evious Notes









A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.



Is that an erection I smell?



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



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   The State of My Fat Ass                                  December 2003

December 31, 2003

-- I generally try to keep the clichés to a minimum here but, goddamn, this year flew by. Entire calendars are now being depleted in short order. It's at least mildly alarming. I've obviously begun the downward side of the proverbial rolly coaster plunge, and I expect it'll only get faster in the years to come, until I finally bottom out and am forced to step outside of the car. Or whatever. When I was a kid a year seemed like a decade. The expanse of time between fall and spring was like crossing the Sahara desert to me then. Today it passes in a three-day weekend. Why is that? Is it because of all the added responsibilities and distractions? I don't know, but I'd like to figure out a way to slow things down a bit. Maybe I can buy a bunch of Barbra Streisand CDs or something? Listening to one of those babies would surely seem like an eternity, right? Or maybe I could take a long trip on a Greyhound bus? Or subscribe to the Sundance Channel?! I need to give this a little thought...

-- A few days ago, at Circuit City, I saw a man wearing a football jersey with the name "Turd Ferguson" on the back. Can anyone shed any light on this for me? Is there really an NFL player with the surname of Turd? Can that be possible? Or is it just the wearer's nickname? Please help me. I can't get it out of my mind. I'm walking around muttering the words Turd Ferguson without even realizing it. It's one of those things I can't seem to shake. The same thing happened a few years back when I received an email from a man purportedly named Snappy McGee. It becomes an involuntary mantra of sorts, and I need relief from it.

-- I went to Best Buy over the weekend and picked up the latest CD by Eminem. Yeah, I can hardly believe it either. It's all very confusing, but I recently realized that I really like the guy. Anyway, there was a herd of teenage boys hanging out in the rap aisle of the store, and a bigger group of douchebags I don't believe I've ever encountered. They were all talking that tough-guy street shit, wearing their stupid-ass clothes, and waving their arms around like something in the primate house at the Philadelphia Zoo. All were refrigerator white, and their dads are most likely loan officers and lawyers and insurance salesmen. Kicking it Scranton-style, yo, on the JC Penney tip. Pitiful. Posing pisses me off. I mean, I'm a baseball fan, but I don't feel the need to go around wearing a full-on Braves uniform, with glove and protective cup. Ya know? As I was sheepishly flipping through the Eminem discs I heard one of the cheesedicks say to the others, and I quote, "Yo yo yo, I'm the bone crusher, dog." I looked over at him, and wondered if they still make Stri-Dex pads, or if they've finally gone off the market?

-- Check out this great photo of John "The Incredible Melting Man" Kerry, laying down his special brand of logic to a class of high school students. Here's proof that it's not a fake. Shouldn't the man have handlers out there making sure stuff like this doesn't happen? Hilarious. By the time this election is over his face will be a yard long, and he'll have to sit on a box to keep his chin out of his soup.

-- And, how come I didn't know there was a Law & Order coloring book? Jeez, it's been so many years since I sat down with a box of crayons and brought a rape investigation to life. I need this thing.

-- 2003 was a good year for TheWVSR. Traffic to the site doubled from the previous year, and was six times that of 2001(!). So, we're still making good progress; the heart's still beating. I sincerely appreciate all of you folks who see fit to make this shabby little sliver of the Internet a daily destination. Thank you very much. And thanks, especially, to my partners in crime, Chris and Buck. You guys have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and have made the site better with your efforts. I appreciate it.

I won't be allowed to do this much longer, but today I hoist a high-calorie alcoholic beverage in honor of everyone who has contributed to the success of The West Virginia Surf Report in 2003. And that means every person who sent in Smoking Fish pics, forwarded me bits of random fucked-upness, or just read the daily updates. You're a talented and interesting group of people, with impeccable good taste. Cheers!

And I'll see y'all again in 2004. Stay safe.

December 30, 2003

-- You know you're an old man when your main Christmas gift is a gas grill. A gas grill! What happened to the Commie Crushing GI Joes? The Lock 'n' Chase Intellivision cartridges? The air hockey tables? ...The fun?! Now it's all practical gifts, and few things are more depressing than practical gifts.

Of course, we needed a new grill; that's a given. Our old one began shooting flames into the top of the gas canister near the end of the just-ended outdoor-cooking season. The last time we used it there was more fire on the outside than on the inside. And when you're forced to slip into an asbestos suit before turning the kabobs, it's high time for a replacement. I sincerely believe we very nearly blew the back end of our house off, by trying to squeeze another year's use from that old decaying piece of crap.

So, the gift is a very practical one. But you can't spend Christmas day playing with a propane-powered cooker. Ya know? You look at the box, comment on its practicality, and go get another cookie. Then you move the whole deal to the basement until spring, and you got nothing. When I was twelve I sure as hell didn't receive any gifts that was moved to the basement, still in the box, until spring. That only happened after I "matured." Fucking pisses me off.

-- At least I didn't have to open this gift. Holy shit.

-- We also received some roughing-it camping supplies from my parents. They gave us a 9-inch TV, with a DVD player built-in. And they bought us a pair of those cool little two-way radios that no self-respecting outdoorsman would be caught dead without -- while watching the special edition Scarface disc beneath high-powered industrial air conditioning. It's going to be taxing out there in the wilderness, but I believe we're up to the task. I really do. We're from frontier stock.

-- My Mom and Dad have a tendency to cramp our drinking style while they're here. They're not drinkers, and I don't think they hold us drunkards in too high a regard. A couple of beers after dinner is no big deal, but bourbon season is something they'll just simply never warm to. We were forced to partake of our holiday cheer from big plastic cups, on the sly, like frazzled parents at a soccer game. But I don't think it worked, because the next day my mother launched a campaign to rid the house of every drop of Coca-Cola, thereby sabotaging that evening's bourbon and Coke extravaganza. I've never seen a person drink so much soda in such a compressed window of time in my entire life. When I brought home another 2-liter from the store I thought I heard my exasperated mother whisper to my Dad, "My God John, they just went out and bought more!! You're going to have to help me with this one. My kidneys hurt." But I could be mistaken.

-- Our days of fun and games are almost over, though. We start on the Long Island diet, or whatever, later this week. No alcohol allowed, and no food with a pleasant taste either. I picked up a little companion booklet to this Oprah-ized fad diet we're about to embark upon, and it lists every food known to man and tells you very simply if it's OK to eat or not. There are four categories: Avoid, Very Limited, Allowed, and Good. Needless to say, the word Avoid dominates. During the first two weeks I don't think you're even allowed to eat fruit, for god's sake. It's all meat and eggs and vegetables, and maybe a cheese stick for dessert. I don't know. I've never attempted anything like this before, and I'm starting to get cold feet. It's both like prom night, and not anything like it at all. I need to do something, though; I have to stand like a lower-case r to even see my cold feet. Shit. I guess I'll just have to pull around a piece of rolling luggage full of hard-boiled eggs, until I'm sufficiently svelt. Wish me luck. My daily weight readings will be posted in the left-hand column of this page, until I reach my goal of something -- anything -- that starts with a one. Shoe me in the nuts if I don't make fast enough progress, I beg of you.

And I think I'll stop right there, before I surrender all of my remaining dignity. Before I go though, check out this really cool Smoking Fish sighting, received at the bunker just last night. One of my favorites so far. Thanks, as usual, for keeping your collective eyes open for our worldly logo. Please continue to keep me updated on his whereabouts.

More tomorrow.

December 29, 2003

This will undoubtedly disappoint many of you, but Christmas turned out to be fairly enjoyable this year. I apologize in advance, but my parents just don't provide as much "comedy" as Toney's side of the family. My Dad, for instance, didn't burn hell out of our kitchen counter with a white-hot vessel of diarrhea-triggering hippie java. And my mother didn't do her morning exercises in the middle of the living room floor utilizing two jugs of milk as weights. And, although I haven't yet conducted a physical inventory, I'm almost certain that none of my underwear is missing. It sucks, I know, but we're planning to spend an entire week with Nancy and Nostrildamus this summer, so I'll make up for it then. Please rest assured that this feeling of contentedness shall not stand. It never does.

-- My Dad told me a scary story about my uncle -- the one who recommended (in front of my parents) that Toney and I not mess around inside our new pop-up camper, because it might rock out of position and cascade into a lake. Dad said that good ol' Uncle Decorum took some kind of over-the-counter cold medicine before going to bed one night, and almost immediately felt like his skin was crawling with millions of tiny insects. He got up and saw that he was covered in a pulsating rash, head to toe. The hell?!

He began frantically slathering on a random cream of some sort, just as his tongue began to swell inside his head. He said that the thing ballooned up to four times its normal size, and eventually was so large he was forced to wrench his jaw open to its fullest extent. His tongue was reportedly poking outside his mouth, slobber was rolling down his neck, and his lips were rock hard and "sticking straight out." Suddenly, his itchy skin wasn't such a pressing issue.

He was having trouble breathing so he woke his wife and tried to tell her that he needed to go to the hospital. But she couldn't understand him; he was talking like Grandma Walton after the stroke. Spit was flying as he tried to get his message across, and she was totally confused by the spectacle taking place in front of her. Eventually she turned on the light and saw that he looked like the kid from Mask and shouted, "Good God, you need to go to the hospital!"

They took him straight back, no waiting, and began injecting vials of powerful steroids into his ass. After it was all over the doctor told him he was minutes away from dying. He'd had an allergic reaction to the pill, even though he'd taken it many times before. Apparently the shit builds up in your body and there's no problem until enough collects. Frightening... although I wouldn't mind having video footage, if you want to know the truth. The lips, especially, sound like a source of enduring comedy.

-- My parents arrived Monday evening with enough sweets to feed a ska band. They had sugar and oatmeal cookies, fudge, a container of party mix the size of a toy box, and eighteen and a half DOZEN chocolate chip cookies. It was insanity. Toney had already baked a bunch of stuff as well, so the counter in the kitchen was piled high with stacks of tins that resembled the Manhattan skyline. At the beginning of the week I would walk through the room, see the ridiculous display, and shake my head in disgust. Then I'd sigh and drop my meat hook into one of the diabetes buckets, and go on my way. Today? A week later? It's almost all gone, and I have a nagging suspicion that I single-handedly ate half of it myself, while sitting atop my high-horse. Sometimes I don't even realize how disgusting I really am, because it all happens over time. I'm like a slow-moving glacier of gross.

-- During the day on Christmas Eve a bit of tension was generated when my mother, the Drill Sergeant of Dunbar, kicked into high gear. Toney and I had been complaining about the extra bedroom we use as, basically, a catch-all for junk and clutter. It's one of those things you want to clean up someday -- just not today. Well, that someday bullshit doesn't fly with my mother, and she had us (Toney) in there for hours and hours straightening and weeding-out and filling trash bags and vacuuming... I made a half-hearted attempt to help but only Toney knows what can stay and what can go, so I mostly left it to her good judgment. That turned out to be the wrong course of action. At one point she came downstairs all dirty and sweating, and I was reading The Onion on the computer and tried to show her something I found especially amusing. I believe I actually saw smoke shoot our of her ears, like on cartoons. There was nothing I could do after that, there was no salvaging it. And for most of the day, on Christmas Eve, my wife maintained an air of barely-contained fury. I believe she was attempting to kill me with brain waves during dinner, and I made sure I was never left alone with her, until I'd gotten some alcohol into her. But the room looks great! ...Pass the beer nuts.

-- One day Toney and I went to a late lunch at a new eating establishment here called Smokey Bones. We'd heard that they serve real pulled-pork barbecue, like they do in the South. The food wasn't bad, and the beer was cheap, but it was all the TVs that made the outing memorable. The restaurant is designed to look like a mountain cabin, with oversized wood furniture and a big stone fireplace. But, inexplicably, the walls are lined with televisions, and every table has a little soundbox that you can tune to the program of your choice. This, of course, is a recipe for a godawful racket. Imagine twenty or thirty parties sitting in a large room, each watching a different television show at varying volumes. It's an ill-conceived concept, at best. It was like a bus station in that place. And who goes to a restaurant to watch TV anyway?

As we downed a big skillet(??) of spinach artichoke dip, nacho chips, smoky pork, and $2 pints of Sam Adams, we watched a couple across from us enjoying a nice meal. Both were sitting on one side of the booth so they could better see the TV, and neither said a word the entire time. They just sat there, shoveling the food in and never taking their eyes off the flickering light. And they were watching, I swear on a big block of cheese, a Scrabble tournament on ESPN2. Televised Scrabble instead of conversation with your spouse! It made me so depressed I had to look away.

Later, as I was working on my delicious mound of shredded pig muscle, I looked up at one of the televisions and saw that horrifying commercial for a hair-removal device that has quickly become the bane of my existence. Have you seen this thing?! For two or three minutes people are shown clutching a metal device with a rotating wheel on the end, and dragging it through various patches of unwanted and unkempt body hair. It makes me almost literally sick, and I sure as hell don't want to see it while eating. When I locked in on it at Smokey Bones, a shirtless muscle-boy was shown tending to his armpits, sculpting his slick tuft with precision and care. I nearly upchucked into my skillet. Fuck.

I'll tell you more about the week tomorrow. But before I go, check out these two great new Smoking Fish sightings on foreign soil. Keep 'em coming, folks! I love it. And just so you know, it's great to be back in the saddle. This website has wormed its way into my brain and I start feeling mildly panicked whenever I'm away. Please make of that what you will.

And that'll do it for today. See ya tomorrow.

December 22, 2003

I'm apparently off from work this week. Back in early November my boss bashed me over the head for several days until I finally gave him the dates I'd like to take off during the holidays. These would have to be approved by an Executive VP, he said, and they needed to be requested before a deadline that was fast approaching. Just to get it off my docket I asked for the week of Christmas, and sent it to him. Then I never heard another thing about it. On Friday I sent him an email asking if my time off had ever been approved (you know, since it was the day before it was supposed to start). He fired back a curt little message that read, "Approved." That's the full text of the note, not the abridged version. So there you go -- he's irritated with me. Do you ever feel like a convulsing Allen Funt is about to jump out from behind a partition, and give you a big hug? I do, almost daily.

-- I saw REM on Boston Public Friday night. Now, far be it for me to be critical, but what's happened to Michael Stipe?! Sweet sainted mother of Barbie Benton. He's painfully thin and bald (the really knobby kind of bald) and just full-blown hideous. Didn't he used to be a heart-throb of sorts? He now looks like he just walked out of a German camp, and went straight to a thrift store. Seriously, his family and friends need to perform an intervention -- with a big tray of sandwiches. The man needs meat, and quick: a bacon cheeseburger eye for the queer vegan guy... or whatever. He looks like Andy Capp undergoing chemotherapy at this point. And he's roughly my age!

The other guys in the band aren't aging all that well either. Pete Buck has a head the size of a dormitory refrigerator, that I'm certain a human neck can't support for any length of time. (There's a limit to everything.) And Mike Mills now reminds me of an old uncle of, say, Andy Dick's; you know, the really extroverted one on his mother's side who runs the bingo games on Saturday night? That's the one!

It's all very distressing.

-- I saw John-Boy Walton on Law & Order ELP the other night, and he played a man with advanced syphilis. The disease had progressed to the point that his brain was half destroyed, and he was now receiving messages from "God" to gut and burn random citizens walking the streets of New York -- to cleanse them of their sins. I remember when John-Boy's grandmother warned him that nothing good would ever come from listening to all those swing records, and now look what's happened! She knew that Benny Goodman was nothing but a gateway unto hell, and she told him so, while snapping beans. I remember it like it was yesterday. It's a tragedy. He had so much promise, back on the mountain. He felt things.

-- Toney refuses to use the word "hoagie." She says it sounds stupid, like calling a train a "choo choo" or something. It's all well and good to stick to your principles, but when it affects my lunch... On Saturday she called in an order to a pizza shop near our house, for a couple of their kick-ass foot-long hoagies. But when I got them home we saw that they weren't hoagies at all. They were frickin' sandwiches, on white bread! It was like something you'd pack for a car trip. My heart instantly sank, and I was near tears. Where's my comically elongated length of meat and cheese? What's this finger sandwich shit?! It was like a sharp blow to the gut. From now on I'm calling in the hoagies. I have no problem whatsoever with tossing aside a little dignity, under the right circumstances. Take a look around this website if you doubt me.

-- Dennis Kucinich knows what's important to us Pennsylvanians. He's no fool. He's a communist, but no fool.

-- Sunshine called on Saturday morning, looking for Toney, who wasn't home. Apparently she just wanted to vent (a constant state), and quickly decided I'd do in a pinch. So she launched into some long-winded tale involving Nancy and Nostrils, and their brood of translucent children. I was only half paying attention, because I've been through this same exact scene a thousand times before. I've become a master at injecting the well-placed "uh huh" and "yeah," as well as the strategic chuckle, into a conversation that I'm not really listening to; it comes with experience. But at one point I think I actually did a sitcom double-take. I was shocked back into consciousness when Sunshine (my aging mother-in-law) called Nostrils "a woman with a dick." You think I'm joking? Yeah, I'm not that talented.

-- I'm thinking about ordering the new biography of Benjamin Franklin, and I was reading about it on Amazon yesterday. One of the other books they say I might be interested in is something called "Fart Proudly." Apparently it's a collection of Ben's lesser-known writings -- one of which appears to be a celebration of flatulence (!?). I'm not sure I like the idea of our country's Founding Fathers farting, right there in Independence Hall and everything (although the acoustics would undoubtedly be stellar).

I can't really explain it, but it kinda bothers me to imagine Important People cutting the cheese. It goes against the image I choose to have of them. I'd just rather not think about Thomas Jefferson tipping over and letting one fly. Ya know? And the thought of Abraham Lincoln trapping Mary Todd in a dutch oven just goes against everything I know.

Some historical figures I can imagine farting easier than others. I bet Churchill was gassy, for instance. And Nixon. I have no doubt Richard Nixon filled the oval office with his "essence" a few thousand times. Reagan and Kennedy: no way. LBJ: probably a full-on showboater. George W. Bush is from Texas, so he's probably given his chair cushion a discrete workout over the years. Howard Dean looks like he should probably fart a little more. I'm not sure about Margaret Thatcher. She's British and that kind of throws me off. Is farting mentioned in the Bible? I bet Noah raised his robes a few times...

Anyway, I'm thinking about buying the Benjamin Franklin book. Because I'm a serious student of history.

-- I added a new character to our nativity scene this weekend. See if you can spot him.

-- According to current calculations it would run more than $65,000 to collect all of the items listed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  Lords a-leaping are outrageously expensive these days. Here's the constantly updated menu, for your files.

-- Finally, here's the latest from Chris, in which he tells of being banned from two different malls in a single day. The holiday spirit is spreading!

And I think that's gonna do it for today, kiddies. I probably won't update again until after Christmas. My parents are on their way here as I type, and I'm gonna take a little break and spend some time with the family. I hope you all have a great holiday, regardless of the one you celebrate. And I'll be back soon. 

See ya 'round.

December 19, 2003

It's probably just the season talking, but I'm feeling optimistic these days. Somehow I'm excited about 2004; I think it's going to be a good year. Don't ask me to pinpoint the source of these feelings, because I couldn't tell you. Just don't kill my buzz, goddammit.

Of course, I have a few modest goals set for myself. I want to finally toss aside my jumpsuit of swaddle, and get back down to my fighting weight. OK, I'm not much of a fighter... I guess I should say I want to get back down to my sarcastic-remarks-behind-people's-backs weight. I need to drop about forty pounds, and starting on January 1 I'm gonna add a small box to the website where you folks can monitor my weight on a daily basis. Won't that be exciting? Oh, you betcha. And it'll also give me an incentive to keep at it. I'm relying on you all to shoe me in the nuts if you don't see enough progress. We'll do this together.

And in February or March I want to publish the little booklet thing I've been kicking around inside my brain. It'll be called West Virginia Job Trilogy, and if I play my cards right I think it'll be pretty cool. I haven't yet been able to reach the guy who I hope will agree to design the cover; he may have been tipped off that I'm looking for him, but I'm not sure. I've called his house a half-dozen times, and nobody ever answers. No machine or anything, it just rings like it's 1974. He thinks he can hide from me? Ha! Just give me a few weeks... I'm excited with the prospect of getting back, at least tentatively, into zine publishing. It scratches a certain itch that this site isn't able to reach.

And we've got our camper now. It's in the garage, all winterized and cocky. It's going to allow us to travel more, and experience life beyond these walls. Eighty bucks a night for a hotel room tends to cast a gloom over things, and we haven't really ventured far. Plus, we have our ball-gnawing dog (Black Lips Houlihan) that we have to worry about; he puts a lot of restrictions on us as well.

For almost a year we've had an ocean-front campsite in Myrtle Beach reserved for April 2004. These are hard to come by and we forked over the cash months before we even had a camper. This winter will undoubtedly be rough, but we've got a week on the beach -- literally on the beach -- to look forward to. How great is that? Then we're going to Maine, and eat lobster in the shadow of a lighthouse. That's the plan. And it's all thanks to our rolling aluminum box of beds. Laugh all you want.

You might argue with me on this point, but I feel like the website is going fairly well. No plans for any drastic changes there. And we're all apparently healthy, against great odds. My job often eats the proverbial donkey dick, but I can't really complain. The life-sapping money problems we experienced in California are behind us, and we're chugging along comfortably enough. And I hesitate to even mention it, but I haven't yet given up on my "novel." It's still on the docket, at the time this went to press. It's taken me forty-one years, but I feel like I'm on the verge of finally getting it right. If I'm overlooking something horrible, please keep it to yourself.

Don't kill my buzz, goddammit.

December 18, 2003

I don't have much today, because I rarely leave the house. I'm starting to realize that when your entire life consists of sleeping, working, and watching Law & Order, your Top Secret Notebook of Observations and Comical Ideas can quickly go to shit. As I flip through the pathetic pages of this once-vibrant document I see entries like "people who buy deodorant in internet auctions." I don't even remember writing that, and have no idea what it means. Is there comedy in this? I think not. I suspect the comedy would come later, when your "winnings" arrive in the mail and there's a big black hair on it. I don't know. There's just not much here, but I'll give you what I've got. You can't take that away from me, I always give you what I've got.

-- I had a weird conversation with my boss earlier this week. Out of obligation he told me about some newly-created and attractive job opportunities down South. But, without saying it out loud, he also made it clear that these opportunities would most likely be for people other than me.

Apparently they found a douchebag who was actually willing to move from California to Scranton, and they're not about to screw that up. Of course, I am that douchebag. This is information I picked up from between the lines, but I feel it's fairly accurate. I'm trapped here; there is no way out. It's apparently not an easy task to find somebody with experience who is willing to relocate to frickin' Scranton, PA, a place that seems like a depressed Alaskan fishing village from the California perspective. And since the position is filled, it's gonna stay filled, Jack.

I don't want to move again, but I'm not a big fan of being trapped either. I'm very conflicted. I feel like I'm being deprived of a golden opportunity, and I can't figure out how all this happened. How does a man reach a point in his life where he's seriously considering picking up the phone, and demanding he be allowed to move to Tennessee? How does that happen?

-- I was at the Burger King drive-thru the other day, behind somebody who'd obviously never been there before. This is a bad thing. For whatever reason the place has a giant menu sign, but you actually place your order about ten feet farther down the way. At most places, of course, you holler directly into the sign itself. Not here. You stop at the sign, make your decision, then move forward to scream into an independent microphone attached to a pole sticking out of the ground.

People who don't know the ropes will sit at that wireless sign forever, waiting for somebody to come on and take their order. It's stupid. And this person had the patience of a Sunday School teacher (must've been from out of town). They just sat and sat, polite as a motherfucker, with no idea that the sign is nothing more than a prop. I let loose a long line of profanities, slammed my truck into reverse, and whipped it backwards around another waiting car. Then I went inside and got my congealed clump of fat, but not before flipping that backwards peace sign thing that I believe is an obscenity in Europe. (Or something.) And when I came back out, with my glistening sack, the car was finally at the pole, and the person was shouting their order into the top of it.

Sweet sainted mother of Sissy Spacek. As much as I'd like to, I can't really blame the driver. It's the most retarded fast-food set-up this side of the Taco Bell in Greensboro -- where your food is passed to you through the passenger window.

-- I want it to be known that I always wash my hands after I go to the bathroom, but only because of societal pressures. I'm proud to announce that I have been able to perfect the art of visiting the facilities without getting it all over me. Thank you. But, no need to worry. I'll keep washing my hands anyway, to humor you people.

-- Who says God doesn't answer our prayers?

-- Sunshine called the other day and launched into some kind of crackpot conspiracy theory about the Bush administration secretly holding bin Laden until the election, or some such horseshit. She's living near Nancy and Nostrils these days and is taking on their crazy beliefs. She liked Bush this past summer, but now thinks he's the great Satan. She soaks up whatever she's surrounded by; it's like intellectual tofu.

-- This is supposedly a photo of Marcia Brady sunbathing in the nude, and was reportedly taken during the final season of The Brady Bunch. I'm a bit skeptical, so I sent it off to a friend who is an expert in this field. After careful consideration he told me that it's probably a fake "because chicks didn't trim and sculpt in 1972." You can come to your own conclusions, but there are a lot of people who believe it's real. Apparently it triggered some lawsuits, back in the early days of the internet. And that's good enough for me.

-- I received a nice email from Jeremiah Birnbaum earlier this week. You may remember that he's the NYC singer/songwriter who found one of my message-without-a-bottle postcards near a subway entrance in September, and mailed it back to me. He wanted me to know that he'd launched a personal website, and offered to send me a copy of his CD. Pretty cool. Stop by his site and check out a couple of his songs. You won't be sorry. He's really good, and I'm not just blowing smoke. He also seems like a genuinely nice guy, so support the man, ya hear?

And that pretty much wipes out my inventory for today; it's like a Russian grocery store in here. I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I'll come up with something. Maybe I'll stop by Big Lots after work, and pick up some new material? In the meantime, I'll just turn it over to my good cyber-buddy, Buck. This is his last update of the year, but he'll be back in 2004. Yo, check it out.

See ya tomorrow.

December 17, 2003

How come certain things irritate certain people, but not others? Like lip-smacking for instance. It's something that makes me almost literally crazy, but it seems to just roll right off of Toney. She says she hates it too, but I can tell that it doesn't burn with the same wattage as it does inside me. Just the fact that it doesn't irritate her enough irritates me.

Of course she has her little things too that cause her to fly into spontaneous fits. Like people who use the term "noontime." She claims it's not a word and when she hears it a couple of chemicals slosh together in her brain and she starts making sounds like an animal. I barely notice it, and it does nothing to my chemicals. Our dog Andy's constant gnawing of his feet and genitalia also makes her wild, but it has no affect on me. Why is that?

Her stuff is a little wacky, but mine is right-on. It's all so clear to me, why can't everyone see the things that make me insane? It's all right there, going on all the time. All the time. And lip-smacking is so easily controlled. The smallest amount of home-training can break a kid of that for the rest of their lives. But walk through a Mexican restaurant, and you'll see that the home-training isn't happening. It sounds like a demolition derby in those places, what with the baskets of chips and all. I wish they had goddamn pig and non-goddamn pig sections in restaurants.

I'm aware that the act of eating produces a certain amount of noise (I'm not completely irrational), but there's a threshold that shouldn't be crossed. Even when I was a kid I was aware of this. I have a cousin who eats like a head of livestock, and I can remember being six or seven and listening to all that slurping and smacking and sucking, and my body would tense up like Henry Rollins. I'd usually end up bending my spoon without even realizing it. I haven't been around my cousin much during the past thirty years, but I'd be willing to bet he still wrestles his food in his mouth, rolls it, sucks it, and slaps it into submission. Just thinking about it causes a power surge in my central nervous system.

The guy I share an office with has a different style of smacking that I run across from time to time. It's as if he's trying to keep his mouth shut, but it's still really loud. You can hear liquids splashing around, and he's far too aggressive with it. It's almost violent, the way that man eats. And when he comes back to his desk with a Tupperware bowl of soup (who takes soup to work?!) it's time to find something else to do. I literally, and without exaggeration, can't be in the same room with him under those circumstances. He doesn't spoon the soup in, he brings it into his mouth utilizing a high-pressure suction. Over and over, like some steam-powered sucking machine. And then he chews it; he chews soup. I simply can't be a party to it.

Sometimes I try to re-create the loud Mexican-restaurant crunching, just for fun and games, and I can't do it. I've nearly shattered a molar trying to do that, but I guess my mouth doesn't possess the proper acoustics. I'm convinced that it's not really the fierceness of the chewing in many cases, it's just that some people have a mouth like the Hollywood Bowl -- and lack the common sense to put a goddamn muffler on it.

Anyway, I've said enough. I'm probably pissing off the smacking lobby or something. Lip-smacking is probably some ancient religious ritual that I'm not aware of, and I'll be accused of hate speech before it's all over. I need to go. There's only so much one man can do.

December 16, 2003

I was in a downloading frenzy this past weekend. I generally don't partake of such illegal activities, but I got it in my mind that I wanted all of last year's best singles (as chosen by the Village Voice) burned to CD. It was shockingly easy. I had all of the songs in about a half-hour, and they were on discs a few minutes later.

While I have a mild intellectual problem with obtaining music this way (I was a corporate record weasel for ten years), I can clearly understand the appeal: it's just really really kick-ass, and free. And it's not anymore complicated than that. If it's not exactly legal, well, no big deal. People are geniuses when it comes to justifying their immoral activities. Myself included. 

Anyway, here are a few quick thoughts on the new music I stole on Saturday. (Another checkmark in my personal celestial Hell column).

I still don't like Moby. I know he's a critic's darling, but I've never been able to warm to the techno stuff. It might be a slight overreaction, but I believe his type of music has the power to turn a person into an epileptic homosexual.

It pains me to admit this, but Eminem is fucking great. He's a person tailor-made for hating, but everything I've heard from him I've liked. I'm seriously contemplating the purchase of one or two of his legitimate CDs. Make of that what you will.

Has Beck turned into James Taylor? Or does he now sound more like Bread? I'm not sure, but it's mighty wank.

Who in the hot buttered hell is Jimmy Eat World? Is he an Indian with a bad attitude, or what? Welcome to the Pow Wow. I'd like you to meet my friends Sammy Running Water, Billy Tall Trees, and over there by the Harley, Jimmy Eat World... Again, I'm just not sure. But I like his song.

One tune called "Smells Like Booty" is Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with a bunch of black women hollering over it. I can't really recommend it.

The Elvis Presley dance mix thing is pretty great. Wonder what he'd be doing today if he hadn't killed himself with drugs and pork chops? He had a lot of coolness chips he could've played. If he'd hooked up with, say, Rick Rubin, he could've done lots of interesting stuff. Somehow, though, I have a feeling he would've just opened The Big E Supper Club in Branson, and skated.

Missy Elliott makes me feel funny, in the groinal area, with all her talk of thongs and intimate shaving.

I think my favorite stolen "song" (I use the term loosely in this case) of the batch is by some outfit known as LCD Soundsystem(??). "Losing My Edge" is the title, and it's pretty funny stuff. "I've never been wrong, I used to work in a record store," the dude says. But he's concerned that he might now be losing his edge "to the kids coming up from behind." I feel your pain, man.

The rest either haven't had much of an affect on me, or I was already familiar with them. But, in any case, it was an enjoyable exercise in thievery. And if you'd like to know my high-horse justifications, just drop me a note. In the meantime I'll be down at the Starbucks, acting like the smartest guy in the room.

December 15, 2003

-- I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the capture of Saddam today, since everybody in the world is already talking about it. But, I do have a few quick thoughts...

When I heard the news that he'd been taken alive, one of my initial reactions was, "Why didn't they just kill him?!" Now we'll be subjected to endless debates about where he should be tried, if we're treating him in a humane (ha!) manner, etc. The usual gang of wieners will demand he be turned over to some goofy world court, peopled by pussified socialists and anti-American kooks from obscure African countries and shit. I don't think Bush would allow something like that to happen, but we'll have to hear all the self-righteous, shrill arguments anyway. It makes my sphincter flex just thinking about it.

Plus, the longer this thing plays out, the more muddy the waters will become. When lawyers and spinmeisters get involved, things have a tendency to become murky. And, I'm sorry, but I have very little faith in the reasoning powers of the general population. I have no doubt that in the end they could turn Saddam Hussein into a sympathetic character -- a martyr for some imaginary cause. I have visions of humorless college students sporting their Free Saddam shirts, down at the sandal shop. Already I've read crapola online about this being "Karl Rove's Christmas surprise." And they've only just begun.

But I suppose the authorities might eventually be able to beat, I mean coax, some valuable information from the shitbag. Presumably he has a lot of knowledge about things we're interested in. No? If he could be "convinced" to tell us what he did with the tons of nightmarish chemicals he produced over the years, for instance, that would be mighty helpful. I guess I can see a few benefits of him being taken alive.

I wouldn't have shed a tear, though, if the capturing GIs had put a bullet or two through his diseased brain, and speeded him along to his destiny of 72 ugly and stinking hags in hell. But that's just me.

Since he is alive, I think it would be a good idea to now send him out on a tour of the United States, in a cage. Is something like that allowed by the Geneva Convention? I'd like to see him as maybe part of an ice capades or something. They could wheel him out in a glass box and have brazen women in bikinis skate around him at high speed. Round and round they'd go, as "Hot For Teacher" blasts from the speakers. Then a group of shaved-down, oiled-up sashaying poofters would join the ladies, with their genitals concealed only by a small sequin sack, for a rousing version of "You Spin Me 'Round (Like A Record)." And this would be repeated nightly, in 75 American cities. But, alas, it will never happen; apparently we're just too civilized for something like that. Sad.

Despite my petty complaints, yesterday was a great day. To repeatedly see the mighty Saddam Hussein looking like he should be pushing a shopping cart down Ponce in Atlanta, and being checked for head lice, is a perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday. The man used to have a dozen palaces with gold plumbing and marble floors, and on Saturday they pulled him from a fucking hole in the ground. What could be better?

And somewhere Dennis Kucinich called an emergency meeting of his supporters.

-- You know what else I hate? Commercials that are tied in with that obnoxious-looking Cat In The Hat movie -- complete with fake Dr. Seuss rhymes. It makes me crazy. There's one for potato chips, I think, that starts out with that rhyming shit, then descends into utter chaos. Everything just flies off the tracks and they're eventually left talking in short choppy sentences, but it no longer rhymes. It's as if the concept was simply too demanding to sustain over a thirty-second spot. Theodore Geisel is spinning in his grave, like a Snugglefinklebus.

-- We lived through another "snow event" false alarm this weekend. Fourteen inches they were saying, from the comfort of their 1978-era Scranton news set. Predictably, it never materialized. I think those jokers are in cahoots with the bread, milk, and egg industries. "Keep conjuring up these fake snowstorms, and we'll kick back ten percent of the additional sales to ya!" And why do I keep falling for it?! I have more eggs than sperm.

-- I plan to undertake a fad diet after the holidays. I've never really been on a diet before. I tried watching fat grams once, and I eventually wanted to rip out necks, any necks. Was that a diet? I don't know, but I'm gonna try the Long Beach diet, or the North Beach diet, or something like that. Toney suggested it, and it's supposed to be fairly simple and painless. We'll see. I need to drop about forty. I'm one thick motherfucker; I'm sporting a heavy flesh parka that I really need to discard. So, I'm gonna join Oprah Nation and see what happens. If this works I might start hugging people, and become thenthitive. Wish me luck.

-- A reader sent me this picture the other day, under the subject line Smoking Fish Sighting. I think we're starting to stretch the concept a bit, but I still appreciate it. Don't forget the Smoking Fish, during your travels! Long may he smoke, underwater.

-- In this week's update from Chris, The Word Processor, he casts doubt upon yours truly. He insinuates that I'm not being completely truthful in my claim to have never -- ever! -- taken a dump at work. Well, my friend, you can choose to believe what you want, but I am here to tell you, these butt cheeks have never come unwrapped at a place of employment, not once during my entire twenty year "career." Sure, I've had close calls, but when it comes to public crapping I can bend spoons with my determination. At this point it's not even an issue, I've trained myself to put it off for hours and hours. And that's why they call me Stooldini.

On that note, have a great day.

December 12, 2003

-- I'm hoping Santa will bring me one of those Black & Decker Electric Jar Openers this year. There are few things I hate worse than to come home, after a hard day at the office, and be forced to grasp yet another jar lid with my hand, then turn it. It just puts a damper on the whole evening. I've been dropping hints around the house and to my extended family that it would make me a very happy boy if there's a large electric appliance under the tree this year that will assist us in the arduous task of opening jars. I believe I've done all I can do, now I can only cross my fingers and wait. Do you think it's overly obvious that I've already cleared a space for it on the counter, right between the Suzuki Juice Shaker and the Peterbilt Hydraulic Potato Lift? I just don't want there to be any misunderstandings.

-- Sometimes I feel bad that I'm completely cut off from popular culture. I used to be all up in that stuff, and now I'm like an old Russian woman or something. I'm not joking, I don't know shit about shit. Actors, movies, music, television... it's all passed me by. So, every once in a while I make an attempt to correct the problem. And for the past few days I've been forcing myself to listen to a Top 40 radio station, over on the FM. To tell you the truth, it hasn't been easy.

Apparently there is no rock music anymore? Is that correct? I've only heard terrible commercial "pop" songs from teenage girls emulating the great Debby Boone, lots of rap, and that irritating metal shit with guitars that sound like the rumble strips on the side of interstate highways. How come nobody plays the guitar anymore? It's like they're pounding on it instead. Is Eddie Van Halen still working, or did he hang it up after he had his tongue removed? I don't know, but I sure wish he'd make a comeback; he's needed now more than ever.

Maybe I'm a burned out old man, but the stuff I'm hearing sounds like turds to me. Where's the fun? Where's the personality?? Where's the rock?! I heard a song last night about God being a DJ and love being your ride home from the bank or whatever. It was the best thing I've heard so far -- and it wasn't very good. I believe it's time for another Nirvana, the nuclear solution. Yep, I think the time has come.

-- Speaking of radio, check this out. The Surf Report was mentioned again on the classic rock station in Greensboro, by my old Peaches buddy Eugene -- between rock blocks by John Parr and George Thoroughly-Good. Pretty darn cool. Thanks, man. I'll send you a first edition signed copy of Pluck Nation once it's published.

-- I don't speak Hungarian (I'm from West Virginia), so I'm not really sure what this is all about. And yet I still laugh.

-- I don't speak Japanese either, but apparently they don't allow sex and penis-shitting on their subways there. Please keep that in mind during your travels. Thank you.

This is a pretty limp-wristed update, I know, but I'm gonna stop anyway. The shit is starting to veer off-course. I'll be back on Monday though, and try to do better. In the meantime, have yourselves a great little weekend, folks.

December 11, 2003

-- We had a mystery funk in our house, for almost an entire day. It was a pungent cocktail of wet dog, sour wash cloth, Atlanta parking garage, and ass. And we just couldn't locate the source. We took out the kitchen trash (even though it wasn't yet above the rim), we grinded up ice in the garbage disposal, we inspected the refrigerator... I even moved furniture, convinced there was a rotten four-pack of pork chops hidden somewhere. But we couldn't find it. "What the hell?!" I was hollering, waving my arms around as dictated by the Italian blood my mother provided me.

As the day progressed it kept getting worse and worse, and I began to wonder if there were any services in the area that could help us. Like a bonded stench locator. Or maybe a witch with a divining rod of stink? Perhaps an exorcist? Last night, as I was watching Spongebob ("Pizza Delivery") inside the hurricane of foul odors, I began to get desperate. I was ready for drastic measures. But we finally solved the mystery.

It was the frickin' Christmas tree. Actually, it was the Christmas tree stand, which apparently has a hole in it. We put a towel beneath the whole deal to protect the carpet, and it appears it had been fully saturated since Sunday. Eventually science took over and created a monumental stink. Once identified we nearly ripped that tree down trying to get the rancid towel from underneath. It's now on the deck, where Toney flung it. I won't be surprised if there are a couple of dead birds beside it later in the day. Bad towel! Very bad towel!!

It still doesn't exactly smell like a field of poppies in here. We're going to have to open every window. Or sell the house. Fuck. It's probably worked its way into the fabric of our clothing.

-- This episode only serves to bolster my argument for an artificial Christmas tree. I'd gladly fork over a hundred bucks for the privilege of never having to go tree-shopping again, and deal with assholes in ludicrous coats. I'd never again have to saw off limbs, get sap all over my pants, or worry about our house burning to the ground because of the seven-foot tall husk of dried-out kindling erected in our living room. But Toney fights me on it. She says she likes the ritual of picking out a tree, bringing it home, etc. I can understand that, but can't carrying a box up from the basement be just as nice and traditional? I think so. If we're able to put aside our petty biases, I believe the carrying of a big box up a flight of stairs can be just as festive and exciting.

-- Our dog Andy doesn't like the tree either. He's very suspicious of the thing, and shoots it dirty looks. Sometimes he stares at it, then turns to us with an expression that says, "Why?" Why in God's name is there an evergreen tree in the front room? What are you people going to do tomorrow, move the dining room table to the front lawn? I tend to agree with him. What the hell are we doing?

-- On Tuesday I received a new credit card in the mail, so I had to call the 800 number and activate it. I swear, I was on the phone for a full ten minutes. It started out with the many different languages I could choose. The person representing Spanish sounded like she needed to calm down a bit; she was shouting and getting a tad shrill. I think she was trying to sell her option. But I chose English just to spite her, and the robot man asked me to punch in my card number, then my zip code, and finally the last four digits of my social security number. Pretty standard stuff.

But then the commercials started. It was just one long-winded sales pitch after another. The first was for that rip-off "insurance" they're always peddling, that will supposedly pay off your balance in the event that you wake up dead one day. Yeah, I was born at night, but not last night, baby. The guy said to push 1 if I wanted to take advantage of this fabulous offer, and 894K*#11L if I didn't.

Toney was trying to talk to me during all this, and I had to go out on the deck in order to concentrate. One wrong move and I'd be signing some kind of binding virtual contract, that would have me tied into monthly payments until 2020. Shit. After the fake insurance, they segued directly into some ridiculous service that provides you a credit report every month, for only $4.95.

What the hell man? By the time it was over I was emotionally spent. I think I declined everything, but I'm not 100% sure. It's possible I purchased a time-share in the Grand Cayman Islands, while Toney asked if I wanted cheese on my sandwich.

-- I was watching Law & Order VD the other night, on USA Network. It was the one with Richard Belzer and Ice Water, and this episode concerned a powerful political family reminiscent of the Kennedys. I won't bore you with the full story, but the wild-child daughter of these people was suspected of murder, and our heroes had to decide whether or not to pursue it. They had to weigh the political fall-out of such a charge, and examine all their options. At the end nothing was settled. The show just went off with everything still up in the air. The girl was still free, and they were apparently just going to walk away from it all, afraid of the press coverage and general hubbub.

"What is this shit?", I yelled at the inanimate object across the room. Has Law & Order RFD gone all artsy-fartsy on us now?! Wotta rip-off. Leaving everything unresolved is just so pretentious and arthouse. I couldn't believe it, and I disgustedly turned the channel over to TNT to catch an episode of the old-school Law & Order, with the scrote-faced man who likes to brag about the '70s being nothing but a blur.

I settled in, still simmering from the earlier cheat, but ready to put it all behind me. And to my utter amazement, they picked up the faux-Kennedy story right from where it left off over on the other channel. It was bizarre and surreal. Two different shows with different casts, on two different cable channels, telling one big story. Belzer was even there. I felt like I was hallucinating. It was like watching an episode of Friends, it ending, then turning the channel to watch Raymond, and seeing Joey and Chandler there in the Barone living room still dealing with the issue from the previous show. The whole thing made me kinda nervous, if you want to know the truth.

-- Here's an email I received a few nights ago:


I just so happen to know from a recent experience of an acquaintence revealed to me by my mother... just the other day.

Seems one of her long-time friends was sick. Very sick. After several doctor appointments it was discovered that her colon had ruptured or something... all I know was my mother told me she was pissing shit somehow.

I didn't go into detail about the color of her piss exactly, but I am assuming it was brownish in color. Like iced tea.

I am not physician, and I know how silly things can creep you out, but I did have this information under my belt and just decided to pass it on. It did require surgery (obviously).

If you should ever have this problem you will experience relentless bladder infections and complete exhaustion as well as iced-tea colored piss.

-- And here's a photo of Brad Pitt sashaying about with his wiener tucked between his legs.

And I think that's enough for one day. Don't you? I'll now turn it over the self-styled educated hillbilly, Buck. It's an especially good one this week, so don't miss it.

And I'll see you folks tomorrow.

December 10, 2003

Yesterday at work I was listening to Clive Bull, my favorite British radio "presenter", and he was talking about people falling asleep at the wheel. He asked listeners to call in with their personal techniques for staying awake on a long drive. Most of the suggestions were fairly common, like rolling down the windows, or cranking up the stereo.

But one guy said he removes his shoes and socks, and that always does the trick. Another said that when he starts feeling drowsy he plucks a nose hair or two(?!). And some jackass claimed that he once stabbed himself in the thigh with a pen, in order to stay awake. Call me a radical, but I think I'd just find myself a Shoney's or something, before I'd begin searching the car for an item to plunge into my leg meat. My favorite, though, was the email that Clive read from a person who said he hooks up his phone charger, and when he begins to nod off he administers a short shock to the tip of his tongue. Shit!

Of course I worry about falling asleep while driving. I worry about everything. My mind takes in a situation, processes it, and instantly spits out the worst possible outcome. I'm wired that way, for whatever reason. Every time I'm at Sam's Club, for instance, I'm convinced a pallet of Crisco is going to fall out of a rack fifty feet in the air and shatter my spinal column. I haven't yet reached the level of insanity where I'm afraid to leave the house, but give me twenty years.

When I'm driving on a long trip I picture myself slipping into unconsciousness, my head rolling around on my shoulders like this guy's, and driving into the back of a flatbed truck. It's always a flatbed, and my head always comes off; there is no variation in the vision. So, when I start feeling loopy I pull over somewhere. I'm probably not fully a man, but I couldn't give two shits about "making good time." I have no problem whatsoever in pulling into a rest area, walking around, drinking a Mountain Dew Severe and watching people climb out of their dirty cars and pluck the underwear out of their ass. A lot of ass-plucking happens in interstate rest areas, believe me. Someday I hope to publish a coffee table book about it.

I had a third-shift job in North Carolina years ago, and sometimes I'd work all night, then drive to West Virginia when I got off at 8 AM. I'd be wired and feeling wide-awake, until I got behind the wheel in that comfy chair. Then I became the Mylar balloon lady, and not even the Beastie Boys could bring me back. One time I pulled into a rest area near Winston-Salem, put the seat back, and went to sleep. When I woke up there was an old man and woman with their faces pressed against the glass, looking at me. Holy shit! I nearly needed an upholstery cleaner. They said they were worried about me. I have no idea why, and they couldn't really explain it. I have a feeling they were planning to roll me, for my $37.

Anyway, this subject was surprisingly interesting on the radio. If you have any stories about falling asleep, or nearly falling asleep, while driving, why not post them to the forum? I'd like to hear 'em.

And that was the 400th entry to this journal, if you can believe it. Tomorrow I'll start the second 400. Don't even try to talk me out of it.

See ya.

December 9, 2003

We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday. It wasn't a huge ordeal, but nothing goes flawlessly. At least not for us. We had a small run-in at the Home Depot.

I hate Home Depot. With the possible exceptions of Radio Shack, various "craft" stores, and Wal-Mart, it's the worst shopping place on Earth. It's always crowded, you can never find a goddamn thing, idiots simply won't stop hollering over the loudspeaker, and they stock, like, the inner workings of a sink and stuff. Wow! My nipples are erect with delight. At least Wal-Mart sells oatmeal cookies and compact discs.

The only reason we went there was because they undercut Lowe's in their Sunday ad. Their trees were about five bucks cheaper, and that tipped the scales in their favor. In the past we always bought our tree at Lowe's and they usually had a team of chainsaw-wielding lesbians out there to help with your purchase. All you'd have to do is pick out a tree, rip off the tag, and take it to the cashier. Then, before you even had a chance to pay for it, Team Lesbian had launched into action. They'd have the base trimmed off, the bottom branches removed, and the whole deal wrapped in a plastic net, by the time you finished your financial transaction. Very efficient, very friendly, and very professional.

But Home Depot had no such team of lesbians, they only had an asshole in an NFL jacket. We walked around out there, in the breathtaking cold, and were completely on our own. It didn't take long to realize that if we wanted one of their Christmas trees, it was going to be up to us to get it within the reach of his scanner gun. He wasn't going to do shit.

I wasn't feeling very well (still don't) and was in no mood for nonsense, especially coming from a man in an ugly coat. I walked up to his little heated booth and told him I needed some help with my tree. "I'm only one person!" he shouted, as if the place was teeming with customers. It wasn't. We were the only people out there, except for an old lady who seemed extremely confused. (I'm pretty sure she was looking for the meat counter.)

Assholes are universal. You can find them in all regions of the country, at every job, and in any situation. If they ever discover life on another planet, even if it's just rolling balls of energy or whatever, a few of them will be assholes. But in Scranton they're a little different, they're a tad more abrasive and get under your skin more. It's the accent and the attitude, and other stuff I haven't yet been able to put my finger on. I wish somebody would do a college thesis on it, so we could finally put this mystery to bed.

My words were a simple repeat of my original request: "We need help." But my tone said, "Quit yer whining you shitbag and get back here and prepare my fuckin' tree." He started in again with his objections, and I just walked off. A minute or so later he came shuffling over, and was putting on his tree-handling gloves. He was not pleased. He made some Scrantonian smart-ass comment, and I said, "Fuck it, we'll just go to Lowe's. This place eats shit." And Toney and I headed for the exit.

I guess it was the mention of their arch-enemy Lowe's that finally changed his attitude. He chased us down and asked us to please come back in, and he'd be glad to help us. He probably knew I was going to go straight to my truck and call the manager (he was correct). So he changed his tune real fast. But, predictably, he just couldn't help himself from getting in one last jab. "Can you at least drag the tree over to the table for me," he said. At least. Grrr. The fact that I actually did it still pisses me off.

The guy even screamed into the loudspeaker and got us a rosy-cheeked fat boy with feet that touched at the heels, but went straight out from there, and a big box of string, to help us attach the tree to the top of my Blazer. ("Can you help these folks "t'row" this tree on top of their vehicle?")  He also wasn't happy with his lot in life, and seemingly had the personality of carpet remnants. But he tied rope real good, and we were finally out of that cluster-fuck. Jesus J. McChrist. It was like securing a mortgage or something. Never again shall we forsake Team Lesbian, for a few measly dollars. You live and learn.

We went straight home, had a stiff belt of bourbon, and put up our hard-won Christmas tree. Then we watched The Homecoming, and all was right with the world again. It wasn't easy, but the glass pickle has finally taken its rightful place in our living room, for another holiday season.

December 8, 2003

-- Theoretically speaking, is it a bad sign if, say, a person starts having iced-tea colored urine? Strictly a hypothetical, of course. I was just wondering... If you have any information on this, please drop me a note. That way, if it ever happens to me, I'll know. Thank you.

-- I have a cold. My nostrils are a beehive of activity, and my energy level is about the same as that Mylar balloon lady's in Florida. On Saturday, after Toney and I shoveled the snow out of the driveway, I laid around the house and read most of the day. Usually I don't have the patience for something like that (under normal circumstances it would make me want to slam my face through a plate of glass), but in my weakened state it was a perfect way to spend the day. At one point Toney said something along the lines of, "It's kinda nice when you're slightly sick, you're not so manic." So, my wife is enjoying my illness; she sees benefits in me being temporarily knocked on my ass. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I don't think I like it.

-- Since we're on the subject, how come men are always portrayed as big goofy buffoons on TV? And women are the constantly-exasperated calm in the eye of the storm, tolerating the retarded antics of their partners with comically exaggerated rolls of the eyes? Even though that may be a fairly accurate portrayal of life at my house, I don't think it's fair to paint with such a broad brush. Ya know? Not all men are prone to get-rich-quick schemes, and insist on installing their own satellite dishes with zero know-how. How come there are no women douchebags on TV? It's always the men. Was Lucy a douchebag? Maybe, but that was in the 1800's, or whatever. I can't think of a single female douchebag on television, in recent memory. Bimbos, sure, but no douches. Only the men. It's not fair. If I had the energy, the interest, and the organizational skills, I'd... make a sign or something. More Lady Douchebags Now! But, the hell with it.

-- We took in two or three episodes of Family Ties over the weekend. TVLand was running a 48-hour marathon, for whatever reason. It concerns me that I once thought that show was funny. I mean, Seinfeld it ain't. There weren't many good sitcoms in the 70s and 80s, were there? M*A*S*H and Cheers were good, I guess. But all the other shows I used to watch, like Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, etc. all seem excruciatingly stupid now. I don't think I could physically sit through a full episode of Three's Company at this point; I seriously don't think I could make it. But boy, back in the 70s that shit was hilarious. How does that happen? Funny is funny, isn't it? It should never go out of style, right? I don't know, but if I see that something from the 70s or 80s is on TVLand, I will bypass it. The only ones that consistently suck me in are shows like Andy Griffith, Leave It To Beaver, and Bewitched. No cheap sex jokes, cracks about Puerto Ricans, or falling down. Also, we were never subjected to a "very special" Bewitched, in which Sam has to deal with a breast cancer scare. No, they just made Darren's ears get really big, and we loved it. Giant ears trump cancer every time. I think Teddy Roosevelt said that.

-- My brother claims he did a Yahoo search yesterday for "how to replace a dryer belt" and this is what came up:

Limitless wild asian babe for masturbating to - WILD ASIAN BABE ... blow jobs, latina and literary agent, free sex downloads movies, travestites, smartcam
crack, barrel bung teenager, how to replace a dryer belt, free teen sex ...

-- We got six or eight inches of snow over the weekend. It was bad enough, but it wasn't the hammer of the gods like they predicted. We were supposed to sustain a "one-two punch" but the second punch never came. Even though I bitch about the snow, I'm always a little disappointed when it misses us. There's this big build-up to it, there's electricity in the air, and you're mentally prepared for the whole ordeal. Then you wake up, and... nothing. It's anti-climactic. If I lived in Florida, I'd undoubtedly walk around secretly willing hurricanes to us. I know I would. It's just one of those things.

-- Nancy's L'il Swiffer was born over the weekend. Mother and baby are doing well. She had it at home, of course, with the speeches of Karl Marx playing in the background, or whatever. Nostrils reportedly made a comment about the kid being "all man -- like his Poppa" to Sunshine. I'm no sociological expert, but I question the appropriateness of talking about a newborn baby's cock size with your mother-in-law. Plus, you know it's bullshit. The man has a PhD, for god's sake. I could be wrong, but I firmly believe that a doctorate and a large penis are mutually exclusive. One negates the other. But Nostrils really is a big wiener, that much is true. Or, as Sunshine puts it, "an AC/DC, hotel/motel, goddamn ball-baby bitch." They bought a Christmas tree in a clay pot, that they're planning to plant over the placenta in the backyard. You think I'm making this shit up? Oh, you'd be mistaken. The backyard of their old house is absolutely loaded with afterbirth.

And I'm all out of time. I'll now turn it over to Chris, who is apparently not very angry these days. I believe it's our duty to now step to the plate, and piss him off. It's the least we can do. The man needs our help.

See ya 'round.

December 5, 2003

-- The snow is coming. Reportedly, by Saturday afternoon we could have a foot or more of the stuff on the ground. They're often wrong with these doomsday predictions, but I have a feeling that this one's going to get us. And for some reason, I'm a little nervous about it. I just hope I can get home from work tonight; by the late afternoon it's supposed to be pretty nasty out there. (All the local grocery stores are already picked clean of bread, milk, and eggs.) Somehow I know I'm going to be driving during the worst of it.

If I can just make it back to the well-stocked Compound, it can snow all it wants -- at least until the beer runs out, or the power goes off. My workplace, though, is like the Hotel California: you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. I won't be able to get away, because of some stupid-ass "emergency", then I'll be driving home on dark, barely-passable interstates, with tractor trailers, hills and valleys, and mounds of dirty snow trying to coax me into their evil traps. I know this is the way it's going to happen, because it's the way it always happens.

My personal clinch-level is still at yellow, but could be upgraded to orange at any point during the day. Stay close to your radios.

-- We hired some guy to remove wallpaper in our house, and we stupidly agreed to let him work on an hourly basis. Fifteen bucks an hour. We figured it would probably cost us about $120, or $135. But he slowed waaay down in the afternoon, and it started to drag out. I became convinced that he was scamming us, and we sent him packing with the job only two-thirds done. So, it cost us the $135, and there's an entire wall still covered in a mean-spirited vinyl wallpaper that is somehow imbedded in the drywall.

I am a logistical and financial wizard. Wotta retard. My West Virginia roots are telling me to just say fuck-it, and leave it that way. Just hang the pictures back up, and move on. But I know I'll be on a ladder this weekend with harsh chemicals dripping off my elbows, and a scraper in my hand. By Saturday afternoon I'll probably be on the phone to the guy, begging him to come back for twenty-five an hour.

Learn by my mistakes: never hire a handyman on an hourly basis, always get a price for the whole job. That hourly shit leads to paranoia and animosity, at least when you're as neurotic as I am. You find yourself thinking, "That piss he just took cost me at least fifty cents. The fucker needs to lay off of that coffee!" It's a breeding ground for hard feelings.

-- Somebody posted a link in the forum to an article claiming that NBC is contemplating a 24-hour cable channel, that shows nothing but Law & Order 'round the clock. This is great news! Last night USA only showed one episode, then played some terrible Tony Danza Christmas movie. It pisses me off when I can't snuggle under a blanket and watch three or four episodes of sassy whore-talking and cops-on-the-take, end to end. I look forward to it every day. And when they replace it with Tony Danza, fucking Tony Danza, it's like rubbing salt in the wounds. This new channel is just what the psychiatrist ordered. Thank you God (and General Electric).

-- A while back I mentioned that I'd noticed visitors to this site, in my webstats, from a place called Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I'd never heard of it, but did a little research. According to this CIA (?!) page, the islands are located in the Indian Ocean, "southwest of Indonesia, about halfway from Australia to Sri Lanka." It has a population of 630, and a five-man police force. Its main industries are agriculture and fishing, with coconuts and paw-paws (!) being the primary cash crop. It sounds like Gilligan's Island! Anyway, I asked for a resident of this exotic locale to write me, and it's happened. Check it out:


Came across your website whilst searching for something else. Said to drop you a line if you live on Cocos ..... so I thought, what the hell, I am one of the lucky few that live here, and can tell you it's an absolute paradise!

It's a tiny little coral atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean - the highest elevation on the islands is sand dunes about 20ft above sea level, but 95% is only 10ft, I like to think that we live on top of a mountain in the indian ocean! There are 27 islands with only 2 inhabited - the one I live on has about 130 residents, is 13 kms long and 500 wide (skinny). I spend a bit of time visiting other islands in the group (some you can walk to on a low tide) - you can camp on these other islands and have your own island to yourself for days on end - coconuts, fish, sand, sea, coral, shells, diving, sunsets ....etc. Temperature is a constant 28 degrees centigrade 24/7/365 +/- 2 degrees.

Closest land is Christmas island to the east of us, about 950kms away. Cocos is Australia's western most territory. We have a twice weekly air service from Perth about 3000 kms away and a ship calls in roughly every six weeks with supplies.

There aren't any industries to speak of - fishing is for own consumption and the coconut industry died years ago. We generally have an average of 10 tourists or so on the islands at any one time.

Peter Hall
Airport Manager
Cocos (Keeling) Islands Airport

How cool is that? Of course I've already hit the man up for a Smoking Fish photo in front of a hut, or whatever. By the time it's all over he'll be sorry he ever wrote me. But it blows my mind that I sit here in Scranton (another paradise), banging on my keyboard, and a person on a tiny island in the Indian Ocean reads it. I don't think I'll ever get over that. I'm as excited and amazed as members of my extended family, when they were introduced to the miracle of VCR technology last year.

You folks have a great weekend. If I'm not turned into a fat-sicle on the side of Interstate 81, I'll be back on Monday.

See ya.

December 4, 2003

-- Do you ever watch one of those "biographies" on television, of someone you admire, and come away from it not liking the person quite as much? That happened to me a few nights ago with Dr. Seuss. Something about the guy rubbed me the wrong way. Despite the kookiness of his books, he seemed kinda severe, if you know what I mean. Humorless, unfriendly, withdrawn... I kinda wish I hadn't seen it. I had him pictured as, you know, a regular guy. But I don't think you could've sat down and had a beer with Dr. Seuss (the final test); I imagine he'd just stare at you with contempt, then say he's going to the bathroom and sneak out the back door.

Similarly, I finally watched the Paul Westerberg documentary a few nights ago, and he kinda gave me the creeps as well. And for many of the same reasons. Even though I was watching it at home, with a loving family near, it made me feel sad and lonely.

What's with these geniuses? I think I prefer just being a dumbass shitkicker, than carrying around the weight of the world on my shoulders. I may never leave an indelible mark on my generation, but I'm not sulking and scowling all the time either. Fuck. I had dreams of being a famous writer, and I'm an office worker in Scranton instead. Yet I'm far happier than those two tortured sacks of melancholy. Shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't know... I guess it takes a special brand of fucked-upness to be brilliant. Perhaps I should blame my parents?

-- We had Chinese food the other day at Wegman's, a grocery store here. I've said it before, but it's the best damn Chinese food in town. It's really, really good, and I know a little bit about what I'm talking about. Oh, I've eaten some Chinese food. Anyway, it's a serve-yourself type of deal. You load up a plate and they weigh it, and charge you the outrageous price of $5.45 a pound. My lunch usually costs nearly ten bucks, because I enjoy food. But I digress... Toney said that when she was loading her plate, an old man shuffled up to the bar, plucked a piece of sesame chicken out of the pan with his fingers, and popped it into his mouth. Then he walked away, chewing. I don't think I like that much. The hands of the elderly frighten me; stuff can accumulate in all those nooks and crannies. When you have skin like an English muffin, it gets a little extra-scary.

-- I mentioned this once before, but there's a Chinese buffet near where I work, and I used to go there from time to time. It wasn't very good, but it was edible. A year or so into it a rumor began circulating around my office that they "re-use" food there. Supposedly if a person leaves a shrimp on their plate, or a sizable hunk of chicken or whatever, they'll just take it over to the buffet and flick it back into the pan after you leave. I don't know if this is true, but I never went back. One of their competitors probably started the rumor, but I ain't taking any chances.

-- While we were at Wegman's having our Chinese lunch I saw a man at a table next to ours spear a piece of chicken just slightly smaller than a baseball, and work it into his mouth. It took some doing, but he eventually got the whole thing in; he had to rotate the meat to find the most workable angle, then he contorted his mouth like Buddy Hackett, and it finally slid past the barrier. Then he shifted the saucy glob to his cheek and began the process of working it down. He looked like a hamster in a Philadelphia Eagles cap, chowing down on a hundred sunflower seeds collected over a three-day period. I didn't realize until it was too late that I'd stopped eating, and was staring directly at the man, in utter amazement. I considered walking over and introducing him to the wonders of a goddamn knife, but decided against it.

-- Apparently the workers over at Wal-Mart are getting into the holiday spirit, and serving up a few "nice cakes" for their fellow employees. Check it out.

-- Law & Order went off at nine last night, so I flipped it over to the cable news channels, to see if there was anything going on. Nope. Still talking about the big scandals of the day, beating it all into the ground with publicity-whore trial lawyers and so-called experts, over-analyzing whatever scraps of "fact" they can get their hands on. It's amazing; it's just night after night after night. I'm convinced that you could take a Chips Ahoy cookie, place it on a napkin in front of those assholes, and within thirty minutes they'd have forty percent of the viewers believing it wasn't a cookie at all. They'd bring into question the texture of the cookie, the suspicious size of the chips, as well as the curious distribution pattern of the chips throughout the "mystery disc", etc. And before you know it you're thinking to yourself, "Hmmm, maybe that isn't a Chips Ahoy cookie after all. Maybe it's something to do with racism?"

For what it's worth, here are my feelings on the big cases currently pending:

Michael Jackson -- guilty
Baretta -- way guilty
Scott Peterson -- incredibly guilty
Kobe Bryant -- innocent
Judd Hirsch -- probably guilty
Bob Dole -- guilty
Robert Plant -- innocent
Linda Lavin -- lock the bitch up

And I think that'll do it for today, kiddies. It's Thursday so I'll pass the torch to Buck, who, as usual, is coming at ya straight from the holler.

But before I go, I want to thank all you folks who've been doing your Amazon shopping through the link on my homepage. It's really picked up lately, and I appreciate the support, sincerely. It never adds up to a huge amount but it's getting to the point where it's nearly off-setting the hosting fees. So, thanks! Very cool.

See ya tomorrow.


December 3, 2003

I've never owned a suit in my life. Toney and I were talking about this the other day, and it's kind of embarrassing. I'm forty-one years old, and don't possess a stitch of formal clothing. My grandmother is pushing ninety, and not doing too well. If/when I receive that phone call, I'm gonna have to rush out to JC Penney, or somewhere, and buy a suit on the fly. It doesn't seem quite right. At this point in my life I feel like I should have a collection of formal wear in my closet, on some sort of motorized device that rotates. That's the way it is on television, anyway.

But, truthfully, I've never had a reason to own a suit. I mean, what would I do with it? I don't go to church, I rarely get invited to weddings, funerals are thankfully few and far between... And all my adult life I've worked in an industry where one could get beaten down if he showed up in a tie. If I owned a suit it would just hang on the far left side of my closet in a crinkly bag, and never be touched for years. Then when it finally came time to slip into it, I'd promptly blow the ass out of the thing.

I may own a tie, but I don't know where it is. I think I wore it when I interviewed for my current job, in 1999. I'm sure it's still around here somewhere. The last time I had a job that required a length of fancy fabric around my neck was when I was a bagboy at a grocery store in West Virginia. That was in 1983, or whatever. For the past fourteen years I've worked for various "entertainment" companies, where a person could show up every day in Doobie Bros. and/or Heart tour shirts from the seventies, and plastic flip-flops, and it would be just fine and dandy. There is no such thing as casual Friday at my office; it would mean nothing but underwear, and something like that would be ill-advised in a city such as Scranton.

I don't even tuck my shirts in, most days. I dress like Ray on Everybody Loves Raymond. He stole my look. I buy my shirts at Target or Sam's, and refuse to go above fifteen dollars on each. $19.95 for a shirt is just throwing money away. I have four pairs of jeans that I rotate continuously, and only replace them once skin or underwear begins showing through. I have three pairs of shoes: New Balance tennies, some faux bowling shoes, and a pair of boots for the winter. I buy my socks in bales, from Wal-Mart. They're all gray and identical, so they'll work with all three pairs of shoes -- and I don't have to match 'em up.

A couple of years ago I was messing around with a computer program designed to organize your household finances. At one point it asked me to plug in my yearly clothing allowance, and I said something like $75. At the end it told me I'd made an error in that field, and wanted me to go back and fix it. Apparently Quicken was written by the catty poofters on What Not to Wear? Who knew? I think it even clucked its virtual tongue at me, and gave me two snaps down.

I worry that I may not be able to get away with this much longer. I'm reaching the point in my life where society expects you to at least try to look semi-prosperous and mature. I think I've pretty much pushed the envelope on that deal. But when we're in restaurants and stores and such, I look around at the men my age, and I want to give them all a swift kick to the marbles. Golf shirts, fuckin' slacks, shoes with tassels... It's too depressing to even contemplate.

God, please don't make me wear slacks and tassels. I swear I'll be good.

December 2, 2003

-- We were walking through Sam's on Sunday when something that sounded like a cartoon sheep, created by the Hanna-Barbera Corporation, came over the loudspeaker. After a few seconds of listening and wrinkling my forehead like Greta, I realized it was "Silent Night" and it wasn't a sheep at all. It was Stevie Nicks. I kept listening... During the more subdued parts of the song she sounds like an old vibrating refrigerator, out of balance and grinding -- over some schmaltzy keyboards. It's like the sounds of a laboring machine, and I thought I saw a few of the other customers look to the ceiling in concern. Was something wrong with the heating system? Was a fan ready to fly off?? Then she becomes the cartoon sheep again and everybody realizes, with great relief, that it's just Stevie Nicks. It's quickly becoming a holiday tradition.

-- Remember the flamingo shake-down I told you about last week? It's where a church extorts money from its members by threatening to fill their front yards with pink flamingos in the dead of night, thus humiliating them and insinuating that they're not Good Enough Christians. Apparently the only way to avoid this public disgrace is to purchase "flamingo insurance". It's a similar kind of fund-raising technique that the mafia engages in. Anyway, Mark had a few things to say about it, over at his site, and he mentioned that my picture of the flamingos reminded him of the Jim Jones mass-suicide. And a few days later one of his readers sent this to him. Pretty funny stuff.

-- Supposedly this is what it'll look like once we elect our first President from West Virginia.

-- And this could be the man.

-- We were at Barnes & Noble over the weekend, and Toney got into line to buy one of their $4 diarrhea-triggering coffees, as I perused the racks for something fucked-up enough for purchase. When she finally caught up with me, clutching her steaming stool softener, she told me that a couple of hunters "straight from the mountains" were in front of her in line. She said they were in full-on camouflage, with orange vests (isn't that kinda contradictory?), big black boots, Australian-looking hats, and the whole nine yards. They were grizzled and unshaven, and had probably just skinned a family of elk in the woods behind the store. And when they got to the counter the first one ordered a mocha latte grande, and the other opted for a pumpkin cappuccino, and a shortbread cookie.

-- I finally entered the 1990s over the weekend, when I had a CD player installed in my truck. It only had a cassette deck when I bought it, and I haven't had the extra cash to upgrade. But now I'm rockin', thanks to Toney. It's her birthday present to me. Pretty cool, huh? I'm trying to remember, but I think I gave her some flowers from the grocery store on her birthday. No wait, they were from Wal-Mart... purple or something. Shit. I guess it's a combination JVC CD player/guilt generator. And it works great.

-- Nancy has still not given birth to L'il Swiffer. She's way past due, and everybody's concerned except her. She says that the health establishment attempts to scare people into having unnecessary procedures, and that time will eventually take care of the situation in a natural <insert wind chime sound effect here> way. She told Toney that her so-called husband's mother carried Nostrils for twelve months, or something along those lines. That, of course, is utter bullshit, but it got me to thinking. Wonder if he came out wearing that dirty red jacket and backpack? I bet he did; he seems absolutely attached to both. And I wonder if he emerged face-first, and the doctors had to attach forceps to his nose, and pull? Yes, it's all starting to come together...

You folks have yourself a great day, ya hear?

December 1, 2003

Four-day weekends are excellent. They provide just the right amount of time to re-charge your batteries, but not so much that you're left pacing the house like one of Roy's neck-rippin' tigers. I considered updating the site during the past few days, but decided I'd just take a vacation from it all. I get into these cycles where I'm working long hours, spending too much time in front of the computer, and watching only political talk shows on TV. Without even realizing it I start to go mildly insane. When Tucker Carlson begins making appearances in your dreams, dressed as a UPS driver, it's time to take a step back. And so I did, and I'm feeling rested and ready to get back into it. I'm proud to announce that my standard dreams have now returned: well-developed Catholic schoolgirls out shopping for bras and toiletries. It was touch and go for a while, but I'm now back to normal. Whew.

-- Speaking of talking-head shows, my breaking point came on Wednesday night when I was flipping through the channels (Law & Order was nowhere to be found) and during a ten second pause I saw a woman, all red in the face, scream, "Wait a minute! Wait a minute!! The case isn't about whether or not this woman had consensual sex with a bellhop..." It was one of those moments that make a person take a good long look at himself. And I felt shame.

-- Later that same night I watched the last half of "The Making of Shallow Hal." Seriously, I'm lucky to be alive. And the scary part is that I had no idea how far gone I was.

-- On Thursday morning I did my part in preparing the Thanksgiving meal: I removed the sack of grossness from the turkey's ass (or whatever). Toney has a phobia about raw meat. In fact, she was an emaciated vegetarian when I met her; her skin resembled John Lennon's on the cover of Hey Jude, but I rescued her. (A few bacon burgers can do wonders for a person's color.) Anyway, she's still a little squeamish when it comes to uncooked meat, so I try to do my part.

Every Thanksgiving there's an unspoken understanding that I am to plunge my arm into the turkey's "cavity" and dig out whatever's packed inside. This year there was a bag of gray nastiness, something that looked like a giant shrimp, and possibly a decomposed dog head (I'm just not sure). After that I scrubbed down the carcass and placed it in a roasting pan, and was done until we fire up our grill in the spring.

For some reason it doesn't really bother me to sink my right hand into a turkey ass; it really doesn't. I don't think I could put my head in there, like they do on sitcoms, but fisting poultry isn't as horrible as one might think. It's not like it's a man from Turkey, or something like that. Ya know?

-- On Friday morning Toney left the house before the rooster crowed, and did some Christmas shopping. All the stores were selling a few chosen items at crazy prices, but you had to forego sleep in order to take advantage of them. I think retailers get off on making people jump through hoops; one day a year they're in control, and if they can make us quack like ducks they'll do it. (Retailers have a lot of pent-up anger.)

But Toney was at Circuit City at 6AM(!), which, in my opinion, is a crime against nature. At one point she called me on her cell phone and it sounded like she was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange -- and it was still dark outside. She was apparently caught up in a mosh-pit of maniacal bargain-hunters, and all I could make out were the words, "NEVER AGAIN!" Then the phone went dead, and I hoped she hadn't been swept into a vortex of turkey arms, adrenalin, and pastel sweat pants.

I was relieved to see her 90 minutes later, with a Playstation 2 in tow, and a big sack of PS2 extras they gave away free of charge -- if you arrived before seven in the morning and could hop on one foot while singing "Love Will Keep Us Together". The two members of the family that I never mention here should have a nice Christmas this year, because of Toney's bravery and heroism. Things that I don't talk about here can lead a person to do some insane shit.

-- Later that afternoon I returned to Circuit City (similar to going to 'Nam in 1980), because they were selling all their CDs for $9.99 each, all day on Friday. I was there around three o'clock and it looked like a bomb had gone off inside the place. I'm not kidding, crap was everywhere. The CD sections were a shambles and shrinkwrap was all over the floor, as well as ground-up jewel boxes (?!). I wanted to see if they had the new Ryan Adams album, but his section contained something by The Cars, a Bette Midler disc, the soundtrack to Mame, and an eight-pack of AA batteries. Shit. I couldn't find a frickin' thing in that place, and people were pushing each other out of the way and had frightening looks in their eyes. I began to feel panicked, so I left. It was like something out of Soylent Green.

-- Wal-Mart touched off a nationwide epidemic of terror on Friday, when they advertised a DVD player for $29.95 -- while supplies last. This, of course, was a recipe for disaster, and I expect to read about the resulting lawsuits in the coming days. In Florida a woman was knocked to the ground, and began having seizures after hitting her head on something on the way down. People apparently just stepped over and around her in a frenzy to procure an inexpensive machine that will play Cannonball Run 2 on their water-driven gargantuan televisions, beneath their velvet paintings of tractor trailers and/or exotic jungle cats.

My Dad told me that in West Virginia a fight broke out when a person was standing in line to pay for one of the sought-after players, and another man leaped over a checkout station and attempted to wrest it from his arms. This led to a fight that required multiple police cars, and paramedic units. Somebody reportedly emerged from the melee with a massive head gash.

Toney talked to somebody in line at Circuit City who told her that the Scranton Wal-Mart hid the players in the -- get this -- dairy section of the grocery department. Apparently they thought it would be clever to turn it into an Easter egg hunt. But when they opened the doors at 5 AM, and the players were not in the electronics department, the herd of frenzied freaks began tearing shit out of the place. After the frightened clerks began shouting that the players were "by the eggs" it triggered a stampede of polyester and retina-searing NASCAR gear, the full length of the store. Police were eventually summoned, but it was unclear what exactly happened.

When is the government going to do something?! People are being maimed while our president eats turkey on foreign soil!

-- I have more, lots more, but it'll keep. In the meantime, here's the latest from Chris, the angriest man in all of North Carolina.

And here's a new Smoking Fish sighting, this time in the town of Funk Bottoms, Ohio!

Before I go: If you're doing some of your holiday shopping at Amazon this year, please remember to enter their site through the link on my homepage. It's a painless way to support, and I sincerely appreciate it.

See ya tomorrow.

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