Friday, November 21, 2003


I'm back up to Chicago today. I've got a nice little place by the lake, just north of Belmont. I don't have a bed, or a couch, or dishes, or much of anything other than CDs, books, and clothes, but I'll be getting these other things soon enough. I'm still in the process of applying for re-entry to Chicago, but I think they basically want to hear me say "I've grown as a person" and (more importantly) "I can pay for it" to let me back in.

Anyhoo, I will likely be disappearing from the internet as I so often do (no net access planned for the apartment for a little while at least), but people in Chicago, let me know if you want to do anything, or even just want to know how to contact me.

A brief moving playlist:
New Pornographers-Letter from an Occupant (repeat many times over)
GBV-My Valuable Hunting Knife
Belle and Sebastian-Lazy Line Painter Jane
Calexico-The Ride, Pt 2
Neutral Milk Hotel-King of Carrot Flowers Part 1

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

More music, but shorter

Recently, any time I go to Parasol, I come home with a handful of CDs. Thank god I'm moving away before I spend all my money.

Anyhoo, here are some shorty reviews of some stuff I picked up (and an older one that's completely worthwhile).

!!!, Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard
I think this is what I what I wanted The Rapture album to be. That is, two songs long. (Rimshot.) !!! sound a little like Pigbag (well, the one Pigbag song I've heard), but they sound a lot more original than The Rapture, and take themselves a lot less seriously (a good thing for a dance-punk group). And they tell both Rudy and Bloomberg to get down. Put this on, fill the room with foam and let the UChicago kids get down for a study break, I say!

Calexico, Alone Again Or EP
I love this song. I could listen to the original version of this song (by Love, if you don't know, and if you don't, find Forever Changes or the nifty Rhino best of comp as soon as you can) all day long, several weeks in a row. The barking dogs who do Jingle Bells could cover this song and I'd still like it. I like Calexico a lot more than I like the Jingle Bells dogs. I like this version a lot. The other songs are good, too.

Sufjan Stevens, Michigan
Pitchfork has managed to redeem itself from The Rapture debacle by recommending this album of gorgeous, lush acoustic music. The title (fully Greetings From Michigan the Great Lakes State) does not lie: the song titles alone mention Flint, Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, Tahquamenon Falls, Holland, Detroit, Alanson, and Sault Saint Marie, and there's a lovely map of the state in the liner notes. Stevens, now living in Brooklyn, is a Detroit native, and this entire album seems like a tribute to the winters of his home state. I declare it morally imperative that all of my Michigan friends get a copy of this. Between this and reading Middlesex, I'm having a very Michigan-y time these days.

Richard Swift, The Novelist
Oh my goodness. This is a completely obscure record, recommended to me by Roy from Parasol, who has friends who are also on this label. I'm not even sure if there are copies still available (though you can try at the label's website. Unless something spectacular comes out in the next couple of months, I'm going to consider this the best new music I've heard all year. The Novelist is something of a concept album, about a Great Depression-era New York writer, and it's recorded to sound as though it's from that era. It's certainly not rock, but it's incredibly powerful. Swift's voice is lovely--reminiscent of Fred Astaire, with a slight touch of the menace of Tom Waits. The album is only about 20 minutes long (4 of the songs are more soundscapes, with 4 proper tunes), but there is not a bit of wasted time on this album. Everything is brilliant. I swear, buy this album, and you'll find yourself wandering around humming "I am New York/Tired and weak/Try to write a book each time I speak." (According to a friend-of-a-friend-of-an-acquaintance-who-knows-somebody-who-knows-somebody-at-some-label, Swift may have recently signed to V2, possibly under Jack White's Third Man label, so if you can't get the record now, it might come out again later. But if you do get it now, you can talk about how you knew Richard Swift was great way back when!)

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Moving and music

Moving happens in a week. I'm freaked out both by the amount of stuff I have to move and by the lack of all the stuff it seems like I need (beds, dish drainers, olive oil, shampoo). I'm trying to ignore the lack of stuff and focus on packing (not that I've done that yet).

Instead of packing, I've been buying lots and lots of music. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my discount at the label will last as long as the label does... once you're Parasol, you're always Parasol, it seems. This didn't deter me from buying up lots and lots of CDs last week, though. You want half-assed reviews, you say? Well here they are:

I don't quite get all these claims that Julian Casablancas is as surly and distant as ever on Room on Fire. The lad was talking about not caring and being out that door a few years ago, but now he's asking his girl to skip the party and drink a nice forty with him. To accompany this new romantic mood, the band has decided to jump forward a decade; instead of the old dirty-ugly fuzzy early-70s sound from Is This It, they've moved solidly into Ric Ocasek territory. It serves the mood well--after all, Debbie Harry proved that one can be pretty as can be and still exude new wave misery.

General complaints--there are some great songs, but the back end of the album is a long, smoke-filled haze of very similar songs. As much as I love Albert Hammond (he just gets scuzzier every time I see him--I really do hope he turns into the Strokes' Keith Richards), the one song where he collaborates on the lyrics, "Between Love & Hate", was the weakest song on the album. Do you really need two people to write lyrics this boring? And do we really need to see Julian's (seemingly waxed) chest on the lyrics page? (I will ignore Ms. Alaska's howls here.)

I must admit, the only GBV I'd owned previously were cassettes of Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes from way back when. I really liked them, but I lost them before I graduated from high school, and didn't pay much mind to it... until I went crazy and bought the Hardcore UFOs box set last week. (This is what you do when you have a discount!) I haven't gone through all the CDs yet, but that's because I can stop listening to the greatest hits CD, Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. It's been said before, but I'll say it again--Robert Pollard might do a little better with some editing, and this edition proves it. Even the strong GBV albums always have at least a couple tracks that are random and bad rather than random and sublime, and this disc is a testament to the fact that Robert Pollard can do a little self-editing when he wants. (Though he does still mix things up a little--the box-set edition of this disc is chronological, while RP shuffles things in the independent-release version, and also chooses some alternate versions of tracks that are found elsewhere on the box set.) But enough with the negatives--this is just a fabulous disc. It spans from 1987 up to Earthquake Glue, and really brings out strong tracks from later albums, which have apparently been a little less killer and a little more filler. I must admit I'm not totally familiar with the newer stuff--I'm still dealing with "I Am a Tree" being DAMN NEAR FIVE MINUTES LONG, which makes it their "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands". Fun stats! Songs of length:

0:00-0:59: 1
1:00-1:59: 9
2:00-2:59: 15
3:00-3:59: 6
4:00-4:59: 1

average song length: 2:15

So, um, The Rapture really, really, really like the Cure, a lot. And, um, they like to count (they use counting as lyrics in 3 of the 11 songs on this album, including the chestnut "1234567, I'm floating in constant heaven." Apart from counting, their biggest hit has three lines, two of which are only used twice. They have some incredibly stupid package art, unless you consider several differently-tinted copies of B&W pictures of the band looking very sincere and intense as they play laid out next to each other to be something other than incredibly stupid. Also, they really, really like the Cure. They also use the term "conversating".

That being said, the album is not completely without redeeming features. It's just not very redeemable as an album. There are two really great dance-punk numbers--"Olio" and "House of Jealous Lovers". Yes, this song only has three lines other than counting--"house of jealous lovers" (though I think "jealous lovers' house" might be brought up, I'm not counting it), "shakedown", and "one hand ties the other"--and I don't even understand how that last line works--but it will get your booty shaking. Boys, release a single, not an album. And listen to some music other than the Cure. Maybe you can trade Interpol for their Joy Division albums! You'll like them, I swear! They're moody and British, too! And their lead singer killed himself instead of getting old and flabby. Look into it!

Another short note--everyone who's ever purchased a Matador album should sprint out and buy the re-release of the New Pornographers' debut, Mass Romantic, if only to hear Neko Case's amazing vocals on "Letter from an Occupant." I bought a copy of Blacklisted recently, too, but I haven't had time to really listen to it that well yet. Maybe later I'll talk about that, as well as the five bajillion freebie CDs I have strewn about.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Monday, October 20, 2003

Finally, a sexy costume for me.

So I was hanging out in the sexy costumes area, chanting "Limit three costumes try-on during the visit, one costume in the dressing room at a time, no try-ons on vinyl" to the fraternity girlfriends who were talking about how much their non-existent asses were hanging out of Sexy Tinkerbell when I noticed we had maroon fishnet thigh-highs in stock.

Then it struck me.

Maroon fishnets.

Short grey wool skirt.

A copy of some part of Foucault's History of Sexuality (I'm thinking The Use of Pleasure would be the appropriate one).

One of the tight little UChicago tshirts they sell at the bookstore.

And I would be... SEXY UCHICAGO STUDENT!!!

Unfortunately, I'll be working on Halloween, and nobody I'd see then would get it.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Shameless promotion of personal matters.

Just as a warning: yes, yes, I work for Parasol and they released this album. Shush. I really am recommending this because I’ve been listening to songs from it almost every day for the last week.

So, talking about the Replacements earlier reminded me of the Vertebrats, a band I’d like to recommend to all my Mats loving friends. They were a Champaign-Urbana band in the very very early 80s, and they created some really fabulous, straight-ahead garage rock. Actually, they were so good at it that the Replacements took to playing one of their best songs, Left in the Dark, in concert. (I believe it’s on Shit Hits the Fans, miscredited as Left Here in the Dark.) It’s a great heartbreak song in the fine tradition of Train in Vain, and Uncle Tupelo also covered it--see the bonus tracks from the new reissue of No Depression if you’re interested. What’s more, apparently Courtney Love is slapping it on her solo album, so you all better run out and get the original before she makes everyone hate it.

Anyhoo, if you’re interested, and you should be, A Thousand Day Dream, a compilation of 22 of their songs, has been released by Reaction, one of the Parasol labels. There’s plenty more than just Left in Dark—my faves include Johnny Avante, which mocks art students (and really, they need to be mocked), Jackie’s Gone, which I could almost see Bruce Springsteen singing, Oklahoma (for obvious reasons), and This Before, which is fun and sexy in a really wary and nervous way. You should all, all, all run over to Parasol and buy copies for yourself and your loved ones. And buy other stuff too—the prices are so low! You get bonus points if you wish Angie a happy belated birthday or tell Roy you’re sure his new pullover looks fine in the special instructions section of the order form.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I really thought my intense fear of map water was weird enough, that I had filled up my odd phobia quota. Unfortunately, I've recently developed a slight fear of large block letters (we're talking 2 feet tall or so), particularly in a red and white color scheme. I think this was caused by the opening credits from the first two series of Red Dwarf. Oh well.

Also, I've seen the beauty of tenure. I was hanging out in HEP's office on Sunday, flipping through his copy of The Metaphysical Club while he checked his email, and his professor dropped by. Said professor, most certainly tenured, was walking about barefoot, with completely unbrushed hair. The only matching thing about his shirt and shorts was how wrinkled they were; there was also a rather vast stain on the shorts (I can only hope that it was a recent coffee stain, but it didn't look that wet). He looked a little surprised to see a non-physics person around, talked physics with HEP for about 10 minutes, then just said "Anyhow..." and wandered off, barefoot, into the physics jungle. I want tenure in something!

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Monday, August 25, 2003

Items from the last 6 weeks

-A check is in the mail. For real now. Should be in the next week or two (or maybe three). I’m obviously excited, but it’s hard as hell to practice fiscal responsibility when I know I will be getting a fair bit of money pretty damned soon. On that note, if you can think of any CDs I should most certainly own (especially classic or indie pop, a la Big Star, Raspberries, Velvet Crush), do comment me about it. CD buying bender soon, baby!

-I am not living in a bus station! I got a nice place in Urbana, close to some of my favorite things (the best local coffeeshop, my indie rock label/store, the hippie grocery store and deli). I’m living in the basement, so it’s a little musty, but it’s got a nice front yard, a lovely porch in the back, and… a PUPPY! Well, the puppy belongs to one of my four roommates, but I do enjoy having a dog around, especially since I’m not the person primarily responsible for it… all of the fun, none of the cleaning up messes. Score! Also, toothpaste is more fun when it’s German.

-I spent another fine weekend in the HP. I went to my first MLB game on Friday (Sox-Rangers, 7-1 Sox baby! Go Valentin!), which was quite fun… especially since it was Elvis night. Why Elvis night? Why not! All I know is that there were Parachuting Elvises, and I enjoyed them even though they didn’t get caught on the foul poles. In news that probably doesn’t surprise anybody who knew me in high school, I got into a situation where someone threatened to toss my bra off the upper balcony of the stadium. The crisis was averted.

Saturday was pretty low-key, though I did introduce HEP to a few of the joys of Evanston, namely Dave’s Italian Kitchen (and its apparently killer wine list) and running around on beaches that are probably private property. Just a note—my Evanstonian friends really need to come out and eat cheap and get drizzunk with us at DIK sometime. (Jan, Flax, I’m looking at you, kids.)

On Sunday, I saw Come Feel Me Tremble, a documentary about Paul Westerberg. I hate to say anything bad about him, but I must admit, he is perhaps, maybe, just the slightest bit self-indulgent these days. He talked about how he tried touring with a band, but that the songs just sounded better with him on guitar. Thing is, they really don’t. Really. I also was amused by the complete lack of Replacements songs for the first hour or so of the documentary, followed by an ending comprised of four or so Mats songs in a row. Also, if Paul Westerberg is sober these days, I am really, actually Princess Leia, lightsaber and all. Ain’t no way. I mean, I always knew he was a self-indulgent, drunken prick, but now all of his songs are about him having ADD and smoking cigars. I had to go back and listen to Tim and Let It Be and Pleased to Meet Me to reassure myself that he was, at one point, really, truly amazing.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Friday, July 11, 2003

Sudden activity

So, last time I talked to my lawyer about The Saga of My Leg (and if you don't know SoMY, I cannot be bothered to go into it right now), he was talking about the trial being moved back to fall. I figured this meant he'd call me sometime soon and tell me it was in August or September.

So imagine my surprise when Jackie, Lawyer Paul's paralegal, called me up today and said "You do realize your trial starts on Monday, right?"

I did not, in fact, realize anything of the sort.

She then said "Do you have a copy of your deposition from 2001? You really need to know everything about that, they're gonna try to mess you up on the stand."

I do not, in fact, have a copy of that deposition.

So anyhow, I'm leaving on Monday evening (Monday is for motions, which means I don't have to be there), and will return... later in the week, I guess. I'm running around trying to find a place to stay. Well, places, actually, as four solid days of me, me, me might drive Altman a little crazy. Diversification is a good thing.

I will be getting a copy of my deposition in the mail tomorrow, and I'm gonna read it several times. I don't remember what I said in it, but I figure that it won't be too difficult to absorb, as 1. I was the one talking, and 2. I told the truth, so I just have to remember it. Still, four years since The Saga began, and I have to remember the tiniest details. Eeep.

I also hate my ISP; my net connection has been down for a week. Thank god I have lenient bosses who are never here; they're okay with my sudden week-long vacation, and they aren't terribly aware of my activities throughout the day.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Monday, June 02, 2003


You know, I may give the impression that the costuming world is all fun and games, buying sexy bumblebee costumes and cutting cakes with machetes and whatnot. This is not always the case, however. Some days, you get a very disturbed trannie who comes in and talks to your coworkers about his/her prosthetic vagina and asks about makeup to "make it blend in better", and then shows said thing to your coworkers after taking it off in the bathroom. Sure, the manager then throws that person out, but it sort of throws a kink in one's day to have to deal with such things.

(In case you are wondering--no, I am not making this up. How could I make this up?)

On a happier note, at least for Alice, I recently found a sexy Statue of Liberty costume. God bless America (though there is no word on Studly Uncle Sam)!

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Friday, May 30, 2003

wigs 'n' things

So, through the fabulous program at work where I can write up something as an employee billing and not have to worry about paying for it , I "bought" myself a pink chin-length wig with blonde streaks through it.

I suppose this purchase makes more sense if you know that I went to a show put on by an Osaka-based girl punk band called Mummy the Peepshow. I had a pretty good time, although the venue was WAY, WAY, WAY too small, and seriously drunk people (such as "Dimestore Julian Casablancas wannabe motherfucker dipshit," who almost knocked over my friend) were annoying, and I got to see the heads of the band and was luckier than most. Note to my fellow music-goers: "We want to go up front! They're cute and foreign!" is not an excuse to shove ahead of me with your overly full beers.

But I had fun and got lots of attention between the wig and the sequined tube top. It looks like I might get an internship at a local record label; everybody should cross their fingers for me next week, and send me all the knowledge they have about the Champaign rock scene.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Thursday, May 29, 2003

I wrote a big old long post yesterday, and my computer crashed before I could put it up. Let's try this again.

I ran up to Chicago for about 48 hours last weekend for various reasons. After having what will probably be my last pitchers of Sam Adams with Joshie Nacho at Jimmy's on Thursday night, I ran all around downtown Chicago on Friday. I got to see John and Laurie Stirratt play at a noontime show at the cultural center, which was a wonderful performance. For those of you not in the know, John Stirratt is the bassist for Wilco; Laurie Stirratt is his twin sister, and was in The Hilltops with John, and later in the band Blue Mountain. The originals were all great, and they also covered a great McGarrigle Sisters song. If you like gorgeous harmonies and pretty folk music, you should go see them sometime (and for my Chicago friends, they'll be with Kathleen Edwards at Park West in the next week, hint hint).

Later that night, Miguelito and I went out for Ethiopian and then saw Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at Metro. They had the worst opening band EVER. Seriously. This band had its van and all of its equipment stolen recently, and by the end of their set, most of the audience wanted to steal the instruments they had managed to get ahold of and beat the band to death with them.

SM and the Jicks did make up for this, though (and Miguelito and I distracted ourselves before their set with a fun game of "what's the gender of the guitar tech?" We still don't know, since the person's name was Gail). Mr. Malkmus was as foxy and bouncy as ever, and it was nice to see him with a better rhythm section than he had in Pavement (and a much foxier one, too... ask me about the drummer, Miguelito about the hot girl bassist). Never will I forget the drummer's re-enactment of Stephen Malkmus's first sexual experience. They played Jenny and the Ess-Dog during the encore, and for the final song, Hot Drummer and Stephen switched places for a country cover (and if anyone could tell me what song that was, I would love them forever).

I almost missed my bus back to Champaign, but managed to get there. The Yank and I hung out, eating fudge or in front of coffeeshops, for the rest of the weekend. Among other things, The Yank discovered there is no such word as "barristo".

Patch Adams came into the store yesterday. The real Patch Adams. He was... interesting. My bosses were so excited they made out after he left. Also... interesting.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

More costume shop fun

So one of my co-workers, Timmy (her real name is Amanda, but she goes by Timmy at work for some reason I haven't really ever discovered) worked her last day today, since she's graduating, so we decided to get her an ice cream cake. Even though we let it thaw for about a half an hour, we still couldn't cut it with our plastic knives, and we had no regular knives. After a brief debate about whether our ninja swords would work, we remembered that we had a 18" or so long machete for sale, too. After washing it off with some antibacterial soap, our Assistant Manager, Mike, went to town with the cake roll. It really worked quite nicely. I hope they remembered to rinse it off after...

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

overheard in C-U

One of the funniest things I've heard while living in C-U was sung by some drunk guy last night around midnight. Set to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm": "Old McGuffin had a farm, e-i-e-i-o. What he had on the farm was not important, e-i-e-i-o."

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Monday, April 21, 2003

My problems with subpar semi-porn at work

If I catch another of my male coworkers looking at the Leg Avenue catalog without any intention of putting together an order, I will beat him to death with it. And it's a fairly large catalog, what with the vinyl and the bodystockings and all.

I simply have the following expectations of this group of guys. 1. If they're gonna view porn, at least get something that shows nipples, not this airbrushed crap. 2. Don't look at store catalogs to get off, especially since we'll almost inevitably have to use them later for actually store work. 3. Don't do such things during work, at all, ever, even if you're working a 10am-9pm shift during Halloween.

I have a feeling that a Leg Avenue order put together by guys would take about 20 times longer to put together than the orders my co-worker Heather and I do, where she flips through and says things like "Oooh, sexy cop, sexy nurse, sexy bumblebee. Sorority girls are gonna LOVE these!" while I write it all down.

Rant over now.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Thursday, April 17, 2003


So, after quite the absence, I will be visiting that fair city on the lake, my old home, the weekend of the 25th. So if you hear a couple of people drunkenly bellowing Madonna and Bruce Springsteen songs at 4am on Sunday, that probably means that my host Josh and I just got home. There will also be Mike Altman Quality Time, as is necessary in all Chicago trips.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Thursday, April 10, 2003

bigheads and books

Something you only hear when you work at a place like I do:
"Yeah, I saw our banana and our shark dancing on the quad yesterday. It was a little weird, since we didn't rent them out to the same group."

I need something to read after I finish Underworld, which might be awhile, but I enjoy planning. I encourage all you people to tell me what I should read. I should probably read something nonfiction... orpossibly by an author whose name doesn't end in a vowel (last three books read: DeLillo, Calvino, Murakami). Or you could just tell me to hunt down my copy of Adventures of Augie March or London Fields, since I own both of them and haven't finished either.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

yippy skippies and product placements

I am wearing my black skirt and my red turtleneck to celebrate the impending White Stripes release. I would go out and buy it today, but it's April 1st, so I'm afraid I'd open it up and it'd be a "Frampton Comes Alive" CD.

A comment from one of my GRE students: "Leah was well-prepared, professional and explained all the Kaplan material concisely and clearly. I would highly recommend her to anyone taking the course."

This almost convinces me that I do not completely suck as a teacher. Not quite, but almost.

Also, if you are not completely worried about killing EVERY SINGLE GERM IN YOUR HOUSE, but just want to clean up the dust and scum, I highly recommend the Method line of cleaners and dish soap. They smell lovely and don't leave me all sick like other cleaners do. They're a little more expensive, but even the bottles look nice enough to leave out! They make me want to clean. Anyone who knows me even a little knows that they must be amazing to do that. Go to and check this shit out.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Public Service Announcement

Don't offer to hang glide toward a tree to save some kid's kite, as you may fall out of your apparatus 15 feet above the earth and fall on many branches on your way down.

This PSA is brought to you in a very indirect and unknowing way by my manager. Working at a costume shop can be great fun sometimes.

Okay, back to doing work now.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...