What do you get a very good friend who has almost everything he wants and really only wants for things you have no power to give him? Well, if he’s an author with a sense of humor and a bare wall over the mantle that’s been begging for art for years, you might get him this.
And how do you procure such a thing? You hire an agent to have the painting done in Tijuana, where they take velvet painting far more seriously than you do, and you end up with something frighteningly awesome (seen here just finished, pre-framing and shipping).
But how do you keep said author from discovering that something is afoot during all the arrangements? Well, you don’t do what James did and start cackling about evil plans two months before Christmas, or chatter with your co-conspirators with shoulders hunched and heads tilted together. Luckily for us, Kelly is very good at compartmentalization and refused to do much speculation before the unveiling, because if I’d run misdirection, he’d really have known something was up. As he said, “From the way you said, ‘Evil,’ I suspected I was the victim.”
Then you unveil it at a Christmas party with as many of the conspirators present as possible. You play a mariachi version of “La Bamba” to tell the world that the cheese factor is entirely intentional. Someone notes, “It’s the first unveiling I’ve been to that wasn’t a tombstone.” Your friend is speechless for an hour for the first time since his wedding, and you are entirely satisfied.
Oh, yes, and you don’t forget to tell John Scalzi that it’s all his fault.