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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: February 21-March 12, 2006

Monday, March 6, 2006:

Bev and I were watching a fascinating History Channel special on the sinking of the Kursk when a Plavix commercial came on:

PLAVIX ANNOUNCER: Janet started having heart-related chest pain, so Janet's doctor put Janet on Plavix to keep Janet's platelets working properly...
ME: Guess we're not so much into pronouns, eh?
BEV: "Janet Janet Janet," you mean?
ME: Yeah.
BEV: It humanizes her!
ME: Hee! That is what they teach you in Screenwriting Characterization 101...
BEV: You know, like when the families of kidnapping victims appear on TV, pleading for their kid's return, and say, "Please don't hurt Bobby. Bobby never did anything to anyone."
ME: Criminy, babe, that's dark.
BEV: First thing I thought of.

Speaking of that Kursk documentary, there was a beautifully horrifying bit that I feel a need to mention. I never caught the video clip at the time, but Nadezhda Tylik, whose son died in the sub's unnecessary sinking, was forcibly sedated on camera during a briefing with Russia's equivalent (I think) of the vice-president. He was feeding the victims' families a bunch of lies about how the Kursk was sunk by an American vessel and contact had been established with the men on board, etc., when the woman stood up and started yelling things like, "You've given us no hope! You bastard- I hope you kill yourself, because we won't let you live!" Almost immediately, a medic appeared and jabbed her with a heavy tranquilizer, causing her to fall unconscious back into her chair. On worldwide television!

I was thinking yesterday about the many ways evil manifests itself in our world, and I decided that you fight the devil when you know you can fight him, you laugh at the devil when you know that a direct confrontation won't work (because he hates to be laughed at), and you help to rebuild after he scores a point in the world. I'm pretty sure the Tylik incident is the laughing sort, because... it's just so Mr. Burns! The sub's sinking is obviously tragic, but for a government official to think that he'd get away with blatantly involuntarily sedating a critic in this age of satellite transmission and hidden cameras? There's something kind of cutely antiquated about that. In America, we just fabricate evidence to discredit our critics, or reveal classified details about their families, or raise the terror alert level. Get with the times, Russia!

(And I should point out that I'm not talking about an actual anthropomorphic devil; a horned imp bearing pitchforks and fiddle contest waivers. I just find it helps me to think of the notion of "evil" as one specific, concrete concept when I'm thinking about what I can do to make the world a better place, and I refer to it as "the devil" for convenience's sake. Otherwise, "evil" is just an indefinable, intangible term that you can't reasonably see as an enemy. As Terry Jones or David Cross- I forget who- once said, declaring a "war on terror" is like declaring a "war on jealousy," and a "war on evil" would be the same thing. So I just like to have a cartoon scapegoat in my mind when I'm thinking; I'm not trying to be preachy, I promise. I don't even think I really believe in a devil or Hell. Regardless of what my acclaimed single "Hell," which was the 398th best single of 2003, according to The Village Voice, might lead you to believe.)

CURRENT MUSIC: The Ditty Bops' self-titled album. It's great! Like Rilo Kiley crossed with Barbara Manning and the Squirrel Nut Zippers!
CURRENT MOOD:
I'm a plastic, mass-produced carrot for 21st-century snowman noses.
CURRENT FAVORITE LINE REGARDING THE OSCARS:
On Babble, Dave Weigel said, "Oh, I can't wait till old grannies in video stores start renting [the controversial, wound-fucking-intensive 1997 film Crash] instead of the new one." Hee!
TIME:
2:56 PM.

Doot? | |

Wednesday, February 22, 2006:

Two great comics archives:

The Outbursts of Everett True. Thanks are due to Jon for introducing this to me. This comic is 100 years old at this point, and each entry consists of all-around misanthrope Everett True administering a verbal and/or physical beatdown to a personification of every type of arrogance society has to offer. I'd love to hear what comic historians like Chip Kidd and Art Spiegelman would have to say about the wonderful, disproportionately brutal hair-trigger violence of this series.

The Dysfunctional Family Circus. Before Bil Keane and Clowes Syndicate had it shut down, the DFC took 500 Family Circus cartoons and allowed people to write their own mean-spirited captions, like an MST3K obsessed with drug use, incest, and Keane's inability to draw. Lots of the first entries fall prey to the witless nihilism of, say, Family Guy, thinking that it's inherently funny to simply subvert the strip's wholesomeness without having something satirical to say, but the accepted captions get smarter as the project progresses. Furthermore, with 50 or 60 captions per panel, nearly all of them have a chuckle or two to offer, and the best entries will have you in tears of laughter. (This panel is a particularly good example. This one too.)

Not much else to report. Drove Bev to the eye doctor this morning. They were playing John Mayer at a barely audible volume over the PA system, which is the second-best volume at which to listen to him. Got through every remotely readable article in an issue of People in five minutes, and spent more time reading a LASIK brochure that featured an interview with Barry Manilow.

CURRENT MUSIC: Forbidden Places by the Meat Puppets. Still one of the best albums ever.
CURRENT MOOD:
Nerdy.
CURRENT NUMBER OF BOTTLES IN OUR BASEMENT THAT NEED RETURNING:
759. I counted.
TIME:
1:03 PM.

Doot? | |

Tuesday, February 21, 2006:

Saturday was my first day of solo work as the production assistant at Maine AIRS (that radio station for the blind I mentioned awhile back). I met this incredibly nice older couple who came in to record some editorial features, and as we made small talk, the subject of occupations came up. (Jobs, that is. Not military incursions.) The man said that he'd been a nursing home administrator for a number of years, and, indicating his wife, who'd crossed the room to fill out a volunteer time sheet, he said proudly, "...And she's the voice of airport announcements all over the United States and Canada!"

"What?!" I said, impressed.

Without lifting her head, the woman then said, "Due to federal regulations, smoking is prohibited in the terminal area," in a voice I recognized from nearly airport I've ever visited. Isn't that random and cool?!

What's even more interesting is that I once took my handheld digital recorder to Detroit Metro Airport and recorded her saying, "Please watch your step as you exit the moving walk" a bunch of times in order to sample it. So I now work with the woman whose anonymously professional voice has served as the conclusion to my song "Basra Reed Warblers" for months. Life is fun sometimes.

To that end, I've decided that you're never too old to mess with advertisers' data:

CURRENT MUSIC: As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 8 by 2 Many DJs.
CURRENT MOOD:
Slap-happy.
CURRENT FAVORITE LOCAL COMMERCIAL:
An ad for Quirk Auto Park in Bangor features their nerdy, middle-aged spokesman trying to be hip by saying, "This month, you can save some 'presidents'! A lot of 'presidents'!" He then holds up a hundred-dollar bill, featuring Benjamin Franklin... who some scholars believe never technically served as President of the United States. Best commercial I've seen since that Boston Market spot which encouraged you to pick up your family's dinner on the way home with the slogan "Preheat oven to zero degrees," which would effectively convert your appliance to a freezer.
TIME:
1:03 PM.

Doot? | |

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