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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

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

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   The State of My Fat Ass                                    January 2004

January 30, 2004

-- I'm getting blasted with emails carrying the latest en vogue computer virus, DadBlum, or whatever. Every morning when I turn on my computer I have about 75 new messages, and for a split second I panic and think, "Oh shit, what did I write yesterday?!" Then I see that about 60 of them are the virus, disguised as an error message for notes I never sent, confirmation of orders I never placed, and acknowledgment of my resume being received by people I never submitted it to.

They want you to say, "The'll? I never placed an order with these people!" Then when you click on the attachment to get the details, it's all over. Supposedly it's rooted in a blinding hatred of Microsoft or something. Who the hell knows? All I know is that the people responsible should have the living shit beaten out of them, then tried by a jury of their peers.

For the record, the remaining messages in my mailbox are usually penis-themed, be it strangers concerned with the potential floppiness of my penis, its unspectacular length and girth, or actual readers of the website alerting me to news about penises on the internet. Dicks and viruses... if they ever combine their strengths we're all doomed.

-- They canceled Ed, one of the few television show I watch. Apparently they're not even going to let them finish out the season, the pricks. Two episodes left, and it's only January. Wotta slap in the face. Looks like the series will end with Ed and Carol being married. Big deal. The show is admittedly frustrating, with its ridiculous romantic tug-of-war crapola week after week, but I like it anyway. The supporting cast is great, much of the dialogue is pleasingly bizarre, and I feel like I've walked the streets of Stuckeyville for the past four years. No more though. It's all over. <Sniff>

-- Check it out, a (wiener-themed) note from the owners of Hillbilly Hotdogs!

It's hard to believe that is was back in June that you were at our fine establishment, and we are just now reading the issue that you featured us in. Either time is getting by us way too fast, or we are informed by snail mail. In any case, we wanted to follow up on your visit.

Both of us hope we were here to greet you in our hillbilly way, which from what you wrote indicates that perhaps we weren't. Cause had we known we had some city slickers sittin out in the car with the doors locked, we would have done all we could to coax them out and into the most relaxed restaurant setting anywhere. We pride ourselves on getting the snooties down to the level in which we all truly come from......earth. We love people and have found that once we let them know if our standards are too high then all they have to do is lower theirs, then the party begins.

We think you enjoyed your visit and from what we can tell you have survived the Junk Yard Dog. With that in mind and in the minds of your family members, is there any chance of you bringing your kin folk back?? We would love the welcome them officially and make them a part of our Hillbilly Family. If not, we'll be coming your way in April and can bring the Hillbilly grub to them.

We appreciate your entertaining article and truly hope we can meet again.

Sonny & Sharie
The Weenie Couple

Sonny and Sharie!? How cool is that? Anyway, if you remember, my parents and wife took one look at the "building" housing Hillbilly Hotdogs and refused to get out of the car. I had to eat my Junk Yard Dog alone, with steam coming out of my ears. Snooties, according to The Weenie Couple, and I couldn't agree more. That day will be forever burned into my memory. I felt like I was traveling with a bunch of closeted Niles Cranes; it was like something out of The Crying Game.

-- Take my word for it, I've met a lot of really stupid people in my time. You can trust me on that one... But I've never met a doucheketeer of such Biblical proportions as this woman. You've simply gotta check it out.

-- Rocky's had a few things on his mind, and feels the need to purge, and make room for more. I hope this helps quiet the voices, buddy.

-- Apparently there's a controversy swirling around presidential candidate John Kerry and his alleged use of Botox to improve his appearance. He denies it, of course, but the evidence is pretty startling. Frankly I couldn't give a hot-buttered crap, but here are the two photos that are making the rounds. You be the judge.

-- And finally, I'm excited to introduce a new weekly Surf Report columnist. She'll be known as Rockin' Randi, and will be with us every Friday morning. She's a thoroughbred West Virginian, with an axe to grind. I have no doubt that, in time, she'll join Chris and Buck in all of our black black hearts. Please join me in welcoming her aboard. Take it away, Randi.

Have a great weekend. I'll be back on Monday.


January 29, 2004

-- This weather, man... If I had a gardener and an industrial grade central air conditioning system, I'd start praying for summer. As it is, I'm just wishing for a few days above freezing. This has been one brutal season, and it's still only January. We've got a long way to go, son; winter usually doesn't end here until sometime in April. I just dragged our trash cans to the curb (it's Trash Day!), and got my fat-boy sleeping pants wet all the way up to my frightened turtle. By the time I finished I was shivering like something out of the silent movies. It's relentless, just one raw-ass day after another. To be perfectly frank, the shit gets old. I'm no fan of July and August, but I could go for a little May right about now. Perhaps a nice slice of deep-dish May with a basket of late September, and a big pitcher of ice-cold March Lite? Yeah, that's the ticket.

-- Yesterday I was driving to work and my windshield was filthy. I think they spread the crap cleaned out of factory furnaces on the roads here when it snows, and everything stays dirty and gray. Without thinking I hit the windshield washer button and a load of that blue water sprayed across the glass. Almost instantly it froze there (isn't the blueness supposed to prevent freezing?!) and all I could see was colors and shapes. The wipers, of course, only passed over the thin layer of ice. It was like I was driving to work looking through a shower door. I tried to find my ice scraper by feeling around in the backseat with my right hand. I was planning to roll down the window and strike at the ice slick while driving, but it didn't work out. It was enough to make me long for the summer months when I need oven mitts to touch the steering wheel. Sweet fancy Jesus.

-- It could be worse, I guess. At least that's what people are always telling me. Almost as if on cue I received this picture yesterday, from a reader in North Dakota. It's the temperature gauge inside his Blazer. Insane. And amazing. But it's not enough to stop the local bitchin'. Not nearly enough.

-- Toney showed me an article in today's paper about Adelphia raising their prices again, for cable television. They're out of control. Seriously, they hike their prices every other month, it seems. The article says it's the fourth fee-change in two years, but I think they missed a few here and there. I don't want to sound like a cranky old man, but it's outrageous. They've got northeastern Pennsylvania bent over the proverbial chair.

If Deesh Network doesn't work out for us, I might just go to Radio Shack and buy one of those 1960s aluminum antennas, and strap it to our chimney. Well, OK, I'd hire somebody to strap it to our chimney, but you get my point... I think we're quickly approaching a return to huge unsightly metal roof racks and indoor rabbit ears with foil flags, to improve the reception. Fuck 'em. I'm fully prepared for a full-on return to the reception flags.

-- I'm mildly addicted to a Playstation game called Splashdown. It's a jet ski race game where a first or second place finish on a particular course "unlocks" the next one, and you do it all over again until you finally eat the big shit sandwich. Of course each course is slightly more difficult than the previous, and they're all pretty scenic. You race through a war zone for instance, through prehistoric times, and some place that looks like Antarctica. I don't even know what some of the more advanced courses are like, and that's where the obsession comes in. I need to know.

I get into an occasional zone where I just want to sit there and play the game, to hell with eating and socializing with other humans. Must. Unlock. Courses... Afterwards, of course, I'm racked with guilt and feel like I've pissed away a hunk of my life. All this from a person who previously looked down his nose at people who are into video games. Ha!

I do wish they made a game that wasn't so mindless and primal though, something that wouldn't make me feel like a masturbating 13-year old afterwards. Maybe they could class up the next edition of Splashdown by making the racers people like William F. Buckley and Jimmy Carter? I could see it now: "Fuck you, Cronkite! You're going down!! You don't bump John Steinbeck and get away with it, motherfucker!"

-- Speaking of politics, it appears that Howard Dean's spiral into full-blown dementia continues.

-- Here's a nice little eBay item, perfect for a mother's day present or a gift for your pastor, or whatever. Remember, hate is not a family value unless you really can't stand the person.

And, on that note, I'll now turn it over to Buck, who's broadcasting live, straight from the holler. Take it away, Buck.

Tomorrow I'm gonna introduce to you folks a new weekly Surf Report columnist that I'm very excited about. Rockin' Randi is her name, and she's from the Mother Land (WV). She'll be with us every Friday and I think we'll all be pleased. So, until then...

                      

January 28, 2004

-- It was a big night last night for Massachusetts senator John Kerry. He beat Howard "Mouth Like a Tea Pitcher" Dean by double digits, and walked away with the New Hampshire primary. You can see in this photo that Kerry's in high spirits, as the positive poll results poured in Tuesday evening. I wonder, if he's elected President, will he order the flags in front of the White House to be flown upside-down, like on the cover his feel-good first book? I'd guess not. But I'd bet good money that France and Canada are excited: there's hand-wringing at the end of the tunnel!

-- In this Washington Post article, Kerry and most of his Democrat rivals reveal their favorite albums, musical artists, songs, etc., presumably because they were asked by some douche reporter. Let's look at their choices, one-by-one, shall we?

John Kerry says his favorite album is Abbey Road by the Beatles. Great album, to be sure, but the choice comes off as a tad too safe for my tastes. I understand that he's a politician and can't freak people out by listing Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica or something like that. But Abbey Road is almost a non-answer; it's extremely uninteresting. Rubber Soul would've also been safe, but far more colorful. I can't really explain it, but it's true. His favorite concerts and artists are also dull. I'd like to see him groovin' to Springsteen with that head, though. They wouldn't even need to turn on the ceiling fans.

Wesley Clark lists Yellow Submarine as his favorite album. It's not even a real album, it's a collection of odds and ends cobbled together for a weird-ass cartoon. Perhaps he likes it because the shit going on inside his brain also resembles psychedelic animation? I can only guess. His favorite dance song is by those funky funky boys from Journey. Get down, General! Yow!

Dennis Kucinich picks The White Album, which, unfortunately, isn't very mockable. He also likes to attend concerts by the Rolling Stones and/or Liza Minnelli. Hey, I much prefer a little pandering to gay men than to the European Union. He lists Ani DiFranco as one of his favorite artists, which is kinda interesting. Not too bad for a man who will win the exact same number of delegates as me and Pat Harrington Jr., TV's Dwayne Schneider.

Joe Lieberman likes opera or something. Wotta terrible answer. What voter does he hope to pick up with shit like that? Pitiful. He should've said something off the wall like Right Said Fred, or Color Me Badd. The man needs some attention, and he ain't gonna get it with opera. The Circle Jerks would've been another good reply, as would Rancid.

John Edwards picked The River by Bruce. Zzzzzzzz. A calculated response from the millionaire trial lawyer posing as an average John. On an unrelated note, why's he always so shiny? I lived in North Carolina for many years and I know for a fact they have washcloths down there. A little freshening up wouldn't hurt, Johnny-Boy. You look like a man made of double-glaze ceramics.

Speaking of shiny, Al Sharpton lists his favorite artist as James Brown. A better pick than Yellow Submarine, but just barely. Everybody, with the possible exception of my Dad, likes James Brown. There's no news here. These guys are just playing it safe! And they're pissing me off.

Howard Dean wouldn't even answer the question, but I'd guess Henry Rollins would rank way up there for him. Who the hell knows? All I know is you could pour a glass of iced tea with those lips of his.

Ahem.

It's not listed in the article but I have it under good authority that this is President Bush's favorite album. Who could've predicted such a thing? Certainly not me. 

Anyway...

Do you ever start something and it goes reasonably well for a while, then everything swirls out of control? Just wondering.

I'll be back tomorrow.

January 27, 2004

I finally watched the slasher flick "Wrong Turn" Saturday night, and it was great fun. It's the one where a group of young people, prettier than any group of young people I've ever seen in real life, take a wrong turn in backwoods West Virginia and meet up with a frightening band of inbred and mutated cannibalistic mountain men, eager to secure a little meat for their ever-bubbling stew of fucked-upness. Predictably, the film's premise didn't sit too well with a few real-life residents of the Mountain State, and I read more than one article about the outcry. And that's why I had to see it.

My conclusion: it wasn't as bad as it could've been. Sure, it might make a person think twice before venturing into the woods way up some random West Virginia holler, but I can't see where that's such a bad thing, really. You should think twice; long before I saw this crazy film I knew that much. You go tramping around that country in your fancy $200 boots and North Face windbreaker, and there's no telling what might happen. You probably wouldn't end up as taco meat, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility to go home with a musket ball in your ass.

When I was in high school I parked my car off a country road one night, intending to partake of a little boyfriend/girlfriend fun and games, and about ten minutes into it I looked up and saw that my Nova was surrounded by five or six men, all resembling Ernest T. Bass, and each holding a shot gun. I just about evacuated my bowels. Seems we were trespassing, and had parked a little too close to some unseen gas wells. Who the hell knows? I turned down my Elvis Costello tape, apologized, put my shoes back on, and tore ass out of there. If I'd given 'em a little attitude I believe there's a good chance they would've used my back skin to construct a smoking jacket. The looks on their faces told me they were ready to start sewin'.

The mutant freaks in the movie are all hilariously exaggerated, barely even resembling humans. Ernest T. Bass would look like Batman's butler beside these monsters. They're all gnarled-up, hunchbacked, filthy, and deformed. I think one may have even been a cyclops, but I'm not sure. And they didn't speak, they just grunted, and would sometimes crank off a high-pitched whoop, like they'd just found out Molly Hatchet was coming back to town. It's nothing like real life. In reality the folks in those mountains might boil down the occasional head of a Yankee, but afterwards they'd still have it together enough to call the repairman when their satellite dish goes down.

But that's what it's all about. It's a Friday the 13th rip-off, designed to scare the energy drinks out of teenagers on dates, not a documentary. You'd have to be pretty stupid to think it's real. And there were almost no non-monster West Virginia characters to make us look idiotic. A sheriff shows up for about ten seconds, before he takes an arrow through the left eye and out the back of his skull. He didn't hang around long enough to insult us with a ludicrous fake accent or anything like that. I was glad to see him go. The man probably grew up in Orange County, California.

So, it could've been far worse. The story could've included an "average" West Virginia family, for instance, sitting on their porch peeling apples, playing banjoes, and wearing overalls, or something along those lines. I guess I don't really understand the controversy. It's a fun movie, over-the-top and insane. The fact that it was set in West Virginia didn't insult me, it made it better.

Therefore, "Wrong Turn" receives the prestigious West Virginia Surf Report Seal of Approval. Go rent it.

Back to you, Roger.

January 26, 2004

-- Apparently Captain Kangaroo died last week. Far be it for me to be inappropriate, but I truthfully thought he'd already checked out, many years ago. Didn't we go through all these tributes already? I guess not. Wonder if he'll get a military funeral? What branch of the service was he in, anyway? Or was he a captain of a river boat or something? Somehow that seems more accurate, but I'm just not sure.

I watched the Captain when I was a kid, along with Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit, Magic Drawing Board, and the whole strange-ass gang. I much preferred it to that hand-wringing crap over on PBS. Captain Kangaroo never made us feel guilty for not speaking Spanish, or having both a male daddy and a female mommy. He never scared the Quisp and Quake out of us by painting doomsday scenarios about the Earth going up in flames, or any of that crapola.

No, he had long conversations about shoes with a grandfather clock instead. And the clock wasn't in a wheelchair, or a cancer survivor either. He was just a regular clock who had a human face and spoke words. Sure, the Dancing Bear was probably conducting an alternative lifestyle off-camera, but it wasn't an issue. Ya know? The Dancing Bear on PBS would've been trying to adopt a war orphan from Africa, with his domestic partner, Waiter Bear.

Thank you Officer Kangaroo, for leading us down the proper path. May you rest in peace, or whatever.

-- I heard some pompous "expert" on the radio talking about the death of Bob Keeshan over the weekend, and he said that children's programming is much different today than it was then. Less personal, less human. He said (and I'm not making this up) that we've undergone "spongebobification" over the past couple of decades, and he hinted that we're all swirling down the shitter as a result. More hand-wringing from an over-educated doucheketeer (if he can make up words, so can I). How do these people make it through life without having their nuts kicked clean off their bodies? Seriously?

-- And since we're on the subject, Banana Nostrils made a big announcement (he and Nancy are fans of dramatic announcements) a few nights ago. Seems he's decided to legally hyphenate his last name, adding Nancy's name to his. This is also the anchor they've hung around the necks of their translucent children. It goes without saying, of course, that Nancy will continue to use only her birth name. She'd rather eat a Dairy Queen hotdog than adopt the name of a man; it's simply unthinkable. Hey, you figure it out... My brain hurts.

-- Toney and I will soon have one of those tacky satellite dishes (pronounced deeshes in West Virginia) hanging off the side of our house. I'm not happy about it, but you've gotta do what you've gotta do. Our cable company quietly adds three or four dollars to our monthly bill, here and there, with no clear explanation, and now we're paying fifteen bucks more than a year ago, for the same service. They hope you won't notice, and most people probably don't. It's outrageous, the shit they get away with. So, we're pulling the plug on the bastads. We might regret it, but we're trying to vote with our pocketbooks, as they say.

We signed a one-year contract yesterday, with Deesh Network. We're getting over 100 channels, HBO, Cinemax, and a TiVo-like digital recorder for a few bucks less than we were paying for cable. Plus, since we're members of Sam's Club, the first four months are free. Pretty nifty, huh? I just hope they don't have to hang that crap directly over our front door or something. That's the big downside, in my book. We may as well erect a retina-searing NASCAR flag out there, while we're at it.

-- I linked to an article on Friday about uncontrollable flatulence during childbirth, and wondered if it was a genuine phenomenon or just a convenient excuse to showboat. Well, here's a note I received over the weekend from a medical doctor:

I don't know whether it was rhetorical or not, but trust me, as someone who has delivered several hundred babies in my career, uncontrollable flatulence is a very real occurrence. Let me just add that I was glad on many occasions that I had my doctor-surgical mask on so the patient could not see the disgusted look on my face.

After I got past the shock of learning that a doctor reads my website, I had a good laugh over that one. Thanks Doc!

-- Another reader sent me a link to this great thread on the FuckedCompany discussion board, where people are listing the names of movies that could be about shitting. Yes, you read that correctly. Good stuff. When I get to work I'm going to add Sixteen Candles. I don't remember seeing that one.

-- Toney and I watched most of the Golden Globes last night (only turning the channel when Curb Your Enthusiasm was on), and here are few thoughts on the big event:

Joan Rivers seemed to be only slightly drunk this year, as opposed to previous years when she could barely form sentences. E! probably assigned a specific person to keep her away from the cocktail cart during the broadcast.

Sarah Jessica Parker has two of the nastiest looking feet I believe I've ever seen. During the red carpet portion of the show they panned the camera up and down her body, to show her dress, and Toney and I physically recoiled when they got to her feet. Shockingly veiny.

Elton John now looks like a lesbian shopkeeper. Remember when he used to be Captain Fantastic? Now he looks like he should be ringing up copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Keanu Reeves should serve as an inspiration to us all. The man has had an incredibly successful career, without the convenient benefit of talent. Anything is possible, and Keanu is proof. His photo should hang in every business office on the planet.

I believe Tom Cruise was high on something, during the entire broadcast. Perhaps acid. Every time they showed him, regardless of what was happening on stage, he was smiling like an idiot and clapping his hands in amusement. Even when they were talking about one of the many HBO movies about AIDS, or the documentary about Afghanistan. The man was clearly funky on the junk.

Cold Mountain is a movie about the American Civil War, correct? And it was filmed in Romania, starred British and Australian actors, with music by Sting? Okay, just wanted to make sure I had all that straight...

There were two or three satisfying moments, like when Bill Murray won as best actor, and when The Office beat out Sex and the City for best comedy. Very nice. The Office is killer. Just seeing that guy's face makes me laugh, plus the cast members told Joan Rivers that they most wanted to meet Larry David while they're in America. Joan just looked at them as if they were speaking Klingon. And Bill Murray's acceptance speech was the funniest part of the show.

I felt a little more hip than in previous seasons. I had at least heard of most of the movies and shows they mentioned. I'm on my way back, people!

-- And since it's snowing like a harelipped bastard outside, I need to get to work. I'll now pass the baton to Chris from North Carolina, who's angry again. And I'll see you folks tomorrow.

             

January 23, 2004

-- So, I was walking from my car yesterday morning, towards the building where I sit at a desk every week day and answer email in exchange for cash and prizes, and I saw a large pool of vomit in the snow beside the front door. It was still steaming and was slowly burning its way downward. Looked like perogies and possibly a fruit juice of some sort. Another flu season in northeastern Pennsylvania... I also saw puke in the floor of Sam's Club a few days ago, by the televisions. But that may have just been a reaction to the price tag on the big plasma screens they have there. I'm not sure. That one was more along the lines of Ritz crackers in a rich turkey stock. I apologize for not having my camera in either instance. I'll try to do better.

-- After two or three years of listening to British talk radio at work I am now prepared to offer this travel tip, for folks planning a European vacation. Ready? OK. In England pants are trousers, and underwear are pants. And you're quite welcome.

-- I'm strongly thinking about scrapping OK, in favor of the more sophisticated and sleek okay. No need to worry though, I haven't arrived at a definite decision. I just wanted to offer some advance warning, as a courtesy. Please know that an OK change does not necessarily signify a future ketchup change, and, in fact, will almost certainly not. I don't want this to lead to panic, and am hopeful for a smooth transitional period. I urge all of you to keep a level head.

-- Remember when George Castanza bought the Jon Voigt car? Well, now's your chance to purchase your very own show business car. It may require some light interior cleaning, but you sure can't beat the price. Check it out.

-- Here's a short article about uncontrollable flatulence during child birth. Genuine phenomenon, or a convenient excuse to showboat? Ah, the eternal question.

-- Some asshole outbid me on a CD by The Jam the other day, on eBay, with about ten seconds left to go. It was his first bid; he was lying in wait for his chance to strike, when nobody could counter. This is a highly questionable practice known as the Smith-method here at the Compound, in tribute to a friend who, I believe, invented it during the early days of the Internet. In the middle of the minute-long furnace-blast of obscenities that followed this malicious hijacking, I'm almost certain I called the unknown Smith-method practitioner a "cheese fucker." Because it felt right, under the circumstances.

-- I was in Big Lots the other day, buying batteries (the only reason the store exists, in my book). I got in line and the woman in front of me said I could go ahead of her, since she had a whole cart full of useless crap she wanted to waste her money on. I thanked her and tried to squeeze past. Somehow, while I was attempting this maneuver, I got my ass hung on a prong that was holding ten or fifteen bags of Riesen candies. Those went flying, I mistakenly thought I'd ripped the ass out of my pants so I was clutching myself and hopping up and down, while the rolling fixture swung around and hit the good samaritan in the back, nearly knocking her to the floor. It's not an easy task to appear undignified in Big Lots, but somehow I'm able to pull it off.

-- A little while ago I put on a CD by They Might Be Giants, but I had to take it off. I like them in small doses but after a while it gets to be too much like a long trip in a minivan with Martin Short and Robin Williams. I was about to rip the frickin' hair from my head.

-- Finally, I'm pleased to announce the return of Rocky from the Insane Asylum to the Surf Report fold. Today he's going to tell you about some spooky things that went down at one of his previous jobs. Please note that I had to hand-edit this piece to insure that our skeletons don't turn up in a strip mine somewhere, with bullet holes through our skulls. Hopefully I did an adequate job. Take it away, Rock.

More on Monday. See ya 'round.

January 22, 2004

-- I've been dragging my still-big ass out of bed every morning at 5 AM this week, as part of a New Plan of Attack. Besides this site, which is fairly high maintenance itself, I have a couple of side projects I'd like to get off the ground, but can never find the time to devote to them. The 5 AM theory is that it'll wring an extra three or four hours from the work week, and as many as eight extra hours from the weekends. A dozen or so extra hours to devote to extracurricular activities. Sounds good, huh?

Actually, it's working well enough so far; I got some work done on the ridiculous little road novel I've been turning over in my head for the past year, and even managed to take care of a few nagging behind-the-scenes website things that were on my to-do list for months. Months, I say!

But, damn, I'm tired. Right now my brain feels like it's swollen and threatening to blow apart my skull. I think I can actually hear the seams stretching. I've had three cups of coffee (so far), and have The Four Seasons on the stereo, but I just can't shake the fog. If caffeine and "Walk Like A Man" won't do it, I've got problems, son.

Apparently I need to replace the found hours on the front end, and go to bed earlier. And that means less time spent in my beloved Law & Order decompression chamber. Slobbertolemus, the goddess of slumber is going to get those hours, one way or the other. Oh, you can count on that. Sleep! It's my mortal enemy. It's my own personal Plankton. Curses! Bloody curses on you, sleep!!

-- How could a person who looks like Mark Geragos get to be so cocky? I'm sure he's a smart guy, but he looks like a character from Herman. Wouldn't that fact generally inject a little humility into a person? Not to mention the fact that he was unable to get Wynona Ryder out of a shoplifting charge -- in Beverly Hills. I'm no expert, but that doesn't seem like very good lawyerin' to me. That was like a white man on trial for stealing a black man's truck, in 1962 Alabama. And he fucking lost! Yet I can't turn on the TV without seeing him strutting around in his sunglasses, acting as if his stools carry the sweet scent of honeysuckle. Baffling.

-- Nancy reportedly yanked one of her translucent "sons" from the hippie preschool he was attending, because they did a craft project this week and the teacher had the audacity to tell the kids they were painting a picture of a snowman. A snowman! A man made of snow. Toney's mother said that Nancy flew into a blind rage when she heard this, and stormed into the teacher's office screaming that she doesn't have "permission" to use gender-specific terms in front of her children. Then she pulled the kid out of the school, altogether. Later that night Nancy and Sunshine got into it, and Nancy began shrieking hysterically, like Howard Dean, that they're not snowmen, they're snow citizens or snow beings, and that's final. End of discussion. ...It's too bad the term fucked-up gets used so much. It cheapens it, when it's truly called for.

-- When I was checking my home email from work yesterday I saw a link on the mail page that read "Do we need eyebrows?" I didn't click on it, but it's a good question. Do we? What are they for, a filter for forehead filth, to protect the eyes? Is that the theory? I don't know, but I think I'll keep mine. I mean, look at Dick Gephardt. He was the only eyebrowless candidate for president, and now he's gone. Coincidence? You decide.

-- This is what's known as found art. I think. Or maybe it's just a found letter? Whatever. Check it out. That Derek is such a cut-up. You never know what he's going to do next.

-- For some reason I find this highly entertaining. Somebody sat 25 people down and asked them to draw corporate logos from memory, then presented the results. Wonder if these same people know the names of their two Senators?

And I'm out of time. Sorry for the abbreviated edition today, but I fell asleep in a chair last night, woke up at 1 AM, slumped over like a lower-case r, with my contact lenses adhered to my eyeballs and a neck that no longer functions properly. This morning hasn't gone well, so I'm extra-thankful for Buck today. Take up the slack, my friend!

I'll be back tomorrow, Slobbertolemus willing.

                           

January 21, 2004

-- Have you ever noticed that when some white doofus attempts to rap, or imitates a rapper, they always start with, "My name is (whatever), and I'm here to say..." It's always here to say. Has any real rapper ever said that, in history? What is that? White people are such douchebags.

-- I was fading in and out last night during the President's speech. Did I really hear him call on team owners to ban the use of steroids in professional sports? In the State of the Union address? What the hell, man? Is that a personal pet peeve or something? What's next, a special session of Congress to discuss the evils of Geico commercials? A fireside chat about the inexplicable popularity of orange Tic Tacs? I don't know; it just seemed a bit out of place to me.

And did Nancy Pelosi really lecture, in a nagging, superior tone, that America is not just a missile? I'm not even sure what that means. Are there people walking around who think the United States is a missile? I've never met any, and I'm glad. Oh, it was metaphor? Sorry. I still don't know what it means. But I'm sure I'd disagree with it, if I could figure it out. I have a suspicion that it's something to do with Bush's breaking of one of the great liberal doctrines: homeland security is priority one, as long as the United Nations says it's OK, and nobody's feelings get hurt.

-- Apparently it's not the carbohydrates and fat that put me into this shape. I've almost completely eliminated both from my diet, and nothing's happening. Maybe I need to eat nothing but carbs and fat? Maybe it would work like a vaccine? You know, the way they inject you with polio to protect you from polio? Perhaps if I live on nothing but fettucine alfredo and Fudge Stripes, I'd look like a Black Crowe by summer? Any thoughts?

-- Steve told me about a silent film festival they're having next month at an ancient, fully-restored, theater near his house. The grand finale will be a screening of The General, starring Buster Keaton -- complete with live orchestra. As the kids say, I am so there. Would it be too geeky to attend the affair in period costume? I want to have the full experience. Does Wal-Mart sell moustache wax?

-- I'm not exactly clear on it but Buck apparently fought a pipefitter from Nitro in the West Virginia Toughman Competition earlier this week, and administered a 360-degree Appalachian ass-whuppin' on the boy. What? Buck didn't fight, he only sat in the audience? Damn, it was so much more exciting the way I had it imagined... Anyway, he spotted the Smoking Fish there, on several occasions, and sent the proof. Check it out. Ya gotta love it.

And that's all for today, kiddies. I'm going to go to work now and throw around a lot of bad attitude.  See ya  tomorrow.

January 20, 2004

-- I had a dream last night in which the woman I told you about who likes to pepper her speech with the word "phat" asked to borrow our pop-up camper. This is kinda funny because she's a thoroughbred hipster chick, and wouldn't be caught dead in a campground or standing near a recreational vehicle. That is, of course, unless she found out Morrissey liked to camp (ha!).

Anyway, my big concern was that she'd remember to put the braces in place, beneath the slide-out bunks. I worried about it all night, I think. What in the hardboiled hell would trigger such a subconscious scenario? I woke up completely baffled, with the traditional hint of dread. I had visions of her sitting beside a campfire in a Hello Kitty director's chair, roasting marshmallows with a Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween sword, snickering at the irony of it all as the Monkees played softly in the background.

Strange. I blame it on the Green Acres DVDs I've been watching.

-- Speaking of Morrissey, does he seem like a real person to you? Not to me. He seems kinda fictional, maybe created by a writer with muttonchop sideburns in England or something. I can't imagine him driving a car, for instance, or eating corn on the cob. Ya know? I don't know what it is about the "guy" but he just doesn't feel three-dimensional to me. He's more like a character from a book. Seriously, can you imagine Morrissey polishing off a cob of corn?

...Hello? Is there anybody out there?

-- I used our treadmill (aka the $600 coat rack) last night, for the first time. I figured I'd give it a shot before I started forking over thirty bucks a month to a gym populated by beefy men with muscles and penises. It wasn't too bad. I put on some Soundgarden, and got my syrup-like blood to moving. I'm gonna repeat the process nightly, and hopefully it'll make the difference. I'm in a holding pattern of swaddle right now, and seemingly nothing I do has any effect. Maybe this'll be the silver bullet? Stay tuned.

A couple of observations about my first session atop the whirling length of canvas: by the end the belt had moved all the way to the left on the rollers, and the shit was starting to fray off the edges. I asked Toney about it afterwards, and she told me she'd never seen such a thing. I fear I might burn it out, and possibly start a fire. It's a heavy-duty piece of equipment, but there's a limit to everything. Also, when I got off the thing I was walking around the house, stepping high like a show horse. It took me about ten minutes to learn how to walk right again. I felt like I was on the moon, or underwater.

And so it goes.

-- I was listening to an episode of Fibber McGee and Molly last night from the massive collection of old time radio shows I suddenly own, as a result of my many deep-seated compulsions. It was a show recorded two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and there were lots of commercials about how the Johnson Wax Company wholeheartedly supports our men and women in uniform, etc. etc.

During the show the mayor of the town mentions that he's in the market for a new globe for his office, and Molly asks if he wants it to include Japan. When the mayor answers yes, of course, she replies, "Well, you better hurry!" This triggered a sustained eruption of applause from the studio audience.

If this happened today the elitists would view it as yet another ugly example of American war-mongering, and would lecture us about how we should sit down with the Japanese and hear their grievances, and maybe learn why they hate us so much. Then later, when we're fighting the Nazis, they'd screech in their shrill nasal voices about it being an illegal war, because Germany wasn't the country that attacked us. Roosevelt would be called a war criminal and many sentences would begin with the words, "Everybody agrees that Hitler is a bad guy, but..."

Pitiful.

-- Speaking of World War II, check this out. Apparently Churchill's parrot is still alive, and is still talking shit about the Third Reich -- complete with vintage obscenities! How bizarre is that? Wonder what John Kerry's parrot would say in sixty years? "This Brie is delightful!"

-- And here's another mind-boggling news story for your Tuesday enjoyment. Nice tan.

And that'll do it for today, boys and girls. I'll leave you with yet another Smoking Fish sighting, this time south of the border. Ole!

More tomorrow.

January 19, 2004

-- I'm off from work today, in observance of Martin Luther King's birthday. I was thinking about it this morning, and that man must've had one giant set. Ya know? He defied some of the scariest backwoods toothpick-chewing wife-beating 360-degree wild-ass drunken rednecks to ever come down the turnpike. I remember those types of guys, from high school, and they scared the living shit out of me. It was a constant battle not to make eye contact with them, for fear of setting off their hair-trigger tempers with a wrong expression or something. King was in their faces every day. You've got to admire his courage.

And he made a difference. Liberals will never admit that anything is better (never!), but I sincerely believe that at this point in history every person in this country has an equal shot at success. Yeah, some people are born into bad situations, but skin color has no bearing on whether or not they're able to dig themselves out. In my home state there are plenty of white people born into bad situations every day. A few break the cycle of poverty and pig-fucking, and single-handedly change the course of their entire branch of the family tree. I believe it's the same for all people now. Hard work, wise decision-making, and a good attitude is a recipe for success, regardless of race. And it wasn't always so.

I strongly suspect that many of his modern-day imitators are charlatans who serve themselves rather than "their" people, but Martin Luther King seems different to me. Wonder what his message would be today, if he'd lived? I have a feeling it would be a bit more positive than, "you're a victim, be angry!"

-- I heard a woman on British talk radio say that she believes the Bush administration sabotaged the European Mars rover, that is apparently now lost in space. She said that "Baby Bush" just couldn't stand for anyone other than America to succeed at something like that, so he had the thing destroyed by a laser beam. She was completely serious, and so indignant she could barely speak. Highly enjoyable "comedy."

-- I'm thinking about upgrading the bunker. Wonder if these folks could help? It has to have a dance floor (of course), but that's my only absolute requirement. Let me know your thoughts.

-- It's time now to announce the prestigious West Virginia Surf Report Album of the Year Award. Drum roll, please? ...And the winner of the Crystal Fish for the year 2003: The Drive-By Truckers, for Decoration Day! Yes, yes, applaud! They deserve it. Their previous record, Southern Rock Opera, got more attention, but I think this one is even better. It's been on my desk since I bought it, and I listen to it almost every day. They're a great band operating at the height of their powers, and everyone should be enjoying them at this point. ...Don't forget to have your parking tickets validated before leaving tonight. And, on behalf of me and my co-host Linda Lavin, thanks for coming!

-- This weekend I took over the salad-making duties here at the Compound, out of a sense of self-survival. Toney was using all kinds of bizarre lettuces, containing wood-like stalks and briars -- over-correcting our less than healthful existence of the recent past. I had to step to the plate. I went to the store in my weakened state, and purchased iceberg lettuce, green peppers, carrots, green onions, radishes, tomatoes, and cukes, and whipped up a tossed salad of Biblical proportions with my own two trembling hands. The shit tasted like candy compared to those hideous bowls of Nancy-grass I was being force-fed for the past week. I know there's no nutrients in iceberg, but that's just too goddamn bad. I've got Brussels sprouts shooting out of my ass like a Gatling Gun, I don't think there's a deficit in nutrients here. Holy crap; they won't be happy until they've made me feel guilty for taking deep breaths. Seriously. I have a feeling we're only a few years away from the emergence of a powerful Shallow Breathing Lobby, and hipsters will be sitting around coffee shops with knowing expressions on their faces, breathing shallow. The pricks.

-- As difficult as this diet is for me, I think it's even harder on our dog Andy. No more spaghetti night, and no more table scraps (there are no scraps these days, I practically eat the silverware). He's been walking around with a look of utter panic in his eyes. Where's the pasta? The meat sauce?? The late-night chip binges! You actually want me to eat dog food? I can't live like this!! Poor guy. His walnut-sized brain just can't process the sophisticated reasoning of us humans. Mmmm... walnuts.

-- In a race to find another compulsion to take the place of eating and drinking, I went out and bought a bunch of useless crap this weekend. I just had this powerful urge to buy something -- anything! -- and was almost powerless in resisting. So, I bought two calendars to hang over my desk at work: one with pictures of England, and the other of various dishes made with Spam. And I bought a thirty-disc(!) box set of old-time radio programs, for a mere $15.00 at a closeout store/shithole called Ollie's. Supposedly it's the 60 Greatest Radio Shows of the 20th Century, and includes "War of the Worlds," "Who's On First?" etc. Extremely cool. I saw the same set at Borders and they were asking seventy bucks for it. Ha! We also bought a "handmade" quilt at Ollie's, for our camper, and a few other things I can't now recall. Today I'm obsessed with purchasing a CD by The Shins, and may go insane unless I get it within the hour. I feel all nervous and panicky. If I don't see a psychiatrist, or start drinking again, soon, I'll surely send us spiraling into bankruptcy.

-- Speaking of drinking, check out this great beer commercial, from.... somewheres else.

-- The Smoking Fish has been spotted again, this time at a tractor pull in Tampa. Transvestites, tractor pulls, Australia, Funk Bottoms, Ohio... Where next? The Fish, he's a rambling kind of guy.

-- And now I'm gonna turn this fiasco over to Chris, for another entertaining foray into his world of never-ending anger.

And I'll see you folks again tomorrow.

January 16, 2004

-- I don't want to talk about this every day but, dammit, I'm frustrated. Apparently I actually gained a pound yesterday. I'm back to where I was on Day Two. How is that possible? With only one small exception I've followed this diet to the letter. How could I be packing on the poundage?? I've been eating those ludicrous salads, day after day, that are apparently made from shrubbery (I think I swallowed a thorn yesterday), and drinking an ocean of water. My urine is as clear as an Alaskan stream; you could read a newspaper through it... if you wanted to.

I carry with me a five pound satchel of raw vegetables wherever I go, in case of emergencies, and look forward to my daily allotment of twenty cashews as if it were goddamn Soylent Green. I've said a tearful goodbye to beer, chips, bread, candy, my beloved Mountain Dew Severe, and everything else that adds color to our lives. I now have a constant low-wattage hunger burning in my gut, and yesterday at work I looked at my stapler and for a split-second saw a large order of chicken tenders sitting there. And for all this, I'm gaining weight??

Am I allowed to say oy! even though I'm not Jewish?

My one slip-up: I had a piece of frozen fish with breading one night, because a disaster occurred and we weren't able to prepare the salmon we'd planned to have. We figured it wouldn't be the end of the world, as a desperate replacement. Right? I mean, look at this. Is that really something that would cause a person to gain a cup-size in his man-tits? Apparently so. You'll note that I'm taking full advantage of the fact that you're allowed an unlimited amount of vegetables. Pretty soon we're going to have to start buying produce wholesale, through a grocery supplier.

It's the exercise. That's the part I'm not doing. We have a treadmill that cost more than my first car, but I've never used it, not once. Toney gets on it, blasts Stone Temple Pilots and has a big time, but I just can't bring myself to walk in place on a motorized length of canvas. I like to think I still have a shred of dignity left.

I'm seriously thinking about joining a gym. I did it once before in Atlanta, and it worked out reasonably well. I'll just make sure I stay away from the locker room, aka The Den of Dicks. I'm not a big fan of penises, other than my own. And, frankly, I'm getting a little bored with it as well.

Sorry about all this but, unfortunately, it's what's on my mind. Well, that and the fact that it's so cold outside I just know the engine in my truck is about to seize up. I'm forty-one and literally can't remember temperatures like this before. Supposedly, with wind chill (a device invented by newscasters to make things more dramatic), it was minus twenty-five last night. Seriously, that's a tad brisk. Here's a pic I snapped inside my Blazer yesterday, as I left work. Take a look at the temperature gauge. Minus one. My ears felt like they were aflame at this point, and my testicles had retracted and were snuggling with my spleen. 

I want a fucking Kit Kat.

                             

January 15, 2004

-- At some point doesn't it become too cold to snow? I've heard that phrase before, right? Too cold to snow? I'm pretty sure. But it's been so frigid here the past few days that a person's blood supply could transform into one giant red slushie within minutes -- and yesterday a big honkin' load of the white stuff dropped from the sky. It goes against what I know, and makes me question all the other down-home rules of thumb I've heard all my life. Next I'll find out that a dog walking backwards doesn't mean we'll soon be visited by a tall soldier with a speech impediment? It shakes the very foundation of my being.

-- I had to use the four-wheel drive option on my Blazer last night, to get home from work. It was only the second time I've done that, and it makes me a little nervous. A couple of seconds after I push the button there's a loud thud, then everything goes weird. It feels like I'm steering with the back wheels or something. As they say down south, I don't cotton. But my shit was sliding all around on the interstate entrance ramp and I figured I could use all the help I could get. By the time I got home my shoulders were knotted up and cramping, and I realized I'd been listening to The Nittany Lion basketball show the entire way. Now that's preoccupied. Apparently it snowed even more last night. Wonder if I could talk the lip-smackin' apple-eater into walking on my back later? That might relieve some of the tension.

-- Yesterday was a rough day, on the ass-reduction front. Monday and Tuesday were amazingly easy. I followed the Daytona Beach diet to the letter, and it was no big deal. And I lost a pound each day. But by the time Wednesday rolled around I'd developed an incessant low-grade hunger that no amount of raw cauliflower could extinguish. I've had salads for lunch all week, and not the good iceberg kind either. These were made with hedge trimmings, I think. There was some kind of red leaf in there that tasted exactly what I imagine a human ass tastes like. I eventually became afraid to put anymore of it in my mouth, for fear of getting another of those ass leaves. Then I had a cheese stick, and for snacks I had a pillowcase full of raw broccoli and cauliflower. Yum. I fully expect to have grown a vagina by the middle of next week. And when I stepped onto the scales this morning I saw that I hadn't lost a single pound. I'm still 6 ft, 238 -- the same as it would be if I'd eaten all my meals at Wendy's this week, and washed them down with good ol' Yuengling Lager. I'm gonna stick with it, but the devil is whispering bad things in my ear.

-- Speaking of fat, I talked to a woman yesterday from my old Atlanta record weasel days. She called with a question I couldn't answer, then we bullshitted for fifteen minutes or so. She's still in the "industry" and is far hipper than I. How do I know? Because everything's phat to this woman. Her boyfriend makes phat money, her new office is located in a phat neighborhood, and BBC America has a bunch of phat shows on it. Every time she said that ludicrous "word" I winced like somebody was pointing a rubber band at my face. So stupid -- even worse than blog. Plus, she didn't seem to want to tell me who's gone bald in the past six or seven years. A highly unsatisfying conversation.

-- My mother received a package in the mail yesterday containing a handful of old pictures and what appeared to be the artwork of a child. Th'ell? She read the note and it was from a person who'd lived in an apartment building with my grandparents and Mom, when my mother was a little girl. The photos were of her, at roughly three years old(!), and the toddler art was stuff she'd generated almost sixty years ago. The woman said she found the stuff tucked inside the family bible, but didn't know my mother's married name until she read my grandmother's obituary in the newspaper. How amazing is that? Talk about a blast from the past. The freaky part, for me, is that my Mom remembers this person as a just-married young woman, barely out of her teens. And now she estimates her age at somewhere between 75 and 80! I think that's just about the coolest thing I've heard all week.

-- My mother mentioned, while we were talking about this Rod Serling parcel from the past, that the apartment building where she knew this woman was really just a big old house, broken up into three units. And they all shared a single bathroom, off the back porch. Can you imagine such a thing? I certainly can't. Yikes. I'd be sealed off tighter than a submarine. I'd have to rent a hotel room whenever I needed to take a crap.

-- Here's a new smoking fish sighting at the 2004 Detroit Car Show. He's kinda hogging the camera in this shot, the cocky fuck. Keep your eyes open, boys and girls. The Fish gets around.

-- And here's a shitmonkey who thought it would be a fabulous idea to get a big-ass Howard Dean tattoo on one of his arms. Excellent. It'll undoubtedly make for a perfect bookend to his Vote Smart, Vote Dukakis! tat on the other arm. Wotta douche.

-- Mark and Linette, of Crimewave USA fame and fortune, were recently interviewed by a magazine (newspaper?) called Current, and it's now online for your personal enjoyment. Check it out, yo. Have I mentioned that Mark and Linette are going to be parents? I don't think so... Mark told me the good news a few weeks ago, but swore me to secrecy. I think it's safe to talk about now, so, congratulations, MM & LL. You'll be great parents. And the youngin' will have the rare privilege of growing up on the internet, and in the pages of a magazine. This is gonna be fun for all of us.

-- And finally, here's the latest dispatch from way up the holler. Take it away, Buck.

I'll be back tomorrow.

January 14, 2004

A few things I've been enjoying:

-- Yesterday after work I made my way to Best Buy and picked up the Green Acres first season DVD, the day it was released. They only had one left (or maybe they only ordered one?), and I threw myself on it like it was a live grenade. Don't even look at it, ball babies, it's mine! I may have the physique of a Roger Ebert, but I'm no film critic. All I can say is that it's one of my favorite shows, and I never tire of it. It's absurd and ridiculous and bizarre and really funny. Chris Elliott would probably be involved if it were on today. People mistakenly lump the show in with Hee Haw and that kind of hillbilly crapola, but it's more like Twin Peaks, in my opinion. Hooterville is a self-contained universe of high weirdness. Oh, I can't wait to get into it. I have a feeling I'm staring into the eyes of a full-blown Green Acres weekend, people, and I suggest you do the same.

-- Speaking of hillbilly, I've been listening to Hank Williams "40 Greatest Hits" for the past couple of days, and that never fails to dredge up a few thoughts and emotions. For one thing my Dad played him around the house when I was a kid, and it always reminds me of that. But, the part that really gets me is that the man (I'm talking Hank Sr. here, not the goofy son) was only twenty-nine when he died. Twenty-nine! And he created a massive catalog of songs that people will be singing as long as there's people left to sing songs. That would be a hell of an accomplishment even for a person who'd managed to live five or six lives. When I was twenty-nine I could barely put on a pair of pants by myself, he'd already written "Your Cheatin' Heart." Mildly depressing... 

He was also the bad-boy of his time, remember, getting himself banned from the Grand Ole Opry for various transgressions, and being involved in a myriad of other scandals; Hank Sr. was the Eminem of the late 1940's, I think. He was one hard livin' hick genius, and the things he did during his short lifetime will be studied and analyzed and enjoyed forever. When I go they'll probably erect a small hunk of marble containing the words "He had sex in Oregon," and then it'll be as if I were never here. Simply excellent. So many thoughts and emotions...

-- Mark Maynard sent me a link yesterday to a really good article about Larry David. It's a lengthy history lesson about the man, and is required reading for all Surf Reporters. Larry David, I think it's safe to say, is exactly the person I always wanted to be. I didn't know who he was when I was in Junior High, but I wanted to be him. He's taken a talent for seeing the ridiculousness of it all into a comedy empire. He turned a package of off-brand Fig Newtons into Seinfeld, for god's sake. The man is a god.

-- And even though I'm only about a hundred pages into it, I'm really enjoying the new biography of Benjamin Franklin. It's not text-bookish in the least, it reads more like a novel. Did you know he fathered an illegitimate son, and shacked up with his girlfriend? In Colonial times! I couldn't have gotten away with such shenanigans in 1980's West Virginia; my grandmother would've had me in a hammerlock. And, in addition to all his other accomplishments, he was a hell of a comedy writer. He wrote a bunch of absurd letters to the editor (for his own newspaper) under fake names, and stirred up many a shitpot of controversy. The Phil Hendrie of the 1700's! He was energetic and curious and intelligent...

And I think that's about enough of that. All this admiration of great men (Eb included) can take a lot out of a person. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to tend to some mid-level Scranton clerking responsibilities.

I'll be back tomorrow, if the crying has stopped by then.

January 13, 2004

I was sitting in the bunker a couple of nights ago, absentmindedly doing Google searches for 'Olson Twins in there bras' like any other night, when I heard our dog Andy upstairs making sounds like a fax machine. I hollered for him to just tell me what was the matter (it's always a game of charades with that hound) and a couple of seconds later he appeared in my doorway all humped up like a razorback hog. He seemed agitated and frightened; his hair was standing on-end and an unusual series of grunts and whistles were coming from his throat.

The hell?

Andy's always going ass-over-tits crazy because of various unforgivable transgressions, like when people have the audacity to drive a car past our house, or when a self-centered neighbor turns on their porch light, or whatever. But this was different. He seemed genuinely freaked out, and wanted me to come with him to investigate. What in the hot buttered hell?! By his actions I just knew there was an intruder in our living room, and my inner-pussy was uncaged.

I thought about hiding in the closet, but grabbed a baseball bat instead. (I hid behind some boxes during a grocery store robbery once, and never lived it down.) It was a game-used Louisville Slugger previously owned by Johnny Bench. I sure hoped it wouldn't be damaged once the wild flailing and shrieking began, and I silently cursed myself for not grabbing the Joe Morgan model instead.

While I contemplated my choices in weaponry Andy's body remained like an upside-down U, and he continued to make walkie-talkie noises and slink along like a ferret. My heart was pounding in my chest and large reservoirs of adrenaline had burst open. I felt like I could lift a Ryder truck off a deaf baby, which would sure come in handy if that was the situation upstairs. Otherwise, I was screwed -- it's well documented that I'm a lover not a fighter (ahem). Good god, what was waiting for me up there?!

Nothing, that's what. I have no idea what set Andy off, but I could find nothing. He climbed on the back of the couch and began looking out the window and whimpering, but I saw nothing out there. Stupid dog; the neighbor probably just took his trash out. I considered slipping on my shoes and going outdoors, but quickly jettisoned those foolhardy thoughts. I may look like Cannon, but lack his courage (as well as his superb taste in wines).

I did a quick inspection of the house, and made sure all of the doors were locked. Then Andy and I had a few sour cream 'n' onion chips, before turning in.

And the next morning Toney asked why I left the lights on all night, and had that ridiculous Joe Morgan bat beside the bed. I didn't want to frighten her, but felt she should know about the break-in Andy and I foiled the previous evening. And since many of my co-workers live in the same town, I felt compelled to tell them too. 

Knowledge is power, after all.

January 12, 2004

Yeah, I have nothing. The problem, I'm learning, is that a person needs to have a few interesting life experiences to make his journal interesting. And I barely left the house this weekend. It's the goddamn weather, and the general craziness of the past few weeks; it's sucking the life out of my website, like one of those infomercial devices that turn a perfectly good apple into a dried husk of grossness.

Maybe I could write about my strict theories for choosing the perfect snuggle blanket, to facilitate the watching of a four-hour daisy-chain of Law & Order episodes during the winter months? Sure, I could, but it would be retarded and sad. Same goes for my hardwired views on people who put sugar in their coffee. I have a strong suspicion that not a single person in America would be interested in such a rant. Perhaps in Canada, but not America.

But this is my life, inside this house. I haven't shaved since Friday, I've only been out of my fatboy sleeping pants briefly, and the dust rag I brought down to the bunker on Saturday morning is still lying in the same place I dropped it, two days ago. The effort required to wipe a piece of cloth across the surfaces inside this room seems like the running of the Boston Marathon to me at this point. I've been on the cusp of a vegetative, Mylar-balloon state since I left work on Friday, and it's not the stuff of good comedy, I'm afraid. But here goes, anyway... Please accept my apologies up front.

-- I mentioned the weather, and it's been nothing short of severe up here in the great northeast the past few days. When I was driving to work Friday morning the temperature gauge inside my truck said 1. That's goddamn cold, 1. Overnight on Friday/Saturday the shit dropped down to minus six! Yowza. It's really windy too, and a person could literally die if they locked themselves out of the house or whatever. All over this section of the country dogs are being let out to pee, briefly forgotten, then found frozen as solid as the head of Ted Williams, with one hind leg lifted in the air, stream still attached.

I was talking on my cell phone as I walked to my truck Friday evening, and my exposed right hand felt like it was on fire after about thirty seconds. Something bad was happening to my skin, and quick. Very scary. I don't think they have homeless people in Scranton (compassion is not a hallmark of this city), and it's a good thing. Without exaggeration, I don't think a person could survive out there for more than half an hour. After the sun goes down I'm afraid to even open the door; I feel like the Grim Reaper is hanging out on our front lawn, waiting for his chance.

-- Yesterday I broke out the Beach Boys box set, and it was a taxing experience listening to all that summer music, as the molecular structure of the asphalt was being changed by the Russian winter outside. I don't recommend it; it's far too much of a strain on the central nervous system. I think Beach Boys CDs should come with a warning label (when will the government do something?!). Pennsylvania winters are meant for The Cure, and perhaps the Jesus and Mary Chain. Stay away from woodies and surf boards during the winter months, I say, and stick with the pasty British men. And please remember that I warned you about this update, on the front end.

-- Today's the day I start my ass-reduction regimen, and I'm already starving. The concept is simple: I'm not allowed to eat anything good, ever again, for the rest of my life. And if I stick with this plan my love handles will reportedly wither on the vine (results vary). After flipping through the guidebook a few times, I wish I still had the big canvas bags I used when I was a paperboy, so I could fill them with hardboiled eggs and produce -- apparently the only things I can eat in unlimited amounts. Every morning I could strap on the feedbags and head off to work, the weight of the eggs and celery providing a nifty cardiovascular workout as I waddle to my desk.

In all seriousness, I'm going to give it a chance to work. I'm gonna follow this Oprah fad diet to the letter and see what happens. Wild crying jags, I believe, burn a few calories as well, so I have high hopes. By spring I'll be a prancing sprite of a man.

I've added a link on the left side of this page, where you can monitor my "progress", if you care. If not, just roll your eyes and click over to Fark. Screw it.

-- Do you ever feel guilty for liking Satan's solo best in "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"? I do. But that Lucifer is one funky motherfucker.

-- I was finally able to reach my co-worker buddy from the old Toll Bridge days, and asked him to do the cover for my upcoming West Virginia Job Trilogy booklet. He agreed but I could sense some apprehension on his part. I could almost hear the thoughts going through his head: "Do I really want to put my good name to a project involving Jeff Kay?" Hell, I'm not even sure I do. Luckily, nobody will ever read the damn thing, so it'll work out well for all of us.

-- Here's a story confirming the possibility of one of my worst nightmares. It's only a matter of time...

And that's all I can muster today, folks. The Word Processor can take it from here. I've got to start wheeling out the egg carts.

See ya tomorrow, I hope.


January 9, 2004

-- When I was in West Virginia I was talking to a cousin who'd recently returned from a three-month work assignment on an isolated island off the coast of Alaska. He said it was a military facility, with no town, just a self-contained base literally in the middle of nowhere. Phone service was spotty, there was no internet, and mail arrived once a week by a sputtering Amelia Earhart plane. He said they sold t-shirts there that had the name of the island (can't remember) and the phrase "it's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here."

After he'd said his goodbyes to his family, flew for more than thirteen total hours, and arrived at the dreary outpost that would be his temporary home, he was presented with a dilemma straight out of a movie. Or the Bible.

They had a modern full-blown health club, with basketball courts, an indoor track, and the whole deal. And right next door was a glittery neon beer store and bar. It was going to be a long and lonely three months and he had to decide which door he was going to choose. Pretty dramatic, huh?

Of course he wouldn't have told me the story if he'd chosen to stay drunk the entire time. He got heavily into working out, for the first time ever, and is now reportedly in the best shape of his life. A highly unsatisfying ending to a good story, in my opinion. The bastard.

I try to imagine what I would've done. But, of course, I know. I would've tried to straddle the two, and half-assed both. I would've walked or ran around the track every night, headed next door for four or five Rolling Rocks, then returned to my room for an evening of Law & Order, farting, and crying. Not much drama in that, is there? It would surely make for a pitiful funeral story, but what can I say?

-- Speaking of getting in shape, I haven't started my Miami Beach diet yet. I wanted to begin on New Year's day, but the thing with my grandmother derailed those plans. I ate so many cookies, hunks of cake, and piles of lunch meat during those days in West Virginia, that to jump right into something as restrictive as the North Beach diet would've been a severe shock to my system. That's my theory, anyway. I'm kinda easing into it. The revised launch date is Monday. ...Will somebody please hold me? I'm a little scared.

-- I watched the Pete Rose interview on Prime Time last night. If that man is remorseful then I'm TV's Mel Sharples. Please. It's all calculation, and as sincere as a Clinton tear. The way he sits in a chair also bothers me. He spreads his legs wide open, as far as they'll go. What's that all about? I don't know, but I'd be willing to bet good money that an expert in body language would use the word "arrogance" in their analysis. I was a huge Reds fan when I was a kid, while Rose was at the top of his game, but I never really warmed to him. Even as a youngster I could feel the bad vibes coming off the guy. I met him once, in Charleston, and he treated me like I was a wearing a parka of turds. The cocky fuck. Tonight he's supposed to appear on The O'Reilly Factor, and that should be something worth watching. The two most arrogant men in America, doing battle.

-- Toney and I were recently talking about the theory that people subconsciously choose a mate that's like their parents. I still can't believe it, but she told me there are a few similarities between me and her mother! Sunshine!! She says we're both addictive personalities(!), and are prone to see the negative in every situation. If I'd been Mr. Krabs my arms would've fallen off.

I'll grudgingly cede the addictive personality part (it's my heritage), but my special brand of social analysis in no way resembles the bitchiness of Mary Sunshine. She sits around and wallows in negativity, feeling victimized, and carrying a chip on her shoulder the size of, well, TV's Mel Sharples. I'm not like that. I'm nearly always in a good mood. Seriously.

Every day I simply can't believe that I have a job and a house and a family, and that all my organs still function. It's all so frickin' amazing! Sunshine can't go to Target without threatening to kick somebody's ass, or getting banned for life from a place of business. And she's in a constant state of misery.

I'm like her? Ha! No, I'm more of a hobbyist who enjoys collecting observations about the fucked-upness of it all. She's hardcore batshit crazy. And I take offense to the comparison. It's like saying a birdwatcher is like a bird, because he hangs out where the birds hang out. Or whatever. I like to think of myself as more of a social scientist, specializing in bitterness and negativity. Is that a stretch?

Have a great weekend. I'll be back on Monday.

January 8, 2004

-- Over New Year's weekend a few cable channels ran 24-hour marathons of various old television shows. Fun stuff, for the most part. Sure, I could've done without (and in fact, did) the Full House marathon, but I was all up in Law & Order STD, Twilight Zone, and The Three Stooges. I have a feeling we're only a few years away from a full lineup of cable networks that show only one program, 'round the clock. And I'm ready. I'm sitting here in full anticipation of The Green Acres Channel (GAC), and Mannix 365. Pass the beer nuts, yo.

-- Speaking of TV, am I the only one who is utterly confused by those credit card commercials about identity theft? You know, they show somebody talking about all the cool stuff they just bought, but in the voice of somebody else? I sit there and try to figure out who the supposed victim is, and which one's the criminal, and my brain starts to cramp up. It's far too confusing, not to mention creepy as all hell. I wish they'd go away; they make me feel dirty and stupid.

-- Here's a story about a guy who believes cable TV made his wife fat and his kids lazy. Such a sad, misguided fool. Cable TV is what made this country great.

-- Just discovered quote of the week: "How could one Chandra be so Levy?" -Eminem

-- I washed my truck at one of those quarter-powered spray-bay places in West Virginia over the weekend, then vacuumed out the inside. The shit was loaded with pine needles and sour cream 'n' onion chip shrapnel, and was in severe need of some attention. When I fired up the vacuum a little puff of air came out that smelled like a thousand cigarettes, then it started sucking -- with a vengeance. I'm not exaggerating, I've never encountered a device in my life with such a powerful draw. It was actually pulling the carpet off the floor of my vehicle; industrial adhesives are no match for this thing. When I was vacuuming out the console between the front seats it made a ballpoint pen just disappear, and the nozzle wasn't even that close to it. One second the pen was there, then it was gone, rattling up the tube. Goddamn.

Doesn't the government regulate those things? They should. A person could trip and have their eyeballs sucked directly out of their skulls. I'm not joking. I got it stuck to my jacket at one point and I thought it was going to rip the thing right off my back. A whole bolt of fabric was up the tube before I was able to free myself. Sweet Maria.

-- Check this out. It's a short video clip of a local news broadcast, from Dallas, I think. Pay special attention to what's going on in the background when they're showing the distraught football player. Bouncy.

-- Since we're on the subject, Steve told me some stories about a high school somewhere in West Virginia, where a buddy of his is the principal. Apparently every time the two of them talk, this guy has another outrageous story or two to tell, about life inside a public school.

He talks of kids being caught giving and receiving blowjobs in class, which is shocking for a couple of reasons... When I was in high school I wasn't even receiving blowjobs outside the classroom, never mind in third period English.

And he was also tipped off that a few of his students were sneaking off-campus and "fucking the goats" at a farm across the street. He had to call the farmer and tell him of their suspicions and the guy reportedly responded with, "It's not one of my boys, is it?!"

My favorite, though, was about two special ed kids who were roughhousing, then nearly came to blows when things got out of hand. The two were separated and returned to their desks. After the excitement died down the teacher turned to write something on the chalkboard. And when he turned back around he saw that one of the kids had come up behind the other, and had calmly unzipped his pants and laid his penis across his shoulder. Steve's buddy told him he was thinking about giving him a day's suspension "for every inch." And the kid supposedly countered with, "OK, I'll see you in sixteen days."

-- Check it out. Some of my "comedy" has been featured in another edition of Shoecabbage. Cool. If this keeps up my tiny Duke head is going to start swelling.

-- Although I refuse to use the so-called word "blog" I'd like to direct you to the nomination form for this year's Bloggy Awards. If you know of any especially entertaining weblogs or journals worthy of such an award, you may want to nominate them. Like in the best-kept secret category, for instance. I think you've got until Monday to get your votes in. Party on.

-- And, finally, I'll leave you with a fresh-cut offering from our educated hillbilly friend, Buck. Read about his New Year's Eve party, and the moonshine and the coffee table. Sometimes I really miss West Virginia...

More tomorrow.

                       

January 7, 2004

More about my grandmother's funeral... Pop open a nice beverage and enjoy. Ahem.

-- It felt a bit unorthodox, but what do I know about it? The funeral was scheduled for two o'clock Sunday afternoon, and they had the "viewing" (how freaky is that concept, when you stop to think about it?) prior to the main event. Isn't it usually the night before? I don't know, but this one all happened in a single day. I think my mother and aunt didn't want it dragged out, like a festival of death, but I never got around to asking them about it.

From eleven in the morning until noon they allowed the family in the room where my grandmother was laid out. I kept it together pretty well, but it was mighty tough when I first saw her lying in her casket. She was a great person and the finality of that scene was hard. I didn't cry but I felt like my head was swelled up to the size of a bean bag chair.

After about ten minutes we'd all pulled ourselves together, and there was still another fifty minutes to go. I have no doubt that it was the longest fifty minutes of my life, to date. Holy crap, it felt like the clocks were running backwards. I silently cursed myself for never taking up the cigarette habit, so I could've at least disappeared for a smoke now and again. I'm sorry, but standing around talking to my Dad about his transmission problems, a few feet from my grandmother's lifeless corpse, is not my idea of a good time.

At noon they opened the doors to the general public, and that helped a little. For two hours people trickled in, and the effort of trying to remember names and marveling at how old they all looked, kept me fairly occupied and distracted. Man, oh man, I saw people there that I hadn't seen in thirty or forty years. It was all very surreal and strange, but I kind of enjoyed it, to be perfectly honest. I felt like I was inside a David Lynch film, or something.

My Dad, the team player, came up with a scheme to deal with situations where he couldn't remember a person's name, and I got to pay a price for it. Somebody would approach him and address him by his first name. He'd hug them or shake their hand, then turn to me and say, "Jeff, do you know who this is?!" He kept doing this, over and over. He had no idea who he'd just hugged, and was shifting it all off on me. After I insulted the person by admitting that I had no idea who they were, they'd reintroduce themselves and my Dad would be off to the side smirking and taking note. He's a master, I'm telling ya.

I was only called fat twice, which wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated. A man who used to live across the street from us came up and patted my gut, like I was the goddamn Buddha, and made some clever remark. And an unknown old woman took a look at me, recoiled, and said, "Whoa!" Isn't that nice? Whoa was her reaction to seeing me again, after all these years.

At two o'clock they made us leave the room. I had no idea what was going on, but somebody told me they don't like to close the casket in front of the family. Then we were paraded back into the room from the back, down the middle aisle, like at a wedding, as the visitors stood in respect. All new to me... What kind of funeral is this?! The sweat was rolling off me at this point, like a fat boy at a pie-eating contest. And I took a seat in the front row, all the way against the left wall.

I don't remember much of what the preacher said, because my head was feeling all swoled up again, but I do recall him making the bizarre statement that my grandmother is in heaven now, "probably flirting with Jesus." What in the honeybaked hell?! Somewhere David Lynch was smiling.

Steve and I were pall-bearers, so we had to hang around in a special room after the service was over. Steve was bouncing off the walls because he was missing the Green Bay game, and attempted to sneak away to use a phone and get an update. That didn't work out, and we were directed instead to help load my grandmother's casket onto a rolling cart, then into the hearse.

Once we were inside my Blazer Steve attacked my cell phone and began frantically pushing buttons in an attempt to get a game status, and I put a Smiths CD in the player. And as we rolled through town with our headlights on, and the purple funeral flag flapping in the wind, Steve was screaming, "What down is it?! What down??" as "Girlfriend In A Coma" wafted from the speakers.

That night my parent's house was packed with people and I had to push my three-day smile to its very limits. At one point I went into the bathroom, off my parent's bedroom, and lifted the lid to find a special surprise inside. I flushed it, but nothing much happened; it was all just swirling around, but was going nowhere. I pulled my Dad aside and told him he'd better check their bathroom, and quick. The next morning he told my mother about it, while we were having coffee. He said "there was a log in there the size of my forearm, and half a roll of toilet paper." He apparently had to get a plunger out and break it up, because it was threatening to overflow into the floor. I was laughing my fool ass off. Then we spent the next few minutes trying to decide who was the culprit.

Steve and I raced home on Monday, at a high rate of speed, and I took this picture somewhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania. It was an appropriately strange ending to a very strange weekend. Holy shit.

And I'll return to the normal stuff tomorrow. Have great day.

January 6, 2004

I made it back from my grandmother's funeral late last night, and my brain feels like a strip of extra-crispy bacon this morning, so I'm gonna keep this thing short. I'll just give you some random notes about the trip and let Chris take up the slack on the back-end. 'kay?

-- I called my friend Steve on Friday to tell him the bad news about my grandmother, and he surprised me by saying he'd ride down to West Virginia with me. It's a freaky thing but Steve and I have been friends forever, since early grade school I guess. And now we live near each other in tiny and obscure Pennsylvania towns (Dog Balls and Fudgepack, respectively) as adults. What are the odds? Anyway, he said he'd go with me, and I was thankful. It's a long boring drive and it's much easier with someone in the co-pilot position, besides Jesus.

-- We left early Saturday morning and the trek was largely uneventful. The highlight was stumbling across what must surely be the world's last Rax Roast Beef restaurant, somewhere in rural PA. I was floored when I saw the sign. Hot buttered hell! It was like a 1950's science fiction movie where explorers discover a valley that time forgot, deep in the wilds of Africa. Of course we had to have lunch there, even though it was only 11AM; to pass it by would've been unthinkable. I don't believe I'd seen a Rax in twenty years. I wondered if there was a Burger Chef around the block? Steve was overly excited by it all, as well. Check out this breakfast bar! Not exactly Atkins-friendly. It was like we'd passed through a rip in time. Unfortunately, the food wasn't as good as I remembered. In fact, it was kinda yuck. But the novelty of it all saved the day.

-- My parent's house was crowded with family and friends when I arrived, and I was instantly in the thick of it. Man, oh man. There wasn't a lot of mourning or wailing or anything (my grandmother was almost ninety and had been sick for years), just a marathon of socializing with people who seemingly only come together under sad and stressful circumstances. I took my position in one of the kitchen chairs that had been brought into the living room to accommodate the overflow crowd, and launched a three-day smile. This was going to be an excruciating experience.

-- In the kitchen was a mound of food like something you might see at a big-city homeless shelter. And everybody who passed through the door added another cake or pie or aluminum wheel of flattened meat to the pile. I could tell that my mother was mildly freaked out by it all. It was a tsunami of sympathy snacks, and it brought with it a lot of responsibility. It reminded me of the episode of Raymond where Ray signs his parents up for the Fruit of the Month Club: "My God, so much fruit! Why would you do this to us, Raymond?"

-- The next morning I drank a massive amount of coffee and began getting ready to go to the funeral home.

I don't like showering at my parent's house because their bathroom is practically lined with mirrors. On the back of the door is a huge full-length deal, like in department stores. It's a very well-lit room, as well. Good Lord. It's a shocking thing indeed to find myself naked and standing in front of that thing. It's like I'm looking into a funhouse mirror, only it's perfectly flat. Some things are way too big and others are way too small. Everything's all warped and out of proportion... Oh, it's not a good way to start the day, believe me.

I wriggled my hideousness into a pile of intimidating dress clothes and began sweating profusely with the effort of it all. I was literally sporting a pair of fancy-pants, and it goes against everything I'm about. I was able to adequately tie my tie, some ancient know-how from my days as a grocery store bagboy kicking it as just the right moment. And by the time I slipped into my George Wendt suit jacket I was completely slick with flop-sweat, like some seal who'd let himself go. Fuck.

After I got myself all trussed up in the fancy duds I realized I had to pee. Just perfect. This would have to be a touch and go operation. A man simply can't risk a pee stain on a pair of slacks -- it may as well be a neon sign around your neck, reading URINE. You can get away with a low-grade stain in jeans, but not in slacks. So I performed the deed gingerly, like a heart surgeon, and was able to avoid tragedy. I knew that another episode like that would severely hurt my odds for future success, and I prepared for a long day of "holding it." A pot of coffee is a double-edged sword when you're wearing fancy-pants.

And I can't believe I'm rambling like this... I'm gonna have to tell this story in two parts. Sorry, but I'm all out of time, and I've been away from my job so long I might have to do a MapQuest to find the building. I'll turn it over to Chris now, and I'll see you folks again tomorrow.

January 2, 2004

Happy new year, my grandmother died.

Kind of a strange intro, I know, but unfortunately accurate. My granny passed away early this morning after spending the past few days in a hospital not too many miles from where she was born, 88 years before. Even though we all knew this day was upon us, it's still like a sharp blow to the gut.

She lived across the street when I was a kid, and cooked a million great meals, dispensed miles of good advice steeped in old fashioned common sense, and provided massive love and comfort for as long as I've been on this Earth, and before. I love her, and I'll miss her. She was a good and decent person, and it's a sad day.

I like to think she's with my grandfather today, laughing at his jokes again. Maybe she's even combing his hair and warning him to watch his language, like the old days? They've been apart for three decades now and I hope they're having themselves a grand reunion.

For the past year or so Toney and I have been attempting to re-create something she used to cook, called "white beans." It was a kind of soup deal, made with Navy beans, and it was just about the best thing ever. We tinkered with it and tweaked it, but it was never quite right. Sometimes we'd get close but something was always missing. Just last week though, or the week before, we nailed it. With the very first bite I was transported back to my grandmother's kitchen, and could smell the smells and see her over by the stove holding an old dented pot with a slanted bottom -- something I'd completely forgotten about. It was comfort food in the extreme.

I'm leaving for West Virginia early tomorrow morning and probably won't be back until the middle of next week. See you all then.

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