Farley File: John Scalzi, Part I


Twitter—my husband spends much time on it.  Sometimes it irritates me, but every once in a while, it turns out awesome.  Last night was one of those moments.  John Scalzi was doing a read and book signing of his latest book, Lock In.  James is a big fan.  I like his work, too.  So as we are sitting in bed a few nights ago, James says to me, “We’re doing the Scalzi Challenge!”

“What?” I ask, annoyed that he was interrupting my reading of Mistborn.  He then proceeds to show me this obscene concoction.  It is an offering of sugar, fat, and chocolate worthy of sacrifice to the evil temptress Succra, chief goddess of my pantry.  You lay down a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, then spread across it Oreos, but not just any oreo, but double-stuffed Oreos, because, well, the regular ones just don’t have enough sugar and fat.  Then you place a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup on each Oreo.  Then you backfill around them with brownie dough. But wait, we’re not done yet. Get out your insulin, cause you top the whole thing off with an icing of caramel.

James then explains to me that John Scalzi has issued the Scalzi Challenge, well indirectly.  More in a Henry II manner of “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest” kinda way.  He says something like, “I’m not saying anyone should make this for me…but…”

I go back to reading.

On the day that Scalzi will be reading, I had a lunch date.  I got home from that and all the fixings are there.  My kitchen is piled with brownie mixes and candy and cookies.  “What’s all this?” I ask.

“It’s the Scalzi Challenge,” my hubby replies.

“Oh, you were serious?”  

Evidently so.  We set out to make it.  That is a process worthy of a blog in and of itself, but these Farley Files are supposed to be short…and well, this one isn’t.  By the time we finish the brownie pan is brimming with dough and cookies and candy.  I look at it, and I look at the clock.  “This thing is going to take FOREVER to cook.”

“Oh no, the cookie dough just takes seven minutes and the brownies just take twenty.”

I look at it again.  Yeah. Right. Ain’t happening.

So the thing is in the oven for nearly an hour, and we pull it out and put it in the freezer to cool for ten minutes.  That got the outsides firmed up, but, the middle is still an uncooked molten mess.


“Now what?” I ask.  Hubby starts fretting.  “Oh, just give me the knife.”  I cut out all the edges and arrange them in a square.  The brownies are so fat, I wind up with about an 8X8 looking square of brownies, and I can’t actually tell we just took the edges.


So we away to the event.  We sit in the second row, and who should turn up but Denise! She took  some nice picts. Thanks, D.  Back to our plan, which was to stand in line for the signing afterwards and give the brownies to Scalzi.  As I’m happily blathering with other Scalzi fans, my hubby says, “the line is out the door; maybe you should just give it to him now.”

I look up and see three men talking by the podium before the thing starts.  I look at the line.  James’s new plan seems much more appealing.  I rush up to give them to him.  Now mind you, I read Scalzi’s books.  I hear many of his tweets (while I’m trying to read novels), so I realize as I get up there, I don’t actually know what he looks like.  So I go stand in between two of them and look at all three, then down at the box in my hand.  I’m hoping one will step up…sweating here!

One of them responds (phew!): “Are those what I think they are?”   I hand them over to Mr. Scalzi.  Mission accomplished.  He is gracious.  He talks to me for a minute, I can’t remember what ’cause, well, to be honest, I was just too twitterpated.  He said something about these will sustain him through his three-day tour in the Bay Area.  I make some comment about diabetic comas, then think, oh gawd, was that insensitive?  Oh, well.

In minutes, my husband is showing me two tweets.  One from Scalzi himself…yes, he tweeted a picture of the browies while he was standing there waiting to start.  Then James shows another one, and that one I’m in!  Woo hoo! I’ve been tweeted to Scalzi fans!  Okay, my brownies and my right ear were tweeted.  That’s how much of me showed.  But hey, my ear got it’s fifteen minutes of fame.

Let me tell you, for a non-Twitter person, that was weird.  I had kinda a 1984 feeling, only instead of Big Brother watching…it was everyone with a twitter account who could be watching.  Makes Big Brother seem tame.

When Scalzi started talking, he held up the brownies and told the audience about the brownie Challenge Tweet he’d made.  He joked about his powers to make things happen, saying something like I should have challenged for a Tesla!

A guy pops up out of the audience and hands Scalzi, I kid you not, a Tesla.

Okay it was a matchbox, but still, it was funny as Hell.  At that point Scalzi said that perhaps he should stow these powers before  they got out of hand.

He went on to read us an excerpt from the book he is currently working on which is not called The Beginning of Nothing (no really it’s not),  for he swore us to secrecy when he announce the title.  He also dusted off some humor pieces from the 90s when he worked as a humorist with AOL. Our evening ended with James getting his picture taken with Scalzi and a nice dinner out with Denise.

So today I made two connections with the writing world.  One with Beth, which will no doubt be rewarding since I get to read her manuscript as she works on it, a pastime I enjoy. And a passing one with John Scalzi, which I have no expectations will go anywhere, but provided me with a memorable evening for my Farley Files.

But the thing about connections is, you never know when they will reappear.  If my Schodinger’s manuscript makes it to publication, maybe I’ll one day sit on a panel with him at a con.  Hey, it ain’t just androids that dream!



PART II: The resulting Tweets from John Scalzi. 

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