The Building Is On Fire And It’s Not My Fault

I read a lot, and I surround myself with friends with similar tastes – how else am I going to find new books? This occasionally leads to ridiculousness, such as what *others* thought of as an early Halloween party.

Nope. Literature groupies.


Well, “literature,” in some people’s eyes. A fantasy set in modern Chicago with a detective noir wizard, written by a guy who wanted to do the Great American Novel, but was hounded by his writing teacher to do a pulp because his talents apparently lay in snark. Welcome to JIm Butcher‘s Dresden Files, because that writing assignment sold, as did the next 15 books, the short stories, the comic books, and the card game. And he’s not done writing the series.

The new books come out every year or three, so about every three or five years someone in my household re-reads the series. This year, we conned a largish group into reading along. It wasn’t much of a trick, as we mostly just posted the funny or snarky bits on Facebook with the hashtag #EverybodyReadsDresden and watched like minded readers come out of the woodwork.

We all read at different paces, but the eventual participants were invited into a party at my house.


“Where’s Bob?”

“Over there on the stack of porn.”

“Duh. Where else would he be.”

(Bob is a spirit of intellect, which alas does not mean he has good taste in reading material. He lives in a human skull, and is bribed in the series with cheap erotica when he needs to be cajoled.)

Mac was making steak sandwiches on the griddle while the vegetarian pizza was baking, and others begin eyeing the white frosted donuts (with sprinkles). I had a strong dark ale in a steampunky growler, and Mab also brought mulled wine. These foodstuffs make all attendees laugh, as they have particular importance or at least repetition over the 15 books. Or are part of a good one-liner:

What do you want on your vegetarian pizza?” asks a throwaway character in book 3.

“Dead cows and dead pigs. What? They are vegetarians!” says the titular character, Harry Copperfield Dresden.

Harry is a smart ass. He’s rarely evenly matched and gets beat up a lot, but that doesn’t stop him from Doing What’s Right. Luckily, he has managed to gather an ensemble of characters who put up with him, including

Luccio the Warden in her grey cloak,


a blond cop named Karin Murphy, often described as “tiny but fierce”,


several knights of the cross like Micheal (“My faith protects me. My Kevlar helps”) and Shiro from Japan,



Lara, a vampire of sorts, who only helps when family matters convince her,


Ivy, who embodies a magical construct call The Archive, but is also a little girl,

Mab, the fae who embodies Winter, and has her own plans within plans

Mac, a barkeeper who keeps a neutral bar for the supernatural folks to come for good steaks and great beer.


Mr. Vaddurung, who eventually is known as a Norse being of some import


In the books, there are many other reoccurring characters, but these are the ones that showed up at my house, swords, staffs, bar aprons and all. Well, Vaddurung actually appeared as a bottle of scotch with Odin on the label, but I’m not going to complain. We had some duplication of costuming, but people discussing the plot line thus far occasionally fell into character in hilarious ways. Obviously, we like the snark.



A tall man with a wizard staff and duster stands in the living room, reading from a scroll I handed him:

Things that I, Harry Dresden, am not allowed to do:

1. Sing ‘we’re off to see the wizard’ on the way to White Council Meetings.

2. Correct the Harry Potter books. From the library. In red pen.

3. ‘Klaatu Baraja Nikto’ is not an appropriate spell. Regardless of whether or not I say it correctly. Even though it did work.

4. Quoting Labyrinth to the faeries is just asking for trouble.

5. Answer questions I don’t know the answer to with ‘A wizard did it’. It was not funny the first time, nor the subsequent 17 times. Even if a wizard did do it. Especially if it was me.”

The scroll goes on for pages, many of the funnier items referencing actions from the books that will make no sense to folks who haven’t read the series, but had us rolling in laughter. (This is a homage to Skippy’s List, if you hadn’t hear of it, go read it – but the items on Dresden’s list were collected from several forums and many fans. I’ll add the whole thing below, but recommend only people who’ve read the series dig through it.)

The group chatted about who their favorite villain was. We made in-character jokes. We discussed pet theories about Mac, conspiracies, and what’s going to happen in the next book. (At this point, the nextbook will be called “Peace Talks” and we have *no idea* when it will be out, though the subreddit on the topic is slavering for it.)

I had printed out a bunch of phrases and off color in jokes and cut them up into 20 black cards and 60 white cards, and we had a tiny game of Cards Against Dresden. Some combos were reaching for it & missing, but some actually worked. Alas, we played sitting on a hardwood floor, and most of us are too old for that.


Late in the evening, everyone took the Ways home. I think it was fun, and am happy to have so many bookwormish friends.



*Title references the number of time Harry has burned something down. He utters this phrase at one point, but no one believes him.




Again, if you have’t read the books, most of these will make no sense, but it’s been requested, so….

Things Harry Copperfield Dresden is not allowed to do

– Sing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” on the way to Council meetings

– Use Fideliacchius as a letter opener

– Ask Ancient Mai how her sister’s doing after Dorothy dropped that house on her

– Laugh at Luccio when she gets carded

– Hum “Like a Virgin” around Ramirez

– Set out milk-bones as snacks when the Alphas come to visit

-Refer to Lasciel’s coin as “my precious”

Especially around Michael!

– Use Bob to recreate scenes from Hamlet

– Emphasize everything I say to Donar Vadderung with “By Odin’s Beard!”

– Refer to Maeve as “Princess Elsa”

– Ask Denarians if they have any spare change

– Wear a T-shirt proclaiming “Save a broom; ride a Wizard”

– Threaten to sic Aslan on Mab

– Challenge Nicodemus to a dance off

– Buy salt, play-do, markers, rope, chalk, dogfood, pirate items, and romance books in bulk, at the same time – next time send Molly

– Call Murphy “Agent Scully”

– Put on glasses, draw a scar on my forehead and tell Molly I changed my name to avoid the death eaters

– Refer to Demonreach as Groot

– Ask Molly if Thomas is in fact too sexy for his shirt

– Buy Toot and Lacuna a Barbie Dream House

– Create a new imaginary friend to replace Lash

– Refer to The Merlin as “Dumbledore”

– Encourage Toot and Ze Guard to try using Mister as a mechanical bull

– I am not allowed to ask elder Council members if they’ve ever parted the Red Sea.

– I will never label another bottle “Love Potion #9,” even if it is factually accurate.

– I am not allowed to get drunk and serenade the entire tavern with a rousing rendition of “A Wizard’s Staff Has A Knob On The End.”

a) Or Murphy.

b) Or anyone.

c) Especially Murphy. She can hurt me.

– Bob’s skull is not to be used to practice ventriloquism.

a) or to re-enact scenes from Hamlet.

– Under no circumstances am I to even contemplate asking the faeries if they offer a dating service as well.

– I am not allowed to attend a vampire ball dressed as movie Dracula ever again, no matter how funny it seems at the time

– I will never let Amanda Carpenter talk me into being her Show and Tell project again, no matter how cute her puppy-dog eyes are.

– Just because something is bleeping disturbing doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

– I am not allowed to “correct” Harry Potter books.

a) From the library.

b) In red pen.

– Twice-divorced women are not wooed by the mantra “Third time’s the charm!”

– My hand may eventually heal. I am not allowed to consider prosthetic chainsaw attachments.

– My blasting rod is not my “boomstick.”

– “Klaatu barada nikto!” is not an appropriate spell.

a) Regardless of whether or not I say it correctly.

b) Even though it did work.

– Similarly, “Eta Kooram Nah Smech” will not make an enraged Murphy fall asleep.

– Referring to Lasciel’s coin as “My Precious” in Michael’s presence is not funny and will probably only get me killed.

– I may not make “your mom” jokes to Thomas. It only encourages him and is counterproductive.

– I may not tell the Merlin to pull the sword out of his stone.

a) I may not tell this to Morgan either.

– Whether or not I had any intention of following up on them, trying bad pickup lines on Murphy will get me shot.

a) Likewise Lara.

b) Also Miss Gard.

– I may not call Marcone “Scarface.”

– I may no longer lurk around elementary schools, even if there are monsters on the playground.

a) Having lurked, I will not laugh at the cop who’s come to ‘talk’ to me.

b) Having laughed, I will not suggest he call Murphy.

c) Having suggested, I will at least be glad that I brightened her day, judging from the hysterical laughter.

– I may no longer tell vampires to “bite me,” as that joke is dead and rotting.

a) Similarly, if I say “fuck you” to a White Court vampire, I deserve what I get.

– Quoting Labyrinth at the faeries is just asking for trouble.

– A flea collar is not an appropriate gift for a werewolf.

a) Unless I’ve suddenly developed a death wish.

– I will not use my pentacle amulet to ward off Jehovah’s Witnesses.

– I can no longer tell impressionable young children that my dog is part wolf.

a) Or Sirius Black.

– Changing the tagline on my ad to read “Who ya gonna call?” is a violation of good taste as well as copyright laws.

– The Dresden Dolls were not named after me.

a) Nor are they my personal fan club.

– I am not permitted to address the Council in Pig Latin.

a) Even if it is easier than real Latin. Stupid correspondence course.

I will not pitch my life story to Peter Jackson.

a) Viggo Mortensen isn’t nearly tall enough to play me, anyway.

-It is culturally insensitive to refer to the incident that maimed my hand as “the firebombing of Dresden.”

a) Nor should I respond to condolences by commenting “So it goes. Po-tee-weet?”

-I will not poke people with my stick.

a) If I must poke people with my stick, it will in fact be my stick, and not my…stick.

– I must no longer answer questions I don’t know the answer to with “A wizard did it”. It was not funny the first time, nor was it funny the subsequent seventeen times.

a) Even if a wizard did do it.

b) Especially if it was me.

– While wearing my wizard robes, I must not Jedi wave ‘this is not the house you are looking for’ at visiting Mormons, vacuume-cleaner salesmen or Avon ladies.

a) Or Jedi wave ‘These cookies are free’ as visiting Girl Scouts.

– As tempting as it might be to show off, I must not demonstrate ‘Jedi powers’ to the geeks at the gaming shop.

a) Or as Sci-Fi conventions.

b) Especially not to prove Star Wars over Star Trek to Trekkers.

c) My sword cane is NOT a lightsaber. Even with the noises.

– I will not attempt to break Mister of his Cola addiction.

a.1) without sufficient protection.

a.2) ever

– It is never a good idea to refer to Murph as “Sweetcheeks”.

a) Even if she did land butt first on the Sugar Plum Fairy.

b) Blaming the fact that I landed on my head, will only get me hit on the head harder.

c) Alcohol isn’t an excuse either.

– Stercus Caput is not a valid title of address at council meetings.

a) Even if it did make Ebenezer shoot whisky out his nose.

– Asking Billy and Georgia “When is the litter due?” will not get me out of any future babysitting duty.

– I will not encourage the other pixies to sing “Don’t mess with my Toot Toot” if Toot doesn’t come through with the information. It only gives him a swelled head.

– I will not borrow Mac’s Car….

– I will not open doors of Big Jim’s door with my staff

– I will not refer to Marcone as Padrino. I will not refer to Lea as fairy Padrina. And I will never, ever, introduce them.

– I may not introduce myself as Gandalf the White, Radagast the Brown, or Manfred the Slightly Ecru.

-I will not shout “Fire!” in a crowded White Council meeting. Or in a crowded theatre, for that matter.

-I will not mop the White Council HQ’s floor with Morgan’s grey cloak.

a) Even if it won’t leave a stain. It’s the principle of the thing, I suppose.

– I am not to let Bob out anywhere near Butters’ Accordian;

a) No matter how much he whines about his Kielbasa Sausage and it’s need to perform.

b) Again.

-When asked my name, I will not answer “There are some who call me… Tim?”

– I must not ask Murphy to “Sit on my Magic lap” Again.

– Under no circumstances am I to make any references to performing spells “skyclad.”

a) Especially if Morgan is within earshot.

b) Yes, it’s funny to watch his head explode. It is still Wrong.

c) Anyway, he who makes the Warden’s head explode cleans up debris from said explosion, and blood is so hard to get out of carpet.

tell nursery stories to some kinds of Faeries.

– I REALLY shouldn’t compliment Mab on her great ass

– Selling the swords on Ebay is not a good way to raise money

– Likewise for selling Bob

– I am not allowed to piss of magical beings that can crush me with a thought

a) Unless I’m well prepared

b) Or just plain suicidal

c) Or I’m really really angry

– I am not allowed to martyr myself while uttering the lines “Thall Shall Not Pass”

a) No matter how apt

b) Or the fact that they would have to sue my corpse

– I am not allowed to sing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” when it’s time to go to a council meeting.

– I am not allowed to ask Ancient Mai if a house ever fell on her sister.

– I am not allowed to call the Merlin “Professor Dumbledore”

a) or Gandalf

– I will not send in photos of creatures from the Nevernever to the National Enquirer, no matter how much money it can make me

a) not even when the rent is due

– I will not attempt to enchant a vacuum cleaner to fly

a) not even while drunk

b) no, I did not almost succeed with a broom that one time

– I will never again wear in public the t-shirt that says “Save a broomstick; Ride a Wizard!”

– Pig Latin will not suffice as a substitute for actual Latin

-I will not sing along to “Invisible Touch” when Michael is around.

a) It takes control and slowly tears you apart. And though she will mess up your life, you want her just the same.

-I will not ask a Denarian for change.

-I will not do magic shows for kids.

a) Unless of course Ivy wants to see me pull a bunny out of a hat.

-I will not go drinking with Sanya and try to use magic the next day.

a) Or to do anything else.

-I will not try to eBay my new copy of The Two Towers.

a) In general, I think it best I try to avoid eBay altogether.

-I will not tell Luccio that she looks pretty good for two hundred.

a) On a similar note, if she has trouble getting into bars, I will not laugh at her.

b) No matter how long the argument with the bouncer goes.

– i will not use Denarian coins in the parking meter

a) even if the meter does think they’re nickles

-I will not hum “Bark at the Moon” when the Alphas are around

-i will not ask Molly about the recreational use of Whartonburg Pinwheels before my date with Luccio

a) even if it seems a good idea

b) ESPECIALLY if it seems like a good idea

No matter how much Bob begs, I will never take bob to an adult Novelty store again. Ever.

I will not make hissing sounds or Lord Voldemort jokes to Cowl’s back anymore

a) Only to his front

b) when I am ready to dodge the incoming flying projectiles

I will never make jokes about a possible online fan base someday, who knows? Stranger things have happened.

I will not ever turn my back on Michael’s Tree House again unless I am the one up there

a) Its just so damn popular

I will not ever make comments about Tinkerbell, you never know, size is often disceptive. Yoda for instance.

I will not ever let anyone borrow my coat again, no matter how short term. Bad shit happens to me.

I will avoid riding in Murphy’s car as much as possible. Her car insurance premiums cannot take much more.

The Blue Man Group is not “The Blue Court”, and I will stop phoning in “tips” to the Warden hotline about their activities.


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