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The Order of Oddfish

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The Sultan’s Envenomed Garden

November 5, 2008

Click here to skip the politics and go right to the Halloween stuff.

When I started this blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t write about politics. Not because I don’t care — I’m actually addicted to political blogs. I’m just aware that whatever I write about politics, you can find the same thing better-argued, more colorfully written, and more informative elsewhere.

Still, it would be ridiculous to post today without saying how happy I am that Barack Obama has been elected President. And not a squeaker, either. This was decisive.

Heather and I considered going to the rally in Grant Park last night, but we went to an election party at Brooke and Fritz’s instead. I’m glad we did. I actually got to hear the speeches, and anyway Heather’s pregnancy is starting to make her tired early. Champagne flowed, CNN holograms glowed, tears were shed, and we all decided to attend the inauguration together (Fritz’s family has a place in DC).

I was living in Japan when Bush was re-elected in 2004. I felt like I was in that nightmare when you’re running upstairs as fast as you can, yet still getting dragged backwards and downwards to the awful thing at the bottom of the stairs. The day after it was announced, I was walking to work in Yoshino when a gnarled ojii-san buttonholed me in the middle of the street, scolding me in Japanese for re-electing Bush. I tried to tell him I hadn’t voted for Bush. He wasn’t having it. He had to vent his fury on someone.

I hope that ojii-san, if he’s still around, finds some American to celebrate with today.

Speaking of Japan — when Heather and I lived there, we really missed throwing Halloween parties. So when we returned to Chicago, we got back into Halloween with a vengeance. Last year our Halloween party was “Chinese Underwater Ghost Ocean”; this year it was “The Sultan’s Envenomed Garden.”

The invitation read:


Prepare for a FURIOUS DJINN to spirit you away in FIERY RAPTURE to an oasis of AGONIZING PLEASURES — and ECSTATIC TORTURE!

DANCE for the pleasure of the PITILESS SULTAN!

FEAST on his DIABOLICAL FRUITS!

IMBIBE his INTOXICATING MIASMA!

SUBMIT to the LASCIVIOUS CARESSES of the UNSEEN TURK!

The SULTAN’S ENVENOMED GARDEN is renowned throughout the Caliphate for its UNSPEAKABLE BACCHANALS.

Once a year, even the most UPRIGHT SHEIKH, the most INCORRUPTIBLE PADISHAH, is required by FATWA to cast off all VAIN PIETY and indulge in the TERRIFYING DELIGHTS of the Sultan’s ARBORETUM OF ATROCITY!

Quoth the SULTAN:

“Only one who has TASTED the WICKEDNESS OF THE WORLD in all its ENGORGED DEPRAVITY can fully comprehend GODLY VIRTUE. Thus, on one day of the year, let us SULLY OURSELVES WITH FROLICS. Let us DISGUISE OURSELVES as MONSTROSITIES, drink FORBIDDEN ELIXIRS, and SLITHER AND TWITCH OUR BODIES to BARBAROUS DRUM-BEATS, so that we may more fully understand THE GREAT SATAN.”

This edict from the Sultan MUST BE OBEYED, on pain of BEHEADING!

We constructed the Sultan’s Envenomed Garden out of cardboard, colored paper, and weeds we’d pulled out of vacant lots and spray-painted various colors. It was the sort of party where Marie Antoinette screams bolts of faerie fire at Oompa-Loompas on the dance floor.

It was the sort of party where lizards and judicial apes could put aside their differences, if only for a night.

Best of all, it was the sort of party where, in a leap of inspiration, Dark Yellow and his lady Cynthia dressed as Sam and Monika from Brilliant Pebbles.

They nailed it. Cynthia wore a shoe on her head and strapped a stuffed animal to her leg. Dark Yellow apparently raided Sam’s celebrated collection of over one hundred fanny packs. The real Sam and Monika on the left. Dark Yellow and Cynthia on the right.

Sam and Monika didn’t get the joke at first. Monika even asked Dark Yellow, “You kind of look like Sam. What are you supposed to be?” When understanding finally hit, Sam began giggling hysterically — I’ve never seen him laugh so hard.

Other favorite costumes: Dan The Strongman (who whirled his barbells around on the dance floor like a baton-twirler), the Devil Is In The Details, a cockroach, a trans-plant, and the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper from Ghostbusters.

The Gatekeeper is Liz, who shreds at Guitar Hero and is the manager at the Borders on Michigan Avenue. It’s thanks to her I had that awesome Order of Odd-Fish event there back in October. She put out impulse-buy copies of Odd-Fish at every cash register, set up a huge Odd-Fish display in the window, and covered an entire wall with Odd-Fish books in the young adult section. She sewed that red dress herself, by the way. Is there nothing Liz can’t do? (Also: I firmly maintain that the Keymaster, Liz’s boyfriend Brad, can out-Michael Cera Michael Cera any day.)

Speaking of Michael Cera — here’s a brilliant undead Juno couple.

As disturbing as that is, the most disturbing costume was Philip’s. (Philip can be relied upon for this sort of thing.) He wore a simple black suit and a terrifying antique mask of unknown provenance.

That’s his girlfriend Melissa; she was dressed, adorably, as a cupcake.

Philip found this mask in an odds-and-ends shop. He had haggled for it, but in the end he couldn’t bargain the price down low enough, so he gave up and walked away. This caused the proprietor to run after him and give him the mask, free of charge. Some of our friends conclude this means the mask must be cursed. I believe the proprietor understood Philip would give it a good home.

Thanks to Nathan for DJing, too! He dressed as his own five-year-old self — that is, he shaved his arms, shaved his legs, and other than that Superman T-shirt, he’s wearing nothing but tighty-whities. Therefore, we shall run this photo of him seated.

We also celebrated Heather’s, Megin’s, and Paul Hornschemeier’s birthdays. Megin just successfully defended her dissertation in psychology (she’s the one dressed as a Rorschach inkblot). Paul always wears a costume of something dressed as something else — last year I believe he was an ape dressed as a spaceman — this year he was a kind of clown dressed as a dinosaur. It had a rather Skeksis feel.

I’ll leave you with this — the moment when the party turned into a David Lynch movie. Thanks for the nightmares, Philip.



P.S. Check out Ed Koziarski’s fantastic article in this week’s Chicago Reader about The Order of Odd-Fish!