Strange Radiation

Andrew Willett, unreliable narrator.

Category: the avenging virgo Page 2 of 3


Weekend of glorious hedonism. Am completely knackered. Going to bed very soon.

However, it would be unfair of me not to briefly discuss the Scissor Sisters show last night at the Madison Square Garden Theater, at least in a few easy-to-digest bullet points. Ergo:

  • I wore the gayest t-shirt I own, because, well, how could one not?
  • We got there in the middle of the first opening band’s set. I never got their name: it was two guys, a keyboard, and a couple of mics. Plus several bottles of beer. The guy at the keyboard didn’t have much to do: he would punch a button every now and then to tell the preprogrammed music to change from Riff A to Riff B, and such. Beyond that he just sort of danced. They were… um…
    You know what? Words fail me here. I mean, there are phrases that could be used—incoherent, drunk, inappropriate lycra bodysuit, bad hair, flail—but they don’t come close to describing the overall effect of being present for the set. In a way, it was like the Sisters were presenting a gift to the crowd. Did you forget your drugs? Here, let us alter your brain chemistry before the show really gets moving.
  • Second opening band: Wigs on Sticks. They were great, and unquestionably superior to the first bunch, but should have trimmed their set by maybe two songs. When they get a website of their own (apparently coming soon) I’ll point ‘em out.
  • Third opening band: DJ Sammy Jo, who made me really really miss Black Rock City. He rocked.
  • The Sisters were great. Full stop. Just as fun as I always knew they’d be.
  • We finally learned the answer to the burning question “What does Ana Matronic do?” It’s not like she does much of the singing on the albums, and she doesn’t play instruments beyond the tambourine or the maracas or the shooka-shooka egg thingy, which don’t count.1 But onstage she handles secondary voice parts that Jake multitracked on the albums. And she is also the—what, hostess? Den mother? Mistress of Ceremonies? Mouthpiece, maybe, providing wry commentary and general foul-mouthed fabulousness. In a short silver lamé dress that made her look, in her words, “like a big ol’ drag queen,” in the best possible way.
  • Although the show attracted an unexpectedly diverse crowd, this was definitely an Event for the NYC homorati. Sitting within six seats of us: Fred Schneider of the B-52’s2 and Justin Bond, better known as Miss Kiki DuRayne.
  • Jake Shears really can go in and out of that kick-ass falsetto for an entire show. (Although I felt that he often needed to be mic’d better than he was during his higher passages. My one complaint about the concert was that the sound was sometimes muddy.) I hope he has a really good voice coach backing him up. He must. Surely he must.
  • Man, was that fun. Oh my god. And Different Bob was, as ever, excellent company.

1 Just ask Jennifer Kimball.

2 [sic]. That apostrophe causes me physical pain every time, but there it is.

taking the plunge

Well, I’m gonna do it. On Sunday morning I’ll be taking part in the One Hour Swim. It was looking kinda touch-and-go for a while, but I’m in.

For the uninitiated, the OHS is an nationwide annual meet in which swimmers are given 60 minutes to swim as far as they can. Team NY Aquatics—that ragtag bunch of chlorine-scented queers with whom I’ve been hanging out for an astonishing twelve years now—uses the OHS as a launch platform for something more.

Each year, swimmers from TNYA treat the OHS as an opportunity to raise funds for a local AIDS advocacy organization. This year, we are raising money for two worthy recipients: the AIDS Service Center of NYC and the Momentum Project.

Last year, we raised just over $25,000 for our beneficiaries. Would you be willing to sponsor me as I go the distance?

There are lots of ways to sponsor an OHS swimmer. You could sponsor me by the length (25 yards at a go), or by the yard, or with a single lump-sum amount. My goal this year is to swim at a pace between 1:25 and 1:20 per hundred yards. A 1:25 pace would mean a total distance of 4,235 yards, or just over 169 lengths. A 1:20 pace would mean 4,500 yards, or 180 lengths. Even a penny a yard would help us help a lot of New Yorkers.

If you have any questions about the event, I’d be delighted to answer them. Just drop me a line. (Unless your question is ‘Why don’t you hyphenate the compound adjective in the name of the event?’ We’re not in a position to do that. The name is dictated by folks at the national level. However, you should know that the Avenging Virgo approves of your attention to detail.)

And whether or not you are able to make a pledge this year, I thank you sincerely just for reading all the way to the end of this note.

may I just say

That notate is on that list of words that make a little muscle in my cheek twitch when I hear them? For instance, take the sentence “Please notate the number of tickets requested in the memo line.” (Please.)

The word is note. I will make allowances for notate when describing the act of recording musical notation on staff paper, or maybe when writing up choreography or something, but that’s pretty much it.


So it appears that my former employer, Major Educational Publisher, neglected to send a fax to Paul’s company when I lost my job back in March. As a result, neither of us were put on his company’s dental coverage. And now it cannot be done until January 1, or until a Major Life Event occurs.

Fuck. Would my head exploding be considered a Major Life Event?

Furthermore, I am still in my postgames funk, and as such am clenching my teeth a lot. Given that I cannot afford any big dental work between now and January 1, this is a bad thing.

The only things that give me any sort of joy right now is (a) my new haircut, which I got from my new barber, because the old one apparently quit; and (b) the disclaimer that appears at the end of every email I receive from Bobbó, who works for Major Financial Firm.

NOTICE: If received in error, please destroy and notify sender. Sender does not intend to waive confidentiality or privilege. Use of this email is prohibited when received in error.

It seems to me that I should notify the hapless sender before I destroy him. I mean, it would seem unsporting to do otherwise, and also a waste of my time to explain things to his smoldering corpse. But whatever.

note to self

Gosh, look, it’s two in the morning, again. Okay, new thing to remember: approach the ‘edit this page’ button on any Wikipedia entry with extreme caution. Even if—perhaps especially if—the entry desperately needs editing.

factoids du jour

Because I am presently bored out of my mind here at my desk, I was just taking a little Internet break, reading an article about macaroni and cheese in today’s NY Times. It even comes with recipes (creamy and crusty)! And who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Aside from those who also hate freedom?

Anyway, along the way I learned the answers to a constellation of questions that have long plagued me:

American cheese is simply cheddar or colby that is ground and emulsified with water, said Bonnie Chlebecek, a test kitchen manager at Land O’Lakes in Arden Hills, Minn.

Plain American cheese, labeled pasteurized process cheese, contains the most natural cheese and is the best for cooking. American cheese derivatives are made from cheese and additives like sodium phosphates (acids that promote melting), nonfat dry milk and carrageenan. In descending order of their relationship to natural cheese, they are cheese food, cheese spread (such as Velveeta) and cheese product. [emphases mine]

Wow. Mysteries of the ages, revealed unto us all. Not even the absence of the serial comma from the final two sentences could dampen my joy at such a discovery. Doubtless, all of you will agree.

the death of nine million cuts

Yesterday I bought Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on my lunch break. I’ve only read the first chapter-and-a-half, but I can say two things about it:

  1. It looks like fun.
  2. There’s a typo on page 10.

Normally I wouldn’t sweat this sort of thing. I work in publishing. I am aware that typos happen. But still: If I were the editor and I’d sold nine million copies on the first weekend and there were an uncaught homophone-substitution error in the first chapter of each and every one of them, I’d be fighting off the urge to bonk my head on the desk once or thrice. My sympathetic cringing, it was heartfelt.

That is all.


I’ve deliberately stayed away from World of Warcraft because, well, I know a brain-sucking obsession waiting to happen when I see one. I mean, I got the Sims a while back for Christmas, and after several consecutive days of going to bed after 3AM. I bricked it behind the wall in a lead box sealed with the names of seven angels, for my own protection. WoW would also require a new computer, which is a not inconsiderable expense. But a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference, Will Wright—the genius game designer who made SimCity and The Sims—showcased what his team is working on now. Its working title is Spore.

Oooh. SimSpecies. Okay, for this I would upgrade my machine.

ADDENDUM: It really bugs me that Developers is unapostrophized. There, I said it.


Have I ever mentioned how insane it makes me to watch people double-click on hyperlinks? Now I have, I guess.

Once is all you need, my friends. The internet can hear you just fine.

springtime for stupid

I just have to share this one. Today while editing some ms I came across this little gem:

2. The amount of interest the card company will charge is 17.99% APR. That means the special interest rate of 17.99% will be charged through the month of April. What do you think will happen after April?

May I go home now, please?

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