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

2004

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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers!

2003

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Is that man-ass I smell?

2002

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

2001

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2000

December
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The View From Down Here
                    
  January 2008

 

 


January 31, 2008

Good intentions, poor execution

-- Man, I need the spa treatment. My fingernails are all split and chipped, and crying out for a good clippin’. I could use my toenails to defend myself, in the event I’m ever attacked while my shoes are off; the things are like bayonets at this point. And I don’t even know what’s going on with my hair…

I look like I’m wearing a bad toupee. Toney tells me I’m out of my mind, but it’s true. When I look in the mirror I see a tired old man sporting a hair hat purchased from an ad on the back of Parade magazine. All that’s missing is the elastic chin strap.

Have you ever returned to a hair cutting place to take them up on their 100% guarantee? I haven’t, but I’m thinking about doing it this afternoon. The shit looks ridiculous, like the hair on top of my head is just balanced there and would come flying off if I happened to hear a song by Anthrax, or any other band that triggers pronounced and involuntary nodding.

It’s this job I’m working… Well, to be more precise, it’s the hours. When I leave for work on Sunday afternoon I feel like I’m driving into a dark tunnel, from which I won’t emerge until Thursday morning.

On Sunday I always tell my family, “See ya on Thursday!” I say it as a joke, but it’s true. I go into an isolated holding pattern for four days every week. I literally sleep, work, and write these updates. Nothing else. I don’t see anybody, there’s minimal phone contact, I’m working when the rest of the world’s atop the dormancy platform… It’s a strange existence.

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January 30, 2008

On the cutting edge of societal evolution

-- The reasons are fairly uninteresting, but I tried to squeeze a full lunch hour into fifteen minutes last night at work. I needed to be elsewhere, you see, but wasn’t willing to completely forfeit my break. 

So I put a bowl of soup in the microwave, and while radioactivity caused bean with bacon molecules to dance, I practically deep-throated a submarine sandwich. And I’m here to tell you… it’s not as easy as it looks on the internet. My hat’s off to those ladies.

I ate most of that so-called hoagie in the three minutes my soup was warming, then rifled down 75% or so of the Campbell
’s. I could feel my gut objecting to the avalanche of food I was sending it, but had no real options.

Eventually I lost interest in the soup, and decided to dump what was left into the plumbing. They have a big industrial, restaurant-grade sink in the break room there, complete with garbage disposal. So I walked over and dumped what remained in my bowl, down the drain.

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January 29, 2008

A very familiar and plausible fear

-- I might have to change the name of this website to 81 Adventures. Yesterday I wrote about driving to work (on I-81), and seeing a guy blooping a beer while passing me on the right. And on Monday something else happened, beyond the normal chain-cursing and Thin Lizzy singalongs.

I hate 81, it's an infuriating stretch of highway. It's always loaded-up with tractor trailers, and people going at radically different speeds. And I've encountered more "wide loads" on that road, than anywhere else I've ever been (outside the Kanawha Mall, of course). Call me old fashioned, but I don't think the interstate is a proper place for a log cabin, or a three-story high tube of hay.

On Monday, however, it seemed to be moving along nicely for once. And when Toney called my cell phone, I slid over to the slow lane and we talked for a little while. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one, but I try to be considerate...

Everything was going as planned, until the guy in front of me suddenly whipped to the left (without even the slightest hint of brake lights) and went around a car moving at roughly 40 mph. And that's not an exaggeration. Before my brain could fully process what was happening, I found myself hurtling toward an automobile that was, for all intents and purposes, STOPPED in the right lane of the interstate.

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January 28, 2008

A Do-It-Yourself Woody in Pasadena

-- I was driving to work yesterday afternoon, cruising in the left lane of I-81 at roughly 80 mph, when I was passed on the right by a man driving a filthy piece of shit Dodge Omni (or somesuch) with about twenty pounds of fishing tackle hanging off the rear view mirror, blurry windows, and fenders waving in the breeze.

And as the dude shuddered past, he hoisted a can of Coors Light and proceeded to take a long swig through an opening in the middle of a bushy unkempt beard, a style of facial hair I believe is sometimes known as “The Crazy Fucker.”

I was mildly shocked. I don’t really notice that kind of thing anymore… When we lived in Atlanta
, it wasn’t uncommon to see people driving and drinking a cold adult beverage. In fact, convenience stores promoted it with impunity. 

All of them had barrels up near their cash register which they’d fill with ice and various tall boys, right around quittin’ time. And as soon as folks got off work, they’d make a beeline for those things. It seemed like the whole world was driving with one hand, and holding an open container with the other.

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January 24, 2008

Mourning costs 25 cents per hour

-- I’m in the foulest of moods today, my friends. I’ve got too much to do, and the rate of progress is unacceptable. I feel like I’m eating a plate of some kind of garlicky mess, and it’s regenerating itself with every bite. A few minutes ago I lashed out viciously at a pair of gray socks.

I’m slipping on the updates, I’ve got extracurricular projects strewn here and there, in various states of incompletion... And Toney helped me get the Fish caps ready to mail over the weekend, but they’re still sitting in the family room boxed-up and going nowhere.

But they WILL be mailed tomorrow, dammit. And they WILL go first class, and you guys WILL have them early next week.

I apologize from the bottom of my enlarged, fat-packed heart about the half-assery that
is the Smoking Fish caps. They’re nice-looking, and I know you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, but the whole thing has been botched from Day One. I wish somebody would just come up here and shoe me in the nuts.

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January 23, 2008

The 1959 Volkswagen Plegicmaker

-- I think our boys are finally starting to come around to the Beatles. I caught the older one humming "Day Tripper" over the weekend, and from across the room I hollered, AH-HA!

They'd dug their heels in, you see, and were refusing to consider the band. As far as I could tell, this wasn't because of the music itself, but something to do with a "loser" at school who's reportedly a Beatles freak.

So it wasn't an objection to the songs or the performances, really. They just didn't want to align themselves with an "annoying little freak who wears turtlenecks all the time, and smells like cheese and poop."

It would be easy to scoff at this kind of logic, but I kinda know where they're coming from…

At the same time, however, I think it's important to build a strong musical foundation. The boys need the Beatles as a touchstone, an anchor. If they start out with John, Paul, George, and Ringo, they'll know about great songwriting, non-conformity, passion, integrity, etc.

And, more importantly, they'll be able to recognize the genuine article when they encounter it in the future, and not be fooled by charlatans.

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January 21, 2008

This makes my lower jaw retract

-- Most of my co-workers were in the grip of a powerful football frenzy last night, and trying desperately to get information. 

People were sneaking away and mumbling into cell phones (then whisper-hollering baffling phrases such as “OH, GOOD CHRIST EATING A CORN ON THE COB!”), making excuses to go to the break room over and over again, and trying to tune portable radios into broadcasts coming out of the Territory
of Guam , or somewhere.

The guy beside me went the radio route. He brought in some sort of hilarious apparatus with a hand-crank on the side of it. I was laughing my ass off when I walked in and saw him whipping that handle round and round, with a gravely-serious
man on a mission expression on his face. 

I said, “What’s going on? Did you figure out a way to get us off the island?!”

He had lots of trouble finding the game, or finding anything, for that matter. He kept walking around and putting the radio in different places, trying desperately to locate the sweet spot.

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January 17, 2008

Also try our Big & Sassy Cheddar Puffs

-- At 2:30 this morning my work week was officially over. That’s the good side of the crazy-ass schedule I’m working. The bad side? I haven’t seen my wife or kids since Sunday afternoon, and ate two entire sausage McMuffins (2 for $3!) while driving home under the cover of darkness last night.

I’m worried that someday authorities will have to remove the picture window from the front of our house, so they can extract my massive and jiggling body. Then I’ll be rolled into divorce court, against my will, with tears streaming down my face, and the corner of a blueberry Pop-Tart stuck to the side of my always-in-motion neck.

But, of course, I have a tendency to get a little carried away with the
scenarios.

-- During every ten hour shift at work, I listen to at least two full Phil Hendrie Shows. Last night I devoured April 21 & 24, 2000 – six hours of radio (minus commercials) – and all nineteen songs on The Jam’s
Greatest Hits. 

If they didn’t allow iPods in that place, I don’t think I could make it through. I really don’t. Ten hours of analyzing data in front of a bank of comically-oversized computer monitors, is like something along the lines of a cross-country car trip with Sean Penn, Mumbles, and a wicker basket full of soured washcloths.

You know, approximately…

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January 16, 2008

Velcro being ripped apart!

-- Last night at work somebody asked where I grew up, and I went through the whole story, keeping it brief since I knew he was only making conversation and didn't really give a tiny seahorse-shaped shitlet about any of it.

And, of course, he said, "
West Virginia , huh? We spent a week at Virginia Beach just last summer. Beautiful country." Many people apparently don't even know West Virginia is a state. It’s a phenomenon Jason Headley addresses in his excellent piece here. I mean, don't they even pay attention to the hillbilly jokes?!

Oh well. I don't bother correcting 'em anymore. You know, because of the seahorse factor… Plus, the fewer assholes who are aware of the place, the better.

But after my work conversation, I started thinking: as of next year, I will have lived
away from West Virginia
the same number of years I lived in West Virginia . Here's how it breaks down, in pie chart form (that's correct, pie chart form).

I don't know why, but it makes me a little sad.

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January 14, 2008

A West Virginia tree swing?

-- On Saturday we traveled to the oldest Secret’s swim meet, way out in the middle of Somewhere Unfamiliar. I’m not sure about this, but I believe we actually passed through a town at one point, called Scrotum Pocket, Pennsylvania . But, you know, my memory’s a little foggy on it.

The high school where this event took place is incredibly nice, but surrounded on all sides by what’s sometimes called white trash. Lots of houses that were once respectable, but have now fallen into drastic disrepair… And trailer parks filled with disturbingly fat/disturbingly skinny people, and Pontiac Grand Ams with one green door…

Toney said we’d been there before, but I don’t remember anything about it. And I usually don’t forget such a rich vein of trashiness. But I have no doubt she’s correct. 

The spectators have to sit in a “gallery,” which is a balcony type of deal, overlooking the pool. When we arrived, that so-called gallery was already 90% filled, and we had to wedge our asses between two annoyed families, and create our own space where none had previously existed.

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January 10, 2008

You are getting veeeery sleepy...

-- At work on Tuesday we were summoned to a meeting, and told there was a 90% probability we’d have to work on Thursday night. Our regular schedule is four ten -hour days, Sunday through Wednesday, so they were simultaneously lengthening our work week and shortening our weekend.  

Yeah, that certainly eats it from the ass in, but what are you going to do? God knows I reach my bitching quota every month, but stuff like that’s not even worth thinking about. Ya know? 

Civil War veterans driving 45 mph in the left lane of the interstate? Check. Some big braless mama in a gargantuan pastel t-shirt, screaming across a grocery store at her fat-ass buzzcut children? Check. Working for a company that’s doing so well they sometimes ask you to work extra hours? Um, no.

But you should’ve heard the complaining… I mean, it was just wall to wall. And last night, when they called another meeting and told us we
wouldn’t have to work, they whined about that as well. How are we supposed to make plans? Why are they jerking our chains like this? I already spent the overtime money on Coors and meatballs. Blah, blah, blah.

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January 9, 2008

Not sure if you're a prostitute?

-- A few months ago, when I was still unemployed, I saw an ad in a Sunday newspaper announcing that the US Postal Service was planning to add twenty or so people in our area. I was at a point where mild panic was starting to set in, and needed options. So I went to their website and signed up to take the test.

Then nothing happened for several weeks. And after that, nothing continued to happen. Eventually I just forgot about it. I mean, who the hell knows? When you’re looking for a job, you get used to that sort of thing. Lack of a response is the default setting, it seems.

Then I got something in the mail, telling me I’d been assigned to take the test at a community hall in a neighboring town. They gave me all the necessary information, and told me to bring along photo ID and two sharpened #2 pencils. Hilarious. I’d have to make sure I didn’t mistakenly take some #4s, or something…

I didn’t believe I’d ever actually work for the post office; I just couldn’t see that happening, even through the lens of my semi-vivid imagination. After all, I’m a fat white guy who never served in the military, and would be able to take the test with my still-functioning hands, not a forehead-mounted writing instrument.

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January 8, 2008

The greatest photograph ever

-- Last night I received the following note in the Surf Report email box:

Good day. Am Mr,  Kevin  Bossman  and i email to know if u do carry  (Drywall Panel Lift)  instock for sale and i will like to know the types, sizes and prices arrange on that so that i can know the quantity to order and also i will like to know if you do accept credit card as the form of payment so that we can proceed with this order. Hope to hear from u soon.

Best Regard:

Kevin Bossman (Owner)

Mr, Kevin Bossman… that kills me. And (Drywall Panel Lift): what in the highwater hell?? Why me, and why the parentheses? The whole thing is excellent, and makes me happy to be alive. 

I think we need to start a gallery of baffling spam mail. Got anything to contribute? I’m looking for confusing absurdity, not ads from the burgeoning wiener-lengthening industry, or obvious stuff like that. 

Help me out, won’t ya?

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January 7, 2008

Someday Susie, this will all be Pink Floyd

-- The Secrets received Guitar Hero for Christmas, some big mondo set from Sam’s Club that included two guitars etc., and it was all good fun in the beginning. Now? Not so much.

I’m no expert, of course, but it seems like the early songs, the easiest songs(?), are good. And the later, harder ones are soul-crushingly bad.

It started out with ZZ Top, and Pat Benatar, and Foghat, and that sort of thing. (Life was so much simpler then…) But now that they’re getting better and advancing through the ranks, it’s godawful “progressive” rock, and music for people who like math.

I walked through the living room yesterday and our oldest boy was standing in front of the TV in a full-on trance, the fingers on his left hand just going to town on some
horrible Emerson,
Lake , and Palmer-like bullshit. 

I was only in there for a few seconds, and thought I was going to go insane. It sounded like a symphony playing backwards, what goes on inside a schizophrenic’s head, and merry-go-round music.

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January 3, 2008

4 Random and Unrelated Images

-- I didn’t do my homework last night, folks. When I got home from my job, at an hour usually reserved for nurses, insomniacs, Waffle House cooks, and mental patients, I was red-ass exhausted (whatever that means). 

I’m supposed to prepare the site for the next day at that time, it’s what the contract with myself states, but I just went to bed. Charley West would have to wait. 

And now I’m running WAY behind. This update is going to be written like an email, will probably jump from topic to topic with no discernible segues, and will be as long as I can make it before I have to quit, shove a chicken salad sandwich down my neck pipe, and go back to work.

So let’s get started…

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January 2, 2008

Common words that do not rhyme

-- As I sit here in my gargantuan “sleep pants,” listening to Wilco (best album of the year?), and sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee from a mug purchased at Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods in Athens, GA (“Automatic For The People”), I find myself reflecting on the just-ended 2007.

It was a strange year for me. Not bad really, just strange. 

I lost my job in March, and didn’t see it coming. Oh, I knew the industry wasn’t healthy. But I was sure I’d be able to squeeze out five, possibly ten, more years. When I was given the news at a breakfast “meeting,” over expense-account eggs, I felt like somebody punched me in the gut. Then I was home, without really remembering how I got there.

This led to eight months of blasting out resumes like a professional spammer, trussing myself up in a fraudulent suit and going on interviews, rifling through newspaper want ads, and raising my voice at internet job sites. The whole process sucks with the intensity of a thousand suns...

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January 1, 2008

Another value-added service

-- I worked on Sunday night, and it snowed.  Quite a lot, in fact. There are no windows in that building, so the smokers would report back after every break: “Man, it’s getting bad out there. It’s slicker than diarrhea on a basketball court.” Or whatever. 

The smokers are our link to the outside world, you see, and were causing me a bit of anxiety on Sunday. The thought of driving 35 miles home on icy roads, in the middle of the freakin’ night, didn’t much appeal to me, thank you very much. But I kept banking on the fact that people often exaggerate, and hoping it was just another outrageous case of smoker-drama.

As it turned out, however, they were blowing great clouds of accurate information. A meeting was called at
10:15 or so, and we were told to get the hell out of there. Roads are getting bad, they said, and we should all just go home.

Sounded good to me. But because of a series of infuriating events, I wasn’t able to leave until around 12:40. And by that time it was like something out of a Tolstoy novel outside.

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