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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: March 26-April 7, 2004

Saturday, April 3, 2004:

The following is an excerpt from an unofficial guide to Yu-Gi-Oh that we received at work the other day. I think the following three paragraphs are episode summaries or something; I'm really not sure because it's all so completely unintelligible. Can kids actually follow these plotlines? Maybe I'm dumb, but I found myself cracking up at its sheer insanity. Just assume that every sentence is followed by an implied "[sic]." This is fabulous, and it's even funnier if you read it out loud in a hyper anime voice:

"The next challenge is against Mokuba, a rematch in Capsule Monster Chess. His brother threatens him not to fail him, so he enters with more arrogance than before. But when the Game King defeats him, Mokuba is shocked and has to suffer through the scary holographic monsters he played with attacking him, courtesy of his brother Seto. Finally, Seto and Yugi fight playing Magic & Wizards, Yugi using his grandfather's deck and Seto with the deadly 3 Blue Eyes White Dragon cards. They fight, each losing lifepoints until Seto draws his BEWD cards, dropping Yugi down to 700 lifepoints. With just enough time, he draws the 'Sealing Swords of Light' card, trapping the dragons for three turns. Yugi starts to lose hope, but his friends lend him their strength, enough to draw out the fifth card he needs to complete the destructive infinity attack fusion: Sealed Exodia. Yugi wins, Tristen is still alive, and they all learn from Mokuba that his brother was forced by his father to leave his love of games behind when he was younger, forcing him to be the harsh person he was today. Tea daydreams about the Game King; she likes him. Joey gets the chance to win one million yen, but is duped by a fake game runner.

"A new game called 'Monster Fighter' makes it way to Domino. When Yugi plays against another guy, he takes advantage of him when he loses and tries to beat him up. As his punishment, his monsters come alive and attack him. Tea and Yugi go to the amusement park for the day, but get caught up in hostage situation with Tea in grave danger on the ferris wheel. The captor plays a deadly game with the Game King, but he manages to save Tea from the frightening number 13. Imori, one of Yugi's friends, brings over an ancient Chinese game called 'Dragon Cards' but discovers it is filled with dark spirits that takes over Imori and makes Yugi play against him for his life. Yugi wins and manages to return the spirit to the box Imori brought with him. Joey attacks a yo-yo gang to save Yugi from being hurt. There's a handsome new student in the school with a dangerous secret: Ryo Bakura. He is the keeper of the 'Millennium Ring', which weakens him and blocks any memory of its dark side coming forth. Everyone is invited to Ryo's house to see his game collection and they all get tricked by Ryo's dark side into playing 'Monster World'.

"Once playing 'Monster World', they find out Ryo's secret side. After a low roll on the dice, Tea's spirit disappears into her game piece (which looks exactly like her) and the same slowly happens to Joey, Tristen and finally Yugi. After Yugi's spirit disappears, the Game King comes forth and fights against the 'sen-nen' power of Ryo's ring. Ryo cheats into making the dice roll in his favor and the Game King catches him, so they play by the book. They have a near death roll while fighting in the castle against the main monster, Zork, but all make it out with one hit point left. From deep inside Ryo's consciousness, regular Ryo comes alive and fights to save his new friends."

CURRENT MUSIC: Mom! There's a Razorblade in My Pizza! (And Other Surprise Endings), a mix Jess made for me yesterday. "I Know the Password to Your Shell Account" by Barcelona is the new best thing ever.
Not bad.
1:51 PM.

Doot? | |

Wednesday, March 31, 2004:

The Death Cab for Cutie concert was fun, though not especially revelatory. In my opinion, the best part of the evening was when Jon and I went to a record store beforehand. My haul: Women in Rock by Dump, Souljacker by the Eels, Argyle Heir by the Ladybug Transistor, and Fear & Whiskey by the Mekons- $30 total. Jon's haul: The Red Thread by Arab Strap, One Part Lullaby by the Folk Implosion, Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine, Aw Cmon and No You Cmon by Lambchop in a really cool two-in-one promotional set that cost him only $12 (and which he purchased because I made it dance in front of his eyes while singing, "Joonnnnnnn..." which makes me not only a CD-purchasing addict but also an enabler), and a Rainer Maria album whose name I didn't catch- $50 total. Jon's debit card got rejected by the credit card machine.

The show was at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, but it may as well have been a Boys & Girls Club for all the teenagers running around. Death Cab and Ben Kweller are co-headlining on this tour, and I gather young Ben is a rather hot item with the teen ladies, given the cries of "Woo!" after Death Cab's Ben Gibbard announced between songs, "Ben Kweller is coming up next, and he's going to melt your heart. Into butter. Melted butter, really!" (That line got an embarrassingly loud "Hee!" out of me. Gibbard's timing was really... it was just funny, okay? Hard to explain why.) They weren't particularly obnoxious teens, either. Even though lots of them wore T-shirts indicating nostalgia for a time the kids did not actually live through, and obviously still viewed smoking as the most rebellious habit available to them until they turn 18 and can pose for suicidegirls.com (there's a reason I didn't link that one), they basically just acted like teenagers. Not all emo and disdainful like the kids at the Bright Eyes show, nor all squeaky and dumb like I imagine a Clay Aiken crowd is; I probably would've been friends with some of them in high school. Jon and I felt really old, but not all that annoyed.

Some band named Aveo opened. I'll describe them as "an emo band" in the full knowledge that the label would probably annoy Aveo. The drummer was really talented and also amusing in his calculated headbanging and whomping on the skins- you could tell he'd seen the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video enough to already be planning his Foo Fighters-esque, post-Aveo career- but their set was otherwise uneventful. From what Gibbard said later in the show, Aveo consists of some of Death Cab's friends from Seattle, but I fervently wish they would've brought Andrea Maxand along instead. 3/4 of Death Cab have worked on her albums, after all, and she's an infinitely better songwriter and musician than Aveo. Plus, she sent me a nice e-mail yesterday, so everyone needs to buy her new album when it's released. She sent me an advance copy and it's truly great. So there's my plug for this paragraph.

My plug for this paragraph is the YKK Group of Fastening Products! Little parts, big difference: YKK. Not affiliated with Ya Kid K.

Death Cab opened with "The New Year" and commenced playing a tight, energetic set that wasn't as memorable as I'd hoped, but was well worth the price of admission. For the most part, the songs' arrangements didn't vary much from the studio versions, and I wish they'd played more than one song from We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes ("Company Calling"), but they ran through their set with a modest enthusiasm that kept things lively. Gibbard in particular, with his youthful appearance and habit of rocking back and forth with his guitar during the songs, was like watching your little brother perform in a talent show with his friends... and realizing, hey, the kids are really talented!

Jon and I left after their set because neither of us is especially enthusiastic about Ben Kweller. I picked up Sha Sha for five dollars last summer and I think I've listened to it only three times because it's so generic it exhausts me. That was our night. I won't say you should go out of your way to see Death Cab live, but if you really like them and they're touring with someone else you enjoy, you'll have a good time.

Last night, I dreamt that all the houses on my street had been replaced with attractive piles of consumer products. For instance, the house directly across from mine had become a Lego-like structure of boxes of Crest Whitestrips, and next to it was a house made out of Crabtree & Evelyn scented candles. It was beautifully sterile, like the supermarket in Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees" video.

Okay, no more posts about music for at least a week, I promise.

CURRENT MUSIC: Nocturne by Victor Krummenacher.
Honkin' on Bobo.
There is no right answer.
4:15 PM.

Doot? | |

Tuesday, March 30, 2004:

I've decided that I really need to develop the courage to scrap songs that just aren't working, instead of trying to bend them into appealing shapes that they don't want to bend to. I really wish I'd left "Like the Backside of a Bulimic's Teeth" off The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss, because it's just not a good song at all. Furthermore, "God Said, 'Plastics!'" isn't nearly as fully developed as it should be, and coming in the middle of two subpar tracks, "Vending Machine" plays like filler instead of being a pleasantly quirky interlude. So you've got three weak tracks in a row, right at the beginning of the album, and even though I think the album thereafter is totally solid (which is why you should buy one if you haven't already), it's stupid to kill the momentum so quickly.

So I've decided that for the next album, I'm going to try to record about 30 songs and then just include the best 15 or 16, because I need to learn the concept of quality control. For instance, don't let me put "A Wish for Wings That Work" (my entry on the WRC Christmas Compilation- you can download the song by right-clicking there, if you're so inclined) on the next one, please, because it doesn't come close to living up to its potential. The more I listen to it, even if it had the flute line and the girl harmonies that it needs but didn't get recorded due to circumstances beyond my control, it's just too messy to hold up. There are elements about it that I love- I'm proud of some of the lyrics, and I like the dinky-pop outro- but the first half is unsalvageably ugly. It hurts to have to let go of the bits that I like, but there's no reason to release a song that works only partially. If I'm going to start doing that, then I'm no better than the Microphones or Wilco. Must learn discipline.

I don't expect any of you to be interested in this entry; it's more for my benefit. Sorry.

CURRENT MUSIC: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone? by the Unicorns.
PLANS FOR TODAY: Work, trip to post office, then Death Cab for Cutie concert. Awww yeah.
6:17 AM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, March 28, 2004:

I really miss alcohol. For the past couple months, I really haven't been able to drink because it disagrees with the Lexapro in such a way that I become sick and get a terrible headache before I've even had enough to get buzzed. I still have a beer or two every now and again, because beer is delicious, but that's all I can handle. It's sad.

Granted, the Lexapro has finally kicked in and somewhat obviated the need to drink to stop thinking about my problems. That is, my mental situation is much better now than a year ago, when there was lots of drinking. Some might say too much! And some, in fact, did! (One way of knowing your life isn't going the way you'd like it to is when 7-11 cashiers say, "That's alright- I know who you are," when you start to brandish your ID for a liquor purchase.) So while that's good, I do miss having a way of getting out of my head when things seem unbearable. Instead, I'm just stuck here, inside me, and I don't like that so much. I'm boring.

Drunk Willie, on the other hand, is tremendously entertaining to me. The guy who emphatically agrees with everything everyone has to say, makes unrealistic promises that he doesn't remember the next day ("Aw, dude [read: guy I just met], we should totally take a road trip where we follow Sloan all around the country like Deadheads!"), and has intense, profane arguments with people on reality TV programs. Drunk Willie is a very pathetic individual in many respects, but he's happy enough with the person he is that he isn't concerned by the prospect of alienating those close to him. I rather admire that.

Oh, if only I'd started drinking at an earlier age, I might've enjoyed three or four more years of irresponsible, boozy fun before antidepressants forced me to quit. Why did I wait until I was almost 21, when Jen and I decided to polish off a bottle of her roommate's vodka because there was otherwise no way we were going to get through Local Hero, which she had to watch for her film class? (I still didn't make it through the film, instead toddling off to attempt to make Jen a grilled cheese sandwich while she kept watching. As I recall, it came out soggy.)

I don't really have the inclination to turn to less legal drugs, since I'm two years out of college and, aspirations aside, not a rock star, so it would be kind of sad to start now. Plus, I'm such a lamer that I wouldn't even know where to get narcotics if I wanted 'em. Caffeine and Tylenol PM are nice as far as regulating my energy level goes, but they don't really release me from my mind or take me on a journey to the center of it. And music really isn't the "anti-drug" that those commercials promised it would be, consumed though I am by it. So I'm just trapped inside my stupid head, alongside the grades Entertainment Weekly gave to every film I've ever seen, the lyrics to the Hey Vern, It's Ernest! theme song, and entire catacombs full of information and memories that make me cry.

It would be so nice to be eight years old again. When you're eight, you don't have to worry about drugs or money or God or sex or politics, or at least not in realistic, complex terms: drugs are always bad unless a doctor gives them to you, money is your allowance, God is an ill-defined Santa Claus figure who's protecting you, sex is a vague concept that's both gross and funny, and politics means parroting whatever your parents say about the president. When I was eight, I didn't worry about anything. I didn't even care about anything except Inspector Gadget and beating Super Mario Bros. (FUNNY SIDE NOTE: Mike DeFabio once mentioned that when he was little, he didn't know "bros." was short for "brothers," so he pronounced the name of the game "Super Mario Brozz 2." I just thought I'd share that because it's cute.)

Remember when hanging out with friends used to consist of having adventures and doing projects and having animated discussions about video game characters? I mean, I love the friends I have now, and I love spending time with them, but we often just wind up talking about how miserable things are, and if we actually want to do something, it's kind of a crap shoot as to whether we'll actually have the motivation. (Furthermore, if more than two of us want to do any activity, you can pretty much forget it, as the plans become impossible to formulate. Even with my annoying standard policy of just saying, "Whatever you guys want is fine," to make things less complicated.) It was much easier to be a kid, when one person would say, "Let's go dig a golf course in the backyard!" and everyone else would scream, "Yeah!" and we'd drop what we were doing and rush out back.

Of course, I realize that some kids have miserable childhoods and I should feel grateful that I even got eight or nine years of carefree fun. And I do! It was the best! I just miss it. Childhood is better than adulthood in every way. I wish I were smart enough to tie this all together into one unified theory about why growing up leads to drinking and worry, and how best to recapture the feeling of being eight years old as an adult. If I were able to do that, though, I suppose I wouldn't need the Lexapro in the first place because I wouldn't have gotten to a point where all I wanted to do was make a sleeping pill milkshake for myself and be done with it.

CURRENT MUSIC: Out of Season by Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man.
Hungry for stink.
I mean, really.
6:52 PM.

Doot? | |

Friday, March 26, 2004:

Tonight, I dropped a book off for Adrienne before she leaves for Chicago again tomorrow. I'm glad we got a chance to hang out and see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind together this week, though it seems unfair she has to leave again so soon... Anyway, on the way home, I stopped at Terranova's Pizza to pick up dinner. I'd been in there a couple weeks ago, and tonight, the owner greeted me by saying, "Good to see you again, buddy!"

My immediate thought was that I don't want to go there anymore. I'm not sure why that is; it's not as if he'd said, "What are you doing here again, you little furball?" He was a nice guy who seemed genuinely grateful that I enjoyed his food enough to return. However, I feel extremely uncomfortable when I'm recognized in any business establishment. Back when I used to work long enough hours at the bookstore to get a lunch break every day, I'd visit the Sbarro's in the mall a couple times a week. (I like pizza.) I stopped, though, when the girl behind the counter started predicting my orders: "Two slices of cheese [pizza] to go, right?" I know she was just being friendly, but it bothered me enough to start going to Pizza Hut instead. Which, in turn, I stopped doing once the learning-disabled cashier started acting familiar with me. Granted, he had a creepy Yakov Smirnoff vibe that probably drove several others away, but it wasn't the vibe so much as the attention that freaked me out. And when I go to the credit union, I dread getting one of the tellers who knows me by name (unless it's Vickey, who lives down the street and who went to school with me since fourth or fifth grade; I know her well enough to feel at ease around her).

I don't know where this obsession with anonymity comes from. Or why I was perfectly comfortable actually approaching other people for conversation at the anti-war rally last week, but I could barely make eye contact with the guy who sold me pizza tonight. Seems like the latter would be the less potentially volatile situation, doesn't it? My brain is dumb. Nevertheless, I think that has a lot to do with my desire to move to a big city; it's much easier to vanish there.

On another note, while it's obvious my brother Tim and I have the most generic names possible in the Western world (which is why I've gussied my name up with "Willie"), I'd still like to know the thought process behind the All Music Guide's decision to saddle me with the nickname "Kartier" and Tim with the nickname "T-Bone."

CURRENT MUSIC: Racially Yours by the Frogs.
In the mood to curl up in a big bed with all my friends and CDs and a television, but otherwise be left alone forever.
It's a really fun show! And they used a Hem song in tonight's episode, which just earns it more points.
11:04 PM.

Doot? | |

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