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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: July 31-September 10, 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007:

Jess and Tim, two of my best friends of all time, married one another on Saturday, July 21 and I was allowed to attend. I left my camera in Maine, so I have no pictures of the wedding to share. Instead, please enjoy this shot of Tim stuffing Jess into a D.W. costume at a 2005 PBS Kids event.

Let me back up, though, and hit some highlights from my latest trip to Michigan. Lots of bits may not be worth mentioning due to space considerations (there's only so much space on the Internet), but just because I don't discuss them in detail doesn't mean they weren't important to me. For instance, most every evening during my visit was spent watching Tigers games or Curb Your Enthusiasm with my parents. I can't elaborate on that sentence in any interesting way, but I really enjoy my time with them. It's what I expect the French probably call something like "l'joie j'esprit c'est quefamille."

The night following my arrival, I dreamt that Anthony Bourdain took over the role of Ronald McDonald in McDonald's commercials. It seems my dreams have started to offer me glimpses into the plans of Hell's Ironic Punishment Division. I'll let you know if I find out what's going on with Jack Valenti.

Bucky the quaker parrot has been getting hormone injections lately because of a testosterone imbalance that was making her all aggressive and 'roidy. I'm pleased to report that, on this visit, she was back to her old self, separating her food pellets by color, cheerfully shredding the roll of cash register tape she's got in her cage, and enlivening my family's conversations with interjections like "What's a puppy say? Arf arf!" and "Bucky's a silly girl!" Dad has evidently been trying to teach her to sing Harry Woods's "Side by Side" with him; a project that Bucky is only occasionally interested in. Especially when Dad tries to show off:

DAD: "...but we'll travel along, singing a song, siiiiide byyyy..." [Throws it dramatically to Bucky]
BUCKY: "Oatmeal."
[Both Dad and Bucky cackle.]

Before we all left the house for any reason, I'd ask Bucky, "Can you go in your cage?" and she'd obediently climb down and let herself be shut in, while congenially muttering, "Be a good birdie. Go in your cage. C'mon. C'mere, Bucky!" So she's doing well, and her presence continues to be good for my dad's state of mind.

On Friday, I'd made dinner plans with Adrienne. I was hoping to pop into Math Reviews and perform a surprise inspection, but the traffic on the way to Ann Arbor proved too thick to weave through in time for me to get to MR during working hours. It may have been for the best, though, because I got mixed up about the location of the Panera Bread where I'd be meeting Adrienne. It's in the Barnes & Noble plaza, and I drove helplessly around the Borders plaza for a time. I then admitted defeat and entered Borders to ask directions (and quickly hunt for the new Ween EP), but the poor guy manning the info desk was busy dealing with two teenage girls, awkwardly draped with pretty, fancy, poofy ball gowns, who were under the misimpression that Borders would be hosting a Harry Potter party that evening. I wordlessly skipped out of the store, confident in the knowledge that I wasn't the most confused person there, though I was likely still the most spazzily attired.

Adrienne and I had both unexpectedly eaten a late lunch, so we each just got a lemonade and nursed it for the better part of an hour, until a peculiar stench overtook the dining area. I thought it smelled like beef stew, but Adrienne thought it smelled like garbage, and I conceded that I can no longer tell the difference. So we dawdled around Barnes & Noble for awhile, chatting and dodging the Death Eater-costumed employees who were in character a wee bit early for the midnight release of The Deathly Hallows.

Saturday was the wedding, which was held at St. Isidore Catholic church in Macomb. I admit that I was a little nervous, simply because I tend to think of Catholic ceremonies as being very ritualized, heavy on scripts and tchotchkes, and I didn't want to be so ignorant about the whole thing that everyone else would be fluidly performing some sort of blessing choreography they had memorized while I'd be the lone fool stumbling blindly about, winding up with my foot stuck in a wastepaper basket and so desperate to balance myself that I'd grab onto a teetering statue of the Virgin Mary in such a way that we'd appear to be dancing the Lambada. Not that I have anything against the Catholic laity- it's just that my experience in dealing with the Catholic Church has been limited to once getting hung up on by a pissy woman who worked at a Catholic supply store. (I couldn't find a training clicker for Bucky at the pet stores I checked, so I called in search of one of those "now stand/now sit" clickers that nuns use.)

Thus, before I left for the ceremony, Mom gave me a crash course on dealing with ceremonial Catholic customs: "When everyone else kneels, it's okay if you just sit there. And if everyone goes up to take communion, you can probably... just sit there." I also watched a few minutes of Mother Angelica's program on EWTN, but it was literally nothing but her and her fellow nuns reciting the Rosary over and over, and I didn't think I'd glean a lot of etiquette pointers from that. I needn't have worried, though. Apart from a few bits where many of the attendees seemed to know that the deacon required a verbal response, it was a comfortable ceremony for those of us who were there just to see Tim and Jess get married. During some moments that didn't require their participation, Tim kept whispering in Jess's ear, clearly trying to make her giggle at inappropriate times- and succeeding- which I hope someone got a picture of, because it was a tiny, teasing, loving act that I thought accurately encapsulated why they're so good together. Jess cried during the exchange of vows, and I admit to furtively blinking back a few tears of my own because I am a cornball.

There was a three-hour break between the wedding and the reception, and I'd intended to go home and change my clothes in the interim. When I mentioned this plan to Tim, though, he dryly cautioned me that it was a formal reception, "so make sure your comfort is minimal." So I went home and napped instead. Woke up, threw on my sportcoat again, and as I leaned down to wish her goodbye, the ever-mercurial Bucky grabbed my nose in her beak and yanked, forcing me to show up at the reception with a fresh, inch-long Chinatown gash on my face. ("It makes you look tuff, Ponyboy," Bev deadpanned upon my return home.)

Burning Tree Country Club, where the reception was located, was very nice. Most notably, the urinals in the men's room were overflowing with ice cubes, which quickly became the toast of all the guys at my table. The hall was well appointed, the staff was courteous, the food was soigne, and so on, but... every time someone returned from the men's room, the purpose and status of these glacial deposits would become the topic of fascinated and delighted discussion. I got along very well with everyone at my table, incidentally, even though I'd never met most of them before. Throughout the reception, this guy Zach and I entertained one another by recounting bits from Patton Oswalt's stand-up albums ("I'm going to fill your hoo-ha with goof juice!") and sharing our astringent despisal of The Fauxhawk. I initially balked at trying the tortellini, unsure whether it was vegetarian and disinclined to sound bratty by getting up to ask anyone, so Tim's pre-wedlock roommate courteously went up to the front of the hall and checked with Tim and Jess on my behalf. (They evidently guessed why he was asking, and reportedly toasted me.) Very cool people all around.

"God Only Knows" was the song Tim and Jess used for their first married dance. They later confessed to me that they hadn't told me about it in advance because they figured I would've, at the very least, tried to talk them out of it. Which I probably would, but I would've been wrong, dammit. It was perfect.

For the record, though, I probably would've advocated for "Distortions" by Clinic. The first memory I have of noticing a spark between the two of them was a year or two before they started officially dating, at Lorenzo's Christmas party. Ashleigh and I were mopping the floor with everyone at Outburst because I am awesome, but Tim and Jess took a pass on the game, sat by the hearth, and chatted about music. Once the game ended, I was naturally unable to resist butting into the conversation, and somewhere in there, Tim said either that he'd just lent Clinic's first two albums to Jess or he was going to do so. That's really all I remember of our discussion, and I don't know whether it's a chat that sticks out as significant for the couple at all, but I clearly remember it as the point where I started thinking there was something between them. Ever since, I've associated Clinic with the two of them because that's how I mentally catalog conversations. And "Distortions" is about as sweet as Clinic gets (and about as Brian Wilson-y, too, its drones and dissonance succored by harmonies and strings). Not that they honestly should've picked the song for their first dance based on when I first noticed their mutual attraction, but if they'd asked, I wouldn't have shut up about it all the same.

On Monday, my parents and I went to see Ratatouille, which we all loved. As with all Pixar films, every inch of every frame in Ratatouille is crammed full of an astonishing amount of detail and texture. Their stories and dialogue are always so strong that it's not like you'd ever miss, say, the excruciating care with which pavement grains are rendered or the way Janeane Garofalo's character's hair fetchingly catches the light if the filmmaking team didn't include that sort of thing. But the fact that Brad Bird and everyone else did take centuries of rendering hours to perfect every single rat hair is indicative of how fervently they want the audience to take as much pleasure as possible from their little cartoon, and the effort totally pays off. It's a great film, and it's nothing short of thrilling to look at, especially compared with cut-rate computer-animated crap like Open Season and Chicken Little, whose characters appear to have only a few more avars than those in Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing" video.

My flights home were as uneventful as those when I was heading out, with the exception of a family on my Philly-Bangor flight playing the noisiest game of Mad Libs in history, across several rows. ("DAD, NUMBER!" "3.14!" "ANIMAL! ERIC, NAME AN ANIMAL!" "SALAMANDER!") That's about all I have to tell you right now, because I'm tired of typing.

The entire trip was fun, but obviously, the centerpiece was the honor I was granted in being invited to my friends' wedding. As I fumblingly attempted to articulate in the card I gave them, Jess and Tim, independently of one another, are among the very most deserving of happiness of people I've ever met. The fact that they've found that happiness in one another, then, goes even farther toward making me believe that some things in this world are satisfying and just.

CURRENT MUSIC: Dying in Stereo by The Northern State and Rockity Roll by Mike Doughty.
Sounds so wrong, but I need to fake the will to get along.
On her Semi-Homemade Grilling special, Sandra announced that she was going to turn the two barbecue skewers she was grilling... and proceeded to flip each of them 360 degrees, back onto the side that just cooked. Two in a row, so that was no accident. And this is the footage that made the final cut! And also, on the previous episode, she pronounced "mesclun" as "mescaline."
12:35 p.m.

Doot? | |

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