Friday, October 28, 2005


As you’ve probably heard me babble about if you know me at all (or have read the back-entries of this blog), I used to work at a costume shop. Two years out from my last Halloween there, I’m starting to not hate the holiday any more. To commemorate this, I give you:

My Top Ten Halloween Season Memories.

10. De-thonging the costumes, and inserting a sheet explaining that thongs can be picked up after purchase, and that these costumes were not returnable.

9. Hey! Let’s let people try on packaged costumes with 17 accessories, which they will then dump on the dressing room floor and leave there. Also, who leaves an empty, half-crushed Diet Coke can hanging from one of the pegs that hold striped tights?

8. Do we have pint blood? Gallon blood? Little blood packets? Gel blood? Thick blood? Blood in medical-style bags? How about the 17 varieties of vampire teeth, ranging in price from $.49 to $49.99?

7. My desk was overlooked by a 12’ tall animatronic monkey (with a huge Santa hat for the holidays), and I knew where the actual human skeleton was in the store. And also, how to knock down the pirate section to escape the basement in the case of a fire.

6. Sometimes, my boss would just drop by my desk to stick a nail up his nose and say hi.

5. I am fine with transvestites. I am significantly less fine with crazy chatty people who happen to be transvestites, and I am really rather not cool at all with crazy chatty people who happen to be transvestites and corner me in the fake breast section of the store for twenty minutes about who hit on them at what bar and when they want to get their surgery, until a coworker notices I’m trapped and pages me over the intercom to the front desk. This person is also the reason I can utter the inquiry, “Have I told you the prosthetic vagina story?” and be serious.

4. Having an office on the second floor directly above the women’s dressing room, and thus being able to yell “THREE COSTUME LIMIT” in my deity voice at the sorority girls who tried to bring in half the store.

3. CAKE MACHETE. (Okay, not Halloween, but I don’t care. CAKE MACHETE.)

2. Ordering from this catalog. Also, locking this catalog in my desk because, while Heather and I were the only people who put together orders from Leg Ave, it was shockingly popular with the menfolk.

1. It’s November 1st. Time to order Santa suits, guys.

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In which Ms. P beats up on John Updike.

Thanks to Bookslut, I recently read an interview with John Updike from the Sun-Times in which he said:

"I also read Salman Rushdie's new book. He's an interesting writer. Not quite a master yet, but he's getting there."

Michael Schaub commented that he'd thought Rushdie was a master since about 20 years ago. I'm inclined to agree. Also, while I like some Updike (the Early Stories collection is wonderful and intimidating in its accomplishment), I also find a great deal of his work painfully dull and indulgent, especially compared to the similarly verbose but far more delightful Rushdie. Also, Rushdie is all of 15 years younger than Updike, so I see no reason for him to play the condescending avuncular role.

Because of this, and because I am a mean person who loves meaningless comparisons, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of books Updike and Rushdie published around the same time. I realize that Updike began publishing significantly earlier, and I think his earlier works are better, and yeah, it's under 10 novels versus, gee, about five hundred by this point, but you see, I don't really care.

1975: Grimus and A Month of Sundays
Ah, the only matchup where I haven't at least read part of either of the books, I'll admit. I have heard that Grimus is so bad that Rushdie tried to keep it out of print and is embarassed when he sees people reading it, so I'll go ahead and give the nod to Updike here.

1980/81: Midnight's Children and Rabbit is Rich
Right on to the one where I've read both books at least twice. Excellent. This one is also a pretty loaded one--winner of the Super-Booker vs. a Pulitzer prize winner. I suppose I could declare it a tie, but I prefer the grand, sprawling, historical-mythological dazzle to the the minutely-detailed account of a man, his midlife crisis, and his private parts.

1983/84: Shame and Withces of Eastwick
I always found Witches disappointing; despite the three heroines being differentiated, they're all such stereotypes that it just hammers home that Updike can't really write a fully sketched, complex woman. Even the movie, with the Ballsy One, the Uptight One, the Shy One, and the Devil, shows a bit more nuance (and doesn't show the women as ravenous man-eaters to quite the same degree). Shame isn't lacking in violent women (including three furies), but it's also a complex allegory of Pakistan, instead of a thin allegory about the dangers of desire.

1988: The Satanic Verses and S.
I find SV difficult and not one of Rushdie's best works, but I once read 30 pages of S. because someone told me I would hate it. I do. Again, a female protagonist. Again, she is a flaky flake-flake, and is driven to do what she does because the men in her life control her. Sigh.

1990: Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Rabbit at Rest
Okay, there's really only one way this could go. It won the Pulitzer. It was good, though Rabbit Remembered later kinda wrecked it for me. Haroun, like Woody Allen's musical, is one of those slight things that I like but realize is not the greatest thing ever.

1995/96: The Moor's Last Sigh and In the Beauty of the Lilies
Well, at least Updike isn't trying to write a woman protagonist anymore. But up against one of Rushdie's best female characters, the religious fable is a little pale.

1999/2000: The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Gertrude and Claudius
Oh, hey! Look! It's Aurora from Moor's Last Sigh! Only... she's a rock star now? Okay, sure. Not as strong as other Rusdie works, but man, G & C knocked me out better than Ambien whenever I attempted to get through it.

I haven't read either's new works yet, so I won't speak to them. But it's still looking 5-2 Rushdie to me. I think he's gotten there.

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

Monday, October 24, 2005

Evil (Baking) Genius

So, the key to getting your friends to watch 5 episodes of Veronica Mars in one Sunday seems to include a couple rounds of yummy warm beverages, followed by increasingly elaborate presentations of Ghirardelli double-chocolate brownies. And apparently people really appreciate a cocoa-rimmed martini glass full of hot chocolate. I need to get some Godiva liqueur, because the only way this would work better is to get them intoxicated. Now that my apartment is clean (…ish), I enjoy having company, especially on rainy Sundays.

In other news, hey, we won F.O.G.H.A.T. I was the second-highest scorer on our team with a whopping 13.33 ppg. Thanks, Craig! Now I just need to ritualistically burn the Desperate Housewives: Dirty Laundry board game I won. I initially stuck Geoff with this, but his exceedingly evident discomfort with this actually spurred some inkling of compassion in me, and I swapped the Law and Order game to him.

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

Monday, October 10, 2005


You know, I should've prognosticated about the Booker, because I'd seem pretty smart right now. When I heard The Sea had made it to the shortlist, I immediately thought "if a book this obscure got to the shortlist, it's gonna win the prize in an upset". And hey look, it did.

Sucks for Julian Barnes, but Arthur and George isn't his greatest work. They'd be giving it to him to apologize for not giving it to him in the past.

So, time to go pick up a copy of the winner, soon to be emblazoned with a "Winner of the Man Booker Prize" sticker.

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

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Octoberist

Greg semi-recently posted about this time of the year being his favorite. I am inclined to agree, though not because it's the start of curling season. So here, in no particular order, is a list of reasons I adore October:

-Seasonally appropriate to sing "Moondance" by Van Morrison!
-Leaves changing colors!
-Uptick in squash/pumpkin ravioli with sage butter served at local restaurants!
-Sweaters! Cute fuzzy SWEATERS!
-My mom's birthday! We speak pleasantly!
-My birthday! My mom and I speak pleasantly and I get presents!
-Chicago International Film Festival!
-Cubs fans stop urinating publicly in my neighborhood!
-Because I'm a knowledge loving nerd... memories of school starting!
-School starting always meant new boys! With whom I could flirt! (New-boy giddiness is right up there with new-car smell for top ephemeral joys.)
-New boys... in sweaters!
-Stupid hat/scarf/mittens combo sets! Preferably with poofballs!
-Opals! (Hey, does your birthstone cause bad luck if someone not born in your month wears it? My birthstone is badass.)
-Seeing your breath mist up for the first time! (This gets old by February, but is really exciting after the summer.)
-Halloween! (I'm finally getting a little excited about this again, after the fun was killed off during two years at a costume shop. I'm still not going to dress up, but I no longer shudder at the thought of the holiday.)

Oh, October. If it weren't for the compulsory pantyhose-wearing at work, you'd be perfect.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthday plans.

Aw, man. The first season of Veronica Mars would come out the day after my birthday. Guess this means no all-night marathon at casa de Geoff after the concert Saturday night. Bummer.

Speaking of the birthday... does anything want to do something around that time? I'm actually going to a book club the night of my birthday (yeah, yeah, shut up), but a late dinner/drink/running around yelling "wooooo, my age is once again divisible by 2" would be fun.

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

Musical musings

Now that I've spent a few years plumbing the depths of obscure music, I'm beginning to see a few bands I knew when they were unknown start to get some bigger exposure. Strangely enough, what really hammered this home was the season premiere of The O.C.. (Yes, you can shut up. Thanks for asking!)

Now, I was delighted enough last season when I heard an A.C. Newman song start up, but imagine my surprise when, in the first scene after the credits, Beretta by Manishevitz started playing. Now, this is a really great song, and sounds like a Psychedelic Furs b-side from around the time Pretty in Pink came out; it worked wonderfully in the show. But I know this song because it appears on the Hideout Worker's Comp, which, true to its name, is a compilation of songs by bands whose members work at the eponymous bar. Half the bands on that comp weren't signed; the most famous person on there was the bassist for Wilco, who did a track with his sister. Hearing a track I've been putting on my mixtapes for two years blaring on Fox was a little strange.

Speaking of tracks I've been putting on mixtapes for two years, I believe I've been crowing about Richard Swift's The Novelist for about that long. Roy from Parasol (who may have known Swift through a band they'd both worked with) told me to buy this when it was out in a 600-disc printing from a tiny, tiny label. Fast-forward two years and one vinyl-only single later. All of a sudden, Swift is on Secretly Canadian, is showing up on Salon, Stereogum, PopMatters, and Pitchfork, and goes on his first nationwide tour. He's not exactly showing up on The O.C. yet, but he's a bit of a belated overnight success, in a very independent label sort of way.


On a similar theme, I have a list of songs for the tournament. They are being vetted by my obscurist friends, and I'll need to find some mainstream friends to go through and point out the bands they've never even heard of before. (Volunteers?) Seeding after that. With any luck, should be up and running by the weekend.

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