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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: December 23, 2004-January 8, 2005

Saturday, January 1, 2005:

Guess who got a digital camera for Christmas?

CURRENT MUSIC: The Slow-Motion World of Snowpony by Snowpony.
Happy. New year.
According to my MusicMatch Jukebox library, these are the ten bands whose songs take up the most playing time in my library: (1) Ween: 14 hours' worth. (2) Yo La Tengo: 12.8 hours' worth. (3) XTC: 12 hours' worth. (4) Stereolab: 10.6 hours' worth. (5) They Might Be Giants: 9.4 hours' worth. (6) Talking Heads: 8.85 hours' worth. (7) David Bowie: 8 hours' worth. (8) Jazz Butcher: 7.9 hours' worth. (9) Split Enz: 6.9 hours' worth. (10) Sloan: 6.8 hours' worth.
12:57 AM.

Doot? | |

Friday, December 24, 2004:

I got a cool package from Steve Knowlton in the mail today, with a nice family photo of himself, Jessica, Abe, and Dennis, a copy of the Pseudonyms' live album In the Throes of Musical Ecstasy ("The production values are guaranteed to be the worst ever"), and a letter wishing me a merry Christmas. He opens the letter by saying, "Judging from your blog, 2004's been a pretty good year for you (except the whole four-more-years-of-kleptofascism debacle), and we hope 2005's even better."

And you know what? He's right! This year was a very impressive one for me, and it's the first one I can remember- ever- that I'm closing out feeling perfectly content about all I've done and all that's gone on in my life. Usually, I take these looks back in December and even if I don't feel utterly miserable, I end the year in kind of a holding pattern, thinking, "Well, alright. Some progress this year, but once I do this, this, and this, I'll be happy. I'm just not quite there yet." I'm always either looking forward to things that may or may not come to pass in the future, or comparing the past year unfavorably with previous years (which I'd judged unsatisfying at the time) and feeling disappointed. As I sit here right now, this is the first time I'm shutting down a year feeling happy with where I am.

But as you know by now if you know me at all, nothing means anything unless I can quantify it, so let's take a look back at the New Year's Resolutions I foisted upon myself last year, and see how I fared!

Resolution I. Learn to cook well and, as a corollary, eat better than I have been. Successful? A hesitant "yes." I can't wholeheartedly claim victory here because many of my attempts at whippin' up some grub have resulted in headaches, vomiting, and- more than once- absence from work. (Off the menu for the forseeable future: funnel cakes, tacos, and... cripe, I can't even remember what dish it was last week that made me so ill. That's not a good sign.) However, I've been incorporating a lot more variety into my meals than in the past, relying less on noodles and Oreos, and I've synthesized a few new food items that I've come back to several times. And no, not in the sense that I'm tasting it twice, once going down and once coming up, smartass.

Resolution II. Get my album/record label off the ground, and do things right. Successful? Not to the degree I hoped. I did indeed release an album on my own label, but I overestimated the word-of-mouth buzz it was capable of, not to mention the ease with which it was possible to get reviewed in even semi-big publications like Pitchfork, which is what I was really counting on for publicity. Even with a pretty big advertisement in MAGNET as well as a spot on one of their sampler CDs, I've sold less than 100 copies, which is really disappointing. Considering that I pressed 2,500 of the things. That said, though, at least I did it. I released exactly the album I wanted to release (at the time- there are some things I'd change about it in hindsight, like omitting "Like the Backside of a Bulimic's Teeth," which I hate), got positive feedback from a lot of people whose musical opinions I unquestioningly trust and respect, got to personally give copies of the disc to Joe Pernice and Kevin Barnes, got my own fancy (albeit factually and grammatically baffling) little entry in The All Music Guide, and was sampled on The Other Leading Brand's Milkshake x Infinity, which is not only the best album of 2004, but is the best electronic album I've ever heard. I'll call it a learning experience, and do things in a smarter fashion for the next album. Which I'm working on.

Resolution III. Move to the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area. Successful? Very much so! Well, it's a yes-or-no type of resolution, I know, but now that I'm living in Ypsi and working in Ann Arbor, I'm having a better time than I could've imagined. Got me an apartment with lots of privacy, I've got easy access to lots of great record stores, I'm ten minutes away from two of my best friends (Jess and Erica) and my brother, and I've got a job that I love. Really, that's been one of the biggest and happiest surprises of the year for me: how much I love Math Reviews. Not that I didn't love my coworkers at Barnes & Noble, but I'm now doing work I'm good at and that I enjoy (without any annoying corporate policies chafing me) and I'm working in a very comfortable, fun environment in which I've met some wonderful people who have quickly become very important to me. I'm a very lucky Chris Willie Williams in that respect. Not like that other Chris Willie Williams. Poor bastard had to work on The General's Daughter.

Resolution IV. Actually work toward some sort of positive social change, instead of just sitting around and bitching about things I've read in The Guardian and books like Weapons of Mass Deception. Successful? No, but just because it's impossible to declare success on this front in a year that found the collective- and unprecedentedly focused- efforts of so many goodhearted Americans unable to overcome the juggernaut of hatred and greed that is The Bush Administration. Granted, I didn't put my neck on the line personally the way so many admirable Americans (again, I'll credit Jim) did, because I still can't overcome my fear of talking to strangers, but I attended that anti-war march in Chicago and donated a ton of money to MoveOn... I'd have to be a lot more extroverted than I am to do much more, I think, and that's just not gonna happen. Maybe that's the problem. I dunno. I don't really want to talk about politics anymore. We tried our best and we failed miserably. The lesson is, "Never try."

Resolution V. Date someone again, maybe? Successful? Very yes! So much so that it totally makes up for my less-than-decisive progress in Resolutions I, II, and IV. In less than two weeks, it'll be a year since I met Bev, when she e-mailed me out of the blue, through my website, to ask whether I knew how she might get ahold of a copy of Mike Doughty's Smofe + Smang album, and we just kept corresponding until we fell in love. I wasn't expecting it, I wasn't looking for it, but it happened, and I'm incredibly thankful that it did. I don't believe in the concept of "soulmates" anymore or anything, but Bev is such an amazing person that I don't ever want to imagine life without her again. Besides being smart, funny, sexy, and sweet beyond words, she makes me feel good about myself. She doesn't get irritated with the fact that, at least once a day, I sidetrack our conversations with sidebars that invariably begin, "There was this one Simpsons where..." She appreciates the absurdity of life to the point where she'll e-mail me recordings of the customer service calls she takes at work, just so I can hear terrific little slices of humanity like a guy introducing himself by name on her company's voicemail before declaring, "I want to leave an anonymous tip," or a crotchety old woman grumbling, "Something tells me I just fucked up" before punching random buttons on the phone. She watches reality TV shows with me over the phone and then listens as I read Miss Alli's Television Without Pity recaps of same to her several days later, and we giggle together. And in just over twelve hours, I'm going to pick her up at Detroit Metro Airport for our first Christmas together. Two years ago, I'd given up on the notion of love- and, indeed, happiness- for good, and now I'm more disgustingly, sappily in love than ever. Weird how that works. (My next album's not going to be full of love songs, though. Don't worry. I've got plenty of bitterness left in other areas.)

End-of-year score: 477.

Hey- that's a pretty good score! I think that's enough to earn me the combination telephone/TV remote that I've been hankerin' for!

I hope all of you are having a happy holiday season, be you Christian, Jew, or... Miscellaneous! I want to thank all of you who read and/or comment on this thing for your kindness, humor, and support this past year. My love and wishes for a great 2005 to you all. You've helped us surpass our projections for this fiscal year by a margin of nearly four percent, and that's something I think we can all be proud of. Come on, give yourselves a hand! Our shareholders are very, very happy men at this point. I wish I could offer you some manner of profit-sharing incentive, but as you know, that just wasn't in the cards this year, but I also know that the satisfaction of a job well done is why we're all in this. So when I'm sitting on my new $4,200 couch, watching my new $8,500 plasma screen TV with my wife and her new $6,000 breasts, rest assured that I'm thinking fondly of each and every one of you. Not individually, of course, because I don't know most of your names and would likely walk quickly away from you if I saw you on the street, lest you attempt to pick my pocket or wash my windshield, but I'm kind of thinking of you all as a giant, amorphous blob that's got the caption, "These are the 'people' who made it possible." You'll all be issued motivational plaques to this effect sometime in the next quarter.

RIP, Ol' Dirty Bastard.

CURRENT MUSIC: Autoditacker by Mouse on Mars. Which I thought was called Audioditacker until I just now looked closely at the CD case. I also thought Beck's Stereopathetic Soulmanure was entitled Stereopathic Soulmanure for about six years. Luckily, it doesn't come up in conversation much.
B2: "Jazz Organ."
8:18 PM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, December 23, 2004:

I got to stay home from work today! With pay! So I guess snow isn't all bad! Particularly when I don't have to physically deal with it, but can stay inside with my cockatiel and vodka and Netflix. (Bob Roberts? Brilliant film. I wish it were a bit subtler, but... can satire afford to be subtle at this point?)

Anyway, I called my parents to see if they had any last-minute gift ideas for my cousin Calley, who is the last person on my list I have yet to buy for. I told my dad that Math Reviews was closed, and he said, "Wait- tell Mom the good news! She just woke up! Here..."

MOM: [yawning] Hi Chris. So what's the good news?
ME: You're gonna be a grandma!
MOM: Oh no! What?!
ME: Just kidding.
MOM: That's not funny.
ME: Yes it is.
MOM: No it's not.

Except that it is! Because I said it!

CURRENT MOOD: Happy-ish!
LAST-MINUTE GIFT SUGGESTION FOR ME: A new microwave, since the one I currently have can't even correctly pop a bag of Act II Xtreme Butter popcorn.
2:21 PM.

Doot? | |

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