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  Willard "Bill" Hershberger

    

    

   The State of My Fat Ass                                    February 2007


February 28, 2007

-- You guys are great, and I mean it. Your reassuring messages yesterday, both in the comments and via email, helped not only me, but also Toney. It seems that everyone has gone through the loss of an important job at least once in their lives, and not only recovered but are actually better off than before. And those kinds of things are good to hear right now, mighty good.

Thank you, sincerely, for giving a single dingle about any of it. Your response was humbling. If there was ever any doubt that Surf Reporters are the greatest people in the world, it's all been erased by now. I hoist my Baseball Hall of Fame mug, and slurp off a thin layer of good ol' Eight O'Clock Bean coffee, in your honor.

I'm actually feeling pretty good this morning. Monday night, after I'd gotten the first whiff of the rancid cabbage fart that was about to blow my way, I felt that I would surely vomit. My head was spinning and I was almost literally sick. And yesterday morning at my "breakfast," I didn't feel so great either. I think I even contemplated the flinging of hot liquids.

But by the middle of the afternoon on Tuesday a strange calm took over, and I started believing (really believing) that everything would be OK. I've got almost a year to sort it all out. And once the dust settles, perhaps I'll be with a company that's not vulnerable to technology, and we won't have to live with the constant knowledge that it's only a matter of time.

I'll still be employed through March, but don't have to report to work after Friday. It's a semi-sneaky way to extend my severance, I'm told. And they're paying me out for my vacation days, and all that crapola. I'm still eligible for the yearly bonus that comes in April, and my benefits remain in place for the bulk of 2007. And, of course, they're going to continue paying my salary for a decent amount of time. So, while it certainly sucks that it happened, it could be a lot worse.

As strange as it might seem, I'm not even angry at the company. This kind of shit is simply a fact of life. A person would have to be seriously deluded to believe that a corporation cares about them. Oh, there are individuals there who do (possibly), but they're ultimately powerless. It would be a waste of energy to get all worked up about it, and believe it's personal. I was just another head in the head count. Pass the bacon bits.

If it were just me and Toney, we'd almost certainly cash out the equity in our house, and move to North Carolina now. Prolly Raleigh. But the Secrets complicate matters. If at all possible, we'd like to stay here for them. Yanking 'em out of their schools, and away from their friends and activities, is a scenario I hope to avoid. So, for the time being at least, I'm going to try to find a new job here. Somehow, without really noticing, we've put down some roots in Scranton. Bizarre, huh?

And that's about all I have to say on the subject at this point. I don't want to turn this into a full-on pity party, and drone on and on about my troubles every day. This ain't the Maury Povich Show, goddammit.

I'll leave you now with some actual good news. Actually, several items of good news....

First, and most importantly, my right ear popped open this morning. Oh yeah. It had been sealed-off tighter than a Russian submarine for about two weeks, and this morning it just suddenly popped. I feel like I've returned to the human race.

And remember how I was skeptical about CDBaby dotcom? Well, they supposedly shipped me an ultra-rare Shoes disc yesterday. I still don't have it in my boogery hands, so I probably shouldn't get too excited yet, but they claim it's on the way. How is it possible? Where are they getting compact discs that have been out of print for a decade?? What kind of crazy voodoo are they practicing? 

Also, I'm reading a book that's making me laugh out loud, which is extra-welcome under the circumstances. It's the autobiography of Wreckless Eric, one of the original Stiff Records musicians, and cult hero to aging hipsters everywhere. His descriptions of people and events are hilarious, and I recommend the book without hesitation. And his best-of CD, as well.

And that's it, boys and girls. Thanks again for your kindness, and I'll see ya next time. 
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February 27, 2007

-- My cell phone rang while I was at work yesterday, and it was a California bigshot acting all flustered and frantic. He asked if I could join him for breakfast at 7 am on Tuesday, and I said sure. But why, and where? He'd go over the why when I got there, he said, and the where is the Radisson in Scranton.

Gulp.

I immediately called my boss, to see what in the cafeteria-style hell was going on, and didn't get a good feeling from the conversation. In fact, my stomach almost fell out of my ass. Big changes are afoot, he said, and there's a possibility I'll be a "casualty." Casualty?? He told me he didn't know for sure what had been decided, but I should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. And to tell you the truth, I'm not really a fan of any of it.

So, I went down to Scranton this morning, sat in the upscale restaurant at the Radisson there, and was informed that my job is being eliminated. Over coffee and croissants. I was then taken into a small conference room, and spoke with a human resources person via speakerphone. He discussed the severance package, and answered the two or three questions I could muster.

Then I shook hands with the guy who came to give me the news, and that was that. Effective April 1 I'll no longer have a job. Nothing personal, mind you, purely a business decision. I walked out to my car, got in, and drove home in a daze. I listened to a local talk radio show, but couldn't tell you what they were "outraged" about today.

I'm still in shock and, deep down, don't think I really believe it yet. I've been with that company (formerly my company) for more than seventeen years. I started in Atlanta, moved to Burbank, then to Scranton -- all with them. It's been the foundation of nearly my entire adult life. I haven't had to interview for a job since I was 27, way back during a previous lifetime.

But I'm not going to sit around stewing about it, or badmouth the company, or anything like that. They've been nothing but fair to me, and I have no ill feelings toward them. Except, you know, for the firing part....

So there you go. I don't know what the next few months will bring. I'm embarking on a voyage into the unknown, and it's damn scary. At this point I don't even want any beer nuts.

I'll try to be funny next time, but I'm not making any promises.

See ya 'round. 
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February 26, 2007

-- I stayed up way too late last night watching at the Academy Awards. I'd planned to see it in the conventional manner, but there's only so much a person can take. All those "dancers" doing forward rolls behind partitions, that sound effects choir, the serial fellating of Al Gore.... I was on the internet in short order, just kinda listening to the show from the next room, and shuffling back in there if it sounded like something interesting was going on. And, I'm sorry to say, there wasn't much shuffling required.

The only reason I stuck with it to the end was because of Scorcese. I wanted to see if he finally won, and I think that happened around 12:30 am. Big deal. I should've just caught it this morning on Headline News. My brain feels like it's expanding and contracting inside its housing.

-- We also got more snow overnight. So much, in fact, the schools are closed again. And that means I'm going to have to shovel the driveway before I leave for work, and get soaked all the way up to and including my ass. I wouldn't be expecting much from this update today.... Just a bit of friendly advice.

-- Toney finally got home from her funeral trip on Friday, and the downward spiral was arrested before it got out of hand. We're now caught-up on LOST and Friday Night Lights, the Secrets are getting to eat food that wasn't passed through a car window by a fart-scented zit farmer, and all is right with the world again. Andy's even semi-relaxed, and no longer pacing from room to room making fax machine noises.

And speaking of funeral trips.... Would you have a problem sleeping in a bed where a person died just two days before? Toney said her uncle (brother of the deceased) did exactly that, and I don't think I could handle such a thing. In fact, I'm getting a full body shiver just thinking about it. I appreciate the offer, but I believe I'll just sleep in the car. I ain't wallowing around on no death sponge, thank you very much.

Am I wrong about that? What's your feelings on it?

-- Toney asked me to take the Secrets for haircuts on Saturday, and I did. While waiting, a man with a thick British accent came into the shop and sat down beside me. He acted like he knew the girl who was cutting the oldest Secret's hair, and told her he'd just returned to "the States" after a quick trip home to Great Britain.

Once that conversation petered out, I asked him what part of England he's from, and he said it's a small village outside Bath. This, of course, was pronounced Bawth. We talked for a few minutes, and he seemed like a nice guy. He said he now lives in Philadelphia, and comes up to the Scranton area about twice a month to visit an old friend he grew up with in England. Isn't that bizarre?

I told him we planned to get to London next spring, and he said it's best to go in May/June, or September. And, he warned me, it's shockingly expensive. Whatever things cost here, he said, just double it and you're in the ballpark. Gulp.

He was very friendly, and used phrases like "on the clearest of days," which you don't hear in these parts much. One thing though.... He smelled like shit. And I don't mean he smelled bad, in a generic sense, I mean he smelled like shit itself.

I assumed he'd stepped in dog crap, and didn't know it. He looked affluent and well-groomed, and it was the only explanation I could come up with. After we left I asked the oldest Secret, who'd flopped down on the other side of the guy, if he'd noticed anything unusual about him.

"Well, he smelled like poop," he said.

So it wasn't my imagination. I voiced my dog crap theory, but the Secret was skeptical. For reasons that are still unclear, he believed there was some sort of wiping problem in play. He asked me if people wipe their butts in Europe, and all I could do was laugh at that one. Then we got into the whole bidet discussion, which seemed to boggle both boys' minds. I don't think either of them believed me.

And by the time we pulled into the driveway, we were all doing British accents and saying things like, "Yes Poppy, I'm sitting here with a bum-crack full o' poo. Will you please cut my hair?"

Good times.

-- Yesterday Toney sent me on another excursion. She asked me to go to the grocery store and pick up a few items, while she was busy with the oldest Secret and his swim team. I said no problem, and the younger youngling and I made a beeline for Five Guys Hamburgers. Hey, it takes a lot of fuel to wander aimlessly around a supermarket, with tears streaming down your face.

I don't know what they do differently there, but Five Guys has the best burgers in the world. I'm not kidding, in the world. Check it out. That's the one I polished off yesterday, and I wish I had another right now. Damn good. And just so you know, the potatoes were from Teton on Sunday. You simply can't go wrong with the Teton taters.

The grocery store was packed. Mostly, it seemed, with women wearing high-heel shoes and sleeveless ski vests, and carrying Starbucks cups as a fashion accessory. I have no idea where anything is in that place, and it took forever. I saw a bin of giant sausages along the way, and the brand name caused me to snicker like Beavis and/or Butthead. Take a look.

Yes, I'm 44. What of it?

And as we were finally leaving that horrible joint, I found somebody else's receipt. Maybe I'm weird, but I always like to look at other peoples' receipts. I like to play detective and attempt to construct a portrait of the person who dropped it, and possibly even a psychological profile. You know, like on Law & Order LMNOP.

And I think I'll use that as our Question of the Day. What conclusions can you draw from this? Help me out, people. Together I have faith that we can put it all together, and catch the whore-killer before he kills a whore again. Or whatever.

Use the comments link below, won't you? 

And I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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February 23, 2007

-- There were snow squalls and all sorts of unpredictable weather shenanigans in these parts yesterday, so Toney stayed in Philadelphia. And, of course, that meant no LOST 'neath the Scrote Watcher last night, or anything of the sort. We had to make arrangements for the Secrets to go to friends' houses after school, then it was dinner from Subway, Spongebob on DVD, and a general gloomy feeling to it all.

Hopefully she'll be back today, 'cause the novelty is starting to wear a tad thin. In fact, we might now be post-tad.

There's a natural progression to these sorts of things, and the downward spiral is already in progress. First night: Damon's. Second night: Subway. Tonight, if necessary, we'll probably hit McDonald's or that shithole Burger King. Then we'll completely bottom out on Saturday and begin scouring the pantry at home, and it'll be crap like spaghetti with pork 'n' beans -- the bachelor's marinara.

It's a sad state of affairs, and everyone can feel it. Even our dog Andy is down in the dumps. He keeps walking from room to room looking for Toney, then sighing like a man at an opera. And I know exactly the way he feels.

-- Speaking of McDonald's.... Do any of you remember a song kids used to sing back in the day, based on a Mickey D's TV commercial? It went something like this: McDonald's is your kind of place/ hamburgers in your face/ french fries between your toes/ dill pickles up your nose....

Any recollection of this particular 1970's playground gem? What are the rest of the lyrics? Wasn't there something about a heart attack in there somewhere, or possibly hyper-aggressive rectal cancer? I'm not sure.

How did these types of things get spread around, anyway? Toney was raised in Nevada, and I grew up in West Virginia, but we're familiar with much of the same Stupid Shit from grade school. How did it happen, before internet and cell phones and the like? Any ideas?

I need answers, people! I'm sitting here on the cusp of a makeshift marinara situation, needing some answers.

-- I finally got my ancient panoramic photo of Dunbar, WV framed. It was taken on September 23, 1924, is fifty inches wide and ten inches tall. I bought it years ago off eBay, and it's been sitting on my desk ever since, all rolled up. I always wanted to have it framed, but the procedure was, as they, cost-prohibitive.

But last week I got all jacked-up about it (again) and took it to a local frame shop. The woman measured it, crunched some numbers, and said, "How about $136, plus tax?" That's a lot, but not as much as I'd anticipated. So I steadied myself by leaning on the counter, took a deep breath, and told her to do it.

Yesterday they called, and I went in and picked it up. The thing is so huge it spanned the entire backseat of my Camry. I was afraid I might not be able to get one of the doors closed, and would have to roll a window down or something.

But I got it home, and it's extra-cool. I can see my Aunt Charlotte's house on there, looking almost exactly the same as it does today, and a woman hanging laundry on a clothesline. The old Fletcher Enamel plant is chugging great pillars of blackness into the sky (commerce!), and a large part of the town is nothing but open fields.

In 1924 three out of four of my grandparents were already living in Dunbar, and they were all teenagers, or thereabouts. I wonder what they were doing the moment the picture was taken? What did youngsters do for fun back then, anyway? Did regular folks even own radios in 1924? I don't think so. Wonder if any of them knew each other yet? Probably not. But it's a small town now, and was much smaller then, so it's possible.

The whole thing is pretty weird. If any one of my grandparents had moved away from the town in that photograph, gone into the service a little earlier or later, or made as few as just one different decision, my fat ass might not be jiggling here today. 

As Gomer Pyle once said: make's you think.

-- I had some other things I was going to write about today, but I'm all outta steam here. So screw it. I'll leave you now with this item from the Eddie Van Halen: Wotta Douche desk. 

And an amusing link submitted by our old friend Buck, right here.

Have a great weekend, folks.

See ya on Monday. 
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February 22, 2007

-- Mission accomplished. Both of the Secrets had dinner last night, breakfast this morning, and are now at school fully dressed. Pretty impressive, huh? Damn straight it is. By the time I get home from work tonight Toney should be returned from Philadelphia, and all will be right with the world again. I might very well hoist a pint or two of the golden elixir while we watch Wednesday's episode of LOST this evening, in recognition of my great achievements.

Dinner last night was served by the crew at Damon's. I don't like that place very well, but the boys seemed adamant about going there. So whatever.

In case you're curious, my objection to Damon's is multi-faceted. For one thing, their sandwiches are served on what amounts to a full loaf of French bread, sliced down the middle. You've got to unlatch your jaw like a freakin' snake to wedge it all in, and I don't like that. So sandwiches are out, and that mostly leaves steaks and ribs and whatnot, which'll cost you twenty bucks just as sure as shit. And what am I, Cornelius Vanderbilt here?

The Secrets each ordered chicken and fries (the default setting) off the kid's menu, and I hemmed and hawed and finally went with a giant dinner salad. I like those things, as gay as it sounds, so I wasn't just settling. Bennigan's used to serve something called a Club Salad, which featured every ingredient of a club sandwich, and it was just about the best thing in the world. Needless to say, they discontinued it.

So we ordered and settled back to absorb the chaos that is Damon's Grill. They've got roughly a million TVs in that place, three or four of which are ceiling-to-floor, and individual volume controls at each table. Therefore, everybody in the house is watching a different channel with the sound cranked way up, so they can hear over all the other people with their sound cranked way up.

Oh, it's highly enjoyable. The folks next to us last night were watching The Fairly Oddparents, and the hyper-amplified voice of Wanda (through drive-in speakers) nearly exploded my cerebellum. I forbade the Secrets from touching our volume control, I told them to leave it turned off. If a person can't pull themselves away from the TV long enough to have a meal, for God's sake, they might as well just have someone run over their head with a car wheel right now.

The waitress finally brought our food, and it was obvious that I was being put in charge of preparing my own salad. The thing was served in a bowl almost as big around as my cousin's neck, which means it took up almost our entire table. In the center was a bed of lettuce with a dusting of carrots and cheese. On top of that was a full chicken breast, cut into three or four pieces, and around the edge: alternating slices of cucumber and tomato.

It required about fifteen minutes of sawing to get that shit ready to eat. I needed to towel-down at one point, and take on fluids. Call me a radical, but if I'm forking over ten bucks for a salad, I want it to be ready-to-eat when they bring it to the table. I was exhausted when we left that place, and my shoulders are sore this morning.

While we were driving home I saw a glowing Dunkin Donuts sign on the horizon. On a whim, I whipped the wheel to the right when we got there, walked straight inside and bought a dozen glazed off an Indian woman with a diamond in her nose. If Toney's going to leave me in charge, dammit, I'm going to have my own set of rules. And those rules include fried dough, in copious amounts. I just checked and there are now three donuts left. Well, actually two after I finish this one....

This morning I tried to talk the Secrets into just taking a five dollar bill each for lunch, but the youngest wouldn't go for it. He checked the menu, and it says the cafeteria will be serving something called "lightly seasoned cheese nuggets" today. I have no idea what that means, and neither did he, so he asked me to pack him a lunch. And I did. He got a turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a Rice Krispies bar. I don't know if that's enough, or too much, but it's what he got.

The oldest took the five, and will probably spend the entire amount on curly fries.

And Toney just called (from the church), and says she should be on the road by two o'clock. And Nancy WON'T be coming with her, which was a concern. So it's almost over, my friends. The captain will soon be back on deck, and I can return to the comfort of my usual role as house dumbass. Within just a few short hours, my obligations will once again be sarcasm, mockery, goofiness, and emptying the dishwasher. And we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

-- I mentioned the crap they're serving at the school cafeteria here, and I think I'll try that as the Surf Report Question of the Day.... Do you have any stories to tell on that particular subject? If so, use the comments link below. 

A couple immediately jump to my mind, and I'll share them with you now.

The first stars my friend Bill (aka Bill in WV), and a kid we called Shave. I think Shave's real name was Eric. But his head was shaved bald, back in the 1970s when everybody else had Gabe Kaplan hair, so we gave him a better handle.

Bill and I were sitting across from him in the "multi-purpose room" at good ol' Dunbar Elementary, eating lunch one day, and Shave was giving us a hard time about something. He kept going on and on with it, and Bill finally picked up a fruit cup and threw it in Shave's face. The guy just sat there blinking real fast, as heavy syrup and chunks of peaches slid off his big melon head.

This doesn't have anything to do with the fruit cup story, but years later authorities (possibly my Dad) fished Shave's lifeless body out of the Kanawha River. Foul play was suspected, but never proven. I have no evidence of this, but I've always believed the dude was going on and on it with it again, and somebody hurled him off the Dunbar Toll Bridge. He should've heeded the warning of the fruit cup....

The second story also took place at Dunbar Elementary, and it involves new potatoes.

In those days we were allowed to go back for seconds in the cafeteria, provided everyone had already been served and there was food left over. One day somebody got the idea of starting a potato-eating contest. They were serving-up those little taters with the skin still on 'em, and there was tons left over.

So we all started eating them, trying to be the person who ingested the most. A splendid time was had by all. I can't remember how many I choked down, but it was nowhere near the winner: a kid named Roni who ate (I think) thirty-six.

The next day we were pulled aside by a group of teachers, and possibly the principal, and they asked us how many potatoes we'd each had. They were laughing and joking around, acting like they thought it was funny. And once we gave them the info, they turned on us. They were pissed that we'd pulled such a "stunt." (Gulp.) They yanked an arbitrary number out of their asses (thirteen, I believe), and told us we'd be punished if we had more potatoes than that.

And for the next week or so we were forced to wear huge pig-shaped signs pinned to our shirts, made from paper plates, and with the words NO SECONDS written on the front. Man, talk about your public humiliation....

Today the ACLU would surely file a lawsuit ("mass potato-eating is a valid form of expression"), the entire staff would be fired, and the kids would be given intensive grief counseling. Back then? Fuck you, put this pig face on your chest, and shut your hillbilly mouth. Ahhh, the good old days.

Do you have any school cafeteria stories to tell? Well, let's hear 'em, dammit.

And I'll see you tomorrow. 
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February 21, 2007

-- Toney's aunt died over the weekend, and she's leaving for Philadelphia this afternoon to attend the wake and all associated activities. Her sister is flying in for it as well, along with several of the Nevada relatives. I liked her aunt and am sorry she's gone, I really am, but I'm going to be on my own here for upwards of 24 hours.

This evening, for instance, I'll have to make arrangements for dinner, which in my case means choosing a restaurant. Then, in the morning I'll need to make sure I don't oversleep (Toney won't be there to prod my back fat), make breakfast for the younglings, pack their lunches (good God), get them to their schools on time, etc.

Too much responsibility.... And too many opportunities for a grand screw-up. I'll probably get confused and deliver the oldest Secret to the pre-school he attended in 2000. Or the Sunoco station, or the waste treatment plant.

I voiced my concerns to Toney, but she's not being very understanding about it. "I'm going to be attending a really sad funeral with a roomful of grieving family members. I think you can manage to put turkey and cheese between two slices of bread," she chuckled, simplifying everything for comedic effect.

But we'll see who's laughing when she returns to find a real-life Steve Martin movie being played out in our living room. The only thing missing will be me standing in the doorway in a sweater, saying, "Don't worry honey, everything will be fine here." Because I'm not so foolish as to make such a statement, and I don't wear sweaters.

-- Speaking of the Secrets and Toney's sister..... We attended a really exciting swim meet over the weekend. It was the championship and our team not only won, but Secret the Elder kicked some serious butt-cheek. He was in three races and came in first twice, and second once. I don't know where he gets his natural swimming abilities, the deep-end makes me kinda nervous, but he's really good and getting better every day. In fact, if he doesn't win Most Improved Swimmer this year at the banquet, I'm storming the podium.

The place was completely packed, and I had to stand for the entire meet; there were literally no open seats, and the volume was insane.

Half-Shirt was there, as was the Chinless Yankee. People were hollering and screaming like they were at a football game, and I think they were actually doing the wave at one point. Sure, the standing helped stave-off Phantom Ass Syndrome, but it got a little old after about hour three. I had to self-medicate with Reese's Peanut Butter Cup four-packs from the concession stand.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun and really exciting. And when Toney told her sister about it the next day, she climbed atop her high horse and launched a diatribe about competitive sports. When one group of kids win, she said, it means another group of kids loses, and that's nothing to celebrate. "Intense competition" at such an early age is nothing more than indoctrination into a capitalist society. By allowing our son to join the swim team, she pontificated, we'd effectively enrolled him in Corporate Greed Training 101.

Is that not excellent?

-- I talked to my brother on Sunday and he told me a great story that I must relay to you now. It seems that a cousin of ours is joining the Masonic Lodge, and needed to buy a suit for the big ceremony. You know, where they stand with their head in a noose, one pants leg rolled up, and their wiener out? Is that correct? I think so.

In any case, he wanted a new suit. And since he's a truck driver and on the road most of the time, he had his wife do all the measurements and take them to a tailor shop. Our cousin, it must be pointed out, is giant. He's huge, probably somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds. But you wouldn't look at him and say, "Wow, that guy's fat." Because he's not really fat, just giant.

A few years ago I might've told you another story about this same cousin. He supposedly had a bad coughing fit while driving once, blacked out behind the wheel and jacknifed a tractor trailer full of hogs on the West Virginia Turnpike. Or something along those lines.

But back to the suit.... A few days after his wife dropped the measurements off at the shop, a man called her and said, "Ma'am, are you sure these are correct?" She assured him they were, that she'd done them herself and had been very careful. "Well, it's none of my business," he responded, "But are you buying this suit for an orangutan?"

This irritated my cousin's wife a bit, and she assured him it was for a human being. "No offense," he said, "But we've had customers order clothing for performing animals before. We sell a lot of suits here, and I've simply never encountered a man with a 62-inch chest and a 25-inch neck."

Performing animals. Heh.

-- And since a theme seems to be developing here, I'll close out the category with even more News of Relatives....

My parents are in Florida for the winter (to paraphrase Jay Leno: they didn't want to go, but it's the law) and my Mom said they were recently eating lunch at a place called Sweet Tomatoes. Apparently it's one of those massive salad bar kinda joints, like Souplantation and Lettuce Souprise You.

There were two guys in front of her being really picky and taking a long time. One of them turned to my mother and apologized, and said something about the amount of food on his plate. My Mom said, "Oh, don't worry about it. I raised two boys, and know how much you guys can eat."

He answered, "Well, we're actually part boy and part girl," then both started giggling like sixth graders. My mother said she didn't know anything about that, she hadn't raised any hybrids. And the guy shrieked, "That you know of!" before sashaying away with his gayness salad.

Years ago I had something similar happen to me at the same kind of place. I was at Lettuce Souprise You on North Druid Hills in Atlanta, and the place was packed with Emory students. As I was walking to our table a man pointed at me from across the room, and hollered, "I know you! You're a Chattahoochee Dancer!!"

WTF??

I don't think Toney stopped laughing until sometime the next afternoon following that episode. Just thought you should know.

That'll just about do it for today, my friends. Do you have an News of Relatives you'd like to pass along? Use the comments link below to bring us all up to date.

And I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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February 20, 2007

-- You know how some folks work their entire lives and seem at least semi-normal, then turn kooky the very moment they retire? Well, I see how that could happen.

Last week I planned to work on a little side-project I've got going here, and did. In fact, I got a lot done; I'm not slugging myself in the genitalia this morning or hollering profanity at the mirror, or anything like that. I set a goal and accomplished, well, at least 75% of it. And that's pretty good for me. That's a solid C, right in the heart of my comfort zone.

But by the middle of the week I started feeling strange, like I was cut-off from society. I found myself puttering around the house in the afternoons with no clear purpose, detached from current events and just basically living in a world no larger than the square footage of our house. I don't want to alarm anyone, but I think I was this close to Sudoku.

....Will somebody please hold me?

It didn't help that we got the big John Holmes snowstorm on Wednesday. Or was it Tuesday? I don't know, and frankly don't care anymore. That stuff was (past tense) really pretty, but caused my back to hurt. Toney and I spent more than three hours shoveling our driveway, basically carving out a tunnel in the snowpack where we can park our cars. 

Depending on what channel you watch, we got seventeen or eighteen inches, and it'll probably be on the ground until May. All gray and shitty like downtown Cincinnati.

So it's good to be back. If anyone's actually reading this, I appreciate you sticking around. I plan on being here every day(ish), until our big Atlanta adventure in June. The bunker is open for business again, boys and girls. And as I shove, with the heel of my hand, a Little Debbie disc o' lard between my quivering lips, I can feel a renewed energy in the air. Pass the freakin' beer nuts.

-- On the day of the snowstorm my boss called and asked for my help. He needed something done at the plant, and couldn't reach anyone. He knows I have all those folks' cell phone numbers, and wanted me to do what I could. Thankful for brief contact with the outside world, I told him I'd get right on it.

The first two numbers I called sent me straight to voice mail, but the third guy answered. He was trying to drive home, and it wasn't going very well. In fact, he said the word fuck roughly thirty times during our two-minute conversation. At one point he screamed, "There goes my wiper! My fucking driver's side windshield wiper just flew off!! FUCK!"

By the time I hung up, seconds later, the hood of his Volkswagen was imbedded in a snow bank, and he couldn't move forward or backwards. He was in the grips of a full-on Swearengen frenzy by that point, and I decided it probably wasn't the right time to ask for a favor, and let him go. As I flipped my phone shut, I could hear a small tinny voice saying, "Motherfuck, motherfuck, motherfuck!!"

Then I called my boss back and told him I couldn't reach anyone.

-- On the day of the "snow event," before things got really bad, they were interviewing people on the local news who were out buying snow shovels at Lowe's. Yes, it's Pulitzer-caliber journalism around these parts.... One woman was purchasing a fancy-ass model with a Z-shaped handle, and the reporter asked if she'd be the one doing the actual shoveling.

"God no," she hollered, "I'm an old woman. I might take a heart attack!"

Take a heart attack? Why does that make me laugh so much? Why is that so funny?

-- This doesn't have anything to do with the snow, I don't think, but my right ear has been sealed-off for almost a week now. I've had such problems all my adult life (as has my Dad), but it usually doesn't linger very long. It's not unusual for me to wake up with a case of swimmer's ear, and it generally clears itself up within a few hours. This one, however, has been hanging around since early last week, and is making me crazy.

Doctors say it's the shape and width of the canal, or somesuch, which doesn't allow for proper "drainage." I guess it's a birth defect, who the hell knows? But the moment it finally pops will be magical indeed; it'll be nothing short of an eargasm. I hope I'm not in a business meeting when it happens, because I'll probably scream then feel a powerful urge to sleep.

-- We did our taxes last week, and the Surf Report is now listed in the official IRS records. For the first time this site earned enough money, through ad revenues, that I was required to report it. Amazon, specifically, was the culprit; they sent me a 1099 form, or some deal, and we had to list it on our return. 

This caused TurboTax to kick into overdrive, and it asked a full half-shitload of questions about it. It might've just been my imagination, but the software program seemed skeptical about the whole thing. 

In any case, TheWVSR has made it to the federal tax records. Pretty cool, huh?

I've got lots more, but I'd better eeeease back into it. Just so you know, I'm in the midst of yet another powerful Lloyd Cole jag. It's something that happens from time to time.... And speaking of music, just this morning I stumbled across the 2006 Pazz & Jop survey, right here. I haven't had time to explore it yet, but will remedy that situation over the next few days. Man, I love me some Pazz & Jop. Any opinions on the critics' opinions?

Also, what did you do last week? Did anything exciting happen? Help me get re-connected to the real world, my friends. Use the comments link to snap me out of this weird-ass stupor. I'm very close to ordering beltless slacks off the back cover of Parade magazine, and urgently need your assistance here. Holy shitballs.

Thanks for your help, and I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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February 10, 2007

-- And here we are. A little later than I'd planned, but what are you going to do? We ended up going out for dinner last night, quaffed a cuppa two tree Harps, then it was time to free-fall into the couch and watch Homicide on DVD.

I've been renting those things from Netflix, and Toney is completely hooked. Even more than I am. In fact, she suggested we buy this and, as far as I can tell, she wasn't joking. My friend Brad says Homicide is the best TV show in the history of the medium, and I'm not prepared to argue about it. How did it get past me when it was originally on? Oh, that's right, it was during the Atlanta record weasel "lost weekend." Never mind.

So anyway, that's why I didn't post anything on Friday night, and the reason for this ultra-rare Saturday update. If you'd like your money back, the request forms are available in .pdf format here.

-- In addition to putting together that crazy Martha Stewart Rubik's Cube of a "media tower" this weekend, I'm feeling a powerful hankering for Kimberly's famous Beer Drinker's Bean Pot. You might remember that she posted the recipe in the comments section a while back as a "birthday present" to me, and I actually waddled into the kitchen and cooked up a big batch of the stuff. And it was good, mighty good.

Kimberly claims it's a fartless dish, but I'm not going to hold that against it. (Results were inconclusive during initial field studies.) The weather is cold up here and I'm feeling the pull. So tonight I'll soak the beans, a step that was left out the first time 'round, and tomorrow everything will be simmering on low all day and filling the house with its beany goodness.

And you just can't go wrong with beany goodness.

-- On Thursday we watched Wednesday's episode of LOST, and it wasn't very good. Am I allowed to say that? Is it blasphemy? I don't know. But if they don't get back to basics soon, meaning the core group of characters and the old feel, I predict the show won't be around much longer. Because, you know, of the sucking.

It was great to see Calamity Jane, though. I hope she becomes a regular, because LOST could use a drunken, foul-mouthed, part-time lesbian. In fact, now that I think about it.... every show could.

-- Here's Mel Sharples hollering at Charlie Hustle about aftershave lotion, before breaking into song. Yes, you read that correctly.

-- And this is the view from my boss's office, along with the corresponding view from mine.

-- Buck sent this to me, and claims it's my kitchen after I take your advice and install the new countertops myself. I'm simply buckled over in laughter.

-- Do you ever listen to the George Noory radio show? I've just recently begun tuning in, via the internet, and it reminds me a little of the old Larry King overnight program. The whole thing is populated by nutcases and crackpots, and is just highly entertaining.

Earlier this week, for instance, he had a guest on who claims there are exactly 10,000 people on the Earth who will never die. They've always been here, he says, and always will be. He went through a confusing, long-winded explanation of all this, and I can't begin to tell you what he was getting at; I wasn't able to unravel the vast tapestry of crazy. And he was saying it all in an earnest tone, and being treated as completely credible and an esteemed expert.

Great fun.

-- One or more of you good folks have suggested a website to me called CD Baby. I checked it out, and it looks pretty cool. As best as I can tell, they sell compact discs from tiny labels and individuals, then pay royalties that are much higher than the industry standard. A wonderful concept.

The thing that blew my mind, though, is that they supposedly sell CDs by the legendary power-pop band Shoes. Those things are long out-of-print, and cost a wheelbarrow full of cash -- when you can find 'em. But CD Baby offers the entire catalog at $14.99 each. It seemed almost too good to be true.

This is the one I want the most, and it was listed as out of stock the first time I looked. So I signed up to receive an email when they got more. A few days ago the message arrived, and I immediately ordered a copy. Then, an hour or so later, I got another email saying they're out of stock again, and I was plunged into a dark mysterious backorder purgatory.

It's a big joke isn't it? CD Baby is nothing more than an elaborate hoax created by bitter old Jethro Tull fans, on us aging hipsters, as some sort of sick revenge scheme, right? Wow, talk about holding a grudge.... I know DEVO pissed you guys off, but high school was a long time ago.  

Man, that's just sad.

-- Speaking of power-pop, have you ever heard of a band called The Fags? Through my vast network of liars and backstabbers I procured a copy of their Light 'Em Up CD, and it's been on permaplay in the bunker for days now. It's just bass, guitar, drums, three minute songs, and a bad attitude. Just the way I like it. I'm pretty certain I've never said anything like this before, but I'm loving me some Fags.

-- A few days ago I finally set up my "new" external hard drive, and it actually works. I'd been avoiding it because I knew, just knew, it would cause me heartache. It's been my experience that the term "plug and play" is the biggest scam this side of corporate consulting. But the entire process only took me about four minutes. Who could've predicted such a thing? 

Now there's but one thing left to do: I've got the feeling it's time to start filling it up with Phil. Hello?

And that pretty much zeroes out the notebook, boys and girls. I'll be back on President's Day or the day after. I hate for the bunker to go dark for so long, but I have some stuff here that needs tending to. So....

I'll see ya in a week or whatever. 
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February 9, 2007

-- This will be the final update of The West Virginia Surf Report. For a while, anyway. I'm taking a vacation from the site next week to focus on other pressing docket items, and maybe re-charge my batteries a bit. Since it's deader than Kelsey's nuts at work, and I have fifty (count 'em!) vacation days in the bank, I'm going to take a full-on breather from the real world. No work, no website, no pants. That'll be next week's theme, my friends.

If I'd thought about it early enough, I would've tried to arrange a guest host. Maybe I could've asked The Angry White Guy to come back for a few days, or something like that? But it's probably too late for that sort of thing now, and I don't have the energy to try to persuade anyone. So screw it. I'll be back on President's Day, or the day after. I'm sure we'll all survive.

In the meantime, here are few items from my Big Notebook of Exploitable Things....

-- In addition to our comedic kitchen adventures, I'm in the midst of a low-grade family room reclamation project. I'm all jacked-up about it because of the BAT; I believe our new television deserves proper surroundings.

Until recently, the family room had been a catch-all for crapola. We have a fold-out couch in there that's fairly new but mighty ugly, and a fully-collapsed loveseat (not sure how that happened) on which a person sinks all the way to the floor and their knees are practically above their head, while sitting.

In the corner was an old chair I bought in California at Cost Plus or Pier One ("Prior One" according to an Atlanta co-worker). It was made in Bangladesh or some shit, and the seat was ripped all to hell. It looked like somebody had farted it apart. Beside that hideousness was an old floor lamp that leaned farther to the left than Dennis Kucinich, complete with a shade that was long ago exploded by a flying Frisbee or Nerf football or somesuch.

In addition to the fine furnishings, I had a metric shitload of DVDs stacked up in the floor, in great dusty towers. Oh, it was a sight to behold. The rest of the house is a regular adult residence, but that one room was like an instant trip back to my first apartment in Greensboro. All that was missing was the beanbag chairs, the water-driven VCR, and the Hustlers.

So I got rid of the Bangladeshi fart-catcher, and its left-leaning companion. And I brought home some boxes from work, and moved 99% of the DVDs to the basement. The only ones I'm keeping up here are TV shows like Seinfeld and Green Acres and Andy Griffith. The rest have now been sucked into the subterranean vortex, never to be heard from again.

Toney and I looked at new floor lamps last weekend, and none flipped our switch. So we went on Amazon and bought one, and it arrived yesterday. In a gigantic box, a box that seems to be whispering to me: "You're going to have to put me together, and it's going to be a surprisingly difficult process. I will make you cry, doughboy, sure as shit."

Also, remember how I told you I recently ventured into a K-Mart store for the first time in years? Well, I saw something in there that intrigued me. It was a piece of furniture (from the Martha Stewart Collection!) called a media tower. Here it is. It's basically a smallish cabinet with a door made of wood and glass, and I figured it would be perfect for storing our in-rotation DVDs. It was pretty cool looking, and also too expensive, I thought.

But the idea lodged itself in my brain somewhere, until it started festering. And when the thing appeared in their Sunday ad last week, for twenty bucks off, I went over there and bought one. It came in a box that weighed somewhere around, and I'm only estimating here, a million pounds. Needless to say, there was nobody to help me with it, and I think I turned a few discs sideways in my spine trying to wrestle it into my car. For the rest of the day I leaned like a lamp.

And now the hundred or so parts that were in that box are spread all over the floor. I started to put it together while watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, got pissed, and abandoned the project. I'm bent on completing it tomorrow, but why does it have to be so confusing?? The directions are a joke, with pictures of parts I don't have, and everything is in tiny, tiny pieces. I'm not sure, but I believe you have to actually put the screws together before you can use them. 

Sweet sainted mother of Phoebe Snow.

Once I get all that crap completed, I think it'll look pretty darn good in there. For the first time ever. I have an old panoramic photograph of my hometown of Dunbar, WV. It was taken in 1927 (I think), and is about four feet wide. I'd love to get that baby framed, and hang it up in the reclaimed family room. But I might be over-reaching a bit with that deal. How much do you think it would cost to have a Prince-sized photo framed, anyway?

And I'm going to keep writing at work, and will tack the rest of today's update to the end of this bitch when I get home tonight. Stay tuned, boys and girls.

In the meantime, tell us about your first apartment, if you're so inclined. What were its remarkable features? Did you have the giant spool for a dining room table, like Jeff Foxworthy likes to talk about? Did anything exciting happen there? Like, say, your brother windmilled a bottle of ketchup in the middle of the living room, and the lid flew off?

Tell us about it, won't you? And I'll be back tonight.

See ya then. 
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February 8, 2007

-- I mentioned that Toney and I want to replace our kitchen floor and countertops, right? Well, we haven't really gotten into the flooring yet, but I think we're about ready to say fukkit on the counters. Suddenly the ones that are on there right now are looking pretty darn good to us, and I think we'll just keep 'em. Thank you very much. Life is too short to go around voluntarily seeking-out infuriating bullshit. I think Gandhi first said that. And I'm not certain of the exact function of the stomach lining, but common sense tells me I'd better try to maintain it. Ya know?

Before I launch into a full-bitch, I thought I should tell you that Toney has a problem with the term "countertop." She says it's redundant and stupid. The words counter and top mean roughly the same thing, she contends, so why combine them? People don't go around wearing hatcaps.

I can sorta see her point. But we have to live in this world, and the world calls it countertop. There's no fighting it, so just embrace it. Right? Just go with the flow.... Yeah, that's what I say out loud. But the truth is, she's gotten me to the point where I now feel self-conscious using the word, and I'm cringing all over the place here.

This is highly concerning. I think my wife is turning into me, slowly but surely. She wasn't always like this; she's always been the voice of reason. How can we survive with two Jeff Kays running the show? ....Will somebody please hold me?

Anyway, we went to Lowe's a few days ago, and sat down at a little desk in the kitchen department. A man in a comedic vest was there to help us, and everything started out well. We'd brought along a rough drawing of our counters, with the dimensions and everything noted. He seemed pleased that we were so prepared, and began crunching the numbers. And when he was finished, the total sounded agreeable to us. A bit high, but not shockingly so.

Then we got to the fine print.

The total didn't include a sink, he said. But wait, I shouted, I thought there was a free sink? No, that's only if you buy counters from the D, E, and F categories, and you've chosen something from C. Well, how much is a sink then? About seven hundred dollars: five hundred for the sink itself, and two hundred for installation. And that's when I nearly swallowed my tongue for the first time.

We went through the whole deal. I had him run the numbers with counters from the D category, and guess what? The prices were within $11 of each other. So there was no obvious way to get around the extra seven hundred bucks.

Unless, of course, we compromised and just went with a stainless steel sink, or something like that. That's not what we wanted, but it might very well be the only sane option. Because even if I were a millionaire with a million dollars in my pocket, I wouldn't pay seven hundred dollars for a kitchen sink. I mean, what am I, a complete douche?

We hemmed and hawed, and pretty much decided to go the stainless route. The final price still seemed fair, and who really gives a crap anyway? It's a sink.

But there was more....

The guy told us we'd have to remove our old counters ourselves, and they'd have to be gone by the time the workers arrived to do the final template. Then it would be a week to ten days before the new counters could be installed. We'll have to go all that time with no countertops?! I hollered. Yes, he said, all matter of factly. Then he informed us they won't touch the plumbing, that it would be our responsibility.

What the hell, man? So, they basically just carry the thing in? That's what they call installation?! Will we have to provide a catered lunch, as well? How about a masseuse? Visions of Van Halen contract riders danced in my head. Sweet sainted mother of Esther Rolle!

Oh, he added, we'll also need full payment up-front.

The drive home was a lot of fun. After I exhausted my full arsenal of cuss words, and invented a few new ones as well, we decided to call some Mom 'n' Pop cabinet shops and see what they could do for us. If they start talking the same shit, I said, we'll just have to live with our current counters. Toney agreed without hesitation.

But it wasn't the same shit, it was different shit. We left messages at about eight different places, and two called us back. One said they were backed-up about three months, but they'd love to do our project if we could wait. Three months. Ha!

The other one, though, sounded promising. The guy was speaking my language when he said, "All you'll have to do is move the toaster for us. We'll take care of everything else." He asked me to fax him a rough drawing with dimensions, and I told him I'd do it the next morning from work. I had high hopes; I have limited abilities when it comes to handyman stuff, but I was reasonably sure I could move a toaster.

About an hour after I faxed the dude, he called my cell phone and was giving off waves of attitude. "Um, I just received a drawing," he spat, all sarcastic and pissy, "and I'm not exactly sure I know what I'm supposed to do with it. What is your question?" Then he gave me a little exasperated chuckle, as if it had now reached the point where it was funny, all the idiots he has to deal with in a given day.

Man, that really boiled my peanuts. I reminded him that we'd spoken the day before, and he'd asked me to send him that information. "I don't just go around faxing random people drawings of my kitchen," I said. "It's not like I sent one to you, another to Applebee's, and one to Chrysler Motors."

He backed off a little, and apologized. He said he'd send me an estimate "in just a few minutes," and did. It was a detailed proposal that jumped and jerked out of my fax machine, and when I saw the final price it was my turn to laugh. I mean I was having a great time looking at those numbers. Quite enjoyable. I'm chuckling right now, just thinking about it.

He wanted to charge us $49 for fuel to drive back and forth to our house. I think it's about twelve miles each way, so apparently he'd be traveling via aircraft carrier. And $300 to unhook our old sink, then hook up the new one. Three hundred dollars!! Another $100 to rip out our old counters, and on and on it went, until it became full-on comedy.

So, like I said at the beginning of this questionable update, we're currently at the fukkit stage.

Pass the goddamn beer nuts. 
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February 7, 2007

-- When I was in Atlanta I shared an office with two other guys. One day we were sitting at our desks working, when an unknown 400 lb woman rolled in. She stood in the doorway, blocking light on all four sides, and said, "Excuse me. Are there any Cheech & Chong aficionados in here?" I just thought you'd want to know.

-- The youngest Secret was planning to have a friend over after school a few days ago, and wanted to show him the PS2 game called Bully. That's the one, you might remember, that I briefly confiscated, because it features savage beatings with baseball bats and whatnot. But you know how those kiddie konfiscations go....

Toney thought she'd better talk to the boy's mother first, and make sure she didn't have a problem with him playing it. The mother asked, "Is that one of those games with lots of violence, and all sorts of horrible stuff?" Toney said yeah. And the mother answered, "No problem then! He loves that kind of thing."

-- Buck sent me this link yesterday, about a planned "party deck" at the new fancy-pants baseball stadium in Charleston. Here's how the conversation went after that:

Jeff: How long before somebody plunges to their death from that so-called party deck?

Buck: Only you could read that story and go, "Holy shit what if somebody gets drunk and tumbles to the concrete below." Good grief, you've become a grandmother!

Jeff: I'm not worried about it, I just know it'll happen. I grew up in that place, remember. At the very least they'll have to hire a full-time vomit steward to clean off the grass in right field.

Buck: HA!!!!! Already, just at the mere thought of a new job, they received 15 applications!!!

-- I'm having fun with my new space over at MySpace. While I slept last night the Buzzcocks and the Beautiful South approved me as their friend. (I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here....) And Elvis Costello and I are now buddies as well. In my fantasy world Elvis himself debated and finally accepted my invitation. While wearing his King of America crown.

But how's this for a kick to the luggage? I was DENIED by Phil Hendrie. I've been a one-man Hendrie hype-machine for years now, and he turns me down?? Man, I was pissed, until I took a good look at his "friends," and saw that they're all chicks, most with comically-oversized breasts. Whew! I'm so relieved it was only gender-based discrimination, and nothing personal.

I've also been corresponding with a few folks through the swirling pit of chaos that is MySpace, and learned that one of our regular Surf Reporters is married to a guy I used to buy music from, years ago, at Budget Tapes and Records. That information blew my mind a little.... As one of our great philosophers said, it's a small world, but I'd hate to paint it.

Request me as a friend, if you haven't already, and I'll promptly accept. There will be no tit-based redlining at my page, thank you very much.

-- Speaking of music, I was flipping through the channels last night, hoping for the best, when I came across the Goo Goo Dolls performing live on QVC(!?). I was a fan of those guys, back when they were an obscure Replacements-wannabe punk band touring the country in a beat-to-shit van, etc. In fact, I saw them several times during the early days, at a tiny club in Atlanta called The Point, and there was usually about thirty people in the audience. I thought they were great, and played a cassette copy of this album every day for months.

Now they're (former?) big stars, rocking out on QVC for my elderly aunts, right before the Bass Loafer Winter Event kicks off. Or whatever. It's a sad state of affairs....

-- Lucie sent me this and it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share.

-- I can't remember where I came across this one, but it's pretty interesting as well.

-- And I need to go now, but want to try something before I do. If you'll indulge me for a few seconds, I'd like to experiment with the power of persuasion. Please clear your mind, and pay special attention to what you're about to read. Then, if you wouldn't mind, I'd be much obliged if you could report the results in the comments section below. I'm very interested in the outcome of this scientific study. Ready?

YOU HAVE TO PEE. IT'S URGENT, YOU MUST PEE STRAIGHT AWAY. I MEAN, RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW.

Did anything happen? If not, give it a few seconds... And tell us about it, won't you?

I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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February 6, 2007

-- Like everybody else in the world, I watched the Super Bowl Sunday night. Usually I only see it in chunks and hunks, but did the entire haul this year. You know, because of our new Big Ass Television. I wasn't overly interested in any of it, mind you, but felt a social obligation to tune in; many believe those BATs are created for such events, and you're wasting it unless you see every freakin' minute. And God knows I don't want to waste it. So, like everybody else in the world, I watched the Super Bowl Sunday night.

We even had a small spread of chips and salsa and guacamole and neon orange liquefied cheese, and the like. It wasn't a full-on Superbowl party, or anything, just a modest snack upgrade in recognition of the holiday-like atmosphere. Pass the beer nuts.

Here are a few random notes on my evening spent watching, as unlikely as it now seems, professional football....

Why do those guys at "the desk" have to holler everything? What's wrong with simply talking? Is speaking in a normal conversational tone considered pussy in football culture? I don't know. In baseball they just talk, and in golf they actually whisper. If I wanted to start an argument, I might say it's like car commercials: the cheaper and less sophisticated the product, the louder the announcer. But I don't want to start any arguments.

And are those clip-on Garth Brooks microphones designed to press into their jaw like that? I thought they were supposed to be positioned an inch or two from the face, not mashing everything in. A few of those guys could've held paper to their faces, like human clipboards. I think the skin of an old man had actually been pierced by one, and the mic itself was inside his mouth. But I could be wrong about that.

I was watching the Superbowl (can I say that, or do I have to refer to it as the Big Game, in fear of NFL trademark lawyers?) on an HD television, via an HD broadcast, and there was water all over the camera lenses most of the time. Wotta rip-off. Sometimes it felt like I was looking at the players through a shower door, and that's the thing nightmares are made of. Ya know? Why couldn't they wipe if off every once in a while? Have they ever heard of, you know, a cloth?

What was the deal with that fake lightning before Prince came on? It was fake, right? The National Football League hasn't figured out a way to manipulate the weather, have they? And how did he play his electric guitar in the driving rain? At one point he was standing in a pool of water, soaked through to his purple panties, and cranking off an extended guitar solo. I thought he was going to start jerking and frothing at the mouth. Not that anyone would've noticed, really.

Is it wrong of me to admit I was praying for him to slip and fall off the stage?

This doesn't have anything to do with the game, but I met Prince once, in Atlanta. And he's roughly the size of your standard fourth grader. He's a portable rock star. The man could be mounted to a dashboard, and perform on long commutes. Or something.

The commercials were OK, I guess. I liked the one for Bud Light where they were trying to teach non-English speaking people how to order the product in various American cities. There's a lot of funny foreigners in that one, and you simply can't go wrong with funny foreigners. And the one where everybody was slapping each other was good, but I don't really remember any of the others. What about you? What were your faves, and which ones sucked?

I'll tell you one that I thought sucked, even though a lot of people apparently enjoyed it. I'm talking, of course, about that retarded Go Daddy commercial. Here's video footage of me watching it for the first time. Stoopid. What is this, 1980?

And that's everything, off the top of my head. Next week is the Grammys (featuring the big Police reunion), and then the Academy Awards. I'll probably skip the former, and watch the latter. And once again, I'll be praying for people to slip and fall. Is that wrong?

-- Sorry about yesterday. I had to be at work early, and was only up to the "have they ever heard of a cloth?" portion of the update when I was forced to walk away from it. The initial phase of a new operating system was launched at my job yesterday, and I'm supposedly involved. I'm not sure what I'm contributing exactly, but whatever. I even had to go in on Saturday, which didn't make me very happy. It's up and running though, and working properly (thanks to me standing off to the side and scratching my chin in deep, deep thought), so maybe they'll leave me alone now? Sweet Maria.

-- Further evidence the end is near.

-- And a little more.

-- I'm not sure why, but I set up a little half-assed MySpace page, right here. Yesterday I invited a few celebrities to be my "friend," and you can see the results so far. I was rejected by a couple of people, which stung a little. But I can't remember who they were, dammit, so I'm being denied the opportunity to work up a good bitterness. From now on I'm keeping a list, so I can hold a grudge if necessary. 

Send me an invite if you'd like my Fuck You Tattoo icon to appear on your page. I don't turn people down, like.... somebody.

Hey, wonder if J.D. Salinger has a MySpace??

-- And I'm going to hand it over to Buck now, and call it day.

See ya tomorrow. 
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February 2, 2007

-- I took a sick day yesterday, to protect my nearly thirty year-long streak of not crapping at work. I'd been to Don Pablo's the night before, and my chicken fuh-jeetas tasted a bit odd. Not bad, really, just unusual. I thought they were probably slightly burnt, and soldiered on.

Then I woke up in the middle of the night with a disturbance in the lower quadrant, and this was repeated several times throughout the morning. Not to be unnecessarily descriptive, but it was like a shotgun blast every time. So I decided to stay close to the house. I'm good, but not that good. My status as the Lou Gehrig of the Sphincter would've very likely come to an abrupt and noisy end yesterday.

And I can't have that.

-- Since I was home, I got a chance to watch the local news last night. I rarely see it, because I'm always on the run (in a matter of speaking). But we're supposed to get a little snow today, so we turned off Nickelodeon for a half hour, and got ourselves up-to-date on the local happenings. Here are the highlights:

A man walked up to a Kentucky Fried Chicken (that's KFC to the young and with-it, the Colonel to all my relatives) with a "stab wound to the buttocks." He asked the cashier to call an ambulance, and was taken to a local hospital. That's all they said about it, leaving me and Toney looking at each other with confusion. How does a man get stabbed in the ass? What series of events would lead up to such an occurance? And where did he come from? Did he just wander out of the woods with his ass laid-open like that? I can't speak for everyone, but I'd like to see a follow-up story on that deal.

The field where the AAA baseball team (the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees) plays will no longer be called Lackawanna County Stadium. Officials entered into a "naming rights" deal with a bank, and the stadium will now be called PNC Field. Needless to say, the locals are up in arms about it. Change doesn't come easy in these parts.... Me? I couldn't give even the tiniest of tiny craps about any of it. Who cares what the stadium is called? Some people act like they're in training to go pro with their bitching. Jesus J. McChrist.

Instead of putting money in their offering envelope, a local couple inserted a protest letter addressed to the priest of their church on Sunday. Apparently they're upset because a Catholic high school is scheduled to close soon, and were making some sort of statement. The priest took it as a threat of financial boycott, and kicked the couple out of his parish

I was amused that this petty squabble was being covered by the local media, and surprised at their take on the situation. My reaction was that the couple was being punished for simply voicing an opinion, but the news report seemed to paint them as rogues, loose-cannons bent on the ultimate destruction of the Catholic Church. I wouldn't be surprised to learn they had to flee the state in the dark of night. Freaky.

A Sheetz convenience store in Altoona has received a license to sell beer. Beginning at exactly two o'clock on Thursday, six-packs can be purchased at this one store only. And a local news crew was hovering above the building in a helicopter(!), sending back a live video feed. There were no details on who made the first purchase, or what they bought, but rest assured..... it's another sure sign of the coming apocalypse.

And finally.... After being informed that the expected "winter storm" probably wouldn't amount to much, we were treated to a lengthy feature about a kids' product called Moon Sand. It started out with an informational report about the stuff, then we were taken live to an elementary school. And a grown man was shown wallowing around in the floor wearing dress clothes, building sand castles and acting all excited about some crap he'd bought at Toys R Us earlier in the day.

There were kids there too, and they had that so-called Moon Sand all over their pants and in their eyebrows and whatnot. I'm not sure, but I think I saw one boy eat a handful of it. They told the wallowing man that the stuff is "cool," and this was treated as a revelation from on high, as if it sealed their Pulitzer, sure as shit.

I turned to Toney and asked, "So, is this, like, a normal newscast?" And she said, "Yes it is."

What's going on in your neck of the woods? Can it compare to the beehive of activity underway in northeastern Pennsylvania? Tell us about it, won't you?

And I'm gonna pass the baton to Buck now, and wish you folks a fine, fine weekend.

Have a fine, fine weekend. See ya Monday. 
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February 1, 2007

-- When I was a kid, in the early 1970s, a "bug truck" would drive up and down the alleys of our town in the summertime, spraying great clouds of yellowish insecticide all over, as one of my aunts would call it, carnation. It smelled pretty horrible, and was doubtlessly toxic. But my friends and I would ride behind the truck on our bikes, turning it into an adventure. We couldn't see a thing inside the chemical fog, and believed it to be the absolute height of good times. Just thought you'd want to know.

-- Last weekend I went to Borders to buy a calendar for my office at work. I figured I'd waited long enough for them to be marked down to a dollar. But I was wrong, they were three dollars. Still, the selection was mighty picked-over.

I chose one that features vintage advertisements for Spam "luncheon meat," and consider it a real score. Even though we were more of a Treet family while I was growing up.... 
The rest were either ripped and/or apparently danced upon, or consisted of various photographs of the skyline of Butte, Montana, or something equally bizarre. There was also a lot of male beefcake still on the shelves. One included a so-called fireman on the front, shirtless and looking suggestively into the camera while grasping a rigid hose with both hands. I decided against it.

A couple of selections surprised me. There were big stacks remaining of two specific titles, as if not a single calendar had been sold.

One was the Philadelphia Phillies, which used to be the "hometown" team around these parts. Everybody followed them, and talked about how bad they suck, etc. But now that their farm team has relocated, it looks like they're yesterday's news. There was a big honkin' pile of their official team calendars weighing down one end of the rack, threatening to turn the shit over. And I noticed the Yankees were nowhere to be found.

Another was something called African American Celebration. On the cover was a black family wearing sweaters and smiling warmly. Somebody in the Borders buying department must've been operating under the assumption there are black folks in Scranton. Is that not hilarious? Maybe next year they could bring in a line of vegetarian calendars as well, or perhaps a few Cheerful Customer Service titles? How about a desk organizer called Expert Interstate Merging? Heh.

Yes, I was lucky to get my hands on a three dollar Spam calendar, and it's now displayed prominently in my office. And today (or tomorrow) I'll get to flip the page over, and see what terrifying casserole I'll be staring at until March. Pretty awesome, huh?

What kind of calendar did you go with this year?

-- Surf Reporter Brian sent me this distressing news yesterday. Apparently the Beautiful South has broken up after nineteen years, because of "musical similarities." And boy am I glad we didn't wimp out on going to their show in November. As best as I can tell, they only played ten more concerts after we saw them in Philadelphia. I'd almost certainly be slugging myself full in the genitalia today if we'd stayed home, which is something that almost happened. <sigh> ....Is it too early for a reunion tour?

-- Yesterday we received a Consumer Reports in the mail, their annual Big Ass Television issue. And guess what? Our JVC model is ranked at number five on a list of twenty-two rear projection sets. The entire top four is Toshiba.... who knew? 

It makes me feel like we might've actually made a good choice for once. I was certain I'd flip open the magazine and our TV would be on the Models To Avoid Like A Homeless Man With A Turd Behind His Ear As If It Were A Pencil list. I just knew it. 

I'm not accustomed to being pleasantly surprised....

-- My brother found this at a newspaper archives site. I have absolutely no recollection of it, and cannot provide additional information. All I know is, they apparently photographed me moments after returning from a bug truck run. Sweet sainted mother of Shirley Booth.

-- Here's some stuff on rock 'n' roll plane crashes, and I'm going to call it a day. Screw it. I'm not feeling so hot this morning. We went to Don Pablo's for dinner last night, and something has rendered my lower intestines unpredictable

In fact, I think I'm going to use a sick day, out of fear of my nearly thirty year-long streak coming to an explosive and shotgun patterned end. I usually don't shy away from "playing hurt," but there's a limit to everything.

I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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