The Admins and moderators are currently busy assembling the 2022 edition of the Advent Calendar. For your reading pleasure we present the corresponding story that accompanied the 2021 Advent Calendar. Each sample from days 1-25 inclued a label that was a take on a popular Christmas movie and had a portion of the overall story.
Day 1: The Wet Bandits are raiding whiskey collections all across town and Humberto’s is their next stop… — with Humberto Dorta.
Day 2: Humberto comes to the city in search of new whiskies. Rest, relaxation & forgetting all about those Wet Bandits. Problem is, they haven’t forgot about him… — with Humberto Dorta.
Day 3: All Michelle wanted was to relax, go out to the coast, get together with friends, and have a few laughs. Instead, she finds herself fighting off an international band of whiskey thieves… yippee ki-yay! — with Michelle Gravante.
Day 4: The Wet Bandits wiped out all the whiskey in the area. All Daryl & Kym could find is some old, nearly empty, bottles of Jim, Jack, Johnnie and Jameson. They’ve got the holidays & family to deal with… there’s no way this is going to be enough… mistletoe! MISTLETOE! — with Kym Lambert.
Day 5: The Wet Bandits whiskey thefts has left everyone in glum spirits. Jim looks out his window at the Gazebo longingly. He reminisces of summer Shares & good times… wait! A glimmer of hope twinkles in his eye. A smile widens across his face as Jim excitedly recalls leaving a few bottles out in the Gazebo after the last Share in the Fall. Could they still be there?!?! — with Jim Tomasovich.
Day 6: And Jim did find a forgotten stash of whiskey in the Gazebo and he knew immediately what he should do! He would invite his Friends and host a Holiday Share and celebrate this good fortune! He called Scott and Michelle and Aaron and Alexander and Humberto. He messaged Kym and Dan and Christopher and Matt and Those Dram Yinzers too! Last, but not least, he called Bobby, but there was no answer. He texted Bobby and no reply. Where could Bobby be? — with Michelle Gravante and 11 others.
Day 7: The Wet Bandits stole from Humberto’s. They took everything, except they left one bottle behind. A Booker’s Rye.
They made this personal. Now Bobby is coming. — with Bobby Long.
Day 8: Bobby & Alexander go back to where the Wet Bandits struck first… Humberto’s! There’s a strange pattern, some kind of tracks on the floor… and they smell like maple syrup!?!? 🤔 — with Bobby Long and 2 others.
Day 9: Aaron & Jim identify the trail as belonging to Wafflebot! The poor Wafflebot has been reprogrammed and it’s producing knockoff bourbons, ryes, scotches and other types of whiskies. Who did this Wafflebot? Give us a name? “Mount Crumpit” it replies. Over and over and over again, until finally there’s a loud crack and the smell of ozone and Wafflebot’s eyes dim & fade and it goes limp… 😭 — with Jim Tomasovich.
Day 10: From high atop Mount Crumpit it could be heard… “It aged without tobacco, it aged without nails, it aged without turpentine, or prune juice in pails.”
“Maybe Bourbon (he thought) doesn’t come from items in the general store. Maybe Aged Bourbon perhaps means a little bit more.”
And the Grinch realized the unhappiness he caused and declared to give up the Wet Bandits facade. — with Scott David Ritenbaugh.
Day 11: The Grinch provided Scott with his sled & with Max pulling it, off they went to return all the whiskey before Christmas. Can they do it? Can they save Christmas? — with Scott David Ritenbaugh.
Day 12: The Grinch was very, very thorough in his big scheme except in one regard… that Booker’s Rye. Not sure why, or how, but something drew him to that bottle. It glowed & shined with the light of happiness & joy from all the times Humberto shared it with Bobby.
Now that the Grinch understood the sadness he caused, he knew he must right this wrong himself. And so he sneaked, he sleeked, crept and creeped. A bottle of Booker’s Rye he seeked. He had ones he stole, those to return, but this he must make whole, honestly, with his too big heart and new found soul. — with Bobby Long and Humberto Dorta.
Half way point… hope you’ve all enjoyed the experience so far!
Day 13: When all the whiskey was missing Those Dram Yinzers found themselves without a podcast. They tried Those Dream Yinzers, where “they had Dreams and talked about them”, but all their dreams were of whiskey.
They tried Those Dig Yinzers, but all that digging was hard work and they were too tired to talk about it.
Those Daring Yinzers, started out fun, but the dares just kept getting more complex and dangerous.
Those Drum Yinzers… noise complaints.
Those Draw Yinzers…too much like Zack’s day job.
Those Dank Yinzers… gained 20lbs without a single episode recorded.
All these other things, they just weren’t Those Dram Yinzers. — with Jon Maielli and Zack Wallover.
Day 14: The best bottles don’t have to be highly allocated, hunted, traded, and over hyped. Sometimes the best things are the things you can readily get. Things that spark memories of times past. As the Wet Bandit damage was corrected, bottles started re-appearing.
Now, Matt could have selected anything as his first pour, but there was something familiar, something friendly, something that just felt right about selecting a shelfie. — with Matt Daugherty.
Day 15: In a continued effort to recover from the Wet Bandits heist, Humberto decided to pay a visit to the Leaf and Bean. He needed to clear his head & de-stress in some place friendly & familiar…
And from a cloud of smoke in the rear he heard the following:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
“From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
From this verse so eloquently delivered by Dan, Humberto knew right then and there that somehow, someday soon, his whiskey collection would be whole once again. — with Humberto Dorta and 2 others.
Day 16: Scott & Max, using the Grinch’s sleigh, have been returning all the whiskey the Wet Bandits stole. There’s a lot to return. It is very time consuming. It’s not looking good for all the whiskey to be returned before Christmas…
Jim has an idea. He knows the Wafflebot was the secret to stealing all the whiskey. What if he could repair the Wafflebot and get it to help return the whiskey!?!?
Jim tinkered, he toiled, and his many attempts were all foiled.
He hammered, he soldered, but Wafflebot just teetered, then tottered…
Day 23: “All aboard…” exclaims the loud speaker at the train station.
And Wafflebot shuddered & shook and exclaimed… “Wafflebot is the sole property of the Grinch. If you are not the Grinch and you are in possession of Wafflebot you are a thief! A scoundrel! A rapscallion… Grinch-y likey! Rawr!”
“Please say the Secret Word?”
Across Wafflebot’s chest something flickered & flashed… it looks like a word 🧐
Is that a C? A T? Maybe an M & S?
Jim thought… and said, quietly… christmas?
“Are you asking or telling?” Wafflebot snarkily inquired.
“CHRISTMAS” blurted Jim.
“Gonna need to do better than that…” sang the Wafflebot.
“CHRISTMAS” screamed Jim. This time loudly, with conviction, and enunciated for those in the back.
“Say it, don’t spray it” responded Wafflebot, with a snicker & giggle. “Let’s return some whiskey, shall we Jimmy?” — with Jim Tomasovich and Scott David Ritenbaugh.
Day 17: Emmet & Ma weren’t sure what they were going to do. With the whiskey missing, spirits were low. People weren’t using Ma’s laundry. They just didn’t seem to care if their clothes were neatly pressed or if their collars were nicely starched.
Now, way back, Emmet’s Great Grandpap, Elmer Otter, was known to make a mighty fine corn whiskey. It was known from Frogtown Hollow to Waterville and even all the way to River Bottom! Emmet decided, that’s what he was going to do! He was going to make a batch of Elmer T. Otter’s Very Fine Corn Whiskey and get everyone’s spirits lifted! — with Jon Maielli and 2 others.
Day 18: News of the Wet Bandits Heist reached the Great White North (of Detroit) and Alexander was heartbroken by this unfortunate turn of events. Suddenly he remembered that he has a flask from his last visit to Humberto’s house. He pours himself a final dram of the night as a toast to the lost whisky when a sudden and unexpected change started to overcome him.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with peat smoke and soot; A bundle of whisky he had flung on his back, And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, the whisky was aged in sherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head just like peat;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
When he looked in the mirror he said to himself:
What exactly was in that flask that I just consumed?
And suddenly haunting lyrics filled the room.
Someday you will find me
Caught beneath the landslide
In an Ardbeg Supernova in the sky.
Alexander, now empowered with the magic of the Claus, knew what he must do. — with Alexander Gábor Szokolyai and Scott David Ritenbaugh.
Day 19: We are headed into the final stretch, days 20-25 are ahead of us and… Christmas is almost here! I just wanted to take a moment, break out of story mode, and provide a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Scrooged. Hope you will join us in closing out 2021 with our final Charity event. You are part of the miracle. You are the spirit of Christmas all year round. Thank you for all your support, participation, and love! Cheers! 🥃
“You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are having… having trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don’t have enough to eat, or people that are cold. You can go out and say hello to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say “Here!”, you can make them a sandwich and say “Oh, by the way, here!” I… I get it now! And if you… if you give, then it can happen, then the miracle can happen to you! It’s not just the poor and the hungry, it’s everybody’s who’s gotta have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you! If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won’t be one of these bastards who says “Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud”, it’s NOT! It can happen every day, you’ve just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it! You’ll want it every day of your life and it can happen to you! I believe in it now! I believe it’s going to happen to me now! I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling, it’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time. I, I, I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.” ~ Frank Cross — with Michelle Gravante and 12 others.
Day 20: Pappy is hard to get normally. Add in a whiskey shortage due to the Wet Bandits shenanigans and, yeah, you have a better chance of winning the power ball while getting struck by lightning while finding Publishers Clearinghouse at your front door.
Christopher has a problem. He needs a bottle of Pappy. It’s not for Christopher, it’s for his father-in-law. It’s the one bottle his FiL has always wanted, but has never been able to secure. If not now, then when? The one thing this time during quarantine has driven home, there is no better time than now. Of course now is also the worst possible time, simultaneously. Thanks Murphy! — with Christopher McGuigan.
Day 21: Alexander doesn’t know much about the North Pole, but with his newly found abilities he has to learn. Reading through everything, he discovers that the North Pole isn’t the only outpost for Santa.
Alex lights his pipe. Puffs out a few snowflake smoke rings and decrees, “Today and forever more, as long as I have the power” …and yes, he did do that in his best He-Man impersonation… “of Santa Claus, I declare Liberty Pole an outpost of the Claus!” With a wink, and a touch of his nose a sudden flash, and…
Jim & Ellen were not sure what they would do. The Wet Bandits took all their stock and while they were making more, it would be some time before it is ready. They heard that some of the stolen whiskey was starting to be returned, but had not seen anything yet.
“Do you feel that Jim?” asked Ellen with concern. “What now?” she thought, “please no more…”
A light appeared, dimly at first, but getting brighter and brighter and brighter still, until Jim & Ellen both had to turn away from it… and then, darkness.
Wait, a small ember appeared. It glowed warmly, followed by a slight intake of breath, and the ember flared, and there stood… is that Alex in a Santa suit?
“Ho ho ho” Alex bellowed. “This is going to sound weird, but” and he shrugged “would you expect anything different?”
“I am Santa. Well, not Santa per se, but I’m imbued with Santa-y powers, so I get this cool suit, fancy hat, and powers. Powers that let me, well… welcome to The Liberty Pole! It’s like the North Pole, but for whiskey!”
“Let’s get those stocks replenished!” and with that statement there was a flash of light and all that was lost, was returned. — with Alexander Gábor Szokolyai and 5 others.
Day 22: Zack & Jon are slowly getting back into the groove, planning out their next episode of Those Dram Yinzers, a Wet Bandits retrospective.
Jon is sleeping. It’s a good sleep, deep, relaxing, except for that buzzing. What is that? More buzzing… “oh wait,” he thinks, “I know what that is, that’s my phone.” Jon rolls over and starts to drift off, wait, my phone?!?! He reaches for the bedside table, grabs his phone. 3AM? “Hello?”
“Is this Jon from,” a pause, some rustling, “Those Dram Yinz… ah, um, Yinzers?”
“Yes. Who is…” and Jon gets cut off.
“Be at the Train Station tomorrow at 11am. You want to be there. You need to be there. If you want the true story of the Wet Bandits, you will be there. Don’t disappoint me.” and the line goes dead.
Jon tried calling back, but it immediately goes to an out of service message and then call waiting goes off. Zack?
“Hey Zack, everything ok?” Jon asks concerned. After the last call and the time, it’s getting weird.
“I-just-got-a-package-It’s-addressed-to-Those-Dram-Yinzers-and-has-2-train-tickets-and-a-message-that-says-call-Jon… so, uh, I called Jon” Zack blurts that all together, rapidly, with excited nervousness.
Jon let’s out a long breath. “I just got a call. We need to be at the train station for 11am. It’s about the Wet Bandits. I think we should go.” — with Jon Maielli and Zack Wallover.
Day 23: “All aboard…” exclaims the loud speaker at the train station.
“We’re nobody’s patsies! We were used, got nothing…” grumbles Harry.
“…nothing but caught!” chimes in Marv with a grin.
Harry glares at Marv, “We will show them all Marv. The Wet Bandits are no more. Long live…” and Harry winks and nods, encouraging Marv to finish the statement.
Marv looks at Harry perplexed, “err… long live the patsies?”
“STICKY BANDITS! Long live the Sticky Bandits!” shouts Harry, frustration with Marv showing on his face.
“This train is filled with whiskey, all of it to be returned to its rightful owners. Ways I see it Marv, WE are those rightful owners. And…” Harry giggles, “we have all these podcasters, bloggers, vloggers and reporters joining us. All so they can tell our story… ha-ha-hah!”
Jon looks about the train station. He sees a lot of faces he recognizes. There’s Lew Bryson, Breaking Bourbon, Thrifty Whiskey, and many more. “Zack, look around? Anything you notice?”
Zack sees Joshua and waves, “lot of our fellow whiskey-casters are here. Maybe it’s a press conference of some kind?” Zack shrugs and heads toward the train. “We better get on board, see if there’s instructions waiting for us.” — with Jon Maielli and Zack Wallover.
Day 24: “We did it Marv. The train, the whiskey, it’s all ours!” Harry beamed with gleeful joy.
“Now what Harry? I mean what are we going to do with all of this stuff? And it’s almost Christmas, are we going to make all these people miss Christmas with their families & friends? Aren’t we going to celebrate Christmas?” Marv’s eyes glisten as he holds back his emotion.
“Of course we are going to celebrate! We are going to celebrate with all this stuff. We are going to celebrate with all these people. They are going to sing us carols and wish us Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings or whatever it is that people say to one another. And… they are going to like it!” Harry said with an edge to his voice that Marv knew meant Marv better stay quiet.
Alexander felt that something is wrong. There’s a disturbance. Someone is being very, very, incredibly… NAUGHTY!
“This is sooo cool! I have “naughty” sense!” laughed Alex as he steered the sleigh in the direction of the disturbance.
Another felt that same disturbance. This other reached for his sack and grabbed the switch from the mantle. It had not felt someone so naughty like this in a long time. It climbed into its sled and let out a howl of hungry glee. The wolves strained at their chains & they howled back with fury. It let slip the sled brake and took off with a thunderous roar. Launching towards that shining beacon of naughtiness! — with Alexander Gábor Szokolyai and 3 others.
This is a long one. It’s hard to tie all these threads together. I didn’t quite realize what I was getting into when this began.
Thank you to Scott for his additions to our tale and for being a sounding board for all this silliness.
I do hope you have enjoyed these last 25 days. Even if you did not partake of the Advent Calendar, hopefully you were entertained by our tale.
Hope you all have a fantastic Christmas!
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the spot
Not a creature was stirring, not even Wafflebot;
Harry & Marv hijacked a train, so naughty, they just didn’t care,
Little did they know, Krampus soon would be there;
Bobby was nestled all snug in Berto’s woodpile;
His thoughts all of whiskey marching single file;
And Berto was nervous, his whiskey was not back
No sleep tonight, his brain was on the attack
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Berto sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
A sound I did hear, a loud whip crack,
And there stood a large goat-man, dressed all in black,
Berto shuddered & shook, the room went catawampus,
He knew without doubt, here stood the Krampus.
A screech of brakes. A whistle pierced the night. The train slowed. It shuddered. It lurched. And suddenly, it stopped.
“HHHARRRRYYYYYYYYY LIME” a voice, raspy & guttural, called into the night. “NAUGHTY!” the voice boomed, with the weight of final judgment, all who heard, knew there was no appeal possible.
That word cut all those to the core who heard it. A shiver & shudder went up their spines. One thing, all could agree, none would want to be Harry Lime.
Harry was scared. Marv was terrified. Harry realized, with a clarity reserved only for those facing their mortality, that he had gone too far. He just took 3 strikes at once and he was out… lights out.
“Marv, stay here. Whatever you do, do not follow me. We had some good times Marv. You were always there for me. A better friend than I ever was to you. Goodbye Marv.”
“Ha-hhh-Harry…” Marv whispered, tears streaming down his face, “don-don-don’t go. There’s got-gotta be another way?” Marv sobbed.
“I don’t think so buddy. It’s ok. Just stay here. I’ll go see what they want. I’ll be just a minute.” And Harry walked off the train. Towards the voice he shuffled. He took his time. He was trying to take in as much as possible. The freshly fallen snow… so beautiful, how had he never seen it before?
In that glistening, glowing white, there sat a darkness. It was like a blank spot. A dead pixel. Just an absence. Towards that, Harry walked.
Alex flew across the sky. He banked towards the train below. He felt the Krampus below, long before he saw it. Alex knew why the Krampus was here and who it claimed. He was not sure if he could stop what was in motion. This kind of naughty was beyond the naughty/nice reserved for children. Alex saw Harry plodding towards the Krampus. Harry’s face full of fear, but also a fierce determination. He marched on.
Berto wasn’t sure what exactly was happening, but he knew it wasn’t good. Could all this be because of the stolen whiskey? He threw on his coat. He pulled on his boots. He threw open the door. Out he stepped and called out, “What’s this all about? Who are you people? And what is that?” and Berto’s finger pointed straight at the Krampus.
Alex sees Berto and hears him call out. The sleigh banks towards Berto and lands smoothly in front of him.
“Hey Berto, I’m not sure you want to get involved in this? Krampus magic is old, powerful, dangerous stuff.” Alex sees Berto double-take as he takes in Alex in full Claus regalia.
“Alex, what’s with the get up and what is going on here?” Berto asks with frustration and some annoyance.
Alex explains everything, all about The Wet Bandits. The Wafflebot. The Grinch. The hijacking. And finally, about the Krampus.
All of this over whiskey, Berto thinks. He says “I forgive The Wet Bandits. They can keep it all. I would have happily shared with them if they had asked.”
“That’s it!” Alex exclaims. “I know what to do!”
Aboard the train, mobile phones begin to ring, buzz, hum and sing as calls come, every single one with an identifier that reads “Santa Claus.”
“Hello?” Jon said as he thumbed Answer on his mobile. Jon noticed Zack was also answering his phone, as were all those around them.
“You must forgive. Let go of the whiskey.” Alex’s voice urgently appealed. “This is the only way to call off the Krampus. To save Harry Lime.”
Marv ran off the train. He ran towards Harry. He yelled out “Wait! Waaaaiiitttttt!” Marv ran as hard as he could. Legs stretching forward, covering as much ground as possible. His arms pumped fiercely. “Waiiiiiiitttttttttttttt!”
Harry heard the crunching staccato coming up from behind him. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, take his eyes from the Krampus ahead of him. Not too much further…
Marv slams into Harry, knocking them both into the snow. Arms & legs tangled; the air knocked from Harry’s lungs.
“I’m not letting you do this Harry. Not alone. WE were both in this. WE are the Sticky, I mean Wet, Bandits… together. Both of us. What awaits you, awaits me.” Marv says this with an intensity, a ferocity, that Harry has never heard from Marv before.
Voices call out. A jumble of words. Harry & Marv can’t quite hear what they are saying.
The voices are getting closer. They continue to call out. “I —-give you,” Harry & Marv straining to hear.
“I forgive you Harry” echoes out across the field from what sounds like hundreds of voices. “I forgive you Harry” even stronger the voices roar. Now it sounds like thousands.
“I FORGIVE YOU HARRY” and it’s a cacophony of sound, coming from everywhere, all out once.
The Krampus howls in rage. It’s whip cuts the air with a crack like thunder.
Harry feels an icy heat across his cheek. He reaches up, feels a wetness, and pulls his fingers back to see a bit of blood on his finger tips.
“FORGIVEN” the Krampus hisses. It leaps to its sled and is gone with a thunderous clack. A dark spot fighting the moonlight and then… just… gone.
“I hear there’s a train full of whiskey. Let’s get off my lawn and check that out!” Berto says with a giggle, “…if that’s ok with you Harry? It is yours after all.” — with Michelle Gravante and 12 others.