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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: April 18-April 24, 2004

Thursday, April 22, 2004:

Because nothing can ever be all good, the warm weather has brought with it the return of insects. Ladybugs abound. Bumblebees have started appearing in my house. Spiders all over the place. And not just the little, unripe yellow spiders that seem content to observe you from the corner where the walls meet the ceiling and are therefore easy to catch and destroy; the husky, hairy linebacker spiders are back. One of them appeared above my toilet last night, and before I had a chance to reach for some toilet paper with which to smash him, he jumped- he friggin' jumped- onto the back of the toilet and then scuttled away behind it so I couldn't find him. (Luckily, shortly before I gave up and decided the bathroom was off-limits until the next cold snap, I discovered him beneath the plunger and flushed him. Assuming it was the same spider. Let's just assume that and not consider the alternative, eh?)

If I see the first centipede of the year before June, I will immediately declare 2004 a failure on all counts. Those are the worst creatures ever created. Even if some genetic engineering snafu were to result in a creature that combined the obnoxiousness of a hyena, the hygiene habits of a chimp, and the slimy secretion of a hagfish, I would gladly adopt several of them into my home and pet them and love them and call them "George" if it meant I'd never have to see another centipede. Wretched little ambulatory moustaches.

It's not that I'm necessarily phobic about bugs; I just hate them. They serve no purpose except to behave in a gross, unpredictable fashion and spread germs, and the notion of them doing so around me irritates me. (Yes, I know, blah blah food web blah blah. It's not enough to justify their existence, and I think Adrienne will back me up on this.) I loathe eating outdoors because it exposes my food to bugs. Hell, I loathe being outdoors because it exposes me to bugs. Staying inside all the time is my defense against being crawled on- specifically by insects, but it also seems to prevent more pleasant variations on that activity- so it seems rather unfair if I'm still besieged by multi-legged intruders. And there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, so there's no point in complaining, but I just thought I'd mention it because I apparently feel as though this journal hasn't yet presented me as enough of a fussy little priss.

Had a dream last night about this girl Allison whom I went to high school with, but whom I haven't thought about in a few years. I don't remember what she did in the dream, but in reality, she was a year ahead of me. When I was a freshman, she was in both my gym class and drama class, and made merciless fun of me day in and day out. In tenth grade, she was in my creative writing class and when she noticed that I constantly avoided her, she took me aside during our free writing time and gave me a really sweet apology for "being such a bitch last year" and for making fun of me. That semester, we collaborated on some projects and wound up getting along really well, so it always makes me happy when she pops into my head. Of all the people who intentionally hurt my feelings in high school, I think she was the only one who ever apologized. (Odd coincidence: I just Googled her name to see if I could find her, and I wound up at Music Junkies Anonymous, under the reader comments. Don't know if it's her, but it's nice to see members of the WRC pop up even when I'm not looking for them.)

CURRENT MUSIC: Want One by Rufus Wainwright.
Barely contained anticipation for what may be the best 48 hours of my life, starting at 8 PM tonight: new Friends, new Survivor, new ER, sleep, drive to Toronto with Jess, Kraftwerk concert, beer consumption, sleep, continental breakfast, record shopping in Marco Ursi-approved stores, presumably some sort of Toronto coffee drinks, etc.
Miss Alli's "Wipered Out."
5:19 PM.

Doot? | |

Tuesday, April 20, 2004:

I'm not the only one of you who is aware of the Land O'Lakes boob trick, am I? At work, I mentioned it to Jon, and he had no clue what I was talking about. Of course, given his sexual orientation, it makes sense that he wouldn't have spent hours of his adolescence cutting apart butter packages in an effort to cobble together a simulation of what the Land O'Lakes girl might look like topless. However, I then asked Erica whether she was familiar with it, because her mind is a reliably thorough lexicon of sophomoric japery, and she was similarly baffled. It disappointed me, because that phenomenon was big news among my circle of friends when I was in middle school.

The only thing that gave me a little bit of hope was that I asked Annie O. if kids used to do that trick when she was growing up, and she said to me, "Oh, honey, I learned it when I was in college, but yes! I was just talking about that with Molly [Annie's daughter, who is my age], and apparently she hadn't ever learned it either, and I was really disappointed because I thought I'd raised her better than that. So I was going to make an example to show her and then, yes, sweetheart, I'll have to bring it in so we can educate Jon and Erica and everyone!" I really like Annie.

I grant you, the trick is idiotic beyond belief, but it's our shared heritage as American consumers! Surely, it's only a matter of time until the Land O'Lakes corporation decides to scrap Jess Betlach's famous "Indian maiden" and replace her with a bland, generic Native American woman who's wearing a business suit and merely pointing to a tray of butter on a nearby table because she seems less subservient that way. They might offer a glimpse of a garter belt beneath the new Land O'Lakes woman's dress if they don't want to completely de-sex the product- or at least model the woman so she has a passing resemblance to Maria Schneider's character from Last Tango in Paris- but even though that might be more culturally sensitive, I'm growing rather tired of icons from my childhood being bastardized. I don't want the Ninja Turtles to look mean in the cartoons (even if it is true to the comic book). I don't want Strawberry Shortcake to wear a kicky, Bally's-ready ensemble. I don't want Snap, Crackle, and Pop to have creepy anime eyes. Please just let me retain this silly little bit of what mattered to me when I was growing up, without fucking with my memories.

Hmm. This entry certainly managed to derail itself in short order.

Also, I just remembered that, when T-Bone and I were kids, we thought that the phrase "Spread with sweet cream" in the Land O'Lakes jingle was actually "Cinnamon crispy." We'd merrily run around the house singing, "Land O'Lakes! Cinnamon crispy!" over and over. Speaking of Snap, Crackle, and Pop, we also would've sworn on our lives that they were singing, "Fruity Marshmallow Krispies/Lots of fruity marshmallow shit!" in that one commercial.

CURRENT MUSIC: Electric Pocket Radio by The Incredible Moses Leroy.
Nostalgic yet again. I used to be happy.
Found magazine has compiled a book, which is enormously entertaining (and much more cost-effective than a subscription to the magazine itself). Buy one.
7:39 PM.

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Monday, April 19, 2004:

This morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, I found myself, in my bed, completely deaf in my right ear. It felt plugged, but I jabbed a Q-Tip brand cotton swab around in there for awhile and still couldn't hear anything. I then took a shower, and as I washed my hair, my fingernails rubbing against my scalp sounded like a hail of potato chips crashing down onto my head. Even though I let the water blast into my ear for a little while, in the hopes that the spray would dislodge whatever was blocking my ear canal, my deafness remained and I decided that a trip to the ol' walk-in clinic might be in order. (I don't have a regular physician at the moment.)

As I drove to the clinic that's located next to Chuck-E-Cheese, I contemplated the possibility that my hearing trouble was some sort of karmic punishment for becoming a CD-purchasing glutton. Since my ear didn't hurt, and I hadn't been suffering any hearing loss until this morning, I thought that perhaps last night's half.com purchase of Beyond the Java Sea by Metal Flake Mother (four dollars with shipping!) was the last straw, and God decided I'd had enough of the rock 'n' roll. Forgive me for bringing up Nintendo games yet again, but I thought of that feature in Super Mario Bros. that automatically ends the game if you get too greedy with the "unlimited extra lives" trick.

At the clinic, I sat in one of the patient rooms and read the clinic's privacy policy that was hanging on the wall. In part, it read, "Information regarding our patients will not be shared or disturbed with out patients' written consent." The words "or disturbed" were ineffectively covered with white-out.

A young woman came in and introduced herself as Dr. Krishna. She asked me a couple questions and then started digging around in my ear with some kind of sharp implement that felt like one of those metal hooks they use at the dentist to drain your gums of excess blood. Luckily, she was being as gentle and conscious of my comfort as she could, and after some digging, she said, "You're going to want to look at this," and my hearing suddenly popped back to normal. From her tone of voice, I was expecting her to then hold up a giant, wriggling cocoon teeming with larvae, but it was instead just a (motionless) wad of brown wax about the size of a quarter.

"How could that possibly happen?" I wondered aloud. After all, I do take pride in maintaining an above-average level of personal hygiene; it's not as if I live in a shanty in Yazoo City, Mississippi without indoor plumbing, showering with a Water Wiggle and cleaning my ears with a toothpick when necessary. I didn't understand how something that huge could grow in my ear without my knowledge.

"Do you use Q-Tips?" Dr. Krishna said.


"What probably happened is that you went too far with a Q-Tip, and pushed a piece of wax or something very far inside your ear, and then wax just started collecting on that. You should use Q-Tips only around the outside of your ear, to clean excess wax off there, because otherwise you may get this sort of buildup."

I hadn't known that. She jokingly asked if I wanted to keep the wax ball. I laughed and declined, thanked her, and then went about my day savoring the majesty and splendor of having a head full of stereophonic sound again.

While I was writing this, Jess called, and as we were talking, she shouted, "Oh my God; I just got hit really bad!" and the call went dead. Thankfully, she's not hurt- some idiot woman attempted to turn across Jess's lane without yielding the right-of-way, smashing Jess's bumper- but the terror of waiting five minutes or so for Jess to call me back and let me know if she was okay made me feel really petty for writing the rest of this entry. My ear thing isn't important. Thank God Jess is okay. It sucks and it's really frustrating that her car got beat up because people don't know how to drive, and I certainly hope that dealing with the insurance company isn't a nightmare for her, but I'm so, so relieved that she's unhurt. That was the most scared I've been in years.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin' glue.

What is Patriots Day, you ask? Apparently, it's a commemoration of the morning following Paul Revere's famous ride in 1775. It's a holiday that's still celebrated only in Maine and Massachusetts. I found out about it only because Bev (who lives in Maine) told me that the mail wouldn't be running today. I immediately assumed that it was another bullshit holiday that Bush made up, like Marriage Protection Week or The Feast of Unscrupulousness, but it turns out Patriots Day has been around for awhile in New England. (That didn't stop Bush, however, from declaring September 11 to also be "Patriot Day," seemingly in full ignorance of the fact that that name was already taken, so I was still right.) So yay, I suppose, even though I'd think we've already covered all our America-rah-rah bases with Independence Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
5:36 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, April 18, 2004:

The Ladykillers was really great. Easily the best thing the Coen brothers have done since The Big Lebowski. (I admittedly haven't seen Intolerable Cruelty, but nobody seemed to like that one at all. Oh, and there are a couple things in this entry that might be considered vaguely spoiler-ish if you haven't seen the movie, but I don't think I give too much away. Basically, I tell you that the good guys win, and while I realize that's not always a foregone conclusion with the Coen brothers, I hardly think it's spoiling a major plot twist or anything.) There's still not much in the way of character development here, but it's up to the old Coen standards of giddy, oversized plotting, beautifully quirky shot composition, and dialogue that manages to be giggle-inducing in its sheer, insular over-cleverness. Especially with the lines Tom Hanks had to deliver, you could practically imagine Joel and Ethan sitting in their writing office, cracking each other up by making his sentences more, more, more florid until any meaning is swallowed in a hilarious parody of "refined" Southern loquaciousness. Granted, the character's logorrhea occasionally seems like a simple gimmick, but that problem is overcome by the fact that it's also indicative of the vanity that is the character's tragic flaw (in addition to being funny enough to justify its own existence). Plus, there are enough interesting characters to make their individual one-dimensionalness forgivable.

This is particularly true since Irma P. Hall's character is really the film's moral center, even if she doesn't necessarily have the most screen time; much like Frances McDormand's Marge Gunderson in Fargo, Hall's Marva Munson has her own amusing personality quirks, but ultimately stands for all that is good in the world, in her own oblivious way. I haven't seen the original Ladykillers with Alec Guinness, but the way Munson good-naturedly holds her own as the evil that surrounds her bumbles its way to self-destruction seems perfectly in keeping with the Coens' peculiar sensibility. I know the film has gotten mixed reviews, and it's definitely no Fargo or Lebowski- or even Raising Arizona, as far as Coen-brand screwball comedies go- but I laughed a lot and grinned the whole way home. I'd give it a B+ and recommend that you see it after you've already seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Kill Bill. (Haven't yet seen the latter, but everyone except Rich seems to love it.)

Do you guys think it would be a good idea for me to pay to have one of my songs appear on one of MAGNET's monthly sampler discs? Do you think it'd be worth the $500 investment? I've already taken out a quarter-page, black-and-white ad for Airbag in this month's MAGNET; do you think doing the sampler would be overkill? Let me know, because I value your opinion, people on Jon's "friends" list whom I've never met! Also, The Strokes are on the cover of the issue my ad is in, if you'd care to look for it. I'm not sure what page it's on or anything yet, but it's hard to miss. Big letters that say, "The Airbag's Lipstick Kiss."

Okay, the Tylenol PM is kicking in, which means I'm done Willin' around for this evening. I hope everyone is okay out there. Please do your best to help other people be happy if you're able.

CURRENT MUSIC: The Chinese Album by Spacehog.
10:47 PM.

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PAST JOURNAL ENTRIES: May 3, 2003-May 9, 2003. May 10, 2003-May 16, 2003. May 17-May 24, 2003. May 25-May 31, 2003. June 1-June 7, 2003. June 8-June 13, 2003. June 14-June 21, 2003. June 22-July 1, 2003. July 2-July 13, 2003. July 14-July 20, 2003. July 21-July 26, 2003. July 27-August 4, 2003. August 5-August 9, 2003. August 10-August 16, 2003. August 17-August 23, 2003. August 24-August 30, 2003. August 31-September 6, 2003. September 7-September 13, 2003. September 14-September 20, 2003. September 21-September 29, 2003. September 30-October 4, 2003. October 5-October 11, 2003. October 12-October 19, 2003. October 20-October 26, 2003. October 27-November 1, 2003. November 2-November 16, 2003. November 17-December 3, 2003. December 4-December 12, 2003. December 13-December 20, 2003. December 21-December 27, 2003. December 28, 2003-January 3, 2004. January 4-January 11, 2004. January 12-January 17, 2004. January 18-January 24, 2004. January 25-January 31, 2004. February 1-February 8, 2004. February 9-February 14, 2004. February 15-February 24, 2004. February 25-February 29, 2004. March 1-March 7, 2004. March 8-March 25, 2004. March 26-April 7, 2004. April 8-April 17, 2004.