Ghost Story Reading Party
I had been saving up this idea for over a year: a Halloween get-together with friends where we read ghost stories to each other. Very perfectly nineteenth century. Like when people didn’t rely on strangers to entertain them with TV shows or pre-recorded music, instead amusing themselves with their own talents.*
My dream was a Martha Stewart Halloween. The woman does Halloween properly, eh. Someone to emulate.
One day, Matt surprised me with a stack of Halloween-themed magazines, including that one of our creepy holiday doyenne. By the end of the evening, Matt and I jotted down our favourite ideas, whittled our menu to something more realistic, and made an agenda for the party preparations. On the morning of our ghost story night, we set out a few hours before our friends came to buy up supplies, only dillydallying long enough to buy more book darts.**
Of course, I always count on Matt’s chef skills to make my dreams a reality. Besides a stew in a pumpkin (we forgot to photograph it), Matt used Martha’s suggestions to create a nuclear waste green artichoke spinach dip and white chocolate-covered pear ghosts:
Matt anthropomorphized the cheese dip, while I cheated and decorated the table with cookies and rodents:
Lest you think I did nothing, I did decorate the place with inflatable toys:
Note: You can see our fireplace in the above photo.Â I eventually flipped a switch and turned on the fireplace. It set the atmosphere.
Ivan also got into the act with the headpiece part of a Yoda costume:
When the guests arrived, we did succumb to pre-chewed entertainment with the latest episode of Supernatural, a clip from [REC] and Jan Svankmajer’s version of the Fall of the House of Usher (which only I watched).***
Then we remembered the reason we gathered: to read ghost stories by flashlight in the dark.
Ryan read “The Snail-Watcher” by Patricia Highsmith; Matt read “Incarnations of Burned Children” by David Foster Wallace; Rob read the story of a New Westminster ghost; and I read “The Furry Collar” from JB Stamper’s 1977 bookÂ Tales for the Midnight Hour.
*Karaoke still sucks. Since today’s people rarely sing, when they make the mistake of getting on stage with a karaoke machine to back them up, they sound like farting giant clams.
**The subject of a future blog post.
***The subject of another future blog post. The link, alas, takes you to Youtube, my archnemesis. Svankmajer should be enjoyed on the big screen or on, at the very least, a very large television.
Taking Underwear Seriously
Wednesday September 03rd 2008, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Friends
Monica Hamburg, who is quite an amusing blogger, often writes about the curious comments she receives on the streets of Vancouver. Today, she wrote about an alcoholic who warned her, “Take laundry seriously!”
On the streets of Vancouver, one often runs into activists, whether they are egg-throwing anti-abortionists, Tibetan-supporting dreadlocked granola munchers, pro-pay increase nurses or brain-hankering zombies. Of course, Monica assumed this was a pro-laundry movement.
However, a commenter suggested a different analysis of the alcoholic’s warning:
Perhaps she was missing a comma. Like, “Take laundry, seriously!” Perhaps you should be stealing people’s undies.
This laundry talks reminds me of a joke that only I, as a quarter-Russian, can tell:
A panty company studied the international underwear habits of women across Europe.
A company rep asked an English woman how often she changed her underwear.
“Why, every day,” she said.
The company rep also asked a French woman how often she changed her underwear.
“Never,” she said. “I don’t wear panties.”
The company rep then sought out a Russian woman to ask her how often she changed her underwear.
“Twelve times,” answered the Russian woman.
“Twelve times?” asked the company rep in amazement.
“Yes, twelve times: January, February, March, April, May….”
They’re Still Staying in Canada
My friend David recently published an op-ed piece for the LA Times:
It seems that the LA Times Editorial Dept. was kicking around the idea early last week that an American who had left the country for Canada due in some part to the reelection of Bush in 2004 might have some potentially humorous commentary on the fact that that they now live in a country with a Conservative Prime Minister while the US has since elected a Democratic majority in Congress.
David and his wife Pam moved to Vancouver in July 2005 from Boston. They were the first set of Bush-detesting US immigrants I’ve met and the ones whose adoration of this city put the rest of us locals to shame. Well-educated, cultured and kind, the Druckers have proven to be formidable Scrabble opponents.
David has, not unexpectedly, gotten some flack from the usual suspects, including one nutjob who seemed sane until he typed this sentence: “I believe we need to be confrontational with the Islamicists, and then after weâ€™ve whipped them, help them into the 21st century through access to all kinds of education and technology.”*
David’s article has even been the most emailed on the LA Times website!
David posted the whole article here.
Great job, David!
*I do believe I am one of a very small number of laypersons who reads psychology textbooks for fun; the art of persuasion recommends a very different tactic for bringing people around. Besides, hasn’t this whipping method proven to be a troublesome hydra so far?
About a Song Called Chilman Uthegi Nahin
Saturday July 29th 2006, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Friends
Steve has been been preparing for a trip to India for years and his blog, Proxy Indian, started in February, is an extension of his research. I don’t know what will happen to the blog after October, when he returns home; hopefully he’ll still be around and he’ll be then dissecting his trip.
My best friend – Pugshot on this medium – introduced me to the wonderful Steve a couple Christmases ago*, during my last visit to Chicago. Steve, like me, is a connoisseur of old graveyards and fine chocolate, though my chocolate tastes are considerably more plebian than his noble ones. Most usefully, however, Steve is doing the research for me for a hobby I meant to take up: Bollywood movies.
One of his recent posts, about the song Chilman Uthegi Nahin, is a fun look at what makes the song and clip of its performance in the film Kisna so wonderful. Steve gives the background on what’s happening at that point in the movie (interracial romance, Kisna’s smuggling of Brit girl Katherine and her mom winds them all up in a courtesan’s performance with a back-up dance group, where they go unrecognized for six minutes); the best choreography (minutes 2:20, 4:35 and 5:12); what the instrumental cameo was (a sarangi two minutes into the clip); the lyrics with the time approximation within the clip – along with the clip itself.
If only all Indian movies were so neatly prepared for my consumption.
Hint, hint, Steve.
*Matt always jokes that I remember everything by year. That’s not true. I remember everything around my travels.