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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

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I'm loaded with tumors darling, and I don't even know it.

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   The State of My Fat Ass                                     October 2004


October 29, 2004

-- I was in the bathroom yesterday at work, and noticed a shiny new silver apparatus mounted high on the wall, way up near the ceiling. Wonder what that is, I thought, a camera? Some kind of listening device? A theft-detecting funk analyzer? I didn't like the looks of it, not one bit, but went ahead with the flat-footed business at hand. I mean, what's a guy to do?

They have all kinds of stuff bolted to the walls in there. One has a flashing light in it, which makes me really nervous. It seems to flash at pretty convenient times, if you get my drift. I do my best to keep my back to the thing, but it requires some acrobatics. I have visions of security guards sitting somewhere inside that plant, in front of a bank of monitors, laughing and making up nicknames. And I don't like that. Another of the wall-boxes is constantly clicking and whirring, and that doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling either. Clicking and whirring shouldn't happen in a bathroom, where things are often out. Know what I'm sayin'?

But the silver box is new, and looked pretty heavy-duty. Wild conspiracy theories played around in my head as I awaited completion of the mission. Then it started doing something! It sounded like it was pumping(!?). It reminded me of what I heard after our dog Andy ate an entire Chinette paper plate. What the crap?? I tried to position myself in a manner that would best protect my "vulnerables," while at the same time looking over my shoulder to see what was going on. Then there was a loud hissing sound, and a wide mist shot out of the top. Holy shit!! I was ready to tuck and roll.

Almost immediately my eyes started watering, my throat began to burn and constrict, and I realized it was some kind of industrial strength air freshener. I could feel liquid raining down on my skin, and the smell was so powerful I could barely draw a breath. The hell?! I think somebody made a mistake and ordered the model meant for domed stadiums, not a ten foot by ten foot craphouse. I could actually taste the mist! 

I was lucky to get out of there with my life. The next five minutes were spent gagging and spitting and trying to will the contents of my stomach to behave. And I smelled like a Hungarian man-whore for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, a short but colorful note was composed and sent to the building manager, but I don't expect any action to be taken. I imagine he opened it, read it, rubbed his chin, and said, "Jeff Kay? Isn't he that faggot from California?" DELETE.

And so it goes.

 


October 28, 2004

-- Somehow Toney and I got onto the subject yesterday of a guy we used to work with in Atlanta, back in our record weasel days. His job was in a section of the warehouse where they shipped out promotional materials and did mass mailings and whatnot, but he walked around like he was Puff Daddy. He wore silk shirts and gold jewelry and tried to make people believe he was an up and coming record exec. He had business cards listing him as CEO of a label that only existed inside his highly-cologned melon-shaped head. It was called Worldwide Hits Exploding All Around The World Records, or something equally ridiculous and nonsensical, and was very similar to this "enterprise." Or this one.

He always carried around a leather dayplanner, tucked up under his arm like a purse. The implication, of course, was that he had so many appointments and meetings lined up, he needed an executive tool to keep it all straight. He strutted around with this thing, in a constant frazzled state, like he was going to be late for his sit-down with Quincy Jones if he didn't get a move on. Sure, he rode the city bus to work every morning, but that was only because his new custom BMW was on backorder at the factory, you see. The guy was a classic.

One morning Toney and I were walking into the building and spotted something lying in the grass. I walked over to investigate, and recognized it immediately. The dayplanner! I couldn't believe our good luck. We took it to a spot where people wouldn't be looking over our shoulders, and started pawing through it. I opened it, at random, to the P page of the address book. And there was only one entry, in the upper left hand corner: Publix. He had the phone number of his grocery store in there! And in the E section? Eckerd Pharmacy. I buckled over in laughter. Sweet Maria. Under the calendar section he'd made a note to himself to "record Melrose." Ha! He probably had a meeting with Russell Simmons that night, and wouldn't be able to catch the show. Too good.

I gave him back his fashion accessory and, as difficult as it was, made no smart-ass comments. He wasn't a bad guy, after al, just full of shit. And even high-powered CEOs need to call their local grocery deli every once in a while, right? He was lucky I found the thing, and not someone else, but I doubt he realized it. That building was crawling with assholes, and another person may have read it over the PA system. And that's a fact.

A couple of years later it all came crashing down when the guy was fired after being caught using the company postage meter to pay his personal bills. They had him red-handed holding a Southern Bell envelope, and there was nothing he could do. It was a sad end to a promising career in the music biz. And just a few short weeks before the BMW was to be delivered too! A real shame.

He was pretty over-the-top, but far from unique. There's nothing like the music industry, at least as far as I know, for charlatans and liars. It attracts phoniness like a magnet. 

A similar character, this one female, walked around the building in tailored business suits, dropping names and bullying people with her brashness. But the handles on her piece-of-shit car didn't work, and she had to climb in through the hatchback at the end of the day. I'd see her out there in the evenings after most people had gone home, Miss Mover and Shaker, tumbling over the seats in her tight skirt.

I kinda miss it; I miss the nuttiness. Every day in Atlanta was like another chapter out of some crazy-ass novel, full of impossible characters and situations. My job today? Yeah, it's nothing like a novel. Nothing at all like a novel. It's more along the lines of the owner's manual for a clock radio. With a little less pizazz.

 

October 27, 2004

-- I was listening to a Los Angeles radio station at work yesterday, and heard a commercial for Pie Month. I know I've droned on about how I didn't much enjoy our four years spent living in that lunatic bin of four dollar eggs and black widow spiders, but Pie Month was a bright spot. Very bright indeed. Twice a year Marie Callender's restaurant would offer up their deep-dish delectables for something like five bucks each. And we'd eat the living hell out of them. A few times each week, on my way home from work, I'd stop at the restaurant near my office and make another selection from their towering wall of goodness.

I'd be positively giddy during this selection process (it was like Christmas morning!) but the clerks were apparently used to it, and were exceedingly patient. Sometimes I'd go the cream route, then mix things up with a blueberry, a lemon meringue, or a peach. It was all good. And I'd arrive home with another tall box in my hand. By the end of the month we'd be having Pavlovian reactions to white boxes.

It was insanity, but we didn't care. During Pie Month we wouldn't even fight it, and would surrender ourselves completely. One time Toney and a friend showed up at my office during the middle of the day with a banana cream pie in tow, and we proceeded to cut it into thirds (it seems like we used a ballpoint pen, but I could be wrong), and disappeared that bitch within a five minute block of time. My boss walked past during all this and I just waved a glistening fork at him. Hey, allowances have to be made during Pie Month; I'm only flesh and blood, after all.

God, I miss it. We have no Pie Month here. Somebody might have Tripe Month, or Potato Dumpling Month, or Rope of Meat Month, but it's just not the same. I wish I'd never heard that commercial. Because I'm a little sad now. Sure, I could go to a local bakery and pick up a pie, but there would be no magic associated with the act. For one thing it would be priced too high to allow a full-on month-long frenzy, and I don't believe in half-stepping when it comes to pie. So fuck it, I have my memories.

I told Toney about the commercial I'd heard yesterday, and she sent a note to our old banana cream partner, who still lives in LA, and almost immediately this was in Toney's mailbox. Apparently she had it saved in a folder on her computer! Laugh if you want, but I'm telling you, Pie Month has the power to take over a person's life. And it hurts so good.

-- Before I wish you folks a good day, I'd like to call your attention to a fine new novel, entitled Small Town Odds. It was written by longtime friend of TheWVSR, and author of American Stops Washing Hair!, Jason Headley. He's a native of the West Virginia motherland, and his book is set there, in the fictional town of Pinely. The book is available for purchase now, and I recommend it without reservation. Jason allowed me to read an early draft, and I ain't lyin', it's really, really good. If you enjoy Richard Russo (and I can't think of a reason why you wouldn't), you'll dig this book. I hope you'll join me in wishing him all the luck in the world with this, and all his future literary endeavors. Not that he'll need it, but still... Cheers dude! Sometimes I wish you weren't such a nice guy, so I could hate you and curse your success as my instincts are telling me to do. But, dammit, I just can't work up any bitterness. 

Buy Small Town Odds! It's a good 'un, and that's no joke.

Good day.

 

October 26, 2004

-- We were coming out of a grocery store on Saturday (where I tested the camera on my new phone for the first time!), when one of the strangest cart-collectors EVER began chatting us up. He was a male, clearly, because he had a moustache and a five o'clock shadow, but he also seemed to have the body of a woman. He wasn't a fatty, but he appeared to have a set of remarkable hooters beneath his reflector smock. ...Hey, your guess is as good as mine.

He was bent on informing us that the fire department was putting on a presentation, on the other side of the parking lot. And as he talked I tried to pin down his accent. Was it some kind of Scandinavian deal? No, that wasn't it. I finally settled on Eastern European, Russian or Polish or something, but Toney thought it was more like Portuguese. Who knows? Whatever it was, it was delivered in an odd high-pitched cartoon tone, something along the lines of a Hanna-Barbera mouse, I think. Oh, this guy was the complete package.

Then I noticed that he had no forearms! He only had biceps, with hands at the bottom. He had to stand real close to the carts to push them, because his shit ended at the elbow. He was wearing short-sleeves, but his little-girl fingers barely poked out. The man was an absolute mess.

And once my brain finally wrapped itself around the bizarre Eraserhead spectacle in front of us, I started paying attention to what he was saying again. And I didn't care for it. He was still squeaking-on about the fire department presentation, and how I might find it interesting, but Toney might not. Then he said, "But who cares, right? She's just a woman." And he continued down that path for a another sentence or two, trying to enlist me in his strange nudge nudge wink wink half-armed betitted woman-bashing cart collector mini-cult. What the hell, man??

I was preparing to unload on him -- so much potential material too! -- when somebody walked over and asked him a question, and our "conversation" was abruptly ended. But it was a memorable two minutes, believe me. I wouldn't be surprised to see a 60 Minutes report in five or ten years about a passionate group of woman-haters, living on an island together and being lorded over by The Gnarled Basket Master. I really wouldn't. He had a certain evil twinkle in his eye that seemed to say that his work had only begun. Nothing short of frightening.

-- Since we're on the subject of the grotesque, here are the supposed "worst jobs in science," headed up by the Anal Wart Researcher. Hell, I've gotten off conference calls at my job and wished I could be so lucky as to research a gaping anus.

-- And this is a great story about a bathroom door being "fouled." I'd say it's not for the queasy, but you wouldn't be here if you fell in that category, so never mind.

-- Finally, I took a few minutes yesterday to update the search engine phrases that recently brought folks to TheWVSR, and here they are. New ones are at the top...

Shit, this is pretty short today, isn't it? I'll do better tomorrow. Maybe.

See ya then.

 

October 25, 2004

-- Toney and I went to a fall festival yesterday, at a park near our house. They were having the annual scarecrow-making throwdown, where folks in the town converge and, well, make scarecrows. The city provides crucifixion crosses, hay, twine, etc. And there's always a big pile of clothes there, presumably donated by our fellow townspeople. Or you can bring your own if the idea of packing a stranger's pants full of dead grass doesn't exactly appeal to you. (You can probably guess the route I took on that deal.)

After the scarecrows are all cobbled together, and most are pretty sad affairs, they're used to decorate Main Street. It's kinda fun, in a small town Norman Rockwell sort of way. We drank cider and had Krispy Kremes, enjoyed a fire in the big stone fireplace, took a walk beside the creek, built a friggin' scarecrow, and had ourselves a pleasant little afternoon.

This year our contribution was our best ever, but it still wasn't very good. We stopped at the dollar store and bought a halloween mask of a man whose eye somehow had ejected from its traditional housing, and was now hanging by cords on a horribly mutilated cheek. This was strapped to a Wal-Mart bag full of hay, and used as the head. Looked pretty good, if you ask me. It sure beat our first attempt, three or four years ago. I believe that "scarecrow" consisted of a trash bag full of straw, staple-gunned to a stick, with a smiley face drawn on it. Pitiful.

Of course there are always a few hotshot show-offs at such events (it's funny how real life is so often like high school), and the family beside us made a big show of building a full-sized Merlin the Magician. I shit you not. They brought along an elaborate pre-constructed head, complete with sparkly pointed hat, and sat it atop a hay-stuffed costume with cape. I'm not even sure it qualified as a scarecrow, technically speaking. I think they had a bonded electrician over there, running wire! I felt like filing a complaint with The Scarecrow Council, but decided to just let it drop. Eliminate one asshole, and two more pucker up; why kill yourself over it?

But I did move our sad little grocery bag man to the other side of the staging area, away from the Industrial Light & Magic family. They were treating it like a competition, and I think that attitude is just so unhealthy -- especially when I'm losing. I believe they were unpacking a fog machine as I grunted my farewell.

I propped our guy up beside a friendly-looking scarecrow with a balloon face, wearing a Minnesota Twins cap(?), and hoped for the best. It's a difficult thing, believe me, but at some point you just have to let go. We need to have faith that we filled him with best hay available, that he'll keep his disfigured nose clean, and will continue to make us proud. Sure, he may not be a Merlin with animatronic capabilities, but he's a good scarecrow. And I ask you: what's wrong with that?

-- I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning, so I'm going to have to cut it short, I'm afraid. I'll leave you now with the rankings of the fattest states in the union. Where does yours fall? West Virginia is near the top, of course, but Pennsylvania is pretty far down the list. Kinda surprising, really. In the back of my mind I believe there's a lot of fat here, but I may be getting it confused with ugly. Anyway, if I had more time and energy I'd try to find a correlation between this list and the Electoral College map. Is there a link? I'll let you folks do the legwork on that one. I'm tired.

More tomorrow.

 

October 22, 2004

-- Toney was leaving Wal-Mart yesterday and had to pass through the usual gauntlet of people out front shaking cans and buckets in everyone's faces, demanding a "donation." As is dictated by some ancient survival instinct, she just kept walking and looking straight ahead. There's not much more a person can do, really. There are just too many of them out there. If I dropped money into every one of those buckets, they'd have to start taking up a collection for me pretty soon. "Excuse me, ma'am? Would you like to make a donation to a douche who really, really cared?"

No, I pick and choose who gets my pocket change, and it's usually kids' sports teams. Most kids haven't had enough time to blossom into full-blown assholes, so they're still a fairly safe bet. I avoid people with those magnetic "I'm better than you" ribbons, like I would a man wearing a sash of solid waste. And the guys using their stumps as a marketing tool? I just breeze on by. Generally speaking, I hate the Wal-Mart donation gauntlet, and pass through it with no expression on my face.

Toney used this technique yesterday, and reportedly triggered the wrath of a Vietnam vet. "Don't ignore me, bitch!" he hollered, "I fought in a fucking war!!" Then he took a few steps in her direction, his face distorted with rage. Shit! A person doesn't need an unhinged lunatic in fatigues, trained in the art of jungle fighting, pissed off at them. That's one of my general rules of thumb.

She got to her car, drove to the next shopping center, and called the manager of the store. The manager didn't seem to give a hot-buttered crap, but promised to "talk to them." Then she called me and I could hear anger ratcheting itself up in her voice. She was ranting by the end, and vowed to write a double-barreled letter to the editor about The Gauntlet. She was going to bring it down! Its days are numbered, she promised. Simply excellent.

If the updates to this site suddenly stop, and you hear that Toney and I were killed in a freak accident involving spring-loaded razor-sharp lengths of bamboo, I'd really appreciate it if you could turn over the paragraphs above to the authorities. Thank you in advance for your support.

-- I was talking to a friend a few days ago, and he told me a story about one of our classmates from high school. Apparently the local shithole bar & grill den-of-drunks is under new ownership, and they're attempting to class the place up a bit. I guess they brought in a fern or two, and threw away all the chipped glasses and whatnot. And in the men's room they painted the walls with a material that turned them into four gigantic chalkboards. They also provide the chalk, so they don't have to deal with the unsightly graffiti and ballpoint shit-talking common in such venues. People can just write to their heart's content, and everything can be erased every few days. An interesting concept, if you ask me...

Anyway, this guy from our high school class was in there one night, drinking to excess and pissing to beat the band, when he spotted something somebody had written about him way up high, near the ceiling. Obviously this could not stand, and he began taking measures to remove the offending remark. He climbed up on the toilet, in an inebriated state, and started rubbing it out with his hand. And then something went horribly wrong. In mid-rub the toilet suddenly shifted, turned over -- tank and all, and shattered on the floor. Water was spraying everywhere and was eventually running under the door, into the bar. And hilarity ensued.

He was reportedly forced to pay for damages, and was barred from the premises for life -- for the third time. Good ol' Class of '81.

-- Here's my latest radio "performance." This is fresh tape, recorded yesterday and broadcast just this morning to the unsuspecting citizens of Raleigh. Check it out. Only one line, about "swaying schlongs," hit the cutting room floor this week. Not too bad.

-- And you've just gotta see this. Make sure to wait for the picture to load, because that's the best part. Could it possibly be real? It's like a cartoon! I can't look at that thing without laughing.

And that's gonna do it for today, boys and girls. For those keeping score, this is the 600th update to this website. Can ya believe it? I sure as shit cannot. Please remember to use my Amazon links if you're going to be doing any early holiday shopping this weekend; it helps me out, and I sincerely appreciate it. And for the record, I watched a girl in a striped sweater fold pants in the laundromat in France yesterday! It was magic, pure magic...

Have a great weekend. See ya on Monday.

 

October 21, 2004

-- On the webcam front I experienced some real drama yesterday afternoon. At work I was checking out the inside of this laundromat in France, a place I'm becoming intimately familiar with, and there was a big white blanket in one of the dryers! It was an absolute thrill. Never before had I seen actual movement inside the place, and there on my screen was a (Scrote-watching?) blanket going round and round in the third dryer. I sat and watched and became determined that I would personally witness -- from Scranton -- the item's owner remove it, perhaps fold it on an adjacent table, and leave the place. The absolute ultimate! So I watched. And watched. And watched.

Eventually the dryer stopped turning and the blanket just laid there. I wondered if I'd lost my connection and was looking at a still photo. But I was still hooked up, and continued to watch. After a while I began to worry. I did some calculations and realized it was after midnight at the laundry. Had the blanket been forgotten? Had its owner been involved in some kind of accident, perhaps cheese-related? I was on the edge of my seat, the air thick with suspense. Toney called and asked if I'd be coming home anytime soon. I told her I still had a few things to finish up, and went back to monitoring French linens.

And I'm sad to report that I never received closure. Around 6:20 I had to cut bait and get out of there. There's a shift change at the plant at 6:30, and God knows I didn't went to get caught up in that wave of melting pot fucked-upness. So I reluctantly closed my window on the blanket in France, and went home. It was a sad moment.

And you can probably guess what I found when I fired up my home computer? Yes, it was gone. The door on the dryer was standing open, and the place was empty.

I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach.

-- Clive Bull, my favorite British radio "presenter," was talking about this story yesterday as the blanket drama played out. Apparently some people in Peru are raising a freakish, mutated breed of "super" guinea pig, for eating purposes. They think they're on the forefront of a full-blown guinea pig revolution, and the entire world will soon be dining on the critters and fighting over the drumsticks. I somehow doubt it, but something was said during the conversation that piqued my interest.

A caller mentioned that, on the average, a person in The West only eats 5.5 different animals in their lives. The insinuation was that we're a fairly timid and unadventurous group of folks. Apparently they eat anything that casts a shadow back East. Because they're more enlightened, you see, and we're just a buncha dumbass woodhicks.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. How many different kinds of animals have I ingested in my time? Operating under Clive's rule that all seafood should to be lumped under the heading of "fish," here's what I came up with:

cows
chickens
turkeys
pigs
lambs
fish
buffalos
crocodiles

That's eight, well above the average, thank you very much. How about you? Let us know your Carnivore Count in the comments section. I suspect Buck will be up around twenty, with coon and possum near the top of his list. But I could be wrong... 

For the record I had crocodile at some kind of Taste Of The South festival, in Atlanta. Not too bad, but it got bigger the longer you chewed. And buffalo burgers are friggin' great. Especially if it's all hump meat. Hump meat is prime.

-- Last Saturday was TheWVSR's fourth anniversary, if you can believe it. I just realized that fact yesterday. So, for what it's worth, we're a few days into this website's fifth year. If only I'd been as dedicated to my college "career." Hell, I might be like Nostrils today! In any case, thanks for the continued support. I raise my chipped chicken mug full of Eight O'Clock bean coffee in your honor.

-- And now I'm gonna turn it over to our Southern Correspondent, Mr. Jason Castleberry, and wish you folks a pleasant Thursday.

See ya tomorrow.

 

October 20, 2004

-- Yesterday was a slow day at work. I don't know why, since it's been fairly balls-to-the-wall, but Tuesday was like a lazy Sunday afternoon in Mississippi. So, as so often happens in these situations, I started screwing around on the computer. And I ended up having a blast.

I started here, at Radio Locator, and began tapping into the live streams of radio stations from around the world. I may be a black-belt goober, but I still get a charge out of being able to do that. Shortly after I bought my first computer, in 1996, we were transferred from Atlanta to Southern California, and I thought it was just about the coolest thing that I could still listen to my favorite morning radio show, from a desert 3000 miles away. Of course, I had to get up at three am to do so, but that was only a minor inconvenience. And eight years later, it still blows my mind a bit.

I think I was born at the perfect time to be able to clearly remember a world before modern technology, and still be young enough to enjoy all the new stuff as well. When I was a kid there was no cable television; everybody had big monstrosities of aluminum tubing on their roofs designed to draw in whatever TV signals that might be passing by their houses at any given moment. We got four channels, I think, the three networks and PBS. When cable came into being folks were very skeptical, but our household was an early adopter. One of the original channels, I shit you not, was a clock and a thermometer. It was black & white, and the camera would slowly pan back and forth between an actual clock and thermometer, twenty-four hours a day. Mesmerizing!

And I remember when VCRs were about $5000 and roughly the size of a suitcase. Some lunatics thought they were the product of black magic, hand-delivered by Satan himself. I recall a woman on television saying that the red lights on the front of the boxes were the eyes of the devil, peering into our living rooms. And I remember my grandmother having a phone with a party line -- three or four houses on the block shared the same line! You had to check to see if it was in use before making a call. And I remember having to wait for our TV to "warm up," and a time when we had to cook our frozen pot pies in the friggin' oven. I feel like I was ten in 1940 and forty in 2010.

Anyway... Because I remember that "old world" I don't believe I'll ever take all the newfangled bells and whistles for granted. I've seen the black & white clocks, people. And I still think it's utterly amazing to be able to sit at a desk in a broom closet in Scranton, and tune into a radio station in Russia. Or India. Or Iceland. And to listen to Australian traffic reports, or the DeKalb County, Georgia police scanner, or the air traffic controllers in Dallas. I mean, seriously. It's incredible.

So, that's what I did yesterday. I listened to stations in countries I've never even heard of before, where they talk like they're choking on something. I heard a man whose language apparently consists only of the ck sound, and another who may have been a caveman. They'd grunt and ck for a few seconds, play "The Load-Out" by Jackson Browne, then a Coke commercial, and sparks would start flying off my brain like a scene from Spongebob. Apparently it doesn't matter if you're in the Czech Republic or Nitro, WV, there's no escaping "The Load-Out" and Coca-Cola.

After an hour or so of such fun and games Radio Locator suddenly cut me off, like a drunk trying to order his twelfth gin and tonic. They said I'd overstayed my welcome, and wanted me to give them money for the privilege of hanging with them some more. I felt like I was in Jr. High again... but that's a different story. 

I jumped ship and tried to find a similar less-snooty site, and came across this one. Even better! They let you do searches for webcams, worldwide. And there went another hour. (Let's just keep all this between us, OK?)

I watched people drinking at a busy beer garden in Key West, saw the Mediterranean Sea, checked out a couple of random streets in Alaska (where a man got into a truck and drove away!). I watched people come and go from a bar in Italy, peaked into a laundromat in France, and some guy's apartment in Sweden. And I saw one of the saddest pubs I can imagine, somewhere in Poland. They had a couple of '70's-era metal kitchen tables in there. It was way too brightly lit, and the bar was constructed of latticework, or some shit. It was a pitiful drinkery and I hope I never look down upon it again; it nearly sent me spiraling into a crying jag.

Laugh if you like, but it was a highly enjoyable couple of hours. I had a blast being an international voyeur, and hope to do it again real soon. If you know of any unusual (non-porn) webcams, post the links in the comments. I'm all fired up on the webcams, goddammit. 

And, as evidence in my own defense, here are the ten geekiest hobbies, and you'll notice that mine is nowhere to be found. So there. ...OK, so I crossed the line with the air traffic controllers. And you're just perfect in each and every way, right?

See ya tomorrow.

 

October 19, 2004

-- It's pouring down the rain here, and has been since last night. Lots and lots of falling water. Is it too mean to hope that our neighbor, Poppa Half-Shirt, has a basement full of the stuff right now? Because I kinda am. He and his wife, Teresa Heinz Half-Shirt, made a big show of blaming us for the flooding of their basement recently and, even though it sounded suspiciously like a load of horseshit, we corrected the "problem." And now that they don't have us to blame, I'm sort of hoping they're over there right now watching their furnishings swirl round and round in a big whirlpool in the middle of their family room. Hold on tight Terayyyza, don't let the current take you! ...Oh god, there goes the credenza! Are my Half-Shirt fantasies too mean?

-- My new cell phone is all programmed and ready to rock. I'm sure there's an easier way, but I moved over the phonebook from my old emasculated phone manually -- which means I typed in each number and name with my big sausage fingers. It was a fairly excruciating experience, but I'm all set now. I didn't like any of the fifteen ringtones that came with the phone, so I also visited the website of one of the Verizon-approved ringtone vendors, and did a little shopping. I'm probably five years behind the times, but that shit blew my mind. You can set your phone to make any noise known to man!

Unfortunately, most fall under the heading of why? Like FART1, FART2, FART3, FART4, and FART5. Why in god's name would you want your phone to fart? I can imagine myself standing in front of the ice cream cases at the grocery store, trying to find something that isn't low-fat, and suddenly ripping off some over-modulated digital flatulence in front of four or five fellow heavy cream fans. Sure, it sounds like fun in the abstract, but I don't think I'd like it much in reality.

And who would want the voice of Vince Neil to holler from their belt, "Hey man, answer the fucking phone!" Seriously. I briefly considered the Croatian national anthem, but decided against it. Devo's "Whip It" sounded pretty good, but isn't nearly unique enough. A man clearing his throat is interesting, as is the bleatings of a nanny goat, but I finally settled on "OLD TELEPHONE." Now when my phone rings it sounds like a 1950's era telephone, and I'm pretty happy with my purchase. It was $1.99 well-spent.

By the time I get tired of it, though, I hope they've added random sound bites from our favorite movies. I think that would pretty cool. Like the Waltons' movie, The Homecoming. Whenever my phone would ring a short clip of dialogue from the film would blast from my phone, on random shuffle-play. "Shoot the turkey John-Boy! Shoot the turkey! ...I cain't daddy. I want to be like you daddy, but I hate hunting." Now, that would surely impress my band of portly brothers.

-- I watched The Blob last night. Good fun. It stars Steve McQueen and Helen Crump from The Andy Griffith Show(?!), and I don't think I'd ever seen it before. I saw one where people at a bowling alley are attacked by vicious rolling pie filling, but that didn't happen in the film I saw last night. I kept waiting for it, but there was no bowling. People bought it in a grocery store and a movie theater, but no bowling alley. The heck, man? I must've only seen the sequel as a Jiffy Pop-haired youngster. How could that be?? How could there be such a huge gaping hole in my popular culture experience? It seems fairly impossible, but whatever. I've seen it now, and it was time well-spent in front of the flickering box. Thank you Mr. DVR.

-- In case you're interested, here are the flicks that are currently waiting in queue for me on the DVR: Kill Bill Vol.1, John Grisham's The Rainmaker, Forbidden Planet, A League Of Their Own, Psycho, Cabin Fever, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Runaway Jury, The Missing, Blackboard Jungle, and a documentary about the making of The Third Man. I've only had the thing for a few months now, and already can't imagine life without it. How did we function back in, say, 2002? It seems like so long ago...

-- Finally, here's a film clip of Senator John Edwards (aka The Average Joe) combing his hair and mincing with a lady's compact. Enjoy!

See ya tomorrow.

 

October 18, 2004

-- It's fairly frigid up here in pie country. Saturday was gray and rainy, and snappin' cold. Toney and I went to Waffle House in the morning for a good colon-blocking breakfast, and the sign at the bank said it was 39 degrees. Yowza. I'd miscalculated with my choice of jacket, and could feel the wind bite all the way through to my skeleton. Frickin' cold. When fall arrives here, it arrives. And I love it. Leaves are blowing all around, the air at night smells like fireplaces, our his and hers Scrote-watching blankets are out of the closet, and there's bourbon in the pantry. It's the best time of year. And I love it.

-- On Sunday it was sunny, but still cold. I decided it was a good time to winterize the camper, and retire it for the year. So we shoved it out of the garage, onto the driveway, and Toney took off to run some errands and drink fancy poofter coffees and whatnot. And I promptly got on the phone to ask my Daddy what I was supposed to do. (Yes, I'm forty-one. What of it?) He told me I needed to drain the hot water tank, and the various lines underneath.

With his long-distance help I located the plastic plug at the bottom of the hot water tank but the thing was apparently soldered on. I couldn't get it to budge, and Dad was hollering, "Are you turning it the right way??" It's important to have a strong support network... It finally broke free and I began backing it out of its hole. And when I got to the end water exploded out of the camper -- right into my face. It was like something off The Three Stooges. My sunglasses were covered and I was momentarily blinded. My hair was dripping and water was running down my face, and I forgot I was still talking to my Dad. "Goddammit!" I screamed, then heard tinny laughter coming out of my cell phone, all the way from Myrtle Beach, SC. Simply excellent.

If you can believe it (I can't), I actually had to lie on my back and shimmy my way under the camper, to drain those forkin' water lines. I was told there are three, but I had no idea where they were. So I had to shimmy. (I may have said a few bad-words during this process as well...) I got under there as far as my gut would allow, and located what I was looking for with little problem. Then I saw the spider. It was white and fat, and making its way toward my face. Holy crap! I started thrashing and bicycling my legs and nearly turned the shit over, trying to get away from that waddling sack of poison. It's a wonder I didn't knock the wheel chocks out of place, and cause the whole deal to roll over my head.

I'm not really cut out for shimmying and winterizing.

-- Speaking of facial insect bites and Myrtle Beach, my brother sent me a disturbing photo yesterday. It's of me, several years ago, after being bitten by some ungodly winged creature near my left temple. The whole family had met up in Myrtle Beach, one of the more beautiful places in the country, and my brother chased me around with a camera for several days attempting to photograph my grotesque face knob. No photos of sunrises over the Atlantic... just bulbous insect bites. Wonder what the guy at Eckerd thought about that roll of film? Anyway, here it is. It's a miracle I'm still alive. And dig that crazy haircut@

-- I took our dog Andy (Blacklips Houlihan) for a walk yesterday and it was as wild as ever. He was pulling and tugging and threatening to rent my right arm from its housing, just like always. A group of people went past in a gigantic SUV, with W stickers on the back, and were laughing and pointing, and just generally having a big time at my expense. ...A fairly typical outing with our family pet. Until near the end, anyway, when he decided to add a new trick to his repertoire. A teenage girl drove past in a Chevy Cavalier, and Andy actually leapt at the vehicle. I believe he was trying to get on the hood! I nearly shit, and had to yank him into submission. What the hell, man? Have you ever seen a dog jump onto the hood of a moving car?! Me either. Perhaps it's finally time to invest in one of those halti collars you folks have suggested? Things are getting out of hand on the Blacklips front. I'm going to end up in jail and/or a Jay Leno monologue and I'd prefer to avoid both, thank you very much

-- We bought an artificial Christmas tree on Saturday. For years Toney fought me on this, but she finally came around after several real-tree disasters struck during recent seasons. Last year, for instance, the big plastic base busted and water soaked into the carpet, eventually causing the front room to stink like an open grave. We've also had at least two trees cascade over, without warning, sending shards of broken glass flying around the room at eye-level. And they dry out and shed their needles, they're fire hazards and cost a shitload of money... So we finally took the plunge into big plastic seasonal foliage, and I couldn't be happier. It took a while to find just a regular tree, though. We didn't want one with the lights built into the limbs, or one that rotates on a motor, or one that shoots "snow" out of its pre-installed angel head at the top. No, we wanted a fake Christmas tree that would allow us to hang onto at least a small portion of our dignity. I'm just not a fan of the novelty firs... We finally tracked one down -- at Wal-Mart. It's big and plain and nice, and was probably manufactured in Turkey or Pakistan, or somewhere, by old-world artisans. Now our tree for at least the next ten years is paid-for and boxed up in the basement. And Toney should be able to drag it upstairs each December with few problems.

-- I have more, but it'll have to wait. Since we no longer have a Monday columnist (ahem), I'd like to point you folks to a blog I've been enjoying... right here. Good stuff. Check it out and let Brenda know your thoughts.

And I'll be back tomorrow.

 

October 15, 2004

I've been one day behind all week (or is it one day ahead?). Wednesday felt like Thursday, Thursday felt like Friday... I'm not sure how something like that happens, but my calibration has been off. Anyway, I'm fairly certain that today really is Friday, and here's what's left in my notebook...

-- Have you ever noticed on the various Law & Orders how people act when they're being questioned by the cops? They almost always continue working or doing whatever it was they were doing before TWO DETECTIVES FROM THE NYPD showed up. They keep loading boxes of fruit onto the backs of trucks, or trimming the hedges, or whatever, and answer each question with an exasperated "here we go again" tone. It's as if these people are being dragged into the investigation of a whore-killing once or twice a month now, and are almost at the end of their ropes. 

I don't know... If TWO DETECTIVES FROM THE NYPD showed up at my office unannounced, and wanted to talk to me about an acquaintance who may or may not have a local news reporter caged in a basement across town, I think I'd be able to give them a little undivided attention. Of course it's impossible to know exactly how one would react in such a situation, but I'm fairly certain I wouldn't make TWO DETECTIVES FROM THE NYPD follow me all around the building while I purchased Payday bars and Mountain Dew Severes, and give them a bunch of flip answers about my co-worker who is suspected of being The Disemboweler. But that's just me.

-- On a semi-related note, the final segment of House Hunters always shows the homeowners sitting in their new place and talking about how great everything is. And while one is talking the other is always turned sideways and watching their partners' lips move. Apparently the producers make them do this, and it drives me a bit crazy. People don't look at each others' lips and wrench their necks to the side while another person is talking. They just don't. It looks stupid and forced, and I wish they'd stop it. Why can't they just let those poor folks look straight ahead and occasionally grunt a half-assed agreement noise, like in real life? I'm not a fan of the wrenching.

-- And why am I suddenly hearing commercials on the radio about cat diabetes? I didn't even know cats got diabetes. I knew about B.B. King and that crusty old oats man, but cats?? As one of our great philosophers once said: whatever. Things must be pretty goddamn good in this country...

-- While I was scouring the various Nickelodeon channels the other day for an episode of Spongebob, I saw a commercial for a doll that squirms. At least that's what they called it, squirming. It looked to me like the poor thing was having a fit. It was flailing and writhing, and appeared to be in the throes of a grand mal seizure. Shit! Who's going to rush out to purchase a fake epileptic baby?? Seriously. Little Suzy Seizure, new from Hasbro! ...Tongue-pinning loafer sold separately.

-- When we were in NYC we stumbled across a tiny store that sells autographs, and it was just about the best tiny store that sells autographs I've ever seen. Some of the stuff they had in there was utterly amazing. Like a signed photograph of Sigmund Freud. How often do you see some shit like that? And Abe Lincoln and Shoeless Joe Jackson and Charlie Chaplin... Very unusual. They had a high school yearbook featuring Bob Dylan, and another with Buddy Holly -- both signed. And Thomas Edison! Incredible. I don't know how they stay in business -- everything is priced about the same as your average house in Scranton -- but it was one helluva collection. Nothing quite as good as the jewel of my collection, but impressive nonetheless.

-- Check it out, just released to DVD! Was the episode where they got the monorail in the first season? That was my favorite!

-- Finally, here are two bucks throwing down, sent to me, coincidentally, by Buck. It's a brutal case of clearing rage, so please click with caution.

See ya Monday. 

 

October 14, 2004

-- I watched the presidential debate last night and I'm not going to say a thing about it here. Not one single word. And I ask, who else on the internet looks after his readers in this way? I submit: not too goddamn many. In lieu of thank you gifts and expensive Hallmark cards I ask that a donation be made instead to the Foundation To Discourage Biased Douches From Droning On About Shit They Don't Understand Or Even Want to Understand. They're good folks over at the FTDBDFDOASTDUOEWTU.

-- Now let's get to the important stuff: piss shivers. What causes this phenomenon? Through extensive field research I know that I am not the only person who regularly experiences a full-body shiver about three-quarters of the way into his stand-up eliminations. Why does this happen? Sometimes the tremors are so violent I pee into the basket of potpouri on the back of the tank. (Let's just keep that between us, OK?)

Years ago I had a drunken conversation with someone about this, and was told in no uncertain terms that it has to do with body-heat. This barroom pissing expert claimed that when a person takes a leak a large amount of heat leaves the body very quickly, and it reacts by shivering. He did a good job of convincing me, and I have it in the back of my mind that heat is indeed the culprit.

But this was just some guy at a bar. He could've been making it up as he went along, for all I know. And maybe, as a result, I've been urinating under false pretenses for these many years? That would be quite a blow, believe me... Any help would be appreciated; I need closure. And I'd also like to know if the piss shivers is a male-only phenomenon, or if the ladies are also effected. Over the years I've tried to find this out, but have only been threatened with lawsuits. Help me out, people.

-- And speaking of that, check out this legal complaint against Bill O'Reilly, from an ex-employee of his TV show. The Smoking Gun has thoughtfully put big red arrows in there, so you can skip to the really good stuff. It's an enjoyable read. And I believe every word of it. It is my opinion that Bill O'Reilly is a shitass of the highest order. Even when I agree with him, I can't stand him. Wotta freak.

-- I got my new cell phone yesterday, via Fed-Ex. Over the weekend I went to two Verizon stores here and they seemingly didn't have any phones. It was like something off of a sitcom: Do you have this one? No. This one? No. How about this one? No. The only ones they had in stock were the models that cost about $5000 and allow you to look into the souls of strangers. I finally threw a small tantrum, accused the clerk of running a front for gambling and/or prostitution, and stormed out in a righteous huff. I went home and ordered the frickin' phone online. Stupid brick and mortar crapola... But I've got it now. It's all juiced up and I'm taking it to work with me today to monkey around with. Few things are more exciting than new gadgetry to monkey around with. God knows it's true.

-- And I know this is a skimpy little update, but I'm gonna turn it over to Jason now and wish you folks a nice Thursday. My brain is operating in power-save mode this morning for some reason...

See ya tomorrow.

 

October 13, 2004

-- I think I'm going to join a gym. There's a nice one near our house and I'm strongly considering giving it a six month shot. Because something has to be done. Seriously. Earlier this week I learned the disturbing news that I'd actually gained weight. Oh, I've been a swaddler for many years now, but I always pretty much stayed at or near the same swaddling 240 lbs. Sometime in my late-30s I reached my fat plateau and it seemed like it didn't matter what I did, I wouldn't gain or lose any substantial heft. I could shotgun everything in the Sara Lee summer catalog or nibble dainty little sissy-salads, and it didn't make a difference. I'd leveled off, and found my porky niche.

But yesterday morning I climbed atop the bathroom scales, stood like a lower-case r to read the results, and saw that I'd busted through the jiggly ceiling. My massiveness had grown to a weight well outside the margin of error. Simply fabulous. Or should I say flabulous? This has never happened before, and it's highly concerning. Believe me. I have no hard scientific facts to back this up, but I have a hunch that once you've broken free of your pork plateau anything is possible. All bets are off and hide the children. I'd be willing to bet that Orson Welles jumped his niche somewhere around my current age, back in the day. Sweet Jesus, I've turned a corner and become a Fark link waiting to happen.

So, as far as I can tell there's but one thing to do. I need to work my ass down to a smoldering nub. I get no exercise at my job, except when I walk downstairs to the vending machines, and not much more at home. My plan is to go to the gym (it kind of embarrasses me to even type that word) every night between dinner and Law & Order, and on paper it seems like it should work. Instead of yet another episode of House Hunters, I could be across town sweatin' to The Boomtown Rats.

It's thirty-seven bucks a month for six months... So if it doesn't work out it won't be devastating. I won't be calling Clark Howard whining and blubbering because I'd signed a five-year contract and now want out of it so I can use that money for Heath Bars and compression stockings. Six months is a good trial period; it feels like a good thing to pursue.

And yes, I've documented my previous bad experiences with these so-called "fitness centers." I went to one years ago in the upscale Atlanta neighborhood of Buckhead, and it was fairly horrifying. The locker room was a veritable sea of penises. Naked men standing around watching football games on TV with their junk all out... men talking on payphones with their wangs swaying in rhythm with the conversation... dicks, hair, and man-ass as far as the eye could see... It was awful. 

And the smell of the place! That was a difficult thing to get past as well. I'd walk in the front door and be smacked in the face with a towering wall of body-heat, and a nauseating stew of commercial funk-suppression products. Gag.

But I think I can avoid the locker room here altogether. No need to even cross the threshold of that den of sex organs. I'm sure the smell will be similar, but nothing worth doing is easy. So, wish me luck. I believe I'm going to take the plunge sometime this week. I know it's disturbing, but I've jumped the niche, people!

Wonder if I'll need a sports bra?

-- I jotted down a reminder in my notebook Monday morning to make a comment here about Christopher Reeve's death, and how Kerry would undoubtedly say it was Bush's fault. I thought that would be a pretty funny joke. But I try to steer clear of politics, and decided to let it pass. I wish I hadn't. To my utter amazement my "joke" actually came true yesterday. Apparently John Edwards gave a speech somewhere and said, "If John Kerry were president today Christopher Reeve would be a touring member of Riverdance." That might not be an exact quote, but close. Can you believe it? I certainly cannot.

-- Finally, I need to make an announcement about our Monday columnist, Danny Maverick. As they say in big-time media, he's "moving on to pursue other opportunities." That means he's out of here. I appreciate all the Columbo-like detective work some of you folks did on this one. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out yesterday's comments.) Believe me, I had no idea about any of it, and was pretty pissed when I found out. So, he's moving on. I apologize for the poor judgment I displayed in offering this man the hallowed spot once occupied by Chris from North Carolina. I had a feeling, but took a chance. Sorry about that. I'll take his columns down as soon as possible.

More tomorrow.

 

October 12, 2004

-- I'm sending this update from my new Dell computer, black as coal and powerful as all hell, located inside the electronics and chocolate cake-scented Surf Report underground bunker. Over.

I spent HOURS on Sunday getting to this point, and it was an excruciating journey. The only time I left the house was to take out the trash in the afternoon, and to monitor a leashless Andy serve up a full order of piping hot yard biscuits in the early-evening. Other than that I was at home working on the computer, and running my hands through my hair like a speed freak.

I had problems getting online and had to call Adelphia, then I had troubles with my email and had to call Adelphia back, then I had troubles transferring the website files and had to call my brother, then I had troubles publishing a test upload to the site and had to call Earthlink... My sphincter could've turned diamonds to dust. But by the end of the day I had the minimum working, and was mighty gratified. Spent, but gratified. I just knew the website would be fucked-upright. The fact that everything seems to be as normal is a huge weight lifted off my mighty Duke shoulders. I can't begin to tell you... Over.

-- Of course, I'm not completely out of the woods. My printer and scanner still aren't working correctly(?!), and I haven't even started screwing around with the digital camera yet. Plus there's some stuff from the old computer, like MP3 files and whatnot, that I want to move over. So I've still got some work to do. But I'm functional, and happy. This thing is so fast it should be illegal!

One thing worth noting: my old email won't transfer to the new machine. And since I was approximately a year behind anyway, can we just start over? I know a lot of you good folks sent me notes and got no reply. Please don't take it personally. I allowed things to get so far out of hand I should be beaten down with lengths of lumber. I bitched in the early days because I didn't get much feedback, then when it finally kicked in I screwed it up. Give me a second chance, won't you? I sincerely appreciate every note received; my manifest shittiness is in no way a reflection on any of you. Resend me things you'd still like a reply to, and those and any future missives will be dealt with in the proper manner. I promise.

A longtime friend of the site was recently convinced I was mad at her because I hadn't answered her last couple of emails. She went back and re-read them to try to figure out what might've pissed me off. And the only thing she could come up with was a story she'd relayed about midgets. She wondered if I had midgets in my family, or if one of my high school buddies was a little person, and I'd taken offense. So, you see the damage I've done? When a friend thinks they can't have a laugh at the expense of dwarves in my presence... I hang my head in shame. And I'll never allow it to happen again.

-- Bourbon Season officially kicked off Saturday night. As is the tradition, we started with a bottle of the good stuff: Maker's Mark. Since we're not millionaires the next purchase will probably be Early Times or something along those lines, but it's good to start with the premium stock. After the sun went down I fixed us a couple of stiff ones, and we huddled beneath fluffy blankets and watched The Party with Peter Sellers. Great movie, great evening, great whiskey... Bourbon Season is the best time of year.

-- Last night I watched the only Braves game I saw in its entirety all season, and they got their asses handed to them. The Astros sliced 'em open like a Subway roll, and Atlanta takes yet another early exit from the playoffs. Sad, yet predictable.

When I moved to Hotlanta the Braves were one of the shittiest teams in the Majors. Sometimes after work I'd just go to the stadium on a whim and buy a five dollar ticket in the rafters, then move right behind home plate during the second inning or so. Nobody went to those games then; if the ushers hadn't been so tight-assed about the corporate boxes everybody in the joint could've had front-row seats. I remember my co-workers ragging on the Braves, and it shocked me. They were just a big joke around town. I couldn't understand it. How could you live in a city with an actual Major League baseball team, and diss them that way? People had bumper stickers on their cars that said things like, "Go Falcons! And Take The Braves With You!" Made me sick. But then they started winning and suddenly everyone was a longtime fan. Ha!

Atlanta is a terrible sports town, full of fair-weather fans and cynical mofos. I wonder if there's some karma at work here?

-- And I'll try to actually be funny tomorrow, I really will. Until then...

 

October 11, 2004

-- So, I was pulling the big Soviet water-driven air conditioner units out of the windows on Saturday, when an impromptu scene from The Lucy Show suddenly broke out. I'd already removed the one from our bedroom, huffed and puffed it to the basement, and replaced the screen in the window. Then I turned my attention to the one in the other bedroom, and things weren't quite so successful there. 

I thought I had a good grip on it, I really did. But when I lifted the pane, so I could pull the vibrating hum-box into the room, the thing just disappeared. It was there one second, and gone the next -- along with a large lamp that got tangled up in the cord upon exit! It was one of those moments where you're just frozen for a couple of seconds, while your brain attempts to catch up to what it thinks it just saw.

When the thing hit the dirt below it made a sickening thud, with the slightest hint of a crunch, and I feared the worst. Toney was on the phone downstairs talking to a washing machine repairman (I'll have to tell you about that as well), and saw me run out the front door in my sleeping pants and bare feet, and return with one of our air conditioners. From the yard!? What was it doing in the yard?? With the phone to her ear she pantomimed the international symbol for "what the fuck?" and I dragged the thing to the basement, muttering my full vocabulary of profanities.

I sat the AC down in its winter resting place and ran an extension cord across the room, to see if it would still work. I figured I'd turn the switch and shaved metal would shoot out of the vents, while the motor shrieked like the winner of an Iranian pie-eating contest. But, to my surprise, everything worked just fine. It sounded like it always did, and it was putting out cold air and everything. The front had come off and the filter was all bent and gnarled, but those were easy fixes. I think I actually got away with it. How great is that? I let an air conditioner drop out of the side of our house, into the friggin' yard, and there was no apparent damage. Who said dumbasses don't occasionally get a break? Is there a patron saint of douches? I think I need to say a few thanks.

-- Speaking of shrieking, that's what our washing machine was doing Friday morning. Toney was doing a load of laundry and everything was as normal, when we suddenly heard a godawful wail. It was incredibly loud and sounded like the standard wrong-answer buzzer on game shows. The hell? We leaped at the washer in a desperate attempt to stop the horrible noise, and finally got it to shut up. We messed around with it for a while and couldn't see anything wrong. I figured something was wrapped around the agitator, but everything looked OK in there. Great. I could envision a couple of hundred dollars being suctioned out of our checking account, but what could we do? We called the man; we had no other options than to call the man.

Have you ever heard of a washing machine having transmission trouble? Me either. Problems with the brakes and shocks, sure, but never the transmission. Truthfully I didn't even know washers had a transmission, but whatever. That's reportedly our problem. Like all repairmen this one used a lot of technical terms and insider shop-talk, so I didn't fully understand when he said the transmission was "shot." But I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling from it.

The good news is that it's all supposedly still under warranty. This guy wasn't authorized to do the repair, but he gave us the number of a man who could supposedly help us. Then he handed us a bill for forty bucks and told us to have a nice day. 

Toney's had several conversations with Mr. Authorized and we still don't know what's going on. I guess he's going to come out here and do the work, but we have no idea when. And he informs us we're going to be responsible for the labor charges, that only the parts are covered. Does that sound right? It's under warranty but we have to pay the labor? Whatever. I feel like I've lived a big part of my adult life bent over the proverbial chair. At some point you just start to accept it.

-- I watched the presidential debate Friday night, and it was a spirited contest. A lot of information was put forth and differing opinions displayed. But at the end of the day I had but one question: who was that really fat man sitting in the front row of the audience? Did you see that guy? He literally looked like Humpty Dumpty. He was huge! Not even John Kerry's freakish mule face could eclipse that heft. He was wearing a white shirt that was shaped roughly like a pyramid -- tiny at the top and huge at the bottom -- and a belt in his pants that surely must've been custom-made. If it had come from a store the display hook would've had to have been up near the ceiling, so it didn't drag the ground at the bottom. The clerk would've needed to go to the backroom to retrieve the retractable "reacher" to get it down. If the man had taken it out of his V-shaped trousers and laid it on the ground, I firmly believe it would've been longer than a Lincoln Town Car. 

He sat in the front row, completely obscuring his chair, with his leg meat spilling over into the personal space of his neighbors on both sides. Who was that swaddled man? Was he one of those so-called "undecided voters" we hear so much about? If so, I'd like to know what he's waiting on. Perhaps he wants to learn the candidates' standings on pie? So many unanswered questions... If anyone has any further information I'd appreciate you passing it along.

-- Toney and I watched America's Funniest Home Videos last night, as usual. We've been tuning in fairly regularly for a couple of years now, and I believe I'm now ready to file a preliminary report. It is my opinion, shaped by all that I have learned, that a person would be wise to avoid both trampolines and pinatas. This is an ongoing study and the final findings may differ somewhat, but I think it's important to report back during the process itself. Thank you for your support.

-- Believe it or not, I have lots more. Suddenly my notebook is overflowing with potential "comedy." But, alas, I'm all out of time. I'm going to turn it over to the Goodwill Ambassador now, and we'll hook up again tomorrow. OK?

See ya.

 


October 8, 2004

-- Man, it sure feels like Bourbon Season out there. The calendar says one thing but my internal sensors are saying something else. It's pretty much full-blown fall at this point. The leaves are changing colors and abandoning ship, and it's getting mighty cold at night. I've still got the big Soviet window air conditioners in place, and they're gonna have to come out this weekend. Frosty air is getting in around them and I wake up every morning with a low-grade sore throat. I need to drag those ludicrous hum boxes to the basement and seal our shit off. And I might have to bend the rules a bit and go purchase the inaugural bottle of Maker's Mark, to kick off the Season a couple of weeks early. It feels like the time is upon us, boy and girls.

-- This weekend or next we're going to enter the corn maze at the pumpkin patch, another tradition of autumn up here in Norman Rockwell country. Before I moved to the greater Scranton metropolitan area (ahem) I don't think I'd ever seen or heard of such a thing, but it's surprisingly fun. 

It probably sounds childish, I know, but this thing is incredible. It's four acres(!) of densely packed corn stalks, with a complicated maze carved into it. It's certainly not a kiddie attraction; send a grade-schooler alone into that thing and you'd probably find a skeleton in spring. It literally takes hours to get through it, and once you're deep inside you feel an actual twinge of panic. How am I going to get out of this bitch?? They offer surrender flags on long poles for the more timid among us, but where's the fun in that? And they have "maze masters" watching everything from elevated towers, but they don't offer any assistance. I think they just want to make sure nobody's having sex in there. 

A couple of years ago I almost freaked out, after ninety minutes or so of dead-ends and going around in circles, and considered thrashing my way through the walls. I hope I can avoid such a thing this year. I'm thinking that a backpack full of sandwiches, a fully-charged cell phone, and a couple of Coleman folding chairs might help calm my nerves.

Wish us luck.

-- Our DVR box shit the bed again yesterday. I have no idea what happened, but everything we had saved was somehow purged. A dozen or so movies and the first episode of Boston Legal -- all gone. This is the second time this has happened, and I don't particularly care for it. Even the stuff that was scheduled to record in the future was wiped out. The hell, man? I spent a half-hour or so last night frantically scrolling through the schedules of the various HBOs and Starz, and Turner Classic Movies and Fox Movie Channel, in a desperate attempt at damage control. In a week or so things will be fairly well-stocked again, but I'm not a big fan of this periodic DVR self-purging wet dream crapola. I had Miller's Crossing on there!

-- And by the way, I never record stuff off American Movie Classics anymore; I don't even check their schedule these days. It used to be one of my favorite channels but no more. They show commercials for one thing... I could probably deal with that, but they also edit the movies. So fuck dat. May as well watch TBS. Why would they think this is a good idea, messing around with classic films the way they do? It's like drawing a moustache on the dogs playing poker. Blasphemy!

-- I'm going to set up my new computer this weekend. I've been holding off, so if something goes wrong during the much-feared file migration I'll have time to recover before the site needs to be updated again. I have visions of me trying to upload something and the electricity going off in the entire northeastern United States. I can hear Brokaw now: "At first we all wondered if it might be the work of Bin Laden but, amazingly, the source of the trouble seems to have been tracked back to a 41 year old fat man living near Scranton, PA who apparently maintains an online, um, map? -- yes map, documenting his sexual history..." Good god.

-- If I ever get that far, this will be the wallpaper on my new machine.

-- Tonight's the second presidential debate, so it's a perfect time to remind everyone of something. I know it's a bitter pill for some of you to swallow, but I believe it's important to stay grounded in reality.

-- How come the Fleetwood Mac reunion tour never came through Scranton? What a ripoff!

-- Toney told me that Detective Benson from Law & Order REO is the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, and was actually in the car the day she drove up under that flatbed truck and had her head liberated from her body. Can that possibly be true, or is she just screwing with me again? What do you folks know about this? I'm extremely suspicious.

-- And finally, by popular demand, here's a site where a person can purchase professional photographs of clouds taken in my hometown! So, there you go... No need to keep emailing about this, and calling my house at all hours. Sweet sainted mother of Bobby Buntrock.

Have a great weekend, folks.

 

October 7, 2004

A few quick things:

-- I somehow snapped the antennae off my cell phone while we were in New York. The thing looks like it's been castrated now. Too sad. I've been experiencing Phantom Antennae Syndrome, and everything; it feels like it's still there, then I reach to extend it to its fullest glory... and I remember. Everything still works OK but I can't be walking around with no eunuch phone goddammit, so I called Verizon to try to cut a deal. Yikes. It was like I'd willingly dialed a telemarketer's office and asked if they had anything there I could spend some money on.

The guy was absolutely giddy. He talked so fast, and threw so many things at me, I'm not even completely sure what happened. But I believe they brought forward my eligibility for a phone upgrade, extended my contract for another year, and gave me a hundred dollars credit towards a new phone. I get the "new customer" price, so I can theoretically walk away with a kick-ass flip-phone, or whatever, for no cash out of pocket. To paraphrase Monty Python, my nipples are exploding with delight.

At least I hope that's what I agreed to...

-- During our commute back and forth to NYC I played a Paul McCartney and Wings anthology CD in the car, for reasons I cannot fully explain. But that guy was completely out of his mind, wasn't he? I never realized it before, but have you ever actually listened to the lyrics of those old songs? Completely incomprehensible. The song "Jet," I'm now convinced, means nothing. It's just words. And that "Uncle Albert" deal? Full-blown fucked-upness. People hollering through megaphones... five or six song grafted together... the butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie... What in the honeybaked hell?! And I have no idea what a "C Moon" is, and the same goes for a "Mull of Kintyre." During the '70s ol' Paulie boy must've had a frickin' squirrel circus going on inside his head. Holy crap.

-- Here's my latest Raleigh radio extravaganza, submitted for you approval. ...Yes, I'm still on there. What's that supposed to mean??

-- Today's Further Evidence link is an exhaustive study of an infamous segment of the Newlywed Game, if you can believe it. Check it out, it's pretty funny. But the most memorable moment of that show for me came one night when I was at Rocky's house, drinking beer (of course), and the question was, "How many wieners do you have at your place?" Or something along those lines. And one of the women thought for a few seconds and said, "Well, I just bought a pack of ten, so eleven!" We laughed our asses off; that's some funny shit when you're sixteen and have almost worked your way through a warm eight-pack of Falls City. It really is.

And later today Rocky will send me an email saying, "I don't remember that..." He claims to have no recollection of anything that happened between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. I only try to block out certain days and events, but he's apparently going for the whole deal. I don't know...

-- I heard a guy on British talk radio yesterday arguing with the host that cucumbers are grown inside the shrinkwrap. I've never seen a shrinkwrapped cuke, but whatever. He said that they place the tube of plastic over each individual cucumber and the thing grows until the wrap is stretched tight. Clive, the host, was laughing at the guy unmercifully. And I was sitting in Pennsylvania doing the exact same thing. Good stuff.

-- Here's Jason's latest, and I'll be back with some more of this "entertainment" tomorrow.

Have a great day.

 

October 6, 2004

-- A man and a nine year old (or so) boy were sitting behind us on the bus ride into Manhattan on Saturday morning, and I wish I had a recording of their conversation. Apparently they were Canadian, and the kid was like a real-life Phil Hendrie character. Every sentence, and I mean EVERY, ended with "ay?" This is a nice bus, ay? Can we get a hotdog in New York, ay? How long until we get there, ay? My underwear is binding me, ay? My scrotum is distressed, ay? It was completely over the top. As we entered the Lincoln Tunnel he screamed with excitement, "Goodbye New Yersey, ay!" I'm not exaggerating. I wish I had a recording.

Last time we were in New York they had some sort of street fair near Radio City Music Hall on weekend mornings, where food vendors and people hawking t-shirts and crap were set up. I got a really cool shirt there last year for five bucks, and I wanted to check it out again. But before our quest could begin, we spotted a Coldstone's ice cream store and were almost killed attempting to cross 42nd street in the middle of the block to get at it.

We'd been wanting to visit one of these joints for a long time, but hadn't had much luck. The closest we'd gotten was a Coldstone's Opening Soon sign in Huntington, WV. But we would not be denied on Saturday, even though we'd just had breakfast at the hotel and were bloated with eggs. I got the medium white chocolate with Kit Kat bar and chocolate chips, and Toney got something with cheesecake and Heath bar in it. They mixed it all up for us on the cold stone, put it in a tiny microscopic cup and said, "$10.50 please!" Holy fuck.

The street fair was not to be found. I finally asked a security guard at NBC and he said they only do it on Sundays now. We vowed to return in the morning (and did not). We poked around the gift shop there and checked out the high-priced Law & Order Scrotewear and whatnot, then trudged through the streets some more. I think we were both tired of the aimless wandering and were starting to snipe at each other. We decided to catch a bus to Greenwich Village, in hopes that a change of scenery might do us good.

We needed the 6 bus, but none of the bus stops listed it, so we kept walking. And walking, and walking. Every stop we came to listed the 10, and some others, but never the 6. Grrrr... The sidewalks were starting to fill up with fanny-packs and lunatics again, and my blood pressure was spiking. After about an hour of this bullshit I finally asked a woman who appeared to be the queen of all bus drivers, and she said we should just get on the train. Everything was running behind, she said, and told us to take the 1 or 9 train on the red line to 14th Street.

Red line? One or nine?? I didn't like the sound of all that... Too many variables to screw up. We could end up at Killwhitey Station in Flushing or something, with no need for a return ticket. But everything worked out fine, and we were at 14th Street within minutes. Cool.

We had lunch at Sammy's Noodle Shop again, and it lived up to the legendary status we'd afforded it in our memories. We shared an order of orange chicken, vegetable fried rice, lo mein, and egg rolls, and it was so much food we literally had a shopping bag of leftovers when we left. God, that place is awesome. I can't begin to tell you...

We walked around the neighborhood after lunch and wondered how much an apartment in one of the cool-ass brownstones cost. If I had to guess, I'd say lots. Don't hold me to that, but that's my gut feeling. There were nannies everywhere, shuttling kids around, and people jumping in and out of incredibly expensive cars. Isn't Greenwich Village supposed to be a bohemian paradise? What's up with all the Jaguars there? I really don't think Jack would approve.

As we were walking past a New Age wind chime shop, or whatever, we passed some guy who looked a little like Scatman Crothers. He stopped and began hollering a bunch of belligerence for no apparent reason, and we tried to ignore him. But as we walked off he said, "How'd she get you pregnant, man? Kakakaka....! You look like you're pregnant! Kakakakakakaka....!" I told him to eat shit, but I don't think it was enough to win the debate.

The skies looked like they were about to bust open with rain, so we decided to head back to home base. We'd end the day at Rudy's, we said, then go back to the room to polish off our Sammy's leftovers. (After all, I was eating for two now.) But we had more bus problems, and things got all screwed up.

Toney didn't want to take the subway back, so we found a bus stop and checked the schedule. Every seven minutes, it said. Not bad! And thirty-five minutes later, we were still standing there like a couple of douches. Toney was getting upset and looked to be on the verge of exploding. The whole trip had been a hassle, and I recognized the warning signs of a last straw on the horizon.

A bus finally came about forty minutes into it, but we couldn't get on because we didn't happen to have a hundred or so quarters with us. No dollar bills allowed, the driver said, and Toney flew off the handle like a crazy woman. She said some very hurtful things to that driver, and a Deadwood-level number of fucks were used. Needless to say, we were ejected like shit out of a terrier.

In the subway station a couple of old people were standing there putting on a public display of affection, hanging all over each other and swooning as if in ecstasy. Toney was still hot and this pissed her off further. "I wish somebody would push them in front of a train!" she hollered. And then she called them a couple of pretentious pieces of shit, and it was all way too loud. I had to get her back to the hotel room before we were arrested!

And that's pretty much the end of it. We made it back to Suburbia without major incident, had our Sammy's and plenty of Samual Adams, and left for home in the morning.

Next time we're going to have a frickin' detailed plan. (Or maybe we'll just go to Atlanta?) Winging it in New York has it's benefits, but there's a limit. Goddamn.

Here are some pics from the second day, and I'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow.

See ya.

 

October 5, 2004

-- The New York trip was frustrating. It was fun, but every little thing was a hassle, lots of the stuff we wanted to do didn't get done, and the whole deal just never quite took off for us. You'd think that at our advanced ages we'd know better than to try to recapture past perfections, but apparently not. We foolishly thought we could make lightning strike twice. Ha! For whatever reason, the planets aligned for last year's trip and it was a magical few days. This year there was no such aligning, and we spent most of the time thinking, "Why isn't this great??" but not wanting to say it out loud.

We made a mistake of approaching it from the same free-wheeling NO PLANS angle. There were a few things we wanted to do, but no real itinerary. We'd just let them happen as they happened, we decided. Like last year. Fa-la-la-la-la... Yeah, we should've had a docket, broken down by the half-hour. Next time we'll have a goddamn docket.

We stayed across the river, near the Meadowlands. I tapped into a corporate perk that many of my less-savvy co-workers don't know about, and got us a suite at a nice hotel for a ludicrously small amount of money. Free parking, commuter buses running to Times Square every few minutes, ten or twenty bars and restaurants within walking distance... It's a good, cheap way of visiting New York. And after a long day of swimming upstream in a sea of fanny-packs and lunatics, it's also kind of nice to jump on a bus and be in Suburbia ten minutes later. I recommend it.

After dragging our stuff up to our room we jumped on the bus and went into the city. It was about one in the afternoon and we made a beeline for Burritoville, a cheap hippie-dippie place we like, and gorged ourselves on football-sized burritos, and did some black-belt people-watching from our rickety table there. It felt surreal to go from Scranton to New York City in such a short period of time. We forget how close we are.

As we were leaving the restaurant I noticed that Rudy's, a dive bar that a few of you recommended, was right next door. Excellent. We made a mental note to return later, when it wasn't so early in the day, and when we weren't so frickin' full. Yeah, you can probably guess how that worked out... Rule of thumb: When a person says, "Cool! We'll come back later!" that person can just kiss the shit goodbye. You have to seize the moment. We never made it across the threshold of the world famous Rudy's.

From Burritoville it's kind of a blur. It was just hours and hours of aimless wandering... And everything was amazingly crowded; there was a crush of people everywhere we went. A few times I actually felt the pangs of mild claustrophobic panic take hold. Pure insanity. And, again, I don't remember it being that way last year.

In the early evening we found ourselves outside the Plaza Hotel and I asked Toney if she wanted to go in for a twenty dollar cocktail or highball, or whatever. "Are you insane?" she asked. "C'mon!", I said, and we walked past the doorman as if we belonged there. There were little kids in there wearing Italian suits and Rolex watches. And their parents looked like they wiped their fine powdered asses with handmade lace doilies. We found a bar and it was packed to the rafters with people sipping martinis and acting thoughtful. I tried to squeeze myself into place, but it was not to be. Too many damn people. I was starting to fantasize about throwing random punches at strangers.

Later we passed by a raggedy old Howard Johnson's restaurant in Times Square, with a cocktail lounge in the back. "Let's have a beer at HoJo's!" I said. We ordered a couple of Bass Ales and they were six dollars each. Holy crap! We agreed we'd have one each and move on. The bartender was a girl barely out of her teens, and she said, "You two aren't from New York, are you?" We laughed and asked if it was that obvious. She said no, it's just that New Yorkers would never pay six dollars for a beer. Fabulous.

As we sipped our bottles of liquid gold, we listened to some drunken shitass talk about his life experiences. He was slurring his speech to a woman who looked like an obese Dinah Shore, and was downing mixed drinks like the Russians were in Pittsburgh. The bartender, Ms. Congeniality, periodically interjected her two cents as well, and it was quite entertaining.

The guy seemed extremely proud of himself for having filed two lawsuits against places of business during the past year. He was in a bar in Colorado, he said, and was headed for the bathroom when he stepped in water and his feet flew out from under him. He supposedly came down face-first on the edge of the bar, and the bridge of his nose was "destroyed." They had to use metal spikes to get it back into place. He also filed a $27,000 lawsuit against Waffle House, but I never heard the details on that deal. He complained at length, as well, about a botched tattoo he'd received, in which too much ink was injected and he'd suffered much "bubbling."

The bartender and Dinah were cackling like mental patients and kept reminding everyone that they're natives of New York City. Every sentence started with, "Oh, we New Yorkers would have a different way of dealing with that..." and "Well, I'm from New York and I wouldn't have much tolerance..." All three of them were so obnoxious I couldn't stop eavesdropping. It was like something off TV.

Then when we got up to leave, we heard one of them say, "Jesus, I hate tourists!" and they all laughed uproariously. Hell, we were the only people in the house who weren't acting like complete assholes. Perhaps that was the problem?

We walked down a side street and passed a little hole-in-the-wall pub in a basement, with a chalkboard outside advertising three dollar drafts. We walked down the steps and found what we were looking for. It wasn't a dump, but it wasn't exactly upscale either. Lots of dark wood and mirrors... And everything on tap was three bucks -- including Bass and Guinness! So that's where we stayed. At one point the cast of a Broadway show, dressed in 70's-era tuxedos, came in and had ceremonial shots of Jack, then marched silently out the front door. And that's not something you see everyday here in rural Pennsylvania.

Our bus back to Suburbia was late in arriving and a sizable line formed in our little corner of the Port Authority. A couple of German men walked to the front and pretended to be studying the schedule posted on the wall, then just kind of blended into line. When the bus finally got there a man came running up from behind us and smacked one of the Germans in the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper (!) and told him to get to the back of "the fucking line." Our European friends had looks of utter disbelief on their faces and the guy growled, "All the way to the fucking back!" and gestured violently with his thumb. Needless to say, the Germans were the last two to get on the bus that evening. I might've shaken the man's hand, if he didn't scare the holy hell out of me.

Tomorrow I'll tell you the rest of the story. In the meantime here are some photos from Day One.

And I'll leave you today with the latest from our Goodwill Ambassador, Danny Maverick!

See ya on Wednesday.

 


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Copyright 2004 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.