Displaying articles for: July 2013

Summer Cocktail Semiformal

"'The only term I really despise is semiformal,' says Miss Manners. 'It is a despicable term that deserves to be eliminated. Sounds like the pants are not to match the jacket.'" --The New York Times


We are so pleased to invite you to our party! You should be so pleased we invited you. You should really plan on coming. If you want, or whatever! We have included a detailed guide to our Summer Cocktail Semiformal Optional-Rustic Vintage Heirloom dress code. Not to be confused with Spring Garden Spritzer Formal-Moccasin Retrofeather, or Early Autumn Quinoa & Rhinestone Taupe Picnic Chic. Thank goodness! I mean, autumn, really? That is so next season.     


As host and hostess, it is our responsibility to share our artistic vision with you, and it is your responsibility to wear the vision on your body! If you want, or whatever! Summer Cocktail Semiformal Optional-Rustic Vintage Heirloom requires a bit of planning, but the results are basically worth it. Think of the pictures!


For example. If your dress looks like it was pickled in a mason jar then attacked with a witty glue gun, you're doing fine. If your dress looks like an overcast day when the ghost of Zelda Fitzgerald stumbles upon Urban Outfitters for the first time before meeting her sickly, super-thin aunt for lunch salads, you're doing great. If your dress looks like it was dipped in a bucket of rust and then tarred and feathered with the plumage of a peacock born in 1933, you're definitely on the right track!


These are good examples of things to wear, but don't wear these examples! Can't you come up with your own ideas? Summer Cocktail Semiformal Optional-Rustic Vintage Heirloom requires tiny splashes of creativity, like signature cocktail shooters served in bacon-rimmed thimbles. If you're not creative, you're not invited. Kidding! 


For example. The hostess will wear a lacy dress in a toasted hummus hue, embellished with handkerchiefs salvaged from the Downton Abbey costume room, coupled with a sequined clutch studded with upcycled tears from the Titanic, and filled with small, edible plants. She would tell you about her shoes, but her shoes are a surprise. She recommends that everyone else try bare feet. If you want, or whatever!


The host will be wearing an ironic bowtie, but not too ironic. His socks will be funny, but not too funny. His mustache will be huge, but not too huge. He's planning to be helpful at the party, but not too helpful.


You should feel comfortable in your chosen attire...but not too comfortable. 


Are you catching what we're throwing? Are you wearing satin gloves dipped in festive chalkboard paint while you're throwing it back?


Did you go to Pete and Barney's Black and White Gala? You did? That's so fun! Guess what? This is not a Black and White Gala. If black and white is the Upper East Side, then grab a taxi and turn around because you've missed everything. Haven't you been listening? Our party is the baby bird tattoo on the hip bone of the Upper East Side. Our party is in a new neighborhood that tourists call Sepiaville, known to locals as Muted-Palette Drainpipe Village Under the Brooklyn Bridge. Our party thinks Pete and Barney are terrible, and hopes to be invited to their Black and White Gala next year. 


What's that? You don't know how to find our neighborhood? That's totally fine. We've created an easy, interactive app with scenic directions to the event. For example. We recommend traveling on bicycle and pogo-stick. If you want, or whatever? 


Hilary Leichter‘s writing has appeared in n+1, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2013 fellowship from The Edward F. Albee Foundation.


The Macbethicist


Dear Grin & Tonic Readers,


Fish are jumpin',  the cotton is high, and Aunt Velma needs help cleaning out her gutters after the big storms. We have been careful to choose some of our best G&T pieces and preserve them in brine and dill, so that we could serve them up in the summertime.  Now, really, admit it: pickles that tingle taste far better than plain old cukes.  If something new and  really good and vernally funny comes along, we'll serve it fresh, but in the meantime, here's a little summer linkage humor from Roger Miller: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lEC7JsBTxA. And here's one of our finest, funniest, and most frightening preserved offerings.


-The Editors


The Ethicist is on vacation. This week's column features advice from the Macbethicist.




I am a vice-president -- one of a dozen -- of a multinational corporation. Recently, the president's secretary left a document in the photocopier that was unquestionably intended to be confidential, as it contains information that if known by others would spell the end of his career. While I am not immediately next in line for the presidency -- a position I would like to have eventually, to be sure -- the removal of the president would move me that much closer to the job. Putting my own ambitions aside for the moment, however, do I have a responsibility to the company, its shareholders, and/or the public to reveal what I know, notwithstanding that I learned it by accident, even if would ruin another person's career? NAME WITHHELD, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.


Before we get to the crux of your question, I have to note my surprise that you managed to become a vice president of a multinational corporation in the first place -- unless you are the favorite nephew of someone on the board of directors -- because you obviously are unqualified to lead. You suggest that we put aside your own ambitions for a moment. A moment is too long to put aside your own ambitions. Ambition is everything.


Some wise women I know once told me, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." Someone else might or might not have once said, "Business is war." Your first duty is to yourself, if you are to climb the corporate ladder. Should you reveal the damning contents of the confidential document left on the copier? No. What you should do instead is kill the president -- murder him while he naps at his desk, if possible, framing his secretary (fitting punishment for her carelessness), then dispatch the vice presidents more senior than you in turn over the following months, clearing the way for you to ascend to the throne of your company.




After my beloved father died under mysterious circumstances, his brother married my mother, prompting me to suspect that my uncle in fact murdered my dad. Imagine my feelings when the ghost of my father appeared to me and told me as much. I was, in a word, enraged. So I had an idea: I would pretend I was having a mental breakdown, treat my girlfriend rudely, and hire a local improv troupe to reenact my father's death by his brother's hand, which I thought might prompt my uncle to admit to the crime. (It didn't work, and shortly afterward I accidentally killed my girlfriend's father.) I'm sure that my uncle now suspects that I know that he killed my father (and he tried to have me killed too! Way too much to get into here but I escaped; two guys I went to school with and some pirates were involved), and now my girlfriend's brother also wants me dead, after what I did to his father. Also, his sister drowned herself because I was mean to her. What should I do now? (Bear in mind that everyone still thinks I'm clinically insane.) NAME WITHHELD, ELSINORE, DENMARK.


The people who think you're mad are onto something. I think you're mad. The answer to your dilemma is right before your eyes, not unlike a dagger, its handle toward your hand. Clutch that dagger, son, and use it to kill everyone. Kill them all. Kill your uncle. Then kill your girlfriend's brother. For good measure, you might want to kill your mother, too. You mentioned a couple of school chums. Are they dead yet?


Even if you hadn't told me that you had (had) a girlfriend, I'd have known that you don't have a wife. A wife would have told you what to do. I have my doubts that you'd have listened to her, though. You didn't listen to your father's ghost, after all. If experience has taught me anything, it's to listen to wives and apparitions. Wives and apparitions tell it like it is and know best.




I'm a young girl with striking blond hair, which isn't at all relevant to my question. Last year, while strolling through the woods by myself -- I'm just a preteen but already really into hiking solo -- I came upon a cottage. I found the door unlocked, so I let myself in. No one was home, so I ate some hot cereal, broke a chair, and fell asleep in one of the beds upstairs. Eventually, the homeowners returned -- a couple of bears and their cub. I ran out before they could eat me, but also before I could apologize or offer to pay for the food or the damage to the chair. Should I let sleeping bears lie, so to speak, or should I go back and try to make things just right? G.L., THE WOODS, ENGLAND.


Finally, someone who gets it! And a babe in the wood, no less. Kudos to you for seizing an opportunity to take what belonged to others when their backs were turned. If a family of bears cannot be bothered to lock their cottage when they are out, then they deserve to have their home invaded by a stranger. Perhaps the only thing you did wrong was to leave when they returned. You had rightfully lain claim to the premises and its appointments. You should have stood your ground…but I can understand why you would have chosen to beat a hasty retreat under the circumstances. You were outnumbered, and they were bears.


Now, however, you can yourself return to the cottage -- with an armed mob from your village -- and you will have the element of surprise, being that it has been a year since your last encounter with the careless bears. Moreover, if you time your attack properly, you can lay siege to the cottage whilst the occupants are hibernating. Kill them while they sleep the sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care. Then unseam them from the nave to the chops, and make their hides into rugs for your new castle. Screw your courage to the sticking-place, and your name to the mailbox.




Although my husband, the Thane of Glanis, was recently also made Thane of Cawdor, he seems to be resting on his laurels of late. For instance, he is supposed to be making arrangements for everyone in the household of the Thane of Fife to be put to death, including the women and small children, but now I find that he's playing at giving advice. Don't you think he should get back to murdering everybody? LADY M------, INVERNESS, SCOTLAND.


Yes, dear.


Matthew David Brozik has ambitions that put the ambitions of mortal men to shame. Read about them at imdb.name.


Brand New, Recently Renovated

"If you thought housing prices were spiraling up again, consider the lowly parking space.... At an auction on Thursday, the bidding for a tandem spot — space for two cars, one behind the other — started out at $42,000. It ended 15 minutes later at $560,000." -- The New York Times


"I'm so glad to see all of you for today's open house -- or rather, open space.  It doesn't get any better than this: Brand-new, recently renovated premium parking location for sale by owner, with a completely open concrete floor plan. People talk about open layouts, but, I promise, you will not find a layout more open than this. Trust me, I sell a ton of these things, and you're getting maximum openness for your square footage. No obstructions, at least until you park your car.

"Take a good look. It’s hard not to, with all of the light. There literally could not be more light. It's coming in from all sides, depending on where the sun is. The top, the left, the right, everywhere -- and there's no glass to interfere. Heck, if you need even more light, there is room for a lamp. Maybe even two lamps, depending on the size of your vehicle.

"As you can see, the entire property has infinitely high ceilings. Homeowners often brag about eight-, nine-, ten-foot ceilings. Indoor garages, covered driveways. We're not doing that today. These ceilings go on forever. You could stack your cars, as many as you wanted to, one on top of the other, and you’d still have room for more. I'm not saying I would recommend it, but you could do it, and you’d never hit a ceiling, no matter how high you went.

"Yes, of course it can serve as a bedroom, with the addition of a bed. It can also serve as a bathroom. It has, in fact, served as a bathroom in the past, for many. Once it's yours, you can use it for anything you like. The concrete cooktop would make it a perfect kitchen in the summer heat. It can also be used for storage, assuming you don't mind keeping your belongings outside -- or, as we like to say in the parking lot realty business, unencumbered by burdensome walls.

"Oh, the curb appeal is unmatched. It may look a little small from the front, but if you swing around to the side, you'll see it's actually a rectangle, and there's plenty of room, no matter what kind of car you have. Especially a small one. Picture it, you drive in -- through the grand entrance, you cross that white line, glide to a stop, and everything in that box is yours. These 96 perfectly square feet belong solely to you.

"A media room? Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of car you have. Because with the surround sound, I think we could make the case. Sit in the car, put a TV in front, spray-clean the windshield and it's like your very own drive-in movie theater. And no one's going to charge you for the popcorn.

"It's the original owners, sure. And they've done such a wonderful job renovating. Do you like the shade of black they chose? And how about the white line? People say colors are in, but I like the simplicity of the black and white. It's classic.

"Sure, it could totally be a home office. Run some extension cords from the house, stick a desk out here -- I think that could definitely work. Maybe put up a little canopy for when it rains, bring a bookcase out, a waterproof desk chair, I can totally see it. You wouldn't be the first person to repurpose a parking spot as a home office. Or you might be the first. You could start a trend -- even offer WiFi service to other Parkingplacers desperate to get online. Yep, that’s the new word for real-estate pioneers like you.

"Yes, that's a great idea -- a guest room for the in-laws. Don't want them hovering over you when they visit? Send them out to your luxury guest suite, right in between the driver's side and someone else’s SUV.  Tell them what I’ve been telling you-- “unencumbered by burdensome walls.” Heck, it's roomier than it looks, especially as the old folks continue to shrink. And, like I said, this spot has served as a bathroom in the past, so they don't even have to come inside for that.

"$500K. Yeah, that's what we're starting at. Will the owners throw in the car? No, the car is extra. No, the house is not for sale. It's just the parking spot. No, there are no houses for sale for at least ten miles. Twenty, if there’s traffic. But between you and me, there may be another space opening up right across the street. Messy divorce, and there’s a bit of oil damage. But it could be a golden opportunity for a growing family.  Or a weekend getaway -- it’s fifty feet closer to the country.


Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer. Read more at http://jeremyblachman.com.


July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).