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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: February 4-February 29, 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005:

On the eleventh, I flew out to Maine to spend a week with my sweetie, pictured below:

(She's the one on the right. I hate the way I look here- like, hi, Nosey McNose!- but look how beautiful she is! She's wearing a hilarious old Victoria's Secret nightie, by the way, that's so Naomi from Mama's Family that it has come full-circle and become sexy again.)

Anyway, on the plane out to Bangor, I drunkenly read Craig Thompson's fine travel sketchbook Carnet de Voyage, and became sousedly enamored of the idea of writing my own pictorial travelogue, so this is it. However, since my drawings tend to turn out like Jim Davis ripping off Matt Groening ripping off Jim Davis, I'm just going to stick to actual photos. (Before I get going, you should know that this is gonna be long and rambling and more for my benefit than anyone else's, so feel free to just look at the pictures if you'd like.)

On the Saturday after I arrived, Bev and I went shopping in the section of Bangor that features all kinds of modern "stores" like Borders, Best Buy, and Target, that I wouldn't have thought would be reaching Maine until 2015 or so. She took me to Bull Moose Music, which is an independent record store that is actually superior to any independent record store in Ann Arbor, amazingly enough. (Because their website features my album. That's the sole criterion.) One of the few concerns I'd had about moving out to Maine this summer was the lack of quality record stores, but I imagine Bull Moose is really the only one I'll need, since they not only have a superlative selection of both indie rock and electronica, but their used section contained albums from Zumpano, Robyn Hitchcock (not just the awful Perspex Island, amazingly), and Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson & Sigur Ros, all of which I purchased. (Sigur Ros fans need not bother with the latter- or with Von, on an unrelated note- as the band shows up only on the last two tracks, and Hilmarsson does the rest. He's not very good. It's something of a rip-off, frankly. But I got it used, so that's okay.) That's basically the litmus test for me putting down roots anywhere. Doubts allayed!

(This is a case full of old cassettes that I found in Bev's living room. She's appropriately ashamed of it, but I felt a need to post it anyhow, because it reminded me of the packaging of any CD or cassette carrying case you'd care to purchase. The boxes of such products tend to depict an eclectic-but-uniformly-horrid collection of music. As it happens, the only albums missing that prevent this from being a textbook juxtaposition of rubbish are Another Bad Creation's Coolin At the Playground Ya Know, Pink Floyd's Animals, and Billy Ocean's Best Remixes.)

I also got to see Hannaford's supermarket, where Bev took me to buy some groceries. They have a great vegetarian/organic selection, and one of the baggers commented on how cool Bev's Homestar Runner hoodie is (it is!), so guess where I'm shopping for the rest of my life?

Well, yes, at CybOrgasMatrix.com, but I'm talking about food.

Dinner was at Fresh Ginger, an Asian restaurant in a town whose name I forget. Hampden? Hampton? I dunno. All you need to know about Fresh Ginger- despite the fact that it was yummy- was that I broke my long-standing refusal to eat seafood while declaring myself a vegetarian. Bev got some crab rangoon as an appetizer, and I had a couple... rangoons. They were sweeter than I'd expected, and I wasn't crazy about it, but there you go: I'm a hypocrite. I rationalized it by remembering that the reasons I became a vegetarian to begin with was to avoid the cruelty of the mainstream meat industry, and the creatures that make up seafood are generally caught in the wild, or at least raised in environments no more "cruel" than your average tropical fishtank. However, as George Bernard Shaw once said, "Animals are my friends, and I don't eat my friends," and I've always liked that. Granted, crabs and lobsters are basically giant bugs, and I freakin' hate bugs (not that I ordinarily want to put 'em in my mouth), so they don't really fit, but I'm still not entirely pleased with my choice here. I know I'd never break down and eat beef or chicken or bacon ever again, because I love cows and birds and pigs- I don't feel so great an attachment to giant aquatic insects- so it's not like I've started down a slippery slope or nothin', and sea creatures live wild and free lives, and the evidence that they feel pain is dubious at best (even some animal rights groups have said that it's okay to eat fish 'cause they don't have any feelings) (not PETA, mind you, but then, they tried to get Suede and the Green Bay Packers to change their names, so who cares what they have to say anyway?), and I've always really liked crab legs... but I'm still not sure whether I've made a decision that I can reconcile morally.

A few years ago, I went to a party at the house of Brian, one of my coworkers at B&N, and I started talking with him about his practice of being a vegan, in which he told me that honey was also off the menu. I asked him why, since as I understand it, the process of making honey doesn't actually harm the bees, as it's something they do naturally anyway. He said that, while he didn't buy the somewhat stretchy arguments that said that even consuming honey was detrimental to bees, he figured it was just easier to not eat it to avoid feeling like or being called a hypocrite, since it wasn't a big deal for him to give up in the first place. That's pretty much been my justification for not eating seafood in the four years that I've been a vegetarian: because I didn't want to deal with the smarmy assholes who would (and, now, will) say that I was full of shit for eating some living creatures and not others. It had very little to do with whether I really cared about sea critters. (Or, rather, sea critters who don't really have much in the way of a nervous system or a brain; I'd never chow down on a dolphin or anything.) So I dunno. I'm a horrible person, I guess. And I didn't even like the dish for which I broke my rule. Way to go, there, Will.

Anyway. The next day, we met Bev's parents, grandma, cousin, and aunts for lunch at a great Chinese place in Bucksport named Ming's. (Sidebar: I pronounce "aunt" like "ant," which makes Bev laugh to no end. She pronounces it "awwnt," which makes me think of Laura Winslow from Family Matters. We're the original Odd Couple!) While I was sharing a couple tofu dishes with Bev and her mom, I noticed that there were a few anti-war protesters on the corner across the street, demanding an immediate halt to the war in Iraq. I have no idea why they were there or why they thought that protesting on a streetcorner in a small Maine town would bring about peace, but God bless 'em anyway. Since President Ballless W. Dikshit doesn't care what anyone except Rummy and Cheney has to say anyhow, they probably did as much good as I did at that anti-war rally in Chicago last year.

After lunch, we all went to see The Aviator at the local theater. Bev didn't care for it, but I thought it was good. By no means a masterpiece or anything, but good enough that I won't feel upset when it inevitably wins Best Picture. (I mean, more upset than I was at the fact that Eternal Sunshine wasn't nominated.) Scorsese could really use someone to tell him "no" when he starts to get a little too self-important- there's absolutely no reason the film couldn't have been trimmed down to two hours- but Howard Hughes is generally considered such a batshit loonball that I think ol' Martin deserves some credit for humanizing him in a way that's neither sentimental nor patronizing. DiCaprio was good enough to make you forget you're watching DiCaprio, which is a feat he hasn't achieved since What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and the supporting cast (with the exception of Cate Blanchett, who took the easy way out with her caricature of Katherine Hepburn) was simultaneously affecting and loads of fun. So let's all just give Scorsese his Best Director Oscar this time around and stop giving him kudos for underachieving dreck like Gangs of New York, shall we? Glad we're in agreement.

(A sign outside the theater where we saw The Aviator. I suppose I should've used my camera to take some film stills just to piss off Jack Valenti, but what am I going to do with a picture of a fetishistically symmetrical line of urine-filled jars?)

On Valentine's Day, Bev drove me all over the metro-Bangor area to show me what I was getting into. I took a bunch of pictures of mountains and hills and houses, but none of them really does justice to the majesty of the surroundings, so here's a picture of Bev holding a bunch of jars full of Lite-Brite pegs in front of a black light:

In the nifty small town of Ellsworth, we stopped in Shoegazer, an awesome indie footwear store owned by Bev's sister's friend Kristie. Who is impossibly cool, by the way. She was playing Meat Beat Manifesto as Bev browsed, as socks are to Bev what noisemaking gadgets are to me. And what hydrocordone is to Brett Favre. Zing! Kristie had a Cat Power sticker on the wall, and she and I discussed Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, so her coolitude is forever cemented in my mind. She asked what I'd been listening to lately, and I told her that I've been strangely obsessed with Mouse on Mars, and she said that she'd heard of them, but hadn't actually heard them. A travesty. I bought Bev some socks for Valentine's Day, and also bought myself some new socks, as Bev had, that morning, noticed that the socks I was wearing each had holes in the heel, and she had hooked her fingers inside the holes, yanked until the socks were thoroughly vivisected, and innocently said "Oops!" to encourage me to get some new socks. (I maintain that the socks were perfectly good until she did that, but she's got a thing about socks.) "I sent them to Sock Heaven," she says. So she obviously doesn't know where they've been.

Bev and I wandered about in Ellsworth for a bit and then decided to drive down to her parents' house on Deer Isle. (Digression: there's an island in the area named Crotch Island. Seriously. Guess what it's shaped like? That's where Bev and I are having our wedding, we've determined.) On the way, we passed some amusingly painted cottages:

And we made a quick stop at The Chicken Barn, which is a huge and wonderful junque shoppe, pictured below:

As we entered, the clerk informed us that they were closing in ten minutes, so we had to look fast. I naturally gravitated toward the tiny cardboard box full of used CDs while Bev looked at actual antiques... and what should I find but a copy of Mouse on Mars's best album, Autoditacker, for $4.20? I bought it, figuring that Kristie needed it, and Bev promised to drop it over at Shoegazer next time she's in Ellsworth. Too big a coincidence to let pass by (for less than five bucks), I figgered.

The drive down to the Island was thoroughly beautiful. I saw trees.

And wild turkeys!

And an old, dilapidated barn, on the side of which someone had spraypainted the word "EYESORE":

There was also a grocery cart with a funny sign taped to it, but that actually happened earlier in the day when we visited Sam's Club. I'm putting it here, though, because I forgot to before:

Okay, funny anecdote time, courtesy of Bev: Apparently, the Island used to be so small that it wasn't even necessary for the streets to have names. If you wanted to mail something to someone who lived there, you could just write on the envelope, "JEFF 'DOUCHEGUZZLER' BEZOS, DEER ISLE, ME," and it would get there. In recent years, however, the population grew to a point where it became a problem for ambulances to figure out where they were going in emergencies, and street names became such a necessity that it was decided that each house would be denoted by a different "street." (I'm certain I don't have the story entirely right, but that's close.) So anyway, the local government decided to allow people to name their own streets, and as you drive around on the Island, you'll notice individual street signs that mark every driveway. Some of them are amusingly vain ("RAY'S CABIN DRIVE"), some are even more toothless and bland than what your local city planner would choose ("HERITAGE LANE"), and some of them are kinda funny ("MAMA BEAR LANE"). However, my hat is off to whoever lives at...

At Bev's parents' house, I said hi to Maxine-Gertrude the cockatiel:

Bev says that the birdie had always just been "Maxine," but one day she just suddenly heard her dad appending "Gertrude" onto it, so she's not sure of the story behind that. Very adorable little girl, though. Not as much as Novi, but I like birds no matter what. And Bev's parents were incredibly friendly and welcoming. Their house is full of wonderful tchochkes and gadgets that they've collected over the years, from recent acquisitions like Blue's Clues toys (Bev's dad likes toys that make noise, as do I) to a great old Hammond organ that Bev's mom pledged to give to Bev and me if we'd be willing to take it away. It's incredibly cool. Bev brought a garbage can full of her ex-boyfriend's old documents and tax records down to the Island with us, and burned them in her parents' wood stove while she, her mom, and I played Scrabble. I got thoroughly whupped.

(Just an unintelligible sign near Bev's place. Wish places in Michigan sold XTRA for eighteen B dollars.)

The next day, Bev and I took a Concord Trailways bus down to Boston, where we were planning to spend the night before taking a Greyhound to New York City the next day, to meet up with Scott Floman and go see Mike Doughty and the Polyphonic Spree at Irving Plaza. City Mouse that I am, I was excited to get Bev away from the country and into the Big City Lights.

(I tried to figure out a way to get a comical foghorn sound to play through your computer speakers after that hilarious visual joke, but I'm not quite the HTML wizard that, say, NJGuido is.)

The trip down to Boston was pretty uneventful. We watched Anchorman, which was annoyingly edited in a way that excised the "Tits McGee" joke but at least retained "I'm going to punch you in the ovary," so it wasn't a total loss. Once we got to Boston, we checked into Club Quarters. I really like this picture of us in the Club Quarters elevator:

Once in the room, I forced Bev to watch an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! which she didn't find as hilarious as I did. (Actual line: "I summon my Obnoxious Celtic Guardian in defense mode!") As Bev sat patiently on the bed, I felt a need to immortalize this Business Boy who was yakking in his office well past five PM, directly across the street from our hotel window:

When I was done dicking around with the camera, we decided to order food from Grasshopper, an Asian, vegan restaurant in Boston that Bev's sister (Aud, for the record- she'll come up again, I'm sure) had recommended. The woman who took my order over the phone- for pickup, since the local delivery services wouldn't travel the 5.6 miles between the restaurant and Club Quarters- seemed befuddled throughout our conversation, but I got the sense that it was my fault, as they didn't seem to do a huge carry-out business, and she got it all right in the end. Bev and I hailed a cab to go grab our food, and it was at that point that I developed one of the worst headaches of my 24.6-year existence. Our cabbie got us ensnarled in a gigantic clusterfuck (because the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was tearing up the middle of a random intersection with a jackhammer during rush hour), and while he was very apologetic and ultimately attempted to bypass it by stealing us away down the wrong way of several one-way streets, which I thought was really cool, the 12-mile round trip wound up costing us fifty dollars, which was most of the cash I'd brought along for the trip. (Would he take a credit card? No. No, he would not.) Also, the woman at Grasshopper was really pissy that I was late in picking up the food. I'll forgive the restaurant, because they were displaying a gigantic print of that painting of a monkey riding a bike with a parrot on the handlebars and the caption, "We are having a heavenly time!" that I have on an old R.E.M. T-shirt... but her attitude wasn't what I needed on top of a headache and an endless cab ride.

I was much happier when we got back to the hotel and got to dig in to our Asian vegan feast:

Very, very tasty food. There were vegan "shrimp" in the dish that went along with that nest-lookin' thing you see, and I was amazed at how much they not only looked, but tasted like shrimp. Maybe I'm sheltered, but that's vegan technology I hadn't yet encountered. Bev and I hadn't expected our order to result in quite this much food, so we ate as much as we could, and it was delicious, but we wound up throwing out a lot of the nest the next morning. My headache hadn't improved any, so we climbed into bed and I slept while Bev watched the Westminster Dog Show. We are crazy kids indeed.

On the Greyhound bus down to NYC the following morning, we were sitting in front of a girl named Melissa, who is in the middle of a lengthy custody battle... to have less custody of her daughter, Alyssa. She confided that she was considering "all sorts of fucked-up, retarded ways" of getting around the hobgoblin of full custody, including injuring herself to a degree where she wouldn't be able to take care of the kid. One would think that a single mother named Melissa naming her daughter Alyssa would be justification enough to revoke her custody of the child, but nevertheless, I like to eavesdrop on phone conversations.

Once we reached New York, it was pouring rain. Our bus driver took us through Harlem, which you may recognize from Die Hard with a Vengeance, and pointed out Bill Clinton's new digs there. It wasn't very impressive. Just a building like every other building. Much more exciting, in retrospect, was the fact that we got to see the graffiti ad for Gran Turismo 4 that Team Magna designed on Thursday's episode of The Apprentice.

Also of note, when we drove by Central Park, we saw "The Gates," the much-ballyhooed "art" display by Christo that consists of a bunch of what appear to be giant track-and-field hurdles with gauzy fabric curtains hanging from them, all of which are traffic-cone orange. Far be it from me to sit in judgment of anyone's attempt at expressing himself- I mean, apart from that whole music reviewing thing I do, in which all I do is basically sit in judgment of people's attempts at expressing themselves- but it was ugly. And dumb. Though it did enable Bev to make a very funny dirty joke involving the phrase "paradise entrance," I was ultimately just bummed about not being able to look at Central Park in its natural state, which is a billion times more affecting and beautiful.

Or, as Mark put it, "Hey look! I'm gonna take a whole bunch of shits and lay them end-to-end across the highway! You know why? Because I'm Christo!!!! I'm a GENIUS! I waste all kinds of money on stupid bullshit! Because I'm Christo!!!"

We met up with Scott outside Madison Square Garden and then got some great pizza in a place by St. Mark's Place that had the filthiest toilet I've seen since Trainspotting. I'll forgive more than that for good pizza, though, so it was fun. As when I met up with Scott a couple years ago, he's just one of the most straightforwardly nice guys I've ever met. We kibbitzed briefly about the NHL lockout and our fellow WRCers, and then went record shopping. Bev found a great album entitled Celebrities... At Their Worst, Vol. 2, which is worth checking out if only for Tiny Tim's appallingly hilarious (or hilariously appalling) Christmas carol entitled "Santa Claus Has Got the AIDS This Year." Scott expressed his determination to get me into AC/DC, and I expressed my determination to resist same, so we'll see how that works out in the end.

The three of us stopped to get some drinks, and then it was off to the concert. Before Doughty took the stage, there was an opening-opening band called Pilotdrift. Bev wasn't impressed, and Scott and I spent most of their set playing spot-the-influence (Ween, Radiohead, Beta Band, Super Furry Animals, Flaming Lips, et al), but I liked 'em enough to pick up their album from CDBaby. They were better live, frankly, but the album is interesting enough, if you see it cheap.

Doughty, on the other hand, was brilliant as always. He's got a new solo album coming out May 3, so he played some songs off that (many of which will be familiar to those of you who own Smofe + Smang: Live in Mpls, though songs like "Grey Ghost" and "Busting Up a Starbux" have been further honed since then), as well as some unreleased favorites like "Unsingable Name" and an inspired, simultaneously reverent and goofy cover of Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler," so even though he didn't play any old Soul Coughing tracks- or even anything off Skittish- anyone in attendance who might've complained is a jackass.

Incidentally, I am positive that I saw Arrested Development's Judy Greer at the show.

The Spree started their show with an amusing interpretive, maritime-themed dance performed by some guy who was standing atop one of the amps and some people standing on the upper level of the club... but then there was a (presumably unintentional) 15-minute pause until the band actually took the stage, with the same freakin' four-bar loop playing over the club PA the entire time. And they started their set with a half-atonal ukelele deal that pretty much sucked out any enthusiasm for the show that remained among any of us. So we left, as neither Bev nor Scott was feeling well, and I personally felt as though the Spree had gotten too big for their baptismal britches in their attempts to create art instead of the unhinged, giddy fun they'd exhibited during their last show I'd attended. And Bev and I had a bus to catch, while Scott wanted to catch the early train home to Long Island.

Now. I'd never taken a Greyhound bus before this trip, so I have no idea whether it's fair to condemn an entire bus line because of the experience I had travelling from NYC to Boston at 12:30 AM on a weeknight, but... I'm going to anyway, because it was a miserable, miserable experience from the moment Bev and I got dropped at the Port Authority until we got dumped back in Boston's South Station at 4:30 AM. As we waited in line, we noticed that one of our fellow passengers was carrying luggage that consisted of a few Hefty bags taped together, one or more of which was leaking brown liquid all across the floor. Which wound up being a metaphor both for service and sanity as we boarded the bus, surrounded by any number of true undesirables, such as:

Worst of all was the guy we called The Monkey Claw. He sat directly behind us, and quite literally smelled like poo. Oh- and snored. Bev and I spent most of the trip alternately clutching and resting against one another like the bus ride at the end of Midnight Cowboy. At one point, I did manage to grab a couple winks, and with the experience of CD shopping fresh in my mind, not to mention Bev's unnecessary apologies for "being a pain in the butt," I dreamt that she and I went shopping at a record store named "CDs in the Butt." Which is, after all, where Digital Ash in a Digital Urn belongs... At any rate, when I awoke from one of my 10-minute chunklets of sleep, I discovered that The Monkey Claw had unconsciously thrown his arm over the top of my seat and his fingers were dangling in my hair as he slumbered.

After leaping off the bus, Bev and I had a five-hour layover at South Station, and since it was way too cold to wander around outside, we just sort of wandered around the bus and train terminals. Here's a pretty building located across the street from South Station:

After a few hours of blankly staring at the wall and a breakfast of delicious croissan'wiches at Au Bon Pain (which literally translates to "hurts so good"), it was back on the Concord Trailways bus, with much more comfortable seats and much less blatantly offensive transportation buddies, to finally get some decent sleep after essentially being up for about 26 hours. Wimbledon was playing on the bus TV, so sleep came even easier than expected!

Upon returning home, we napped some more and then watched the local news in preparation for our Thursday night Mark Burnettathon. The local news in Bangor was a fine example of what local news should be; something I've never seen in Detroit. Rather than playing like a 22-minute police blotter, the local anchors actually reported on community events with a minimum of scare tactics, factoids, or aggressive teasers. (Even when there was a report about the gruesome murder of a woman in central Maine- her hands were lashed to trees and her throat was slit- it was presented solely for informative purposes, with no "This story could save your life!" threats.) When the broadcast concluded, it left you feeling positive about the region, which was nice, I thought. By way of contrast, in Detroit, even though the pre-filmed promos for the local news teams always feature the anchors grinning, standing beside (or athwart) local landmarks, and saying things like, "I grew up in Detroit, so I know all the wonderful things this community is capable of," watching more than five minutes of any given broadcast will make you feel like you live in a total shithole.

There was a story about the governor of Maine falling and breaking a couple ribs, and when interviewed, he moped, "The doctors said I should be fine so long as I don't laugh. And since I'm the governor of Maine, I don't have a whole lot to laugh about anyway, so that shouldn't be a problem." He totally wasn't joking, so I laughed. Why would you run for governor if you obviously loathe yourself and the state so much?

On Friday, Bev took me to her workplace to introduce me to her friends and such. I had my mini-digital recorder with me, and asked her if it would be okay if I pretended that it was one of those voiceboxes for people with tracheotomies, and held it against my throat while playing one of, say, seven phrases that I'd prerecorded into it. ("Charmed, I'm sure." "What do you see in that guy?" "I bet you buy a hat like this and they give you a free bowl of soup!") She said no. She also nixed the Indian accent idea. Meh. Anyway, her coworkers were all very friendly, and I got to say hi to Boris, who is a rather demonic looking face that's formed by the grain of the wood in one of the office's bathroom doors:

After that, Bev took me on a brief tour of the area, which had all the positive elements implied by "small town" without any of the annoyingness. There's a tiny footbridge that affords an absolutely gorgeous view of downtown Bangor:

However, Bev and I were much more entertained by the traffic cone that was stuck in the ice of the river below:

Hee. Lookit the cone! All frozen and coney...

We ate lunch at Little Lad's, a vegan restaurant run by an incredibly sweet woman who knew Bev by name and was kind enough to stay open for an extra half-hour so we could eat. We had some great vegan chili and a delicious "western pocket" that was kind of a pita full of egg-style tofu scrambles and veggies. Really, really wonderful.

There's a pet store in the local mall that has six or seven open-topped glass cages set up around the store, and throughout the day, a rotating cast of puppies-4-sale gets to hang out in the cages and interact with the customers. (One little guy fell asleep in the cage, so the workers gently picked him up and put him back in his non-public cage behind a big window, so he could take a nap, at which point he woke up again and started angrily barking because he felt gypped about his turn being cut short.) So Bev took me to visit them, and there was one particularly active shih tzu that kept running around the cage, popping his head and paws up over the top to check out what he could see in each direction, around and around and around. He was awesome. We decided to name him Lappy, which, yes, is the name of Strong Bad's computer, but more importantly, it's just a good name for a puppy. Bev drew a picture with her cray-tels:

On Saturday, Bev and I travelled back to the Chicken Barn to have a longer look around. And it's a good thing we did, because we found... [dramatic string flourish] a Casio CT-810 keyboard, from 1984. (From the manual: "The CT-810 has 12 preset sounds, 12 rhythm patterns and auto-accompaniment. It also has 2-way built-in stereo speakers that produces dynamic sounds [sic]. By making use of this booklet you'll soon master the many functions of your new CT-810 and be able to get full pleasure out of its many abilities.") Its sounds are every bit as cheesy and wonderful as you could hope, and I immediately started jumping up and down at this find. Bev, being the best girlfriend in the world, bought it for me for an early Smarch Day present.

What is Smarch Day, you ask? March 16.

Oh- you mean what's the significance of it? It's the day Bev is getting her tubes tied to ensure that we never have to deal with any "unexpected tax deductions," as her doctor put it. She and I really dislike kids, and dislike the idea of being responsible for bringing someone into the world even more, and her company's insurance will cover the entire procedure, so we decided to go for it. We furthermore decided to commemorate it with a holiday where we'll just buy each other presents as a symbolic celebration of all the money and anguish we'll be saving ourselves in the future. And I named it Smarch Day because when I can't come up with clever ideas, I generally just fall back on random Simpsons references. As I'm sure you've figured out by now.

So yeah, Bev is awesome. Not because she bought me the keyboard, but it's seriously just about the best gift she could've gotten me. She also bought herself a four-dollar bugle-lookin' thing, which I maintained was meant to be purely decorative, but she did succeed in getting it to make a hilarious BWWAAAAMMMMPPPPP sound, so I guess she showed me.

I'm not going to go into the hours before my plane back to Detroit left, because it was one of those long, sad, painful goodbyes that hurts to even think about because I miss her so much, so that's that, Mattress Man. 'Twas a wonderful trip, and it was nice to get a feel for what it's going to be like when I move to Maine in July. Frankly, it was good preparation for what a change it's going to be from the sort of environment I'm used to. As much fun as I had, and as awestruck as I was by the beauty and solitude of the area, there were times- particularly at night- when Bev would be driving me down a dark, unlit country road and I would feel totally creeped out and unsafe. I'm used to cities and lights and houses that are less than 20 feet apart; I'm comfortable with the anonymity of living in a big ol' box that contains not only my apartment, but a bunch of other people's. In Bev's house, on her gigantic bit of property, there were times when I felt exposed and uneasy. I could see why Stephen King likes it out there so much.

That's not to say that I'm having second thoughts about moving to Maine. It just came as something as a surprise to me, to discover how different I felt in those surroundings. I like to pretend that I'll be fine anywhere, and that I can adapt to anything without getting overly attached to any environment, but it really is going to take me some time to get used to. I don't like people as a rule, but in this weird, oxymoronic fashion, I like having them around because I feel as though it's easier for me to blend in and be left alone. Without a protective wall of activity around me, I might get noticed, which freaks me the hell out.

However, I love Bev's house, and I know that we'll make it a great home for the two of us. I remember reading an interview with Michael Stipe a long time ago, and the guy writing the article had been invited over to Stipe's house, which he described as "magical." The interviewer didn't go into any great detail out of respect for Stipe's privacy, but he said that the place was decorated in a fashion in which every single inch of space was decorated with unique and happy stuff; so much so that it felt like a tiny little universe of the occupant's own design. That's how Bev's place feels. Everywhere you look, there are knick-knacks, toys, pictures, and found objects lovingly strewn about. Stuffed animals hang from doorways, song lyrics are taped to walls, shelves hold everything from old-timey scales to teddy bears to metronomes, just because it's stuff that makes my sweetie happy. It's a self-contained world in which everything is fun and innocent and friendly, and most importantly, under control. It's safe and it's happy and when you're there, the rest of the world stays out. Which I like, and which I need. And I can't wait to be there with her.

And furthermore, I can't emphasize enough how impressed I was with the area, despite my phobias. For instance, just look at the many varieties of pepper that are available in Maine:

And the many varieties of lamp! I love lamp!

And look how informative the local graffiti is!

Yeah, it's going to be nice.

CURRENT MUSIC: Redneck Wonderland by Midnight Oil and Ladytron's Softcore Jukebox mix.
CURRENT MOOD:
Glad to be done with this thing.
CURRENT REVELATION:
Burger King's logo atop their restaurants is in the same font as the Dunkin Donuts logo.
TIME:
3:27 PM.

Doot? | |

Saturday, February 5, 2005:

Looks like I won't get to see Sharon's production tonight after all. I got in my car to leave just now and didn't even make it out of my little apartment subdivision before it became clear that the fog tonight is way too dense to drive in. A car passed me in the other direction and I didn't even see its headlights until it was about 20 feet away. I'm really disappointed, but my driving is plenty threatened by the twin hobgoblins of poor navigation and a tendency to crash even without the added handicap of being blindfolded by nature, so I know enough not to risk it. Sorry, Sharon. This is really frustrating, because I'm sure I missed a fantastic show.

CURRENT MUSIC: After the War by Sleep Station. (I initially dismissed these guys as a Neutral Milk Hotel ripoff after hearing their song "Caroline, London 1940" on that MAGNET sampler that my song "Hell" is on, but most of the other songs aren't nearly so blatant about that influence. It's a good album: Sleep Station has a much gentler touch than Jeff Magnum, so it sounds kind of like The Autumn Defense attempting to write that long-awaited follow-up to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.)
CURRENT MOOD:
Blaming the weather. Whoa-oh. Ba-doo-be-doo-boo.
TODAY'S DISCOVERY:
My phone can receive text messages, it turns out. My awesome cousin Caitlin sent me one last night. It's a good thing she started off by saying, "It's Caitlin," because my mind would otherwise have immediately leapt into conspiracy mode and I would've assumed that someone at the NSA was trying to freak me out. Of course, I guess some NSA guy could've been posing as Caitlin...
TIME:
7:02 PM.

Doot? | |

Friday, February 4, 2005:

I'd like to introduce a new feature today, if I may.

Cuisine from the Kitchen of Willie the Gourmand

At the request of Bev, the inaugural recipe from Willie's Kuntry Kitchen will be Easy Cheesy Breakfast Bake.

The inaugural catchphrase for Willie's Kuntry Kitchen will be "Tastier'n a hot slab o' cooch!" You may visit the Willie's Kuntry Kitchen store to purchase aprons emblazoned with this catchphrase.

Ingredients:

Four organic jumbo-size eggs from free-range chickens.
One tube of biscuit dough. You know, the kind where you grab a strip of the outside label to peel it open and then the whole thing pops alarmingly in your hand. I use Pillsbury Golden Homestyle Butter Tastin' biscuits, but whatever.
Four or five Morningstar Farms brand veggie bacon strips.
Four Boca brand sausage-style meatless breakfast patties.
1 stick Parkay brand margarine.
1/2 cup Silk brand plain soy milk.
1 bag each of fancypants-style shredded mozzarella, colby jack, and cheddar cheese.
1 diced onion. (optional)
2 diced potatoes. (optional)
A handful of sliced portabella mushrooms. (optional)
Other optional veggies. Green peppers would probably be good, come to think of it.
Salt, pepper, whatever spices you like (e.g., cayenne, garlic salt).

Instructions:

1. If you have a toaster oven separate from your oven, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and your toaster oven to 350. If you just have the one oven, preheat it to 350 and weep silently with envy.
2. Cook veggie bacon strips and meatless breakfast patties for 14 minutes in 350-degree apparatus, flipping after 7 minutes. (If you're using your regular oven, heat it to 425 once this stuff is done cooking.)
3. While fake meat is cooking, arrange biscuit dough in the bottom of a big casserole dish. Unwrap stick of butter and put it in there too, along with milk. If you've chosen to include veggies in this dish, put them in there too.
4. Scramble eggs in a non-stick pan or a pan coated with Pam brand cooking spray and mind-altering inhalant for hillbillies. Add salt, pepper, and other spices (if applicable) to the eggs, to your taste.
5. Cut or crumble up veggie bacon strips and meatless breakfast patties into little chunks. Dump those in the casserole dish too, along with the scrambled eggs. It's okay if the eggs are a little runny. They're going back in the oven, so it shouldn't increase your risk of foodborne illness.
6. Top the whole mixture with handfuls of cheese from each bag, until you feel like that's enough cheese. This isn't a recipe that depends upon precision, in case you haven't noticed.
7. Stir the whole mixture up, though it's best to try to leave the biscuits untouched on the bottom, so they firm up better.
8. Put the dish in the 425-degree oven for 20 minutes.
9. Remove the dish and stir it up again, this time stirring the biscuits as well. Put it back in for another 20 minutes.
10. Remove it and stir it yet again. Give it another 15 or 20 minutes in the oven, until it no longer looks goopy.
11. Serve with your favorite alcoholic beverage. I know it's breakfast. What are you, my AA sponsor?
12. Serves 2, possibly for two days. Let your girlfriend pick the browned cheese-biscuit residue from the side of the pan and consume it herself, because she likes that and it seems like the chivalrous thing to do.

High-altitude cooking instructions:

Same as above, only use Anbesol instead of Pam.

CURRENT MUSIC: Music is a Hungry Ghost by To Rococo Rot & I-Sound.
CURRENT MOOD:
Happy it's the weekend. I'll be going to see Sharon's production of The Vaginalogues tomorrow night. All are welcome to come along, though not in my car.
CURRENT ENTERTAINMENT:
Through Edith Frost's journal, I discovered the Hall of Douchebags: a wonderful collection of really, impossibly horrid and inept band publicity photos. I expect to see my face there someday.
TIME:
7:32 PM.

Doot? | |

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