Maria last week talked about hibernating when weather grows colder and nastier here in the place along the border where the Green Man offices are. I, Jack, want to talk about a conversation I was havin' in the Kitchen with other staffers about what their favourite food, beverage, or book was -- whatever was a winter talisman of sorts on their part to keep the Dark from coming too close. Oh, don't tell me you don't have one! Mine is an old leather overcoat from some war best long forgotten -- faded green in colour with fur lining, shearling lamb I think. Ugly as can be after years of very hard use, but oh so warm. It's kept me warm buskin' in St. Petersburg, served as a pillow under me head on the Trans-Siberian express as Bela sat nearby smokin' his pipe, and has enough pockets to hold everything I need on the road save me fiddle. Hell, there's just 'nough room to tuck the fiddle case inside if need be.

Elizabeth Vail piped up, 'Lessee -- for winter, my favourite treats are the three goodies that my mother bakes every winter for Christmas -- fudge (just that, super good, though), snowballs (orbs of brown sugar and pecans rolled in icing sugar, although for the last two years I've developed allergies to them she says smiling, and cheese crackers - the sharpest cheddar imaginable, mixed with Rice Krispies and other ingredients... Every year she makes these for us and the relatives.' Her 'favourite winter movie is, and has always been since I first saw it -- Bernard and the Genie, a sweet little BBC film starring a young Allen Cummings, Lenny Henry, and Rowan Atkinson. Cummings plays a nice bloke who is fired from his job by his evil boss (Atkinson, whose character inserts 'ye' into every sentence -- 'Sit ye, sit ye. Bugger ye off!') right before Christmas,who rubs a lamp summoning a genie (Lenny Henry) who grants him an unlimited amount of wishes. Hilarious stuff.'

Gary, over a pint of his favourite libation, said 'OK, here's mine. A flagon of Snow Cap Ale with something sweet -- homemade gingerbread with lemon icing will do, or a morsel of dark chocolate. There should be a fire going, and some good music: Maria Kalaniemi's wintry accordion music perhaps, or Beethoven's 7th, Bela Fleck & Edgar Meyer, or some Edith Piaf.' Cat noted that he likes homemade cocoa made with dark chocolate and warm gingerbread which caused Maria to look up from her book, a Braunbeck short story collection, and say with a wicked grin, 'Warm gingerbread with hot lemon brandy hard sauce. Drool. Or hot snickerdoodles. Mulled wine full of damiana, which has aphrodisiac qualities.' Ahhh, I do like a lusty lass who's into bundling! Now Huw is into 'nother sort of bundling: 'A log fire with a dog snoozing by it, a glass of port in one hand, a P. G. Wodehouse novel in the other -- or maybe some M. R. James ghost stories -- that's just about my perfect winter's evening.'

Now it's time to be off to the signing for Emma Bull and Will Shetterly's War for the Oaks screenplay. It's being held in the Great Hall as we expect members of both The Summer and The Winter Courts to be there. Now you should know before you come down with me to the party that Emma arranged both the bands and the food. Really. Truly. Let's see... Reynard, have you got those notes from Emma on what she wanted? Ahhh, good. Here's what she wanted:

Boiled in Lead, of course, and Leslie Ball, and Prudence Johnson. The Tim Malloys, Lojo Russo, and Folk Underground. Sugar reunited, if Bob Mould isn't doing anything this week. Molehill Orkestrah. The Dolly Ranchers. Faun Fables. How many days does this signing go on, and is it 'round the clock? Can I have Afro-Celt Sound System, too? And Mary McCaslin? And the throat-singing guys from Tuva, and Te Vaka, and of course Richard Thompson (don't leave home without him). Is it going to be, like, a music festival with six stages, 'cause otherwise this could be hard to schedule... Oh, and Riders in the Sky! (Unless you want to save them for the signing for the book I'm working on now.)

Refreshments: Coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee, roasted dark. Order it from Seth at Old Bisbee Roasters, because it is the very, very best coffee. Guinness, especially if we get the folks from The Field in San Diego to tend bar -- they know how to pour it. Blackstone or Ravenswood merlot, 2000. Any single malt old enough to vote, especially Highland Park.

For food, there must be cheese. Devastatingly good dark chocolate. Caramel apples from the Candy Jar on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis. Cheese and pepper boureks from the Armenian bakery on Lankershim just north of Burbank in Los Angeles. Hummus and babaganoush from the Carnival restaurant in Sherman Oaks. Crispy Juicy String Beans from the chef who used to work at all the really good Hunan restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Bread -- we must have bread! Mexican bolillos from Marissa's on Nicollet in Minneapolis, whole-wheat bolillos from La Mejor in North Hollywood, and that French bread that used to be baked by a Twin Cities outfit called Four and Twenty (though my friend Rae makes sourdough French that nearly eclipses it), and scones and artisan bread from Il Fornaio in Los Angeles. Oh, and Will wants really good cake doughnuts.

And we need one of Bill Colsher's cheesecakes, because a) It's the best, and b) He made one to celebrate the very first War for the Oaks book release party at First Avenue, way way back when.

Given the number of bands, that may not be enough food...

Given the fey nature of Green Man, there will be enough food and drink. So come along -- bring your soft soled dancing shoes, your appetite, and a mighty thirst as it's going to be a truly amazing party!