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Willie's Off-Brand Web Journal: September 21-September 29, 2003

Friday, September 26, 2003:

Today, a customer complained that someone had strewn porn all over our parking lot. Sure enough, right in front of the store, the entire parking lot was covered with pictures cut out of assorted hardcore magazines, like someone was trying to plant a forest of hot teen action out there. So Annie, the assistant manager who everyone adores, had to spend the morning wandering around outside with rubber gloves, picking up enough money shots to fill a garbage bag. "Now, everyone knows I don't mind a little porn," she said, "but this is ridiculous." And yet, perfectly in keeping with our usual clientele.

Forgot to mention this in the last entry, but some kid came to "Story Time" in the children's department the other night and intentionally peed right on the floor. His mom was up in the cafe, and he apparently wanted attention. Mary Jane had to clean it up. There's also a really gross man who frequently comes into the store (and who we affectionately refer to as "Big Fat Smelly Guy") who weighs probably 400 pounds and who you can literally smell halfway across the store, because he evidently doesn't bathe. He sits in the cafe for hours at a time.

What's that you say? "You shouldn't mock him; he probably can't help the way he is"? "It's not his fault he smells"? Okay, fine. I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of his right to hang out in a bookstore all day long just because his horrid odor clings to the inside of my nostrils for several hours like a bat in a cave. However, Big Fat Smelly Guy also has a habit of smearing his feces on the wall in the men's room. I am not joking. I am not exaggerating. I'm not making stuff up. Every time he's in the store, we find a big, abstract poo mural on the wall. And I don't know about you, but that's where I draw the tolerance line.

It's as if all the basic laws that govern human interaction and behavior are defenestrated the very instant these people set foot in Barnes & Noble. I don't understand it. They're losing control of their bodily functions, they're speaking to one another as if there's no "courtesy" filter on their collective brain (and talking to us employees in the same fashion- some bitch the other night said to Aimee, "You might not feel so bad about yourself if you started wearing makeup"), they're just piling their garbage in the middle of the floor... it's like they're retarded four-year-olds who've never encountered another human being in their lives.

I want to go into a Rip Van Winkle coma and wake up in 20 years and have everything be better then. Tape my shows for me.

CURRENT MOOD: I hate everything. It was too sunny today. I think I'm allergic to the soap I've been using. Women hate me. The Republicans are stealing my thoughts. What smells like mustard? There sure are some ugly people in this neighborhood. I'm cold and there are wolves after me.
I stopped at Burger King to pick up some egg-and-cheese Croissan'wiches for Jon and myself this morning, and the woman running the drive-thru seemed genuinely friendly and called me "kiddo." So I hope the Death Comet misses her.
4:24 PM.

Doot? | |

Wednesday, September 24, 2003:

I know there's very little in this world that's more irritating than hearing someone bitch about his/her job, so I'll try not to rant too much, but when the week thus far has been spent with the Barnes & Noble delivery guy constructing such an enormous wall of books in your receiving room that you feel like you're the antagonist in The Cask of Amontillado, it's hard to retain the traditional rosy outlook of the music critic. At any rate, I'll try to keep things down to a few choice anecdotes:

Jon and I stumbled across an interesting insight today, when we were talking about old cereal commercials from when we were kids: most advertisements for cereals with an irresponsible sugar-to-actual-nutrition ratio featured a mascot who never got to actually eat the cereal. In the Fruity/Cocoa Pebbles commercials, Barney Rubble was forever trying to steal Fred Flintstone's cereal, but was always nabbed at the last second, before tasting more than a spoonful. Likewise, the Cookie Crook never got away with his attempts to eat Cookie Crisp before that cartoon bobby arrested him. I'm fairly certain the Trix rabbit never got to eat Trix. Those kids were always stealing the leprechaun's Lucky Charms. No one at work could remember for certain if the Cocoa Puffs bird actually got to eat that cereal, but with this track record, it stands to reason that he didn't. (For some reason, I remember him running into a bunch of walls rather than getting to eat, but that might be wrong.) Anyway, I realized that those ad campaigns were for the very same cereals that many diet-conscious moms used to forbid their childen from consuming; I know my mom refused to purchase any of the above for me at least until I was in middle school, and Jon mentioned that there were a couple cereals that his mom wouldn't let him eat either, though I forget which. Also, Adrienne and I discussed this in Ann Arbor last week, so I know it can't be just Jon and me who were forbidden these foods. She and I shared memories of glee at binging on Lucky Charms the morning after sleeping over at the houses of friends with more lenient mothers.

The obvious subtext, of course, is that the characters in the commercials represent the oppressed kids, who desperately want these cereals, but are prevented from doing so by other people who really just want to be cruel and not share. I know I certainly felt an affinity with that rabbit when I was a kid, and it only made me want that cereal more. Sly marketing scheme, that.

Of course, we now have those disgusting cereal-and-"milk" bars that lazy moms can stuff in their kids in place of pouring actual cereal and actual milk into a damn bowl for them, so healthiness is pretty much out the window. (Really health-conscious moms would use soy or rice milk, of course, but I digress...) And also, since Saturday morning is now the designated time to sleep off a hangover rather than prime television viewing- because my life is not going the way I'd like it to- I don't see commercials for kids' cereals that often anymore, so I don't know if this trend continues. I do know that I want to smash that double-sided Frosted Mini-Wheat mascot, though. Thinks he's so big...

Jon also showed me this T-shirt, which I'm afraid I'm going to have to purchase. If I were the sort of person who thought tattoos were the least bit attractive, in fact, I'd probably get this design tattooed over my heart. It's brilliant.

On Monday, the world seemed so unbearably tragic that I had a minor freak-out over a book of "I love you" notes that parents are supposed to put in their kids' lunchboxes. A sweet gesture, to be sure, but I couldn't stop imagining a Rusty Brown-esque horror situation where the kid's lunchbox gets stolen and his mom's note gets mercilessly mocked in front of the entire class. I have a hang-up about nice, innocent things getting swallowed by evil. Which always happens. So anyway, the next day, Aimee made me a coffee drink and wrote on the cup, "Chris- We love you and you are special!"

Today, I purchased The Vice Guide to Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, which Jess had recommended to me, and I now wholeheartedly recommend to all of you. On first glance, it looks like just another "hip" wad of sophomoric nihilism- with articles like "Was Jesus a Fag?"- but it's actually much smarter and funnier than you could possibly imagine. Basically, it's a bunch of articles on topics that are generally considered "edgy," like an etymological study of racial slurs, a detailed guide to cunnilingus, and an unflinching guide to the pros and cons of every drug you'd care to name, but you can tell these pieces were written out of genuine interest rather than a simple attempt at shock value, and they're therefore interesting to read. (Oh- and contributions by David Cross and Sarah Silverman!) Not to mention hysterically funny. I showed the book to Aimee, and I wish I could post a sound sample of the amusing gasping noise she made when she looked at the contents of the "Sex" section. She's so sweet.

I apologize if you're one of the many people whose e-mails I haven't returned for the past couple weeks. So little energy...

Funny random memory: When I was in North Dakota for Jen's family reunion four or five years ago, she and I were in Wal-Mart, looking at videos, when a small family with a Fargo accent started investigating the bargain video spinner. They seemed particularly interested in the Turbo Abs exercise video, and finally, one of them declared, "Hey- look at this! Turbo Ass! I could sure use that!"

Got a message from a nice-sounding guy named Tom (or Thom; he didn't spell his name over the phone) from Oasis CD Manufacturing, confirming that he's sent my album off to the graphics department, so they can crank out some proofs for my approval. Yay!

CURRENT MUSIC: Anxiety Always by Adult and Electric Version by the New Pornographers.
Wiped out.
BOOK THAT'S SO STUPID THAT IT MADE ME ACTIVELY ANGRY TODAY: Even Grues Get Full: The Fourth User Friendly Collection. Yes, I get it: it's a comic strip for computer geeks, and if you're not one (as I'm not; I don't even really understand the title), you're going to miss a lot of the jokes. Fine. But the jokes I did get were such thuddingly unfunny Dilbert rip-offs that I wanted to personally apologize on behalf of humanity to every tree that was cut down for the book's printing.
7:24 PM.

Doot? | |

Sunday, September 21, 2003:

Aimee took me out to dinner and to see Lost in Translation last night, as a belated birthday present. What a beautiful, beautiful film. Best thing I've seen this year, so far.

Before the movie, one of the theater's ushers stood up in front of the sold-out crowd and tried to engage them in a brief trivia game before he inexplicably launched into an enthusiastic rendition of "Mr. Cellophane" from Chicago, complete with jazz hands. Aimee said that he reminded her of Jack from Will & Grace. I had my head buried in my hands for most of it, feeling all the embarrassment that the kid seemed to lack.

I really need to move to a big city. But I think I'd need someone to go with me, as much as I hate to admit that to myself. Last week, I tried to figure out which single moment from my life would be the one that I'd want to be locked into forever, if there were a Gleemonex-style pill that could put my happiest memory and feeling on a permanent loop in my head. Just one snapshot from my life that felt perfect. Perhaps it was just the mood I was in when I was thinking about this, but all the contenders had two things in common: they involved a big city at nighttime, and they were shared with someone else. Record shopping at Kim's in NYC with Scott Floman and Mark Prindle in July, feeling a comforting blanket of darkness envelop the city outside. Watching the Chicago skyline as Jess and I blasted through the city at 2 AM in a sleep-deprived haze last month. The satisfied exhaustion of checking back into the hotel with Adrienne in Toronto last winter, after we'd seen Mamma Mia. Whatever term you'd use to describe that feeling: that's my favorite one. Frankly, I'd be happy if I never had to look at the sun again, if I could hang onto that cozy, urban nighttime mood for good.

And it doesn't work on my own. It's much better to have someone whose company I enjoy nearby.

CURRENT MUSIC: Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol.
CURRENT MOOD: Unable to care any less about the Emmys.
"The Final Countdown" by Europe. It's on my brother's phone (because it's the Pistons theme song, not because he's a second-wave prog-rock fan), and I have to resist the urge to flush the thing down the toilet every time I hear it go off.
3:09 PM.

Doot? | |

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