about Zork.

We are in a maze of twisty little gazebo pieces, all alike...

It did not come with instructions

And if there had been instructions, one would still go "Huh?" and proceed to figure out on one's own. That's been my own experience.

I thought it would be either really obvious how it went together or totally impossible to figure out. It proved to be the former.

Anyone who thinks I spend all my time dressed in fabulous costumes should see me at home on weekends

Being dressed in fabulous costumes at the weekend isn't something I often get accused of. I don't even get the glamorous hats.

I just bought this glamorous hat for my steampunkery. You could get one too. We could all get matching glamorous hats! We could put giant R's on them and parade mysteriously at the stroke of midnight on alternate Thursdays as a secret Rixo ritual.

Or, um, not.

I'd rather go for one of these myself.

Ye gods. How have I survived this long without a leopard fez?

I thought gazebos had roofs.

I didn't get a gazebo or a hat, but the Making Light folks gave me an Asus Eee! I'm going to put the battery in tonight and power it up.

This is more like the skeleton of a gazebo. I was thinking of draping it in dramatic swathes of mosquito netting for summer, with swags and bows and walls of fabric. Then I could sit in it and take NotTea.

Does your Eee come with a webcam? Are you now able to video-chat? If we could get everyone on Rixo webcam-enabled, we could have a virtual party!

Every now and then I consider getting a Morning Suit for going to weddings and that hat would work very well with it. Actually so would a Fez.

On the other hand a friend of mine always turns up to weddings in his morning suit ("Debrett's is very clear on this") and turning up to a fairly informal reception, the mother of the bride asked "Why's he dressed like that? Has he just come from a wedding or something?"

I'll stick with my Stetson - it's exotic in this country!

Michael: Whereas I cannot read about a gazebo without thinking of a folk tale passed down and occasionally sideways between people who play role-playing games.

The tale concerns a bold adventurer who, on his travels through a forest, arrives at a clearing. In the clearing, the GM tells him, is a small hill, and on the highest point of the hill is a gazebo.

Now, as it happens, this adventurer has never heard of a gazebo before, but a True Adventurer never admits ignorance. Extrapolating from past experience, he decides that a "gazebo" must be an obscure hideous monster of some kind, and announces that he's going to shoot an arrow into it. He asks the GM what effect this has on the gazebo, and the GM replies with perfect truthfulness that it has no noticeable effect whatever.

The bold adventurer begins to panic...

Paul A... Sir Robin bravely runs away.

Susan... If we could get everyone on Rixo webcam-enabled, we could have a virtual party!

I, alas, am not well equipped. Or are you referring to the coming worldcon's possibility of a party, and how the faraway Rixosous ones could join in?

Oh, wow, I remember that gazebo story from my gaming days forever ago! Thanks for bringing back the memory.

I'm seeing Spamalot on Saturday with some friends.

I think every man should have white tie; it's amazingly flattering. But I also drag my friends along to lots of events where it's somewhere between highly desirable and required to dress up formally. Morning wear is also very, very nice.

I am slowly accumulating hats. For quality, I have the top hat and a tricorn. I have three "cavalier" type hats of various shapes and colors. There's the astonishing black-sheep-on-my-head hat which is wonderfully warm for winter but hard to fit over any hairstyle that puts my hair up (that's a problem with many of my hats, actually). I have a "gypsy bonnet" straw hat for Regency. After that comes the cute little cap I got for Saloncon and then a few baseball caps I never wear unless I need them for shading my face from the sun.

I have a number of eccentric costume headpieces, but those aren't really hats.

Why am I the only person with webcams? I don't usually think of myself as an early adopter of new gadgets but somehow I am the only person here with webcams to spare. I'm going to set one up at my mother's house over the holidays.

You can get a webcam at any electronics store. Hell, you can get one from Sears for about $50.

My idea was that we could all have webcams and could use video-conferencing to have a virtual party. So far this is going nowhere due to lack of webcammage amongst everyone but me.

Susan... I am slowly accumulating hats

What is your hat size, with your hair down, and with your hair up?

Susan... Oh, I don't have a webcam because, well, I've never needed one. Not true. It has been very frustrating to participate in staff meetings and not having a way to raise my hand short of blowing a whistle to be heard over all the yakking going on, 1000 miles away. (No, I've never blown a whistle, tempting as it was.) They could set up videoconferencing, but they don't want their network to be clogged.

That being said...

When my wife signs her next contract, she'll be getting a new laptop and my plan is to make her old laptop mine, since the one I currently use is my employer's. A webcam is one of the goodies I'd add, besides a wireless modem, and software that'd allow me to finally watch those DVDs you burned for me.

You must face the gazebo alone...

There's a web cam built into my husband's laptop, so if a webcam party were to happen, I could probably join in. I normally avoid the things, because speaking through any sort of electronic media (phones included, ugh) makes me sound like a 12 year old :P

My webcam is built into my laptop. One of the first things it did when I bought it was turn itself into a mirror and scare me half to death. So far I use the camera mostly to admire my friend's new baby down in Maryland -- they had a webcam at the hospital so I could inspect the baby when she was only hours old.

Talking on the phone apparently makes me sound like either a man (because I have a low-pitched voice) or my mother. I'm not sure sounding like a twelve-year-old is worse!

Serge, my hat size with my hair up varies depending on how I put it up.

I remember the gazebo story, too! Yes, the Eee has a webcam, but I didn't get it powered up last night. I got it Sunday up in Silver Spring and the driving, walking, and conversing wore me out so I napped for six hours when I got home and when I got up, skipped ML & LJ. Yesterday, I caught up on ML & LJ plus had my friend Sarah carrying books for me for a couple hours (she's due tonight, too, and we may finish tonight) and I turned the light off at 6:30am. I had to be up at 10am for Lucila to come clean and then I slept from 11:30am to 4pm, just waking up long enough to pay her and lock up behind her. So I'm really late on a lot of things. Ah, a knock on the door....

I must say that sounding 12 is worse, only because my husband laughs every time I leave a voice mail for him. And because phone solicitors ask to speak to my mother (which admittedly, allows me to say "I AM the lady of the house" in the iciest tone possible, and then I get amused by how they fall all over themselves apologizing).

We used Chris's webcam to give the people we adopted our dogs from a virtual home tour to show that our house was suitable for two crazy corgis.

On Gazebos: The DnD story was my first thought to, and the sight of any sort of Gazebo will generally prompt me and my siblings into gasps of horror and elbowing each other to go and fight it or something equally foolish.

On Hats: HATS! I love hats! Alas, being a poor college student, I am unable to acquire much in the way of Truly Splendid hats, but I have a very nice leather tricorn for when I'm being piratey, and a much-abused, but still totally stylish, black fedora. My big want is a proper top hat, but alas, they tend to run a bit too much for my tastes.

I also really *really* want an overly elaborate ladies hat, with a wide brim and all sorts of feathers and frivols attached. A dozen live hummingbirds would be ideal, but I'd settle for half a peacock.*


*The back half, mind. The front half tends to be too beaky for my tastes, and not feathery enough.

My top hat was $80; that's about what I paid for my really nice tricorn too. I consider that a very reasonable price, though I understand if it doesn't fit into a student budget.

I have an old costume headpiece made by a friend that's a giant near-spherical pouf of peacock feathers, about three feet high/deep with a sequined peacock head on the front of it. It weighs a ton and nowadays tends to shed feathers, so I don't wear it. I don't think that counts as a hat, though. I would love to spend some time making and decorating those giant pinwheel Edwardian ladies' hats -- I could actually find a use for one at Newport! Also, if we had fabulous hats, we could sit in the gazebo with them on and eat daintily. At least in the summer. (If we get serious snow this winter I am plotting to populate the gazebo with snowmen.)

I don't usually answer the phone, but if I do, it's easy for me to detect phone solicitors because they ask for the name that my phone is listed under, which is not actually my name. I don't wait for apologies, I just hang up on them.

Is it the pitch of your voice or something in your speech pattern? You might be able to get vocal coaching (or work on it yourself) to change how you sound.

I have a couple of separate phone voices that really startle my friends when they hear me make calls with them.

I was trained to work in a call centre and although I don't generally do the full identification at the start I still have the habit of recapping everything agreed on during the call at the end.

I also sound like a man on the phone; either my Dad, my brother or once or twice my uncle (which is odd as he has a Leicester accent, while on the phone I approach RP).

If/when I have a more regular income and the wedding season starts up getting some more formal wear is on the list, although admittedly not as high up it as hats and they're not a top* priority.

We could all get matching glamorous hats! We could put giant R's on them and parade mysteriously at the stroke of midnight on alternate Thursdays as a secret Rixo ritual.

Thursday is my usual movie night (although this week it's Friday) and it wouldn't be the strangest thing to occur. I think there's a webcam there, so it could even work. Of course, midnight here would be (I think) 7PM over there, and if you were parading at midnight, you'd get webcam pictures of me sleeping at 5AM. In a hat.

* There should be a play on words here, but I haven't been able to work out what it is.

Susan, I think it's a pitch thing, but I don't know. The phone definitely does weird things to a lot of peoples' voices. I've mistaken my brother for a friend of ours, even though they sound nothing alike in person... and it's hard for me to tell my stepfather-in-law and brother-in-law apart over the phone, which is complicated by the fact that they have the same name.

Oh, and there are a lot of amazing hats to be found on Etsy. I have quite a few sellers of vintage-style hats bookmarked, and I don't even like to wear hats.

Okay, I expect pictures of snowmen in the gazebo if there's at least four inches of snow up there this year.

I have a straw fedora in case I have to go somewhere and be in the sun for a while. I use it about once a year. Oh, and I have a velvet cloche and a crocheted beret, but I don't wear those very often at all.

Neil, I think you're looking at "top hat."

My vocal cords are partially paralyzed and I occasionally start the day with a grating voice, or having to really push to talk, but usually that happens after a while of talking, like it did the last half hour on Sunday. My voice is higher than it used to be, and of course, I only sing around the house and car now.

We had about half an inch of snow last night, and it outlined the gazebo nicely but wasn't enough to make anything out of. It looked pretty on my holly bushes, too.

I knew in a vague way what RP meant, but had to look it up for the details. (Here's a link for anyone else not deeply familiar with the concept.) I would love to listen to examples of various English accents sometime to see if I could learn to distinguish and identify them.

Nowadays, I tend to assume that any call centre employee with a British accent is in fact Indian.

My natural accent is fairly neutral American (eleven years in Texas and twenty-eight years in the northeast combine to smooth out most regional variation) but I have a few distinctly southern pronunciation quirks (lack of a nasal "en" or "em", a tendency to turn "can" into "kin," a bit of a drawl on any "aw" sound) that I doubt I will ever lose. I can suppress them consciously if I think about it, but it takes more concentration than I am willing to put into casual conversation. Or if I'm with a really good speaker (like my Canadian friend Jennie, who has some of the most elegant pronunciation and enunciation I've ever had the pleasure of hearing) then I shift slightly to match. If I were surrounded by people who spoke like her all the time I'd improve.

My father is from Cuba and still has a very strong accent even after almost five decades in the U.S. My mother is from the south (North Carolina) but grew up in Florida and went to university in the northeast, so she has even less accent than I do, though she probably has the same little quirks that I don't really notice because they sound normal to me.

On certain phone calls I pitch my voice much higher, which is what startles my friends when they hear me do it. I also have a warmer tone that I think of as the "favors" voice; it's the same one I use to thank men who hold doors for me. Both are unconscious habits; I only noticed them myself because of my ongoing study of how to get along with other human beings.

Now I wonder what sort of hat Neil sleeps in. I've thought about making either a cute 19th-century nightcap for myself or something warm and fuzzy for winter, when I often improvise a head-covering out of my blankets.

I said I approach RP on the phone (and when speaking formally), but I don't actually reach it. More usually I have a general southern accent, verging on Estuary English. (Think the current Dr Who, except not as clear and pleasant to hear as most of us aren't professional actors).

Being a middle-class boy from the home counties, when I went to university I obviously adopted a dialect half cockney and half mancunian to appear cooler (and fit in with everyone else) - this lead to such constructions as "Let's have a butcher's then, our kid"

"Let's have a butcher's then, our kid"


We're supposed to get 4-8" tomorrow! I'll see what I can do late at night or early Saturday AM before I leave for NYC for the day.

Butcher's is cockney rhyming slang for look. "Our kid" is a term of affection in Manchester.

Okay, now you have to have pictures!

It hasn't started snowing yet! I'm making plans to trudge back and forth to work in the snow tomorrow and then to trudge back and forth to the theater in the evening.

I'm flattered by your faith in our collective ability to translate rhyming slang! It took me some thought to come up with "butcher's hook."

Nattering about accents had me walking along the sidewalk between my offices this afternoon muttering "I can" and "You can" and "Yes, we can" and "I can do this" and other test phrases that resulted in the discovery that I pronounce "can" with the proper "a" sound when it's the final word in a sentence, but I pronounce it "kin" or occasionally "key-in" whenever it's followed by another word.

What this means, I have no idea, but other people were giving me funny looks and leaving a lot of empty space around me.

I thought gazebos had roofs.

I did not fully comprehend the taxonomy of yard structures before, but all has been explained to me. As I already noted, this is the skeleton of a gazebo. I am now properly informed that it is, in fact, an UNDEAD gazebo! As such, it is difficult to kill permanently, even as gazebos go, and might have other special attributes as yet unrevealed.

Sor -
the sight of any sort of Gazebo will generally prompt me and my siblings into gasps of horror and elbowing each other to go and fight it

Don't you hurt my gazebo!

Depending on how powerful of an undead it is, it might have ability drain, or level drain, or... oh god, I'm such a nerd.


I won't hurt your gazebo so long as your gazebo doesn't try to hurt me!

Which, since it's a zombie, I can't necessarily trust won't happen. I will have to make sure to have my sword nearby should I ever visit.


AJ... any sort of electronic media (phones included, ugh) makes me sound like a 12 year old

That's quite annoying, especially when one is much older. Like 16.

(Whoa. That steam-powered frying pan almost hit me.)

Gracious, a zombie gazebo! Perhaps you should tie it to the ground!

Wow, Serge has quickly picked up on how to irritate me. Now excuse me while I recalibrate the pan-a-pult.

Hint: men over a certain age get sensitive about their advancing years.

In defense of my gazebo, I must point out that so far it has only sat quietly in my yard, maybe swayed a little now and then. It has not tried to eat my brains, so it's not clear to me that it's a zombie gazebo. It has the appearance of a skeleton. Perhaps it's a lich? I'm not quite up on the varieties of undead -- I never played clerics.

I just came in from my fifth death march through the snow today and checked. It's not accumulating much snow on its poles, but there's plenty on the ground. I'm too cold and tired and damp around the edges to go back out to try to populate it, but there's definitely material for some fun this weekend. I do plan to tie it down with some tent stakes at some point, since it's not the most stable gazebo ever. Physically, I mean. I'm not certain of its psychological state, though being undead can't be very emotionally soothing, now, can it?

Susan: Only men? I know plenty of women who lie about their age, they're so sensitive about it!

Poor Serge, I never meant to bruise his ego. Now, his skull, maybe. If I can ever hit with the frying pan.

Liches are usually intelligent and have a magical inclination. Have you noticed your gazebo trying to cast any spells? The lack of leathery flesh means it's certainly not a ghoul or ghast, and it's not wrapped in anything, so clearly it's not a mummy. It could just be your run-of-the-mill skeleton.

I had one of those milestone birthdays back in May and completely freaked out about it, so I'm in no position to comment. (Nonspecific bloggage of the freakout here.)

I plan to wrap my gazebo artfully in mosquito netting in the summer, but it's currently bare. It hasn't tried to cast any spells, but remember that it's a newly raised gazebo (and that the three of us who raised it are definitely low-level and definitely messed up the ritual several times). I'd hate to think it wasn't intelligent. It might still be getting the feel of things. Or it might have a spot of amnesia. Perhaps its current skeletal form is some sort of larval stage for a more interesting undead incarnation?

AJ... I never meant to bruise his ego. Now, his skull, maybe.

Today's young peop...

That being said, I was rather amused that, on the last day of our trip, some older lady we met at a rest stop asked if we were going to California to spend the Holidays with our children.

Susan... Perhaps its current skeletal form is some sort of larval stage for a more interesting undead incarnation

Maybe it's like one of those frogs that go into suspended animation for years until the urge to mate awakens them, except that this is an alien metal-based being. Maybe it's a... gazeborg!

There will be no snowman tonight because I won the Hairspray lottery and am thus seeing a second B'way show this evening after this afternoon's Spamalot. Go me! But this means getting back to New Haven around 1am and falling into bed unconscious.

Susan, perhaps the gazebo needs to be cocooned in mosquito netting to allow it to metamorph into its final form?

Serge, so what is worse, the assumption that you must be old enough to have adult children, the assumption that you must have children, or the assumption that if you did, you would make all of your travel plans around them?

I just have to deal with people acting incredulous that my husband and I are not just waiting to have children, we're simply not having them at all.

That would be a pain; I'd have to wait for spring to see its apotheosis!

But I just realized what the problem might be: it's incomplete! I can probably get a repair done on the top pipe today if Home Depot will do some metal-cutting for me, but the places at the bottom of the corners where the crosspieces need to go are currently buried in 8-10" of snow and may not be accessible for quite some time. So maybe it's going to stay dormant until it's completely done. Oh, well.

It's currently snowing/sleeting again. I am really ready for this to stop now. It's supposed to clear up this afternoon, so I will try to get on the snowman-building. I'm not hugely inclined to do it while snow/ice is actually falling from the sky. My big black sheepskin hat has served me well the last two days, though! It's wide enough to keep the stuff off my face and looks quite festive with snow sparkling all over it. But I'm tired of wearing it!

I suppose we'll have to watch its future actions. Can we easily distinguish between a gazebo trying to assimilate someone and a gazebo trying to, say, eat their brains? This could get tricky.

AJ... What was funny is that this was a reminder that I am old enough to have kids. Had we been interested in a progeny of our own, our first-born would be going to a University by now. I just didn't think I looked old enough for it. On the other hand, my wife said to me yesterday that, when I turn 60, I'll be the youngest person ever of that age. I presume she meant that as a compliment and not as an intimation of a lack of mental maturity.


Can we easily distinguish between the two kinds of gazebos? Not until it's too late for you, I'm afraid. If I see you at the Montreal worldcon and you're shambling around, or wearing a leather outfit and not a hint of hair on your head, I'll know.

Can we easily distinguish between a gazebo trying to assimilate someone and a gazebo trying to, say, eat their brains?

The important thing is to have all the counter-measures to hand for the moment when it reveals it's true nature and inevitably runs amock. Here's a quick list:

zombie - shoot in the head or otherwise decapitate
vampire - stake through the heart, decapitate and stuff mouth with consecrated host
immortal from Highlander - decapitate
member of the ancien regime who is enemy of the republic - decapitate
killer robot from the future - crushing machine or fiery furnace or another killer robot from the future
borg - tell them to go to sleep
killer borg from the future - I forget how First Contact ends. Sorry.
skeleton - crushing weapon rather than stabbing
lich - destroy that thing with their soul in which I forget the name of and might be confusing with another undead entirely
mummy - burn
lycanthrope - silver

In general, one of decapitation, fire or a giant crushing machine should deal with most problems, unless it's a were-gazebo.

Serge - what if Susan is shambling around in a leather outfit with no hair, has an aversion to light and is partially wrapped in bandages?

(It sounds like the aftermath of the kind of party that gets talked about for years afterwards)

Neil... It's the aftermath of an infamous party, or something that Susan cooked for herself to wear for her next masquerade idea.

Liches store their souls in phylacteries. Many's the D&D session I've spent trying to find one phylactery or another.

I'm a bit concerned about the fact that nearly half the options for slaying the gazebo involve decapitation, as it really doesn't have a head, per se.

Serge, I'd say that's a fine compliment indeed ;)

AJ... that's a fine compliment indeed

Thanks. At the risk of repeating a quote that I may have already posted here:

"Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional."

But since the gazebo is incomplete, can it be any of the wyrd forms?

Dacapitating a supernatural villain rarely makes the situation worse (exception: The Hydra, and some nasty thing in a horror film I saw years ago)

Clearly we need to wait and see if it grows a head to determine what sort of gazebo it is.

Of course it might be a headless horse-gazebo, in which case we should watch to see if it starts riding around the countryside causing trouble without a head.

I think the gazebo would still stand if we removed the spider that forms the top part. At least for a while. So perhaps that isn't the head, just a sort of crest or shell, and the head will grow out of the front end. I wonder which is the front end. Hmmm. It would be embarrassing to have raised our gazebo with its front end pointing toward the fence and its back end pointing rudely towards the house.

It may stealthily turn around, in that case, so it can look into the house.

I'd be able to tell, because the missing top-pole on one side lets me know which side is which. No sneaky spins for my gazebo!

Come to think of it, your gazebo might be an alien creature that escaped from the TARDIS. Heck, the Doctor has encountered animated dummies and spinning Christmas Trees so why not a gazebo?

The gazebo has been visited and more of its nature has been revealed. Stay tuned for developments.

I'd hate to think it wasn't intelligent.

"Of course I'm not sentient," said the table. "I'm a table. I have two functions, one is to hold material objects at a convenient height by virtue of my rigid structure and the other is to take your order. What would be the point in a sentient table?"

Bernice considered this. She had to admit it was a good point.


From something or from your imagination?

(Nice, either way.)

It's from the novel The Also People by Ben Aaronovitch.

(As is the quote I produced in response to Serge's picture of "a lady's suit of armor", months ago, and I neglected to say so at the time.)


Here is the canonical form of the tale of the paladin and the gazebo. I see that in my recounting I left out a few steps, and unfairly made him seem more foolish than he actually was. (But not all that much more.)

Hat-tip to Lee, who recently mentioned the link in a conversation over on Making Light.

Thanks, Paul.

I went and got a new cross-piece for my gazebo so I could finish the other side. Trying to put this on by myself resulted in a swiftly-tilting gazebo and an entertaining few minutes of me scurrying around trying to support all four corners at once. This ended just as badly as you'd expect.

Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago I had four houseguests at once and we went and stood in the snow and maneuvered the crosspiece on and the whole thing back into place. I think it won't be truly stable until I get the ground-level cross-pieces on each corner and possibly lash it to some tent stakes, but it's been standing ever since with no further problems while the snow finally melts around it.

"A swiftly-tilting gazebo" sounds like a sequel to Madeleine L'Engle's book.

Would I have made a subtle reference to a well-known title? Moi?

Oui, toi.

"Fortunately," Susan? Now, we know better. You had them all there to help with the gazebo!

No, really, they were there for my Cotillion! The gazebo was a sideline!

"It was a complete coincidence," Susan exclaimed.

So what's the latest about the gazebo?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)