On February 6, 2004, Deborah Donoghue (@debela) asked me five interview questions on my old Livejournal blog.  Question #3 was about the penguins that infest my brain.

In case there’s any doubt, I was completely sober when I answered it.

3) Name the first ten penguins and describe their individual quirks.

Steve The Persistent. This is Jarrod’s [@bhoneydew] least favorite penguin.


Penguin art by the lovely and talented +Jennifer Rodgers

 Poor Steve has been yanked out of my brain on several occasions and dumped into the cat food bowl, force fed to [update: our former cat] Vader, stomped on with great glee, sucked into the vacuum cleaner, dropped into a filling washer, flushed down the toilet, mailed places … well, enough to make him somewhat Undead by now. He always comes back, however. His eyeliner might be a little smudged, and his leather jacket smoking (or on fire), but he always, always comes back to infest my brain with sick, perverse and highly inappropriate thoughts. Lucan (ref: the Born to be Kings campaign, for those who didn’t play in it) was an homage to Steve.

The Penguin With No Name. This is the penguin who wears a beanie, rides a tricycle and has a catchphrase. The catchphrase: “I bring maaaaadness … and COOKIES!”


The little fuzzy penguin chicks adore him. The adults give him a wide berth. He may be the Ambassador to the Seabeasts. Or from the Seabeasts. Or the Were-Sheep. Or some other similar destructive force of nature.

Evelyn The Librarian. She wears little gold rimmed glasses halfway down her beak (with the little gold chain guards dangling from them), and if she had hair, it’d probably be back in a sensible bun. She does wear sensible shoes. Expensive, custom made shoes, but sensible ones that will last a lifetime, which is good, because she only has two pairs, one black, and one bright red. She is known for breaking down the most ridiculous seeming things into logical sounding steps. She has gotten more reassuring of late, which should probably bother me.  [update:  it definitely should have — the Monster was born in 2005.]


Remember. Remember hasn’t yet grown up. She’s still a cute fuzzy penguin chick (but with anime-grade blink-blinky soulless black eyes), even though she’s older than all of the adults.


I suspect that Remember is also the lead instigator of the raids into the various locked up boxes of things I keep buried in my brain, and the penguin dress-up parties/riots that ensue after one is raided. Not sure why I bother locking them anymore, for she was there when I created the locks, and I am fairly sure she remembers the combinations. She remembers pretty much everything, just in bits and pieces and moments, though I think she’s forgotten why she’s wearing bunny ears and slippers.

Babble Divergent. Remember’s younger-but-adult brother and best friend. And Evelyn’s best friend. And Steve’s best friend. Hell, he’s everybody’s best friend in his own mind, though jury’s out on everyone else’s minds — except Kate’s. (Kate hates him, even though he worships her.)  Though Divergent is his middle name, Babble is also my best friend among the penguins, for while Steve can always make me laugh, Babble always makes me feel safe, even if I agree with Kate sometimes that he should be put down for the good of at least two species. Babble makes sure I am rarely bored, and that I always have at least one thing in common with everything and everyone.

Worry. Worry does. Worry is my internal pre-editor and pre-planner and pre-panicker. Particularly the pre-panicker, especially when stuck in the same part of my brain as Remember and Never. Remember is not very kind to Worry. Then again, Remember is not very kind to anyone, except in occasional random moments of pure overwhelming joy and beauty. Never … just isn’t kind at all.

Kate. Kate is my Junior Tactics Penguin. Right now, Kate looks a little like Aeryn Sun from Farscape, even though she’s a penguin. [update: that hasn’t changed.] Pity the fool, however, who tells her she looks dumb, for she will kick their ass, not that she will be particularly emotional about it, for Kate rarely cares enough about anything even to hate it. Babble’s a key exception, for Babble can foil even her best attempts to make me cool, calm, collected, ruthless and efficient even when it’s not called for. When it is called for, however, Kate certainly delivers.

Grace. Kate lacks charm, and direction beyond “x is an obstacle. Get rid of x.” She does not, however, lack Grace. Grace is my Senior Tactics Penguin. Grace is a very dignified Lauren Bacall looking Penguin, and don’t tell her she looks dumb either, for she will arch an elegant eyebrow at you in that ‘ah, you poor deluded dear — judging one’s appearance at face value, are you?’ sort of way. Grace is serene. Grace is charming. Grace is a schemer, and a master integrator of the information afforded her via Remember and Babble and Worry and Evelyn (and even, if germane to the subject, Steve and Never) not that she chooses to let on at all that she has these powerful resources — and a fully operational Kate near-invisible in her shadow. If Grace had a keener taste for politics, she could quite easily rule de jure the Kingdom of the Penguins. Her ambition, alas, is not so great as to cause her to risk offending or confronting The Penguin With No Name. She’s content with de facto.

Never. Never is my inner critic. Never is who tells me things are not important or valuable. Never is who whispers into Worry’s ear way too much. Never, alas, is Evelyn’s brother, and as such, is rarely ever wrong about anything. One of Grace’s few failings is that she lets Never do what he wants inside the Kingdom of the Penguins. It is only when he deals with outsiders does Grace supervise him.

Number Ten. Number Ten radiates patient contentment, and seems very fond of productive puttering. His is a lulling presence, so much so that he has worked his way up the ranks by being near his higher ranking penguins for just long enough to imbue them with a false sense of security, which in penguin-speak translates to ‘Nap. Need Nap Now. Nap Good. Thud. Zzzz.’ I suspect he is a foreign penguin, sent to overthrow the existing government.

One thought on “Penguins

  1. Pingback: Armadillo Season | Modus Dementi

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