Like many parents, I have trouble getting the kids off the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I’m not above bargaining, so I made these two a deal today: they can play Rise of the Tomb Raider all afternoon, but first they had make plans to go out and play to celebrate for the rest of the month of October.
They’ve cooked up some pretty fun adventures, so you should also make plans – to check instagram each day to see what my bony buddies are up to. And don’t forget to check back here for new horror & Halloween posts from me, as well, because I’ve been up to things!
Something has broken my comprehension of basic architectural features. Have I lived in the DC-area too long? Spent too many decades studying nuclear culture? Seen too many action movies? I guess we’ll never know.
Here’s what I do know: last night I booked a hotel room. The hotel is a lovely Marriott resort and conference center. There’s nothing weird or unusual about a Marriott.
That’s a lie. Have you seen Marriott carpeting? Who chose that? Did they chose it on purpose? Did they hold a seance to commune with H.P. Lovecraft’s interior designer’s immortal soul? Did they then choose the carpeting that H.P. Lovecraft’s interior designer’s immortal soul dismissed as too much?
Other than the unspeakable cosmic horrors of some of the carpet, Marriotts tend to be pleasantly benign.
Or so I thought.
After I booked our room, I got a message asking if I wished to upgrade to a “concierge level” room. Out of curiosity, I read the description of this upgrade.
I’ve embedded an image of the room description section, but in case you’re unable to view the image I’ll quote the item that caught my eye: “Windows, soundproof.”
“Soundproof windows” would be one hundred times less awkward, but let’s not digress yet…
My immediate question about this detail was “Is the concierge level in a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility)? It would be impractical and impossible to operate a SCIF on a commercial property, right? Not even in Hollywood’s vision of a conference hotel would that exist. I spent a lot of time thinking about this.
This is a kid-friendly hotel in which the towers of rooms surround a busy and noisy pool and bar area, so there’s no logical reason to question why they’d up-sell a feature like soundproof windows.
But I did.
Eventually, of course, I realized that this hotel doesn’t have a SCIF. It probably doesn’t even have industrial-espionage-thwarting conference facilities at all. At that point, I laughed off my absurd idea and got around to asking the most obvious question about “Windows, soundproof”:
Is the soundproofing an effort to cater to people in the market for a conference and/or resort hotel in which to commit a loud and/or leisurely murder?
That’s a disturbing niche market I decided not to think more about, in light of the fact that I realized the “room features” makes no mention of other critical features for such an enterprise, such as “walls, soundproof” or “door, soundproof.”
This lead me, finally, to accept that “windows, soundproof” was a feature meant to assure the guest that they will be troubled with a minimal level of environmental noise pollution from the pool and bar area.
I’m not saying that’s a bad feature. It’s just a boring one. A more appealing feature is the availability of snacks. Never underestimate the importance of snacks.
If I don’t start updating my blog regularly soon, I’m afraid JunglePete is going to hack into it and start posting ornithology memes.
Grappling with a rheumatological flare this week, I haven’t exactly been a high-functioning machine lately.
Today I took a shower, put an oil-based leave-in conditioner in my hair, and went back to bed for a few hours. I used half the suggested amount, yet I woke up looking like a penguin in an oil slick. I was afraid to send anyone a selfie, I was afraid someone from Greenpeace would be deployed to scrub me with Dawn.
Fortunately, the conditioner washed right out; but shampooing your hair twice in one day rather defeats the purpose of deep-conditioning, doesn’t it?
That was a boring story, wasn’t it?
Maybe letting JunglePete post bird memes isn’t such a bad idea. I liked this one a lot:
A few weeks ago, while on tour promoting her brilliant new book, Furiously Happy (which I did not steal), the Bloggess tweeted a moment of mortification, and her tweeps responded by sharing their own mortifying moments. Ever since, she’s been rounding up her favorites and posting them on her blog. My childhood friend Kara and I (independently) made the cut in her latest roundup, which obviously means that part 4 is the best of the best of the bunch.
I condensed my ridiculous story to 140 characters, because twitter, but there have been lots of follow-up questions, so here’s an expanded version of the story. It’s not any more logical, because I genuinely have no explanation for why I said what I said, but it is wordier.
Years ago, Husband & I were taking a walk. We got trapped into a conversation with a Greybeard Lefty Activist Political Canvasser Dude. He was very earnest. He had a lot to say.
So, so much to say.
I wanted a yard sign, but didn’t want to devote the rest of my day to conversing with him on the sidewalk, so I did the only logical thing: while he was in mid-sentence I suddenly pointed at a neighbor’s dog and yelled “IS THAT AN OSTRICH???!!!”
I have no idea why this is the first thing that popped into my head, why it couldn’t wait for a break in the conversation, why I said it out loud, and especially why I felt the need to yell this question in such a frantic tone of voice.
It worked, that’s for sure. He stopped talking; we got away.
To be fair, Husband said that for a brief moment the dog looked like an ostrich to him because of the way the dog’s tail plumed into the air as he frantically dug a hole in the yard. It’s probably less because of the tail and more because someone had just semi-hysterically planted the suggestion in his mind that there was a renegade ostrich on the loose in Alexandria, Virginia.
Still, nice of him to pretend, isn’t it?
Later, the super-weirdness of my question hit me like a load of bricks and I almost lost consciousness because I was laughing so hard.
To this day Husband asks “Is that an Ostrich?” almost every time we walk down that block, which happens a lot. There’s a dog on the block we call Ostrich now, but I don’t think he was the original Ostrich, because this incident happened nearly 10 years ago.
(I’m not really sure why several Australians needed to let me know that this story isn’t funny and I’m not funny, because they see ostriches all the time, but fine, I get your point. I guess. Although Ostriches are not native to Australia, so I’m not sure I really get your point…But here’s my point: ostriches are exceedingly rare in Alexandria, Virginia).
Recently, my favorite contrarian, Casey Rae, mentioned that he was running out of jokebooks with bad puns and corny riddles suitable for precocious little girls. Being raised by such eclectically gothy parents, and being whip-smart, I knew exactly the book their kid needed, because I adored it myself: Normal Bridwell’s Monster Jokes and Riddles.
It was probably my very first book fair purchase with my very own money. If, by “my very own money” you mean: “money my parents gave me for the book fair.” Which I probably do – the details are hazy.
I hadn’t thought about this book in YEARS, but I remembered how much fun the illustrations were and how funny I thought the jokes were. It was fun to re-connect with the source of a great deal of childhood joy.
Front Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
Back Cover: Norman Bridwell’s Monsters Jokes and Riddles (1972)
My parents probably found this book to be less of a source of joy, because the jokes? The jokes are terrible.
And I loved them.
I’m pretty sure my mom used to hide the book under my bed in hopes I’d forget about it and quit telling her these jokes over and over and over.
By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d heard vampire stories from my grandmother, who wasn’t as skilled in the art of the bedtime story as maybe she could have been. And I was terrified by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein the first time I saw it. I think I understood it was a comedy, but…monsters!
I realize now that I was participating in a larger cultural shift that transformed classic cinematic and literary monsters into humorous commodities on which children could spend their allowances. David Skal’s The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror is an excellent place to read up on that subject. I didn’t understand that at the time, of course, but forty years later it’s my professional life, so I figured I should provide you with at least one reading assignment.
Abbott and Costello aside, Brother and I certainly weren’t allowed to watch horror movies. The closest thing I got to horror was the Gothic lunacy of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion, which I still adore.
I’d never thought about what my first exposure to mummies was, but this silly joke book was probably it.
What did the Pharoah say when he saw a lot of boll weevil bugs from the cotton fields stealing a mummy? “Mummy is the loot of all weevils.”
Needless to say, the joke book was an instant hit in Casey’s house. I bet he’s heard the one about what happened when the Frankenstein Monster asked for the girl’s hand in marriage (that was all he got) about a thousand times by now. I guess they’re still really busy enjoying it, because Casey hasn’t returned any of my texts!
Casey’s probably avoiding me because of that other thing…
Mocking pumpkin spice is going to be the new black.
And what’s the old new black? Burlap! Okay. Maybe not, but I can’t help it, I’m still trying to make that a thing. Let’s get back on topic.
I was at Target last week when I encountered a woman standing in front of an end-cap of pumpkin spice scented and/or flavored stuff. She was wailing.
In my memory she was also rending her garments, but I that’s just my memory trying to milk the imagery for maximum impact. There almost certainly wasn’t any actual rending to speak of.
But there was definitely wailing.
“They’re ruining pumpkin spice the way Yankee candle wrecked apple cider for everyone in the 90s!”
Instead of routing around her, as people normally do when they spot someone having a nervous breakdown in a retail establishment, other shoppers were gathering around her to bond over the industrial-pumpkin-spice complex. My desire to spend as little time at Target as humanly possible overcame my desire to stick around to eavesdrop on the spontaneous support group, but it was tempting.
The best part was that a very earnest and cheerful Target team member popped up and, clearly only catching the last bit of her plaintive cry, chirped, “We have a full restock of yankee candle apple spice merchandise in the aisle…”
I couldn’t hear the rest of his sentence because I was hightailing it out of there. I imagine what happened next was akin to the penultimate scene in the film Freaks (1932).
I fully expect that next time I visit the store those customers will all still be huddled around him chanting “One of us! One of us!” while he struggles under the weight of all of the pumpkin spice skittles they’ve superglued to his head.
Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör is clever in all the right ways, but it’s also quite creepy. You can’t ask for much more from a high-concept horror novel.
It’s a little too creepy and clever, honestly.
I used to love our IKEA clothes drying rack. It folds flat and stores neatly in a nook in the laundry room, but it’s quick and easy to set it up and it holds several loads of laundry at once.
“Love” might be over-stating my relationship to any of our household accoutrements, but it’s safe to say I liked this thing a lot. Liked. Past tense.
Horrorstör ruined my laundry rack for me.
Ever since I finished the book I’ve been utterly and completely creeped out by the laundry rack. I’m not kidding. I have such a visceral reaction to the thing that I avoid doing laundry until Husband can set the rack up for me.
This is ridiculous, not least of which because there isn’t a drying rack in the book.
Berman did, however, Executive Produce a couple episodes of Dig, which was truly abysmal in ways that even the narcotics and other assorted drugs I was on while recovering from a long and serious illness couldn’t improve. Seriously, even for television, that was some seriously ridiculous pop culture archaeology. Let’s just hope she learned her lesson from that debacle, because damn. Just…damn.
I was out at the local coffeeshop not caulking the bathtub in our guest bathroom when I ran into a friend who asked me why I wasn’t at home re-caulking the bathtub like I said I was going to be.
I’ve been avoiding re-caulking that bathtub for 6 weeks. I’ve spent more time talking about re-caulking the bathtub than any human ever spent actually re-caulking a bathtub.
All the messy stuff – the cleaning and scraping – has been done for ages. I just have to squoosh the caulk onto the places where you have to have caulk to, um, keep the bad things from happening. (Still not Martha Stewart, in case you were under the delusion I was actually getting the hang of this shit).
I told my friend I was off the home improvement hook because I’d taught our monkey butler how to caulk.
The woman at the next table flipped out, because caulk is toxic and I shouldn’t be letting an animal handle it without supervision.
I think any animal cruelty issues here would begin and end with the words “monkey butler,” but she left in a furious huff before I could explain that our monkey butler is, to the best of my knowledge, a complete figment of our imagination.
I think I should maybe try to remember to let Husband know that some of the neighbors may think we’re terrible people who have a monkey butler.
I’m starting to think that Popemania is making people a little crazier than usual. Soon after, while I was still at the coffee shop and still not caulking the bathtub, a person I’ve never laid eyes on before marched up to our table and accused me of breaking into a warehouse and stealing a copy of Jenny Lawson’s new book, because it’s not being released until tomorrow but I clearly had a copy right there in my non-caulking hands. (Wait…Was she suggesting that The Bloggess has her own warehouse? I really need to read her blog, don’t I?)
Image: a not-stolen copy of Jenny Lawson’s “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.”
I also think it would be awesome to have a monkey butler, even though Jungle Pete has been berating me about how this is a terrible idea since we were 12 years old. And he’s absolutely right, but I hate admitting he’s right.
I don’t actually hate admitting Jungle Pete is right, but originally there was a punchline that depended on a setup wherein I admitted to hating to admit I’m right to Jungle Pete. It wasn’t funny so I scrapped it. I don’t know why I left this part in the post. What can I say? I’ve spent the better part of the year desperately ill and then impatiently trying to recover and I may have broken the part of my brain that remembered how to blog.
I do, however, hate how much I secretly wish we had a monkey butler. Even though I think keeping captive primates in your home is a terrible thing.
In other news, I still haven’t cracked open The Bloggess’s new book, but it took less than 20 minutes to re-caulk the bathtub. It probably would have only taken 10 minutes, but I had to go upstairs to retrieve the paper towels and I procrastinated for a few more minutes by emptying the dishwasher.
Plus, I couldn’t avoid re-caulking any longer because we have a guest arriving on Wednesday (who isn’t the Pope) and who will probably want to take a shower or two sometime over the next week and probably wouldn’t be too keen on my caulk-avoiding alternate plan, which was to spray her with the hose in the backyard. With our luck, that would be the moment animal control shows up to investigate monkey butler allegations.