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You don't understand. I'm a mysterious loner, not lonely.

2003

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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

2001

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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                                 November 2004


November 30, 2004

-- My parents got here in the afternoon on Thanksgiving day, and almost immediately the cooking began. Toney already had the required-by-law bird in the oven, and my Mom brought along a huge ham and several pies. And together they spent substantial time preparing all the meat accessories: the mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade stuffing, some kind of a broccoli casserole deal, and on and on and on. The kitchen was bubbling and steaming and putting off an excellent cocktail of funks. Ahh... you just can't beat the occasional well-rendered over-the-top orgy of gluttony. You really can't.

As is the tradition, the dining room table was loaded down to the point of collapse. Toney kept handing me bowls and saying, "Put this out there." But after a while I felt like I was playing one of those puzzles where you slide the little tiles around in a tray to make a picture. I seriously considered bringing in one of the end tables from the living room, to help with the overflow. I checked to see if the table might have drawers in it that I'd never noticed, so I might stash the corn in there, or something. I'm not completely sure, but I believe I had to actually employ advanced mathematics to make it all fit.

And then we commenced to packing it all in, and didn't stop until each of us was slung back in our chairs, moaning. There is no other way. During such holiday feasts a person is expected to eat themselves right up to the point of blacking out, without actually going over the edge. Eat through the hallucinations! General Eisenhower is dead, he's not actually here!!

It goes without saying that the rest of the day was shot. After the hour-long cleanup detail we all just sat around on couches, in various states of distress. Somewhere along the way we had pie, but it was mostly out of duty, not desire. I flipped through the massive pile of ads from the newspaper again, to make sure I hadn't missed something critical, gave the plumbing a workout, and hit the sack. It was an early night for everyone. Even the act of watching TV was far too strenuous.

-- The next morning Toney and I went to a few stores. Best Buy and Circuit City had the new U2 and Eminem CDs on sale for $7.99(!) each, but you had to buy 'em before noon. I didn't really appreciate the time restraints (what am I, a trained monkey?) but I wanted to get in on the deal, and Toney had her eye on a couple of things as well. So we threw common sense to the wind, and plunged headlong into Black Friday.

Our first stop was the mall, and Old Navy. They had fleece blankets on sale for five bucks, and Toney wanted to pick up a couple of them. We entered the mall through Sears, and it looked like the LA riots in there. They had big bins of Craftsman tools out in the middle of the aisles, and people were literally shoving each other and jostling for position around the lips of these big cardboard totes. Ho-ly shit, I muttered. Maybe we should just go home and eat pie, I offered. But Toney pressed forward without hesitation, and once we were in the mall itself, it wasn't so bad. I hadn't seen so many people inside a Sears store since about 1971. I didn't know anyone actually bought stuff there anymore, I thought it was just a really elaborate mall foyer. But whatever.

We got the blankets and hightailed it to my truck. Far too insane. Our next stop was Best Buy, for the cut-rate U2 disc. The parking lot there was a multi-pronged Mongolian cluster-fuck and it took about ten minutes to actually get landed, after we were on the property. Cars were going in every direction at no more than one mile per hour, and people were pushing around big flatbed shopping carts piled high with electronics. Crazy. When we finally entered the store I checked the cash registers to see how long the lines were, and it didn't look too bad. So I got my CD and headed for the checkout. And then I realized what was going on.

The non-crowded cash registers were nothing more than a sham, a carefully orchestrated charade to stop people from walking through the front door, saying fuck dat, and leaving in a huff. The line really snaked all through the store, like something at Disneyland, but they were only allowing a few people at a time to actually approach the cashiers. Everyone else was being contained back in the refrigerator section by no-neck toughs in blue polo shirts. Very clever. We followed the line through appliances, around the corner through car stereos, up and around the home stereo department, and over into TVs. And I said fuck dat, and left in a huff.

I was born at night, but not last night, baby.

Next on the itinerary: K-Mart. They had a paper shredder on sale for $9.99, regularly $29.99, and Toney wanted one. But it was not to be. By the time we got there they were all gone, and one length of shelf was collapsed and hanging straight down. Let's get out of here, I pleaded. K-Mart is one of the most depressing places on Earth, it's like Wal-Mart without the pizzazz. It makes me feel sad and hopeless.

Fearing a Best Buy repeat, we decided to forego Circuit City, and end the day with a quick guerilla run on Target. I wanted to see if they still had any of the Seinfeld box sets, for $27.98. Now that's a deal. Of course, they didn't. Completely ransacked and sold out. But they did have the U2 CD for $9.99, so I chucked it into the cart. Toney picked up a couple of things, and I checked out the clearance rack in the men's department. It was still there! The XXL Chick Magnet t-shirt had not yet been sold, and I took it as a sign. It had a big gray footprint on it, but I put it in the cart anyway. $2.98! I'll wear that to the gym, thank you very much. I'm not sure what to make of Toney shaking her head, all exasperated and all, but it's not an uncommon occurrence.

The gym! That triggered something in my brain, and I wondered if I should maybe buy some special walking draws while we were there? Last week I mentioned that all the recent treadmill action was causing the top of my legs to heat up like a supernova, and asked for advice. Gold Bond powder seemed to be the consensus, but I don't know... The idea of powdering my shit up doesn't really appeal to me; I'm from West Virginia, after all. Buck said I should use cornbread mix or something, but I'm afraid that's not going to happen either. My crotch is not a dutch oven. And one person suggested I slather my thighs with Vaseline, while another reader suggested bike shorts. Yeah, right. I can just see myself sashaying through the locker room in bike shorts, while carrying a jar of Vaseline. I fear it might send a few wrong signals.

But one person suggested boxer briefs, and that sounded good to me. It would theoretically cut down on a lot of the friction, and wouldn't require any slathering, so I grabbed a couple of bales and hid them in the shopping cart, beneath other stuff. I'm embarrassed to buy underwear for some reason, and really try not to. It feels like a failure, somehow. Plus, I know how people think. Well, I know how I think anyway... Hi! I prefer a thin cottony layer between my balls and denim. Have a nice day! It's the same thing with toilet paper: How are you today? I'm buying all this paper to remove the sludge from my ass. Have a wonderful afternoon! I have my hang-ups, what of it?

I got through the whole process, though, without making eye contact with the teenage cashier. And when we were in the car I noticed that one bale scanned at two dollars more than the other. Goddammit! Stupid Target, you can't trust them. Stuff always scans wrong there, and they give you attitude when it's pointed out. But screw it. No way I was going back in there waving around a pack of underwear, and having to deal with yet another teenage girl with a disgusted look on her face. We went to lunch instead, then home for pie and alcohol.

Later I figured out why there was a price difference. It seems that one pack of my fancy new britches was different from the other. One was what you'd expect, but the other was fancier. The waistband was hidden inside the britch itself, on the fancy pairs, and had two big ol' seams that run across the ass at an angle. What in the harelipped hell? What are these European, or something? If I wear these ridiculous garments I'll probably have panty lines, and appear to be wearing a teddy beneath my exercise clothes. Well, that's simply excellent.

And I'll tell you more exciting stories from our four-day weekend tomorrow. I'll turn it over to Metten now, and wish you folks a fine Tuesday.

See ya 'round.

 


November 24, 2004

-- I was just passing through the living room and heard Katie Couric say, "And coming up... Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving message from prison!" Do you ever feel like the entire world is being controlled and scripted by the staff of the old National Lampoon? I do. I sincerely believe that Michael O'Donoghue has somehow secured a high-ranking position in God's cabinet, and is now having a big time. It's the only explanation that makes sense to me.

My parents are coming up here for Thanksgiving, since we can't go there. They said that if we won't come to the pie, they'll bring the pie to us. Well, actually they didn't say that, I did. But what's it matter, really? I think they're at U-Haul right now renting a towable snack wagon, for the desserts and party mix. Good thing I joined that gym. Now I can eat until I black-out, with no guilt! That's the deal, right?

Thanks to all of you who stop by the site everyday, and participate in the goofiness. I recently had to upgrade my hosting plan (again) to accommodate everyone. And while I don't really enjoy paying the extra money, the fact that I have to is pretty cool. So, thanks. Sincerely. Many of you bust my balls on a regular basis, about every subject imaginable (somebody ridiculed me in an email earlier this week for drinking bottled water!?), and I've occasionally been afraid to leave the house, but the day it all stops is the day I'll be really sad. Cheers to all of you!

Buck, Randi, Chris, Rocky, the AWOL Mr. Jason Castleberry, Metten, Jack Boston, and everybody who contributed a Smoking Fish pic, or a goofy link: thank you especially!

And since I'm on a roll here, and Thanksgiving is coming up some day later this week (is it on Thursday this year?), I'll state the obvious and tell you I'm also thankful for my good wife Toney, our two secret kids, our extended family and friends, our neurotic dog Andy (AKA Blacklips Houlihan, AKA Sirius Black & White), our health (despite everything), and the fact that things have worked out pretty damn well so far, against great odds. Somebody's gotta be looking out for me. I mean, seriously. My home could easily be a big onion sack, beneath an interstate entrance ramp somewhere. I'm one thankful mofo.

Now go buy stuff, and lots of it, through our Amazon link on the homepage. That horrifying deal inexplicably called Black Friday is coming up. Why not just stay home, pour a nice adult beverage and do your shopping in your saggy underbritches, instead of brushing up against the open sores of strangers? Just remember the link, that's the important part. Remember the link!

Have a great holiday, folks. I'll see ya on Monday.

 

November 23, 2004

-- I don't want to write about this every day, this ain't girls night out, goddammit, but I went to the gym again last night after work, and it was great. I know it's something new, and the novelty will probably wear off quickly, but I'm really enjoying it so far. I was actually looking forward to it at work yesterday. I wanted to slip on the headphones and escape into the zone. Last night I'm fairly confident that I was the only person in Pennsylvania working out to the Dukes of Stratosphear, and I managed to build myself a nice little zone, thank you very much. One thing, though... Can someone suggest a good brand of talcum? I seem to be developing "discomfort" in some places I can only see with a hand mirror. Any help with this would be appreciated.

-- I went into Wendy's on Sunday and the cashier apparently had something wrong with her neck. It was all wrenched to the side and she was grimacing like Garry Shandling. At first I didn't know what was going on. She asked if she could take my order, but was looking at the grill. I didn't say anything, because I didn't think she was paying attention. But then she asked again, neck all swiveled right, and I finally began to realize that something must be wrong with her head tee. (Perhaps she'd walked into the Wendy's bathroom earlier, and the funk made her whip her head to the side in disgust? That's a real hazard...)

It's not really any of my business, but I think she should've gone home. It's extremely disconcerting to order your number one with cheese, no pickles and a Coke, from a middle-aged woman looking out the drive-through window. It makes you think she doesn't care. 

And when she made my change by turning her entire body toward the wall so her face could point forward, well, that was just a little too freaky for my taste. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I've come to expect traditional head/torso alignment from my fast food workers.

-- Another thing about that Wendy's... The last few times I've been in there they've been playing classic rock over the loudspeakers, at a fairly elevated volume. I'm not sure if this is a calculated move, trying to be the rock 'n' roll burger joint or whatever, or if the teenage employees have just taken over the asylum. In any case, it's a bit much. It's hard to even talk in there, over the Jethro Tull and whatnot. Could you pass the salt?! No, no... the salt!! When I was having my number one (later number two) on Sunday, Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" came on, and for a second I thought the guitar at the beginning was the fire alarm going off. I almost flipped my table over, and started knocking down little old ladies, like George Castanza.

I think it's safe to say that none of this would be happening if Dave Thomas were still alive. If and when they finally thaw out his brain, and drop it into a new body, he's gonna be pretty pissed, I predict.

-- And I think that'll do it for today, boys and girls. I'm gonna turn it over to Metten now, and head on over to the office and put my testicles back in the vice. ...It's for the team!

See ya tomorrow.

 

November 22, 2004

-- I finally joined the gym on Saturday. I really hate dipping into my box set fund for such mildly-gay foolishness, but something's gotta give. I made the mistake of stepping onto the bathroom scales Saturday morning, and audibly gasped. For years I stayed near the same weight, regardless of how I lived, but over the past few months something has happened. I've started piling up fat on top of fat, and it's highly alarming. I mean, when your fat gets fat... If I don't do something I'm going to end up on Oprah crying in a hairnet and fitted sheet. So I went over there and signed a contract. Screw it.

A muscle-bound gentleman gave me the grand tour, and the place is really nice. I like that they have a bunch of TVs suspended from the ceiling, and a jack on every piece of equipment for your headphones. You can just pick the channel you want to watch, and take in a Raymond or whatever. He showed me all the special rooms, where they have aerobics and spinning classes, but I'm not interested in any of that. I just need to get my big ass on a treadmill and burn my shit up, I'm not into the novelty offerings.

Then he took me into the locker room, and I thought, "Heeeere we go..." I braced myself for a sea of penises, but was pleasantly surprised. There was only one person in there, a kid about fourteen or so, and he had a towel around him. Huh. At the gym in Atlanta the towel would've been gone and he would've been tossing around a Frisbee with a few of his "friends." And, regardless of how much you pretend it ain't so, there's nothing casual about male genitalia bobbing in the open air.

On Sunday I put on a big ol' orange t-shirt and some shorts and told Toney, in a manly voice, that I was going to the gym. As I walked past the mirror near our front door I caught a glimpse of myself, and I looked like a goddamn pumpkin. "Shit!" I hollered, "I may as well draw a Jack O' Lantern face on the front!" Toney told me to quit my bitching, and just go.

I took along my Sony Discman, circa 1995, with London Calling inside, and a bottle of manly water. After I locked up my jacket and car keys and stuff, I carefully picked a treadmill. On my way in I'd spotted an old man, 65 or 70, running full-out on one. I think it was going as fast as the motor could handle, and the old guy looked like he wished it could do more. No way was I going to be anywhere near that freak. I found a machine in the corner, near a soccer mom with a huge purple ass, and felt much more at home there.

The thing had a compartment especially for my CD player, and a water holder built right in. Cool. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to program the machine, but it was easy, and I got it going right away. I wanted to do an hour at a reasonable clip, and that's what I did. And it was actually enjoyable. I found myself lapsing into some kind of thoughtless daze, and I liked it. I think I understand how people become addicted to working out. It's the switching off of the brain that's so appealing; there's a thin line between drunk and muscle-head, I think.

As I walked in place with Joe Strummer hollering in my ears, I did notice a few things. (I wasn't completely hypnotized, I'm still a beginner after all.) I saw more than one person come through the front door with luggage. What's that all about? They were carrying small suitcases, and I began to wonder if the gym was also a Greyhound pick-up point. Did that guy just buy a ticket to Peoria?! But each of them disappeared into the locker room, and eventually came back out and jumped onto a machine. What the hell, man? Why the need for so much gear? I don't take that much stuff with me for a week's vacation. One guy, and I swear it's true, had a wardrobe bag with him! Completely baffling.

A chubby kid fired up one those never-ending escalator deals, and starting climbing to nowhere. He only did it for about five minutes, but when he got down from the ridiculous contraption his cheeks looked like weather radar during hurricane season. He just walked straight out the front door. He was done. Fuck it.

Just before my hour was up I felt the floor start to rumble, and somebody yelling into an amplifier of some sort. The heck?! I, along with everybody else, began frantically searching for the source of the roar. It was upstairs, in a darkened room full of stationary bikes. I'd seen it during my tour, and the guide said they had cycling classes in there, and they're "really intense." Why do they do it in the dark? What's the deal with that? And, good god, why were they all peddling so fast?? It sounded like a train was coming through. The woman with the microphone was screaming at them to go faster and calling them hurtful names. Or so it seemed, anyway, as I blasted away my copy of London Calling. I believe I heard her call somebody a "blubbery bitch," but I could be mistaken. I wondered if they were being held against their will, and was glad I was almost done. I was afraid of that crazy bicycle lady, and am not ashamed to admit it.

I'm going back tonight, though. I have to, or it's a hairnet and a fitted sheet for me. God bless America.

See ya tomorrow, or in a week.

 

November 19, 2004

-- Sunshine has decided that we're going to have a cat. It took a few days for the Grand Matriarch to render her decision, but now it is done, with a majestic wave of her robes. We're taking in a cat. Next case?

Of course, we're not taking in a cat. I'm allergic to them for one thing -- they make me feel like I've swallowed a double-dose of nighttime cold medicine. Plus, we don't need our vet bills to double, something else for Andy to go ass-over-tits about, or an open-face shitting box beside the washing machine. And, to be honest, I don't really like them that much. I'm not a big fan of their whole "I'm so spooky and mysterious" act. It would be like living with a box-crapping Stevie Nicks. And I don't like that.

Sunshine recently took in this quivering sack o' ticks, at her apartment in North Carolina. I guess it was going through their trash, like Puddy Tat, pulling out fish skeletons and whatnot. And she made the mistake of giving it some food. Of course, she now owns the thing, and is frantically trying to unload it. It's an age-old tale.

Somehow, through the thick clouds of delusion, she's decided that we will take this miniature tiger into our home, and will also be appreciative of her fabulous gift. When Toney laughed and told her that there was no way in hell, Sunshine was stunned. How could she go against The Family like this? The decision had been rendered, after all.

And thus began the campaign to make Toney see the error of her ways.

Day after day Sunshine reportedly calls here, and attempts to change Toney's mind. She tries to blow holes in each individual objection, one by one, like a lawyer. She and Nancy are masters of this technique. Over the years both have caused me to spread my hands wide, palms up, and scream, "What the fuck?!" at least a thousand times. They're relentless, and simply won't take no for an answer. Both could've made billions in the courtroom, and that's no joke. I'm convinced that either of them, if given adequate time, could have F. Lee Bailey sobbing, curled up in a ball, and sucking his thumb.

A couple of days ago Sunshine said to Toney, "Why can't Jeff just take a pill? I see them advertised on TV all the time. My god. What kind of man is devastated when a cat walks into the room?" See what she does? She frames it so that if I give into her, I'm exhibiting masculinity. But if I stand up to her crackpot ideas, I'm a pussy. It's sick!

And make no mistake about it, she calls me a pussy on a regular basis. Behind my back, of course, but undoubtedly often. I mean, everybody else is a pussy, so why would I be the exception? A pet allergy? Pussy! ...What kind of elderly mother-in-law talks this way??

I think Toney finally got it across that we're not taking her stupid cat, because the two of them haven't talked in a day and a half. Sunshine is also given to bouts of sulking and pouting, and that's the stage they're in right now. Eventually she'll call Toney, with a wounded tone in her voice, and give it one last shot. 

Guilt is the final weapon, and she has no qualms in using it. But I imagine she's starting to realize it's a lost cause; we're just not going to bend on this one. She can't bully us into doing something we don't want to do, and I think she's finally seeing the light. After all these years, it might finally be sinking in!

Yeah, right. Wonder what we should name it?

 

November 18, 2004

-- I have a birthday coming up in a few days, and my parents always send me a check. It's one of those things that started when I was a young hooligan, and I guess they never had the heart to put a stop to it. I'm glad. Because it's money that I can spend on all the stupid crap I want, without the pesky guilt. It's the greatest gift of all: guilt-free crap buying! And I think this will be one of my first purchases. It's a Brooklyn Dodgers cap, and it'll hopefully right a wrong that has dogged me for decades.

I always liked the idea of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Of course I'm too young to remember them, but they always appealed to me from beyond the grave. They just seem like the perfect baseball team, from the perfect baseball era. I have it in my mind that all of Brooklyn was boiling over with rabid fans back then, and you could listen to the games simply by walking down the street and hearing the broadcasts coming out of every window and off every porch. I imagine the players were referred to by their first names, in the barber shops and pool halls, and Ebbetts Field was practically a church. I think the whole city was behind them, and practically lived and breathed Dodger baseball. Yeah, it's a romanticized vision, I know, but I'm clinging to it, dammit. If it was something else, I don't want to know about it.

It's a hard thing to explain, because I don't understand it myself, but if I'd been a kid in the 40s or 50s, I just somehow know I would've been a Dodgers fan. And Duke Snider would've been my favorite player. I feel it in my bones. Maybe I was a kid back then? Maybe God thought it would be funny to reincarnate a boy from Brooklyn and drop him into the center of West Virginia, as some kind of cosmic comedy stunt? I don't know, but the thought has occurred to me over the years. I mean, how many people are fans of baseball teams that disappeared before they were born? Seriously? ...What's Art Bell's number?!

Anyway, when I was in Jr. High School I got it into my mind that I wanted a Brooklyn Dodgers cap. This was before the internet, of course, so I had to request catalogs through the mail, and launch a full-on hunt for the item. There wasn't much baseball nostalgia back then, and I had an uphill battle on my hands. I called one place, in Michigan, I think, that supposedly had every cap known to man, and the guy said, "Um, the Dodgers are in Los Angeles now, son." I was ready to throw in the towel.

But then I found one! It was in a catalog from some sports store in New York, and the picture looked perfect. It was exactly what I wanted. I'd located my Brooklyn Dodgers cap, and everything was falling into place! So I wrote a check, or had my mom get a money order or whatever, and mailed everything off. And I began the terrible wait. Every day I'd rush home from school and yell, "Did it come yet?" And the answer would always be the same: no. 

I waited and waited and waited. It seemed like forever, and I began to wonder if I'd been ripped off. Maybe these people were preying on vulnerable kids, weakened by delusions of improbable reincarnation? It seemed like a pretty small demographic, but anything's possible.

One day it finally came, and I was disheartened to see that it had been mailed in an envelope. The hell, man? Did they just stuff the Cap of Greatness in there? It didn't even seem big enough to accommodate the bill. And when I ripped it open, my heart sank. It was a piece of shit. The color was all wrong, almost baby blue, it was made of cheap felt, something along the lines of pennant material, and the B was just a patch sewn on the front. Crookedly. I couldn't believe it. The picture had looked so great in the catalog. How did they get away with it? It was like something they'd cobbled together out of cap scraps, in a rush.

My disappointment was huge, and I sadly tossed the pitiful thing into the corner of my closet. I don't think I even put it on my head once. It was the end of the innocence, and I've never fully trusted anyone since. Especially hat dealers from New York City, the pricks. It was a terrible blow.

But now I'm ready to try it again. It's taken a long time for the healing to take hold, but I feel like I can handle it now. Wish me luck. This is an especially important piece of birthday crap.

-- I've received notice of a few more Smoking Fish sightings this week, and here's the evidence. Please continue to keep your eyes open for our globe-trotting logo. He gets around! And thanks for the pics, folks!

-- Finally, before I drag my riffled ass into work, I'm pleased to direct you to yet another update from our good friend Buck. Take it away!

See ya tomorrow.

 

November 17, 2004

-- To follow up on yesterday's post about our expensive-ass dinner, several people wanted to know how much it finally cost me, and I'm not gonna say. Because, even if it were a thousand dollars, this post, or something similar, would show up in the comments section within minutes: "You call a thousand dollars expensive? You cheap fuck! You should try the Fudgepack Room at the Ritz Carlton Casablanca..." Or whatever. So I'm just gonna keep the number between me, the good folks at MasterCard, and my sphincter. It might not be much to you, but it's much to me. And where's the shame in being frugal anyway? <Ahem>

Also, the reason I didn't order a big plate of crustaceans that need to be dismantled with hand tools? That would be because I don't like that kind of stuff. In fact, it gives me the creeps. I see people with a pile of hardshell pot pies with long spindly legs sitting in front of them, and I go into a full-body shiver. Shit! What was the appetizer, spider poppers? Roly-poly bugs on the half-shell?

I've never understood the mania surrounding exotic seafood, and have long suspected that there just might be some pretension at the root of much of it. I attended an ill-advised sushi extravaganza in LA years ago, through my job, and a bigger group of doucheketeers I don't think I'd ever seen assembled under one roof. Look at me everybody, I've got a mouthful of parasites! ...No, don't stop looking, I'll eat more!! They were all putting on a big show, acting as if they were on the verge of sexual climax, and I just wanted to find a good bar & grill that served burgers and Pabst through a tap. Fucking nasty.

I went into Saturday evening hoping I could secure a good safe piece of white fish, preferably not too far removed from those offered by the very talented Mrs. Paul, and make it through without having to put a seashell or a pincher into my mouth. And that's what I did.

Toney got something with seahorses in it, or some deal, and more power to her. She likes it, I don't. Sue me.

-- I've got a sore throat this morning and it feels like my sinuses are full of spicy mustard. Everything's pissing me off, and I feel like getting into a fist fight. I might stop at Burger King on my way to work, and accuse someone of something. And maybe throw a little coffee. Somebody needs to pay.

-- I walked into my insurance agent's office yesterday, and it smelled like I was literally inside a human ass. Apparently he'd spent a good part of the day sitting in there venting his bowels. My lower jaw retracted and I bailed out. Good god.

It reminded me of a guy in Atlanta who was a notorious farter, and would regularly funk-up one whole corner of the building. This guy was a sales manager, pretty far up the corporate ladder, and sat behind his desk every day emitting great volumes of intestinal gas. I mean, what the hell?! A little rectal decorum is not a lot to ask, in my opinion. And what made it worse is that he was a little sawed-off creepy mofo, sexually ambiguous, and referred to as Chester the Molester behind his back. Nobody wanted to smell his anal vapors, especially. People had theories about why it smelled so bad, and it was quickly getting out of hand.

Yeah, if he'd been a little more likable he might have been able to get away with it. But the old black ladies who sat in cubicles outside his door finally brought him down. I walked past there one day and they were all parading around making high pitched sounds of disgust, and spraying Lysol in the air. And the ops manager had to have a conversation with Chester, behind closed doors.

Man, I wish I could've heard that exchange! Um John, we're starting to get complaints... It's about your incessant farting. Is there a medical condition we should know about? It probably would've been even better than the firing of a hippie that I witnessed in an Atlanta bookstore, when the manager waved a stick of Right Guard at the guy, and he screamed, "FUCK YOU!" and stormed out the front door. Well, maybe not that good... but still pretty entertaining.

-- Finally, I've got it in my head that I'd like to join a lodge. Nothing too bizarre, with rituals or candles or anything, but something that involves beer and novelty hats. Any tips on that would be much appreciated. Antlers or horns preferred.

See ya tomorrow.

 

November 16, 2004

-- Toney's (39th) birthday was last week, and I thought it might be nice to go to dinner at a fancy-pants restaurant, instead of one of the same five or six places we generally rotate between. It's easy to fall into a perpetual eating-loop, but I was bent on breaking the rhythm for this special occasion. Even though there are inherent risks involved, it's fun to go exploring every once in a while. And there's a place in Scranton called Cooper's that's always intrigued us, so we decided it was a perfect time to throw caution to the wind.

Cooper's is a seafood restaurant, and a local institution. Apparently it's been in business for almost sixty years, and is always packed to the rafters. I'm not really a seafood kinda guy, but Toney likes it, and I can always make-do. I also hate waiting for the privilege to spend money at a business, there's just something fundamentally wrong with that ("It's my turn to buy things from you now?? Oh, thank you! Thank you, sir!!"), so we set out for dinner around 4:30 in the afternoon. I know it sounds like we're already becoming seasoned citizens, but I'll be damned if I'm going to stand in a holding pen prior to my evening meal, with strangers talking about their vein trouble.

Toney had the address written down, but we still got lost somehow, and ended up in a neighborhood full of check-cashing places, and houses with metal bars across the windows. In perfect synchronization we both moved our elbows to the armrests and hit the buttons that lock all the doors. A man wearing a puffy coat, and just hangin' on the corner, heard all the mass-locking and gave us the finger. Apparently freelance heroin vendors can be sensitive fellows.

We finally got ourselves headed in the right direction, and spotted the sign for the restaurant on the left. The neighborhood was a lot less rugged at this point, and I was able to stop worrying about the bullet-stopping properties of standard auto glass. As we pulled into the sprawling parking lot I saw a giant octopus on the roof, and then noticed that the whole building was shaped like a pirate ship. What in the hell?! This was supposed to be a special romantic dinner, and there's a mannequin in a deep sea diver's suit standing by the front door? I made a mental note to have a short conversation with my restaurant sources.

We parked and I was already grumbling. I'm not a big fan of the novelty eating experience. I was flashing back to Medieval Times in Myrtle Beach, where we had dinner with a falcon flying above our heads, convinced it would eventually swoop down and snatch Toney's purse. I figured our waiter at Cooper's would be wearing an eye patch, and I don't go in for prop-serving.

I didn't feel any better when I opened the door of my truck and heard, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!" Sweet Jesus. Is this a restaurant or a ride??

We made our way across the drawbridge(?), and told the first team of hostesses our seating preferences. We opted for a room where folks wouldn't be snorting great jets of smoke out their nose holes like heads of livestock, and grinding filth into baked potatoes. The young lady nodded knowingly, scribbled something on a piece of paper, and told us to give it to the person at the end of the hall. Um, which hall? There's, like, twenty of them here. It's like the friggin' Pentagon in this place.

She answered our question by silently pointing her arm at a particular doorway, and we proceeded to walk a city block down a dark corridor. Nearly every inch of wall was taken up by old pictures and signs and such. It was an amazing collection. Most seemed to be Scranton-themed, and it took us a long time to get to the next hostess station, because we kept stopping to look at all the cool crapola. Awesome. They even had a miniature Gilligan's Island under glass, complete with a highly-detailed Minnow and seven stranded castaways. People kept passing us because we were browsing. Crazy. I doubt the Smithsonian has as much stuff in it.

The second hostess took us to our table, through three or four lodge-like dining rooms and a bar that looked like something from the 1930's. I began to realize that this place just might kick some ass. Outside it felt kinda tacky, but inside it was atmospheric and huge. I wanted to stop off at the bar, take a seat near one of the massive moose heads, and start in on the 50 or so beers they have on tap -- just start at the first tap and work my way down the row. But, alas, we were there for dinner, and I followed the hostess like a good boy. Stupid eating...

We were seated in close proximity to an enormous fiberglass whale suspended from the ceiling, and before I was even in my chair I was inspecting the manner in which this monstrosity was secured. I don't particularly enjoy sitting beneath heavy things, and gambling my life on the integrity of a length of Home Depot rope, or whatever. I mean, if that thing came loose and the nose swung down into my spine, I could be updating this site for the rest of my life with a forehead mounted typing stick. But it looked OK, and I settled in for... fish. Not exactly my favorite animal to ingest.

They had a few "landlubber" selections, like Yankee pot roast and steaks, but it's been my experience that folks who order off these Pain In The Ass menu pages are immediately branded as difficult, or worse: a little too smart for the room. Like people who order special meals on airplanes, it triggers a lot of eye-rolling and conclusion-jumping. So, I'd just stick with the seafood, dammit, something simple, white, and flaky. No crustaceans, or creatures with arms requiring nutcrackers or an electric drill. Just something to get me by, with some integrity intact.

I chose the haddock because it was actually described as "white and flaky." That's it! And Toney ordered some kind of catfish deal with French words in the title. I just don't know. But what I do know is that they had Red Hook on tap, and I told the waitress to start 'em to coming. Red Hook in Scranton? Who could've predicted such a thing? My spirits were starting to lift.

The one rule I'd insisted upon for this dinner was that we wouldn't look or think about the prices of anything. I wanted us to get what we desired, and live like friggin' Vikings if we liked, costs be damned. And that's what we did. The food was good, the beer was even better, and it all turned out to be great fun. We let our proverbial hair down for a few hours, and we don't do that nearly enough anymore. And, despite my early misgivings, Cooper's lived up to its high praise.

And then they brought the bill, and I just about shit. Right there beneath the fiberglass whale, the seal almost ruptured. Good God!! I looked at it and attempted to maintain my expression. And I believe my face was frozen like that, all the way home. I just sat there staring straight ahead wearing my mask of indifference, as my brain raced and revved. Never in my life have I paid so much for a single meal. But I'm cool. No problem. I was the architect of this ridiculousness, after all; it was all my idea.

I'm good. Seriously.

-- And now, before I wish you folks a nice Tuesday, I'd like to introduce you to our new Tuesday columnist, J. Robert Metten! Here is his first piece, and I think you're gonna enjoy it. I'm looking forward to many more, and appreciate his involvement. Welcome aboard, my friend!

See ya tomorrow.

 

November 12, 2004

-- I left work around 7:15 last night, and made a beeline to the beer store, where I purchased a big honkin' suitcase of Yuengling Lagers in the traditional redneck can. (Hey, you can take the boy out of West Virginia...) And on my way out I picked up a copy of the local freebie entertainment paper, Electric City. After another re-heated dinner alone, and three phone calls from work (grrrr..), I finally settled down in my Scrote Throne for some TV-watchin' and a couple of servings of the golden elixir. As Toney fiddled with the DVR, trying to locate and start Wednesday's episode of Lost, I flipped through the beer store newspaper. And I opened it to a full-page interview with, get this, Robyn Hitchcock! What in the pan-fried hell?? As my brain took this in, I saw the headline "Hitchcock To "Spook" Scranton."

Robyn Hitchcock, one of my all-time favorite super-duper music heroes, is coming to Scranton?! I couldn't believe it. This is the standard caliber of "entertainers" we get here, nobody like Robyn ever comes through. I think my big sluggish heart actually skipped a beat. Oh, I've gotta go to this, I hollered, as I frantically searched for the details. I found them at the bottom of the interview in italics: Thursday, November 11, Scranton Cultural Center, fifteen bucks to get in. November 11? When is that?! I've got to be there, even if I have to quit my job to make it happen.

And then it hit me, like a blow to the gut: November 11 is today! Robyn Hitchcock is playing right this goddamn minute, fifteen miles from our house, and I'm at home in hamburger pants!

Rarely have I risen so high, and fallen so low, in the course of, oh, ten seconds. It was one of the world's shortest and least-satisfying roller coaster rides. I'm still pissed about it this morning; I would've been better off not knowing. Stupid information! I've been tempted to throw on one his CDs as a consolation prize, but I'm afraid I might start crying.

-- This goes directly into my sprawling Hall of Crushing Regret, down the Rock 'n' Roll corridor way out in the northern wing, past the Why The Fuck Did I Say That? Grand Ballroom. I know the perfect place for it too: beside the detailed account of my dumbassery the night Nirvana played a show literally one block from my apartment in Atlanta, a few weeks before Nevermind came out -- and I couldn't muster the energy to get up off my butt cheeks and walk across the street to see them. This new entry will fit in nicely there. <sigh>

Make me feel better, OK? Tell me about your Hall of Regrets, in the comments section. It's not just me, is it? Please tell me it's not just me.

-- Here's some more information on Charleston, West Virginia's newest celebrity, "I'm A Wittle Baby" Man. The headline is nothing short of excellent.

-- And check this out. It's a bunch people "apologizing" to the world for electing Bush president again. Don't miss the gallery, it's full of Nancys and Nostrils and I thought I could actually smell a few of them. And here's an equally disturbing answer site, full of people who aren't apologizing for a gotdamn thing. What does it say about me that I hate every single person on both sites? Wotta gang of blue-ribbon dipshits.

-- Finally, I never thought I'd be typing these words again, but here's an update from our old friend Buck! Cool. 

And that'll do it for this week, folks. Have a great weekend, and I'll see ya on Monday.

 

November 11, 2004

-- I'm tired of talking about it, and I'm gonna finally do it on Saturday. I'm going to join the gym near our house. And I'm going to start burning my shit up nightly, in an attempt to shed my heavyweight flesh parka. Sure, I have my eye on the new Rhino 80s underground box like everybody else, but I need to quit buying CDs and get my ass on a treadmill. You can't hear Mission of Burma when you're in the ground. I'm fully disgusted with myself. I'm fat, I have weird wiry hairs erupting from my eyebrows at every angle, I have to shave my ears... What's happening to me?? I haven't been so confused since I was thirteen. And this time it's not nearly as much fun, believe me.

-- I watched a movie a few nights ago called Psych Out. It's from 1968, and features Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, and Bruce Dern. And it's far out, man. It's about a bunch of hippies living in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco who befriend a square deaf girl(?) from the midwest, and eventually turn her into a drug-taking mod chick. The scenes with Jack playing lead guitar in some crazy Pink Floyd-style band are great. He was grooving, baby! And the LSD hallucinations are stellar -- telephone poles erupting into flames, brick walls smoking, random explosions... The whole thing is just great fun. And Dean Stockwell summed it all up when he warned Jack Nicholson about the straight life: "That whole scene is just one big plastic hassle, man." Truer words were never spoken. Man.

-- Buck sends along some interesting news from home today. Apparently some freak has been running ads seeking a caretaker to look after a "mentally ill" man. Then hilarity ensues. Check it out.

Buck, who is obviously following the case closely, adds some additional information:

Oh, it gets better....this genius apparently fell out of character for a moment and was spotted acting like a 40-year old man...then went back into his thumbsucking fetal position for the next glimpse of areola. Freaked out the aides.

One woman on tv, in one of those shadowed tv interviews where she won't show her face, says she was instructed to BREAST FEED him since she had just had a baby--and to pump breast milk for him for the rest of the day. Also told by somebody who was supposedly his mother that he liked to nuzzle up against breasts as he was fed.

This one is off the charts on the fucked-upedness scale. He should love prison.

How come stuff like this didn't happen when I lived there? All I remember are articles in the paper about how Charleston is Number Seven on the list of places being considered for a new Applebees. We had no fake babies requesting a shave-down and a nuzzle! Wotta ripoff.

And that's gonna have to do it for today, boys and girls. I better drag my Andy Rooney 'brows into work, and get back to breaking my hands. Duty calls.

See ya tomorrow.

 

November 10, 2004

A couple of quick things:

-- Thanks to everyone who participated in our informal Puh survey yesterday. That was a blast! I think it's easy for a person to start believing that their Puh is the only Puh, and it's nice to occasionally recognize and celebrate the myriad Puhs of the world. ...I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here... If you have a story to tell, and haven't, please share it in yesterday's comments section. And long live Puh Nation!

-- My buddy Brad, in Greensboro, wrote yesterday about a Puh who used to come into College Hill (one of America's great beer bars), and I do remember him. But Brad's note reminded me of another man who frequented the record store where we worked. He was middle-aged and, now that I think about it, looked a lot like Howard Dean. 

This guy apparently had some sort of twisted fetish involving Scotch tape. Yes, that's correct, Scotch tape. He would call the store and ask if we had a particular classical album in stock. When we finally tracked it down for him, he'd start in with the "special requests." He always wanted us to wrap it in a plastic bag, tape it down real good and tight (use lots of tape!), then wrap that in another bag, and tape it tight and smooth. Wotta freak! When he'd come in to pick up his album, he'd stand at the counter and rub his hands all over the tape and plastic bag, and his eyes would roll back in his head. It was quite the festival of fucked-upness. 

One of the cashiers at the store told me he pulled up his shirt sleeve one evening, apparently for her benefit, and revealed dozens and dozens of small lengths of tape stuck all over his forearm, and this seemed to excite him to no end. Crazy as hell. 

One time he came in and Brad and I were on opposite ends of the store. And Brad shouted, "Jeff, is there any tape over there? 'Cause I need some tape... to do some taping!" And I yelled back, "No, I don't see any tape here, Brad. I looked where we usually keep the tape, but the tape isn't there..." And so on, for a ridiculous amount of time. We didn't see him much after that; I think we sent him over the edge.

-- I was talking to a guy earlier this week at work, and he told me that "the shit is about to hit the ceiling." Seriously, I think it's time to call a moratorium on the shit-hitting variations. For decades (centuries?) it was perfectly OK for the shit to simply hit the fan. Now we've got it hitting the bed, the ceiling, and God knows what else. Somebody will probably tell me today that the shit is about to hit America's thirtieth president, the honorable Mr. Calvin Coolidge. I think we're over-reaching people. Why can't we just leave well enough alone, and allow the proverbial shit to hit the traditional fan? Seriously.

-- A reader sent me this link yesterday. Do you think the headline writers were buckled over in laughter, or just completely clueless? I have a hunch it's the former. I really do.

-- Here's a Shot From The Deck(tm), taken yesterday morning, of the season's first snowfall. Kinda early isn't it? I'm getting a bad feeling...

-- Toney and I met for dinner last night, at Bennigan's. I didn't get out of work until seven or so, and we decided to pay somebody else to cook our food for us. And bring us pints of Harp. It was all good, except for the people sitting behind Toney. Both were apparently suffering from the Asian Flu, or possibly Tuberculosis. The amount of sneezing and hacking and coughing and spitting that was coming from that booth was simply unbelievable. I sat there with my hand over my mouth, attempting to use it as a makeshift filter. And Toney was saying (way too loud) that after dinner we should just drive ourselves straight to the emergency room. Why wait? she hollered. It was incredible. Here's a picture I took with my cell phone, of the huge ball of snot rags on their table. It's not very good I'm afraid, but you can probably tell that it's larger than the head of your average twelve year old. There oughta be a law!

I've got more, but it'll keep. Have a great day, folks. See ya tomorrow.

 


November 9, 2004

-- I was talking to Chris yesterday, via email, and one of us evoked the memory of Puh. This is something that happens from time to time...

Danny was his real name, but everyone called him Puh; God knows why. He roamed the streets of our hometown when we were kids (and beyond), selling newspapers, eating baloney sandwiches, and jabbering nonsense. He was mentally defective, but in a fun and entertaining kind of way. He was a local legend, known and liked by almost everyone.

Each afternoon he would put a quarter into the newspaper machine in front of Kroger and remove a big stack of Charleston Daily Mails, then sell them on the streets of Dunbar. He'd stand in various places around town, rock back and forth, and hawk "his" papers. He usually wore a brightly colored medium-sized t-shirt, stretched tight across his blubbery XXL torso, and some sort of novelty headgear. Some days he'd sport a pair of reindeer antlers, and other times he'd opt for the glasses with dangling eyeballs on springs. Apparently these were marketing tools, I'm just not sure. But everyday, for decades, he was out there rockin' and hawkin', with something ridiculous clamped to his head.

When he was off-duty he always had an armful of paper scraps, notes and fliers and whatnot. And he walked everywhere at a high rate of speed. When he'd meet someone on the street he wouldn't hesitate to talk to them, and give them the latest town "news." Not gossip, but stuff about church picnics and such. He perpetually had a bottle of Pepsi, that he called his "marijuana" (I just don't know), and a whole loaf of bread with baloney slices arranged strategically throughout. As far as I could tell, it went: bread, baloney, bread, bread, baloney, bread, bread, baloney, and so on. This column of sandwiches was transported inside the original bread sack.

Even though he wasn't very old, Puh had a full set of dentures, and was known to eject and thrust them at you. We'd be out in the church parking lot playing Wiffle Ball and he would race past with his armful of notes, turn his head in our direction, and push his choppers at us without missing a step. It was just a part of the landscape, Puh and his pop-out dentures, we just took it for granted like the trees and the wind.

He was almost always in a good mood (a sure sign of mental illness) but, of course, there were people around town who couldn't resist messing with him. Nobody ever hurt him, as far as I know, but it was sport in certain circles to torment Puh. I remember walking past the Junior High one night after dark, and hearing a sound like a runaway horse. Clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp... What the hell?! Then I saw him race past, in silhouette, wearing dress shoes and being chased by a gang of laughing teenagers. It took my brain a second or two to fully process it; I'd never seen a person move so fast in hard shoes before. While carrying lunch meat.

When I worked at the Toll Bridge he'd come around and offer to pick up our lunches for us. He was always hustling for tips, and one hungry day I took him up on his offer. I gave him five bucks, asked him to go to McDonald's, and wrote out my order on a slip of paper. And then I waited, and waited, and waited. At least two hours later he showed up with my lunch. The bag was rolled way down and looked like it had been carried around in someone's front pocket for a few days. The food was cold, congealed, and mutilated, but what are ya going to do? When you put Puh in charge of your lunch... A week or so later he showed up with another sack of food, and some change, but it was the first time I'd seen him that day. It was somebody else's Big Mac, and he couldn't remember whose. He probably walked all over town trying to get rid of that sandwich. I have no doubt the same thing had happened with mine; he was probably at the hardware store trying to unload it.

A few years ago Puh died, in his bathtub. He was probably only fifty-five or so, but all that baloney apparently caused his heart to say fuck it. When my parents told me he'd gone to that big newspaper box in the sky, I felt sad. He'd always been there, walking and hawking and telling us about Reverend Pauley's new car. It just doesn't seem right without him. But he's a part of the local folklore, and lives on in that way, I suppose. Make the mistake of absent-mindedly rocking on your heels in Dunbar, WV, and there's almost a 100% chance that somebody will say, "Why ya rockin' Puh?" And that's good for at least another thirty years.

I'm sure every small town has its characters. Why not take a second to tell us about yours, in the comments section below? Because the Puhs of the world should be celebrated. They really should. Someday I'm going to quit my job, travel around, and collect stories, for a book tentatively titled Puh Nation! 

You think I'm joking?

 

November 8, 2004

-- I'm craving goofiness. Now that the elections are over, and no lawyers or courts were needed to decide it, I'm feeling a strong urge to return to my roots. Last week I watched the old Chevy Chase movie, Funny Farm, and loved it. Thursday I watched an episode of Joey, and thought it wasn't half-bad. I've been blasting the Undertones, and their songs about chocolate and girls. Yesterday I devoured an entire collection of Weird Al videos, and last night Toney and I saw the Ben Stiller/Drew Barrymore flick Duplex. It's spiritual candy. After six months of people lying, yelling, and spinning all over our TVs and radios, the sight of Weird Al dressed as an Amish man, churnin' butter, is a welcome one indeed. I don't think I realized how wrapped up I was in all the political crapola. It's time to purge! And later this week a may break out the big guns: Cabin Boy. And I will be cleansed.

-- I got an eight-dollar haircut on Saturday, from a girl who's heart just doesn't seem to be in it. She owns her own shop (possibly backed by daddy), and sighs heavily whenever another customer comes through the door. She told me she'd already cut thirteen heads of hair that morning, and didn't know when she would be able to eat her lunch. I reminded her that it was a good problem to have, but she didn't seem to understand that; she looked at me like I was Bea Arthur. 

She just kept complaining about how busy it had been, and how she barely even has time to sweep up after each customer. Indeed, I had already noticed, with some concern, that I was sitting in the center of a large hair wheel. It was piled high, all colors, in a circle around the chair. And I don't particularly like that. When I put my right forearm on the armrest, what may or may not have been the beard trimmings of a stranger stuck to my skin. I did my best to put it out of my mind, but it wasn't easy. 

By the time it was over, I felt guilty for having interrupted her day. And I wondered if she'd even bothered to drop that comb into the vat of blue stuff, since ol' Red Beard left. Shit! When it was time to pay she said, "Oh, I don't know... how's eight dollars sound?" 

I give it six months.

-- Finally, here's a rather unusual Smoking Fish sighting. Our globe-hopping logo was spotted this time inside a reader's apartment, in St. Louis, only seconds before disaster struck. Holy crap.

And I know this is rather abbreviated, but I posted a big honkin' update over the weekend, and I doubt too many people read it. Traffic to the site usually plunges on Saturday and Sunday, so check it out if you haven't already. And I'll see ya tomorrow.

 

November 6, 2004

-- So, around 2:30 Friday morning Toney, Andy, and I were awakened by what sounded like a goddamn mortar shell exploding outside our bedroom window. The house shook, the windows rattled, and the volume was just incredible. We both sat straight up in bed, and Andy joined us, shaking like a paint-mixer. What in the hell?! Are the Red Chinese here?? What just happened? In my half-asleep, yet adrenalized state I couldnít figure it out. I was a baffled fat man in novelty pants.

I noticed that the wind was blowing really hard, and rain was beating against the windows. Was the roof starting to come off the bitch? We both got up and started looking out the windows. But it was total blackness out there. I couldnít see anything, and was ready to accept that as the official findings. Whatever it was, it wasnít blowing up anymore, and I needed my sleep. But Toney went out onto the deck, and saw the big-ass tree lying on its side in our backyard. It looked like it had cascaded over, and just missed our house by about a foot. Shit!

The next morning, in the daylight, we saw that it wasn't an entire tree, just a portion of one. But it was a big portion; it's sideways now and the limbs are almost as high as the roof of our two-story house. What's amazing is the amount of noise it made on its way down. I'm not exaggerating, it sounded like a stick of dynamite going off. Scary.

As I was writing my update yesterday morning the wind was still doing an excellent imitation of a friggin' hurricane. It was howling out there, and I hoped another chunk of that tree wouldn't come off and plunge into the top of our house. Around 8:15 the power went off, and Toney called the electric company. Big problems, they said, don't expect service to be restored until at least noon. So I packed up and went to work. Screw it.

While I was driving I could feel the wind attempting to turn my truck over. It would get up underneath and try to hoist me over. At the bottom of our hill an empty milk jug skipped off my hood, and there was a Domino's pizza box pressed against the front driver's side quarter panel for at least two blocks. And then it started snowing! During the first week of November! What in God's name is going on here?? It's the day after tomorrow!! There was crap strewn all around the neighborhood, big limbs were in the street, snow was flying around... It was chaos.

Toney called about ten different tree services, and three or four actually called her back. One guy came out yesterday afternoon and said he'd "clean up" the big chunk that came down, for $125. Or he'd clean up and take the entire (diseased) tree out for $595. Another person is supposed to be here at noon today, to give us another price. Simply excellent. Every year, right before the holidays, something stupid happens, and it costs us a metric buttload of money. It never fails.

This adult bullshit is overrated.

-- And here's the stuff I started to write yesterday morning, before the lights (and my Steve Forbert CD) went off. The election already seems like old news, but I need to purge myself. Indulge me, won't you?

By the time I got home from work on Tuesday the TV networks were already starting to call states for Bush. Indiana, I think, and one other. Dammit, I wanted to watch this! I shoveled down my dinner and prepared to free-fall into the Scrote-watching chair, when the phone rang. My boss. Grrrr... And he was in a talkative mood. He asked the question he wanted to ask, then started in to bullshitting. Forty minutes later I still had the phone pressed to the side of my head, as loads of fresh polling information poured-forth. What the hell, man?! I was walking around the house like a caged tiger, itching to settle in for a long night of political fireworks. Sweet Jesus, why won't they allow me to free-fall?!

The call finally ended around eight o'clock, I mixed a couple of stiff bourbon 'n' Cokes, and Toney and I settled in for The Show. Nothing too exciting was happening yet. Southern state after Southern state was going Bush, but that was hardly a shock. I jumped around between the various cable news networks, and just before nine Toney threw in the towel. I can't do this all night, she said, and headed off to bed. She has a low pain threshold when it comes to televised political "analysis." I checked my notes and told her that the polls were about to close in eleven states, and a fresh batch of information was about to come in! She said, "You have notes?" and disappeared upstairs, shaking her head.

I sat there for hours, watching and switching between CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and the regular broadcast networks. Everything was going exactly as predicted. All the Bush states were going Bush, and all the Kerry states were going Kerry. And the Big Three -- Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio -- remained Too Close To Call. As our attentions moved westward, it was all falling into place just as the experts said it would. But there was a feeling in the air that some important shit was about to go down, and that kept me sunk into my chair.

Somewhere along the way they called Florida for Dubya, and Pennsylvania for Mr. Barn Coat, and each pretty much canceled out the other. But Ohio was still up in the air, and it was obvious that it would ultimately decide the race. Suspense!

As the long night continued, it began to feel like I was watching The Jerry Lewis Telethon. The news anchors were getting punchy, their shirts were wrinkled, and everybody was wore down and kinda shiny. Robert Novak, on CNN, kept sliding farther and farther down in his chair, and by eleven o'clock only his forehead and hair could be seen above the table. Brit Hume, over on Fox, had bags under his eyes that were actually swaying back and forth. His jowls were hyper-extended, and I couldn't understand a word he was saying; somebody really needed to switch on the Demumblifier. Dan Rather was spitting out an endless string of bizarre homespun sayings, many mule-themed, that seemingly had no relation to anything that was going on, and Chris Matthews was wild-eyed and appeared ready to start ripping out some necks. It was all highly entertaining.

After Fox and NBC called Ohio for Bush, in the wee hours of the morning, the liberals on the various panels went into a simultaneous droop. Juan Williams looked like someone had let out about a fourth of his air, and was struggling to remain upright in his chair. Judy Woodruff was ready to burst into tears, and CNN simply refused to admit the obvious. They maintained that it was still Too Close To Call. But it was over, and everyone who was still at least somewhat grounded in reality knew it.

Around 2:30 AM John "My Daddy Worked In A Mill" Edwards bounded onto a stage somewhere, walking like he had a boiled egg in his ass, and giving double-barreled thumbs-up signs way past the point of ridiculousness. His face was frozen in a dimple-accentuating expression, and I thought he looked like a demented ventriloquist dummy. He spoke a couple of sentences into the microphone, indicating that they weren't giving up just yet, and that was that. He waddled off-stage, careful not to rupture his ass-egg.

It was obvious that nothing would be resolved until the next day, at the earliest, so I went to bed. Toney asked how it had gone, and we talked for fifteen minutes or so. And an hour later (or so it seemed) I was up again, in front of the TV. Nothing had changed. CNN still refused to take the plunge on Ohio, and a few other less-crucial states were still up in the air as well. I feared a repeat of 2000, when armies of lawyers descended upon Florida and muddied the waters as only lawyers can do.

But, to his credit, Kerry spared us that painful ordeal. And as he was giving his concession speech I realized I didn't dislike him as much as I'd previously thought. I still believe he's way too liberal to lead America at this point in our history, but I don't think he's evil or anything. My dislike for Al Gore has never waned, to this day my body tenses up if I even hear his dopey voice, but I don't feel the same way about the Barn Coated Fancy Lad, for whatever reason.

Throughout my life I've voted for many more Democrats than Republicans, but over the past few years it's felt like the Dems have moved so far to the left, I have a hard time supporting them anymore. They're being led by a bunch of crazy people, as far as I can tell. Where are the Trumans and the JFKs? It seems they've been replaced by a gang of Nancys and Nostrils. Read this article from yesterday's New York Times, about a few of their disappointed followers, if you don't believe me. (I was howling with laughter as I read it... it's like something from The Onion.) Bush was clearly vulnerable this year, and I believe somebody like Joe Lieberman could've beaten him. But who do the Democrats nominate? John Kerry, ultra-liberal. And Lieberman was shat out like yesterday's #1 with cheese, no pickles and a Coke.

Here's the county-by-county map of how things went down on Tuesday. As much as it may pain some people in the Democrat party, this ain't Europe. I believe it's time they stop serving up the EuroCandidates. That is, unless they want to keep getting their asses kicked all over the yard.

 

November 4, 2004

-- Wow, there must be some long faces around the Kerry mansion these days, huh? Oh, wait... That's every day. But you know what I mean. Tuesday was pretty darn intense, and it seemed even longer than the Democrat challenger's jawline. I was up early to vote, and didn't get to bed until about 2:30 AM. And almost every minute in between was either spent hitting refresh on news or political websites, in a desperate attempt to get fresh information, or planted in front of the TV, channel surfing between the various cable news networks. I can't remember much giving a crap before, but I was sure into it this year.

Toney and I checked out the double-page spread in the newspaper on Monday, of all the various races we could voice an official opinion in and, as so often happens, it turned into a goofy game. They had pictures of all the candidates, even the ones from the kooky parties nobody's ever heard of. Like, well, the Kooky Party. And I began covering up the print and attempting to pick out the Green people, just by their photos. It was surprisingly easy. All the men had unkempt facial hair and a worried glint in their eye, and the women were severe and grim and had seemingly never discovered the wonders of makeup and hair brushes. It was good fun. Many of the Republicans, I noticed, looked like Mr. Mooney on The Lucy Show. And the Democrats all had perfect hair, and a sympathetic "just leave it to me" look on their faces. If I'd been willing to devote more time to it, I think I could've charted out the whole bunch of 'em, just by their pictures. Who says you can't judge a book by its cover? That's a goddamn lie.

We voted at the Catholic Church near our house, early Tuesday morning, and there wasn't much of a crowd there. We only had to wait five minutes or so. As usual, we cast our ballots inside voting machines that were probably used to elect Calvin Coolidge. I'd seriously like to know how old they are. They look like something you'd see in a museum, from behind a velvet rope. There were about a million tiny levers inside that thing, and I felt like I was looking at the dashboard of a Boeing 747. Holy cannoli! I took extra care to make sure I was voting for the right people; it would be really easy to screw it all up. And I'm almost certain I saw David Lee Roth listed in one of the races.

After voting we went to Waffle House for breakfast and there were a bunch of Kerry operatives in there, hogging all the booths and poring over computer printouts. Toney and I had to eat at the bar, which irritated me at first, but turned out to be OK. Have you ever seen those cooks in action?! Very impressive. I sat mesmerized as I ingested my eggs and glistening meat discs.

Then it was off to work, for a long day of hitting the refresh button. Sometime in the early afternoon Drudge put up some exit polling information that seemed to indicate a John Kerry landslide was underway. A friend, who is a big Bush supporter, sent me an email that said simply, "I'm ready to put a rope around my neck." The numbers being reported didn't match, in any way, the polls that had been done earlier. It was bizarre. But anything is possible, I knew. I think some of those pollsters had Mondale up in '84, and he and my dress pants ended up getting almost exactly the same number of electoral votes.

On the way home that night I called my suicidal buddy, to see how he was holding up, and he just groaned into the receiver. I told him I'd seen something that said the presidential race was tightening. He said they weren't talking about the race, they were talking about his butthole. That's what was tightening, I was told, my friend's "butthole." We started talking about John Zogby's prediction of a Kerry blow-out, and he said that Zogby wasn't talking about the race, he was talking about his bowels. Yikes. It sounded like it was going to be a long night of expanding and contracting at that house.

And I hate to do this, but I'll finish this story tomorrow. It's getting late, and I'm still sitting here in my cheeseburger sleeping slacks. See ya 'round.

 

November 2, 2004

-- This is going to have to be a quickie today. Toney and I are going to vote, sign some refinance papers on the house, and swing by the Waffle House for some grease 'n' gristle, all before I go to the office. I've got a day's worth of work ahead of me, before I go to work. So, I wouldn't be expecting much from the update today. Just a bit of friendly advice, between friends...

-- On Sunday I spent several hours in the front yard raking leaves, and all that fun stuff. Actually Toney used the blower and shoved a good portion of them to the curb, and I came in and did clean-up detail behind her. In our town you're not supposed to bag your leaves, you're only supposed to pile them up in the street beside the curb. And periodically a big suck-truck comes by and suctions them all up. There are signs all over town that say: Remember! Don't bag your leaves! I don't think my Dad would be able to handle something like that, but I have no problem whatsoever in just shoving all our shit into the street. Hey, works for me. Can we toss our garbage out there too?

Toney almost ran over a kid a few days ago who was playing in those gutter piles. She was going to a friend's house and pulled her car over to the curb to park, when a ten year old boy popped up in front of her. Shit! He'd buried himself under a mound of leaves -- in the street! Wotta douche. It's a wonder she didn't drive up on his head, and have her all-wheel drive kick in on his neck when everything went unlevel.

Anyway, after Toney got rid of 80% of the leaves I mowed the yard with the thing set on mulch. Then I raked and raked, and eventually it looked really good. It was one of those situations where you walk around and admire your handiwork from different angles. I think I even tilted my head a couple of times, to see how great it looked on a slant.

I have to fight myself not to get pissed at the neighbors, because of their big oak tree that hangs over our property (the same monstrosity that won't allow us to have satellite TV). The thing is huge and dumps a mind-boggling amount of tree-trash onto our yard. I know it's childish to be fully and constantly aware of the location of the tree's trunk, and where it sheds most of its leaves. But I just can't help it. If the thing touched-down on our property it would be different; still irritating but different. As it stands now, I feel like the neighbors are hanging their asses over a fence, and just letting it fly in our direction. It's an attitude I have to wrestle with, privately.

But it was their tree that made me audibly gasp the next morning. When I pulled back the curtain it looked like I'd never even been out there! I'm not joking, it was almost exactly the same as before we'd lifted a finger. You couldn't see the grass, our vehicles were plastered with a slimy layer of wet leaves, and the sidewalks looked slicker than the proverbial cat shit on a marble floor. Grrrr...

Good thing it's bourbon season.

-- And that's gonna have to do it for today, kiddies. But before I go I'd like to suggest you watch the short but amazing video clip here. It's from a 1970's children's show, which apparently employed a staff sporting an extra-wide subversive streak. Check it out, it's nothing short of incredible. Thanks Kathleen, for the tip on this one!

I'll be back tomorrow, unless I stay up till 3AM watching Chris Matthews hollering and spitting on television. We'll see how it goes... Have a great day, folks.

 

November 1, 2004

-- Last night was Trick or Treat here in Hooterville. Kinda bizarre to have it on a Sunday, but whatever... We bought an outsize sack of premium candy -- real Snickers, not that wad of peanut butter bullshit in orange and black wrappers, or those godawful novelty green and yellow Tootsie Rolls. No, we had the goods at our house. And the doorbell rang exactly three times. A group of four rowdy ten year olds, a little girl dressed as a fairy (or some shit), and a brother and sister team sporting homemade peanut costumes(?), and that's it. Pretty depressing. In our neighborhood in California Halloween was a huge party. People would leave work early to prepare, and it was like a freakin' street carnival. Most of the houses were decorated way past the point of ridiculousness, a large percentage of the adults were at least mildly drunk, and the kids had a full-blown blast. Andy and Candy, our comically-named neighbors a few doors down, handed out bubble gum to the kids, and cans of Bud Lite to their parents. It was great! Here, they're just doing enough to get by; there's no enthusiasm for any of it. It's sad. Perhaps if spicy sausages were somehow incorporated into the proceedings? I just don't know.

-- We spent about thirty minutes Sunday morning going around and setting the clocks back an hour. It's amazing how many there are in an average house. The microwave, the VCR, the DVD player, the coffee maker... A person doesn't even need to own a watch anymore; no matter what room you're in, the slighted pivot of the neck is all that's required to learn the semi-correct time. It's usually a good deal, but it's a bitch when they all need to be changed. In fact, I never changed the clock in my truck, back when we were supposed to Spring Forward. It wasn't too taxing an exercise to mentally add an hour to whatever the thing said, so I never saw the need. I could handle it. And this morning, when I go to work, it'll be correct again. So who's the dumbass now? Hmmm?

Of course Sunshine told Toney her traditional Daylight Saving Time story yesterday, about a woman she used to work with back in the day. Supposedly this person dragged into work early one Sunday morning, looking like total hell. They asked her what was going on, and she said she'd stayed up to turn her clocks back. She'd supposedly heard on the news that the time changed at 2AM, so she stayed awake to do it. And then she reported to work at 6AM, dragging ass. Could that possibly be true?

This same woman reportedly was making a cake once, when Toney's mother arrived at her house. She had her right hand and a good portion of her forearm submerged in a big bowl of batter, and was slowly moving it around in circles. Sunshine said, the hell? And the woman explained that the recipe called for the batter to be "stirred by hand."

Please do with this information what you see fit.

-- At work on Friday a woman viciously snapped at me and used a very hurtful tone of voice, after I'd asked her a simple question on the phone. Everybody's wound a little tight these days so, unfortunately, this is not an unusual reaction. But, to her credit, she almost immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, Jeff," she said, "It's been a bad day. The shit has hit the bed over here." The shit has hit the bed? Never heard that one before. I asked her if she'd really meant to say bed, and she said she had. I told her I'd only heard of shit hitting the fan, and didn't really understand her variation on the theme. The original saying means that everything in the general vicinity has been spoiled by an unfortunate turn of events, but shit hitting a bed? That doesn't make much sense. Sure, it's not something a person would generally desire, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not all that devastating, is it? Shit meeting a set of high-speed rotating blades is, in my opinion, in an entirely different category. Yeah, she hung up on me.

-- I made a visit to the Target clearance racks on Saturday, and picked up a few things. I bought two massive t-shirts, one orange and one red, for $4.99 each. My plan is to use them as workout clothes, as soon as I muster enough courage to join the goddamn gym. I have money set aside for that purpose, but I just can't pull the trigger on it. I mean, it's a gym. Last week I used a big chunk of cash to buy this instead, which went over really well at the dinner table, I'm here to tell ya. (Hey, I may have grown to the size of The Skipper during the course of our marriage, little buddy, but a man still needs to rawk.) 

I also bought a cool-as-hell pair of camouflage shorts, for $4.48. The original price? $18.99! Now that's a deal. And now I can rest assured that, if necessary, my butt cheeks can blend with foliage! It's a weight lifted, believe me.

I also picked up a pair of blood-red sleeping pants, emblazoned with cheeseburgers, for $4.23. They fit perfectly, except the legs are incredibly long. My feet are not only covered, but the fabric extends another four or five inches beyond my toes. Apparently they were designed for Manute Bol. I walk around the house flapping, and tripping. I try to roll up the legs, but they're made of some kind of material that won't hold a roll, if you know what I mean. I'm thinking about performing some alterations with a box cutter, before I fall down and blow my neck open. 

I wanted to get a great $4.99 shirt that said "Chick Magnet" on the front, with a cartoon of a boy flexing his muscles, but Toney vetoed that idea. I'm not sure what to make of that...

More tomorrow. Oh, you can frickin' count on it.

 

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