I KNEW I should have gone with The Sinner’s Guide to Amish Vampires in Space.

I was having lots of fun scrolling through this list of Worst Christian Book Covers of 2013.  A couple of favorites:

and this:

and of course this, which should win all the prizes ever, for everything, but most of all for the most courageous use of “spray paint” tool in a professional setting:


“Most intelligently designed” indeed.

But then I got to #7 on the list of Worst Christian Book Covers of 2013, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but A COVER THAT LOOKS VERY, VERY FAMILIAR:

A sign your priest may be WAY too involved in your sex life.
#ConfessionalFetish(Submitted by Kimberly Roth)HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!  Oh man.  I’m on a list, I’m on a list!  Thanks, Kimberly Roth, whoever you are.  I submit, for your discering eyes, the mockup for my next book, coming out  some time in 2015:


Wayback Wednesday: Dear Simcha

This post originally ran last year on the Register.


Happy Thanksgiving!  I know that many of you are very busy and/or really depressed today.  Some of you are alone, and many, many more of you desperately wish that you were.  So, rather than tax you with a challenging or insightful essay, I thought I’d take this opportunity to clean up my inbox and answer a few of the questions that people have asked me recently.


Dear Simcha,

By this time of day, I’m supposed to be basting the turkey for the fifth or sixth time so it will be golden and delicious in time for our Thanksgiving feast.  But I haven’t even defrosted it yet, because I spent all of yesterday watching Benny Hill and drinking the rum I bought to make rum raisin bread pudding.  (I also ate all the raisins, which is a separate problem.)  So now I have eleven guests coming in a matter of hours, and all I have to offer them is 22 pounds of solid turkey ice.  I can’t even get the bag off.  I think I may still actually be drunk.  I’m so ashamed.  What can I do?

Signed, Filled With Regret

Dear Filled With Regret,

Lucky for you, I’m an avid historian, so I can save your sorry hide with my expertise!  It’s a little known fact that turkeys aren’t even an authentic Thanksgiving main course, so it’s actually quite acceptable to serve something else.  Forget that boring old bird.  Instead, call yourself a purist and dish up what the original Pilgrims probably had for their main course:  a couple of juicy wild eagles.  If no eagles are available, swan is an acceptable substitute.  Just don’t forget the traditional eel-and-poopberry compote for a side dish.  And they drank hot tar from wooden cups.  Hope this helps, and bon appétit!  Or should I say (since French had not yet been invented in Pilgrim times), Huzzah!


Dear Simcha,

I’m eleven months old.  My mother is fairly useful, and I’ve gotten accustomed to her smell.  She can even be kind of funny sometimes, like with that noise she makes when I grab her lips and twist them around. But she has one really bad habit, and I don’t know if I can tolerate it anymore.

Sometimes, when I’m awake, she puts me down.  On the floor.  For minutes at a time.  She does this even though she knows perfectly well that the floor is a completely inappropriate and demeaning location for someone of my social standing (I basically run the household).  Also, it’s harder to bite her nose when she’s not holding me.  I’m at my wit’s end.  What do you suggest?

P.S.   Also, she sometimes tries to put socks on me.  Socks, in November!  How am I supposed to deal with this level of idiocy?

Signed, Benedicta

Dear Benedicta,

The main thing you need to keep in mind is that your mother really loves you and is trying her best, but that, because of the demands of her current schedule, she has the physical prowess and mental acuity of a damp Kleenex.  She knows, deep in her heart, that putting you down is the wrong thing to do, but she feels that she can’t help herself.

What she needs is someone to help snap her out of her pathetic, self-pitying state.  Have you tried screaming?  If that doesn’t work, have you tried screaming more?  I really think you should try screaming, followed by some more screaming.  Good luck!

P.S.  Don’t forget that thing you do, where you put your little head down and then look up with your big, brown eyes.  Once she reassembles herself from the puddle she instantly becomes when she meets your gaze, she will want to pick you up, because you are a cutie wootie wootie, oh yes you are, and Mama loves you very much, oh yes she does.


Dear Simcha,

We’re having relatives over for Thanksgiving.  We are polar opposites on just about every issue, and every other year, the feast quickly devolved into a screaming match, and everyone went home furious.  Grandmama has convinced us to patch things up and get together again this year.  We’ve already agreed not to talk about politics, but there are so many other divisive topics of conversation.  How can I be sure that we will have a peaceful and pleasant day?

William Makepeace Crackery

Dear Bill,

Don’t underestimate the healing properties of just the right menu.  Here are a few recipes that might just do the trick, and will give you the happy, quiet holiday your battered soul needs.


Hey –

Leaving the office in a few minutes.  Will meet you at Mom’s.  Thanks for making all eleven kinds of pie.  It’s so much easier to choose which one I want when I can actually see them, you know?  Oh, some guy was selling puppies out of his trunk, so I picked up a few.  You’re so good with words — you can name the one with bowel problems.  See you soon!

love, D

Dear D,

>>The following address has permanent fatal errors:  simchafisher@gmail.com
(reason: 540 OY-001 (FEH0-GRR4-FU23)
In order to avoid being placed on a permanent block list, please reconfigure your message so that it includes no puppies, and more gin.



The Princess and the Pig (and an Amazon reminder)

My second grader brought this book home

and I admit, I groaned and thought, “Glahhh, another modern twist on an old fairy tale.  Oh gosheroodie, I wonder if we will learn that being a princess is all about following your heart and being true to yourself? Or perhaps she will be liberated from patriarchonormative concepts of worth, and end up finding fulfillment in some nontypical career that doesn’t involve pretty dresses?”

Well, we didn’t, and she wasn’t!  I won’t give away the plot of The Princess and the Pig, but I really liked this book.  It’s a cute little switched-at-birth story involving an underappreciated baby and a very average pig, and everybody ends up getting more or less what they deserve.  Funny, brisk, and satisfying, and shouldn’t be overshadowed in the glut of princess and anti-princess books out there.  The illustrations were more interesting than the cover suggests, too.

The author, Jonathan Emmett, also wrote Ruby, In Her Own Time

which my husband and I both found unexpectedly moving.  It’s just about some parents who are worried about one of their ducklings, but it turns out she’s okay, just kind of weird.

Please, note, neither one of these books is a message delivery product disguised as a story.  They’re just good stories that happen to reflect something true.  Isn’t it funny how we snicker at Victorians for their bizarre, finger-wagging ways, but it’s harder and harder to find a  21st century children’s book that doesn’t have a very clear lesson you can sum up in one sentence (and it’s usually something both lame and false).

Now for the reminder!  The links above all have my special Amazon code embedded in them; which means if you buy these books, or any other Amazon product (book or otherwise) after getting to Amazon through one of my links, I will get a percentage of the profit.  Of course, I only recommend books or products that I actually think are good.

If you are doing some Christmas shopping through Amazon, please consider using my link! I have a permanent Amazon link on the right sidebar, under where it says

Subscribe by email to the blog…

Enter your email address:

I know some people are finding it hard to spot, so here is a screenshot of it. I am working on getting a flashier ad, but in the mean time, here is what I’ve got:



In the bleak midbleh bleh

So here I am this morning, finishing up recording the audiobook which refuses to be finished.  I made it in black and white to signify the bleakness within, ho ho.  (Actually I was just thinking about not doing such percussive p’s.)  Then I went home and made lunch, and then found vinegar, spray bottles, and scrapers and Magic Erasers and got the kids to cleaning the dining room while I made banana bread for the kindergarten, and then I cleaned the kitchen from yesterday’s supper so I could get started on today’s supper.

NORMALLY, we don’t actually need scrapers to clean (yes we do), but we got 3/4 through removing the wallpaper over summer vacation, and now we’re doing the other 1/4.  Or, if I know them, we’re doing the last 23/25ths of it.  Because perish forbid we should ever finish anything.

Speaking of doing things right, hey, everything is going great in Russia!  One enterprising village, for instance, went all out in preparation for a visit from Vladimir Putin, who is a great leader who is doing great things and that is why everything is great in Russia.  Check out this Livejournal post  for more pictures of the real life Potemkin Village, with crumbling hovels wrapped up with pretty murals, some even showing painted cats sunning themselves, and painted potted plants inside.   (The page is in Russian, but Google translate will give you the general idea.)

And guess what?  Putin didn’t even show.

Let’s see, what else I got?  Onion tears look different from tears of grief, of course:













There is a fresh tomato orbiting the earth.  Hooray!

 Astronaut Koichi Wakata has a lovely Twitter feed with lots of pictures.

And now I have promised to dye my daughter’s hair purple before supper.  My other daughter just passed by the doorway and gave me such a dirty look for sitting down.  Fine!


Our Black Friday tradition

Hey, I don’t think it’s immoral to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, or even on Thanksgiving itself.  It’s depressing that so many people do it, but Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, so.  (Yes, I know that the first Thanksgiving feasts in the New World were to thank God. I just mean that it’s not a feast day or a holy day.)  Buying a nice present for someone you care about doesn’t mean you’re some kind of hardened consumerist swine.  Some people don’t have lovely family or happy associations with Thanksgiving day, so they’d just as soon be shopping — or working and making time-and-a-half.

That being said, I have never had any desire to shop on Black Friday or on Thanksgiving.

We just have a nice meal on Thanksgiving, and lately have started a new tradition on Friday:  we make Jesse Tree ornaments.  I know Advent is preparation time, but if we don’t prepare for preparation, nothing gets done.  Since we stopped homeschooling, it’s very hard to find time to do family activities; and yet somehow, when we have a day off school for whatever reason, we often end up just lying around playing on the Wii and eating cereal.  So, yay, a tradition!

There are any number of Jesse Tree readings and ornament patterns available online.  What we do is find one that has a reading for each day, assign a symbol to each one, and then the kids divvy them up.  Then I go to the “craft area,” which is a hideous jumble of felt, pom poms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glitter, beads, etc., and just dump everything in the middle of the table . . . and the kids get to it.  Big kids make elaborate figurines, little kids make sticky bundles of junk.  No judging!   Anything goes, as long as you can hang it.  The purpose is not to have an artistic finished product, it’s to have a nice time making it together, and to help us move into Advent mode.  (And if any Jesse Tree ornaments come out especially nice, they get saved as permanent Christmas ornaments.)  Oh, and pro tip:  foam meat trays are versatile.

Then we put everything in a box, and when Advent comes, we take turns reading that day’s reading, and whoever made the day’s ornament gets to hang it up. One year, I cut a branch off an evergreen tree and stuck it in a pot full of rocks in the living room.  One year, we hung the the ornaments from the ceiling in a line, leading up to where the Christmas tree would be.  One year, very short on room, I cut a bare tree branch and bolted that to the wall.  It has that gloriously weird, almost-festive Catholic look that unmistakably says, “SOMETHING is going on, but it ain’t Christmas yet!”

What about you?  Do you have any traditions for the day after Thanksgiving?


Why give birth? Why love?

Wow.  Many, many thanks to Garard Nadal for posting this incredibly pro-life short film from Unilever:

I do not know what Unilever’s Project Sunlight is about, but man, the clip is lovely, and will do much good. A great companion, as a matter of fact, to this comic illustrating a quote from C.S. Lewis, who died fifty years ago today.  (Thanks to Jason Bach for sharing the comic on Facebook!)

Hope doesn’t mean you know nothing will go wrong.  As Lewis says:

The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.