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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: July 21-July 26, 2003

Tuesday, July 22, 2003:

I went to Chicago this past weekend to visit Adrienne, and it was the best weekend I've had in a long time. Even though I had a splitting headache on Saturday that left me unable to do anything but stare blankly into space and nod vaguely at everything she said, I've really missed hanging out with her since she moved to Northwestern, so it was great to see her. And you're going to hear about it, because I don't want to forget it and I've entirely given up on my private journal.

When I arrived at her student housing, there was a random guy standing in the parking lot, screaming into his cell phone about all the reasons he is opposed to smoking. He was really emphatic about it. I halfway thought he was hired by thetruth.com to indirectly pass along anti-smoking messages to college students, but I'm not sure that repeatedly shrieking, "SMOKING IS GAY!" is really the most informative way of getting that message across.

Adrienne took me down to the Art Institute of Chicago, where the "suggested admission" was $10.00, though you could pay any amount you wanted. Adrienne paid a dollar. (She told me that when she lived as a broke New Yorker, she used to pay a dime at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and would get really nasty looks. Her ability to unflinchingly do things like that is one of the many reasons I consider her one of the best friends I've ever had.) My fear of being scorned by strangers in unfamiliar cities- who will see me for 30 seconds in their entire lives- kicked in, however, and I paid the full ten. Which really does seem excessive, in retrospect. That's, like, half a parking ticket!

The museum itself was amazing, however. There was a fairly interesting exhibit of Indian art through the ages (which ages, exactly, I don't remember) that had some beautiful pieces. I was surprised by how modern and cartoony some of the work looked, considering that it was created in the 18th century. Adrienne pointed out that it really wasn't all that long ago, comparatively speaking, but there was one tapestry that reminded me a lot of the semi-androgynous character from Operation, for how recent it looked to me.

Then we spent awhile wandering around, looking for Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande Jatte, or "The Ferris Bueller Painting," as we called it. It's much bigger than I'd imagined. There's my informed critique. Along the way, we also saw a bunch of paintings that I didn't know were housed there and I'd never thought I'd get a chance to see in real life, like American Gothic and Picasso's The Old Guitarist (which I love despite the fact that it totally creeped me out in elementary school).

It was a beautiful day out, so we then wandered down Michigan Avenue and looked at all the shops and enjoyed the breeze coming off the lake and saw a guy with a miniature PA system rambling about some decades-old papal conspiracy. It was nice. Then we rode the El back to Evanston and ate dinner at a really cool little diner called Clarke's, where they played Nick Drake, Nico, and a weird karaoke version of "California Dreamin'." Adrienne was good-natured about my compulsive need to drop everything and point out the name of the artist whenever I hear a song I recognize in public (e.g., "Hey- Badly Drawn Boy!"). It's really an irritating little quirk and I need to stop doing it. Great tomato soup at Clarke's.

Later, after mocking the grave-bed room on Trading Spaces, we went to a new googolplex by Adrienne's apartment to see Pirates of the Caribbean. While we were waiting in line for the employees to finish cleaning the theater, I attempted not to bust out laughing at the arrogant bastard standing directly behind us, who fancied himself President of the Movie Line, and was shouting at people who were confused as to where the line began, lest they should unwittingly cut ahead of him: "Pirates? You here for Pirates? The line starts back there!" Over and over. Imagine Danny Aiello in Do the Right Thing, only somehow pettier, to get an idea of the anger at his fellow moviegoers festering within this guy's breast. His understandably mortified teenage daughter kept hissing at him that it wasn't important, and he kept insisting, "It's important to me!" At one point, he made some odd comparison between his plight and that of the concertgoers who were killed at Altamont (though he seemed to be under the impression that they were trampled, and because of line-cutters at that), and insisted that he was through being a nice guy, because if he was just a nice guy about everything, they'd wind up in the thirtieth row. I actually think that the thirtieth row would be nearly ideal for a theater of that size, but I'm probably just not understanding the importance of his principles. Adrienne said she wanted to turn around to see how big the line truly was, but was afraid Queue King would deem that improper movie etiquette and explode at her.

The movie was pretty good, though mostly due to Johnny Depp's entertainingly bizarre approach to his character. And although we thought Gore Verbinski could've maybe reined himself in after the third or fourth climax (it's a 143-minute kids' pirate movie), we agreed that he has an entertainingly funny name. And Orlando Bloom's character was about as well-drawn as those of the individual Budweiser frogs on which Verbinski made his name. And then we watched Square Pegs on TV Land.

On Sunday, Adrienne had to go to a luncheon with some of her friends, so I sat in her room and watched The Princess Bride (much better than I remembered) and I Dream of Jeannie, which I'd never seen before and I now hate. We talked for awhile upon her return, while watching What Not to Wear, and then I had to go sit in Chicago traffic for about two hours. So yeah, it was a wonderful weekend that left me feeling totally energized, which is something I haven't felt in a non-coffee-related fashion for... months, maybe.

I really don't understand the whole David Kelly thing, no matter how much I read about it. I think all the articles I've read have left out some information that's vital to my comprehension. Basically, I don't understand how the BBC could be blamed for anything in these circumstances, since all they did was use the guy as an anonymous source, right? Could someone try to explain it to me?

CURRENT MUSIC: Rabbit Songs by Hem. Beautiful record. Jessi made me a copy of it last night, and I'm sure it's going to make me cry at least once at some point.
CURRENT MOOD: Disappointed beyond words that Television Without Pity isn't going to be recapping Trading Spaces from now on, as I just discovered when I went scrounging for the link in the middle of this entry. Yeah, I know you all feel my pain.
AMOUNT THAT EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER SINCE SADDAM'S SONS WERE KILLED: 100%! Everything's different now! It's a victory for all of mankind! All's well that ends well! Rejoice, people of Iraq!
TIME: 10:22 PM

Doot? | |

Monday, July 21, 2003:

Why does the Detroit Free Press let Mitch Albom write columns about... well, I was going to say "about art forms he doesn't understand and obviously has no inclination to?" but I may as well just amend that to "about anything, ever?" Not only is he, oh, three years late in wagging fingers at Eminem's lyrics, but he peppers his columns with mind-numbingly ignorant lines like, "Is it really a song if it's a rap?" Not that I'm a huge fan of Eminem and I feel betrayed or anything, but hasn't most of the civilized world reached a consensus that, lyrical content notwithstanding, Eminem is an exceptionally talented musician within his genre? That irritated me this morning.

I will, however, give Mitch credit for likely being the first columnist to ever mention The Dead Milkmen in the sports section of a major metropolitan newspaper. He did so in a story about Tigers shortstop and Milkmen fan Jim Walewander, that has been reproduced- along with an awesome picture of the band and Sparky Anderson- in the Tiger Stadium retrospective The Corner, I just discovered. Albom takes the same unfunny "I don't understand these kids and their 'rock and/or roll'" attitude in this article that he did in the Eminem one, but nevertheless, it's nice to see the Milkmen immortalized in a coffee table book.

I wish I was getting paid for writing music reviews again. It'd be nice to have some motivation to sit down and review things; I just haven't felt like it this month.

CURRENT MOOD: Giddy with the excitement of not being at work and yet getting paid! This must be what workman's comp is like!
NUMBER OF ADVERTISEMENTS FOR GIGLI I SAW THIS WEEKEND:
Roughly 6,000.
TIME: Sometime in the morning on Monday, but not published until Tuesday because I got distracted.

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. 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.


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