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   The State of My Fat Ass                                    October 2005

October 31, 2005

-- Yesterday we shoved the rolling box o' beds onto the driveway, and got it ready for winter. Toney removed the bedding and made sure there was no food left inside that might attract squirrels and sasquatches and whatnot. And I drained the hot water tank (requiring only one phone call to my daddy, thank you very much), as well as the water lines underneath.

This last part is accomplished by lying on your back and wriggling. And I'm not a big wriggler. I think it's one of those genes that skips generations; the wriggling talent of the father is usually not visited upon the son. Or so it seems.

Plus, last year I was wedged up underneath that thing when I spotted a scary white spider, with what appeared to be a bulging poison sac, drop down from the undercarriage of the camper and start scampering toward my face. Needless to say, I just about turned that bitch over trying to get out of there. I was bicycling my legs and hollering like a mental patient. Oh, it was quite the scene.

So, I wasn't looking forward to any of it. I'm not really a fan of activities that can't be performed from a seated position while eating Combos. But we got it done, without too much pain. There's not much more than a single drop of water left in that thing, to freeze and expand and cause us problems. And I'm happy to report that there were no spiders or copperhead colonies, or anything like that.

The only bump in the road was a loud and protracted fart that erupted from my body as I wriggled. I'd just drained one of the lines and was trying to rock my heft back into sunlight, when I contorted my torso in a certain way, and it sounded like a blast from a tuba out there. I don't do that sort of thing in front of my wife (is that unusual?), so I was a little embarrassed. And it didn't help matters that both boys immediately doubled-over in laughter, and just wouldn't let it drop. "You scared all the birds out of the trees!" they were hollering.

Simply excellent.

-- And since we're on the subject, here's part of an email I received on Friday:

P.S. I just farted and the girl in the office behind me told the person she's talking to on the phone she smelled steak.

This is from a guy I've never met, a reader of the site. And he thought to write and bring ME up to date on the situation. Me! 

...I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here.

-- Last night I flipped through the TV listings section of the Sunday paper to see if, against great odds, I might find something worth watching. I noticed that Game 7 of the World Series started at 7:30, and decided to tune in. 

I used to live and breathe baseball, but haven't been following it too closely over the past few years. But, I like to think that I still know what's going on, generally speaking. Ya know? I mean, I'm not completely cut off from society.

And since there are few things more exciting than the seventh game of the World Series, I settled in with a snack-sack and got ready for a night of dramatic action. Unfortunately, it was apparently rained-out? Is that what happened? 

Too bad. But I'll be there again tonight, Jack. Because I'm a fan.

-- When I lived in Greensboro several people told me about the legend of Lydia, a high school girl supposedly killed in a car accident during the 1920's, who still haunts the old underpass where she died. If you drive through there at midnight, the story went, you could sometimes spot her in her ball gown, hitchhiking(?!), and occasionally you might actually find her sitting beside you in the passenger seat of your car. 

I'd always be a little uneasy when I drove that road at night, especially with a few adult beverages under my belt. I was certain I'd eventually look to my right and find Lillian Gish sitting there, with half her head missing. Shit!

Here's a pretty good article about the whole deal.

I'm sure most communities have their own Lydia-style story, and since it's Halloween, why not share the ones you know in the comments section? That might be some fun, huh?

And I'll see ya tomorrow.

October 28, 2005

-- Can you folks help me out with something? You see, I really want an iPod but, try as I might, can't come up with a solid justification for buying one. And want ain't gonna cut it, I'm afraid, it's gotta be need. (I have responsibilities.) So, what real purpose would it serve me?

I guess I could listen to it while I'm at my desk at work? Is that need? Perhaps it would further my career if I'm constantly happy and soothed by the music of my choice? Heh. Does that argument hold water? Have any of you attempted to pull off such a thing? Let me know how it went. I have a feeling I know, but maybe I'm wrong.

And can't you hook those babies up to play through your car stereo? That would be pretty good, a selling point. How hard is that to do? 'Cause if it requires know-how, labor, more than five minutes of prep time, or lying on my back, I ain't doing it. I've got enough aggravation as it is. Is it easy? Would it require more equipment? Can I do the installation from a seated position, while eating Combos?

Help me out, people. How have your mp3 players improved your lives? I need ideas. It's music-related electronic gadgetry, and I don't have one yet. And it's making me freaking crazy.

-- I saw on the local news this morning that somebody's trying to get a bill passed that would allow (require?) law enforcement to fine people who don't walk their dogs regularly. It was really early in the morning, but I'm pretty sure that's what they said. And they also mentioned something about keeping goldfish in a round bowl. Supposedly it makes the fishies go blind(?!), and they want the selfish bastards with their brazen and irresponsible round bowls dealt-with harshly by the authorities. (Coming this fall to NBC: Law & Order: Bowl Squad!) I'm not making any of this up. It was right there on the local newscast, snuggled between the standard reports about sink holes and catastrophic house fires. I'm almost certain of it.

-- And speaking of local news... A couple of weeks ago I saw a report about a runaway candy apple stand on Interstate 80. A truck was pulling it, the thing broke free and careened out of control, and caused several minor accidents. That's probably the way I'll go out, you know. I'll be minding my own business one day, driving
down the road and singing along to Cheap Trick, when suddenly I'll look up and see a goddamn carnival trailer coming straight towards me at an accelerated clip. And the last thing I'll see in this world is a shoddily painted corndog, two feet from my face. Then the story will be linked on Fark, and people sitting in cubicles all around the world will read it and laugh and laugh and laugh. I just know it.

-- I was sitting here a few minutes ago and started smelling Band-Aids. And there's no explanation for it whatsoever. Strange. Do you think I'm having a stroke?

-- Clive Bull was talking about underwear yesterday, and I finally had to turn it off. People were calling in and relaying their deeply-held undergarment opinions, and after a while I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. The final straw was an old gravel-voiced cab driver who said he likes to wear a basic white brief, because of the support it provides him. So that was that. I had to crank up the Rocktober channel at Accuradio, and shotgun a 3 Musketeers bar to recover from that shit. I mean, seriously. The whole thing triggered a full-body shiver.

One woman said that her mother believed that men should never buy underwear, not even for themselves. It was the woman's job to do that, and men you see buying underwear in stores are most likely perverts and/or homosexuals. I thought that was pretty funny, because I'd bet good money my grandmother felt that way too. And come to think of it....

Let's not make this a Stealing Clive Bull's Topics discussion point, OK? I merely mentioned it for informational purposes. Thank you for your cooperation.

-- And finally, I have a special treat for y'all today: something new from Metten! And here it is. 

Enjoy and I'll see you folks again on Monday.

October 27, 2005

A few really quick things:

-- The check-engine light went off in my Blazer last night, after almost a week of it screwing with my head and mocking me from behind the steering wheel. I was actually looking at it when it blinked off, which was highly satisfying. It felt like I'd willed it into submission. But what was the point of it all? Was it trying to tell me something, like Lassie after Timmy plunged down yet another abandoned mine shaft? Or was it set to come on by engineers at General Motors, hoping they could pick up some extra labor bucks for their dealers on the back-end? I hope I never find out. I'd like to be able to now put all this unpleasantness behind me, and pretend it never happened.

-- Too Much Joy is blasting in the bunker this morning; Cereal Killers to be exact. Remember those guys? What happened to 'em?! God, they were excellent. I feel a full-saturation three-day listening jag coming on....

-- I'm sending Memento back to Netflix today, even though I never watched it. I know this goes against the laws of nature, but it's the way it has to be. I've soured on the movie, and no longer want to see it. Call me a radical if you must.

-- Remember the "book deal" I hinted at, a month or so ago? (I use quotation marks because it feels pretentious and presumptive to just let those two words stand alone, like I think I'm Kurt Vonnegut or something.) Well, yesterday I found out that because of corporate red tape, a final decision on the project has been delayed by 45 days. So, I continue to know nothing. I'm told that it still might very well happen, but there's crapola going on behind the scenes that has nothing to do with me. Fairly typical, I guess.

But the cool part about it? I'm so busy at work, and stressing out and everything, it barely even crosses my mind. Entire days go by when I literally don't think about the book, not even for a second. And how great is that? Under normal circumstances I'd be a friggin' basket case, trying to read meaning into every day that passes with no new news. I would've already shit so many bricks we'd have a new patio in the back yard, with built-in barbecue and pizza oven.

So, the moral of the story? Even swimming upstream in a daily river of raw sewage has a silver lining. ...Or something.

-- Buck sends along this link today. And it makes me a little queasy, if you want to know the truth. I've long suspected that fast food cashiers have a way of "signaling" the grill workers, when they encounter an asshole or someone who's causing problems. It's why I'm usually exceedingly nice to those folks, even when my instincts tell me to reach across the counter and squeeze their neck until they go limp. I mean, they're making the food.

I remember a guy at my high school who worked for Wendy's. He would always brag about spitting into the hamburgers of cops, or putting a clump of pubes in there, or whatever. And that scared the hell out of me. The thought of dumbass teenagers lording over my lunch is a terrifying concept. So I tread lightly in those places, and Buck's link illustrates the reason. One wrong move and they're throwing up the ball-hair sign. And I simply can't have that.

-- I'll leave you now with something a little less disturbing (I think). Somebody linked to a video clip yesterday in the comments section, and I thought it was flat-out hilarious. So here it is.

-- Oh, wait! One more thing... Will, the keeper of the Blanket, sends along a few more entries to his ongoing project. Check 'em out here.

And if I continue to play my cards right, we'll eventually get to the point where you guys write these updates yourselves, and I won't have to do anything! And what a beautiful day that will be.

See ya tomorrow.

October 26, 2005

-- As part of my ongoing Halloween preparation project, I watched Halloween over the weekend. I got it through Netflix and, again, I'm almost certain I hadn't seen it since it was first in theaters, twenty-seven years ago. I remembered a lot more about it than Friday the 13th, probably because in 1978 I hadn't yet discovered the wonders of hops and barley, and maybe because it's just a more memorable film.

There are some glaring editing problems in that thing, like the way it goes from bright sunlight to complete darkness in a manner of seconds, but it's still really good. And scary. There's almost no blood, like Hitchcock used to do it, but a sustained sense of impending danger. By the time Jamie Lee Curtis entered the house across the street, I found myself freaking out a little.

In fact, I put it on pause at one point, so I could get another beer from the basement, and was afraid to go down there. I mean, it was dark and scary at the bottom of those stairs. I emailed Brad and asked his advice, and he said I should throw a plate of spaghetti into the basement, and hope Andy would bring me back a Yuengling.

It was a good idea, but I didn't want to get into cooking and all that, so I just told myself to man-up and go after it myself. I looked around and didn't see any escaped mental patients lurking. So I opened the fridge, grabbed three bottles (so I wouldn't have to go back), got halfway up the stairs and was certain somebody had a big knife raised in the air, ready to plunge it into my back. I ran as fast as a fat man can, and tumbled into the hallway with my arms full of clanking bottles.

And mister, when a movie nearly has you doing forward-rolls in your own home. it's a good one.

-- The "check engine" light came on in my Blazer a couple of days ago. Needless to say, it alarmed me, but every single person I've asked about it said something along the lines of, "Yeah, don't worry, it means nothing." What?! How could it mean nothing?? Was it just installed to fuck with people? I just don't understand.

One guy told me that when Blazers turn three or four years old, the light comes on and stays on. He said that if it bothers me, I should put a piece of tape over it. You think I'm joking?

And the more I try not to worry about it, the more I worry. I'm certain that in the near future I'll be tearing down Interstate 81, blasting Fountains of Wayne or whatever, and the motor will seize up and turn into a big block of steel with no moving parts. And I'll find myself inside a cartwheeling box of fire.

Stupid Chevy. After I'm finished with this piece o' crap (which may be sooner rather than later) I'm going-rice, and staying-rice. I've had it with American cars and the way they nickel-and-dime ya to death. I'm sticking with Toyota and Honda, and that's all there is to it.

I've been driving since 1979, or so, and here's how it's gone for me:

American: nickel and dime pain in the ass as well as balls
Japanese: keep the oil changed and just keep on drivin'
Korean: same as Japanese until it reaches 100,000 miles, at which time the shit collapses, completely

I realize that I only have anecdotal evidence, but you'll never convince me that I'm wrong. Never!

-- It snowed here yesterday, off and on, all day long. It didn't add up to much, but a couple of times it was coming down pretty good. And it's still only October. Here's a pic I took from the deck yesterday afternoon. If you look closely you'll see Andy engaging in one of his favorite hobbies. Also, please note that we've pretty much cleaned up all the wood that was lying in our backyard this summer (left by an embittered tree removal man). All that's left now are the giant pieces, and I might just roll those bitches into the woods.

-- And check this out; it's a scan from our Sunday paper. Apparently Target is now selling Black Panther starter kits! Pretty nifty, huh?

-- This is a fun read. The 25 Most Shocking Moments in Movie History! Did they miss any?

-- And before I turn the reigns over to Buck, I have a small request. I've placed an ad for Sirius satellite radio in the upper left-hand corner of this page. If any of you folks are planning on following Howard Stern there in the coming months, I'd sincerely appreciate it if you could sign up through my link. They pay a generous referral commission, and it costs you nothing extra. So it's a painless way of supporting our seedy endeavors here. Same goes for the Amazon banner at the bottom of the homepage. Please keep us in mind when you're doing your holiday shopping, 'kay? I'd be much obliged.

-- Now here's a fresh dispatch from our good friend Buck.

And I'll see you guys tomorrow.

October 25, 2005

-- Yeah, this site is going straight down the ol' open-mouth porcelain waste receptacle. I'd never, in the history of TheWVSR, missed two days in a row. But I missed Friday and Monday, so there you go. Please know that it's not a case of me losing enthusiasm, or anything like that, it's all about of my job. I'm putting in massive hours, and when I'm not there I'm stressing about it. So my free time is gone, I'm wore the fuck out, and preoccupied: not exactly a recipe for funny.

But it is what it is, and I've got to deal with it. So, enough of the bitching.... let's see if I can still do this.

-- A couple of nights ago a friend sent this to me in an email, under the heading, "Gay? You make the call."

Apparently Mattel is trying to create "news" by turning Barbie and Ken's plastic non-lives into a soap opera. On-again, off-again, you know the drill... And based on all the media coverage they're receiving, it's working out well for Big Toy. You can read about the latest developments here, and here, and here, and a thousand other places too. You know, if you should happen to give a crap.

As for the question of whether or not I believe Ken, um, prefers the company of gentlemen, well, it would certainly be easy to jump to conclusions. Very, very easy. But longtime readers know that I'm not one to just go around profiling people all willy-nilly, based on circumstantial evidence and/or laughable neck scarves. I'm very proud of the fact that we don't engage in the practice of cheap speculation around here; I believe it's what sets us apart from so many other websites.


So, let's review the information at hand, and attempt to make a sober, open-minded appraisal. Shall we?

1970s  Sure, Ken looks like a classic fudge-buster here, but it was the '70s, remember. They wore those Charles Nelson Reilly scarves then, even if they didn't have a sweet tooth for the man-ass. If you don't believe me, check out the covers of a few Three Dog Night albums when you get the chance. As far as I know those guys all liked the ladies, even though they appeared to be itching to stand behind their pals.

I was very young during the early part of this questionable decade, but I remember people on television sporting flowing neck decoration, and the ridiculous type of shirt Ken is wearing in the photo. Of course, nobody in Dunbar dressed this way (there would've been "talk" down at Banjo's Esso station), but they did on Love, American Style, and whatnot. And Ken was, like, a teenager made of plastic from Malibu, CA. So, who the hell knows?

I'm not sure what the hair tells us about his sexuality, if anything. Just because a man appears to be under attack by a giant black clam doesn't automatically mean he's a gay homosexual. I believe Calvin Coolidge first said that.

1980s  Ken now looks a lot like John F. Kennedy, a person who comandeered a PT boat during a world war, became president of the United States, and bedded down with Marilyn Monroe on the sly. And you're telling me that's not manly? Oh, I beg to differ. Sure, his apparent use of eye makeup confuses things a bit. But again: California. You've got to look at the whole picture.

The shirt is kinda sporty and comparatively normal, although the design is a tad high-riding; it's been my experience that the stripes should go straight across the tits, not way up-top like that. And the sleeves are a bit dainty, so I just don't know... I'm not personally familiar with such a garment, but refuse to condemn it based solely on the fact that it confuses me and makes me feel sorta creepy. That's what being open-minded is all about.

The big question is the hair. In the previous decade it was jet black, and now it's brown. How does something like that happen? Was he dyeing it back then? If so, we've got ourselves a whole new ballgame, friends.

But wait! Can't the sun lighten a person's hair? And isn't Ken a surfer? I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I don't have all the necessary information. Remember, just because something's smoking, doesn't always mean it's also flaming.

1990s  Holy shit! OK, so Ken "experimented" with the gay lifestyle during the '90s. That doesn't mean, conclusively, that he's a true homosexual. Right? Perhaps he was simply enrolled at Berkeley, and things got out of hand for a while? Are you telling me it's not possible?

Ha! I believe in my soul that, if given a couple of full semesters, Nancy and Nostrils could have an entire regiment of battle-scarred Marines, fresh from the Iraqi theater, dressing this way and combing out each other's hair. I can only imagine what a Berkeley professor might be capable of.

So maybe it was just a decade of self-examination, spurred on by higher-learning and intellectual enlightenment? Sashaying about like a full-on hairdresser, in a shirt James Komack might've worn on The Courtship of Eddie's Father, would certainly lead a person to conclude that there's a whole lotta poofter going on. But was it just a phase, triggered by nutty college professors? At this point we don't know the answer to that.

So we've got to weigh all the possibilities, and see what the future holds.

And I probably shouldn't admit this, but all this open-mindedness is starting to tire me out.... This is some hard work. Shit.

2000s  Ken is now favoring a modified beach-bum look, accented by a hairstyle made famous by the character Chrissy on the 1980's television hit, Three's Company. The fact that Chrissy was a female character, portrayed by the late Suzanne Somers....

Oh, the hell with this. Who are we trying to fool here?! The guy's a homo, pure and simple. I mean look at him! The scarves, the fruity clothes, the twinkling eyes.... This dude has packed more fudge than the Hershey Corporation. And it would've taken the guys down at Banjo's Esso about three seconds to arrive at the truth! What are we doing here??

I need to go lie down for a while. I'm fucking spent.

And please don't send me anymore pictures with a request to draw conclusions. I'm teetering on the edge as it is. 

See ya tomorrow.

October 20, 2005

-- Yesterday I wrote briefly about the lie detector tests I was forced to take while employed at Peaches Records in Greensboro. And it reminded me of some stuff....

I'd left West Virginia at the age of 23 because there were no jobs, and because I was stuck in some sort of constantly-repeating suck loop. In and out of college, minimum wage jobs, a relationship that was losing steam, too much beer... There was no forward motion whatsoever. It was a clear case of too stupid for too long, and I had to get the hell out of there.

So I summoned up as much courage as I could, and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina -- the popular choice of West Virginians on the run. Almost immediately I got a job as a stocker in an enormous grocery store, working the overnight shift for something like $6.90 an hour. And man, that was one huge amount of money to me at the time. Back home you considered yourself lucky if you could even find a job paying $3.35. And that's no exaggeration.

The only problem was, I hated it. I hated it with every fiber of my being. My co-workers were retards, one and all, and the managers were the retard/prick combo meal. I've told the story about my colleagues getting into a big argument one night about a man on the cover of Weekly World News. The dude in the picture was only a torso, two arms, and a head; there was nothing below the ribcage. And this touched off a heated debate that was highlighted by somebody hollering the immortal phrase, "No no no no, a motherfucker can't shit if he ain't got no ass!!"

These were guys whose wildest, craziest dream was to maybe someday receive their certification to "cut meat." Plus, they all did a much better job than I did. I pretty much sucked as a stocker, and they were all really good. I blame it on lack of enthusiasm, but they'd probably tell a different story.

Anyway, I hated it, and quickly realized that the big money I was making wasn't going to cut it. Now I was responsible for rent and utilities, and all manner of adult crapola. And, even though I had a good ol' boy roommate, what was coming in still didn't cover what needed to go out. So I'd have to get a second job. I was walking around like a zombie because of lack of sleep, but I needed to do more. Oh, this Greensboro experiment was working out great...

But dammit, if I absolutely had to work two jobs, at least one was going to be tolerable. So I started bugging the director at Peaches. 

It was a great record store, along the lines of a Tower. It was massive and hip, and they seemingly had everything; I'd once purchased a Squirrelbait album there, right off the rack, and had fallen in love with the place from that moment. I mean, they had freakin' Squirrelbait! But the guy kept telling me to beat it; there were no openings, so git!

Needless to say, I eventually wore him down. I started working there part-time, and absolutely loved it. The people were interesting, creative, and smart. And I was stocking Elvis Costello instead of bleach. I just couldn't believe my good fortune. I mean, not just anyone was allowed to don the denim smock.

So, I was working the worst job I'd ever had, and the best, simultaneously. I'd be almost suicidal for ten hours, ass-deep in dishwashing detergent and douchebaggery, then feel like the luckiest guy in the world later the same day. Eventually I was able to flip-flop the two jobs, and was working at Peaches full-time, and the grocery store part-time. But I still needed both good and evil to pay my bills.

Then I started hearing rumors that the store director at Peaches had hired a guy who'd graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in "music business." I didn't even know they offered such a thing, and wondered what it was all about. I mean, why do you need a diploma to stand behind a counter, act all superior, and mock people for buying Bryan Adams cassettes? What the hell, man?

I started to panic.

After all, I was the night manager, low-man on the managerial totem pole. I'd surely be the first to go, once Mr. Fancy-Pants moved in with his music degree and his big-ass sack o' knowledge. I could see it all slipping away, and was envisioning a future filled with cucumber-waxing and floor-buffing. I was a nervous wreck, and secretly hoped the guy would be run over by a bus.

The day finally arrived when The Man was to make his debut, and I kept my distance. No way I was going to be all buddy-buddy with the person who would soon ruin my life. They put him in charge of the backroom, the receiving desk and all that, and I figured he was back there right now with a bunch of flow charts and a retractable pointer-stick, explaining his "theories." The prick. Oh, how I hated him.

I walked around the floor and straightened the Pink Floyd section (again), and told myself it might not be all that bad. I could move back home, get serious about school finally, and try to make a fresh start. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise, this interloper motherfuckin' bastard?

Later that night I saw him approaching in my peripheral vision. I prepared myself for battle. I wasn't going down without a fight, dammit. Oh, he might eventually defeat me, but it wouldn't be pretty. Not for anyone involved.

And he walked up and said, "Excuse me, do you know what section Bob Dielan goes in?" He was holding a copy of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, but he was pronouncing it "Dielan."

I very nearly dropped to my knees and gave thanks to the Lord! Dielan!! It was the most beautiful-sounding word I'd ever heard. 

It was all I could do not to give the dumbass a big hug.

October 19, 2005

-- I was at work a couple of days ago, walking around the warehouse and taking a break from my soul-sapping desk duties.

They were in the middle of a shift-change, and one of the managers grabbed his coat, slapped me on the shoulder, and said, "I'm outta here, big guy." Then he stopped and decided to keep on talking.

"And I do mean big guy," he said. You weren't so big when you started here, but you're sure big now!" Apparently he wasn't commenting on my professional clout, because several people snickered.

Then some cynical hipster-child with ludicrous facial hair added, "Well, he makes more money than we do, and can afford to eat better."

And the first guy said, "And more often, apparently!" This was followed by what sounded to me like the laugh track they used on Friends, set to "wide-open."

So there you go... I hope they enjoy their unemployment benefits.

-- I took this picture on Sunday. It's a neighbor's backyard, and I can't tell you anything beyond that. All I can think to say is, the heck?

-- I hit the lottery on Saturday night. I won seven bucks. Two numbers and the powerball, baby! Now I guess I'm going to have to deal with long-lost "cousins" crawling out of the woodwork, and feeding me sob stories about the state of their rapidly-failing organs, right? Ha!

I still haven't decided if I'm going to take the cash option, or spread it out over twenty years.

-- We fired up our furnace last night, for the first time this season. Of course, Toney wants to control the thing based on date, not temperature, so we've been going round and round about it. It's been freakin' cold at night, but she kept insisting that it's not November 1 yet(??). Monday night felt like we were bedded down in a Canadian cornfield, so she reluctantly gave in. But she ain't happy about it, not one little bit.

My grandmother would also consult a calendar instead of a thermometer to adjust her furnace/air conditioner, so I've been through all this before. None of it's new to me.

-- Yesterday I heard a woman accuse Clive Bull of "running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds." I have no idea what that means, but I sure like the way it rolls off the tongue. Don't you?

-- As you know, I don't usually like to link to news stories here. 'Cause this ain't a blog, dammit; it's a journal of sorts, updated every once in a while. But occasionally a piece of important life-altering journalism comes along, and it simply can't be ignored. Of course, I'm talking about this. I might have to stay home from work today, to contemplate the ramifications of it all. Seriously.

-- Will, the keeper of the Blanket, has added a few more quotes to his ongoing "project," and you can see them at the bottom of the page here. Thanks again, dude!

-- And here's another picture I took on Sunday, this time with my cell phone at Kohl's. It's a handicapped mannequin, in case you can't make it out. I'm not sure, but I think she was previously a crash test dummy for the KIA Motor Company. So sad.

-- Yesterday I mentioned a long, drawn-out scene in an old Jimmy Stewart movie, where they explained at excruciating length how a polygraph test works. Apparently it was new technology at the time, and the producers felt it necessary to give viewers a tutorial. Have you ever had one of these tests? 

I have, while employed at Peaches Records in Greensboro. Once a year or so they'd bring in some crusty old piece of shit, and he'd hook us up to his machine and ask a litany of accusatory questions. I never stole a thing from that place, but would always walk away feeling stressed-out and guilty. The man was like Mr. Bookman on Seinfeld. It wasn't uncommon for employees to exit his sweaty little den of implication in tears.

Eventually, I believe, the government made it illegal for companies to force their employees to submit to random polygraph tests. But have you ever had to take one? Any interesting stories to tell? Share it with us, why don't ya?

-- And that'll do it for today, kiddies. I'm going to turn it over to our good friend Buck now, and wish y'all a fine, fine Wednesday.

So, have a fine, fine Wednesday. And I'll see you tomorrow.

October 18, 2005

-- It was really sleepy at the Compound last night. We put the kids to bed early, at their request(?!), then watched Sunday's episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (banzai!). The second that craziness ended Toney checked out as well, and I was left all alone 'neath the Scrote-watcher. It was, like, 8:15 and everybody was snoring away upstairs. What is this, Little House on the Prairie?? I decided to watch the Netflix movie I'd received in yesterday's mail: Memento.

It's about a guy with a "condition" that causes him to have no short-term memory. He's involved in a conversation with someone, and five minutes later doesn't recall it ever happening. He repeatedly introduces himself to people he sees every day, and has reminders to himself tattooed all over his body. No, it's not a Farrelly Brothers comedy, the guy is trying to find the person who killed his wife, and delivered the savage beating that left him this way. Supposedly it's a really good flick.

But I couldn't tell you, at least not yet. Because within fifteen minutes my head was wrenched to the side like a palsy victim, and drool was collecting in the southernmost corner of my mouth. And I apparently remained that way for upwards of 75 minutes. When I finally jerked awake it felt like somebody had sneaked into the house and plunged a butter knife into my neck. It still feels kinda tender.

So, I guess I'll have to give it another try tonight. But despite the insanity that is my current life, these types of episodes are still fairly rare; so far I've been able to keep up with my Netflix/DVR obligations. And I'm very proud of that.

Below are a few brief thoughts on the flicks I've watched over the past week or so. But don't worry, I don't pretend to know shit about shit. You'll find no cringe-triggering, goatee-stroking amateur film criticism at TheWVSR, my friends. We try to do things a little differently here....

Friday the 13th I'm almost sure that the last time I saw this movie was in the theater, when it first came out. And that was what, 1980? So it's been twenty-five years, or so. Plus, there was a good chance I was drunk at the time, probably with Rocky and Bill, busily flinging food items at the backs of people's heads in the dark. So, I didn't remember much about it.

I didn't even recall the fundamental fact that the killer wasn't Jason, but a large butch woman in a blue cable knit sweater(!). She was some sort of demented Bea Arthur with a chip on her shoulder, just killing off "teenagers" all willy-nilly. Pretty damn cool.

But, unfortunately, it wasn't very scary. Only when Jason made his debut appearance near the end did I jump. Beyond that, it was just gory song and dance. I liked the way ol' Maude did away with Kevin Bacon (beware the Rule of Thumb: make fun of Kevin Bacon too much and your nose will stay that way), but there wasn't much frightening about. Horror and fucked-upness are two different things.

I gave it three stars at the Netflix site, because of its entertainment value. But there's gotta be better slasher flicks out there. Right? What are the best movies that utilize the standard template: a group of teenagers, usually in the woods and often in their underwear, being mutilated one-by-one in highly creative ways by a memorable lunatic? Can you help me out with that, people? It's almost Halloween and I'm in the mood.

Call Northside 777: An old Jimmy Stewart movie where he plays a newspaper reporter who comes to believe that a man serving a 99 year prison sentence for murder is innocent.

Apparently it was the first Hollywood movie to ever be filmed on location in Chicago, and the section where he goes from seedy bar to seedy bar looking for a key witness, is the best part of the whole deal. I love ancient old beer joints, and seeing inside a bunch of 'em circa 1948 left me almost giddy.

I also liked the way the characters repeatedly referred to the Chicago Police Department as one of the finest the world has ever seen. Over and over, we were reminded of this. Obviously it was something they were required to do, in exchange for them being allowed access to the precincts and all. And the extended (and I mean extended) explanation about the polygraph test, apparently new technology at the time, was a hoot as well.

The whole thing was good fun. For some reason I love movies about regular folks in the 1940's. I'm intrigued by that decade, and don't really know why. In fact, if I could travel back in time that would be my first stop: the '40's. Then I'd jump back into the machine and set it for New York City in the 1890's. Those would be my first two destinations. Where would you go?

Of course, I might have a little trouble adjusting. There was a scene in the movie where Jimmy Stewart is shown pounding away at his typewriter, then gets called to the boss's office. He just gets up and walks away, and I caught myself thinking, "He didn't even save his work! What if there's a power-outage, or a crash?!" Whatever.

Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns A decent documentary about They Might Be Giants. They seem like nice guys.

No Direction Home A really good Scorsese documentary about Bob Dylan. It's four hours long, and I finally watched the final two hours a few nights ago. I now believe that Dylan is a genuine eccentric, and has balls the size of Montana. He pissed off a big portion of his fan base during the '60s, and just kept on truckin'. One of the most memorable scenes is near the end when he's doing a show somewhere in Europe, and is being booed unmercifully for the sin of playing an electric guitar. He was supposed to be folkie, after all. And he turns to his band and says, "Play really fucking loud." Bob Dylan: punk rocker.

And that brings you up to date. I hope that wasn't too painful. I'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow.

See ya.

October 17, 2005

-- I seriously don't know how I'm going to make it to February. Fourth-quarter at my job is in full-swing, and it's bad, really bad. Already, it seems, people have given up on the idea of things actually working out, and are now just trying to make sure they don't get blamed. Unfortunately, I include myself in that group; I'm playing defense like everybody else. Under the circumstances, there's not much else to do.

On Friday I went in early, and was there late. And after I got home, my cell phone never stopped ringing. I was eating from a Wendy's feedsack at 9 pm, with my phone wedged between my shoulder and head, and finally gave up on the DVD I'd foolishly stuck into the player, around 9:45. It was on pause more than it was on play, so screw it.

Saturday morning Toney prodded me awake at some ungodly early hour, and I dragged my heft downstairs. Grrrr.... Not even four large mugs of coffee from my Weaver D's "Automatic For The People" mug could snap me out of my funk. Why, exactly, had I been awakened via pointer-finger at 7 am?? There were no clear answers.

I had to forego the youngest Secret's soccer game (match?) and return to the office, my home away from home, for a few more hours. There was a lot of stuff scheduled for that day, and I knew I'd better be there. If the shit would just happen to hit the fan, I didn't want anyone in Burbank screaming, "And where was Jeff Kay during all this?!" Defense.

Toney asked me to try to be in a better mood when I returned. She accurately pointed out that we're not together much as a family these days, and it would be a shame to bitch the afternoon straight into the ground. I promised I'd make an effort.

When I got to the office I called one of the big-shots, to see how things were going. He said something along the lines of, "Not very fucking well... it's all fucked-up and getting fucking worse... and a fuckety-fuck fuck DeFuck." Well, that's excellent.

I was there for about three hours, and got a lot accomplished. I sent out a ton of email -- each time-stamped with a big ol' "Saturday" on it. It was a full-on house of bitterness, and everybody was sniping at each other. But I was completely caught-up when I walked out the back door, and feeling pretty good about it. I'd done as much as I could possibly do.

Now it was time to put it all behind me, and try to enjoy the rest of the weekend. I remembered Toney's request, and vowed to honor it. I would will myself into a good mood during the drive home, and be Goofy Dad for the rest of the day. No whining, no bitching... I was declaring Saturday afternoon a no-cry zone.

And as I navigated Interstate 81, blasting The Fall, I was beset by a terrible fatigue. Apparently I'd been running on caffeine and adrenaline alone, and the bottom was now falling out of that deal. My whole body ached from tiredness, and my head felt like it was about to crack in half and open up like a Venus flytrap. I could barely keep my eyes open.

I finally exited the highway without anything tragic happening, and our little town was one giant traffic jam. I guess there was an Important High School Football Game happening there, and it was a sea of humanity. The main drag was a parking lot, and dumbasses lined the sidewalks in ridiculous coats straight off the set of Northern Exposure. They were pulling massive coolers on wheels, sporting collapsible chairs on their backs, and waving foam fingers in the air. Is Allen Funt now doing consulting work in heaven?!

When I got home I opened the front door and a dark blur rocketed past my shoes, and careened on down the street. Andy! Apparently he'd been standing behind the door like a racehorse in the gate, and the second it swung open, he was gone. Stupid dog. I should've sold his ass on eBay like I'd planned. Now he's probably humped up like a kangaroo on somebody's front lawn, serving up a tall order of pipin' hot yard biscuits. I just went into the house. I ain't chasing no dogs through the neighborhood like some idiot sitcom character. I'd just deal with the angry phone call when it came.

And about ten minutes later I heard Andy barking, and Poppa Half-Shirt hollering profanities. I had to run out there and drag the crazy hound back into the house, and apologize (once again) to our our favorite anal-retentive neighbor. He just shook his head and went back to waxing his patio grout, or whatever he was doing. Wotta douche.

The kids wanted to have lunch at Long John Silver's. They like their "shrimp" there, for some reason. As best as I can tell, it's nothing but a clump of breading with a single droplet of shrimp-juice in the middle. But whatever. I was making an effort.

The joint was packed to the rafters, like always, and a couple of women in front of us wanted the cashier to explain the menu to them. It was Long John Silver's! I felt like I'd passed through some sort of portal and landed in a scene from Falling Down. They finally made their selections, then began rifling through their sleeping bag-sized purses for money. I just walked away and let Toney take it from there. I was about to have an aneurysm.

There was something terribly wrong with the jukebox, I noticed. It's always cranked up and playing Booker T and the MG's or whatever, at a volume that makes it necessary to shout to your eating companions: Could you please pass the salt?! No no, the salt!! But on Saturday it was all bass; there wasn't even a hint of treble. The shit was just sitting in the corner, buzzing. It was still really loud, but there was no way to discern one song from another. It was nothing but vibration; I could feel it in my sternum as I ate.

And people just couldn't sit still. Up and down, up and down, constantly. Running to the soda machine, or to get even more mayonnaise-based dipping sauces. They were always in motion, chewing and walking, and bumping my shoulder as they passed by. I wanted to stand up and just start throwing wild haymakers, at nobody in particular.

We had to go to Target after that, and it wasn't much better. It was really hot inside, and there was a gang of irritating dumplin' children running around in full camouflage suits, for reasons unknown. These little hicklets with tails in their hair were all but unsupervised, and getting on my last freakin' nerve. 

Also, there was a high concentration of women strutting around with coffee cups as fashion -- another of my pet peeves.

As we were leaving the store Toney said, "I think you need to go home and take a nap." Can you believe it?! Like any of this is about me.

October 13, 2005

I have almost no time this morning, so prepare yourself for suck. Here are a few very quick things:

-- Remember the clock I told you about a few days ago? The one in our downstairs bathroom with the dead battery in it? For a week or so it was stopped at 5:20, then one morning I went in there and the thing was trying to convince me it was 12:45. I couldn't believe it. After days and days of being nothing but a prop it had apparently lurched back to life during the night, and did some more work. Like a decaying corpse risen from the grave, returned to its earthly toil. And it's been stuck at 12:45 ever since. Until last night.

During one of the many commercial breaks in LOST I got up to perform a very common waste-elimination ritual, and noticed that the clock was doing something again. The second hand (is that what the long fast one is called?) was tearing ass around the thing, and there was a steady ticking sound in there. The heck, man?!

Without realizing how it must've sounded to Toney, me yelling from the bathroom and all, I said, "Come and take a look at this! It's unbelievable!!" Of course there was no way she was responding to that invitation, so I just stood there by myself for a few seconds and watched the hands move on a clock that's now had a dead battery in it for two weeks.

This morning it's stopped at 4:40. Stay tuned for further developments.

-- A Surf Reporter named Andrew sent along some disturbing news a few days ago, about one of my current obsessions. He was rooting around on this government site, for reasons unknown, and found data about "acceptable defects" in apple butter. Check it out:

Mold - Average of mold count is 12% or more
Rodent filth - Average of 4 or more rodent hairs per 100 grams of apple butter
Insects - Average of 5 or more whole or equivalent insects (not counting mites, aphids, thrips, or scale insects) per 100 grams of apple butter

What the fuck's a thrip?? Man, I don't like the sound of any of that, and didn't really need to know about it. Especially the part about mold. Twelve percent?! Doesn't that seem a tad elevated? Truthfully, I can live with a few rodent hairs (I mean, let's not get carried away), but mold and "scale insects" are another matter entirely. I ain't eating no mold and thrips on toast. Ya know?

Why Andrew, why?

-- There's a commercial I've been hearing during Clive Bull's radio show that makes me do a double-take every time. It's about breast cancer prevention, and features a woman reciting a poem called "Ode to Boobs." And the reason it surprises me is because there's no way in hell it would ever get played on American radio. 

There's nothing offensive about it, but I just can't imagine it being aired between Journey and Seger cuts, or in the middle of one of Rush Limbaugh's "obscene profit" breaks. Use a term like "puppies in sacks" over here, right up against a Mountain Dew commercial, and you'd probably have people driving off bridges and shit.

Because the internet is the greatest thing ever, I was able to find a sound file of this PSA, in just under ten seconds. Check it out.

-- Adam sent this to me a few nights ago, and it's too bizarre not to share. Now that's some slick-ass shoplifting, right there.     

-- And then there's this... All four original members of REM recently got back together, and played a few songs at the wedding reception of one of their roadies. Here's a pic. Any thoughts? I have some, but no time to articulate them. Like, is Bill Berry now an Apache Indian?... you know, stuff like that.  

-- I'm gonna turn it over to the able hands of our good friend Buck now, and go in for my morning ball-mashing. Can't be late!

See ya tomorrow.

October 12, 2005

-- When I was in grade school I had a teacher that I now suspect was down with the mental illness. Most were just demoralized closet-drunks, but this one was a little crazy, I think. It's hard to recognize such a thing in authority figures when you're ten, but it's all pretty clear to me now. The woman was at least slightly nuts.

I won't go into the whole deal today, but she was always telling us about going to restaurants; she was completely obsessed with dining out. Her eyes would glaze over as she spun these grand tales about dinners of yore. We'd get it all: what she and her husband ordered, how it was prepared, the history of the restaurant, how much the final bill came to, which credit card they put it on.... It would go on and on and on, while we were supposed to be learning about how terrible America is, or whatever.

One time I remember her spreading her arms wide, looking to the sky, and shouting, "And we finished with the most wonderful Baked Alaska!" All of us little hillbillies just looked at each other, completely confused by what was going on before us. Baked Alaska? What in the hand-carved hell??

She also talked about pinworms all the time. I'm not even sure if these things really exist, but she thought they caused fidgeting in youngsters. As she reported every tiny detail of a meal that she and her husband had recently enjoyed at the Top of the Inn, or some such place, we'd start moving around in our seats from restlessness and boredom. Especially the boys. And then she'd accuse us of having a gut full of parasites.

We all had these pinworms, apparently, and they prevented us from sitting still in our chairs. To her, there was no other explanation. Move your butt a little while she's pontificating: pinworms.

I think somebody finally asked her for more information about this freakiness, and she was only too happy to oblige. Pinworms are tiny and white, she said, resembling a small piece of thread. They live in your intestines, and wriggle out of your ass at night to lay eggs. They cause kids to fidget and move around, and the best way to test for them is to put a piece of tape over your butthole while you sleep. The next morning you peel the tape off, and inspect it for worms and/or eggs.

Needless to say, everyone was horrified and traumatized by all this, and we all just stared straight ahead and said nothing. You could've heard a pinworm drop in that place! Then I think she told us about some great prime rib that she and her husband had while vacationing in Florida the previous summer.

I believe there were a few unscheduled parent-teacher conferences later that week.

And the reason I bring all this up, is because of our nine year old Secret. He never stops talking, or moving. He goes on and on with what's commonly known as "stupid shit." And it's not just him, because all his friends do it too. They start most of their sentences with "What if..." and that's followed by deep-dish ridiculousness. Yesterday one of them said, "What if the planet Jupiter came down to Earth, grew arms and legs, and started walking around?"

What do you say to something like that? Is it a rhetorical question? Sweet Maria. It's like something off a Robyn Hitchcock album.

And, against my better judgment, my mind is starting to drift into dangerous territory. Wonder if there's something to that pinworm business, after all? Suppose the whole fourth grade is just loaded down with the things? It would certainly explain a lot. Ya know? Perhaps it's time to get out the electrical tape, and do a little prospecting? I just don't know.

Tomorrow I want to tell you about a wonderful salad I had at Bennigan's a few days ago. Yum.

I'll see ya then.

October 11, 2005

-- The weekend was cold and rainy, gray and overcast. It looked like fall in Scotland out there, and the fact that by Saturday afternoon we were celebrating the departure of Eninen.... Well, we both knew, deep in our bones, that it was time. Bourbon Season '05 had arrived.

Of course it doesn't really kick off until October 31, but we've been known to bend the rules a little. I mean, it's Bourbon Season we're talking about, not some ancient religious holiday. As far as I know there is no Otis, patron saint of distilled spirits, ready to smite us for failing to follow strict doctrine. Ya know?

So while the official start is sundown on Halloween night, it's more of a deal where you just feel it. Once autumn has taken an unmistakable hold, the leaves are changing colors, and the night air smells like fireplaces, it's time to bring down the first bottle of Maker's Mark, and break that wax seal. And that's what we did on Saturday.

Earlier in the day I removed the air conditioners from the windows, and I'm proud to report that none plunged to the earth this year, taking a table lamp and clock radio with it. Thank you very much. Toney washed the Scrote-watching blankets, making them all fluffy and good-smelling, and we had huge bowls of chili for dinner. Oh, we were going into it full-on.

After the kids went to bed, we enjoyed ourselves a little (not too much) Kentucky sippin' whiskey. And fall was officially here. Yes, it's one hell of a great tradition, worth preserving.

So, whether or not it's arrived at your particular section of the world yet, or if you happen to be a traditionalist who waits for the official kick-off date, I raise a short glass in your honor. Here's to another safe and festive Bourbon Season!

...I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here.

-- On Saturday I also got a haircut. Things had become pretty Kaplanesque upstairs, seemingly overnight, and my head required immediate attention. I almost didn't make it before the shop closed, because of all the craziness at home, and that would've been a disaster. I couldn't have gone another week, no way, and if the CLOSED sign had been in the window I probably would've called 911. Wonder how often that happens, people calling 911 because they really need a haircut? I've considered it, several times.

But I did make it, and she gave me a good shearing. The cool thing about the cheap-ass buzz cut is that it's very scientific. The plastic guards they snap onto the clippers are all numbered, and once you know your personal formula, there are no surprises. As I approach the chair she always asks me for my "numbers," and I say two and four. Then she says, "Really? I would've taken you for a two and three man." Then we laugh and she starts in with the radical hair removal.

She then asks what I have planned for the weekend, half-ass listens, and proceeds to tell me what she has planned. And it's usually worth a laugh or two. I can't really figure it out, but she has a certain way with words; I think she's a natural-born storyteller, who should probably be on the radio or something. She once had me on the edge of my seat, while talking about shopping for a new couch. Oh, she's got skillz, and I'm always trying to understand how she does it.

This time she told me she wanted to go to the pumpkin patch on Sunday, and buy a big ol' pumpkin. She went on at length about why she prefers to actually go out into the fields to make her selection, as opposed to just grabbing one off the pile. It all made perfect sense to me, by the time she finished explaining it. Then she warned of the temptation to carve the pumpkin too early in the month. She said that last year she did it too soon, and by the time Halloween arrived her "poor guy" looked like he had "jaw cancer."

I laughed at that, because I don't think I'd ever heard the term before, especially associated with Jack-O-Lanterns: jaw cancer.

Maybe I'll buy a digital recorder, tape some of her future stories, and feature them on the site? Is it illegal in Pennsylvania to record a hair stylist without her knowledge? If anyone has the answer to that, please let me know. 'Cause I think that's one hell of a good idea!

-- And finally, I have a Clive Bull topic that isn't really a Clive Bull topic. That is, it seems like something he'd talk about, but hasn't yet. At least as far as I know.... For years I've collected names for rock bands I'll never form. Know what I mean? I have no talent, and play no musical instrument (besides the radio). But that hasn't stopped me from coming up with names for all my future rawk projects. Somewhere I have a notebook full of them. Like The Lint Donkeys and Spackle Happy. I can't be the only one, can I? Please tell me I'm not the only one.... Use the comments section below to tell us the names of all your future bands. I have a feeling you guys have come up with some really good ones.

See ya tomorrow.

October 10, 2005

-- Eninen and their passel of l'il translucent children stopped at our house over the weekend for a brief 18-hour visit, on their way home from New York City. Nancy and the kids got here late Friday afternoon, and Nostrildamus arrived in Scranton four hours later, via Greyhound bus. They were all together earlier in the day, with their car and everything, but he made the trip alone by bus. Whatever. It's not recommended to try to figure any of it out, because it'll only make you crazy. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about here...

Toney called and asked me to meet them at Don Pablo's, around 6:15. We'd have dinner, then Nancy would go to the Greyhound station to retrieve BN. I was confused by all this, of course, but let it go. Because I have experience. I didn't know if I'd be able to leave that early, considering the state of affairs at my job these days, but promised to try.

And around 5:50 I turned off my computer, with theatrical defiance, and walked out the door. A big ol' football-sized burrito and several outsize vessels of Yuengling Lager sounded like the perfect ending to an exceedingly shitty week. And I just couldn't get it out of my head. So, screw it. I threw caution to the wind and sped away from that asylum without even looking in the rearview mirror.

I arrived at Don Pablo's at exactly 6:15, and the place was packed. It was cold and pouring down rain, and people were huddled outside, beneath the overhang, waiting for a table. Sweet sainted mother of Molly Ringworm! Why does everything have to be a hassle? Every little thing??

I didn't see Toney's car or Nancy's corn-fueled vehicle in the parking lot anywhere, and decided I'd better give them a call. (Experience.) And they were at Sears. Well, of course they were, why wouldn't they be? I was told to meet them at a restaurant at 6:15, so it goes without saying that they'd be at Sears at 6:15. Right? They were, and I ain't shittin' ya, getting portraits done of all five kids together, for a Christmas present to be given to Sunshine. I like to believe I can't be shocked anymore, but I'm clearly in over my head with this bunch.

Toney said they'd be there in about fifteen minutes, and I asked her about all the high-pitched wailing I heard in the background. "We'll see you in a few minutes," she answered.

I thought about putting my name on the list, but figured the plan would change five or six more times, and I'd just be pissing in the proverbial wind. So I eased the seat back in my Blazer and gave my parents a call. They're in Myrtle Beach, and it's been raining for days down there. I wanted to make sure they were OK, and their Shania Twain tour bus hadn't been washed out to sea or anything.

While I was talking to my Dad Toney beeped me and said the plan had changed. Wow. I was shocked, simply shocked. Nancy now wanted everyone to have dinner at the food court in Steamtown Mall, across the street from the bus station.

What?! I was all jacked-up for a real meal, with adult beverages and everything. I didn't want to drive through the pouring rain, in the dark, to downtown Scranton -- for the privilege of sitting on an unbalanced metal chair and eating Hot Dog On A Stick. I could just see it, everyone wanting stuff from different places, nine people moving in different directions and eating in shifts... Lips smacking, saliva flying, walkin' 'n' chewin', uncontrolled shrieking ... It would be utter chaos, and I was having none of it.

I told Toney to count me out, I'd just fend for myself. I figured I could go to Jim Dandy's, grab a seat at the bar, and order one of their kick-ass fish sandwiches. But she said she'd call me back. So I switched back to my Dad, and he was laughing at the predictability of it all. This is the way it goes with these people, every time. And Toney was stuck in the middle, as usual. That made me feel kinda bad, and I wondered if maybe I should just go along with the ridiculous program, to save her some pain?

But she beeped me right back and told me to get a table for four at Don Pablo's. I asked her what was going on, and she said she'd tell me when she got there. <click> Uh-oh, I thought, I've done it now. I should've never challenged the great and powerful Nancy. But I went inside and put my name on the list. The guy said it would be fifteen or twenty minutes; I thanked him and took my place beneath the overhang, with my brothers in hunger.

In a nutshell, Nancy was pissed, Toney was feeling guilty, and the whole thing was clouded in bad feelings. Nancy said they were eating at the mall, with or without us, and we could just meet-up at the house later. Toney felt bad about leaving them, and everything sucked. In fact, after we ordered our dinner, Toney decided she'd better go home, in case they'd changed their minds and were sitting in our driveway outside a locked house. (Experience.) She told me to get her food to go, and just bring it to her after we'd finished.

Simply excellent. The Secrets and I ate in near silence, because of shell-shock. Everything had gone down the shitter so fast it was hard to process. We'd agreed upon Don Pablo's, and I was there. But Toney was at home, and everybody else was at a mall in Scranton. And I was the asshole who'd ruined everything. Not exactly what I'd been fantasizing about all afternoon... Yet, so incredibly typical.

I later learned that Nancy had insisted on going to Sears, even though they only had about forty minutes until they were supposed to meet me. Plenty of time, she'd proclaimed. While there, one of the translucents had one of his freak-ass meltdowns, and almost decapitated a stranger with a piece of photographic equipment he'd flung in the general direction of the hearing aid store. When they'd finally finished, there wasn't enough time to eat and still get BN at the bus station.

In retrospect, I probably should've just gone along to get along, because there was tension in the air for the rest of the visit. But the crap gets old. Why was the man on a bus, for one thing? Taking into consideration the slow travel-time, and all the stopping and starting of a Greyhound, he probably boarded the deal just ninety minutes after his family left town in their car. And the whole Sears craziness... It's all just manufactured chaos, and completely unnecessary.

I often wonder if it's years and years of college that makes people this way, or if it's the other way around; are college campuses simply nutcase magnets for some reason? That's the Big Question. Are they drawn there, or created there? Forget the chicken and the egg, which came first, the university or the tragic lack of common sense? Any opinions on that one?

-- I have lots more, but it'll keep. I'll leave you now with a fresh Smoking Fish sighting, this time at the site of the amputee convention I mentioned a few days ago. Ah, the memories.... It seems like just yesterday that I was seated in the grand dining room there, with the waiter asking if I'd like my butter drawn. "You mean like a sketch?" I answered, completely confused. Good good times.

See ya tomorrow.

October 7, 2005

-- Have you ever been talking on your cell phone, and start panicking because you can't find your cell phone? It happened to me yesterday. I was walking through the plant with my hands full of paper scraps and whatnot, like a street person. My phone was wedged between my head and shoulder, and I was listening to someone drone on and on about something I couldn't give two good glistening shitlets about.

Then I remembered that I owed someone else a call, and began slapping my pockets and frantically examining all the crap I was carrying, and my phone wasn't there. What happened to it?! Did I lose my freakin' cell phone somewhere?? Well, that's just fan-fukkin-tastic! Then I realized that I was using the thing, at that very moment. Wotta douche.

Yesterday I also looked down while I was standing at the urinal, and yelled, "Hurry up!!" Does anyone know if there's an herbal supplement, or whatever, that makes pee move faster? 'Cause the standard, normal velocity just ain't cutting it these days. I need almost instantaneous transfer; I'm a very busy man, and have no time for penile dilly-dallying.

-- I was flipping through that Ben Franklin book again the other day, and found a section discussing an essay Franklin once wrote about farting. His theory was that if farts didn't smell bad, they'd be as socially acceptable as sneezing or coughing. If it weren't for the funk, he believed, people would be freely tilting to one side in restaurants or wherever, and just letting them fly. And he wished this were the case, because he thought it unhealthy for everyone to be walking around all the time, holding them in.

He wanted to conduct experiments with certain types of food, to see if he could come up with a combination that might make ass-blasting a more pleasant experience for everyone involved; he wanted to somehow alter the aroma.

And if you don't believe me, here's a whole book centered around Benjamin Franklin's fart theories.

I'm not sure what I think about his ideas on the subject, I find it hard to imagine a world in which this wouldn't be funny, for instance. But a more intriguing part of it all, I believe, is the thought of the founding fathers, you know, ripping 'em off. For some reason it's not that hard for me to imagine Benjamin Franklin serving up the occasional well-timed butt biscuit. But what about George Washington? Alexander Hamilton? John Adams? It just doesn't compute.

And how about other famous people? Churchill was probably a big farter, and FDR too. For some reason I think there was an inordinate amount of gas-passing during World War II; it's just a feeling I have, based on no hard facts. But what about Gandhi? Florence Nightingale? Marilyn Monroe? Buddy Holly? Joe DiMaggio? Shakespeare? Moses??

Help me out with this, people. Who were the great farters, and who were the clinchers, throughout history?

-- And I just realized that this post is going to be on the homepage all weekend long! What am I doing here?? It's all starting to take its toll, my friends. Luckily, we have Buck to end things on a high note. So here ya go. Shit.

-- Oh wait, something else I meant to highlight today... Somebody posted a link yesterday in the comments section to a bizarre-ass German forklift training video. Yes, that's correct, a German forklift training video, and everybody should check it out. It takes a little while to download, but it's well worth the wait. Here's yer link.

Have a great weekend folks, and I'll see you on Monday.

October 6, 2005

-- There's no point in droning on and on about my current work situation; I'm sure you've all been there, and understand. Crazy hours, high pressure, stressed and demanding executives breathing down our necks... As Lance might say, it's been ball to the wall. And I have no reason to believe it'll get any better, anytime soon. Fourth-quarter in my bidness is traditionally insane, and this year we have more "opportunities" than usual. So, if I miss a day of updating here and there... well, sorry. I'm doing the best I can here, but sometimes I feel like I'm on the proverbial runaway train. And it's hard to be funny on a runaway train.

But if you ever need to know what the Powerball jackpot is, an up to the minute total, just drop me a line. Because I've got your information.

-- Speaking of work, I was in there really early yesterday (after gobbling down a big ol' greasy breakfast at Waffle House, from atop the "high bar"), and they were having a forklift training class in the conference room next to my office. There were a dozen or so guys sitting in there, each looking as if he were coming off a fresh five-day drunk, watching a video at full concert volume. The shit was so loud it was shaking the walls. I was trying to read my email, and the drywall was literally buzzing because of the loudness. As I attempted to decipher a long-ass message from a director in California, sent at 4:13 AM(?!), I heard a forklift horn being blown over and over again. Then there was a blood-curdling scream, like something off Friday the 13th. The hell? What kind of video is that?? I might have to ask to see it someday. It sounds pretty good.

-- Toney and the kids took Andy to the the vet a couple of days ago, for his annual check-up. Needless to say, he was shaking like a paint mixer the whole time, and slinking around doing his best ferret imitation. And when the doctor tried to lift him onto the table, Andy growled and showed his teeth.

"Oh, I think he might be a biter," he said, and asked his assistant for a muzzle(!).

With considerable difficulty, they clamped the thing to our dog's head, and tried again to put him on the examining table. And when Andy was lifted off the floor, his bowels let loose and crap went flying. The oldest Secret told me there was "pee and poop" at the doctor's feet, and a single turd wedged underneath the door, all the way across the room. Weird. Must've been the cork? I just don't know.

But the doc took it all in stride, as if it happens all the time. He told Toney that all Border Collies are neurotic, but Andy seems to be at the high end. What?! I thought racial profiling was a thing of the past??

Under the circumstances, and with all due respect, I'm kinda glad Andy left them with a big fecal doorstop. It's turd-karma, and I fully endorse it. In fact, I might do the same thing at work today. Oh, I didn't get back to you soon enough? Well watch this!

-- The clock in our downstairs bathroom has stopped. For about a week it told us the time is 5:20. And it's not 5:20, it's nowhere near 5:20. Obviously the battery died, and nobody has yet been able to muster enough energy to replace it. But the weirdest thing... This morning I went in there to take a shower, and the clock said it's a quarter til one! It's still deader than Kelsey's nuts, but it apparently jumped into action during the night for a little while. Is this possible? What the hell, man? It's freaking me out a little.

-- Remember the first episode of My Name Is Earl, when he's in the delivery room with his wife and the doctors hold up a black baby? I don't know why, but that scene ran through my head as I read this. Heh.

-- And that's going to have to do it for today, children. I learned yesterday that Nancy and the gang may be spending tomorrow night with us. They're in NYC, for some reason, and might swing by for a quick visit on their way back home. Normally I'd be dreading it and wringing my hands, but what do I care? Right now a couple of burglars could walk into our house and carry off the very TV I'm watching, and I'd just calmly go to the kitchen for another E.L. Fudge. Screw it. At some point everything just shuts down and there are no emotions anymore. I think I got there on Tuesday afternoon, or so. I'm like Spock now, and it's not too bad.

See ya tomorrow.

October 4, 2005

-- Speaking of pornography.... I watched a Netflix movie a few days ago, called Inside Deep Throat. It's a documentary about the making, and cultural significance of "the most profitable film in history." Supposedly the thing had a production cost of $25,000, and grossed over $600,000,000! 

I've never seen it, but the clips they showed were pretty hilarious. Harry Reams as a doctor, complete with the round mirror clamped to his forehead, consulting with Linda Lovelace: "Have you ever taken a penis all the way down your throat?" What kind of insurance plan did she have??

A lot of the movie was about the Nixon administration's attempt to clamp down on smut, and it felt like your standard PBS documentary. Tons of old footage of news reports, and Johnny Carson jokes, and grand-standing politicians on the steps of the capital acting outraged, simply outraged, at the moral decline of our country -- probably before retiring for the evening with a bottle of scotch and a Russian whore.

Then, of course, we see the resulting lines of curious people snaking around the block at every theater where the movie is playing. The more the do-gooders talked, the more the movie raked-in. It's funny how that works.

And just as I thought I was settling in for another interesting Ken Burns examination of American history, suddenly there was an enormous schlong on my TV, pretty much spanning the entire 27-inch screen. The thing was swaying and tilting because of its great weight, and then Linda was there, showing off her sword-swallowing talents. It was quite a jarring moment, if you want the truth. My brain thought we were watching 20/20, then all that happened. My inner-Hugh Downs blushed.

The thing was pretty interesting, but not really good enough to earn the Surf Report Seal of Approval. Rent it if you're interested in the subject, but I certainly wouldn't go to any great lengths. So to speak.

-- The baseball season ended on Sunday, and I watched two, maybe three, games all year. But now that the playoffs are kicking in, I'll become a huge, rabid fan of the game. ...I'm slowly metamorphosing into the exact person I hated in my twenties. Pass the beer nuts.

-- On Saturday morning, while at the youngest Secret's soccer game (match?), I wandered off to find a bathroom. I'd downed the contents of an outsize travel mug of coffee, and it was knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door. Toney said she thought they unlocked the old high school, down at the bottom of the hill, so people could use the toilets. So that's where the oldest Secret and I headed, and found that the building was indeed open. And really cool inside.

It hasn't been used as a school for years and years but, clearly, not much has been changed. The ancient lockers are still there, the classrooms, the gym, the tiny cafeteria -- all just frozen in time. Man, I love stuff like that, and we began exploring the joint. And while I was looking inside a closet in one of the classrooms, somebody said, "Um, can I help you?"

It was a man with an air of authority, and I asked him about the history of the school. Instantly he went from irritation to excitement, and started telling me everything. Oh, he knew it all, and clearly relished the opportunity to talk about it. And I was happy to listen. I'm intrigued by the tiny slivers of the world that time hasn't touched, for whatever reasons. And standing inside that old school was like a trip back to 1938; it was just so freakin' cool.

Finally he paused, gave me a look, and said, "Follow me. I want to show you something." He led us to a locked room, pulled out a big-ass skeleton key, and opened the door for us. "Take your time in there," he said, and walked away.

At first I thought it was just a junk room, but upon closer inspection I saw that it was a large collection of relics from the old days. Tons of framed pictures: the Class of 1917, the Class of 1926, a scene from the 1957 prom. A stack of ancient newspapers with headlines proclaiming, "Truman Elected President," and "Nazis Surrender!" And, the part that really blew my mind: old cheerleader and football uniforms, from a loooong time ago. It was incredible. They had trophies in there, and even an old shovel painted gold, that was used to break ground on the place back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

My son, a big fan of Goosebumps books, was a nervous wreck. He kept tugging on my shirt and begging for me to get out of there. "That door is going to slam shut," he said. "Then everything will go to black & white, and we'll be students at this school in 1942. We'll be stuck in a time-warp and forced to wear weird clothes." Hilarious, because the thought had already crossed my mind as well.

By the time we returned to the game (match?), it was almost over. And Toney gave me the international sign for "what the fuck??" Apparently I'm the only person she knows who goes for a pee, and stays gone for forty-five minutes. But hey, it's not every day you get a chance to root through the entire first half of the twentieth century. Ya know?

-- And finally, I'll leave you with a Clive Bull topic that I don't think will generate much response. In fact, it wasn't even really a topic on his show, he only threatened to make it one. Apparently it was some kind of inside joke, or something, because his producer groaned when he said it. Who the hell knows? Maybe some other host tried it once, and it's become British Broadcast Legend? I can only guess. 

But here it is: If you were somehow "gay for a day" who would you like to "spend" it with? A specific celebrity? A co-worker? Who? ...See what I mean? I'm not really expecting a quick response from Buck on this one. But, let us know your thoughts on being gay for a day, if you have any you'd care to share. Or, I guess, straight for a day, whatever the case may be.

See ya tomorrow.

October 3, 2005

-- Boy, that weekend really sucked up on some ass. I was at work until after nine o'clock on Friday, spent five hours there on Saturday, and was on the phone all day with work-related people on Sunday. The much-dreaded fourth quarter is officially upon us.

Toney suggested that we go to the park on Sunday afternoon, because it feels like we haven't done much together as a family lately. So we went, and my cell phone rang at least ten times. There we were, by the lake in the bright sunshine, a beautiful day, and I'm talking to freight carriers and quality control people about pallet displays. If it had been a movie, and if I were a fictional character, I would've defiantly pushed the OFF button, and given everyone a conspiratorial wink. But, unfortunately, this is real life, and my shit would be roasted alive if I didn't stay on top of that stuff.

Around 8:30 on Friday night I had one of my mini-meltdowns, and decided I was walking away from it all. I began to ponder the feasibility of selling our house, cashing in the 401k account, quitting my job, and taking off with the rolling box of beds and a laptop. I'd finally finish my book, in a hammock somewhere, and we'd sever our ties forever with the soul-sucking apparatus that has its hooks deep in my fleshy hide.

I was accused of "spreading rumors" by a high-ranking exec, because I'd reported bad news that had been relayed to me by someone in a key local position. ...You see, sometimes I don't communicate enough, and sometimes I communicate too much. Whenever something goes wrong (that usually has nothing to do with me whatsoever), it's somehow because of my communication calibration. It was 8:30 at night, on a Friday, and I was stressed all the way out and trying to make things work. And my contribution to the cause, according to the brass? I was spreading rumors.

Oh, I was ready to hitch up the aluminum box and hit the highway that very night. Bright lights were flashing in my eyes; I could hear Springsteen songs, but none were playing. My brain felt like it was about to crack open, and the only thing that saved me was a Mountain Dew Black Death II, or some such thing that I bought from a vending machine downstairs. Tasty!

Yeah, that brought me back down to earth a little, but I still haven't fully recovered. I've broken the glass box in the bunker, and am now reading this for the third time. And I'm plotting and planning, and thinking dangerous thoughts.

How long does a mid-life crisis usually last? I need to get past this before I do something really stupid, like Howard Sprague when he went to that island.

-- The Mountain Dew Black Plague helped me, and so did Phil Hendrie. At least briefly. On Saturday I went into the office and immediately turned on his show from the previous night. I was still whipped into a frenzy because of the rumors rumor, and needed something funny to take the edge off. And boy, I got it.

He had on a "guest" who was directing a porn film in Chatsworth, using the big California brush fires as a backdrop. It was called Fahrenheit 69 and featured some of the hottest up-and-coming talent in the business, including Misty Twist and Bubba Licks(!). Then the fire department made them evacuate before the movie could be completed, and he was forced to film an alternate ending.

Instead of the big spectacular final scene he had planned, the last ten minutes of the movie just show him in a bathroom with a Penthouse doing a "solo shot," while wearing a fireman's hat. Now he wants FEMA to reimburse him for lost earnings.

I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. God, he's a genius. Then I remembered... Phil Hendrie is a grown man, probably a zillionaire, and he makes his living talking about Bubba Licks and solo shots on the radio. His days are probably filled with thinking up crazy-ass shit, just like I want mine to be. Then I got depressed all over again.

-- I think I'm going to sell our dog Andy in an internet auction. He's starting to cause us problems. Previously we've been able to just let him outside to pee, or whatever, and it was no big deal. Now he's taken to running off, and making me holler on the lawn like a crazy person. And on Saturday he nearly sent some stranger into cardiac arrest.

I was out there with him, because I can no longer trust him to be alone. He was tip-toeing around, snorkeling and slinging urine, like dogs will do. Then a man all trussed up in Gore-Tex, and walking some fancy-pants high-pockets dog, possibly a Standard Poodle, came strolling down our street. And Andy charged them, snarling and showing his teeth.

The guy immediately began back-pedaling and screaming, "No, no!, NO!!" I was yelling at our stupid dog, but it was just noise. Andy's hair was standing straight up and he looked like a razor back hog. He was barking and growling, and acting all Johnny Badass. And Gore-Tex looked like he was about to power-shit, and was doing some kind of impromptu Sammy Davis Jr. tap dance in the middle of the street.

I finally grabbed Andy by the collar, and apologized over and over. "He's all bark and no bite." I said. But the guy wasn't in the forgiving mood and said, "Yeah, that's what everybody says, right before their dog takes a hunk out of your leg."

I told him again that I was sorry, and he just kept on and on with it. "You need to keep that beast on a leash before he hurts someone," he said. Yeah whatever, pal. Just take your high-stepping homo dog and keep moving, before I let go of this collar. Keep pushing the issue and you're going to get a big dose of Border Collie, right here and right now. Don't go dissing Black Lips Houlihan, goddammit.

I believe I'll start the bidding at fifteen dollars.

-- And I think that'll do it for today, boys and girls. I'll try not to be quite so gothic tomorrow. But since I mentioned fourth quarter.... please don't forget to use the Amazon link at the bottom of the homepage, especially when you're making your big holiday purchases and whatnot. <Ahem> If you enter the Amazon site through that link, they'll actually give me a tiny percentage of whatever you spend. Pretty cool, huh? It's a painless way to support TheWVSR, since it costs you nothing extra. And thanks! I appreciate it, sincerely.

--  Oh, one more thing before I go... A new Clive Bull topic. What is your favorite TV car? I have no passion for this one, since cars don't really do anything for me, but you guys might feel differently. I guess, if forced, I'd have to go with the Batmobile, because fire shoots out of the back of it. I'd call AAA immediately if flames ever came out of the tailpipe of my Blazer, but it's cool on TV. Any opinions on this one? Let us know.

And I'll see ya tomorrow.

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Copyright 2005 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.