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   The State of My Fat Ass                                     January 2005

January 31, 2005

-- The weekend was dominated by Car Stuff. We almost traded in Toney's battered Toyota for the 2002 Honda Accord that I mentioned, but the salesman just couldn't help himself from being a salesman, and that was that. Plus I had to have even more work done on my Blazer, thus depleting our chair and ottoman fund, and causing me to growl like an animal and string together obscenities in a highly illogical manner. Like ball ass bitch faggot. I really hate the Car Stuff.

-- We thought we'd come to terms on the Accord and were ready to pull the trigger on the deal. In fact, we weren't even really thinking about it anymore; we'd moved on to the next thing in our minds. But the salesman called Toney on Friday and told her some big convoluted tale that boiled down to the payments being $25 more per month than what was originally quoted. Then he started talking as if addressing a dotard, and told her that the difference was less than a dollar a day. And wouldn't it just be silly to let such a great car get away because of one silly little dollar? Just plain silly.

What they did was add a couple of points to the interest rate, and undoubtedly mixed in some other garbage as well, all designed to go directly into their boogery pockets. As the great American philosopher Kid Rock once said, I was born at night, but not last night, baby.

The whole thing was infuriating but, ultimately, it was the condescension that did him in. He can go ahead and park that Accord way up the fudge tunnel. We will not only never buy a car from him, but we'll never return to the dealership itself. Oh, we can hold a grudge. As far as we're concerned the place has been torn down and turned into a medical waste dump. Fuck 'em. It's a mound of saturated gauze to us now.

And all it would have taken was even the smallest semblance of honesty. We're not so naive to believe that there aren't a myriad of scamulations naturally built into the process; we accept that. But when they appraise you and think they might be able to get away with a little double-dipping... Well, that's a tad over the line.

Of course, they left a message on Saturday and said we could have the car for the original price. An unfortunate clerical error had been made, and they really hope we understand. And the phone call was made from atop a great mound of bloody dobbing wrap.

-- For the past week or so the brakes on my Blazer haven't felt or sounded exactly right. So I had them looked at on Saturday, and ended up having to write the garage one of my Curious George checks in the amount of $296.14. Grrrr.... I don't even know what all they did to it... something to do with sliders and the agitator. Who the hell knows? But what I do know is that my next car is going have its origins in the Land of the Rising Sun. Throughout my life I've had both American and Japanese cars, and the ones from here have nickeled and dimed me to death -- in every single case. I've dumped more than a thousand dollars into this Blazer, in the two years I've owned it, for this and that random repair. It's sickening. We have money set aside for our living room reclamation project, and had to dip into it to cover this crapola. As far as I can tell, it cost us a chair and an ottoman. And I don't really even like stopping all that much. 

I'm on the verge of some illogical cussing, just thinking about it.




January 28, 2005


-- Speaking of grade school... I've probably told this story before, but it's a good one worth repeating. When I was in fourth grade the teacher, Mrs. Hill, assigned us each a different animal, which we were supposed to research and write a report about. As was the traditional pre-scold of the day, she hammered us about not just going into the dictionary and copying down the first couple of paragraphs. It was to be in our own words, and we were to use multiple sources for our information, blah blah blah. Well, there was a kid in our class named David, who was both a little wild and not too bright -- always a potent cocktail. And when it came time for him to go to the front of the class to read his report, he started it with these unforgettable words: "The beaver, pictured at left..." The whole class erupted in laughter, and David had no idea why. He just stood up there with a puzzled expression on his face, and the teacher, who was built like ex-Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey, looked like she wanted to administer the Atomic Knee Drop on his big dumb ass. Good times.

-- I was talking to a guy the other day who said he used to work for Honeywell. He was involved, somehow, in the installation of heating and air conditioning systems in large office buildings. At more than one place, he claims, they went in, did their thing, and were immediately hit with a barrage of complaints from the office workers. Every couple of days they'd receive phone calls from the building manager, telling them that some people were saying their offices were like meat lockers, while others complained of heat like a goddamn blast furnace. 

They sent engineers out to check the system, and to gauge how even the temperatures were throughout the building, and found no problems. But the complaint calls continued; half of the staff is miserable, they pleaded. So, the Honeywell folk got an idea. They went there with a bunch of thermostats, and mounted them here and there. They ran the wires up to the ceiling, and just tied them off. They weren't connected to anything, they were nothing more than cheap props. And a few days later they called the office manager to see how things were going, and he said that everything was great. Everybody was happy and comfortable now. And he thanked them for correcting the problem so quickly.

-- Toney and I were coming out of Wal-Mart the other day, and I could see the gauntlet of booger-eaters out front collecting money for this and that. Grrr... how I hate the gauntlet. "How much am I required to give here?! Shit!! What am I, Ted Turner??" I was getting all worked up again. "Every time I pass through the doors of a retail store, I have to surrender cash to some shady charity now?? It's all probably going straight into the pocket of Kofi Annan!!" I was climbing into the saddle of my high horse. "This just isn't right, all these shaming techniques --" Then I realized what was going on, and without even realizing it, I shrieked like a woman: "Hey, Girl Scout cookies!! I love the thin mints! How much for five boxes??"

-- On a semi-related note, I think I'd rather go lie down in the street in front of our house and have Toney repeatedly drive over my head, than to put one of those yellow magnetic ribbons on my car. They make me involuntarily launch into an old Randy Newman song: "Baa baa Mr. Sheep!" And the same goes for those plastic yellow bracelets ol' Uniball is pushing. I'm not even sure what those things are for. I asked a woman at work once, and she said it was to promote cancer. Somehow that doesn't seem quite right. But I don't care what it is, you can count me out. I hate trendy shit, especially when it's designed to say, "I care a little more than you." Baa.

-- We're shopping for a new car for Toney. She's driving an ancient Toyota with a massive number of miles on it, and the time has come to dump that crap. So she's been watching the newspapers, and making phone calls, and all that fun stuff. Yesterday she called a dealership in Wilkes-Barre about a 2002 Honda Accord they had advertised for a pretty good price. And the guy actually said something very close to this: "What price is listed in the ad?? Oh my God, that must be a mistake! Nobody can sell Accords for that low of a price... But, hey, if that's what they printed, we'll have to let it go for that..." Car salesmen. Wouldn't you just love to kick a few of them in the berries to start each day? I know I would.

-- How is it possible that I love peanuts, but don't really care for peanut butter? What's the deal with that? I've never understood it, but it's true. Fascinating, isn't it?

-- I hate to do this, but it's something that's mandated by the bloggers union. I'm required to link to X number of "intriguing" websites per month, and I'm afraid I'm way short of my quota for January. I don't really like calling myself a blogger, but I can't give them any excuses to pull my health benefits. So here goes...

This is a site where you can compare your height with that of celebrities and well-known people throughout history. Now I can finish the remainder of my life knowing, deep in my heart, that I tower, friggin' tower, over Maude.

Here's an eBayer with a bigger chip on his shoulder than a Scranton bank teller. And that's saying something.

This is fun to monkey around with... Some tangible Kevin Bacon proof for a change. Thank god for institutions of higher learning!

Here's a list of some wacky high school team names. Yep, the Poca Dots are on there, so it must be a pretty solid effort.

And here's a fun game that tests your knowledge of US geography. I kick ass at this sort of thing -- until it gets to all those crazy little New England states, anyway. I have no idea where, say, Vermont is. All I know is, it's up in there somewhere, in the handle part of the country. I think they should do away with that jumbled mess, and make the land between New York and Maine just one big state. Seriously. I think somebody got a little carried away.

There. That ought to be enough to keep them from repossessing the iron lung. I appreciate your patience.

-- Now I'm gonna turn it over to our good friend Buck, and get my big swaddling butt cheeks out of here.

See ya on Monday!



January 26, 2005

-- I was talking to my friend Steve a few days ago, and he brought up a bit of bizarreness from our grade school days that I'd nearly forgotten. It was in fifth grade, he told me (I could've never come up with an actual year), and it was the infamous day of the new potatoes.

When we were in elementary school you could request seconds in the cafeteria, as long as everyone had already received their first servings. If there was food left over, they had no problem with us scarfing it down. So we'd always load up on the good stuff, or at least make an attempt at it. One day the kids at our table, for reasons that are now unclear, launched a "contest" to see who could eat the most new potatoes.

Steve says it was tater tots, but I'm almost certain it was those little potatoes with the reddish skin on 'em. One by one we'd take our trays up to the humpbacked women in the hairnets and request more, then return to our table and run up our totals. One kid ate 36, and he was easily the king. I can't remember the number I choked down, but I think it was in the high teens. I do recall walking around for the rest of the day feeling like my stomach was packed and sagging with railroad rocks. Such organs were clearly not designed for seventeen or eighteen potatoes all at once, and I'd created quite a processing backlog in there. The shit was distended. I could only imagine how The King felt.

After the bell rang, we went back to class and forgot about it. Just another episode of ridiculousness, in an endless parade of such things. But the next day, to our surprise, the shit hit the Coolidge.

We were herded into the multi-purpose room (both a gym and a cafeteria!), and were tricked into confessing to heinous crimes. Oh, Scrote couldn't have played it any smoother. Our teacher, Mrs. Miller, started asking us about the potato contest, kind of chuckling and acting as if she was down with the whole thing. She went around the group, young hooligan by young hooligan, and asked us how many we'd each eaten, and we proudly reported our achievements. Then she turned on us. After she had the numbers, she dropped the bomb.

I can't remember why our little contest upset her so much, but she was pissed. There may have been a bit of Nancy action going on there, looking back it does seem she was always morally outraged about something baffling, but, hell, I don't know. I was ten. All I know is that she flew off the handle and made us wear a scarlet letter for a week.

It was a paper plate with the words (in scarlet) NO SECONDS written on it. She'd pulled some arbitrary "acceptable potato total" out of her ass, and if we'd eaten more than that number, we had to wear her handmade, gigantic badge of shame pinned to our shirts for the next five days. And the humpbacks weren't allowed to give us any seconds -- not even the tasty pineapple juice. And, of course, all the "innocent" kids thought it was all just a goddamn riot.

I think some of the parents complained about this, and there was some low-grade trouble for Mrs. Miller. But my mother, by that point, had become desensitized to it all. I think the principal had my Mom's work number on speed dial, so it was just another day for her. She probably said, "Jeff, what's wrong with you? Why in god's name would you make potato-eating a sport? Do you think President Nixon got to where he is by eating lots and lots of produce?"

Later that same year Mrs. Miller was standing in front of our class "teaching," and she scratched her forehead with what she thought was the bottom of an ink pen. But it wasn't the bottom, it was the top, and she scribbled all over her face without knowing it. And we allowed her to walk around like that for a long time. So, you see, it all comes back around in the end. There's no such thing as a free potato-shaming lunch.

-- Now here's a really amazing Smoking Fish sighting, that may or may not be in violation of the Patriot Act. Awesome!

-- And here's Metten, to close out the category.

See ya tomorrow.



January 25, 2005

-- I thought about apologizing for my less-than-spectacular performance yesterday -- did I really write several paragraphs about a USB cable?? -- but decided against it. If that particular precedent is allowed to be set here, I'll never get anything else done. So, no apologies. And the fact that I still screwed up effect/affect, even after looking it up at dictionary dotcom? Well, what can I say? I'm dumm. If I can accept it, you certainly can. Thtop being tho thenthitive.

No, I'm not going to apologize, but I am very good at excuses. In fact I'm a certified third-degree journeyman excuse-maker, with decades of experience. On Sunday night I got less than five hours of sleep, and yesterday my brain was fried up like a skillet of Big Mama's Black Scrapple. It was one of those days when I felt like just uploading a picture of a monkey sitting atop a couple of naked contortionists, and saying the hell with it. But I pushed onward, writing through the scrapple. I hope that fact was noted, the way I pushed through the scrapple.

In any case, I crawled into bed last night around ten o'clock, which seems like the late afternoon to my nocturnally-wired brain, read a few pages of a Travis McGee adventure, and was pulled-under within minutes. And I slept with enthusiasm. This morning when Toney used both hands to shake my heft awake, I felt like the Vampire Lestat rising from the dead. Or whatever. The book was wedged into the crook of my neck, and I was still roughly in a book-reading position. I was goddamn exhausted, but now I am healed.

Unfortunately, it's not really paying many dividends. ...I'm sorry.

-- Yesterday Toney asked me why I keep going over my allowed cell phone minutes, and I was kind of surprised. It doesn't seem like I use my phone much. I mean, I use it, but I'm not sitting around bullshitting with people all the time. I'm not one of those guys you see at the grocery store talking with someone across town about their favorite Darrin, or anything like that. But she said I've gone over two months in a row, and it's costing us some bank. I shrugged, told her I'd watch it, and turned my attention back to Scrote and the Whore Killers. Then a few minutes later my cell phone rang, and it was a friend in California "just checking in." And he proceeded to tell me, at great length, about the bad case of diarrhea he'd suffered that day. He went on and on about how he feels like one of those red-ass baboons at the zoo, because of all the wiping. And he said he had to leave work in a hurry because he kept "filling up." The timing of this call didn't help me, not one tiny bit. I received some very judgmental and hurtful looks, right there in my own family room. Hey, can I help it if people feel free to discuss such matters with me? Should I be criticized simply because I'm a good shoulder to squirt on? Well, I should certainly hope not.

-- I have fresh incentive to finish my "book," and to finally launch the various other plans of action that have been percolating inside my brain. Apparently Nostrils is going to take a year off from looking for a job (hilarious), and write a novel. It's something he's supposedly dreamt about all his life, and has asked Nancy to support him in his ambitions. Of course my inner-skeptic is doing backflips right now. I've never heard of any such dream, and neither has anyone else. The man's hobby, as far as I can tell, is eating Cream of Wheat. 

No, I think he's just buying himself another year of sitting around the house drinking coffee. But I guess I could be wrong, and that's where the incentive comes in. If Nostrildamus has even an ounce of success at the writing game, and I'm still sitting here spinning my wheels, I don't think I could go on living. I really don't. So, I'm thinking about hanging his picture, and a photo of the guy in Burbank who vowed to lobby for my dismissal, above my computer. Not only should it keep me fired-up, but it will probably ruin my appetite as well, and cause me to shed some pounds. It's a win/win, really.

-- Finally, here's another video clip for your weekday enjoyment. Don't ask me for background on it, 'cause I don't know. This type of fucked-upness just kinda drifts into my inbox, the way used condoms and bloody gauze land on the beaches of New Jersey. There's no point in agonizing over it.

I'll see ya tomorrow.



            

January 24, 2005

-- Apparently everyone north of Philadelphia got their collective ass hammered by snow over the weekend, and we're north of Philadelphia. Check it out (I guess I forgot to put away the deck furniture again this year...) Amazingly enough, this storm was predicted as early as last weekend. Next Saturday or Sunday, they said, you'd better watch out. I laughed when I heard this, in a haughty, superior tone. Those people can't tell us what's going to happen this afternoon, let alone next week. 

But, dadgum it, they got it right. How did they manage it? Oh, you can bet they'll be clinging to this shit for years to come; this'll be their quick answer to every criticism, diss, and cruel mockery, well into 2008. And, to be fair, a little respect is in order here. That was some mighty impressive guessing. ...Ahem.

Except for the two hours or so spent shoveling the driveway and sidewalks on Sunday, the big-ass snow didn't effect us much (note the proper use of the word effect). We'd planned ahead and laid-in plenty of beer -- longneck Rolling Rocks, just for a change -- and lots of food. So, it was actually kind of fun. 

The fact that it happened over a weekend didn't hurt either. We were toasty and warm inside the compound, eating nachos and BLTs and whatnot, watching it pile up outside. Movies, food, adult beverages, large fluffy Scrote-watching blankets, few responsibilities... It turned out to be one of the more pleasant weekends in recent memory.

You can't really beat the well-orchestrated snowstorm.

-- You guys bought me a pretty nice present last week, and I want to thank you. Using the fourth-quarter TheWVSR Amazon earnings, I was able to pick up this puppy, and still have a few bucks left on account. I appreciate the support, I really do. The Bunker is quickly turning into the Bat Cave; the shit is packed-out with electronic gadgetry. Now I've got a printer that actually prints, a scanner that scans, and a fax machine too. Very cool. I have some far-fetched plans for the new year, which I'll tell you about later, and that fax is gonna come in handy. So, thanks.

-- As I was setting up my new toy on Saturday, I realized that I needed a USB cable, instead of parallel port. Grrrr... That kind of thing makes me crazy. I was walking around the house raging, making animal noises, and taking the Lord's name in vain. It was snowing like a bastard outside, and I couldn't go buy one... I was losing it. Toney was telling me to calm down, that I could pick up a cable sometime next week, and that made me even wilder. Next week?! Why does everything have to be so half-assed?? My scanner has been nothing more than a movie prop for a year's time. Now I get a new one and it has to sit sorta-operational until next week?? My brain was melting down inside its housing.

I dug the phone book out of the drawer and started flipping through it, and Toney was hollering, "You're NOT going out in this blizzard!" It was quickly turning into an episode of Mama's Family again. I called Radio Shack, but nobody answered. Apparently the ball-baby bitches closed the store early because of an itsy-bitsy foot of snow. Pussies. And there is no other store close by, where a person could purchase an emergency cable, so I just gave it up. But I didn't like it, not one tiny bit. I've had it up to here with the prop lifestyle.

Yesterday, though, I dug myself out, put my Blazer into 4WD, and went cable-shoppin'. Radio Shack wanted $24 for one, and I told them they could just keep it there on their fancy little shelves. And I risked my life and went to Wal-Mart. Cars were sliding all over the road, some were on the median wiggling back and forth, and it was pretty darn treacherous out there. But I had little trouble, and got myself wired for a mere nine bucks. And people wonder why Wal-Mart kicks everybody else's ass?

Despite the weather, the place was still crawling with inbreds, burn victims, and people with sweet potato arms. It's as if they're drawn there, like the zombies in Dawn of the Dead, and nothing short of the apocalypse will stop them from getting through. The parking lot was almost empty, yet the store was insane. Did they all come by foot? Did they all drag their one Herman Munster shoe through the snow and hoof it to the store?? What the hell? It's a mystery to me still.

But I bought my cable and a medium-sized tub of sour cream, and slip-slided my ass home. Then I printed a random email just as a test, had a football-sized burrito, and watched Spiderman 2. And all was right with the world.

-- Carson is gone now too?! Man, all the greats are dying off. I hate that. By the time I was old enough to know what was going on around me, sometime in the 1970's, Johnny was already established as a television icon. And since he was popular and familiar, it was cool to say you didn't like him. But I always did. He was genuinely funny, and I remember many specific moments from the Tonight Show as if I just saw them last night. Like when he was doing Carnac the Magnificent, held the envelope to his forehead, and said, "A stick of dynamite!" And when he opened it to get the question he'd just answered via his highly-tuned psychic abilities, it said, "What does Orson Welles use as a laxative?" I don't know how old I was when I saw that, but I thought it was just about the funniest thing I'd ever heard. Still do, in fact. When I clicked on the Drudge Report yesterday and saw the words "Goodbye Johnny," and saw his picture there, my stomach did something funny -- it sucked up against my spine or something. All the greats are dying off.

And, sorry to end it on such a downer, but that's going to have to do it for today. I have lots more, but it'll keep. 

See ya tomorrow.



January 21, 2005

-- Since starting at the gym I've had to make several adjustments to my normal way of living, so that my nightly hour atop the whirling belt is as comfortable as possible. For instance, my underwear. I'm sitting here right now sporting some ludicrous garment that one might expect a casino worker in Italy to wear, in anticipation of the high friction to come. If I'm ever in a car wreck and the paramedics have to cut my sausage pants off me, we'll have to leave the state. There are no two ways about it. Paramedics talk. But I've decided it's a risk worth taking. Once a person experiences the formation of a supernova in their crotch, they're usually willing to go to great lengths to avoid it from happening again. I believe Newton wrote extensively on this subject.

And I've successfully adjusted the size of bottled water I take with me, not wanting too much or too little. My goal, which has largely been achieved, is to have just enough to get me through the hour. Perfection is to take one last swig at the sixty minute mark, then being able to toss the empty bottle into the trash on the way to the locker room. When that happens... well, it just warms my soul.

I also make a concentrated effort to choose a CD that is more than sixty minutes long, but without those awful "extra tracks" at the end. Extra tracks are almost always songs recorded during the original sessions for the album, but weren't included upon first release. And there's a reason why they weren't included: they're shit. So I usually go with a disc from a box set, or a greatest hits compilation, or something along those lines. It's an aspect of the process that you have to manage carefully. You can't just go into it without doing the research first, or you might very well end up watching Geraldo talking about Scott Peterson.

My most recent lifestyle adjustment, and the one I'm most proud of, is the mastering of the art of extreme urination. Through my research I've found that an hour is a mighty long time when you have to pee like Man O' War. And this is a situation in which I found myself far too often, while atop the motorized belt. At first I didn't know what to do about it. I was always conscientious about making a ritual pilgrimage to the porcelain before working out, whether the urge was there or not, but the problem continued. Then I discovered extreme urination, or EU as I call to it.

It's a simple concept really, but highly effective. It seems that normal bladder voiding ends at roughly the 75% mark. I'm not sure why, but I believe that a person doesn't "get it all," under regular circumstances. To push past this natural pee barrier and to experience full elimination, one must concentrate and employ patience. 

Once the traditional end of the process has arrived, the point where we usually do some quick tucking and get on with our lives, the prospective EU master must remain in position with all his options still open. There will usually be a brief period of inactivity, in which one might feel a bit douchey, but then it'll all start up again. A surprise bonus! And the remaining 25% will then come forth, and the person will walk away with an extra spring in their step. And at least an hour free of all pee worries.

EU is a proven method, and I fully believe in it. It's transformed my life. And I don't went to reveal too much here, but you might just want to be on the lookout for a new series of infomercials in the near future, featuring urination celebrity Jeff Kay. That's all I'm allowed to say... I've probably said too much already.

-- And that was one of the more ridiculous things I've ever written... Shit. My kids are gonna be so proud. I'll leave you now with some vintage footage of a TV weatherman engaging in a little on-the-job training. Funny stuff.

Have a great weekend, folks. See you on Monday.



January 20, 2005

-- I was listening to Clive Bull at work earlier this week, and he was talking about something called "happy slapping." Have you heard of this particular phenomenon? I had not. Apparently groups of teenage hooligans, equipped with video phones, are roaming around London and slapping random strangers in the face (usually a seasoned citizen), while their buddies record the person's reaction. They then pass around these "hilarious" video files, trade them like baseball cards of fucked-upness, and generally have themselves a big time. Supposedly this has become such a problem the authorities have taken to airing public service announcements on the radio, reminding everyone that slapping is an assault and a serious crime.

Here's a discussion about it on a British website. 

You know it's only a matter of time before our own homegrown American hooligans decide to get in on the fun. Only they won't be slapping, that's far too European... I could be wrong, but I don't think there's much slapping going on in the USA -- especially within the giant-pants community. No, they'll undoubtedly have their own unique variation of the original theme. I predict that within the next six months or so we'll start seeing Fark links to stories about the growing problem of "titty twisting" and "bag-tagging" in big cities, as well as some other stuff my sleep-deprived mind can't come up with this morning. How much ya wanna bet?

I've been trying to imagine how I would react if slapped or nut-butted, or whatever, and I pretty much know how it would go down. I'd go wild. Oh, there's a very good chance I'd be thoroughly stomped in the process, but I'd completely lose my shit -- and become the crown jewel of some asshole's file collection. After I finished with my crazed and unhinged 360-degree Appalachian fat-boy Kill Bill routine, the little bastards would have the happy slapping equivalent of a 1952 Mantle rookie card on their hands.

Lucky for me though, it'll undoubtedly take years for this to reach Scranton. I think some people still use bag phones here. And you can't make videos with a full-sized 1945 Ma Bell rotary phone situated inside an overnight case. I'm fairly certain of it.

But you folks in bigger cities better get ready. Bullshit doesn't require a passport.

-- As I was listening to all this happy slapping talk, I remembered something a friend and I did for a week or so, back when we were in Junior High. We would walk around town with a camera, knock on random doors, and when somebody opened up we'd snap their picture (complete with dramatic flash) and take off running. It would leave them completely confused, and probably planted the seeds of paranoia and all brands of wild conspiracies in their brains. Good fun. Our plan was to mail each of them their photo (or the photo of one of their neighbors) in a plain white envelope, with no note or explanation. Unfortunately, we weren't very good at follow-through. We quickly grew bored with the exercise, and moved onto something else.

Hey, back then you had to make your own fun...

-- Now here's Buck to take you the rest of the way home.

See ya tomorrow.



January 19, 2005

-- Before I get started this morning, I'd like to wish my friend Bill a happy belated 500th birthday. He turned 500 months in January and I've been meaning to say something. So, happy birthday buddy! I know it's a difficult milestone for some, to turn 500, but I hardly even noticed it myself. I'm at 506 now, and don't feel a day over 350. If I know Bill, and I think I do, he'll breeze right through it as well.

-- I've decided to institute a new movie policy here at The Compound: nothing over two hours. I've had it. Apparently a film must be like a long car trip, with no Stuckey's, to be taken seriously at this particular point in our history. It ain't art unless it's "challenging," which means "boring" in plain English. Well, I'm having none of it. If a story can't be told in 120 minutes, it's not worth telling. Or it's being told poorly... In any case, count me out. 

I went through my DVR inventory last night and deleted Cold Mountain and Master and Commander, because they're goddamn marathons. Plus, one of them stars that bee sting woman, Squinty McZellweger, or whatever. Screw dat.

Years ago I wrote a piece for my paper zine (cleverly titled The West Virginia Surf Report), about Oliver Stone making a movie on the life of Janis Joplin -- in real time. It would start with the whisky guzzler's birth, and would literally be twenty-seven years long. I reported that Stone was in negotiations with several pregnant women and shooting was set to begin. The finished film was due in theaters in 2050, and each showing would last until the fall of 2077. Or something along those lines... I can't really remember. Anyway, it's coming true. I've seen several movies recently that at least felt like they were twenty-seven years long. You know it's only a matter of time before they go all the way with it. I say enough is enough!

And the same goes for books. How come writers start out with lean little novels that entertain and dazzle, but once they taste some success they feel like they need to crank out loveseat-sized epics? What do they do, fire their editors? Become so full of themselves that they believe every word they write is like a gift to humanity? I'd like to shoe every one of them in the olives, for crimes against literature.

Whatever. I've reached the end of the line here. No more movies over two hours, and no books I can't lift with one hand. Somebody has to draw a line in the dirt, and that person may as well be me! Who's with me on this?! Yeaaahhh!!

Hello?

-- Toney and I are making plans to rip up the terrible Berber carpet in our living room (like walking on coils of rope), having the hardwoods underneath tended to, and finally buying new furniture for the room. As I've mentioned before, we still have the horrifying couch and chair from our California days -- when Toney ran a daycare business in our home. Those things have been vomited on, pissed into, shat across, etc., and desperately need to be taken to an open field and set afire. During the summer months, on particularly humid days, a whole cornucopia of funks are unleashed from the fabric, and nobody will get anywhere near them. Their days were over several years ago, but we just couldn't afford to replace them. Well, we still can't afford it, but we're going to do it anyway, goddammit. It's the American way.

We've started the process of walking through furniture stores, fighting off salesmen, and trying to plot our course of action. I think we've chosen a couch and a loveseat from one place, and an "accent chair" (I can't believe I even know what that means...) from another. And the two big rugs have been properly vetted as well. Now it's down to tables, and that's where we're having trouble. We need two end tables and a coffee table, but they're friggin' expensive. Decent ones, anyway. I don't want some shit that comes in a box, and you have to screw the legs on. I want real tables, adult furniture, for the first time in my life. I'm 506, after all. But shit, I ain't paying a grand for the things; what am I, a complete douchebag? Any guidance with this would be much appreciated. Help me out, people.

-- And since we're on the subject, a large furniture chain here is offering FREE PICK-UP of any item currently in-stock at their warehouse. Is that sweet or what? You can go there and pick it up yourself, and they won't even charge anything extra! I know where we're shopping!!

-- A sharp-eyed reader spotted the Smoking Fish in Raleigh recently. Check it out. Oh, our logo, he gets around.

-- Now it's time for another Surf Report Classic link. This is one of my all-time favorites... Ladies and gentlemen, Lyndon Johnson ordering pants!

-- And finally, we'll close out the category with another tasty offering from Metten.

See you folks tomorrow.

 

January 18, 2005

-- Toney and I watched the first fifty hours or so of the Golden Globes Sunday night, then threw in the towel near the halfway mark. It was incredibly dull and, as usual, none of the right people won. In one category Lost, Deadwood, and The Sopranos were nominated, but they gave it to Nip/Tuck. That was near the time we decided to fold up our tents. I mean, good god.

But it was fun watching the drunken marionette, Joan Rivers, again. I liked when she talked to Geoffrey Rush, and asked if he thought Peter Sellers maybe should've just quit his whining and tried to enjoy life. A lot of people have terrible childhoods, she hollered, at some point you've gotta let it go. Rush had a look on his face like he'd just caught a whiff of fresh-cut turds. Excellent. 

And I also liked the fact that she had a TIP JAR, and was waving it in all their faces. "Andrew Lloyd Weber didn't give me a cent!" she kept yelling. And confused and irritated "stars" were forced to dig through their designer pockets for cash, in order to stay off the crazy woman's shit list. Great fun.

The rest of it was pretty challenging, though. There was no host, they just had various people come out and present the awards. These shows really need a smart-ass, like Steve Martin or Conan or somebody, to hold it all together with ridicule. There's not much entertainment value in Diane Keaton reading Grade C comedy off a teleprompter. I know it might've seemed like crackling electricity in the planning meetings, but it just didn't pan out in real life.

The only thing that kept us watching as long as we did, was our own running dialogue of mockery. (And, to a lesser extent, the beer and nachos.) It's not enough to sustain an entire awards show all by itself, but a person can get good mileage out of making fun of the rich and famous. There's Ol' Squinty Zellweger again! What's wrong with that woman? She looks like she's having an allergic reaction to something!! That kind of thing will take you about half of the way home, but there's gotta be more. And on Sunday night there wasn't more.

We wondered why Goldie Hawn is always at these things, considering the fact that she hasn't worked since, what, 1980? But there she is, every time, laughing with her mouth all the way open, looking like a bean bag toss game at a carnival. And we had a few things to say about the deep, deep grooves in Mick Jagger's face. Holy mackerel. A person could swipe a debit card through those cavernous ruts. And they're vertical! Most people seem to wrinkle from side to side, but Mick is taking it from top to bottom. Strange.

William Shatner gave his wife(?) an open-mouth kiss after he won, and we both screamed in horror. Then we laughed as he tried to squeeze between two people and got his gut wedged up against the back of a woman's head. Those walkways were apparently designed for Clare Danes, not Kirk and me. And Al Swear-Engine, from Deadwood, picked up a much-deserved award, but didn't mention our fuck-count. I was sure he'd say something about it, but didn't. No respect. You know he's seen it, the prick.

But we eventually grew tired of making fun of people, and Toney went to bed. And I put on a Kinks CD, had another beer, and tried to wash away the traditional shame of watching awards shows. It's something I can't seem to resist, but always feel guilty about afterwards. I really need to stop it, before my mother or somebody catches me in the act. 

Shit! The thought of that is just too awful to contemplate...



January 14, 2005

-- It's the end of the world as we know it. Yesterday it was 65 degrees here, the sun was shining, and it felt like spring. This morning? Yeah, check out the View From the Deck. Scary... but I feel fine.

-- Last weekend Toney and I visited the bones of the perfect house -- again. It's this sprawling five bedroom, three bath home in a great old Leave It To Beaver neighborhood, and it's been on the market for a long time. We've been to two open houses there, and both times it made us start thinking crazy thoughts. This time we learned that they knocked fifteen grand off the asking price, and that's about to send me on over the edge.

It's perfect I tell ya, perfect. Two big stone fireplaces, a great layout, loads of charm, large bedrooms, a huge screened porch on the side of the house... I can only dream of living in such a place. And we can almost afford it, especially after the latest price-drop. That is, we can almost afford to buy the house itself. But there's a reason why they can't unload it.

The people who are selling it lived there for half a century, and I don't think they ever did much in the way of upgrades. The carpet needs to be ripped out and burned, the hideous wallpaper is enough to make a person puke down their collar, the kitchen needs to be gutted, and so on. Also there's a pretty powerful musty funk all throughout the joint. Such funks make me nervous; where there's must there's fire. Admittedly, I don't know shit about which I speak, but I estimate it would take about fifty grand to bring it up to code. And that's a mighty steep mountain to climb.

So, we'll just keep visiting it when they have open houses, and envisioning the possibilities. I think we're both pretty good at seeing past the horrible furnishings, and taking note of the house underneath. So this is torture for us.

The house we bought in California was being sold by a crazy woman, but we were able to get past it, and got a really good deal as a result. She had these towering hedges all the way around the perimeter of the lot, and you could only see the roof of the house from the street. There were heavy-ass blackout curtains on every window, the carpet was green or gold or some shit, and half of the kitchen was set up as a den.

Seriously, she had a couple of recliners and a television in the kitchen; you could watch Wheel of Fortune and make toast at the same time. There was a pretty powerful funk in there as well, kinda tangy in nature. I have no idea... Also, and this is the most disturbing of all, I picked up a Hershey's kiss from a candy dish in the living room, removed the foil, and it crumbled into a white, ashy heap in the palm of my hand. It still gives me a full-body shiver when I think about it.

Our real estate agent was rolling her eyes and making comedic faces as we toured the place. But it was a good house underneath, in good repair, and we bought it for a really great price.

Almost immediately we had those nasty bushes ripped out (disturbing several snake nests in the process), had new carpet and kitchen linoleum installed, and ripped down the hundred-pound Munsters drapes. We hired someone to do away with the no-longer-white cottage cheese ceiling, and Toney and I painted every inch of wall. Within a few weeks we had ourselves a great little place. One of the neighbors joked that he didn't even know there was a house on that lot, and asked if we'd brought it with us.

We could do the same with the house here, I just know it. We could turn it into a frigging palace, worth way more than what it would cost us to get there. But we're in no financial position for such a project, and it's driving me crazy. I just can't get it out of my head. It's the bones of a perfect house!

-- I saw Chuck Connors at the gym last night, which was a little surprising since he died in 1992. But there he was, looking healthy and ready to kick some ass. Or break some swords.

One thing I've learned about going to the gym: a person shouldn't load themselves up with Mexican food, then immediately take an extended high-speed walk. Last night I was belching and gasping, and my esophagus felt like it was aflame. At one point I seriously thought I was going to puke. Can you imagine? I'm envisioning an abandoned treadmill with the belt still moving, and a crowd of people screaming every time "the spot" comes back around again. But I kept my shit in check and finished the hour. Never again though. I'm sticking with meat and potatoes on workout nights. I was walking and getting nowhere -- IN HELL.

Around the thirty minute mark I heard a godawful racket coming from behind me. Everybody in the place whipped their heads around, and we saw this unshaven freak who looked a little like Booger on Revenge of the Nerds, just running full-out. I mean, he had that shit a-going. The motor was whining at an incredible volume, the belt was threatening to come off the rollers or just simply fly apart, and the whole deal was swaying back and forth. I've never seen anything quite like it before. The guy had some kind of weird birthmark over his right eye, and at first I thought he was wearing Kiss makeup. He (Peter "Booger" Criss) looked like some guy in an action movie running away from an imminent explosion. Tonight that machine will probably have an Out Of Order sign on it, the prick. I think they should do mental health screenings before accepting applications for membership in that place, I really do.

-- And that's it for today, children. I'm supposed to be off from work on Monday, and may not update on that day. Have yourselves a great weekend, whether it's regular or super-sized. See ya next week some time.

 

January 13, 2005

-- Yikes, I have no time this morning... 

Yesterday I forgot to mention how our DVR situation played out. The guy came during the rather generous window of time he allowed himself, hooked up some device I'm almost certain I saw scientists use on the National Geographic special about finding the Titanic, grunted a few times, and brought in a new box from his truck. But it wasn't the same kind of box, this one is meant for high definition televisions. It's silver, sleek, and sexy.

This week's cable guy was a man of few words (and may have spent some time in Saddam's Republican Guard) but he did manage to tell me that the HD models are a little more rugged, and will allow us to save up to one hundred hours -- twice what you get with the regular model. I asked if they have a lot of trouble with DVR hardware in general and he said, "No comment." Translation: Yes, we have a lot of trouble with it, because it's all cheap pieces of crap. Since they introduced this service my life has been a living hell. I want to start fires Mr. Kay, I want to burn shit down.

But he took care of us. He re-routed some of the cables and wires and stuff piled up behind our TV stand, monkeyed around with the remotes so we only need to use one instead of three, and brought us back into the world of digital cable. And he freed us from the Excruciating Slow Scroll. 

What the man lacked in warmth, he more than made up for with know-how. Last week's cable guy was a jokester, everybody's best friend, but he didn't do much. I much prefer the slightly scary yet conscientious cable professional, over the performing doucheketeer. On balance.

That same night I devoted a half hour or so to trolling through the schedules of HBO, Starz, Turner Classic Movies, and the Fox Movie Channel, and our fancy new hard drive is already starting to fill up with good stuff. Sometimes I walk through the room and see the red "recording" light on, and it warms my soul. Even while we're sleeping, the silver box is working for us. (Thank you silver box, thanks for all you do.) I feel like I'm born again!

-- Yesterday I posted a picture of a couple sunbathing amongst the tsunami devastation, somewhere in Asia. Well, apparently this is nothing new for these folks. It turns out that the pair have quite a record of vacationing in the middle of mayhem. I had no idea, but a reader brought me up to speed on it. Check it out. I think you'll be amazed.

-- Now I'm going to turn it over to our good friend Buck, and apologize for the brevity of today's update. I thought it was over, but the shit is hitting the Coolidge again at work. I need to get in there. So... Buck?

See ya tomorrow.



January 12, 2005

-- Toney and I are starting to talk like these people up here. I catch a little something in her speech every once in a while, and she does the same with me. Talk about disturbing...

It's not so much the pronunciation as it is the way we're arranging our words. When we first came here I noticed that the locals often turn their sentences around backwards. For instance, they'll say, "What a bunch of assholes, those guys!" Why is "those guys" snipped off the front and tacked onto the back? I don't understand it, but we're starting to do it. Scranton is seeping into our home!

Toney has a cousin who grew up in Reno, NV. Toney is also from Reno, and I don't think those folks have any kind of accent at all. But her cousin married a man from Philadelphia and within a few years she had a thick-ass Philly accent. She soaked it up like a big ol' jiggling hunk of tofu. When I first met her I was convinced that she was playing it up, doing it all for show, but over the years I've become convinced it's genuine. Again, disturbing. The fact that such a thing could happen, in such a short period of time, makes my highly concerned. Maybe it could also happen to me??

But I'm pretty conscious of it, so maybe that'll save me? My goal, I think, is to have no accent at all. I have a friend in my hometown in WV who accuses me of having a northern accent, but when I was in California I seem to remember him saying I had a California accent. I think he just likes to plant little seeds of concern in my mind, like the guy on Seinfeld who called Elaine "big head." I may be fully delusional, but I believe I'm pretty much accent-free at this point. I still say y'all, but that's burned deep into my soul. Plus, I kinda like it -- it's a highly functional word, y'know. Beyond that though, I don't think people can tell where I live by the way I say things.

At least not yet. Maybe it's time to move again before it's too late? Perhaps to Kansas, or somewhere in the middle of the country? We're starting to swing our sentences around here! How long before it all comes crashing down, and we're saying the word "two" like we're trying to spit a piece of lint off our tongues? Or until somebody asks us how many packets of ketchup we want, and we scrunch our faces up, shrug our shoulders, and say, "Oh, I don't know... a cuppa two tree?"

God please help me.

-- I received more than 150 spam messages to my Surf Report mailbox while I was at work yesterday. It's gotten out of hand. Every morning when I turn on my computer there are seventy or eighty little piles of bullshit waiting for me, and usually that same number when I get home in the evening. (And that's not even counting the metric shitload of messages intercepted by the Outlook Express spam filter.) Yesterday was a banner day for some reason. 

In olden times they would try to convince me to visit porn sites, many involving women with unconventional cravings, but over the past year or so things have swung decisively to prescription drugs. Everybody and their criminal cousin is trying to talk me into purchasing pharmaceuticals from them. Hundreds of times per day. Ha! I'd like to kick every one of them in the carry-on luggage. I get a lot of stuff, as well, about refinancing our home loan, from "companies" who use @ instead of a. And I receive quite a few notes with bad news in the subject line, with some kind of random food at the end. For instance: your wife is cheating on you toffee. Or: you have pancreatic cancer rigatoni. What in the handmade hell?? 

Can any of this actually work? Do these people really make money doing this sort of thing? I can't imagine anyone doing business with such shyster douches. The guy who tried to sell me a pair of pants in an Atlanta parking lot at 2 am years ago was the General Motors Corporation compared to these people. Does anyone know how successful these campaigns really are? I'd be interested in knowing.

-- Wait! This breaking news was just received from our field reporter Buck, hot off the wire:

UNDERWEAR SAVES MAN LOST IN WOODS: A hunter lost in the woods in Arkansas was rescued thanks to his tightie-whities. The man was out hunting with a couple of friends when he and his dog spotted a group of ducks a few hundred yards away. After he shot and bagged four of the ducks, he started walking to join his friends and then realized he was lost. Hours later he heard helicopters overhead, but his camouflage hunting clothes made him difficult to spot -- so he took off his underwear and tied them to his gun. He waved his makeshift flag and was rescued by police, after having spent 12 hours in the woods. (Associated Press)

-- And here's another oldie but goodie. I've heard it fifty times and never fail to laugh.

-- On a sadder note, John F. Kennedy's sister has passed away. The details are here, in a delicately headlined story.

-- Meanwhile, the cleanup in south Asia continues... 

-- And now I'm going to turn it over to Metten, and wish you folks a nice Wednesday.

Have a nice Wednesday. See you tomorrow.

 

January 11, 2005

-- The cable guy is due at The Compound between eight and ten this morning, to bring us back from the '90's and to get this furniture store prop electronics out of here. We've been watching terrible television for the past week, and have taken to channel surfing again. We're completely lost! It's too depressing to even think about... But we should be back in business shortly. Somewhere right now there's a man riding around in a panel truck with my mental well-being wrapped in plastic and bouncing around in the back. God bless the cable guy, and God bless America.

-- I bought four or five new shirts over the weekend, to wear to work. It's my once-per-year clothing splurge. Some people shop constantly, always on the lookout for that perfect addition to their wardrobe. I don't do it that way. I just buy a bunch of shirts, wear them until I start to feel embarrassed by how faded or shriveled they've become, then buy new ones. I have no wardrobe, I have jeans and shirts. Anyway, some of last year's models appear to have been baked in a pizza oven for several hours, so I went out and got me some new shit.

And when I got home, I'm not exaggerating, it took me a full thirty minutes to get all of the pins out. Sweet Bucktoothed Moses, why so many pins?? There must've been twenty in each shirt. I was putting them in my Dean Martin ash tray as they were being removed, and the thing was practically overflowing by the time I was done. Do they have old ladies who do that, or what? Are they paid per pin? Is that the reason for the overkill? Hundred year old Pakistani women trying to put chapati on the table? I'm not sure, but I don't like it. It makes me nervous.

When I was a kid our next door neighbors had a teenage daughter who stepped on a pin. It reportedly drove deep into the bone of her heel, and she was never the same again. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but she walked with a limp for the rest of her life, and her left leg kind of came to a point. One leg was normal and the other one was really red, with a radical taper in the lower quadrant. And for that reason I've always been extremely anal about making sure no pins end up on the floor. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of the radical red taper.

Needless to say, having all those pins as my personal responsibility, all at once, kept me on edge and mildly agitated for an extended period of time.

Plus, I worry that I'll miss one, drive an arm through a sleeve, and cut myself open like a Subway roll. I wished I had a metal detector, so I could lay out all of the shirts on the floor, and do a quick wanding, just to be sure. And don't all of those millions of tiny holes cause some problems as well? I mean, it can't be good, can it? Do they seal over in the wash? It seems that they do, but I can't really figure out how.

The whole exercise was quite unsatisfying.

-- And speaking of overkill, I was in Target on Sunday and remembered I needed some toothpaste. Usually Toney takes care of that kind of stuff, so I was largely in uncharted waters. And it took me about fifteen minutes to make my selection.

The aisle was roughly a quarter-mile long, and half of it was taken up by Colgate, and the other half was dominated by Crest. In between was a tiny sliver of shelving with all the other brands that nobody's ever heard of, like Vote Toothpaste and whatnot. Within the massive Colgate and Crest sections were about five hundred different varieties of each. Whitening, tartar control (yuck), for sensitive teeth, with baking soda, for people with a pronounced overbite... whatever. It was too much for my brain to process; I felt like I was seventeen again standing in front of the expansive beer coolers at Cold Spot. I just couldn't choose.

I don't like that gel crap because it oozes around the nozzle, hardens, and turns into neon blue rubber cement. And I have a feeling that that whitening business will come back to haunt all of us. What do they put in that stuff, swimming pool chemicals? I predict that in twenty years time all of America will be walking around with tiny Tic Tac teeth because of that crap. I just wanted regular Crest, like they had in the '70's. And I couldn't find it. I checked every facing and they all had some kind of novelty ingredient attached to them. I think one was called Crest Ocean Floor. I have no idea...

I finally just grabbed the cheapest one, something I should've done fifteen minutes before, and it's not too bad. I think it has miniature M&M's in it! Mmmm...

-- Here's a site you can visit if you want to trigger a grand mal seizure. Every once in a while I have a hankering...

And Andy's going ass-over-tits upstairs. The cable guy must be here with my happiness! I'll see you folks tomorrow.

 

January 10, 2005

-- Did I mention that our latest DVR box died last week? I don't think I did, because it wasn't overly traumatic -- until the weekend came. But man, the past couple of days I've felt like a fish... not exactly out of water, but maybe a fish swimming in apple juice or something? Shit ain't exactly right at The Compound; the whole rhythm of our life has been thrown into disarray.

Toney was watching something while I was at work last week, and the magic box just suddenly shut down. Without warning it went black, and wouldn't power up again. In the past it's gone down, come back up, and all of our saved movies were gone. But this time it went down and stayed down. She called Adelphia (we have them on speed dial at this point) and they walked her through a series of crazy exercises, like she was suspected of drunk driving, but the box couldn't be resuscitated. The company sends a signal to it, and pings it or whatever, but nothing was getting through. It was dead... nothing more than a prop. We may as well have had a box of taters on that shelf.

That's Part One of the bad news. Part Two is that they couldn't send a person out to check it until Tuesday. Almost a week without DVR -- or digital cable. I had to pull the plug out of the box, and stick it directly onto the TV, like it's 1979. So we have no interactive guide, and have to rely on that TV Guide Channel crapola. Every time I want to check on something specific, that scrolling schedule has just passed it and I have to wait for it to come back around again. I can't tell you how infuriating that is. I was sitting in our family room clutching a remote, and screaming, "Scroll, you fudgepacker!!" This is the 21st century. A person shouldn't have to wait for it to come back around again. We have the technology.

And this garbage of watching TV shows when they're actually being broadcast? Yeah, that's for suckers. The whole weekend was shot because I was required to do loads of research and make appointments and whatnot. I just wanted to watch TV, not get my realtor's license. I finally just said screw it, and went to Blockbuster. The whole thing was making me too agitated, so I turned it off.

The guy will be here tomorrow with another $17.00 piece of shit from the Pacific Rim, and everything will work just fine for a few weeks. Then it'll be back to the slow scrolling and apple juice swimming. I really don't need this aggravation... Maybe I can talk him into leaving two or three extra boxes, just in case?

-- I don't want to get myself too excited, but I seem to be dropping some poundage since I've started going to the gym. I climbed atop the ol' bathroom scale yesterday morning, and verified it again today, and I'm down a few ass dimples. It's an encouraging sign; I'm not accustomed to such a thing. Oh sure, the needle still takes off in a wild blur and goes almost all the way around, but it's now stopping a few ticks early. How cool is that?

And the big difference between this approach and last year's horrible hedge-trimming diet, is that I actually enjoy going to the gym. It's not a chore, I sincerely look forward to it. I go there, hang up my coat, clamp some headphones to my ears, and zone out. It's almost as good as beer. Yesterday I listened to The Faces at an elevated volume, and was actually disappointed when my hour was up. Who could've predicted such a thing?

Yesterday I also watched in amazement, the hefty girl on the elliptical machine in front of me wearing shorts with the word FITCH across her butt cheeks. At least that's what it said when she started. By the time she'd gotten about fifteen minutes into it, all I could see was FH. Her large gyrating ass had completely gobbled up the I, the T, and the C. It was a fascinating thing to watch. And it nearly hypnotized me; I felt totally relaxed and probably could've been convinced to do just about anything.

So much better than the TV Guide Channel.

-- As I said on prom night many years ago, I'm sorry this isn't a little longer. I just couldn't get out of bed this morning. I'll try to do better tomorrow. Have yourself a great day.

 


January 7, 2005

-- The week's almost over already? Wow, pretty cool. My job has been surprisingly laid-back since I returned from my extended "rest." And time flies with your balls out of the vise, as opposed to in it. I believe Robert Frost first said that. Or was it Yeats? I'm not sure... In any case, it's a pleasant surprise. A couple of weeks ago I was certain I wasn't getting paid anywhere near enough, and this week I feel like I'm pulling off one pretty nifty scam. I guess it all evens out in the end, but it would be kinda nice if the peaks and valleys weren't quite so extreme. But whatever.

I don't have much today, and not an abundance of time either. I'll just go through my notebook and see what scraps are left, OK? OK.

-- I mentioned that I've been watching the old Star Wars movies. I'm not really a science fiction/fantasy kind of guy, and I'd only seen the first movie -- in a theater when I was fourteen. I'd never seen, or had much interest in seeing, any of the other films. In fact, until recently, I thought the poofter robot man was R2-D2, and the rolling trashcan was C3PO. That was how much I knew about it. 

But now that the original movies are out on DVD, I thought I'd see what all the hubbub is about. And now I know: they're fucking good. That big confusing story, like Knot's Landing with swords, is now clear to me. And I'm into it. Oh, I'm not going to be dressing up as Darth Vader anytime soon, but I can understand why a person might.

Anyway, there were a few things that surprised me about the original trilogy. Like the really bad acting in the first movie by that Luke character. Man, I could act better than that guy, and I'm an operations manager in Scranton. There were a couple of scenes that I had to replay because I was actually distracted by the manifest shittiness of it all, and missed what they were saying. He got better in the others, but that first one is painful. And who was the makeup artist for that thing, Bob Villa? Sweet Jesus. For most of the first movie Princess Leia looks like she just finished losing a long game of paintball.

Also, what happened to all the Smiths and Jones we have today? Do they have no descendants? Apparently there will be none in the future, and I'd be interested in knowing why. What is Skywalker? What kind of name is that? I've never heard of anyone with such a name in my life. Zitselberger yes, but not Skywalker. And who names their kid Obiwan? Or Han? Or Boba? How did they make it through Junior High?? I have a fairly normal name, and got called Jeff Gay for three solid years. Can you imagine being named Wedge Antilles??

And let me get this straight... Darth Vader is Luke's father, and Leia is Luke's sister, but nobody knew it? Sounds like Kentucky to me. They should've added a short scene where Darth gets out his banjo and plays "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Ya know? And speaking of Vader, did you see him without his helmet?? He looks like Fester!

Thank you! I'll be here all week!

-- Somebody was busting my ass in the comments section a few days ago because I misused the word "affect." Since it's now becoming clear for all to see, there's no point in hiding it any longer... Friends, I have trouble with affect/effect and who/whom. I also couldn't spell the word "occasionally" if somebody put a gun to my temple, and often mispronounce "substantial." For some reason I always want to put an extra syllable near the end, and say "substantional" or something along those lines. I ask for your understanding in this matter, and sincerely hope it doesn't effect or affect our close relationship. Thank you.

-- The toilet seat in our downstairs bathroom snapped off this morning. It had been hanging by one latch for many months, and now the other one has given way. Right now it's just a free agent, not attached to anything. You could carry it through the house if you wanted. It's now necessary to balance the whole deal on the bowl and hope the knobs don't slip off the edge, and your ass gets tilted into the floor. I guess I'd better fix it? I think I have a Time/Life repair manual called Beginning Shitter Repair, so I should be able to figure it out.

-- Go to Google Images and do a search for Count Chocula. Is it just me, or does one of those photos seem a bit out of place? Or maybe not?

-- Finally, I'm not sure if I've linked to this before, but I listened to it again yesterday and found myself laughing my buttcheeks off all over again. It's a sound file from an old Neal Boortz show, and he's talking about the day "Boo Got Shot." It's an old school internet classic, worth revisiting from time to time.

And that's it, boys and girls. Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday.

 

January 6, 2005

-- We got our snow yesterday. Oh, we got it real good. Actually, most of it came down last night after dark; nothing too dramatic happened during the day. But there's a good collection of flakes (no two alike!) out there right now, piled on top of each other, then covered in a crunchy hardshell. Apparently it's raining ice at this point, and it's nearly possible to walk across the snow without sinking. I let our dog Andy out early this morning to frolic, sling urine around, and whatever it is he does out there. And when he hit the snow all four of his legs went in different directions, and he did a belly flop. Once he got himself righted he glanced back at me, over his left doggy shoulder, and saw my head thrown back in laughter. Then he refused to frolic. Hell, he wouldn't even sling any pee. He just wanted back in, to sulk. Andy's a very proud animal, and spent the next thirty minutes shooting me dirty looks.

It should be interesting driving to work today. Last night I left the place around 6:45 and it had just started snowing again. I know this because the security guard said, "Hey, it just started snowing again!" They closed the schools yesterday, but there was only a dusting of the stuff on the ground -- like powdered sugar on a Monte Cristo. (Mmmm... deep fried club sandwiches...) But it was coming down in a hurry as I walked to my truck, and it only seemed to intensify as I drove. And by the time I got to our little town, the roads were covered and it was slicker than cat crap. I touched the gas pedal at a green light and could feel the back end of my Blazer trying to get out front. And I saw a big hippie van with curtains go up a hill sideways. I actually had to kick that bitch into 4WD to make it all the way home; I wasn't able to conquer the mountain in our neighborhood without taking drastic action. And the roads had been clear only twenty minutes before. Crazy, man.

And since it's snowing I've been wearing these strange boots that I bought last year off the clearance rack at Burlington Coat Factory. They look fine, but there's something odd about them. It feels like the bottom is more narrow than the top, if you can dig it. You can't really see it with the naked eye, but I'm almost certain that the bottom rubber part has a slight V-shape to it. I feel like I'm walking around on ice skates. What kind of boots are these, anyway? Are they from the David Bowie Collection??

I may have told you about an incident last year when one of the rubber wedges shifted to the side as I entered my workplace, my ankle turned over and I nearly took out an airport-grade metal detector? It's true. The guards were buckled over in laughter as they attempted to turn off the wailing siren that resulted. Simply excellent.

But everything will be OK, I'm sure of it. I have my Tom Waits CDs set aside already. For some reason I always like to listen to Tom Waits as I drive in snow -- who the hell knows? And I believe I've adequately mastered my Elton John shoes at this point. (Last summer I put them on a few times and walked around an abandoned parking lot, to get the hang of them.) So, as soon as Toney finishes shoveling the driveway and warming up my truck, I'll be good to go.

-- Earlier this week I made the mistake of downloading KaZaa, or KAzaa, or KazAA, or whatever it is, onto my nearly-virginal new Dell computer. I wanted to hear Los Lonely Boys, and thought I'd grab a couple of tracks, to see if they were my cup of meat. Circuit City has their CD on sale for $8.99, and I'd read some good things... So, anyway, I downloaded the newest version of that insidious program, and it immediately threw my firewall into a bed-shitting frenzy. Warnings were popping up on my screen like zits on a tuba player's ass, and everything was going wild. I ran Spybot and it found 53 "problems," and I'd only run it an hour or so before. Sweet Maria. I fixed all the problems and KAzaa struck back. I got a terse message saying I'm not ALLOWED to delete their adware, and was informed that it had all been reinstalled! What in the hand-stitched hell?? 

I immediately uninstalled kAZZa, and started running Spybot and AdAware over and over. There was some off-brand toolbar on there, new icons offering free gambling chips on my desktop, a whole collection of bullshit. Even today I get an error message when I'm scanning for spyware -- in Dutch! There's probably crap burrowed in my hard drive that I'll never be able to extract. How could I have been so stupid?? 

Oh, and I went ahead and bought the Los Lonely Boys CD and it's kinda shitty. Some of it's good, but there's too much 1970s-style jamming on there. It's the kind of stuff only musicians could like. And let's face it, musicians often have really bad taste. Oh, did you hear that transition right there? God, I need to take off my pants!! Yeah, blow it out yer ass, freak. I don't care about complex fingering techniques, just give me some good songs, goddammit. 

The whole ordeal was quite unsatisfying.

-- Now here's our good friend Buck to take you the rest of the way home. I'm gonna drive to work now, while listening to Rain Dogs and squinting through a windshield that currently looks like a shower door.

Oh, and I almost forgot... See ya tomorrow.

 

January 5, 2005

-- There's snow a-comin'. They've closed the schools here in anticipation, and the weatherdouches on television are turning backflips of excitement, and generally acting like this guy. The big filthy trucks are lumbering around, spraying and spreading that stuff that'll eventually mix together and turn into quick-dry cement then promptly adhere to my windshield. (Have you ever tried driving with a cement windshield? I would recommend against it.)

The grocery stores have undoubtedly been picked clean of bread and milk by now, because that's the automatic human reaction to snow reports: buy large quantities of bread and milk. If we can just know in our hearts that we're fixed on those two grocery items, we'll all be OK. I'm not sure how we settled on those two particular items... Why not ice cream and beef? Or clam chowder and Skittles? But it is what it is. Even people who don't eat bread or drink milk hear the reports, cock their heads like dogs in the early stages of a UPS frenzy, rise from their chairs, fling open their doors, and become George Romero zombies drawn against their will to the grocery stores. Must. Have. Chilled. Livestock. Secretions. Master. Weather. Douches. Predicting. Bad. Times.

But I like it. It's exciting. Things can get dull here, being forty degrees and gray for weeks on end. It's nice to shake things up every once in a while with a little extreme weather. And knowing it's coming, but not being able to predict the magnitude, adds suspense and drama to an otherwise forgettable Wednesday.

I like it. It's all great fun. And if a few people are too stupid to realize that various driving adjustments need to be made, and suddenly find themselves sitting on the roof of a Staples covered in gasoline and clutching a steering wheel, well, so be it. We need the spice, goddammit.

-- Speaking of extreme weather, it's being reported that even as the massive Asian tsunami clean-up and rescue mission continues, tourists are returning to the area. Can you imagine such a thing?? People are vacationing in the middle of all that. Check out this photo; it's mind-bending. Well hell, Martha. We've had those reservations for four months, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Don't forget to pack my ointments woman...

-- What would make an ear just suddenly seal off? I've had this problem all my life, and so has my Dad. It's baffling. One day last week I woke up and my right ear was pinched-shut like a Space Mountain sphincter. It happens about twice a year, and has the power to ruin two or three days at a clip. When it's sealed-off my balance is slightly askew and I feel funky on the junk. It saps me of my energy, and effects everything. I know it sounds improbable, but it's true. When I wake up and realize I'm plugged up, I howl like a retard with a toothache. It means tough days ahead. One time both sides were sealed shut at the same time, and I was nearly incapacitated; I considered checking myself into a hospital. 

It sucks. And don't tell me to clean my ears either, because that ain't it. I'm fairly obsessive about keeping my holes clear of all debris. Those canals are too sensitive, and wield far too much power, not to be properly tended to. I think it's just something that keeps being passed on from generation to generation, from Kay to Kay, for hundreds of years. I imagine ol' Aloyishus Kay (or whatever) waking up after a long evening of crying, near a Civil War battlefield somewhere, and going, "Ohhh great! This is going to fuck me up for days!!" 

The only good thing about it: it'll just suddenly pop open with no warning, and it's like the skies have busted open and heaven is raining down. There's simply no better feeling than when the seal is broken. I feel like smoking a cigarette, every time.

-- And now I'm gonna turn it over to Metten, and drag my sorry ass into work. It's coming down out there, and I need to check out this year's assortment of obese hypochondriac boots.

See ya tomorrow.

 

January 4, 2005

-- My new year's resolution this year is that I will make no new year's resolution. Kind of self-defeating, I know, but it feels right. In the past I've vowed to make exciting lifestyle changes "as soon as the holidays are over," and it's never really worked out for me.

Last year, for instance, somebody must've crept into our house while we slept, bashed both of us over the head with a length of lumber, and caused us to wake up with the insane idea to try out the South Beach Diet. How else to explain it? Seriously. I look back to that time, and feel shame, deep deep shame.

But I was all fired up after that late-night skull-walloping, and made public proclamations to follow the fad diet to the letter. I even posted a weight-o-meter on this website, with the idea that my heft would dramatically melt away, and I'd be a prancing pixie of a man by early spring. It was to be the year of fitness, and a life-altering fork in the road. 2004 would change everything, and I'd finally cast aside the hilarious bolts of denim which had served as my jeans, and maybe even be able to tuck in a shirt by summer! I told myself that I'd reached that magical "breaking point" and was ready for a change; every expert says you have to be ready for such a thing. And I was ready.

It was the worst six days of my life.

I had salad seeping out of every orifice. And it wasn't the good kind of salad either, it was hedge trimmings. It had briars in it, and wooden stems. One time I cut into something and a bumble bee flew out. I'd get home from work, starving and barely able to walk, and there'd be another "natural" salad waiting for me -- with three strips of chicken on top. It was my reward meal, but I never felt like celebrating. I'd cry myself to sleep instead, and my tears smelled like fat-free French (or as I called it, freedom dressing). Oh, those were dark times, my friends. And I didn't lose a single ounce. Toney urged me to stay the course, but I was ready to lay my head on the railroad track.

Never again.

And the year before that, I believe, I decided to give up alcohol. Ha! It must be the craziness of the holiday season that causes the brain to misfire and spark like that. I mean, if it weren't for beer I'd either be in a mental institution, or running General Motors, or something. And God knows I don't need any of that action. But for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to become a tee-totaler, and made it all the way to summer before I "came to my senses." We were camping... there was a fire... I had no choice in the matter! Camping will get you every time. And the change of seasons. And weekends. And haircuts. And taking out the trash. And putting on a shirt...

But this year I vow not to vow. I'm still going to the gym, something I instituted in November, thank you very much. And bourbon season is over, so what's the problem? There's some focusing I'd like to do with my writing, but beyond that, no huge life changes in 2005. Maybe it'll work as reverse-psychology?

-- Speaking of the new year, apparently it's tradition around these parts to eat seafood on New Year's Day. I've never heard of that before, and don't understand it. Perhaps it's Catholic-based? This place is crawling with Catholics, after all, and they have some, um, interesting traditions. When we lived in the South people ate cabbage on New Year's Day, and put dimes in it. Never understood that either, and it never sounded too sanitary to me. Generally speaking, I believe, coins and tokens of any sort should be kept separate from all side dishes. Maybe we can blame that one on the Baptists? Don't know. When we lived in California? Yeah, people there like to shoot guns into the sky at midnight, and they have a big problem with bullets coming back down and causing injuries. No joke. They beg and plead on news reports, and on the radio, for people not to shoot off their guns at midnight, because the falling bullets wreak too much havoc. I'm convinced that this whole country is full of crazy people.

-- And speaking of the gym, I'm pretty sure I saw a few celebrities there last night. I believe I saw Larry David (standing in the locker room with his underwear ratcheted-up well above his navel), former California governor Gray Davis, and the twin sister of Tears For Fears frontman Roland Orzabal. My theory is that they come to the suburbs of Scranton to work out, so they won't be hassled so much by the public. I'll keep you updated on who else I spot there. The place is bubbling over with A-Listers!

-- Buck sent me this yesterday. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I can't stop watching. And for some reason I'm craving tangerines.

-- Finally, here's a really cool Smoking Fish sighting, from the center of the hippie universe. Ahh, I can smell the patchouli and body hair from here.

More tomorrow. Have yourself a great day!

 

January 3, 2005

-- Oh yeah, I'm ready. I'm feeling it again. The big five-day weekend was exactly what the doctor ordered. If it had come in April or May I would've been tempted to hitch up the rolling box of beds and head to the beach, or engage in some other exhausting exercise, but last week I just wanted (needed) to sit on couches and watch movies and completely divorce myself from my ball-mashing job. And that's exactly what I did. I promised to check in with the office from time to time (an unwritten requirement), but it never happened. Somehow, against great odds, I was able to effectively wash away the residue of three months of nad-flattening, and put it all out of my mind. And there was no way I was screwing around with that fragile state of being. A single phone call could've brought it all crashing down.

So I just hung around and didn't do much of anything. We went to the Spongebob movie one day, and did some half-assed shopping another, but beyond that I hardly left the house. I did watch a crazy number of movies and, looking back, I feel a little ashamed about that. I mean, what am I, Harry Knowles here? Shit. I think I may have crossed some kind of line during Day Four. I actually caught myself sniffing at tiny continuity problems. Scary. Another couple of days and I might've been wearing a Sherlock Holmes hat, and quoting The Office.

But I feel rested this morning, and in a good mood. I can't even imagine getting all worked up and experiencing a full-body clench over something trivial like lip-smacking or common everyday douchebaggery. We're all God's children, after all. Even the shitasses.

And I'm excited about the website again. I hope it wasn't too obvious, but the past few months have been a bit "challenging" for me. There were plenty of mornings when I would've rather plunged my face through plate glass than write another update. But today I feel like 2005 is going to be an exciting year for TheWVSR. I've got plans, goddammit. There have been no plans, for a long time. But now I'm feeling it again.

How long do you think it can be maintained? What time have you got?

-- In case you give a hot-buttered crap, here are some of the movies I watched during the past few days. I'm certain there were others, I just can't remember... Office Space, Star Wars, RKO 281, The Poseidon Adventure, Panic In The Streets, The Empire Strikes Back, The Untouchables, Rope, and Garden State. Liked 'em all, especially the ones featuring Shelly Winters under water.

-- A few weeks ago I was listening to Clive Bull, my favorite British radio "presenter," and he did nearly an entire show about a type of English candy called Quality Street. From what I could tell, they're individually wrapped chocolates, and are traditionally popular in England around the holidays. People were calling in and casting votes for their favorite varieties, and telling childhood stories involving the stuff, and it was all very intriguing. People seemed to have deep connections to this Quality Street, and I'd never heard of it before. Two guys were actually shouting at each other at one point, about which was better, the ones in the red wrappers or the long green ones. They sounded like guys who knew their way around a good bar fight, and both had strong opinions on candy. Oh, I had to find out what all the hubbub was about.

For a couple of days I had it in my mind that I would order a box, and began trolling around for websites where a person could buy British foods. Quality Street wasn't hard to find, but it was expensive. The shipping and handling was often more than the candy itself, so I moved onto some other obsession. It would be mighty hard to justify spending forty bucks on a little sack of chocolate, which probably wasn't all that good anyway. I mean, England doesn't exactly jump to mind when you think of candy, does it? Am I off-base there? Anyway, I quickly forgot about it.

Then Toney came home from the store one day, and said she had a surprise for me. "Corn dogs?!" I shouted. But she shook her head and pulled this out from behind her back. She'd found it in the Christmas closeout section at Wegman's, marked down from eight bucks to three! Quality Street, here in Scranton?! My brain melted down a little, and I tore into that toy soldier like a maniac. And we both quickly realized that we had some really good shit on our hands. Each colored wrapper contained a different variety of candy, but all were equally tasty. None were bad, which is fairly surprising. I mean, half of the offerings in a standard Whitman's sampler can make even the hardiest of lower jaws retract (maple is not a valid flavor). But this stuff was good. I was ashamed that I'd ever doubted the British, and their rich tradition of pub-fight candies.

There was but one thing to do, and I did it. We currently have two and a half soldiers left.

-- And that's all for today, boys and girls. For some reason I'm not feeling quite so enthusiastic anymore... Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow. Have a great day.

 

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