October 11, 2017

Hilary Branske is dead. It is very relevant to me, and also to this website! Some of what follows is roundabout and redundant, but I had difficulty organizing my thoughts on the matter, so watch out. Also, it is roundabout.


I knew Hilary since 1999. She was the closest thing to an “idol” that I had at a crucial point in my life, and unlike the others that came before and later, she was and remained a friend. I liked knowing that even though we were not currently conversing, she was always possible to reach out to, and would have a unique and sincere thing to say. Outside my immediate family, I have not known, that I was able to stay in contact with to any degree, anybody longer than Hilary, and she had a profound impact on me as a consequence. Every year I remembered her birthday. I could not even reliably predict my mother’s birthday until fairly recently. Which I assure you is not a slight against my or anybody else’s mother.


I never was much able to keep up with ANYbody over facebook, where our primary contact was after a certain period, and I wish sincerely that I had worked harder at making that possible, with Hilary and the people I knew through her; this here would be a more informed piece, and less fixated on what I assume is a fairly narrow aspect of Hilary’s personality, and I might have fewer regrets overall, but nonetheless what I DID experience was very important to me. Most of what I know goes back quite a while, back to when I insisted on calling myself “roneldo,” which I assure you is not something I would ever like to be called again, but Hilary was welcome to call me that. I also took turns at being volcabbage, transfestunerix and eels macinstrudel when I knew Hilary, but she was always Hilary, with one L, from New Lenox with one N.

There were online nicknames like “spam,” (a hilarious word in the mid-90s) “Krunk” (which predates and is dissimilar to the contemporary conception of “crunk”) and “Annie Lennox” with (two Ns) but she was not hiding from or afraid of anybody.


Hilary had a a way of thinking about things, and of speaking, and a gift for functionally absurd statements that I had up to that point not seen from anybody else. For example, an instruction page for creating a soft drink called “Froofy” directed readers foremost to “Find and capture a wild santa claus.” Yes whatever it looks stupid HERE, but I didn’t realize that sort of statement EXISTED. I could not fathom it.
And Hilary had refreshing sort of darkness, a dissatisfaction with the insincere, commercialized happy face put on by the dominant culture. I had never known anybody who openly criticized the religion-based social conventions I had always struggled with. She also always wrote little messages on pictures, that you could only see by hovering your mouse cursor over them. There would be a picture of a largely incidental person holding up a piece of cheese and the hidden text would say “this cheese is on sale.” So stupid, and yet to me that was just perfect. I still do that. I might be the last person on the internet who does. And those are often the best part of my pages! Of course having said that, the one on the next picture is lame so this is a bad time to start looking for them.”


I didn’t know anybody else who watched Conan O’Brien’s program either (I possibly learned of her existence via her old website about the topic) so that might speak more to my not knowing many people, but what is important is that I shared interest with Hilary that I was not able to share with others who were not on the internet. And in those days, a lot of people were not on the internet!


I wanted to have a website because of Hilary’s websites, The Spam Headwound, primarily, with such a ludicrous title that very much appealed to the me of the period, across its various urls, nlenx.com/spam, twne.com/spam, spam.towne.net, and gigglebounce.com. There was also lincolnway.com, which she registered specifically to annoy the Lincoln Way high school she had attended, after having been punished for other students loading her relatively outrageous personal website on school computers. As best I can figure out. I still use html code that I copied and eventually memorized off of her pages more than half my life ago. Most of the old, admittedly nonsensical pages are still acknowledged at the gigglebounce vault but some do not work quite properly, and many are simply not there at all! The archive.org version unfortunately got confused by the netscape-style frames and only has a single page saved multiple times, with none of the frame data. But I will always remember.

Also: from june 25 1999, this watery screenshot of the site not displaying correctly in America Online, from a thankfully brief period during which I thought it was a good idea to save my screenshots as jpegs.

In fact, my oldest “normal” website entries here are ripped directly from the source of gigglebounce.com during a period when Hilary granted myself and a few others the ability to place updates on the website, and it appears that the earliest dated one has a picture of Hilary in it, which I had quite forgotten about. Likewise I cannot remember how long that version of gigglebounce lasted, but I, plainly, kept going, without much considering why I did. Records indicate I may even have been the last person doing so. This does not get me money or recognition, but I like making these things, and Hilary got me started. But I am here to talk about the GOOD things she did.


I didn’t know art people growing up, or until quite after I was mostly grown. Between those points I apparently found something of a muse in Hilary’s uncompromising distinctness. I did not develop my technical skill much but I think the ideas are more important, even if they are very stupid. Hilary helped me want to be stupid in a new way.


I believe this was her livejournal avatar, derived from an inexplicable default mouse cursor in certain versions of windows, fighting the Yellow Ant from the computer game Simant, which I must have made a big deal about at some point. Neither is being considerate of the environment.


I still use phrases that Hilary used, probably only once, that I thought were funny, such as “thank you for your time and consideration in these matters” “yes, very much so, “mein augen” and “laeta bovis.” One of the characters that I draw is even named “laeta,” based on that, if not pronounced the same way. I still think the name “Gretchen” is funny. It seemed to be a recurring element, quite apart from that picture I just showed. For example, there was a page titled “temporary gretchen fix” with just a picture of notebook paper from what looked to be a high school writing assignment, with a teacher-written criticism of “inappropriate sentences.” I apparently transcribed it, because it was hard to read, and still have THAT, though the original image seems to be lost.

1. Aegis – protection, sponsorship
Gretchen was happy Lincoln-way was the Aegis for the Nazi dance.
2. Amazon – A female warrior
Gretchen was proud to be an Amazon.
3. Aurora – The dawn or similar luminousity
Gretchen took many pictures of the aurora borealis.
4. Odyssey – Extended journey
Gretchen packed some digestive bisquits for her odyssey
5. Paean – Song of thanksgiving
Peetah sang a paean about the Spanish Inquisition.
6. Palladium – Safeguard
Gretchen kept a statue of a Palladium next to her bed.
7. Plutocrat – A wealthy person
Bill Gates is a plutocrat and Gretchen isn’t.
8. Siren – A bewitching or irresistable women, fascinating
Gretchen acted as a siren by luring the small children to the fire.
9. Valhalla – hall of feasting heroes
Gretchen was not invited to the Valhalla.
10. Ambrosial – fragrant
Peetah could smell the Ambrosial children boiling.

And now it will have to be a permanent Gretchen fix.

Gretchen was also the name of the lion tamer in “The Spam Story,” which I also cannot now locate. Although I learned that as of 2007 Hilary had been a vegetarian for a year, which is almost as impressive as convincing lions to do your bidding.

I started writing this without even realizing that my facebook name IS Gretchen. That is how deeply ingrained Hilary’s influence is. And I used gretchen as a sound effect in a completely unrelated long-standing unreleased project of mine. Certainly I would have liked to be influenced by the later, responsible Hilary who examined patents in her spare time and achieved a G-13 pay scale according to federalpay.org and perhaps have made something more of myself.


Although threatening people’s sparkle dots amidst serious (ninjas notwithstanding) results for your life as a Washington DC national government employee is Hilary Classic on a grander scale.


She had ferrets as pets; I believe this is based on a photograph of one, and the wood sprite that I opened this site entry with.
we never talked as much as I wanted to afterward. I never showed her much of my artwork but she was always supportive when I did. Again, I didn’t have many people to show it to, and was slow to develop what skill I had. In a very rare gesture, in December of 2007, I mailed a pencil drawing strikingly similar to the one near the top of this entry, that I made of/based on Hilary to her home address, and several times afterward, without my having mentioned it, she claimed to still have the dumb thing, having put it in a frame, even, and I wish I could have sent something better, later! I made up one of my crummy holiday cards more recently, and included some tiny bizarre drawings whose inspiration I can no longer recall, but never got around to sending it. And maybe I should hold on to it, since it is the only physical space souvenir I have that is Hilary-related (also, I eh lost it again). She had mentioned across a few years having a box that she meant to send to me but could never get around to it. I wish I had asked what was in the box!

I keep showing these things. On Hilary’s website there was a “webcam” page, but the image only updated once a week or so, and generally showed a staged viewpoint. I saved a bunch of them, I wish I had saved more! Maybe it makes me seem like a creep, but in fact the more I have worried about coming across as creepy, the fewer friends I have had.

Right, just what I was saying.

I believe at one point three other people named Timmy, Lars and Jose also had similar webcameras featured on the page, plus the webcam of the not-yet published icon to misogynists who didn’t realize he was kidding Maddox, hotlinked off his own website, until I think he specifically disabled that on his end.


before I had my run-in with the Shipyard Brewing Company, Hilary had viewed and commented on the original version of the troublesome article, and I had meant to ask if she had for some reason preserved the pictures I deleted in a paranoid panic after the cease and desist letter, as if other people did that. Parts of that experience made me question if my work had any real value, but anything I did that Hilary liked was something I had done right. She was also the first person to sign my orenthal, even though it was a ripoff of her elf.

From 2000 to 2002, maybe, Hilary ran a message forum “The Blabby Board,” and I can honestly say that was my most positive and probably longest consistent internet message board experience. It was not without complicated points and eventually ceased operation, but I had always wanted to have something like that again.
The last time we were both available for what could be considered a conversation, which sadly was in April 2016, I mentioned some of the screwy things that have been in MY life and the sort of people I dealt with since the two of us had been regularly acquainted. And Hilary LAUGHED (in a typing sort of way). She didn’t get worried and declare in seriousness that I should give up and get away from everything, or get bothered and set to justifying every other parties’ actions, like I am a puzzlewit with no empathy. She knew why I complained the way I did. Sometimes life is just frustrating and ridiculous, and you want to share that with somebody who sees it for what it is. With Hilary, I momentarily went from being the only person who had a problem to one of an uncommon few who did not.

We were “planning” to make a video game together. I do not know when; one of us was always too busy. It was already eating me inside that I had not done real work on it beyond sketches and descriptions of circumstances, just for myself, but now I need to, for both of us. Right? If that helps me get it done, sure. I pledge to give it a much better gretchen sound effect.

I was always looking forward to a hypothetical point in the future when we could exchange ideas freely. I wish I could asked about more of the circumstances that inspired the strange things she wrote about. I did not realize how much time had passed until I started writing all this. 1999 to 2003 seemed like a huge expanse of time, then 2003 to 2007 was another, and suddenly I misplaced a whole decade without noticing. I wanted to resume what we had. Or more likely, start over entirely. Hilary always lived in an interesting way, and fixating on what had already occurred was unnecessary.

We never met, unfortunately. We came tantalizingly close, but to be brief, for once, since it hurts just a scrap too much, a meeting was not feasible. I was quite sad, in fact sadder than I expected to be. But I imagined there would be plenty of opportunities to arrange a proper meeting. I ought to have tried to arrange a visit earlier but for many years I was not very mobile. Was this a form of love, perhaps? I think it was, and I wish that I had expressed it. I did not think I was worthy, perhaps. I certainly was somewhat to highly jealous of any more forward or proximal person that she seemed to hold in favor at any point across a longer span of time than is usual. I loved dumb old science fox but do I care who he likes now? Probably, a little bit, but I am not going out of my way to find out. Not far at all. I am glad that I was able to tell him how I felt so that he could do something to no longer deserve it.
Hilary would have been the first person that I really developed that for. “crushes” I might have had momentarily in grade school were based on nothing more than me seeing tv shows and thinking I was supposed to do that.


Hilary was engaging, mentally, and I think I wanted to look like her. I still want to look like her. Not like a but to be elegant without making a forced show of it.


Could I pull that off? Absolutely not. Yes, otay, this is from 2007. I don’t feel like I am entitled to show pictures that I only saw years after they were taken or uploaded, by people who might not necessarily have any clue who I am. I barely have any clue who I am so it is not like I could introduce myself.


Alright, here is one from 2015 taken by Hilary’s close companion Bobbert Hyman, don’t tell. Yes, I would very much like to meet the person in this photograph. Also, I consider little bowls of rice and beans to be people, but I would also like to meet the person eating the other person.

I have had such a mental connection with somebody, or thought I had, perhaps nine times, and as I became older it seemed more like love. And love is good, supposedly. This was a very difficult thing to write, especially so soon after the last one, (aw BEANS look at the line I ended that with, I had no idea) but I suppose this is preferable to my being indifferent and not wishing to write anything. In fact this was more difficult to write, in a way, because while I have more regrets about my father’s final years than I can list, I believe that he forgave me for my role in that, and I knew where I stood with him, and I was able to get some degree of closure. And also he was 65, not 34. Hilary liked a few things I did, but did she like me, as a person? When she laughed at my tragic adventures in fuzzyland, was she really laughing at ME? When she said I made her terrible day ten times better, did she mean ten times better at being terrible? I will quite possibly never know. I even just said I wanted to look like her, for beets freeps. That might have been deemed a hilarious notion. But I would take it, if she wanted to give it.

Oh well that’s just rude!



11 Responses
  1. 1
    10:50 am, October 13, 2017

    Indighost sez:

    This was a very sweet essay. Thanks for sharing it. :)

    It kind of leads me to another topic, which may be too broad for a comment: how do you view internet friendships vs. real life friendships?

  2. 2
    8:28 pm, October 14, 2017

    Frimpinheap sez:

    Thank you for reading all or any of that! I think it is less complicated to read the cues of a non-internet meeting, and easier, for me, at least, to feel like I AM “friends” with somebody that I can see in person.

  3. 3
    4:46 pm, October 16, 2017

    Indighost sez:

    Agreed.

  4. 4
    12:00 am, October 18, 2017

    bebe sez:

    thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. 5
    12:53 am, October 18, 2017

    Frimpinheap sez:

    Thank you for viewing it! It is definitely one of the most emotionally complicated things I have shared.

  6. 6
    1:32 am, October 19, 2017

    blechno sez:

    some tears wept for someone I never even knew, except maybe in passing in livejournal.

  7. 7
    3:18 am, October 21, 2017

    Charmlatan sez:

    Your prose is a marvelous testament to her. To find a connection to someone so sync.. You two are clever with your webzones. Her websites were collaborative-driven, too. Did she play a big role into your Conanism as well?

  8. 8
    12:47 pm, October 21, 2017

    Frimpinheap sez:

    Thank you for reading any amount of that! I watched Conan’s program before I knew about Hilary. I believe I found Hilary as a result of looking for Conan-related websites. In those days I could connect to a person via internet fan-dom.

  9. 9
    8:30 pm, October 22, 2017

    Robot Parsley sez:

    1999 to 2003 seemed like a huge expanse of time, then 2003 to 2007 was another, and suddenly I misplaced a whole decade without noticing.

    Ugh, ain’t that the truth.

    I only had a vague notion of this person, mostly as the originator of the “AAAAAH, MEINE AUGEN!” quote which made me assume you spoke German for years, and also the dead body story which I remember seeing for some reason once, and which vividly stuck with me ever after. Nevertheless, it was somewhat unsettling news to read. I’m pretty sure long-term background figures on the internet who are only about five or so years older than you are not supposed to die, or at least that’s that’s the narrative I had subconsciously subscribed to. I was recently vaguely saddened when I found out the Time Cube Guy died a few years ago, and he was like 205 and a tattered, deteriorated shell of a mind reduced to spouting occasionally racist gibberish in gigantic garish letters whom I never had even parallel interaction with. Hmm. Mmn.

    (On a side note, I’m vaguely unnerved to discover I was already referring to myself as “The Rocking son of Dschingis Khan” in 2011. If I only knew then how deep that descent would go…)

  10. 10
    10:47 pm, October 22, 2017

    Frimpinheap sez:

    Gosh, I am then also give years older than you! I could drop dead at any moment.
    Thank you for reading and replying! I did not mean to cut off our last discussionoid so abruptly but it has been a stranger than usual few weeks.
    I was inclined to think of Hilary as somebody I had known long enough that neither of us was going to have a sharp shift in circumstances or personality that made us totally inaccessible to the other person. I did not feel like I needed to impress Hilary, because she seemed to accept what I was.
    I have thought about you like that to a degree; consider that you are one of three internet people of whom I have drawn non-creature versions, and the other one disappeared five years ago, but you are similar to me in the respect of being hard to read. Perhaps even more similar than I am to myself in some ways.

    Indeed it subconsciously entered my mind that the “permanent” people were supposed to be with me, at least until we accomplished our goals, or set up events which would lead to that. If they die, does that mean that I ran out of time to succeed? Or that I failed in some more profound way which led to this death? That is illogical, and yet my mind always goes there, that I should have been able to do something which would have prevented this.
    Oddly enough I was thinking about Time Cube. I have these two contextless images dated january 16 2002 that Hilary made amidst my timecube obsession during 200x.


  11. 11
    11:56 pm, October 22, 2017

    Mxy sez:

    I think very early in the century, when I first ended up in this website, I looked through several pages and saw the final photo of this entry and thought that might be you. So at the very least, you write like you could look like her.

    I also remember seeing her avatars on Livejournal and thinking she was probably cool, which appears to be correct.

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them`s fightin` woids: October 22, 2017
Mxy sez:
I think very early in the century, when I first ended up in this website, I looked through several...
October 22, 2017
Frimpinheap sez:
Gosh, I am then also give years older than you! I could drop dead at any moment. Thank you...
October 22, 2017
Robot Parsley sez:
“1999 to 2003 seemed like a huge expanse of time, then 2003 to 2007 was another, and...
October 21, 2017
Frimpinheap sez:
Thank you for reading any amount of that! I watched Conan’s program before I knew about...
October 21, 2017
Charmlatan sez:
Your prose is a marvelous testament to her. To find a connection to someone so sync.. You two...
October 21, 2017
Frimpinheap sez:
I put too much effort into enlisting people who do not “get” it at all.
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