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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: February 17-April 14, 2007

Friday, March 16 2007:

There's a dental school in Bangor where a student hygienist will clean your teeth for $25, which is nice for people like me who don't have dental insurance. The catch, in addition to the obvious possibility that the newbie assigned to you will mistake your soft palate for plaque and try to scrape it out, is that at every step of the cleaning process, an instructor has to come over and inspect the student's work, so it takes a long time. Bev told me it usually takes about four hours, but I figured I could spare that in exchange for healthy choppers, so I signed up for a visit. As my four hours drew to a close, there'd been lots of prodding, but no actual cleaning, so I had to sign up for a second visit. Four hours of gouging and prying later, I was told that the polishing and fluoride treatment would come during my final two-hour appointment. So that's right: I'm currently on hour eight of a ten-hour dental cleaning. My hygienist-in-training is very nice and competent (and apologetic), but my teeth are throbbing with the ache that comes from someone spelunking in your mouth for eight hours, so I don't think I'll be going there again after this session. I think I might have trouble fitting it in between my upcoming eighteen-hour suit fitting and my marathon three-week barium enema anyway.

I had an MRI on Wednesday, and Bev was kind enough to accompany me to St. Joe's hospital for the procedure. They were running behind in the radiology department, so Bev and I passed the time by giggling at the cartoons in the informational pamphlets on ultrasound processes, and generally making a nuisance of ourselves.

After waiting for a half hour, they came and took me into a different holding pen next to the MRI room itself. I flipped through an issue of Time because I evidently felt less than adequately bedeviled by the state of things. In the magazine's "Verbatim" section, in which they publish supposedly memorable or headline-generating quotations from the week, they included this particularly odious gem from Ann Coulter: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate[,] John Edwards, but you have to go into rehab if you use the word faggot."

Now, I know perfectly well that there's no reason to pay attention to Ann Coulter. She's like Johnny Fairplay or your typical message board troll: people who desperately crave attention but aren't interesting enough to earn it, so they just take the cheap route of trying to provoke with unfocused hostility. Much more difficult, and what Coulter isn't smart enough to do, is to be provocative in the service of having something substantial to say. If someone can't do that- and doesn't even try- I find it easy to ignore, because there's nothing behind it. No argument to be made, no novel point of view, just boring attempts to get noticed. I'm sure Coulter thinks she's being all hip with the pop-culture references by alluding to the friction among the Grey's Anatomy cast, but it's such a clumsy attempt to shoehorn her uproarious "faggot" punchline into a "joke" format that it reads as nonsense. ("I was going to have a few comments"? Well put.) So she essentially resorted to saying, "John Edwards is a faggot," to try to goad anyone she can goad, which doesn't offend me so much as make me find her pathetic in her desperate grasping for relevance. (It's hard to seem like the vanguard of "daring politically incorrect commentary," or whatever she fancies herself, by resorting to bathroom-wall slurs the same week South Park based one of their smartest and funniest episodes in years around repeated use of the word nigger. Poor, quaint Ann.)

What bugs me is that I don't understand why Time bothered to reprint it. Unless there was a relatively major flap about her comment that I missed, it just seems tacky to even give this line a couple of column inches in such a widely-read publication. I know its inclusion doesn't imply that the section editor agrees with it, but what about that particular line struck someone as worthy of repetition? I guess if someone was particularly proud of himself for catching the reference to Isaiah Washington, he might pass it along just because it makes him feel smart, but it's certainly not clever or funny or within the realm of actual political commentary... it's just more name-calling, and I don't get how spreading it around is justified. 

Of course, the cover story in that issue was about how Dick Cheney has become an albatross in the Bush Administration, which is about as revelatory and timely as an expose on this dangerous new concert fad called "moshing," so I shouldn't expect Time's "Verbatim" section to be particularly insightful either.

Anyhow, the MRI itself wasn't bad at all. I can see how it would freak people out if they were prone to claustrophobia, but honestly, the most uncomfortable part of the experience was the "lite" "rock" they pumped into my headphones as I lay there. I focused my eyes on a group of pockmarks in the paint on the inside of the tube that I thought resembled E.T., tried to put thoughts of crematoria out of my mind, and tried to allow the loud, whomping mechanical noises to drown out the sounds of Jewel in my ears. The whole thing was over in about ten minutes. I guess I should have the results in the next couple days.

On the way out of the hospital, the elevator contained a framed prayer to St. Raphael, who I guess is the patron saint of pulley systems or vertical motion.

Since the day was going well, the drive belt on Bev's Lumina blew on the way home. This necessitated a visit to the auto repair place so they could fix it and install a new alternator. (Don't ask. Something about how the alternator had five grooves in it and the Lumina needed one with six.) While Bev and I sat in the waiting room, giggling at the anthropomorphic cartoon car batteries on a safety poster, an older mechanic behind the desk said, "If you ask me, they should tie him to a tree, give that girl's father a box cutter, and let him go to town."

"What?" I exclaimed.

He indicated the television above our heads, tuned to FOX News (which is why we were sitting beneath it and not across from it), which was covering the sentencing in some child murder trial. He toddled off as I shuddered inwardly.

While the Lumina was up on the lift, Box Cutter Joe motioned through the window for Bev and me to join him in the garage. He pointed out something rather alarming to us: namely, the rods holding the entire back half of the car on to the front half were completely rusted through. In no uncertain terms, he told us that we needed to have this repaired immediately, and we promised to, lest he hunt us down and throw us between the gnashing gears of a drawbridge or something.

Yesterday, Bev drove the Lumina down to her dad, who said he'd fix it, and I followed her, lest she be stranded by the Lumina suddenly ripping in two like Herbie the Love Bug. When we met up with her dad, Bev opened the Lumina's hood and showed him the new alternator. He said that he hoped we didn't pay too much for it, and opened the Lumina's trunk to reveal two backup alternators he'd stashed there awhile back.

Ahh, Maine.

CURRENT MUSIC: Speaking in Tongues by Talking Heads.
CURRENT MOOD:
Imaginary.
CURRENT VERDICT ON BUFFY:
Bev and I are midway through season four at this point, and you were all correct: it does indeed turn into a very good little program if you can make your way through the first season. I doubt I'll ever forgive the show for promising the permanent removal of boring-ass Boreanaz at the end of season two and then bringing him right back in season three, but if there are more episodes as great as "Hush" to come, I may let Whedon off with a warning.
TIME:
11:41 a.m.

Doot? | |

Sunday, March 11, 2007:

It's been awhile, and I've got a lot of ground to cover, so you know what that means! Bullet points! Whee! Hip hip hooray! Nice, nice! Yah boo! Phillips is a German and he have my pen!

· T-Bone and LeAnne are moving to Madison, Wisconsin because LeAnne found a job there. This will be fine for T-Bone because he's been a ludicrous and inexplicable Packers fan since before the Don Majkowski days, but it's kind of bumming me out. Not just because it means I can't visit him lest I break my vow to never set foot in Wisconsin again (see my August 24, 2003 entry), but because it makes me oddly sad that my family is scattering like that. Even though I haven't lived in the same state as them for two years, it comforted me to know that they were all in one place I could return to at my leisure. Not that I begrudge T-Bone and LeAnne the move, of course- T-Bone sent me some pictures and their new place looks awesome, so I'm sure they'll be happy- I'm just surprised at my own reaction. How dare my brother not let me take his presence in Michigan for granted?!

· Speaking of depression, I've been taking almost gluttonous advantage of my medical insurance lately, trying to get to the bottom of my headaches and mental problems. I've been weaned off Lexapro and put on Effexor, which is fine with me because Lexapro never gave me any swag, whereas I'm very fond of an Effexor pen I've had for awhile. I'm also on some headache-prevention medication that's called something like Adderall or Iditarod. It hasn't started working yet. Furthermore, on Wednesday, I'm scheduled to get an MRI (of DOOOM!), because my doctor wants to rule some things out. When she suggested the MRI, the doc gently said, "I really don't think it's a brain tumor, though- the MRI just helps narrow the possibilities." She was clearly concerned about worrying me unduly. So I felt a little bad for giggling, because, like many of my generation, the word tumor merely makes me think of Kindergarten Cop.

· Speaking of feeling bad for giggling, I drove through an enormous puddle a few days ago and accidentally drenched a group of elementary school kids on the sidewalk.

· Funny snippet of an e-mail I received from Tim: "So we're in the process of interviewing DJs for the big wedding event - a process that provides ample opportunities to boast about our own music snobbery - and our search led us to this tiny upstairs bar at the South Lyon Hotel last Thursday. The DJ playing the bar was so confident in his catalog of 40,000 songs that he kept challenging, 'If you request a song that I don't have, I'll buy you a drink.' Basically, it was a moment designed for Chris Williams. Jess and I both agreed that, had you been there, you would have handed the guy a list of songs and we all would have drank for free the rest of the night, and possibly for weeks to come. Anyway, if you received a garbled, nonsensical voicemail from Jess the other night, it's because we were trying to tap your encyclopedic musical knowledge for a free drink. As it turns out, the dude didn't even have 'Pump It Up' by Elvis Costello, so I'm sure you would have been king had you been present."

· Barbara Manning played my song "You Ruined Everything" (aka "You Ruining Everything," as Amanda reminded me) on her show, Radio Detour, on KZFR a couple weeks ago, which thrilled me to no end. She played a really great set while I listened, and I was sandwiched between "The Bleeding Heart Show" by the New Pornographers and an enjoyable track by The Wedding Present. (I haven't heard much of The Wedding Present, so I don't know which song it was. Before Barbara announced it, I'd guessed it was My Dad is Dead.) I'm sorry to be such a starfucker about my newfound friendship with her, but I continue to think it's really awesome not only that I'm now friends with someone I've admired for so long, but that one of my musical heroes turned out to be so bloody friendly to begin with!

· Though as long as I'm being a starfucker, I may as well mention that I've also been exchanging e-mails with Spats Ransom, of the criminally underappreciated band The Virgin-Whore Complex. He purchased a copy of The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss (even though I offered to send him one gratis) and sent me a very thoughtful, articulate note detailing his thoughts about it, concluding with, "[Y]ou've made an album to be proud of, and it makes me all the prouder that you enjoyed mine." He's very cool. And I'm not saying that just because he complimented me. Because he complimented me, I will say that you should go to half.com and buy one of the inexpensive copies of The Virgin-Whore Complex's spectacular Stay Away From My Mother and Succumb that are currently available. That's the way it works: if you're cool, I'll say you're cool, but if you compliment me, I'll promote your product. Or service!

· Speaking of journalistic ethics, I managed to get a freelance writing position with Bangor Metro magazine. I'm in kind of a trial period right now (one that will hopefully end better than the "probationary period" I suffered at my previous job), and will be writing 200-word blurbs about a-doin's that are a-transpirin' in local communities. I think it will be fun, and it might lead to bigger assignments if I do it well. Promising.

There. I think you're in the loop again.

CURRENT MUSIC: Kolner Brett by To Rococo Rot.
CURRENT MOOD:
Mourning the hour of sleep Daylight Saving Time cost me.
CURRENT KNICK-KNACK: A pair of intertwined ceramic worms I bought Bev for Valentine's Day last year.
TIME:
12:53 p.m. (Actually 11:53 a.m., though.)

Doot? | |

Saturday, February 17, 2007:

I don't have much to tell you today. However, for those of you who enjoyed the picture of Bubba the puppy from my previous entry, here are a few seconds of him playing in the snow outside:

Here's another brief clip:

And as a bonus, here's a quick video of Novi the cockatiel taking a bath, doing the dance she does when I mist her with a spray bottle. (This dance generally continues for about five minutes after I've stopped spraying her.)

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend and feeling happy.

Doot? | |

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