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   The State of My Fat Ass                                     January 2006

January 30, 2006

-- The highlights of yet another beerless weekend here at the Compound: a haircut, a fresh case of sudden-onset PAS, a couple of Netflix movies, and a "premature" frenzy to find a new TV for the family room. ...Yeah, I give this little experiment about two more weeks, tops.

-- The girl who shears my head like a goddamn sheep recently moved from one haircutting place to another. For what seemed like months she'd been collecting names and phone numbers on the sly, and in hushed conspiratorial tones, obviously planning to hijack some of her regular customers and have them follow her to her new gig. She finally called a few days ago and said she was all moved, and that she'd appreciate my continued patronage.

Always eager to stick it to The Man, I decided to take her up on her offer. Last week my hair officially became a solid, impenetrable helmet again, so the timing was perfect. I didn't exactly relish the thought of driving around and searching for her new shop (what am I, a complete asshole?), but she's good and slightly nuts. And that's something you've simply gotta support.

Turns out the "shop" is located inside a tanning salon. I mean literally, a tanning salon with a barber chair in the corner of the lobby. <gulp>

When I walked in, the cutesy girl behind the reception desk went from "cute and in control" to "oh shit!" in two seconds flat. I'm not sure what was going on, but I'm almost certain that she moved her hand to an alarm button on the bottom of her desk, the moment she laid eyes on me.

"It's OK, he's one of mine," the sheep groomer said, as she emerged from the back room. I was already a nervous wreck.

I took a seat in her new fancy-pants La-Z-Boy on a stick, and she started tending to my helmet with the two and the four. And as I sat there, jacked up on hydraulics in the corner, a parade of Miss Teen USA contestants came in, exchanged what I believed to be secret " Who's the Slingblade on the lift?" looks with the receptionist, then disappeared behind wooden doors. Presumably to strip down and oil up.

Clarence and Ernest, my boyhood barbers, were spinning in their graves.

Perhaps sensing the anxiety in the air, my current hair care professional attempted to engage me in a conversation about dogs. And at the same time, the receptionist took a call from somebody about a bikini wax. It was something like this:

"So what kind of dog do you have?"

"Well, ma'am it'll depend on the coarseness."


"What breed of dog do you have?"

"Yes, she'll start from the front and work toward the back."

"Dog? Oh yeah, he's a border collie."

"No ma'am, I wouldn't recommend a Brazilian for first-timers."

"How cute!"

I had to go home and lie down for a while. 

Perhaps I should give that old man barber across town another shot, the one who served me up a genuine 1950's-era flattop a few years ago, along with a fifteen minute diatribe about "the spics." Sure, he gave me the creeps. But I bet there'd be no talk of Brazilians in his shop -- unless, of course, it was in relation to their supposed work ethic, or whatever.

I just don't know....

-- At my job the big-shots have always received a bonus in January, based on the company's performance during the previous year. In the past it was only directors and above who received these checks, and that's not me. But last year they changed it to managers and above, and I got my first January bonus.

It didn't turn out to be much money (not like I'd imagined), but it was more than nothing and I wasn't bitching. I think we sunk it into our living room reclamation project, and it was all good.

This year, I'm told, the bonuses won't arrive until March. I'm not sure what that's about, but whatever. As soon as it gets here, I'm buying a big ol' TV.  

Both of our televisions, I believe, were purchased in Atlanta, and that was a long time ago. I haven't even visited the city since 1997, so you can imagine. Both have 27-inch screens, which was big then, but ain't now. And it's time for a radical upgrade.

I've floated a few trial balloons around the house, and I believe I can get away with spending about a thousand bucks, possibly twelve hundred, without any, um, problems.  

But, as crazy as it seems, that's apparently a price you can't spend on a television. It appears that they're all seven hundred dollars or less, or sixteen hundred dollars or more. Nothing in between.  

I had a 47-inch Samsung picked-out at Sam's. It was $999, and came with a really nice stand for free. Here it is. It was so perfect it made my nipples stand up. But they don't have it anymore, and other places (like Sears) want substantially more for just the TV. Then the stand is another two hundred, or whatever. All I can say to that, is, "ha!" 

I'm starting to panic. I drove around from store to store on Sunday, and found nothing. Toney says I'm nuts, that everything could change twenty times between now and March. But I want to be prepared; I don't want there to be any dilly-dallying. Nothing makes me crazier than to let stuff draaaaag out. I need to have a plan of attack, and be ready to move on a moment's notice.

Any suggestions on this? When you only buy a new TV every ten years or so, you just can't afford to make a mistake.

-- On the Netflix front… I watched Red Eye and Mean Creek over the weekend. I liked the first one, and loved the second. And the cool part? Both were about ninety minutes long. So there you go: it's still possible. And it reinforces my pledge to boycott long-ass movies. Life's too short for cinematic masturbation. Pass the beer nuts.

-- My ass went numb again on Sunday, just like every Sunday, sitting in the stands at a swim meet. Aluminum will flat-out eat an ass, if given a chance. Then you can't feel it, even though it's still there... As I've said before, PAS is no laughing matter.

And those are the highlights of the weekend, my friends. On Saturday afternoon I began to experience an urge to drink an unreasonable amount of beer. That's exactly what I wanted: an unreasonable amount of beer. But I didn't give into it, thank you very much; I remained "strong." 

And now look what's happened. It was only a matter of time….

See ya tomorrow.

January 27, 2006

-- You guys are killing me. Why all the hand-wringing over the National Lampoon thing?! They're going to be serving liquor ads (or whatever) to my homepage, and linking me into a network of indie humorists, and there's nothing more to it. It might translate into a few more visitors to the site, something I welcome and hope for, and maybe some bucks as well. And what's the downside to any of that?

I'm getting email from people who seem to believe I went down to the crossroads and cut a deal of some sort. Forgive me, but I think that's a tad dramatic. It's still going to be me sitting here every morning in my big ol' MC Hammer pants, mainlining coffee from a chipped Cape May mug, and tapping out these updates. I won't be a Lampoon employee, and I'm pretty certain they have better things to do than micro-manage my tales of bedshitting and crying jags.

What do you think will happen anyway, I'll start shaping my updates in a manner designed to move more vodka? I mean, seriously.

I'm flattered that some of you care about this, and give a crap one way or the other. But nothing is going to change. In fact, I wouldn't even know how to change; I'm not that talented. The main reason I accepted their invitation was because I think it might bring more visibility to the site. And that's something I'm still excited about.

So... I'm not going to keep talking about this; I feel like too much has been made of it already. I just hope you understand my intentions. I view this as an opportunity, and a possible adventure. It might be neither, but it's gotta be pursued. Ya know?

-- A couple of weeks ago I told you about the trouble that Toney is encountering while serving on a planning committee at the elementary school, for a year-end party in honor of the kids transitioning to Jr. High. It's an annual event, and is apparently a pretty big deal. But, if you remember, every idea that somebody puts forth is immediately shot down by a do-gooder, and Toney says nothing is getting done.

Usually they print a yearbook of some sort that includes a baby picture of every kid, beside a current photo. But somebody said that baby pictures could be hurtful to adopted children, because they might not have any. So that's out.

And they generally have t-shirts made-up with every kid's name on the back. But one parent voiced concern about their child's "identity" being "advertised" in the community. She felt that it might lead to a rash of abductions, and a whole new season of America's Most Wanted. So scrap that.

The examples went on and on, and it was making my wife crazy.

A few days ago I was down here plotting my sell-out to corporate America, I mean writing an update, when I heard a hell of a ruckus upstairs. It was Toney and she was in the midst of a full-on rant. She'd just read an email from somebody about her proposed t-shirt idea, and the person was, as usual, concerned about something.

Toney wanted to have Class of 2014 printed on the shirt, but the emailer felt that they might be pushing their innocent children into becoming teenagers too soon, by reminding them of their high school graduation, or some such thing.

This triggered much hollering in the kitchen: "And the color blue is probably out because there are a lot of Polish people here, and blue isn't flattering to their skin tone! And white lettering won't work, because that would look too much like the American flag, and might imply support for the war!! Hell, maybe we shouldn't have anything printed on the shirts, so as not to offend blind people who won't have the luxury of seeing it!!"

It was highly entertaining, especially the part about the Polish skin tone. Good stuff.

-- Will, the Keeper of the Blanket, has added a couple of new entries to the bottom of the quotes page. Check 'em out here.

-- Have you seen this? Brad sent me the link last night, and it's new to me. And pretty darn cool. Just type in an artist you like, and it'll build you a custom-made radio station that plays similar music. Right now I'm listening to my own personal Nick Lowe channel. Awesome.

-- On a semi-related note, check out this greatness. I can't wait to watch it. I've seen the John Lydon interview before, and it's one of the best things ever. Tom was not amused.

-- This is the wallpaper I currently have on my work computer. And I wonder why I haven't been promoted lately....

-- Here's a news article that my friend Tim forwarded to me. I'm linking to it because it's completely baffling from start to finish. And you've simply gotta admire that.

-- And finally, the moment you've all been waiting for... 

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming a brand new columnist to the Surf Report family. I think you'll agree that he fits right in, and I look forward to a lot of great laughs coming from his direction. They start here.

Have a great weekend, folks.

January 26, 2006

-- I find myself hooked on a couple of cheapie cable television shows.

Generally speaking, I don't like all those so-called networks way up the dial, and their depressing programming. I suspect that most of that stuff is manufactured in a dreary factory somewhere, for the express purpose of filling time. I believe it's cranked-out only because viewers tend to frown on dead air, and for no reasons beyond that.

And since there is so much time to fill, we now get shows that consist of little more than a man in goggles sawing a board for thirty minutes. That's a TV show in the year 2006: sawing, mumbling, and sawing some more. Uncle Miltie would be rolling over in his grave, if something didn't keep getting wedged in the lid of his coffin.

I'm not being dramatic here... when I walk into a room and somebody's watching The Sawing Show, or Folding Laundry With Betty!, or something over on the Checkers Channel, a dark cloud eclipses my soul. It literally makes me sad, much in the same way that word-search puzzles make me sad.

But, despite my misgivings, I just can't stop from watching House Hunters and Passport to Europe. I hesitate to admit this, but the other day I actually found myself pointing at the TV screen, turning excitedly to Toney, and blurting out the phrase, "and double sinks in the vanity!"

Will one of you please drive up here and kick me full in the crotch? I'd be much obliged.

-- Earlier in the week I made a note in my Big Book of Comedy to write about the parties I attended in sixth grade, where spin-the-bottle was played. But I realize now that there isn't much to tell.

The only thing noteworthy about it, really, is the fact that I was invited to take part. In sixth grade, though, I believe I was still halfway-normal. All this hadn't yet kicked in.

The first time I played the game was at a party in a girl's basement. We all sat in a big circle, and I was somehow elected to go first. I got the feeling that I was the only newbie there, all the rest of 'em were seasoned veterans. So I had to act cool, even though I sure as shit wasn't feeling too cool. In fact, I was worried I might pass out.

But I told myself to man-up, and gave the Pepsi bottle a twist. And it pointed toward.... a guy. Everybody thought that was just a riot, and they all started insisting that you must kiss whichever person it lands on, boy or girl. Of course they were just screwing with me, and doing a fine job too. For a couple of seconds I thought I might have to make a run for it; I figured I could get away if I could only reach the river bank.

On my second spin the bottle pointed toward a red-haired girl from my class, and I thought the bottom would surely fall out of my ass. What followed was a lot of hesitancy, stops and starts, hooting and hollering, cruel mockery, and finally.... the two of us on our knees, bodies stretched waaaay forward into the middle of the circle, then something that barely even qualified as a kiss.

Sweat was cascading down my back, and I thought I might vomit from the stress. But I got through it. And from there the game continued for what must've been two full hours. I eventually settled down, and had a great time. I didn't realize that something could be even better than Intellivision!

Before my descent into hideousness, I also participated in a few games of truth-or-dare. Contrary to popular wisdom, truth is far worse than dare when you're twelve. I mean, seriously. And that's why I always opted for dare. It usually led to more kissing, or some sort of tame "touching." And it's been my experience that co-ed butt-rubbing beats sixth-grade "truth" any day of the week....

Yes, it was all good fun. But it was not to last. By the following year I looked like Joey Ramone's ugly brother, and the party invitations dried up for some reason. I got into baseball cards instead.

And so it goes.

I'm sure you guys have much better stories to tell. So let's hear 'em.

-- And that's gonna do it for me, folks. I'm going to turn it over to our good friend Buck now, and wish you all a fine day. So, have a fine day.

Tomorrow I'll have the pleasure of introducing to you a new Surf Report columnist! I believe he will be a perfect complement to our daily pursuit of ridiculousness, and I'm very excited about it. See ya then.

January 25, 2006

-- I'm going to be a little lazy today and share with you something I wrote a long time ago, back during the Southern California days. It's from what I consider to be the best issue of my old paper zine, number 13, the next-to-last edition of that dubious exercise.

I used to have a semi-regular feature called the West Virginia Surf Report Short Story Album, where I'd take some random album or CD and write a (very) short story based on the title of each song. It had nothing to do with the band or the lyrics or anything (something a lot of people just couldn't seem to get through their heads), only the titles themselves.

For issue 13 I chose as my inspiration "Blow My Fuse" by Kix. What follows is the first song on side one, featuring our confused and horny heroes, Buddy and Holly. Be forewarned, it's a tad PG13ish.

Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT

"Stop! Somebody came in!" whispered Holly as the back screen door whooshed open downstairs. Buddy grunted with the effort of halting rapid forward motion. Almost immediately they heard the person go back outside. "Go! Go! Go!" said Holly, and Buddy had his flesh piston up and running at full capacity in no time. He was a piece of sexual machinery chugging rapidly toward the top of the hill. "Stop! There's somebody in the kitchen," she whispered suddenly. "Just ten more seconds," Buddy pleaded. "No, they'll hear us," she replied.

"Jesus J. McChrist!" he spat as he angrily unplugged himself. His secret weapon was the color of a ripe tomato and his pulse rate could've been easily checked from across the room. They both began to get dressed. "Don't be mad Buddy. We were idiots to think we could sneak up here and fool around while my whole family is having a barbecue right out there in the backyard. What's wrong with us?" Holly wondered. "I don't know what's wrong with you," he replied, "but I've got a railroad spike in my underwear." Holly laughed and said, "I'll make it up to you next time, I promise." Tension immediately filled the bedroom because "next time" would happen in the future. And the future was a touchy subject.

"A year from now you'll be doing this with some British guy and you won't even remember my name," Buddy said. "That's not true..." Holly began before he interrupted her. "You know, England is full of gross dirty people with brown teeth. If you go to bed with one of those guys, yeast infections will be the least of your worries. You'll wake up with a basket of dinner rolls in your cooter!" Holly just stared at him and finally said, "You know, you're really starting to piss me off with this imaginary lover crap. I've told you fifty times that I haven't made up my mind about England yet. But you've got to understand what a great opportunity this is for me." "Huh! What a great opportunity for your parents, you mean. They want you to go to college in Europe for one reason: to split us up," said Buddy. "I don't believe that," she replied, "Besides, they can't stop me from loving you." "If you love me you'll make a decision about this and put me out of my misery once and for all. If you're going to England, I need to know," he said.

"Ever since I was a little girl," she began, "I've never had to make a tough decision. If I'm patient enough the problem will either work itself out or else I'll get a sign telling me what to do. We'll just have to wait." Buddy rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah I know. Let's just go outside. Maybe the sight of your aunt will make this go down," he said as he pointed at his still swollen crotch. "Man, Buddy! Point that away from my parents. I don't want them to see it. Plus, if that zipper gives out it'll be like the Olympic Park bombing down there." "Well, my richard is a jewel," he said with a smirk, pleased with himself.

In the backyard several grills were smoking and a picnic table was filled to capacity with foil-covered Tupperware bowls and casserole dishes. About twenty people were preparing to watch or participate in a potato sack race. Buddy and Holly fell into position to watch, just as Holly's father gave the 'Ready, Set, Go!' command. The racers immediately thrashed into motion and the people on the sidelines began to chant, "Go! Go! Go! Go!" Then Holly heard Buddy grunt noisily as a large dark stain spread across the front of his pants. And the stain was exactly the shape of the British Isles.

Thank you, I'll be here all week! 

I presented that exactly as it was originally published, with dated Richard Jewel reference and bunched-up dialog and everything. Mostly because I didn't have the energy to fix it.... 

Let me know if you're interested in downloading other selections from the album, and I'll hook ya up like Napster, yo.

-- Now I want to make you aware of some stuff that's been going on behind the scenes here at the compound....

Starting next month (or so), TheWVSR will become a member of something called the National Lampoon Humor Network. It'll be a group of independent humor sites linked together under the Lampoon name, sharing traffic, good will, and (hopefully) ad revenues.

Back in December I was contacted by the company, and invited to become a charter member of the network. Of course I'm an old-school Lampoon junkie, and was flattered. But, since I'm also an old-school cynical mofo, I was a bit hesitant as well. Did I really want to turn over a slice of my homepage to flashing deodorant ads and whatnot?

In the end I decided to accept the invitation, because of the increase in visitors it'll likely bring. Every site in the network will feature a navigation tool, with links to all the other sites. And, as it stands, network members reportedly generate 140 million page views per month(!). If only one percent click over to The Surf Report, that's a substantial gang of new people. And who knows where that might lead?

Plus, we might get turned on to some funny shit along the way!

There's also a promise of advertising revenues, based on "impressions" instead of actual purchases. But I've been around the block a few times, and know better than to count those particular types of chickens before any actual hatching gets underway. We'll see what happens with that.

Please know that none of this will affect the content of the site in any way. You might see a vodka ad or two beside my daily updates in the future, but beyond that.... nothing.

Just thought you should know.

And that'll do it for today, boys and girls. Buck just sent me a new update, and I'll have that for ya tomorrow. So stay tuned.

January 23, 2006

A few very quick things:

-- As I type this I'm being propped up by five or six mugs (and counting) of Eight O'Clock Bean Coffee, and not much else. My nocturnal inclinations took over yesterday evening and kept me up well past the point that common sense might dictate. Then our dog Andy (aka Black Lips Houlihan; aka Sirius Black & White; aka Snoop Manny Mann) barked through the night.

I'm not kidding, he was hollering nearly nonstop -- from the moment I turned off the light, until Toney got up in the morning. I think it was the salt trucks and snow plows that kept sending him ass-over-tits. I could hear them out there rumbling up and down the streets, and Andy doesn't much care for such nonsense.

So my brain is throbbing today, and once the caffeine wears off I'll undoubtedly be stumbling around like Gomer, the time he got caught in the gas leak at the Mayberry jail. I've got a fairly small window of opportunity here....

-- School is closed today, and snow is coming down at an accelerated clip. It's just about as winter as winter can be outside. And if I wasn't saddled with my pesky West Virginia hang-up about work, I'd just call in sick, curl up with a blanket, and stick in a Green Acres DVD.

But I just can't do it. Whenever I begin to even entertain such a thought, the disapproving faces of my Dad and both grandfathers appear. And one of them will eventually start: "Ahhh, did poor baby not get his beauty sleep last night? Is the cold going to lead to dwy skin? Maybe you can borrow the hot water bottle that Nostrils uses on his vagina, and make yourself feel aalllll better?"

Sometimes I kinda wish there'd been at least one slacker in that bunch, I really do. Just one guy who floated on a highly suspicious workman's comp claim for the better part of his adult life, and things would be much easier for me today.

-- I watched Broken Flowers last night, and really liked it. However... it was this kind of movie. If it hadn't been for the credits rolling, I probably would've turned the disc over, in a frantic attempt to find the ending. But I liked it anyway. In fact, I liked it a lot. And it had nothing to do with Lolita. Ahem.

-- I don't know why I find this to be so interesting, but I do. Maybe it's all the hippie pushin' and pullin'? I've always been a sucker for hippie pushin' and pullin'.

-- Yesterday I once again experienced a rather severe case of Phantom Ass Syndrome, during hour three of the oldest Secret's swim meet. And I got to thinking... You folks with your crazy Photoshopping skillz? Do you think you might be able to whip together a small advertising button of some sort, urging continued support for PAS research? It's something I'd like to feature on the site. Because I care, and because I am a victim.

-- As sort of a follow-up to our music discussion a few days ago, are any of these CDs worth buying at the kick-ass $7.99 price? I already have New Pornographers, but don't know much about the rest of 'em. I respectfully ask for your guidance in this matter.

-- Finally, Buck asked me to share this sound file with you. I'm unclear on its significance, but I think it might actually be him singing, after a mason jar or two of the recipe. I'll try to get more information, and will pass it along as soon as possible.

And that'll have to do it for today, my friends. 

See ya tomorrow.

January 21, 2006

-- Since the new year began I haven't been living on my standard liquids (beer & coffee), I've at least temporarily switched over to something a little more healthy (water & coffee). Plus I've been making a half-assed attempt at limiting the amount of garbage I ingest, and getting a reasonable amount of sleep. And what am I receiving for my efforts? That's right, I'm now as zitty as a sixteen year old bagboy.

I'm not kidding, I may as well grow a wispy moustache and start hiding porn around the house, to complete the effect. It's as if every toxin in my system is now coming out through my head.

Do you think all this is related somehow? And will it ever stop? I'm forty-three years old, for God's sake. I look like one of those guys camped outside Best Buy, making fanboy banners and waiting for the next XBox shipment to arrive. And I can't have that.

-- Of course it could be worse; things could always be worse. For instance, did you see this?! Holy crapballs, Batman. I thought the guy had permanently dispatched his demons when he hugged that crippled man on VH1 a few years ago? Wotta ripoff. All those tears for nothing....

Wonder if he's pawned off all those seashell necklaces he used to wear in the '70s? I noticed that he wasn't sporting one in the mug shot, and I'd like more information.

-- Earlier this week Clive Bull was playing around on his show with a hand-held game that belongs to his son. You're supposed to think of an item, then answer the machine's questions about it with yes/no/sometimes, and eventually it'll guess the item. It's supposed to be incredibly accurate, so he set out to stump it.

His item: a "bogie," the British word for booger.

Exactly the route I would've taken!. One of the questions was, "Is it man-made?" He answered yes. Then it said, "Is it multi-colored?" He said sometimes.

Hilarious. At the end it did guess booger, but it was a word Clive wasn't familiar with. (He pronounced it boo-ger.) His producer had to tell him that it's the American word for bogie, and his attempt at stumping the machine went down in flames.

Good times. You literally have no idea what he'll be talking about from night to night. On Monday it could be the 2012 Olympics, or vinyl flooring, or piss-shivers.

It reminds me of Larry King's old weird-but-entertaining overnight radio show, back in his pre-CNN days. Remember that? There was no real call-screening, and mental patients, conspiracy theorists, hardboiled racists, and kooks and crackpots of all species were allowed to go straight-to-air, coast to coast:

Larry: Denver, Colorado, you're up!
Caller: You filthy Jew bastard...
Larry: Indianapolis, Indiana, you're next!

That show kept me entertained (and good company) when I worked the 11 pm to 7 am shift at the Dunbar Toll Bridge, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Oh, I was into Larry King before Larry King was uncool.

-- Toney and I were talking about something the other day, and I'd like to get your feedback on it.

Were you ever forced to dance in gym class? I was. Square dancing, to be precise. I think it was in fifth and sixth grades, and once a week or so an old man would show up at our school and hook up his amplification equipment inside the "multi-purpose room." (He wore glasses with one clear lens, and one darkened lens for some reason.) Then we'd be dragged in there, and forced to pair up with a girl(!), an actual girl, and start sashaying about.

It was horrifying. All that co-ed locking of elbows and promenading and whatnot... Can you think of anything more cruel to do to a group of eleven year olds? Sweet Maria. I'd be pouring sweat before the first dos-a-do was even in the can.

And needless to say, I was terrible at it. The girl would inevitably be pissed at me within minutes, because I'd always go prancing off in the wrong direction, or trample her feet, or some clumsy-ass thing. Even in retrospect, thirty years later, I can't think of a single positive benefit of such an exercise.

I remember one time a young hooligan in my class, named Keith L., grabbed the microphone while we were momentarily left unattended, and hollered into it, "Swing your partner up against the wall/Stick it in, balls and all!" I was very confused by that (not to mention disturbed). Balls and all? Was my understanding of the procedure somehow flawed?

Anyway, Toney says she never went through any of this. And that makes me wonder if it was just a West Virginia thing? Perhaps just a Dunbar, West Virginia thing? 

Did you ever have to dance in gym class?

-- I came across this picture last night while trolling for filth, I mean doing research, and it made me think of our resident word nerd, Wordnerd. Please view with extreme caution if misplaced apostrophes cause you to clinch. I will not be held responsible.

-- And finally, a couple of people sent me this video, including Buck, and it's pretty darn funny. So I thought I'd share. Hopefully it won't send me spiraling into another boiling Neti Pot hell....

And that's gonna do it for today, children. I've somehow gotten completely out of rhythm with this thing, and am mildly concerned. I'm now doing updates at midnight, on Saturday mornings.... It's chaos; cats are sleeping with dogs! 

I thought this new semi-healthy living would clear my head, and make things easier. And here I am all zitty and stupid, and checking the toilet paper bag for instructions. Perhaps I need to see how many Yuenglings remain in the basement fridge, go buy a sack of sour cream 'n' onion chips, and "recalibrate" tonight?

I'll keep ya updated.

January 19, 2006

Sorry for the late update today; I just couldn't hoist my heft off the dormancy platform this morning. Yes, it's a sad and familiar tale.... But I cobbled together this half-baked dispatch between ballbusters at work today, and uploaded it after I got home (and after I watched Love Monkey and a few other things). So that counts for something, right? Right? ...Hello?

Please be warned that what follows is completely music-themed. So, feel free to skip it if you couldn't give a crap, I won't be offended. Tomorrow I'll get my head screwed on straight, and get back to the good stuff.

But in the meantime... prepare for suck.

-- For the past few days I've been in the grips of a powerful Jim White jag. Do you know this guy? He's an oddball from the deep south somewhere, and records for David Byrne's label. And man, he's great, in an offbeat and atmospheric Tom Waits sorta way. 

Plus, and I cling to this kind of shit like a life-preserver, he apparently drifted around aimlessly for the first forty-or-so years of his life, doing drugs, living in trailers, and working terrible jobs. Then, eventually, he figured out a way to turn his experiences and attitude problems into art, and now has people like me hanging onto his every word. 

Oh, I recommend him highly. All three albums are equally good, so check 'em out. You simply can't go wrong. Here's his official page. And you can thank me later.

-- Speaking of music, in the Best of 2005 issue of Entertainment Weekly (aka Shitter's Digest) from a couple of weeks back, they featured a list of 18 or 20 essential downloads from the year. Supposedly it was the songs from 2005 that any hipster worth his salt must have stored on his iPod, according to the editors of SD. And since I had none of them, I figured I'd better get busy.

So, via highly illegal means, I procured every song mandated. And now I'm listening to them, and I just don't know.

There are two selections by Madonna, one of which is right out of your standard neighborhood gay rave. I can't really get behind it (so to speak). It's just monotonous pounding, and radically altered vocals. What's the deal with that, anyway? Why do almost all drum machine dance tunes feature vocals that sound like someone hollering over the loudspeaker at Home Depot? It makes me want to rip the skin off my face.

There's a song by that guy from matchbox twenty, who's apparently trying to become Jessica Simpson now, and Mary J. Blige wailing, just wailing, on an old U2 song. I've also got two tunes by Liz Phair that are so sweet and processed that Twinkie snack cakes the world 'round are probably jealous and simmering with anger right now as a result. And then there are the one or two requisite underground hip-hop selections, so profane they make even me blush.

There are also a bunch of tunes included that I neither love nor hate. And how sad is that?

On the plus side, I think I need to go right out and buy the Kaiser Chiefs album. Who are those guys?? Sounds like the good ol' days to me. And the Bob Mould tune ain't too shabby either. Same goes for "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House."

But them's pretty slim pickins, four or five songs out of twenty. Maybe I'm just becoming a crusty old bastard, set in my ways and cynical as all hell? Anything's possible, I guess.

Last night I was at the oldest Secret's swimming practice, trying to give this so-called essential mixtape another chance. I was sitting at the top of the bleachers with my headphones plugged into my, um, ports, paranoid that everybody was thinking, "How nice. That fat man probably bought the Garth Brooks box set with the Wal-Mart gift card his Momma gave him for Christmas."

And for a few brief seconds I felt an ancient but familiar thrill, because I knew that if they heard what I was actually listening to, the paramedics probably would've been called and smelling salts waved around.  Then I craved more of that feeling -- wanted it, needed it. Just like in 1978! It was completely intoxicating, all over again!! 

Yeah, but it didn't last this time. Within a minute or two I was back to: "What in the hell are you doing?! Beat that pussy up?! Have you lost your mind? You'll probably be arrested."    

Help me out folks. What are the essential CDs of 2005? I can't do it song by song like Shitter's Digest, it's just too confusing and exhausting. What are the full-length albums that every hipster worth his salt should own from the previous year?  

And I'm gonna go climb aboard the platform again. and try to get back on schedule tomorrow.

January 17, 2006

-- On Friday it felt like early spring up here. The snow was melting, the air was clean and clear, and car washes were doing a turnaway business. I think it was about sixty degrees, and I saw folks actually walking around without a jacket.

You know these people. They're the ones who start wearing shorts way too early in the year, then get themselves burnt to a bright candy-apple red the first time the sun comes out in April, then look like assholes for three days straight. For some unrelated reason, they also seem to be the ones who come to work straight out of the shower every morning, with wet dripping hair.

Well, they really did it to us this time. They obviously pissed off the gods, with all this jacket-shedding and whatnot, and now we're all paying for it. Every single one of us. Thanks! Thanks a heaping pantload.

It's now bitingly cold, the kind of weather where it's hard to breathe and your heart actually skips a beat when you walk into it. It's almost scary. And the wind's been blowing, and snow has been falling.... Oh, it's the full combo platter.

One night the wind was howling like something out of an old horror movie, and, like Kramer, I couldn't get my core temperature up. I kept goosing the thermostat and piling on the blankets, but just couldn't get warm. Outside I could hear heavy shit flying around and crashing, and dreaded what I might find in the morning. At one point I thought I heard a fully-stocked china cabinet hit the ground, after falling from a great height. But that didn't really make logical sense.

And when Toney got up in the morning she found the back door standing wide open. It was locked, but was apparently not closed all the way, and the wind had blown it open. The telephone in the kitchen was on the floor, and papers were strewn everywhere. When she tried to replace the telephone and the base and everything, a bunch of cookbooks shifted on the table and sent a CD player crashing down.

I sat bolt upright in bed, sure that something terrible had just happened. I didn't know what, but I had visions of Toney lying in a crumpled heap down there, her skull sunk-in like a soccer ball with no air in it. Then I was relieved to hear her say, "Son of a bitch!" and knew it was only property damage we were talking about.

I was up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 that morning, and felt like shit all day as a result. Thanks jacket shedders!

On Sunday I contracted a severe case of cabin fever, because there was far too much hanging around going on. So I decided to go to Borders, just to kill some time and get a little blood pumping again. And while I was driving, comedy ensued.

My windshield was a sight, completely covered in that white brine shit they spread on the roads when it snows. So I hit the washer button, and that sent the familiar blue stuff across my field of vision, and launched the wipers into motion. However.... there were apparently big chunks of ice stuck to the blades, and they weren't even touching the windshield. And since it was so cold, the liquid almost instantly freeze-dried there, and it was like I was looking through a shower door. All I could see were blurry colors, and shifting shapes.

I had to make an emergency stop and scrape my windshield in the howling, scrote-tightening wind. And because I couldn't see what I was doing, I didn't even pull all the way off the road, requiring other drivers to maneuver around me. 

Shit! All it'll take, I told myself, is another douchebag to be riding down the road with a shower door, and I'll have a situation on my hands.

But I made it without causing any multi-car pile-ups or anything, and deserved every "asshole!" flung my way.

I went to Borders but just couldn't bring myself to pay full-retail when there's a perfectly-good internet at home. So I hoofed it over to the mall. 

There I wandered into JC Penney, and ended up buying four Dockers brand shirts, all originally priced at $42.00, for around ten bucks each. At the bottom of the receipt it said, "You Saved $112.53," or something like that. And I was one happy cheap-ass fat man.

And, as sad as it sounds, those are pretty much the highlights of my three-day weekend. I did get some significant work done on my extracurricular writing project (early to bed, early to rise!), and watched a crapload of Netflix stuff. But I won't bore you with the details.

....OK, I can't resist.

For some reason I didn't think I was going to like Trailer Park Boys. I can't tell you why, because I don't know. But the disc sat on top of my TV since before Christmas, and I hadn't watched a single episode. Man, was I wrong about that one! Hilarious show. One episode in particular, when they stole a riding lawnmower, had me laughing so hard tears were streaming down my puffy face. I'm laughing right now just thinking about it. "I'm shot, I've been shot! FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK!!"

And, in the opposite direction, I just knew I was going to dig The Boondock Saints, and ended up hating it. Well, hate is kinda strong. But I sure as shit didn't like it. Some people would argue that life is too short for Tarantino flicks, but I wouldn't agree with that. However, I am fairly certain that life is too short for fake Tarantino flicks made by talentless hacks. Dafoe was amusing as a gay FBI man, but beyond that.... no. I want those two hours back, ya pricks.

-- And finally, I was working on an extracurricular yesterday that forced me to change the names to protect the guilty. I was writing something about my old Dunbar days, and had to decide whether to use real names of people, or come up with new ones to protect myself. I finally decided to err on the side of caution, 'cause I don't need no psychos showing up at my door, pissed and itching to get some stabbing done. Ya know?

But as I was doing this, I realized that we had nicknames for almost everybody. My friend Bill, in particular, is a master at that sort of thing. He alone is responsible for dozens of quality (and often quite mean) nicknames, and the rest of us weren't too shabby either.

So I was wondering... what were some of the best nicknames from your school days? I'm especially interested in the cruel ones -- for some reason. Use the comments link below.

See ya tomorrow.

January 13, 2006

-- The "visitors" left town yesterday evening, and I think it went reasonably well. I'm not the most outgoing person in the world, and that puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to playing tour guide, or master of ceremonies, or any role that requires me to, you know, talk to people and look them in the eye.

No, I'm the type who, in school, would instinctually go to the next-to-back row of the classroom. The very back, of course, was reserved for guys with the letters O-Z-Z-Y tattooed across their knuckles, and who sported an abundance of mysterious scarring. I didn't sit back there. I was always in the next-to-back row, where I could fade into the landscape and mock and ridicule in obscurity. That's my comfort zone, out of the spotlight but not so far out that it becomes a statement. Ya know?

So all this goes counter to my personality. But I think it turned out OK. We went to dinner Wednesday night, at a ridiculously expensive restaurant, and there were no awkward gaps in conversation, and I didn't accidentally fart or turn over backwards in my chair, or anything. I considered it a victory. Plus, I had several Bass Ales, a Land of the Giants sirloin, and cheesecake. Mmmmm...

Near the end of the meal I did experience a leg cramp, that hurt like a scalded bastard. It caught me off-guard, this sudden-onset Lou Gehrig's disease, and I almost thrashed to my feet. But somehow I maintained my composure, and don't think anyone even knew about it. I was probably grimacing like Garry Shandling for a couple of minutes, but nothing was said about it. They probably just thought I'd gotten hold of a "bad piece."

Can leg cramps be triggered by stress and beef?

Yesterday they had a meeting with a customer scheduled for 8 am, and asked me to come to their hotel and guide them to the office again. That's why I couldn't update. I was out driving up and down the highway at some ungodly hour, like an asshole. They invited me to sit-in on the meeting if I wanted, but I declined. It had nothing to do with me, and I felt like they were just being nice.

So I bowed out, and never saw them again. I heard that the meeting lasted all day, and they had to rush to the airport to make their flights.

And that's that. Another bullet dodged. Now I can just fade back into the shadows, turn up Phil Hendrie, and fart 'n' cramp with abandon.

-- And since I brought it up, where'd you sit in the classroom? I suspect, and I could be wrong, that there aren't too many front row people reading The West Virginia Surf Report. Just a hunch...

-- This is one of those articles that makes me nervous.

I've mentioned before that I have a fear of exiting this world as a Fark link, and having assholes in cubicles treat my death as nothing more than comic relief. For some reason I think it'll have something to do with a hot water tank, and guys with wispy moustaches the world 'round will forward the story to all their masturbating buddies, and they'll just laugh and laugh and laugh. And I can't have that.

But this isn't about me, so screw it, I'm laughing. Whenever I go to one of those types of restaurants I fear that a molten-hot piece of airborne pork will somehow find its way down the collar of my shirt, and will adhere to my shoulder or something. But I'd never really considered the possibility of a fatal injury. Holy shit.

The lawsuit is very similar to a scheme I concocted several years ago, that I plan to enact if I'm ever unemployed and desperate. 

You see, I'll claim that while visiting a fast food joint, or someplace similar, I went into the bathroom and the smell was so bad I violently whipped my head to the side in disgust, and irreparably ripped or wrenched something. I'll then sue the place for having such a funky rest room, for serving food that caused said funk, and the guy who actually gave birth to it.

So... I'll be watching this case closely. The Secrets' college education could be riding on its outcome.

-- And finally, remember the refrigerator at my office that almost touched off a second Civil War? The one that kept getting moved around under the cover of darkness, and was the source of great strategizing and conflict for two or three weeks? Well, check it out; it's flaring up again. It's gonna be brothers fighting brothers before it's over.

And that's all I can muster today, boys and girls. Sweet Maria. This one was like passing a stone for some reason... 

I'm off on Monday, so I probably won't update then. But check back, I could easily change my mind.

Have yourselves a great weekend, y'hear?

January 11, 2006

-- I don't have much time today, because we have "visitors" in town from my company, and I've gotta play half-assed host. This morning I'm meeting them at their hotel, so they can follow me to the office. Then it's a day of facility tours and a catered lunch and charley-horse frozen smiles and God knows what else. Tonight we'll undoubtedly go for an expense-account dinner somewhere and eat comically-overpriced steaks and act all sophisticated and just as happy as shit.

I tossed and turned all night stressing about it.

This kind of thing goes directly counter to my personality; I'm completely uncomfortable being the master of ceremonies. Or even the vice-master of ceremonies. I'm not good at it, I have no real social skills (unless we're in a situation where somebody might break out a beer bong), and it's a genuine struggle. I simply have no aptitude for being Ricardo Montalban, spreading my arms and saying, "Weeelcome to Bitterness Island!"

All this was sprung on me yesterday, and I've been dumping the proverbial ice water ever since. Why can't I just do my job? Why is it up to me to be the local representative?? I can't represent, there's no quality representing to be seen here... Holy shit. My stomach is sucking up against my spinal cord!

Remember that new year's resolution I made concerning no booze until I get a first draft of my book in the can? Out the window. At least for tonight. Straight out the freakin' window. Take me to court and sue me if you'd like. I don't care.

-- You know how I suspected that someone might be logging onto my computer at work, while I'm not there? Well, I've been paying close attention to things, and had convinced myself that it was all just a false alarm. There's been no further evidence of snooping, and I took the advice of "The IT Guy" in Monday's comments and checked the Event Viewer on my machine. Nothing. So maybe I just left my monitor and speakers on? As unlikely as it seems, I suppose it's possible.

Then yesterday I found this, packed between a garbage can and a filing cabinet. So I just don't know. That's one big-ass candy wrapper, and I'd never seen it before. Should I have it dusted for prints? What am I dealing with here, some sort of sweet-tooth espionage? A corporate spy who occasionally enjoys a fancy treat? Perhaps... James Bon-Bon?

I'll keep you updated. I'm no Scrote, for sure, but I'm on the case.

-- Buck sends along this cartoon from the Chicago Tribune, in which West Virginia is uncharacteristically presented in a positive light. I suspect that it's just residual sympathy at work, and the banjoes will return soon enough, but I probably shouldn't be so cynical.

-- I received this in yesterday's mail, the latest addition to the ever-expanding Surf Report music library. And this one is kinda special, because the CD is rare and hard to find at a decent price. I've seen it listed for as much as $65, and I picked up a like-new copy for $11, through half dotcom. So... score

I'm slowly but surely recreating the Peaches Records playstack, circa 1988 or so, in my own home. 

Next on my list is an IRS Fleshtones compilation that was available on CD for roughly fifteen minutes in 1989. And it will be mine.

And that's gonna have to do it for today, kiddies.

Wish me luck, and I'll see ya tomorrow.

January 10, 2006

-- I think the gas gauge on my Blazer is about to shit the bed. Recently it started doing something different, and causing me to think about it. And it's been my experience that a person shouldn't be walking around thinking about their gas gauge. Ya know?

But a couple of months ago it started spazzing out whenever the tank was almost empty. It would just suddenly whip to the right, over near the F, then slowly fade back to E. Then I'd look down and it would show a quarter-tank, and a minute later, three-quarters. It would keep dancing until I bought more gas, then it would settle down.

Of course I didn't like it, but I understood it. I knew that all the craziness meant that I needed more fossil fuel, and there was a discernible pattern to it all.

No more.

On Saturday I bought fifteen dollars worth of gas, and everything was as normal. But the next morning I started the engine and the needle started waving at me, like those doucheketeers outside the window on The Today Show. Back and forth, back and forth, like a windshield wiper. What the hell, man?? I'm not kidding, I had to fight an ancient instinctual requirement to wave back.

Now it's all over the place, and I have no real way of knowing how much gas I've got in the tank. I pumped twenty more dollars-worth, on top of the previous fifteen, so I think I'll be OK for a few days. But then what? I can't be driving around with my gas gauge jumping up and down, afraid that the engine is going to cut out at any minute.

Yesterday, on my drive home from work, I was briefly convinced that the needle was actually moving in time with the Cracker CD I was playing on my stereo! And I can't have that.

I called my Dad about it (yes, I'm 43, what of it?), and he said he's never heard of such a thing. And he worked on cars for forty years. Then he went on to tell me that having a gas gauge replaced would likely cost more than any reasonable person would be willing to pay. Well isn't that excellent?

I've just about had it with that nickel-and-dime piece of crap. It's literally one thing after another with that machine.

In yesterday's mail I found a bit of perfectly-timed marketing: one of those blank checks that Capitol One sends out all the time. Supposedly you can just walk into a dealership, and write a check for a new car like you're buying a sack of frozen waffles at Wegman's, or whatever. I didn't read all the small print, because I'm highly skeptical of such cuteness, but it got me to thinking....

And I'm sorry to have to report this, but I think I'm getting the fever again. I know that nothing good will come of this (nothing good at all), but I'm powerless to fight it. No, the script has to play itself out, naturally, or I might rip a hole in the time/space continuum. Or something.

I'll keep you updated.

-- I think my butt-cheeks almost died on Sunday. We were at a swimming meet at the local high school, and it went on and on and on. We sat in the wooden bleachers for hours, packed in with a load of strangers, one of whom, and I couldn't pinpoint the culprit, really needed to become acquainted with the wonders of shampoo. Someone was a tad musky. And near the end I realized that I couldn't feel my butt anymore.

Earlier I'd noticed it tingling, like a foot going to sleep, but thought I'd remedied the situation by shifting my weight to the other ham. But it was misplaced confidence. I'm not exaggerating, I thought I was going to require ass-to-ass resuscitation. It was like a big block of wood back there; I really believe it was on its way out.

I jumped up in alarm, and went for a walk around the place. I needed to get blood pumping out back again. And for the next five minutes or so I experienced a strange sensation, like I had an ass, but not really. I believe it's called Phantom Ass Syndrome, or PAS.

And it's no laughing matter.

-- I'll leave you today with an item from the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk. On paper this one seems kinda lame, but it led to a surprising number of interesting calls to his show. Maybe it'll work here too?

What was your first real job (not counting babysitting and stuff like that), and what was your worst job? If you've got a story to tell on that subject, please use the comments link below.

-- Oh, and I'm listening to this today, and just enjoying the living crap out of it. I thought you should know.

See ya tomorrow.

January 9, 2006

-- I've been in sort of a low-grade funk for the past week or so. I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with my new year's resolution of early-to-bed, early-to-rise. I did get a little work done over the weekend, and a little is a whole lot more than usual. But, at the same time, I believe this semi-healthy living is allowing me to see things more clearly. And while that might sound like a good thing, I'm starting to wonder. Exhausted and delusional also has its merits. Ya know?

Anyway, I'm not going to bore you with all the details; this ain't Oprah, dammit. But please know that I've been pondering Big Questions, and I'm very, very sorry. I'll try not to let it bleed over into the dumbassery. Would one of you please drive up here and shoe me in the nuts?

-- I think somebody might be getting on my computer at work while I'm not there.

I'm very much a creature of habit, and do things exactly the same way, all the time. And when I'm preparing to go home every night I have a little ritual that includes turning off my computer, then the speakers, and finally the monitor. In that exact order. I then put on my jacket, gather up all my crap, and flip off the lights before checking the lock on the office door about fifty times. It's a little Rain Man, I know, but it's what the chemicals in my brain dictate.

When I returned to work after the Eleven Beautiful Days, I noticed that my monitor and speakers were on. "Boy," I thought, "I must've been in one big-ass hurry to get out of here." I didn't give it much thought, because the final day before a long vacation is not typical. I could've been thrown off-course a little, in anticipation of what was to come.

But then it happened again.

On Friday my monitor and speakers were on again when I arrived at the office, and I just don't believe I would've screwed up my little mental illness dance twice in such a short period of time.

And, what the shit?! What does it mean? My office is always locked, so random assholes wandering the halls couldn't get in there, without putting forth significant effort and making a hell of a racket. And nothing is missing, so I don't think that's it. I'm thinking it might be "official," somebody in IT, or whatever, following orders.

But what would they be looking for? If they wanted to check my internet activity(!), couldn't they do it remotely? Why would they physically need to log onto my machine? And how are they getting past all the username and password requirements? What in the pan-fried hell is going on here?!

Help me out with this, people. My mind is racing with scenarios straight out of 24. On Friday before I left, I made damn sure that I turned everything off, and if they're on again this morning.... well, I'm calling President Palmer.

-- Here's an email I received over the weekend, from Surf Reporter Bruce:


Attached is the front page of today's Philadelphia Inquirer. The main story is about the dangers of coal mining in West Virginia, and the photograph they used to illustrate the story is a West Virginia couple sitting in their living room. The amusing thing is that the photographer, and subsequently the Inquirer's editors, chose to include in the photo the couple's life-size, hoofs-to-antlers stuffed deer which gazes at the couple from just a foot away from the living room couch.

While this isn't as blatant a swipe at West Virginians as the 12/28/05 Inquirer sports blurb on Dan Mozes (that baccy-chawin', moonshine-swiggin', flintlock-shootin' Mountaineers quarterback), I think today's photo is an equally stereotype-pandering piece of photojournalism. The Inquirer could have photographed the couple sitting at their kitchen table; or the photographer could have shot the couple straight-on as they sat on their couch, without including the dead deer in the photo. But it seems to me that the Inquirer wanted to emphasize the fact that West Virginians are somehow very different from "sophisticated" Philadelphians, in that West Virginians are people who think a dead animal in the living room is a fashionable interior-decorating accessory.


And here's the attachment. Any thoughts?

January 6, 2006

-- I saw this linked on Drudge this morning, about the impending death of indie record stores, and it's distressing news. I don't think I ever visited Aron's Records, one of the store mentioned, but I was at Rhino a dozen or more times. And it was a magical, enchanted place.

You see, every few months they'd have these incredible parking lot sales, out behind the store, and I'd drop whatever I was doing to be there. I believe we even delayed at least one vacation trip, so as not to interfere with a Rhino sale. Is that fanaticism? It depends on your point of view, I guess.

I don't know where they got all this crap, but they'd set up table after table, and cover them with cartons full of random CDs. Nothing was sorted, not even close (I once found a half-eaten corndog inside one of the boxes), but if you came across an item you wanted amongst the mess, it was one dollar(!). I'm not kidding, there must've been a million discs or more, 99.9% bullshit, and I'd spend a substantial amount of time exploring them.

Toney went with me once, and never again. She just didn't have the passion or the stamina for, you know, six or seven hours of digging through garbage, in search of a few golden nuggets. But I loved it. I just knew that the holy grail was going to be in the very next box.

Sometimes it would be so hot out there, I probably should've been popping salt tablets. But I, and my equally-pudgy brothers-in-geek, soldiered on. I usually left with a blazing sunburn, dinner plate-sized sweat stains, an armload of great compact discs, and a big ol' smile on my face like a retard at a taffy pull.

And now it's all over....

Man, I really wish I could fly out for the big final sale. Would it make financial sense to buy a round-trip plane ticket, rent a car, and spend a couple of nights in a hotel, in order to pick up fifteen or twenty CDs for a buck each? Do you think I could sell that idea to Toney? Heh.

But all my unnamed brothers would be there, and we'd be together one last time, hollering out our discoveries (Afghan Whigs, baby! Fukkin Afghan Whigs!!) and reestablishing old bonds. It was our 'Nam, dammit. It was our 'Nam.

-- Remember yesterday when I joked about having a George Will quote embroidered on a throw pillow? Well, check this out. I can't believe it; my brain sizzled a little when I opened the email and saw the picture. Mr. Adam McKee apparently has connections in Big Pillow, and had this made for me. It's quite possibly the coolest thing ever. Thanks, man! My mind is officially blown.

-- And I hate to cut this thing so short, but it's chaos here this morning. Apparently Nostrildamus has an interview lined up for this afternoon, at a job fair in Philadelphia. And needless to say, he missed his bus (a tradition). Why they didn't go down there yesterday is beyond me. An unfamiliar big-ass city, two hours away by car and three hours by bus, is not something you go into casually. At least not most people.

So now there's lots of frantic scrambling around, the phone is ringing off the hook, and Toney's been running a shuttle service between our house and their "dramatic" hotel. She says they're in the process of packing roughly the same amount of crap we have stored in our basement, inside their little toy car that runs on lettuce leaves or whatever. Then the five of them, and their hammerhead dog, are going to wedge themselves in there as well, and race to Philadelphia. 

Sweet sainted mother of Jason Jay Delmonico! It never stops, it never freakin' stops.

And I can't think straight, as a result. That record store crapola was only supposed to be an intro... But I'm gonna have to say, see ya next time.

So see ya next time.

January 5, 2006

-- I had a hard time getting back into it yesterday. I forgot my pass card for one thing, and the security guards at my job took the opportunity to give me a hard time about it. I've walked past their desk every morning for the past six years, then suddenly I'm a complete stranger. Probably with bombs strapped to my torso, and a copy of The Catcher in the Rye sticking out of my back pocket.

"Who are you here to see?" one of them said. I couldn't believe it. I had to tap into the techniques I learned from Blue's Clues when the Secrets were younger, to deal with my sudden-onset sphincter-cramp frustration: stop, breathe, and think.

They insisted I be "signed in" by someone, as if I'm riff-raff off the street, and the "captain" (hilarious) gave me a bunch of shit about my cell phone. He was apparently watching me on a hidden camera, and came busting out of the backroom when I checked the time on my phone. I told him I have permission to carry it in the plant, but, of course, he didn't believe me. So we went 'round and 'round about that for a few minutes.

I know they have a job to do, and I try not to be a dick about it, but I'd appreciate just an ounce, even a single tiny droplet, of the same courtesy. Ya know? Wotta grand gang of ass-smokers.

When I finally got to my office, I found that my email account was locked down because of inactivity, or some such thing. I had to call the help desk in California, and I think there was one guy working. I was jettisoned to a perma-hold, your call is very important to us, limbo state for at least ten minutes. Eventually, and well after I'd begun running my hands through my hair, the lone technician came on the line, made me correct, and I was off to the races.

I ran the spreadsheets I'm required to distribute before the second conference call (The One O'Clock Ballbuster) every day, and sent them out with time to spare. I turned up Phil Hendrie, kicked back, and started chipping away at the mountain of email that had collected over the past eleven days, doing a lot of mass-deleting and such.

Then I got on the Ballbuster, and we began discussing the information in my spreadsheets. And a lot of it didn't make any sense. The hell?! I was silent but frantic, ripping through my stuff, checking and cross-checking, and quickly realized that one of the attachments I'd sent was really old, from mid-December or something. I don't even know how I managed that, but I had to go on the line and confess my douchey doucheyness to about twenty executives and (snickering) counterparts from around the country. Simply excellent.

I blame it all on being out of practice. That's how I'm comforting myself, just so you know.

-- And speaking of Nickelodeon shows... check this out. Yikes.

-- Before I start in on the other stuff, I'd like to share a quote that a friend just sent me. He says it's from a George Will column, and here it is:

"But this is an age when being an offended busybody is considered evidence of advanced thinking and an exquisite sensibility."

Is that too much to have embroidered on a throw pillow?

And, unfortunately, I'm all out of time here.

January 4, 2006

-- When I signed on my computer this morning I brought up Drudge, and saw the words Heartbreak In West Virginia. Oh no, I thought, the other twelve miners had been found dead.

But it's worse than that. From what I understand, families believed, for three hours, that the men were alive. And apparently it was because someone overheard part of a cell phone conversation, thought they had a scoop, and ran with it. Then a community, hungry for even the tiniest sliver of good news, rejoiced and clung to this "information." I guess it went all the way to the governor, and beyond.

Indeed, here's the headline of today's newspaper in Scranton.

What a tragic mess. And the immediate question that jumps to my mind is how the erroneous info was allowed to continue circulating for three full hours. In such a situation, I imagine, three hours would feel like a lifetime. 

To allow those folks to celebrate under false pretenses for so long just seems unforgivable to me.

Of course, the mine company's defense will be that they made no announcements, the news was purely hearsay. But I think they had a moral obligation to keep the families informed, as best they could. Ya know?

No matter, though. The company will be crucified, regardless. Maybe rightfully so, I don't know. But there must always be someone to blame, and a bunch of rich guys fit the bill perfectly. Cold, bloodless capitalists who care about nothing and no one, except their precious profit margins... The script writes itself.

I guarantee, over the next few days those guys will be portrayed as Worse Than Hitler by the media. Just watch. Reporters are undoubtedly digging through past records right now, trying to find something to verify their already-formed opinions on the subject.

I'm glad that one of the miners was found alive, but other than that: a sad, sad story.

-- Last night the Secrets and I watched an episode of Pete & Pete in which younger Pete became convinced that Inspector 34, the person who inspected his underwear at the factory, was his guardian angel. He began writing fan letters to him, and maintaining a scrapbook in his honor. (It consisted of page after page of tiny slips of paper with "Inspected by 34" printed on them).

One day a package arrived in the mail, and inside was a three-pack of white briefs. Pete ripped into them, and there was a note from Inspector 34, asking Pete to meet him somewhere. It turned out that the man had become a prisoner of his own perfectionism, and wanted Pete to show him how to have fun.

Crazy. But it reminded me of something...

When I was but a youngling there was a large family that lived across the street from us. Most of the kids were older than me, but a couple of them were only a few years older. The parents seemed ancient, more like grandparents, and it was a whole different vibe over there.

One day my mother came into my room humming and carrying an armload of underwear, and started putting them into my top drawer. The hell? Where'd all that come from? I wanted to know. And then she told me the horrifying details.

The mother of the family across the way had given them to us. Her youngest son said they didn't fit quite right(!?), and she didn't want them to go to waste. So she thought I might be able to "use" them.

I think I literally sprang three feet into the air, from a seated position, and began sputtering and stuttering like a mental patient. "You mean those are... somebody else's... used underwear..." I was instantly a basket case, both incredulous and horrified.

"Oh Jeff, they've been washed in bleach, and are as good as new," she said. And then she added that I should be appreciative of other peoples' good intentions, and not so judgmental all the time. When my mother left the room I was still standing there, frozen like a statue, with my mouth hanging open. My brain couldn't even process the horribleness.

When I worked up enough courage, I went over to the drawer and pulled it out gingerly, as if there were plastique explosives inside. Then I looked down inside, and saw the foreign undergarments, which had previously housed another guy's scrotum, a person I sometimes passed on the street, and was overcome by sadness. She'd make me "use" them, I knew.

They were some brand I didn't recognize, probably from Montgomery Ward or someplace old people shop, and one of them, I shit you not, had a big black streak on it. I called my mother in to take a look at it, and she said it was a "rust stain" from a clothes dryer. I was, and am, highly skeptical.

I took a pencil or a ruler or something, and began rearranging my drawer with it. I moved my underwear to the left side, and the unspeakables to the right. I then built a high barrier with dress socks, between the two factions. I didn't even want them to touch.

And, I'm proud to say, that's where they remained. My mother didn't push the issue (probably after telling my Dad about it and gauging his reaction), and they were eventually tossed into the garbage.

But talk about your close calls.... Holy shit. Or should I say, holy rust stain?

And now I'm gonna go to work. <sniff> I might have to run some MapQuest directions to find the place, but I'd better get in there.

See ya tomorrow.

January 3, 2006

-- This is Day Eleven of my Eleven Beautiful Days. Tomorrow I will be required to hoist my heft from the couch, truss myself up in a shirt with a collar on it, return to my job and start the all-consuming cycle once again.

But it was good while it lasted; it was indeed eleven beautiful days. I got stuff accomplished that had been hanging over my head, laid around like a big wallowing hog, spent lots of time with the Secrets, and basically lived a stress-free life. And that was the goal.

People say they'd get bored being home all the time, but I wouldn't. That shit is right up my alley. I'd fill my days with readin' and writin,' and only a minimum of 'rithmatic. I'd go places and take pictures, and have meals in every little diner within a hundred mile radius. I'd get back into baseball, and reclaim my music geek crown. Maybe I'd even run for City Council, on the Ridiculous ticket? Oh, it would be nothing short of excellent.

Wonder if I explained all this to my employer, if they'd agree to continue paying me without their suffocating requirement of me having to show up for work all the time? I mean, it's like five days a week or something. What the hell, man?!

Do they have a head-in-the-clouds provision in the Americans With Disabilities Act? If not, they should, dammit. If I knew the name of my congressman, I'd write him a letter about it. Eventually.

-- One of my prouder accomplishments during the eleven days, was finally getting the Surf Report Wireless Network up and running. It took about an hour and required a phone call to Adelphia, but it was shockingly simple. I just knew it would turn into a Mongolian cluster-fuck, and I'd be growling like a dog and/or sobbing uncontrollably.

But it's working great, and everything's locked-down with security, and the whole nine yards. I sent a couple of emails from the upstairs crapatorium on Saturday, and it was a dream come true. The Secrets said they heard typing coming from inside the bathroom, and thought it was hilarious. Toney just shook her head in disgust, and that's something I've grown accustomed to.

My one concern: does this router put out radioactive waves or anything? It's on a shelf close to my crotch and I think I can feel an unusual tingling down there. Is that just my imagination? I'm not going to find myself inside a real-life Gene Tracy joke, am I?

A man walks into the doctor's office and the doctor says, "I've got some good news and some bad news." "Tell me the good news first," the patient says. "The good news is that your pecker is going to grow another three or four inches," the doctor replies. "That's great!" says the patient. "What's the bad news?" The doctor says, "It's malignant."

I can't have that.

-- I also cleared out my iPod and loaded a bunch of Rhino box sets on there. I included the 70's punk box, the 80's underground set, and all three Nuggets compilations. And since Johnny Rotten won't allow Rhino to anthologize any of the Sex Pistols songs (but apparently has no problem with them flogging the hell out of PiL), I also included Never Mind the Bollocks. Screw you, Johnny! Now all I have to do is hit shuffle-play, and I've got the world's greatest jukebox, inside something roughly the size of a graham cracker. God bless the United States of America.

-- I can't really believe it myself, but I stayed up last night until 1 am, and watched an entire football game. I'm not joking, I can't remember that ever happening before, in my entire life. I've always been a baseball guy, and when I was younger I wouldn't allow myself to enjoy any other sports; I felt it would be a betrayal. But my mental illness is a whole other subject....

Last night I watched WVU play in the Sugar Bowl, and it was incredibly exciting. In fact, when they pulled that fake punt at the end of the game, I thought the bottom was going to fall out of my ass.

Oh, I didn't know any of the players, or anything like that, but I was rooting for the state of West Virginia. And I got all into it, pumping my fists in the air and everything.

I should probably drive up to Cooperstown this afternoon, and confess my sins.

-- And if you type jeffkay dotcom into your browser, it now brings you here. I had other plans for the domain, but they didn't pan out. So I canceled my secondary hosting contract, pointed everything toward Hostito, and had them work their magic. Now you've got two URLs to choose from. Yee haw.

-- I know people have already been talking about this in the comments section from Friday, but what did you think about Dick Clark's appearance on New Year's Eve? I didn't much care for it, myself. I'm sure it required a lot of courage on his part, and I appreciate that. But what about us?? Are our feelings not important here?

It was billed as the world's biggest party, and in the middle of it all: a stroke victim strapped to a chair. Pass the beer nuts!

At one point I'm almost certain I saw one those metal poles they use to move the arms of the Muppets, but I could be wrong. In any case, I'm a fan of Dick Clark, but I think he should've waited another year. It's a little jarring (not to mention depressing) to go from Bon Jovi, to a man who sounds like a Norwegian chimneysweep with a mouthful of oats. Ya know?

-- And on that confusing note, I think I'll call it a day.

See ya tomorrow.



The West Virginia Surf Report!
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