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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: June 8-June 13, 2003

Friday, June 13, 2003:

Everyone needs to go check out Ken Cursoe's Dear Tiny Sepuku. It's a comic strip that's like a cross between Matt Groening's Love is Hell book and Dan Savage's Savage Love column. Hopeless everyday people like you and me write in for love advice, and Ken responds, through his character Tiny Sepuku, in the most hilariously bitter, self-destructive, and cynical manner possible (without ever being mean; it's actually a pretty cheerful strip, even though its truth stings like a cardboard cut). If you're pressed for time (sure you are) and don't feel like rooting around the site right now, here are three great examples to get you hooked: one two three.

He makes a reference to Spain at one point, too! How cool is that?

Those who still haven't heard enough of the sound of rueful laughter echoing around their otherwise empty (and sparsely furnished) abode would do well to also visit Don Hertzfeldt's Bitter Films.

Okay, going to Pizza Papalis.

CURRENT MOOD: Not fooling anyone.
6:55 PM.

Doot? | |

Thursday, June 12, 2003:

I realize that the existence of three consecutive entries that mention My So-Called Life puts me dangerously close to the territory of abandoned, unofficial fansites like "The Chase Place," "MrsJordan19's So-Called Site," and "Paul Dooley: Vaguely Recognizable Character Actor for Hire Reasonable Rates!!!" I apologize. I only wanted to point out that, before I had to return the DVDs to Adrienne (she's moving to Chicago tomorrow, as she's going to be attending Northwestern), I got through 15 of the 19 episodes, and in none of them- including the beauty pageant one- does Patty Chase utter the phrase, "We're all special in our own way." So it's entirely possible that Jen and I were watching some different show entirely when we heard that phrase. We watched a lot of TV that year. Okay, just wanted to set the record straight.

Jessi pointed out an interesting little Internet detail to me: if you go to bn.com and look up Untitled: A Bad Teen Novel (which I've mentioned in a previous entry), the section that details what items "people who bought this book also bought" mentions the book Letters to Wendy's by Joe Wenderoth, which is another book I just picked up. We figure that's entirely my doing, because it doesn't seem feasible that anyone else could've recently purchased both books from Barnes & Noble. I like it when those automated recommendations operate on virtually no accumulated data. Like that time in CDNow's infancy when I looked up a Neil Finn record and was cheerfully offered a copy of Nigga Please by Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Last night, Erica, Lorenzo, and I went over to Canada out of a shared need to go do something. We discovered a great new restaurant (well, new to me) called Bubi's, which is not pronounced the way you think. Lots of nifty specialty burgers, lots of nifty specialty drinks, and most importantly, lots of menu options for vegetarians! It's a very playful, unique joint, but not in an oppressive, T.G.I. Friday's, flare-intensive, crazy-crap-on-the-walls sorta way. I would totally be there every single day if I didn't harbor this irrational fear of customs agents finding something terrorist-like about my demeanor and deciding to search my car. (Similar to my fear of Checkpoint alarms going off for no reason every time I walk out of Best Buy empty-handed.)

I wasn't able to find a picture of our waitress on the Bubi's staff page, or maybe I'm just not recognizing her because she was wearing a baseball cap yesterday, but she was extremely patient as my party committed assorted dining patron faux pas. For instance:

· Lorenzo, in a fit of "My First Legally Obtained Alcoholic Beverage" naivete, ordered his strawberry margarita "on the rocks." She politely suggested he might not like that.
· I lost my train of thought in the middle of ordering, as my mind wasn't able to function in a linear fashion until I identified the too-familiar new wave song playing on the music loop. (Answer: "Desperate but Not Serious" by Adam Ant.) I then proceeded to order a veggie burger with a Phil Spector-style "wall of specialized condiments" atop it, and she was very accommodating.
· Erica... well, I guess Erica didn't really do anything wrong. Except when she did a spot-on impression of me feeling tipsy, though I don't imagine that struck our waitress as especially embarrassing. It shall remain a stain on our friendship, however, in perpetuity.

At any rate, I was cheered by the simple fact that she spent an hour waiting on three noisy Americans who proceeded to plow through a bunch of spirituous beverages and then noisily quibble about Canadian architecture, fight over the menus, and play gleefully immature "Would you rather...?" games. Therefore, if you're ever in Windsor, you should go to Bubi's. You should also get driving directions to the restaurant ahead of time, so you don't wind up infuriating your hungry friends by accidentally shanghaiing them across town to a totally non-Bubi's area.

After dinner, we wandered around Windsor for a little while. Lorenzo went into some men's shop to try on some sandals, and they let him slip right out of his own pair into the store pair without donning one of those sanitary footie things first. I don't think that occurred to him, and I chose not to point it out, because if it had been me in his position, I would not have been able to relax and have fun for the rest of the evening until I was able to find a place to wash my foot, disinfect my shoe, and perhaps call the Ontario health department.

Finally, the three of us wound up at a cozy public park, walking along the uncharacteristically pretty Detroit River. It was an extremely nice moment of the casual, spontaneous sort that doesn't come along very often. The three of us sat on a park bench, trying to figure out- without a scrap of scientific or engineering knowledge between us- how the tunnel under the river could've been constructed, and then pointing out the buildings we recognized across the water. At one point, Lorenzo jokingly did the "fake yawn" move to put his arm around Erica, and she pushed his hand off her neck, telling him he was choking her. She repositioned his hand on her arm and said that at some point, she's gonna teach him how to do these things right. They're not dating or anything; it was just a small, cute gesture of intimacy between friends, from both sides. It made me smile just to be there.

CURRENT MUSIC: The High Highs the Low Lows by Koester.
CURRENT MOOD: Really not happy with the way I wrote this entry. Too many convoluted sentences. More importantly on the mood front, bummed about Adrienne leaving. Happy for her, and looking forward to visiting her in Chicago soon, but I'm going to really miss her.
"If you took to me like a gull takes to wind, I'd have jumped from my tree and I'd have danced like the king of the eyesores, and the rest of our lives would've been well," if I liked the person. "I gave you seven years- what did you give me back? A jaw grind, disposition to a panic attack," if not.
TIME: 11:54 PM.

Doot? | |

Monday, June 9, 2003:

I'm now addicted to My So-Called Life. I spent much of the weekend watching the second and third episode on Adrienne's DVD, which she was kind enough to lend me ("much" of the weekend because a not-insubstantial amount of time was spent pausing the episodes to get snacks and beer, rewinding certain scenes to see what dialogue I'd missed while shouting to no one in particular about what a snide little bitch Sharon is, and then comparing my impressions of things with those of the Television Without Pity recappers). She was also indulgent enough to promise to deliver the remainder of the discs tonight, so that I might have myself a marathon- one that is doomed to end abruptly and with no satisfactory resolution, much as the show itself did.

I'd seen the show only once before this past weekend, during its posthumous run on MTV a couple years ago. The episode I caught had something to do with a mother-daughter beauty pageant, and I remember nothing about it except it contained the phrase, "We're all special in our own way," which struck Jen and me as very High School Health Class, and it became an inside joke between the two of us for the remainder of our relationship. One of those jokes that could crack the other person up just by tossing it into a conversation, apropos of nothing; we'd cock our heads from side to side and chant in a sing-songy voice, "We're all special in our own way! Own way! Own way!"

And like most great inside jokes, it suggests that both of us were subsisting on a diet of gasoline fumes and morning glory seeds when we made it up, once you look at it on paper. (Hey- at least we didn't write it down with a bunch of our other inside jokes and then get T-shirts made with several dozen random, vaguely sexual phrases on them like track teams tend to do in a show of insular solidarity. Crap like, "'Now we are so happy, we do the Dance of Joy!' 'Tina's a slut!' 'Hoo doggy!' 'Put that vat of tar back where you found it!' 'Wha' happened?!' 'I like it runny!' 'Speculum toast!' 'Stimulate my paraurethral gland, baby!' 'Do your due diligence!' 'You stupid whacksturbator!'" You know the kind.)

Anyway, actually watching the show, and growing to understand the relationships between the characters instead of joining it in medias res, I'm beginning to feel like an accomplice to a particularly grisly murder by not watching the show during its inaugural season, after which it was cancelled. It's really, really good. Claire Danes is an amazing actress here in a way that she doesn't get to exhibit in Romeo + Juliet or The Hours or Home for the Holidays or, heaven help us, Igby Goes Down. Seriously, what was I watching in ninth grade? Simpsons, Seinfeld, Frasier, and then Friends halfway through the first season, combined with not hanging out with any actual people ever. I totally could've made room for this show. All I can do now is hope that Claire shows up to the Fountains of Wayne/Ben Lee show next month so I can deliver a personal apology to her for being one of the millions whose negligent television habits forced her off of television and into film. Damn us! I'm sure that's her perspective on things too.

Food I consumed on Thursday: n/a. Food I consumed on Friday: Two slices of DiGiorno pizza. Food I consumed on Saturday: Two leftover slices of DiGiorno pizza. Food I consumed on Sunday: Half a box of Kraft macaroni. Food I consumed today: Several handfuls of Lay's potato chips, a stick of string cheese, and two generic brand multi-vitamins. Food I'll consume tomorrow: Who knows?! Ahh, the mysteries of life... (Probably more chips, or perhaps Triscuits, if I'm feeling especially contumacious.)

I hope I never get so "mature" that I can't laugh at my friends belching in the middle of a conversation.

CURRENT MUSIC: The Beginning Stages Of... by The Polyphonic Spree. For some reason, song titles appear when I look this album up on CDDB even though none appear on the album itself. Is that right? At any rate, I will make it through the 36-minute final track (listed as "A Long Day" on CDDB) even if it bores me!
What if Father Guido Sarducci's monologue about the afterlife in Gilda Live is actually right?
6:50 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, June 8, 2003:

Adrienne came over Friday night, and we watched Moulin Rouge and the pilot episode of My So-Called Life, thanks to a bunch of DVDs she brought over. (Along with the first X-Men, the first season of Buffy, and a Bollywood film I can't remember the name of, unfortunately. We didn't get a chance to watch those.) I liked Moulin Rouge much more than I'd expected to, given the presence of Nicole Kidman and John Leguizamo. As A and I discussed, the dialogue was pretty crappy and cliched, but it doesn't matter because the dialogue frequently makes detours into the crappy, cliched language of pop songs anyway- so in fact, it's a rather clever way of winking at how genuinely effective the overly simplistic-yet-overwrought language of Dolly Parton, The Sweet, Madonna, Bernie "School of Vaudevillian Lyrical Subtlety" Taupin, etc. can be in any context. Baz Luhrmann's overly stylized graphic at the end of the film claims that the project is mostly about love itself, but it seemed to me more like a sweet, campy valentine to the language of pop music. Albeit one that would've made me feel like I was suffering an aneurysm if I hadn't been in a properly open-minded mood...

I've finally remembered to sit down with an open Kazaa connection and the (British) Encyclopedia of Singles book that my friend Jim got for me a few years ago, in an effort to catch up on all the great singles that I've probably missed, given my unfortunately tardy birth year of 1980. Though I've never felt much of a need to investigate the oeuvre of Bros, and the presence of more than one Slade song should raise a skeptical eyebrow on the jaded face of any pseudo-critic like yours truly, it's a great resource to discover forgotten songs by Millie Small, The Shamen, and Esther and Abi Ofarim. (I don't know whether those songs are any good or not, as I'm just downloading them now, but I know I would never have heard of them otherwise, which is reason enough to try.) I'm admittedly ignorant of a lot of the songs that have left the British press enthralled over the years, and continually baffled by the constant blaring of the Smiths' siren to come from that side of the Atlantic, but this book at least reminded me that I'm currently lacking Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie," so it's served its purpose. Nice to see Babylon Zoo getting their due, too.

New Radiohead, Fountains of Wayne, and Grandaddy on Tuesday, lest any of you people should forget.

CURRENT MOOD: Just happy that I'm spelling everything correctly after seven beers and nearly 24 hours of wakefulness.
CURRENT PLEASANT SURPRISE: Rod Hilton over at The Editing Room has finally updated! Granted, I have no plans to actually see Matrix: Reloaded, and in my current state, I can't even remember which stupid, interchangable reel of (presumably "supernatural") celluloid took the name Dreamcatcher, but his recaps are funny, regardless.
TIME: 5:56 AM.

Doot? | |

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.