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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: November 27-December 15, 2004

Saturday, December 4, 2004:

Just another tracklist of a mix I made for Bev, because I get a nice rush of endorphins every time I type up a list of songs. I'm not sure why that is, but it makes me feel good to see all these songs lined up next to one another, hanging out and having a party. (Pole is passed out on the couch!) Maybe it makes me feel like my little portion of the universe at least has some order to it? Any theories, anyone?

Anyway, if you feel like assembling this mix for yourself, it's entitled Hannity Hates Vanity Plates, and it goes a li'l somethin' like this:

1. Anne Geralds- "Where It Lands"
2. Radiohead- "The Gloaming" (DJ Shadow remix)
3. The Damned- "Neat Neat Neat"
4. Paul Simon- "Kodachrome"
5. The Go! Team
- "The Power is On"
6. Strong Bad- "Everybody to the Limit"
7. Galactic- "Bongo Joe"
8. Incognito- "Out of the Storm" (Carl Craig remix)
9. The Soggy Bottom Boys- "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow"
10. Strokes- "Soma"
11. Soul Coughing- "Unmarked Helicopters"
12. Laika- "Badtimes"
13. Sufjan Stevens- "The Dress Looks Nice on You"
14. Explosions in the Sky- "Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean"
15. Compulsion- "Lost on Abbey Road"
16. Pole- "Kirschenessen"
17. The Herbaliser- "The Sensual Woman"
18. Saturday Looks Good to Me- "Underwater Heartbeat"
19. The Dead Milkmen- "Shapes of Things"
20. Moby- "My Weakness"

CURRENT MUSIC: Hannity Hates Vanity Plates.
I'm waking up to us.
Neutrogena brand Instant Lip Remedy. Around this time of year, my lips get chapped to a degree that I feel like Fluke Boy from The X-Files, but this stuff actually makes me feel a lot better. And- no joke- it tastes like Jello Vanilla Pudding Pops!
TIME: 10:10 AM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, December 2, 2004:

Paula, a woman I work with, died last night. She had breast cancer that, after surgery and several months of encouraging recovery, nonetheless spread to her heart and killed her. She was 52, I think? Somewhere around there. I don't have anything to say that's as poetic as Lisa's eulogy for her- or as smart and insightful as Ben's rumination on the student that died at his school last week, for that matter- but I want to talk about this anyhow.

Part of me feels as though I have no right to my great feeling of loss, because I barely knew her. In the four-and-a-half months since I started working at Math Reviews, she and I probably spoke face-to-face less than a dozen times. And I certainly don't want to be like those attention-whore kids whom I resented in high school, who would pretend to have been close with their deceased classmates so they could get on the local news even though I knew damn well that they would mercilessly tease the kids who'd died. I feel as though my expression of any sorrow would diminish that of the people who truly knew Paula, befriended her and worked with her for many years, and I certainly don't want to appear as though I'm trying to selfishly co-opt that in a look-at-me fashion.

However, I think it speaks highly of Paula that her passing could make me bawl even though I knew her so superficially. She was incredibly friendly and nice (and funny as all hell) to me during our lamentably few interactions. She bought a copy of my album, in fact, to support and encourage me. The last time I saw her, a few days ago, she'd complimented me on my journal entry of November 19 in which I transcribed a bunch of the goofier reviewers' remarks we received at MR, and it meant a lot to me that she not only read this thing, but took the time to say something positive about it. And I can only assume that such actions are indicative of the person she was, which indicates to me that the world is a sadder place without her.

I guess that's all. I don't know what else to say, really. I'm sorry I didn't have the opportunity to get to know her better, but I feel lucky to have known her at all. So much so that I'm crying again right now... I can only hope she knew how appreciated and loved she was, because after the grief I saw today among my coworkers, I know she was a truly beloved human being.

I hope you're all well.

CURRENT MUSIC: Scrypt by Lithops.
CURRENT SUSPICION: Contrary to what the Yahoo! Search advertising banner tells me, I do not believe for a second that the most popular movie personality searches on Yahoo! include Salma Hayek and Lindsay Lohan. Because the former, talented though she may be (emphasis on may), is not nor will ever be the sort of movie star that inspires scads of fansites and Entertainment Tonight profiles and star worship. Even if there are those who appreciate her to the point of wanting to look up more info on her, half of those people think she's Penelope Cruz anyway, so there's no way her search stats are that high. As for Lohan, nobody- but nobody- is interested in her. She's like Hilary Duff or Freddie Prinze Jr.: cultural placeholders that suddenly explode all over MTV and Us magazine and the E! network for no reason other than the fact that their managers once created a successful kernel of "buzz" that then snowballed in the autofellatio community that is celebrity reporting, despite not really having any fans (or talent) to speak of. The "popularity" of Lohan is a lot like the George W. Bush approval ratings that FOX News presents: an artificial goose of the numbers to trick the gullible into thinking someone is widely loved and respected, and that you therefore like them. Rant over.
TIME: 5:29 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, November 28, 2004:

It took me a couple hours this morning to head to the Wal-Mart a couple miles away- the only remaining grocery store in the area- because the mile of road on which I happened to be traveling was locked down for another "random" security check. All in the name of the War on Terror, I suppose, so I tried to keep a positive attitude as the riot gear-clad officers moved from car to car, searching for drugs, subversive reading material (such as studies on the benefits of stem cell research and antitrust legislation, or underground publications like The Source and Jet), or any type of illegal firearm (i.e., those whose safety mechanisms haven't been properly removed or disabled; an infraction that was made a misdemeanor in Michigan after it was discovered that the safety mechanism on certain types of assault rifle caused the gun to jam, thus costing some hunters valuable prizes during the state's ten-month Dove Hunting Season) (in which the definition of "dove" has been expanded to include robins, domestic conures, and "coons." The initial draft of the legislation referred to "raccoons," but some state congressmen felt that terminology was too restrictive.).

The search of my car didn't take long, thankfully, nor did the search of my person. I learned the hard way, some months ago, that it's best to always pony up the $20 for the optional dollop of lube when the policewoman is conducting the body cavity search. The searches, as you know, are always conducted by a member of the opposite sex, since the Federal Marriage Amendment (which was unceremoniously passed by simply rejiggering a few nouns and verbs in the existing Thirteenth Amendment) made any sort of digital-anal contact between members of the same sex a felony. I found it interesting to hear that this amendment was accompanied by a clever bit of legislation- in anticipation of the liberals making a lot of noise about male officers taking "inappropriate advantage" of female civilians- that headed off frivolous lawsuits by making it illegal to bring charges of sexual assault or misconduct against any government employee. Have to maintain government efficiency, doncha know.

Anyway, the security check was concluded with, I understand, fewer than a dozen arrests, so it was Wal-Mart ahoy! As I entered, U2's new single "You May Not Have Voted for Him, But He's Still Your President (and He Deserves Your Unquestioning Respect and Support)" pulsed quietly- almost subliminally- over the PA system. My sister had asked me to pick up a new kevlar jacket for her since she'd worn her last one out, so I headed over to the women's "plus sizes" section to see what they had in a size five. As you know, all sizes over size two are now classified as "plus sizes," and are slowly being phased out by the major clothing manufacturers in an effort to encourage American women to maintain a proper figure. Luckily, as I rooted through the size five bin, I was able to find one that was only slightly shotgunned. Then I picked up some more lightbulbs. I've been going through a lot of those lately, since I haven't yet paid my annual Natural Light Tax, and the state therefore put a "boot" on each of the shutters of my apartment's windows.

I also decided to pick up a few bottles of new, over-the-counter Zoloft, because there's another military draft slated for this coming February (hosted by David James Elliott of TV's JAG, and Ashlee Simpson), and since Pfizer is the official sponsor this time around, you can earn a one-time draft exemption card by sending in proofs of purchase from any combination of Pfizer products whose cost totals $1,000 or more. This ensures that there will still be enough waves of poverty-stricken draftees to throw at whichever enemy the Secretary of Defense chooses to engage, while the exemptions will provide ample funding for new experimental rations- designed by Pfizer to suppress the neurotransmitters that communicate to the brain the body's need for sleep as well as those that conjure the emotion that was, until recently, known as "guilt" but has been rebranded "bleeding heart syndrome" by Surgeon General James Kopp- to be given to our troops. (This program is loosely based on the Catholic Church's longtime practice of granting "indulgences" in exchange for a generous donation, but I digress.) Anyway, this purchase put me at the $720 mark in my March Toward Exemption, according to the handy pocket chart I clipped 'n' saved from a Zoloft ad in Time.

My cashier was kind of difficult to understand, as she was outfitted with one of those increasingly common voice boxes that have been issued as part of General Motors' settlement in the class action suit brought against them by the families of those who'd been unfortunate enough to live in domiciles that were not quite impervious to the strange new brand of acid rain that had resulted from the byproducts of the new GM hybrid car. (The Chevrolet ClearCut, which runs on a combination of gasoline and orange juice.) The voice boxes are manufactured from the inner workings of guitar effects pedals that GM retained after purchasing and dismantling the Danelectro corporation, so it's not uncommon for the user's voice to be spun through a phaser, flanger, pitch-shifter, or some sort of gating effect, and some are obviously easier to understand than others. My cashier, Laci (which, coincidentally, has been named the most common name for girls born in 2004), had a nifty harmonizer/overdrive effect on her voice that made her words garbled, but which struck me as pleasing in a Mouse on Mars kind of way.

(GM also manufactured a wave of animal tracking chip implants from the surplus Danelectro components, but they were quietly confiscated by the Homeland Defense Department before they could be distributed to Gillette, who is now officially the world's largest wildlife conservation entity. The Homeland Defense Department publicly insisted last month that there is absolutely no connection between their appropriation of the tracking chips and the government-mandated six-week production shutdown of all facilities manufacturing soy or hemp products.)

After applying the Procter & Gamble coupons that those of us born after 1965 will be receiving yearly in lieu of Social Security benefits, my total came to $69.04, which was automatically rounded up to $70. This was, of course, part of the new National Pro-Family Quantification Act, which has outlawed the public use of such immoral or otherwise unwholesome numbers as 69, 666, 420, and 7734, to name a few. (Starting in 2007, existing highways such as I-69 will be renamed in honor of Twentieth Century Christian figures who have posthumously been granted sainthood, like St. Joseph Breen.)

Typical Sunday, really.

CURRENT MUSIC: The Best of Peanut Butter Wolf.
Would you mind if I tossed a couple dozen pairs of boxers in there with your load, as long as you're doing it? Aww, come on.
3:01 PM.

Doot? | |

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