31 October 2008
I can't say that it's one of my top holidays because it doesn't, you know, involve presents. (Also, I don't much care for candy. Yes, I'm aware that is un-American.) Still, it has an awful lot going for it:
1. Halloween provides a rare opportunity to recognize and appreciate that all people, deep down, are vaguely silly and sinister.
Halloween takes a set of things that are supposed to be scary--ghosts, monsters, vampires, whatever--and sort of pokes fun at them. This makes perfect sense because anything goth is inherently ridiculous. (Tim Burton and the Misfits, for example, recognize this, which is why they are awesome. Criss Angel and Marilyn Manson do not, which is why they are lame.) I also think that Halloween is the perfect metaphor for what life is like as a small child, when the world is especially silly and sinister.
2. Costumes are rad.
There are pretty much two types of people: those who believe in costumes and those who don't. (Whether or not you actually dress up is beside the point, since lots of people are lazy or unimaginative.) A person's beliefs surrounding costumes constitutes one of the many litmus tests I use to help me determine a person's acceptability. If you hate costumes and say things like blar blar costumes are for children, then let me be frank: you probably suck.
That said, I feel like my own costume choices over the years have been somewhat lackluster. I went as Cookie Monster as a toddler--probably my best costume ever. I was a punk rocker several times through the elementary school years. (My punk rock costume, by the bye, involved a t-shirt with the phrase "I'm a Super Girl!" spelled out in neon-bubble letters...which I suppose could work as an ironic hipster t-shirt, but punk rock? Not so much.)
From there, I believe my descent into pre-teenage angst (early bloomer!) can be directly traced from the year I went dressed as Madonna to the following Fall, when I went dressed as a dead prostitute. (On the other hand, maybe it signified that I had become a real woman, which we all know requires dressing as the slutty version of something or other.) In college, I went as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. My Chicago costumes have been mostly generic (a waitress, a librarian) since they were thrown together at the last minute, except for last time, when I went as Holly Golightly, which must have been convincing since I got mugged.
3. I get to play one of my favorite games, Is That Your Costume or Is That Your Face?
Around dusk, I went for a walk around the neighborhood for a rousing rendition of this old favorite. It's pretty easy when it comes to children but adults, and especially crazy old people, are another story. Of course, this game loses its charm once it gets late, and one needs to be able to discern the riffraff from the commoners.
What are your favorite things about Halloween? What was your best or worst costume? Holla at me in the comments.
26 October 2008
I received the first invitation yesterday while I was on the phone with Z. “Weird,” I said. “One of my Facebook friends just sent me an invitation to his handjob club. Do you think he sent it to all his friends, or did I make the special handjob club cut?”
“Moreover,” said Z, “when did handjobs ever go away?”
(All those years in Mock Trial really taught him how to cut to the chase. Also? Z is delightful.)
Two invitations later, including one that was sent in the middle of the night, and I am a little creeped out. I don’t know what you cretins do over on MySpace, but this is Facebook. Let’s keep things classy.
23 October 2008
When was the last time you heard a glowing story about someone’s experience as a bridesmaid? It’s an archetypal cultural experience that ranks somewhere between a check-up with the gynecologist and a tax audit. From afar, it is okay to make jokes. Take for instance, 27 Dresses, a film based on the platitude “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” And the whole ugly-dress thing is not just a myth; in fact, I recently visited an establishment stuffed with roomfuls of garments I can only describe as what a person might wear if she were performing in a dance recital after being sold into white slavery.
But that’s only from afar. Up close, jokes are verboten. Have you ever heard anyone talk shit about a wedding? (There’s a lame magical myth surrounding the whole enterprise. I didn’t realize its reach until my seamstress started clapping when I tried on my dress for alterations.) Many people told me I looked So! Beautiful!, but the truth was I looked like a tranny who turns tricks on the cheap.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me acknowledge first that I am about to break one of the oldest and most honored taboos known to western civilization by writing about this traumatic experience. Probably, soon after I post this, some satin-draped mafia will descend and spray hairspray in my eyes, scratch me silly, and rub the bitter tears of Bridesmaids Past into my wounds.
But seriously, I had to think for a while about whether or not it was okay to write about it here. I realize it’s in bad taste to badmouth anyone’s wedding, and it is probably in particularly bad taste to badmouth the wedding of my good friend C, who is usually nice and normal and caring and kind. I might worry this treatise would put our friendship at risk, except that I’m pretty sure she never reads my blog. After all, she hasn’t been all that interested in my life for the last 18 months or so she has been planning her wedding. Evidently, engaged people aren’t so interested in talking about the whoring around of laypeople once they start planning The Great Event, as though it could be sullied by someone else’s loose morals. And, you know, I realize that my whoring isn’t all that interesting, but I can tell you with certainty that wedding planning is EVEN LESS SO.
Of course, the other answer is that I am not talking shit about her wedding; I am talking shit about my experience of being a bridesmaid in her wedding. Like other survivors, all I have left is my story. And C, I love you, but my truth needs to be heard.
Admittedly, I have certain biases. I have a jaundiced worldview, for one, though in my better moments I like to think it might be better described as feverish (big and bright, if somewhat delusional). Anyway, no one until now has asked me to be in their wedding; in fact, while many of my friends average five weddings or so a year (as guests), I rarely go to any at all. I think it has something to do with the company I keep.
This is all to say that I knew I wasn’t going to readily adapt to the whole wedding party brouhaha. I was surly through the trying on of dresses; I felt weird during the bachelorette party. I have been secretly complaining for months about the pomp and circumstance surrounding this ceremony that I just don’t really understand. But I suppose I didn’t realize just how out of place I was until we drove into the small Indiana town where the wedding was held and saw an oversized cross in front of the local high school emblazoned with the message “In Memory of Aborted Children.”
Not fetuses, mind you. Children.
I mention this detail because it set the tone for the weekend, which was one I did not expect: feeling as though I didn’t fit in, in the worst possible way. Feeling the gaze of conservative, disapproving eyes. It’s an emotion I thought was purely related to time and place—being a teenager in a small Southern town—but I was mistaken. I felt like I was fifteen again.
I thought I had left that all behind waaaaay back, but nothing will trigger a relapse like having a family member of the bride tell you that you “look a bit off.” I still don’t know what that means. I felt pressured into having my hair styled for the big day, but balked when the lady started piling my hair into some sort of bun that looked like hairpiece you might buy at Walgreen’s. So we yanked it down into a side ponytail that I decorated with this vintage-looking feather hairpiece I favor for fancy events. Let’s just say that some people looked askance, but I clung to that feather as if my life depended on it. It felt like my last vestige of humanity. I was otherwise fully in uniform, down to the matching jewelry we were all given to erase our identities as individuals.
But the really sad thing, the thing that made me feel even less like myself, was that I barely recognized my friend, the bride, who was spent most of the weekend sort of clutching a folder and issuing orders through gritted teeth.
So there’s that: this terrible ritual that involves paying lots of money to erase and renounce every trace of yourself, to subjugate it to someone—someone who then, in return, makes you look fucking ridiculous, like some six-year-old’s idea of fancy, and then barely talks to you leading up to and throughout the whole affair. It makes me wonder if the whole bridesmaid ritual was established so that women can formally alienate their closest friends before they embark upon their new life as a wife.
But at the end of the day, the theme I couldn’t escape was inappropriate tears: not crying when I was supposed to, and then letting loose when I shouldn’t have.
Take, for instance, the wedding ceremony, where I sat in a pew with my fellow bridesmaids, who wept through the whole thing like someone had died. I sat there dry-eyed and stoic, feeling like a sociopath. And then, later, at the reception, after my purse was stolen, when I was sobbing in a tucked-away corner, the maid of honor, in a spectacular display of solidarity, confessed she spent the afternoon crying in her hotel room after the bride ripped her a new asshole for messing up something or other.
The purse was stolen, incidentally, as I stood chatting with the only guy at the reception who looked a little weird—which was me, ironically, clutching at my idea of normal. I really needed someone to talk to: one groomsman’s (let’s call him Justin Bobby) idea of small talk was saying, “I think it’s so cool that you and your friends use your cameras!”
I mean, WTF?
In conclusion, ladies, let’s break the terrible silence that has allowed generations of sadists to perpetuate this cycle of cruelty. We must speak its name if we are to defeat it. What some see as tradition, others call injustice. Your wedding can be beautiful and magical and perfect without making your girlfriends feel like slaves in drag. Let’s just all buy each other blenders and gift certificates to the spa and call it an effing day.
15 October 2008
In a full-length billowing skirt.
Topped with a strapless corset.
But my dear friend C will look lovely and I know we’ll have lots of fun. And champagne. Yay!
Meanwhile, I have a few things to show you.
Item 1: Pictures from my trip to the orchard last weekend
This was the second year I went to pick apples with my friends C and A.
A and I like to go to the petting zoo, which requires the indignity of buying a “Little Farmer’s Pass.” C waited outside because he’s too vain for all that, but I say vanity doesn’t even exist in Indiana. In any case, he missed all sorts of cool animals.
I bought more than 10 pounds of apples, most of which I intend to turn into pie. It was an awesome day. Thanks C and A!
Item 2: From the island of lost writing jobs
I feel like I haven’t posted anything funny in a long time, what with all this election brouhaha and economic end times, etc., so I’ll leave you with a writing sample (one of two) I wrote five or six weeks ago to try out for a freelance job as a humorist. I haven’t heard from them in weeks, so either they’re flaky d-bags or I’m not the right kind of funny for their project, which is too complicated and boring to go into here. Suffice it to say they required a very specific format surrounding one “ripped from the headlines”-type topic—lots of little blurbs about one newsy item.
It’s kind of outdated now (since it was current five weeks ago), but it seems like a waste not to publish it somewhere. If anyone’s interested, I’ll post the other one later.
“Polar Bears: Beyond Your Sad Cubicle Poster”
I. Since John McCain skipped past the whole “getting to know you” phase when he brought Sarah Palin on board, many Americans are struggling to ask the right questions as they vet the GOP’s new nominee for Vice President. We say, leave issues like foreign policy and experience to the liberal media. We the People have one question only: what kind of red-blooded American sues the federal government for protecting polar bears? That’s sort of like hating orphans or making fun of sweet baby Trig.
II. An endangered species is any animal family that is about to become extinct or, in colloquial terms, go the way of the dodo. Their greatest advocates are B-list celebrities, kindred spirits who narrate commercials about the animals’ plight. Maybe someday the pandas will make a commercial for Noah Wyle.
III. In a NYT op-ed piece, Palin wrote, “[T]here is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct within the foreseeable future.” No doubt their future will become far less foreseeable when Bristol’s sweetheart—Levi “Shoot Some Shit” Johnston—becomes the country’s first federally funded arctic assassin.
Worrywarts may waste time on America’s uneasy relationship with Iran, but true patriots are choosing sides in the inevitable war: Mr. Shoots Shit or The Great White Bears?
IV. Some Endangered Species and Their Greatest Natural Threats
Sperm Whale: Especially sensitive to schoolyard taunts
Whooping Crane: Deemed too damn annoying by black bears, grey wolves…and God
Mountain Pygmy Possum: Micro-rodents considered “veal of the South” in Appalachia and certain Los Angeles restaurants
Tooth Cave Spider: Scared itself silly
Pink Fairy Armadillos: Hate crimes
Cumberland Monkeyface Pearlymussel: Hunted by unicorns
V. Memo to Barack Obama: Since Palin’s popularity is inversely related to her qualifications, maybe your campaign should abandon “reason” and “logic” and structure itself around the polar bear litmus test. Let America know it should pull a McCain and go with its gut. Never blink!
11 October 2008
07 October 2008
First of all, I find it ridiculous that MSNBC’s go-to conservative is Pat Buchanan. I know that some liberals consider him a pet, like a funny little bigoted Chihuahua, but can’t they find someone who is a less of a caricature? I wonder if the token liberal on Fox News is Ralph Nader.
A quick inventory of a few of MSNBC’s most familiar faces reveals just how imbalanced the network has become. I know this is an unpopular view among my kind, but I’m just going to say it: I think Keith Olbermann is a d-bag. I don’t like how he sits there all puffy and smug and newsy-sounding while he basically reads us his journal entries. He was rightfully demoted for being unprofessional, but I’m not even sure he noticed.
On the other hand, I find Rachel Maddow really likeable and fiery and terrific in many ways, but sometimes I wish she would dial it down. (After the VP debate, for instance, I felt like she was out of line for saying that Palin inhumanely handled Biden’s teary moment. I mean, I thought that Palin was repulsive, vacuous, and inhumane plenty of other times throughout that debate, but there was no need to read so much into that particular moment.) Sometimes I get the feeling that Rachel Maddow was one of those people who was nodding along during that weird conspiracy-theory part of Fahrenheit 9/11 when Michael Moore suggests that Bush and bin Laden are the same person or lovers or whatever.
And while I like Chris Matthews in all his shrill machismo glory, and appreciate that he talks to conservatives who aren’t Pat Buchanan, I feel like he has been off his game for a while now.
So where should I turn for my on-air news fix? CNN is a tabloid, Bill Maher is unbearable, and the evening news shows all seem to be hosted by aliens.
In other words: I miss Tim Russert.
01 October 2008
What do you think? Do they look convincing?
I can’t even offer an informed opinion on the bailout because I have no idea what is going on or how twenty-zillion dollars might fix it, so I doubly resent the doomsday tone of politicians and journalists regarding this ill-defined “catastrophe.”
Of course, the result of all this is a wicked case of generalized anxiety that is exacerbated by impotence. It reminds me of the color-coded terror alert system instituted by the go-tards at Homeland Security after 9/11. When the threat level changes from yellow to orange, precisely what am I supposed to do? It creates a sense of panic for which there is no meaningful outlet.
Should I trade in my money for gold and, like, hide it under my bed? (Those bastards at Cash4Gold might get the last laugh, after all.) Hoard food? Read up on a 101 ways to cook potatoes? Start a pyramid scam? Tell me what to do, America! I’m listening.