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   The State of My Fat Ass                                    February 2004

February 27, 2004

Call me a closeted homosexual if you'd like, but I really enjoy watching the Academy Awards. I like the red carpet pre-show with that drunken marionette Joan Rivers, and I'm fairly interested in who wins and who loses. I like to hear their comments and I generally enjoy the skewering of pompous Hollywood types by the sarcastic hosts. It's usually a good show, contrary to popular belief.

A few years ago the winner in some obscure category even got so excited he flopped out of his wheelchair and began having a spazz attack on the floor. That's the kind of thing you just don't see every day. The Oscars telecast is one of those situations where you feel like lots of strange things are possible.

So, I'll be there on Sunday, in front of the TV with a large platter of nachos and perhaps a few pints of the golden elixir created in Pottsville by Mr. Dick Yuengling. 

And following are my predictions in the major categories. Before you dismiss them, please know that I won a contest in LA once, picking the Oscar winners. I was awarded a stack of theater passes (which I don't think we ever used, now that I think about it...). And, no, I do not dress up as Cher on the weekends, thank you very much. You people can be very hurtful.

Supporting Actress

I don't know much about these women. Who the hell is Shohreh Aghdashloo? Sounds like an entree to me. Yes, I think I'll have the shohreh aghdashloo with the white clam sauce? Thank you. It's gonna be Renee Zellweger, obviously. I think it's practically pre-ordained. I refuse to see her movie (Cold Mountain) for many reasons. First, it's a love story. And, I get the feeling it's politically correct crapola. Plus, the cast is mostly British and Australian, doing ridiculous Southern accents. Even ol' Squinty herself sounds ludicrous in the clips I've seen. She sounds like she needed to take an airplane to Atlanta, drive fifty miles in any direction, spend some time there and maybe purchase a box of lozenges, before making the film. She sounds like she just chilled in Santa Monica instead, in front of a drafty window.

Supporting Actor

I'm gonna have to go with Tim Robbins. He's in that crying movie, Mystic River, and lots and lots of crying (as well as retards) always goes over well at the Academy Awards.

Best Actress

Charlize Theron. She's from South Africa, I think, but she's white and looks like a super-model. Oscar voters like safe foreigners. They probably would've gone with Diane Keaton here, but didn't want to endure a long high-horse speech about older actresses still being able to contribute in Hollywood. They screwed up with Halle Berry a few years ago, and won't make that mistake twice.

Best Actor

I'd be happy if either Bill Murray or Johnny Depp won, but I'm gonna have to put my money on Bill Murray. Depp was in a Disney movie based on an amusement park ride, and is therefore unworthy of such a high honor. His performance has nothing to do with it. Bill Murray was great in Lost In Translation, plus a win by him would probably send Chevy Chase to an insane asylum. The academy, I believe, is finding that prospect to be very appealing.

Best Director

They have to give it to that fat guy who did all the Lord of the Rings movies. His movies generated billions of dollars in revenue, and now they're all done. A tribute to that kind of commerce is a natural. Eastwood won't win because his politics are suspect, and that Coppola chick is far too young. They'll have to give it to the tubby Hobbit man with the Samuel L. Jackson hair.

Best Picture

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say Mystic River. I don't think they'll go for Lord of the Rings, after doing their duty in the director category, and Sofia Coppola hasn't paid her dues yet. Master and Commander just doesn't feel right, and neither does Seabiscuit. Not enough heat. There was a lot of pain, grimacing, and sobbing in Mystic River. I think that'll tip the scales in their direction. They could've turned it into a slam-dunk if one of the characters played by Penn or Robbins had suffered from Down Syndrome, but I still think they'll win.

We'll see how I do on Sunday.

Have a great weekend, folks. I'll now turn it over to Rockin' Randi, while I sashay off to work.

See ya.


February 26, 2004

-- When we were in Lowe's this past weekend, livin' life on the indoor/outdoor carpeting tip, I saw a very expensive and strange-looking washing machine-type of thing for sale. It had a regular washer on the bottom, but above it was a large attached box with a door on it. It was a cabinet of sorts, and inside was shelving to the left, and a pole to the right, with hangers on it.

"What's this shit?" I announced to Toney, and everybody else within a thirty-yard radius. She explained that it's the latest must-have item amongst the rich folks, which explains why I didn't know anything about it. Apparently you fold your clothes while they're still wet and stack them on the shelves, or just hang them on a hanger, and this contraption dries everything without all the horrible, old-fashioned problems of a traditional clothes dryer. What those problems are, I'm not sure. I suppose shrinkage? I don't know.

This kind of thing irritates me. Within five years everybody will simply have to have one of these big thousand-dollar hot boxes in their house, so that they can bake their ten-dollar Target shirts and skidded-up Fruit of the Looms, to impress their friends and colleagues. An old-school dryer with a stainless steel rotating drum of high heat, which has been good enough for the world since the early 1800's, will suddenly become a sign that the owner is not modern, cool, and with-it. Or worse, can't afford a cabinet of high temperatures. It will become a compulsory keepin'-up-with-the-Joneses item, and people all over the country will begin scrapping their perfectly good dryers, in favor of these so-called "drying centers." Mark my words; I know how these things work.

I may as well just get a second job now, because there's no point to fighting it. We'll have to have a pants oven too, and they're goddamn expensive. Wonder if you actually have to be friendly to work at Friendly's?

-- Speaking of horribly stained undergarments, I worked with a guy in West Virginia years ago who spoke of an "experiment" he wanted to conduct. He said he'd like to wear the same pair of tighty-whities for several days in the normal fashion, then for a few more days backwards. His goal, he said, would be to nurture and grow one giant skidmark that went "from elastic to elastic." I'm not joking. He brought it up more than once, so I know he'd given it some thought; he'd devoted a little time to some laboratory feasibility studies. I'm not sure if he ever achieved his goal, but we're planning to visit the Smithsonian this summer and I should find out then.

-- I saw this article yesterday, and I can't get it out of my mind. It's about a public toilet in London, constructed of one-way glass. Theoretically, you could take a crap right out on the sidewalk, with dozens of strangers walking around you -- you can see them, but they can't see you! For some reason I think I'd like to give it a go. Having a sit-down with a fresh copy of Entertainment Weekly amongst a throng of commuters is strangely attractive to me. You'd have your privacy, but it would also feel really foreign and unthinkable... That's right up my alley.

My only concern is that something might go wrong and the glass would reverse itself somehow. And I'd suddenly be looking at four or five reflections of myself in mid-poop, as the city of London takes notes on my technique. I might have to be mildly drunk before assuming the position.

Next they should make a few virtual reality shitters, where it would feel like you're crapping on a roller coaster, in the middle of a stampeding herd of buffaloes, or floating through space. That would also kick much ass.

-- I'm officially tired of hearing about the surfer girl in Hawaii who had her left arm chewed off by a shark. The shelf-life on that story has officially expired, yet I still see her on television all the time. Enough. She's not exactly the sharpest staple in the stomach, and interviews with her are just short of excruciating. If the networks insist on talking to her all the time, can't they at least ask her the things we'd all like to know? Like, does she have to shave beneath her stump? And how does she do the other side? Does she have a service come in? These are the types of questions she needs to be asked.

I really wish they'd just leave her alone, and maybe check back in five years or something. Why are we so fascinated by people losing their arms, anyway? The guy in Def Leppard was covered to the point of absolute saturation, for three years after his was lopped off. I can still see him sitting there on CNN, in his muscle shirt, with his armpit hair on his shoulder. Apparently it's just something that people want?

-- Check it out. I'm getting my vintage hippy-dippy camera strap -- from San Francisco! It should have the patchouli/cannabis scent that I desire; the thing was probably at Altamont. Excellent.

-- The Smoking Fish has been spotted again, this time in the main broadcast studio of a major Washington, DC radio station. This is all starting to freak me out a little, if you want to know the truth. Take a look.

-- How come nobody keeps moles as pets? They keep all kinds of other exotic animals, but never the mole. It doesn't seem quite right to me. What's wrong with moles?

-- When I was in Target the other day I saw that they're now selling a Peeps Maker. Yes, you read that correctly. Peeps. You can now make them at home. Because, I presume, they're best when they're hot and fresh. Ha. Nobody eats Peeps, nobody. You could airdrop a pallet of those things into the most impoverished nation in Africa, and they'd remain where they landed until they turned to dust. They'd eat the shrinkwrap off, and maybe the wooden skid from underneath, but they wouldn't touch the Peeps themselves. I just can't imagine a person purchasing a Peeps machine. If you know somebody who owns one, please send me their email address. I have a few questions for them.

And that's gonna do it for today, folks. Buck is still buried at work, and isn't able to join us. But he'll be back. He wants to assume more of a Willard Scott-type role, and that's fine with me. So, presumably, he'll be popping in every once in a while to wish us a happy birthday, and talk of the wonders of Smucker's Jellies and Jams.  Stay tuned for that.

And I'll see ya 'round.

            

February 25, 2004

I'm feeling the urge to get away from this place (real life) for a while. My brain is burnt up like one of Sunshine's patented skillet meals, and my job is getting really weird.

There are big changes afoot at my workplace and when the dust settles I'm going to be working with new people, people that don't exactly give me that warm and fuzzy feeling everybody seems to be going for these days. I have doubts about whether I can get along with them, and I have a few other doubts as well. I worked with a guy years ago who liked to say that there are no such things as problems, only opportunities. I have a feeling a whole new world of opportunity is about to open up to me.

And sometime this summer I'm going to find myself working in an office that is secondary to the fancy new facility they're opening in Tennessee. Up until now I was in the eye of the storm, but the storm is moving south and I'm staying here. I told the corporate overlords in California that I wanted to be a part of the new operation, but they've made it clear they have other plans for me. I'm not going anywhere; they want me in Scranton.

Hey, at least I still have a job, right? And the workload should decrease dramatically once the new place opens, so maybe I should just quit my bitching? Yeah, that's one way of looking at it. But I'm starting to get paranoid. I understand why things are happening the way they are, but I'm an expert at concocting conspiracy theories. And this talent, coupled with sleep deprivation, is kicking off a Mongolian circus of fucked-upness inside my head.

Every sentence spoken has secret meanings, and unusual phrases and inflections speak volumes. Oh, I know what they're up to. They can't fool me. And everybody's in on it, even the janitors. They didn't empty my recycling yesterday because they know my days are numbered and no longer have to worry about keeping me happy. It's obvious what's going on.

I fully understand how a normally sane person could just suddenly lose his shit. I'm in touch with my inner-Brian Wilson. I'm not there yet, but I'm veering in that direction. I feel like a cartoon character with one of those stormy clouds hanging over his head. Standing in a corner for hours, playing with foil and string, is but a short stroll from here.

I need about fourteen hours of sleep, a couple of days spent in a place I've never seen before, some quiet time with a good book, a few leisurely walks with my wife, and some Rolling Rock longnecks, to get back in the game.

God only knows what would happen to me if I had real problems.

February 24, 2004

-- The Village Voice's Pazz 'n' Jop 2003 music survey is now available for public consumption, digestion, and eventual excretion. Correctly or incorrectly, I've always viewed it as the final word, the definitive analysis, of the previous year's "popular" music. It's the real deal, I believe. It's not like the Grammys, whose voters seem to think that whichever album sold the most copies is the year's best. And it's not like the Rolling Stone reader's poll, whose participants obviously give "sexiness" and "ability to generate controversy" weighted consideration when choosing the supposed best music of the prior year. No, this list is compiled from the opinions of real, live music critics.

And by music critics I mean doughy middle-aged men with bald spots and a questionable hygiene regimen, who live alone in ratty apartments overrun with promotional discs and fast food bags, who wouldn't be caught dead in public without a bundle of "laminates" hanging around their necks (as important as the doctor's stethoscope at news conferences), and who have accepted Lou Reed as their own personal Lord and Savior.

...Generally speaking, of course.

These guys know their shit. They live and breathe it, every day. Many people like to believe their opinions are just as valid as anyone's, but, of course, they are wrong. Professional music critics know more. Their opinions are worth money, while you and I are just clueless civilians, running our mouths. Many rock critics have taken an involuntary vow of celibacy so that they may devote their lives to musical analysis, or so I've surmised. They're plugged-in, and I value their opinions. Sincerely. I might not want to share an enclosed space with them, especially during the summer months, but I value their opinions.

As for this year's picks, I have no idea. I've heard of Outkast but wasn't sure if they were metal or rap or what. By their photo on the site I'd have to rule out metal. I've never heard a single note of their music, that I'm aware of. Are they big? Would I like them? Notice that Fountains of Wayne came in third? Who was talking about them, even before the album was out? That's right; me, goddammit.

The White Stripes are worthy, but I'm not so sure about Radiohead. I have no laminates, and will most likely not receive cash payment for this opinion, but I think they suck dicks, lots and lots of dicks. I love the Shins and Drive-By Truckers, and have my eye on that New Pornographers album, but the rest of the Top Ten means little to me. Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Don't know don't know don't know. Basement Jaxx? I used to have one of those when I was a kid. My brother got hurt on it once, when he bounced into the furnace unit. And I once rode the Dizzee Rascal at King's Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, and nearly puked up my corndog and mustard. But what's all this have to do with music?

OK, I admit it. I'm a little pissed that they ranked Westerberg's album at #129.  But that certainly doesn't detract from the amount of respect I have for America's rock critics. Not in the least.

February 23, 2004

-- No satellite dish for you! That's basically what the installer told us on Friday. He arrived early in the noon-to-six window of time he allowed himself, did some readings with various Ghostbusters devices, and told Toney he couldn't get a signal. He stood at all four corners of our house and got nothing.

He blamed it on the trees, and said our little town is notorious for dead-spots(??). And all this time I thought satellites were way up in the sky!? Apparently this one is actually located in the trunk of a 1988 Buick Skylark parked behind the Comfort Inn in Clarks Summit. Who knew? The guy also installs for DirecTV, and went to his truck and grabbed their sensor, just for kicks. It too was deader than Kelsey's nuts.

So, we can't have a satellite dish. We can only have cable, at whatever price they choose to charge us. And, worst of all, no digital recorder. That's the part that really makes me sad. Truthfully, I have no problem with cable programming, so I doubt the dish would've improved anything there. And I was a little worried about all that goofy hardware being mounted to the front of our house. It was the recorder (and the promise of a fixed price), that tipped the scales for me. Dammit, I wanted to see what Conan O'Brien looks like!

This place is too much. It's a wonder we don't have to climb a pole to answer our phone. Seriously.

-- I was able to play with my new camera over the weekend. I loaded the software, put the batteries and memory in, set the date and time, and bought myself a new fancy-pants camera bag. I want to get one of those old hippie tapestry straps for it, but don't really know where to go for such a thing. I like the idea of the latest electronic technology being co-mingled with something old and maggot-infested, and maybe smelling faintly of patchouli and socialism. I had big plans to take the camera out and about for an inaugural photo-frenzy, but it never happened. This is the best I could do.

-- One of Toney's Pennsylvania buddies arranged for a relative to babysit their kids on Valentine's Day, and she and her husband sneaked away for a romantic night in a hotel, a place with hot tubs in every room. When she told me about this I felt a slight twinge of guilt over only buying Toney some grocery store tulips and a novelty card for Valentine's.

But guess what happened?! They both became violently ill, a bacterial infection of some sort, and the doctors are blaming it on the hot tub! I am vindicated!! Toney sure didn't spend four days acting like a lawn sprinkler of liquefied feces and vomit after receiving my gift. No way. And her body wasn't covered in welts and boils either. Ha! Wonder how Mr. Smooth feels now?

There is absolutely no way in hell that I would ever willingly submerge myself in one of those big simmering bowls of ball 'n' ass chowder. Good god. I'd rather go scuba diving down at the waste treatment plant.

-- I heard my apple-eating co-worker on the phone the other day, canceling his subscription to the Carol Burnett Show Video Club. I shit you not. He said they were now being shown on TVLand, and he'd been taping them instead. This is my life. And I had so many dreams, and such big plans...

-- My brother sent me this link. It's the county in West Virginia where we grew up, and apparently this male model is traveling from school to school there warning of the dangers of "spit tobacco." I'd guess a bike helmet, with chin strap, is simply out of the question for him at this point?

-- My friend David found this beer coaster at a bar in Wisconsin. Bizarre on so many levels.

-- Toney and I saw a chicken in the parking lot of Lowe's on Saturday. We were walking back to our car after pricing Astroturf ($3.47 a linear foot -- whatever that means) for our planned campground Utopia, and saw an actual rooster strutting around and pecking at the Wendy's french fries scattered on the pavement. It had that swingin' red sack underneath its chin and everything. Scranton is no New York City, but neither is it Walton's Mountain. I make fun of this place, but you generally don't see farm fowl milling about the shopping centers. Did it fall off a truck or something? What the hell, man? It was a goddamn chicken.

It reminded me of the time my parents and an aunt and uncle were staying at a hotel in Kentucky. It was one of those places where all of the rooms open onto an indoor courtyard and swimming pool. One Saturday there was a lot of loud partying going on, by the pool, late into the night. And the next morning my uncle opened his door and a sheep ran into the room. It ran past him, hurtled itself over the bed, and jumped into the bathtub. It was so big it filled the entire tub, and wouldn't budge from there. They had to call in some sort of government agency to remove the sheep from their hotel room. Must've been one hell of a party.

-- And I think that'll do it for today, boys and girls. I'll now pass the baton of insensitivity to my good buddy Chris, who is still angry and white and living in North Carolina. Take 'er away, Chris.

More tomorrow.

February 20, 2004

-- I realized while watching ol' Scrote-Face on Law & Order that I've never sat on a jury. In fact, I've never really even been called for jury duty, in my life. A year or so after we moved to Pennsylvania I received a letter from Los Angeles County in California ordering me to report, but I got out of that one. They reluctantly declared the commute excessive. Other than that though, nothing. It makes me feel kinda bad. Am I on some sort of list? "Prospective juror listens to Neal Boortz, owns large collection of sound recordings outside the mainstream of American society, has never shit at work..." It's not fair.

Everybody bitches about jury duty, it's the expected reaction to being called, but I wouldn't mind checking it out. It seems like fun. And I could do a good job too. I believe I possess a superior ability for seeing through the bullshit. No fancy-pants lawyer would be able to sandbag me with illogical arguments, or Oprah melodrama. No way. I'd send the fucker packing. And I can read people as well. Slouching in your chair, I know, means guilt. Bad attitude: guilt. Stupid clothes: guilt. Ridiculous facial hair: guilt. Displeasing accent: guilt. Belief that "imply" and "infer" are interchangeable: guilt. There's a thousand of them...

I just don't get it. I'm a huge untapped justice system resource, just sitting here with my mind wide open. How do I make them aware that I'm ready and willing to send a few assholes to prison? Who do I call?

-- Speaking of jury duty, a few weeks ago on Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry got out of serving by telling the lawyers and judge that he didn't think he could be impartial, because he doesn't really like black people. That's the kind of comedy you just don't get out of a Full House, or a Family Ties. Ya know?

-- We're finally getting our satellite dish today. There was a waiting list for installation, of nearly a month. Whatever. It goes up today. They'll be here sometime between noon and 6PM, they say. Kind of a hefty window of time, but you can't fight City Hall.

I'm concerned that they're going to hang the thing on the front of our house, and trash our shit up. I think they do that for advertising purposes, because their logo is right in the middle of the dish. Toney's going to try to get them to put it in a less obvious spot, but I already know what their answer will be: "It has to be installed in a place where the signal is strongest, ma'am, and that's right over your front door." Liars. They're always on the front of houses -- on both sides of the street.

But, hopefully, by the time I get home from work tonight we'll have our new kick-ass digital recorder in place. It can store up to 100 hours of programming! Can't wait. I'll now be able to watch all those shows that come on after 11PM. Like this hot young comedian I've heard about, called David Latherman, or whatever. It's going to open up a whole new frontier to us.

And that's all I have time for today, I'm afraid. But Buck is back, and I'll let him take it from here.

See ya.

February 19, 2004

-- I saw a car a couple of days ago sporting a special state-issued license plate that identified the driver as a notary public. It had some kind of logo on there that apparently is the official sign of the brotherhood of the crimper, and everything. Impressive. I bet the guy gets more action than he can handle, riding around with that official plate on the back of his Dodge Neon. It says: Power and Prestige. "Would you like to go back to my place and see the crimping device? It's been by my side for so many years, it's a part of me now..."

I slowed my car way down because I thought I might be speeding, and I'm pretty sure notaries can arrest people and impound their vehicles. You don't fuck with the brotherhood -- I think that's how they finally got Capone. Their hard-nosed reputation didn't just appear out of thin air, after all. Mild-mannered court reporters they ain't. Eventually I got so nervous I just pulled over, and let him go ahead. There's no need to push your luck.

-- I watched four or five episodes of Gilligan's Island on Monday afternoon. Some obscure cable channel was running a marathon, and I got sucked in. I didn't see my favorite episode, about the radioactive seeds, but I did see the one where the rock band The Mosquitoes came to the island, and the one where Gilligan has his Jack & The Beanstalk dream, and a few others. Great fun.

It's been a lot of years since I've watched that show and I was struck by how mean everybody was to Gilligan. Mr. Howell, especially, treated the bumbling man-child like he was sub-human. And everybody else constantly talked down to him as well. It's a wonder Gilligan didn't eventually snap and kill them all. Talk to me like I'm retarded? Take this, and this, and this...!

And I had the same questions I had when I was ten: if they were going on a three-hour sight-seeing cruise, why did they bring luggage, toiletries, and bedspreads? When we visited Carter Caves last summer it just didn't occur to me to take along bedding. Maybe I'm the fool? And why did Mr. Howell bring his teddy bear? I don't understand.

Someday I hope to write a series of books based on shows like Gilligan's Island and the Brady Bunch that are a little more dark. I think they could benefit from a David Lynch treatment. Ya know? There's not enough emotional pain for my liking. Or cannibalism.

-- Remember the woman at work I told you about who likes to hang signs all around her desk? She's the one surrounded by computer-generated signage inspired by a thousand little personal annoyances? When something irritates her, she makes a sign about it? Remember? Well, she's pissed at me. I had the audacity to ask the ops manager to give her an email account! Can you believe my insensitivity?

I have to talk to this woman about twenty-five times a day, and am constantly faxing her printouts of messages and such, because she doesn't have email. It's ridiculous. This is not 1978. When she found out about my request she flew off the handle and undoubtedly generated fifteen new signs before calling me up and blasting me with both bitch barrels. She said this will double her responsibilities, and accused me of "betrayal." I told her it's email, a common office tool, and she might want to calm the fuck down.

Yesterday she was like a giant block of ice, with a New Jersey accent. It never stops.

-- Presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry made a campaign swing through Pennsylvania this week, and caused quite a stir. Check it out.

-- Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ is opening soon, and there's a lot of controversy surrounding it. I don't fully understand what all the hubbub is about, but I think the hand-wringers are trying to say he's anti-Semitic because Jews kill Jesus in his film. Now, I'm no theologian, by any stretch of the imagination, but isn't that the way it supposedly went down? I think Gibson is trying to faithfully illustrate that section of the Bible; it just wouldn't work if he had fat white Halliburton executives nailing Jesus to the cross, like his critics would prefer. Ya know? The funny thing is, I don't hear too many Jews complaining about it, it's mostly leftist intellectual elites. I have a suspicion that it has more to do with a strong dislike of all things Christian, than a concern about defamation. But what do I know?

-- Since we're on the subject of hand-wringing, I believe this takes it to a new level. Apparently The Vagina Monologues is nothing more than a swirling cesspool of prejudice and bigotry. Yes, you read that correctly. Reportedly there are not enough vaginas of size, or vaginas of color, included. It's shameful. 

-- On a happier note, my camera arrived yesterday. I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, but I did break the seal and breathe in the intoxicating aroma of new electronics. Ah, it's a wonderful smell... I may have to do another One Hour In Scranton photo essay this weekend. Stay tuned.

-- Here's a short clip of a douchebag walking into an electric fence. Enjoy.

-- And here's another douchebag taking a sword tip to the jugular, or something, on one of the shopping networks. Enjoy again.

-- And, finally, it's time to check in with Rockin' Randi. Buck called in sick this week, so Randi's filling in for him. Hopefully our favorite educated hillbilly will be back next week. In the meantime, here's Randi.

I'll be back tomorrow.

February 18, 2004

I saw Larry Tate again this weekend. He, of course, is Darrin's boss, down at the advertising firm, and I occasionally see him around.

The first time was in Greensboro, years ago. My brother and I were at a crumbly dump of a bar called Fuzzy Ducks, watching some band play on the patio. I can't remember their name but there's a good chance they were called Sidewinder, or the Sidewinders, or something similar. Many bands at the time had this name, which still amazes me. Rarely does a week go by that I don't think of a great band name (like Slotted Spoon), but all these guys opted for the same uninspired moniker. It's sad.

They should hold a Sidewinder reunion sometime and all the different Sidewinders could get together and jam. Of course it would probably descend into chaos after the players began arguing who was the "real" Sidewinder, and the North Carolina Sidewinders might have a problem with the Kentucky Sidewinders, etc. etc. ... So, yeah, maybe that's not such a great idea after all.

Anyway, we were outside on the covered patio sitting on top of a picnic table watching the band, who had obviously made a conscious decision to compensate for lack of talent, originality, and charisma with high volume. It goes without saying that both of us were bed-shitting drunk. We were probably drinking Rolling Rock (aka R-Squared) longnecks, in the heavy green bottles. And plenty of them. Eventually Mr. Tate took a seat in front of us, with his young date.

Larry, of course, is a middle-aged man, probably late-40's or early-50's, but his girlfriend that night may have been a college student. This impressed me and my brother highly, and we began "paying tribute" to him. "WAY T'GO LARRY!!" we started hollering, above the din of a sub-par "Substitute." "YOU'RE THE MAN, LARRY! YOU ARE THE MAN!!" When she slipped her hand in his back pocket we took it up another notch. And when Sidewinder East abruptly ended their song we were left screaming, "--AAAARRRY!!!" with our beers hoisted in his direction, and our faces contorted with passion. Every head whipped around and stared at us like we were wearing turbans of turds.

The second time I saw Larry Tate was in Myrtle Beach, playing miniature golf. He was in the party in front of us, and was once again with a woman other than his wife. Now, I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I'm starting to believe that Larry's a bit of a serial tramp. I watched them closely, and I don't think his golf partner that night was a prospective client, if you get my drift. Very disappointing; his wife Louise seems like such a lovely woman. But he knew his way around that Putt-Putt course; you can't take that away from him. The man conquered the fire-breathing dragon like a pro, and kicked Humpy-Dumpty's fat ass with ease. I had to refrain from launching another "tribute."

On Sunday Toney and I were in PetSmart, buying our dog Andy another thirty pound bag of shit-making pellets (it will somehow yield approximately fifty pounds of yard biscuits), and spotted Larry Tate by the aquariums. We were checking out a hideous fish that looked like a tumor with fins, when I noticed him standing there. Again, Louise was nowhere to be found. He was with yet another woman! Larry, Larry, Larry... And he'd apparently had some work done. He was starting to show his age in Myrtle Beach, but now looks twenty years younger. I don't think I like that much.

To tell you the truth, I wish I'd stop running into him. It makes me sad to know that Larry Tate is not the man we've been led to believe he is. I don't want to be judgmental, and try to take into account that he lives in a fast-paced world of advertising that I will never know. But then I think of Louise. Poor, poor Louise, home alone while Larry's out trolling for skank at the Scranton PetSmart. And that's a difficult thing to reconcile. Difficult indeed.

February 17, 2004

So, we went to Don Pablo's for dinner Saturday night. It's a chain restaurant that sells Mexican food, and it's really good. I have a built-in nose-in-the-air bias against chains, but this one has somehow become one of our favorite places. They have something there called The Real Burrito that is nothing short of kick-ass, and their fajitas are pretty great too. For when I'm off the wagon, they offer up Yuengling lager in a glass so large it takes both hands to get it near your mouth and tipped to the proper angle -- and everybody drinks them so you don't feel like a fool sitting there with a novelty beaker in front of you. It's a fun place to have dinner.

Saturday night wasn't much fun, though. When we arrived we saw that the parking lot was almost full, which was kind of unusual. I think they do a good business there, but it's really big and I've never seen it full. There were a dozen or so people standing inside the door, waiting for tables, and the host said it would be thirty or forty minutes for us. What the hell, man?! It took us a few minutes, but we finally figured it out: Valentine's Day. Grrr... Goddamn Hallmark, screwing with our Mexican supper...

We were packed in the corner of that little staging area between the first front door and the second front door, the little cubicle designed to keep the air conditioning inside, and where people can wipe the shit off their shoes if they so desire. Of course, within seconds one of Toney's friends was there, with her husband. Everywhere we go we run into one of Toney's Pennsylvania buddies, and I get to nod and grunt at their husbands, and feel all awkward and uncomfortable. After about five minutes their name was called and they were allowed entrance into the golden palace. And we remained in the shit-wiping room, packed in a corner.

It was less than the thirty or forty minutes they'd promised, more like twenty I'd say, when they finally called our name. And they led us to a booth in the corner (yet another corner). The noise inside that joint was incredible. I think everybody was at least half in the bag, hollering and being highly animated, and crunching chips like they were entered in some kind of loudness contest. I wished I could order one of the tourist buckets of beer, and join them in the revelry. Unfortunately, I've already had my life's share, as well as the shares of several of my neighbors, co-workers, and ex-classmates. I've never been very good at pacing myself.

We checked out the menus, and sat there. And sat, and sat. The girl helping the table behind Toney never looked our way, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who was helping the table to my left, acted as if we were a large decorative plant. We waited for at least ten minutes, and nobody came. They were really busy so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. After about fifteen minutes I went to the host and told him we'd never seen a waitress, and he assured me he'd take care of it. I was exceedingly friendly and made it clear that it was no big deal; the place was packed.

Then we sat and sat, and nobody came. After another ten minutes or so I was starting to get pissed, and went back to the host. "What the hell?!, I said, "Are you people going to take our orders, or what?" He acted nervous and jumpy and told me somebody would be over right away. "Make it the manager," I spat. Incredible. As my grandfather might say, wotta way to run a whorehouse.

Almost immediately a man appeared at our table in a denim shirt that screamed: authority. "What can I get you folks to drink?" he said. Wait a minute! Did he actually think he was going to get away with just acting like everything was cool? I don't think so. I told him we'd waited outside forever, then was ignored in this booth for a half-hour, and even after I'd spoken to the host we were still treated like home furnishings. He said, "That's why I'm here. What can I get you to drink?" What in the honeybaked hell?! I just threw in the towel and ordered an iced tea. Very confusing.

While Denim Power Man was still standing there, a guy who may or may not be a regular on Will & Grace appeared with salsa and a basket of chips. He said he was going to "make it all better" for us. I didn't like that one bit. It sounded like he was talking to a four year old kid who was throwing a temper tantrum. Don't patronize me, Siegfried. You people are the ones fucking this up, not us. They then blamed the mix-up on Theo Huxtable, next door. "He's new," they whispered, in an exasperated tone. Classy.

A few minutes later Denim returned with a large bowl of liquefied cheese and flung it into the middle of our table. "That's on me," he announced, clearly proud of himself. Still nobody had apologized for us being in that booth for around forty-five minutes, without even seeing our drinks. Denim seemed a tad too cocky for my tastes. His special shirt had clearly gone to his head.

Our food came quickly, and was really good. The liquid cheese was good too, and I thought the unpleasantness was behind us. For about twenty minutes all was right with the world. Then it all went to shit again. Our waiter, who had promised to make it all better, abandoned us. After he brought us our check we never saw him again. He had theatrically glided out of our lives. And we sat and sat, waiting for the opportunity to give them some of our money.

Finally I got up to go hunting for a member of the staff willing to ring up our dinner, so we could get the hell out of that place. We'd sat in that booth so long my butt-cheeks were starting to twitch and flex. It was like a long car trip with "Requiem For A Drunk With Chips" playing on the stereo. Theo saw me get up, and came running. He took our check and credit card, attempting to put himself between me and the manager. This was a full-blown disaster and he was probably getting all the blame.

We left White Tiger a generous one-dollar tip, against a twenty-five dollar check, and we (finally!) headed for the door. Over two hours, just in the corner booth alone. Sweet Maria. I looked for the manager on our way out. I wanted to have another quick word with him, but he was nowhere to be seen. I wanted to tell him that he was undermining the dignity of the denim, but the hell with it. I don't have as much rage as I once had, and it just didn't seem worth the effort. It's a Mexican restaurant, not the Department of Homeland Security.

And as we were leaving we passed by six or eight empty and clean tables, then walked through a couple dozen people waiting outside for their chance to sit down. What's that all about?! Somebody needs to be busted back down to white cotton, and quick. 

Wotta way to run a pussy parlor.

February 16, 2004

-- Saturday was Valentine's Day, another of those Hallmark Corporation extortion "holidays" designed to suck dollars out of your pocket, lest you be branded uncaring and an all-around fucker. Others, of course, are Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, Secretary's Day, My Baby's Daddy Day, and Aborted Sibling's Day. Some have taken root in society better than others, but they were all created to guilt you into buying a metric shitload of cards, flowers, and candies. And more are undoubtedly being contemplated as I type these words. Lots more.

Not having the energy (or the guts) to fight it, I stopped at a grocery store called Wegman's after work on Friday and selected a nice little pot of purple tulips for Toney, then made my way to the greeting card aisle. There I encountered a herd of sad men with panic in their eyes, frightened of making a mistake and near tears. They were mechanically plucking cards from the stand, reading them, sighing loudly, and replacing them. I joined in the fun, and finally found one that said my love has grown over the years in direct proportion to my waist size (or something like that) and got out of there.

I could sense a conflict in my band of brothers. While they were happy to see me get out, my escape only underscored the fact they were still there, and enjoying little progress. As I made my way to the checkout I told myself not to look back. I like to believe they all made it.

-- Today I'm off from work in recognition of some vague group of ex-Presidents. Just the good ones I think. Carter's not included, and neither is U.S. Grant. It's Good President's Day. Buy somebody a hundred-dollar flower arrangement, you cheap bastard. I'm planning to spend the day listening to the Nuggets box sets and scribbling notes on several projects I'm contemplating but will probably never complete. I hope Abraham Lincoln approves.

-- On Saturday we decided to drive up to the Poconos, just to get away for a few hours. It's incredibly cold outside and our options for diversion are severely limited. We're starting to get a touch of spring fever, and figured we'd stop into the Coleman outlet store up there, and continue stocking our new camper. It's fun just thinking about it, and planning. In less than eight weeks we'll be camped a few feet from the beach, kicked back in the sun far away from computers and assholes and telephones and big-ass electric bills. It's a vision that sustains us, and getting prepared only makes it seem that much more real.

Plenty of other people obviously had the same idea, and I quickly remembered why I hate going to those outlet stores. Holy crap, it was crowded. The parking lot was a cluster-fuck of cars, rent-a-cops were at every intersection attempting (with little success) to keep things flowing, and buses from New Jersey and New York continuously rolled up and spewed forth large packs of men and women, all of whom talked exactly like Edith Bunker. Even the men. It was like a trip to Disneyland, without all the pesky fun.

The Coleman store is a log cabin that sits apart from the mall itself, and it was lousy with people. It was so packed you could barely browse. There was little regard for personal space on display in that wooden structure; those folks don't hesitate to get all up in your shit. I did see a flashlight that you can strap to your forehead, sort of a coal miner's type of thing, and Toney and I agreed that it was something Banana Nostrils would probably purchase, if he had a job. And they had a big tub of glow-in-the-dark beer koozies, so people can get shitfaced drunk in the dead of night without losing their can. I thought those were pretty cool. We bought a couple of (hand-held) flashlights that could undoubtedly survive a nuclear attack, and a few gadgets for the kitchen. And by the time we got out of there I was thoroughly stressed out, and ready to start throwing punches. Jesus J. McChrist. I was drowning in a sea of Ediths.

We decided to forego the 10,000 or so other stores, and just grab a cup of coffee and head back home. We went into a little gourmet coffee joint and the place looked like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. We squeezed inside the door and within seconds I found myself wedged between a Snapple machine and a wall of glass. The back of my head was against the plate glass window and my gut and nose were pressed against the humming tea cooler. I said, "Will somebody please call 911?" and nobody laughed. We never got any coffee even though we devoted fifteen minutes to the pursuit. It was insanity on parade.

As we sat in traffic to get out of the parking lot we saw that the mall is surrounded on at least two sides by a large, ancient cemetery. There's a church across that street that has a date from the 1800's on the base of the steeple, and we started wondering if they had to move some of the graves to make room for the Gap Outlet, and the Eddie Bauer Liquidation Center. Then we wondered if maybe they just moved the headstones, like in Poltergeist, and left the bodies to save money? It won't surprise me if someday in the future I'm standing in the luggage store and a skeleton hand bursts out of the floor and grabs my ankle.

We sat in gridlock so long my fuel light came on, and we decided to find a gas station before we got back on the interstate. That area is loaded with ski resorts and people were everywhere. And I had a strong suspicion that most were drunk off their asses. We were at a Mobil station buying price-gouge gas ($1.72!) when five or six speeding cars converged on the parking lot from several directions. One went right past the front-end of my truck, traveling at roughly 40 MPH. I thought it was the cops moving in for a bust, or maybe a robbery of some sort.

All of the vehicles screeched to a halt in one corner of the property, and every door flung open. Within seconds there were a hundred or so Asian people milling about. Skiin' Koreans. They were hooting like Southern rednecks and pumping their fists in the air as if they'd just heard the first few notes of "Stairway to Heaven." One guy was beating his chest like a gorilla, and another was apparently attempting an impromptu breakdance on the pavement. It was one of the more unusual spectacles I've witnessed all winter.

We quickly got far away from that open-air nuthouse before one of us was injured or killed. Goddamn. There's some crazy-ass shit going down in the Pocono Mountains, my friends. I had no idea.

-- Here are a few odds and ends I've collected over the past several days, for your electronic enjoyment:

Here's yet another photo that's surfaced of John Kerry and Jane Fonda. Suddenly he wants to focus on the future, not the past. Ha.

This is an obnoxious office-worker getting what's coming to her. Oh, the number of times I've fantasized about doing this to the apple-eater in my office... By the time he gets halfway through his daily peck of fruit I have to leave the premises to stop myself from grabbing the book.

And here's a photo of loyal Surf Reporter Lindsay, visiting Homo's Ass Springs, Nature's Own Attraction. And some of you ask how I'm able to stay excited about doing this website day after day? Do I really need to explain?

And I think that'll do it for today, boys and girls. I'll tell you about our disastrous weekend trip to Don Pablo's later; I'm tired of typing. I'll now turn this thing over to The Word Processor, and go pack my mouth with another handful of those little hearts with the cute bullshit written all over them. Take 'er away, Chris.

See ya tomorrow.

                       

February 13, 2004

-- I'm burned out. I'm so tired I can barely function. When Toney forced me to get out of bed this morning it felt like someone had bashed my skull in with a croquet mallet. Massive sleep deprivation. Last night I conked out while watching old-school scrotum-face Law & Order, and woke up around eleven feeling disgusted. I then spent the next hour on the internet, trolling for fucked-upness. I was a zombie looking at websites devoted to dwarf dating and a phenomenon known as over-masturbation. I wanted to go to bed, but it was out of the question.

It felt like the whole evening was wasted, and I needed to make up for it. Usually I allow myself one Law & Order, then go into the bunker, turn on Phil Hendrie, and do something "constructive" on the computer. Last night was a washout, and I felt like slugging myself in the nuts for it. My insect-like need for dormancy pisses me off; it's ruining my life. If I didn't have to devote so many hours to that goddamn raised platform upstairs in the sleep-chamber, I could rule the world.

I'm sick aren't I?

-- I'm not 100% sure, but I believe a woman was flirting with me last night at the gas station. Yes, I know, I find it hard to believe as well. But I'm pretty certain it's true. She was fueling her car on the other side of the pump I was using, and she was smiling and giggling and chit-chatting. It freaked me out. I have very little experience with such things, especially during the past ten years or so. I was planning to fill my tank, but I stopped it at ten dollars and tore ass out of there. It felt like 1982 again; it'd been a longtime since I donned my awkward retard hat, but it's good to know it still fits.

-- The new season of The Sopranos starts on March 7. I'm excited. There's just not enough unsightly middle-aged men having sex with strippers, intimidating people, and shooting heroin between their toes on television these days. There just isn't. I'll be there every Sunday night, on the edge of my seat, for family hour. It's one of the best shows in the history of television. I simply love those murderous monsters.

- I went through the drive-thru at McDonald's the other day and bought a Filet-O-Fish sandwich and made the mistake of trying to eat it while driving. Why in God's name do they put so much tartar sauce on those things?! The shit was as thick as the filet itself. I took a bite and a pile of the stuff squirted out the back-end, onto my pants. And by the time I was finished I looked like a gay porn star, leaving the set of Things Go Better With Cock, or whatever. I had tartar sauce all over my face and clothes, and it was on the steering wheel and in my hair. (Are you starting to understand why there's not much flirting in my world?) It was disgusting, and infuriating. I'm not a big fan of spreads and sauces, but I'm convinced I'm in the minority. I think most people like their food concealed in something mayonnaise-based, if they can get away with it. Watch people at salad bars, if you don't believe me. They use lettuce and cucumber slices as nothing more than a flatbed carrier of cream-themed dressings to their mouths, then pat themselves on the back for "eating healthy." I'm convinced it's the reason the average American ass is now roughly two hoe-handles across. Sauces. In my case it's beer, but generally it's sauces, creams, and gravies. Am I wrong?

-- Here's a photo of tough-guy German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder telling a television reporter how he stood up to America. Ha.

-- And here's evidence of yet another Smoking Fish sighting, this time in the great state of Missouri. Keep watching for him folks, he gets around.

-- I find it kind of hard to believe this is real, but here's a supposed clip from a recent episode of Family Feud, in which all that excited jumping they do at the end caused things to go slightly awry. Ha again.

-- And that's all I can muster today. I'm now gonna turn it over to the able-hands of Randi, and attempt to get this work week behind me and the three-day weekend started. ...I feel like my brain is swelling. Goddamn.

See ya on Monday.

February 12, 2004

-- We didn't really watch the Grammys this past weekend, because it's too depressing, but we did tune in for a few minutes before Curb Your Enthusiasm came on. And they were doing a tribute to the Beatles, giving them a special award of some kind. George Harrison's widow stepped to the podium first, to offer thanks, and she seemed genuinely gracious and sane. She spoke briefly about the accomplishments of the band and the impact they had on our culture. It was classy and brief.

Then Yoko came out.

For some unknown reason she was sobbing as she approached the microphone. She had a strange expression on her face, like she was about to let loose a kick-ass joke, and she was crying. She started by saying that the Beatles were a great band, and at the same time Toney and I yelled, "Yeah, until you ruined it!!" She strung together bits and pieces of old song lyrics (that she didn't write) to construct a speech that managed to be both pretentious and incoherent. All the while she was crying uncontrollably, and looking as if she'd just thought of something really funny. And she was wearing those blind-man glasses and holding her arms straight down as if she were carrying two invisible gallons of milk. Freak.

I think she might now be ready to join Liza and Liz in the Home for Crazy-As-Fuck Women Famous for Being Famous. The whole gang of them, including Diana Ross, could sit around on velvet couches all day, sipping cocktails and jabbering on with affected accents about whatever's dictated by the gang of circus squirrels toiling inside their brains. And when Farrah finally arrives they can vote on membership for Celine. Holy crap.

Paul and Ringo appeared via satellite, following the Yoko spectacle, and I think both were drunk off their asses. Maybe they'd been tipped off that the squirrels were unusually active that night? That's my theory.

-- What's with this dog-show crapola every night on USA? I tune in for my nightly allotment of Law & Order ATM and see instead one of Tina Turner's hairpieces running an obstacle course. It's pissing me off. A man is entitled to his fictional homicidal sex perverts. After a hard day at the office I don't want or need to see leaping clumps of hair on my television. I have a dog show going on in my own living room every day of the year. The arrival of the UPS man, or the opening of a sleeve of saltines can trigger a canine performance far superior to anything those poofter hounds can muster, believe me. Bring back my horny freaks, goddammit! I see dogs going ass-over-tits every day.

-- Speaking of the office, Toney read in the paper that the pending American bastardization of the great British comedy The Office, may be set in Scranton. Seems appropriate; the original takes place in a non-descript and bleak locale. Wonder how long it'll take before locals realize it's not a tribute to the city?

-- Ed is over. Tomorrow there will be no new visit to Stuckeyville. I felt a twinge of sadness as the credits rolled last week. I have a feeling that most of those people will now disappear off the face of the earth, like the cast of Party of Five. After four years they feel like friends, and I don't want them to disappear. Ya know? <sigh>

-- Toney and I attended a "travel show" last Saturday, at the new fancy-pants Hilton in downtown Scranton. It was basically a ballroom full of booths (or boofs, if you're in Atlanta), with people inside eager to sell you expensive vacations. Upon arrival I knew that my mission was to avoid eye contact with any other humans. I would just walk around and pick up brochures and look at my feet; it was the only way.

I made the mistake early-on of locking eyes with a smiling, hand-shaking robot-man, and somehow activated his electronic voice box. "Are you familiar with Colonial Williamsburg?!" he shouted. And I was held captive by this droning automaton for what seemed like an Alabama lifetime. After that it was an hour of shoe-gazing and gentle grunts. I just couldn't risk anything more.

A rotund woman with enough denim across her ass to clothe a second-grade class nearly tackled Toney as we passed by the Disney Cruise table. Those Disney people are as aggressive as they are well-fed. Ol' Swaddles loaded Toney down (I was outta there as soon as it started) with booklets and literature and invited us to attend a seminar that would be kicking off in thirty minutes. She asked if I wanted to go, but I was forced to exercise my veto power. If we'd gone into that room I have no doubt we would've been convinced to sign legal documents requiring us to give the Disney Corporation a fourth of our yearly income, in exchange for a series of boat rides.

I wanted to ask the Iceland people if it's true that Iceland is green and Greenland is ice, but I was too scared. I was afraid it would somehow lead to us losing our house.

By the time it was over I was completely stressed out, and required a warm washcloth.

-- Something Chris wrote about soccer on Monday has caused Rocky to do some more thinking. Here are the lurid details.

-- And speaking of soccer, we missed out on an opportunity to own a unique souvenir of the sport. Dammit! I apologize for being so late with this.

-- This one too! I'm clearly slipping.

-- I'm just going to turn this thing over to Buck now, and try to get back in the game. I am so ashamed. Buck, help me out here... I'm struggling.

I'll be back tomorrow.

February 11, 2004

-- So, I'm gonna buy my new camera today. It's been a stressful journey but I've decided on this one. The reason I want to upgrade is for the zoom lens. The camera I have now has a fixed lens and I feel like I'm in 1965 when I use it. Instead of digital photos, it's like I'm creating slides to be plugged into the huge heat-generating projector my grandfather had. No, if you're going to be serious about snapping photos of fat people eating nachos and plucking underwear out of their ass, you've gotta have a zoom. (Perhaps that's why there's not a single ass-plucking shot in my grandfather's entire known photographic output? Sad.)

My one concern is that it only has 3.2 megapixels. Right now that's fine, but what about a year from now? In 2005 I fear I'll start seeing models in the Sunday Circuit City ad with 6, selling for $200 or something. And even the cheap-ass cameras at Wal-Mart will have 5, and I'll feel out-of-it again. I know it's impossible to stay ahead of technology, but I also know how I am. In twelve months time I'll be walking around with a bad case of pixel-envy.

I'm buying it from Amazon because their price is good, and I have some credit built up from all the holiday shopping you good folks did through the homepage banner. Thanks for that. You're helping to bring me into the late 1990's. Hopefully your investment will pay off this summer, when I start posting all the great shots I capture with the new Fuji. Remember, I'm going to be spending a lot of time in campgrounds, so this could get interesting. Campgrounds are generally a hotbed of "interesting."

Oh, and I'm getting the 128 megabyte memory card too, which will allow me to store over a hundred photos. Fukkin awesome. Gadgets rock; they cause a stirring in my loins. Somebody should create a perfume that smells like a new piece of electronics, right out of the box. That scent could turn a Maude into a Marilyn, if you know what I mean. Shit, I should pursue that... Don't steal it from me, y'hear?

-- I need a haircut, bad. If I don't take care of it within the next couple of days I'm gonna need a neck brace to help hold my head up. I have that Bert Convy Jiffy-Pop hair that doesn't get long, it gets tall. If long hair ever comes back into style I'm going to be in trouble. The early 1980's were a dark period for me, very dark indeed. I'm sincerely shocked that I ever lost my virginity. Whenever I see hipsters at the mall with their David Cassidy locks on their shoulders, I get nervous. I worry about it more than terrorism. If John Kerry were to pledge to keep short hair en vogue, I might actually vote for him. That's how serious it is. I'm ready to cast a vote for a New England dandy with a head like a serving tray.

-- I bought the ZZ Top box set a few days ago, but I'm afraid to listen to it. I haven't had a drop of alcohol since New Year's Eve, and I'd like to keep the streak going. My inner organs have been so happy they're singing show tunes. But one note of "Fool For Your Stockings" or "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" and I could turn into this guy. Everybody knows that thirty minutes of ZZ Top has the power to make nuns do hits off a beer-bong. How could I be so stupid?!

See ya tomorrow.

                           

February 10, 2004

-- I like when people get on the defensive about some so-called sport they enjoy, and feel self-conscious about. Like bowling. It's great fun to listen to all the obscure stats about how when a sixteen-pound bowling ball is raised behind you, just before release, it's the equivalent of lifting a Dodge Durango, or whatever. And how you have to practically be a physics genius to be really good; it requires roughly 620 instantaneous math calculations for an accomplished bowler, before he lets go of the ball -- every single time! I never tire of it.

Race car driving is another one. Did you know that the cockpit of a car on the NASCAR circuit can reach temperatures equal to the core of an active volcano? It's apparently true. And holding and manipulating a steering wheel for an entire race at such high speeds, according to scientists, is very similar to bench-pressing Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Why, a driver can lose 75% of his body weight during the course of a single Daytona 500 race. Billy Bob Billybob, in 1973, crossed the finish line in third place, and when his crew approached the car they saw only a skeleton inside! A skeleton still gripping the wheel, and wearing a retina-scarring Tide ad.

This was a good one when I lived in Atlanta. At my office there you could touch off a highly entertaining three-hour debate just by saying, "Oh come on, auto racing isn't a sport!" After speaking those words you could then just lean back and enjoy the show.

I heard a guy on British talk radio last week hyping the unappreciated precision and skill required in the game of darts. And bicyclists can get cranked up too, as can long-distance runners. There aren't a lot of chess enthusiasts in my circle of acquaintances, but I have no doubt that a really tense match is equal to astronaut training. And pro-level Bingo requires the concentration of a ninja, I'm sure. I wish I had an easy way to collect all this stuff. I love it.

-- In the new issue of Esquire they list the "Ten Most Reprehensible Michael Jackson Jokes." I'd either heard most of them a thousand times, or they just weren't funny. But here are three that made me chuckle:

Q: Why did Michael Jackson get kicked out of the Boy Scouts?
A: He was up to two packs a day.

Q: Why did Michael Jackson call Boyz II Men?
A: He thought it was a delivery service.

Q: What did the lady at the beach say to Michael Jackson?
A: I believe you're in my son.

Please accept this as further evidence.

-- On Friday a guy at work came into my office looking kinda slack-jawed and ashen. "What's your deal?" I asked. He said he'd just gotten off a flight from Nashville and there was a lot of turbulence. They reportedly went in for a landing twice and had to pull up, and the passengers were being tossed around for what seemed like an eternity. He said he finally started getting light-headed and almost passed out, and before he got off the plane he vomited in the floor.

As his story progressed I could feel a strong need to bust out laughing, but knew it wouldn't be appropriate. So I sat there with a serious look on my face, listening, as my body tensed up like a fist. It was excruciating. When he got to the vomiting part I had to tap into some unknown reserve of strength, deep within myself. I'm proud to say I displayed the steely discipline of a Jarts champion, and got through it without laughing in the guy's face. But it was touch-and-go for a while, believe me.

I was telling a friend about it, via email, and he said something similar happened on his company's executive jet a few years ago, when a man and woman from his office were flying to another part of the state. I'll let him take it from there:

Apparently the turbulence was bad and the guy got sick. Believe it or not, in the far back of the plane they had a small toilet, like a camping toilet I imagine. Well, he ended up going back there and threw up and shit diarrhea and stunk up the whole plane. Now, it ain't like you can roll down the window when you're flying at 10,000 feet. The woman got sick from the odor of the puke and shit and threw up all over the plane too. The pilot got sick from everybody else being sick and threw up as well. I don't know how he landed the plane, but he said that he'd never fly any of our people again.

For some reason I find this to be highly amusing.

-- And I'll close today with one of the more amazing Smoking Fish sightings to date. It quite simply blows the mind housed inside my tiny Duke head. Check it out. Incredible.

More tomorrow.


February 9, 2004

-- You know what I don't like? It's the new trend at fast food places where the person working the drive-thru window scolds you about your social obligation to have your shit together in a timely manner. "Please drive forward to the second window, they say, "and have your money ready." Ha! And maybe you could try some Clearasil on that thriving zit farm, so I can eat my lunch without thinking about the pulsing and oozing of your nasty-ass neck? How about that?

It irritates me every time because I don't like being told what to do. I've kinda accepted the "drive forward" part as informational (although the tone can sometimes be bothersome), but there's no way to put a positive spin on the newly-added "have your money ready" command. It's an order, from a superior to a subordinate.

Fuck you, buddy. Don't tell me how to remove money from my pants. That's my department. You don't set the rules of this car, I do. You just concentrate on getting my order right for a change, and quit acting like the Hitler of Hamburgers. Your jurisdiction ends at the stainless steel's edge, it sure as hell doesn't extend inside my vehicle. You want that seven-pound battery pack on your belt rammed up your pooper? Keep it up, smart guy.

There are certain roles in a fast-food transaction, and they're trying to blur them. I have a hunch that they wouldn't like it if someone pulled up and hollered, "I want a #1 with cheese, no pickles and a Coke. And have it ready when I get to the window!" Ya know? No, it's a one-way street with these people, just like a lot of things. They need to worry about their side of the deal, and I'll worry about mine.

Of course, I have no doubt they have to put up with the antics of deep-dish idiots all day long. It's no excuse for rudeness, but I can sort of understand it. I've witnessed people standing in line for ten solid minutes, and not having any idea what they want when it's their time to order. And I've heard people say things like, "Yes, can you tell me a little about the Big Mac sandwich? What comes on that?" And when I lived in Atlanta it wasn't unusual for a fast-food customer to request their burger be cut into "fourfs."

But that doesn't mean we're all bad. One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl. It's profiling, and I resent it. I'm innocent until proven guilty! Contrary to popular belief, we don't all look alike!!

Shit, I'm all worked up.

-- I met my friend Steve in a little town called Lewisburg yesterday, to see Buster Keaton's The General on the big-screen, inside a cool old restored theater. It was great. They had a live orchestra there, just like the old days, and the joint was completely sold-out. Supposedly they were turning people away, which is both exciting and surprising. I know I'm cynical, but I just didn't believe there'd be much interest in such old-fashioned entertainment. I'm glad I was wrong. It seemed like the whole town turned out.

Here's a photo I snapped of the theater. It was built in 1941 and the new owners have brought it back to its original condition. I love places where you get a genuine glimpse into the past, and this is one of them. It felt like we were going back in time as we approached the big front doors, and the inside was even better. Cool as all hell. Check out this poster that's hanging in the lobby. They probably could've shown Yentl in that place and I would've enjoyed it.

But the movie itself was funny and good. I'm not going to be pretentious about it, I'm no expert on silent movies. I've started watching more of them than I've actually seen to the end. My mind has a tendency to wander after about ten minutes of faded men in pancake makeup hitting each other with ladders at an unnatural high rate of speed. This was different.

The print looked almost new, and it wasn't sped-up like those old shots of Babe Ruth running the bases. And the orchestra was booming. Good stuff. Buster Keaton was charismatic and funny. I need to know more about the man. I came home and began doing internet searches; I feel a new obsession coming on... He's a guy you can really like, not just someone you're supposed to like. I told Steve I think I might even prefer him to Chaplin, and I could see him physically wince at the affront to one of his heroes. But it's true. He's very likable, even after eighty years.

There were lots of old people there, and I wondered if they'd seen the film when it was first released? It was probably the Caddyshack of the 1920's or something, and they all piled in their Model A's and headed down to the picture show to see that hip new comedian, Buster Keaton. I saw a couple of old guys that may have been there because the movie was about the Civil War, and they were reliving their days as Union soldiers. Who knows? They were basically two disembodied heads strapped to a theater chair.

I saw a little booger-machine playing a Gameboy during the intermission and I had to refrain myself from slapping the thing out of the kid's hand. No respect for maintaining the illusion. He should've been rolling a hoop down the aisle with a stick, or whatever. That was the Gameboy of the era, I think.

My sense of history may be a tad off...

My one complaint: the concession stand was yuppified and nothing like 1941. Oh, it looked like 1941, but they sold herbal teas and scones and similar faggoty fare. The pussification hadn't begun in 1941. They should've sold popcorn, drinks with raw eggs in them, and black licorice. And that's all.

Anyway, it was a blast, and I'll go again when I get the chance. Buster is the man.

In the meantime, I'll turn this beeyatch over to our angry friend in North Carolina, who has some very good news for us today. Take it away, Chris

See ya tomorrow.

February 6, 2004

I read that my favorite surly dysfunctional musical genius, Paul Westerberg, is planning to tour again this summer. And this time he's letting his fans vote on what they prefer: a solo performance like last summer, a full band, or a combination of both. I'm pulling for the combo platter myself, but I live in Pennsylvania, a state that traditionally votes a straight full-band ticket. I know my vote won't make much difference, because they're just going to do whatever best benefits Halliburton anyway. That's the way it always goes. This democracy myth is just a sham rigged by big business, special interests, and the Jewish fans of Rush Limbaugh. No wait, I'm getting confused... In any case, I'll be there, in whatever configuration he chooses.

Westerberg is one of the few musicians that can still pull me out of my rut, and get me to a concert hall. There are a few others, but the number is quickly dwindling. My concert-going days are pretty much over at this point. The thought of standing in a smoky club with drunken assholes at 2AM has somehow lost its luster with me. And two tickets to a big arena show costs roughly the same as a 27-inch television. So, the hell with it. I've had a good run. Like Harv, I'll leave a golden legacy.

It was a dark and stormy night when I attended my first concert. I don't remember how old I was, but my mother had to drive us there. I think my brother and my friend Mike were with me, and we went to see... Steve Martin! It was at the height of his wild and crazy guy, arrow through the head, white suit mania, and he did a show at the Huntington Civic Center in front of about 13,000 people. It was great. I laughed until I almost puked. I remember he said he was going to do something special for the people in the back sections (a football field away), a bit he called "the dime trick." For some reason I remember that specific joke. And for an encore he performed "King Tut" dressed in full Egyptian garb. Great fun.

My first concert that, you know, featured actual music, was Billy Joel. Again, I was too young to drive, and my parents shuttled us to the Civic Center. After the raucous Steve Martin show Billy Joel seemed kinda lame. For 98% of his time onstage he sat at the piano and crooned his songs into a microphone set on Muffle 'n' Distort. At the end he got up and "rocked." I remember
people rushed the stage at this point and some were holding signs. I don't remember what they said. Maybe, "Is this almost over?" or "I missed Laverne and Shirley for this crap?!" I just can't recall.

The first concert I attended on my own, without my Mommy and my Daddy involved, was Cheap Trick, at the Charleston Civic Center. After about fifteen minutes I wanted to roll up in a fetal ball on the filthy floor. The audience was made up largely of scumbags, felons, drug addicts, low-lifes, freaks, and murderers. At least that's what it looked like to me. I remember a guy there with unkempt facial hair, wearing a baseball cap with the bill flipped up, and the words CHEAP TRICK spelled out underneath with metal stick-on letters from K-Mart. I have no doubt that he's dead now, of hepatitis.

The band was so goddamn loud I thought my head was going to explode right off my shoulders. Holy hell! Rick Nielsen had a stepladder onstage and would periodically stand a guitar at the top, then allow it to cascade down the steps, creating a cacophony you just wouldn't believe. And every time he did it the trash around me hooted and raised their yellow fists in the air. I wanted to go home and play Yahtzee with my family.

And, for the record, I saw Cheap Trick a few times after that, and they were unbelievably loud every time. It wasn't just because I was inexperienced. I wonder how many people they've killed with that volume? Shit.

After that things get kinda blurry. I discovered the magic of alcoholic beverages, had a car of my own, and began attending almost every rock show that came to town. Which wasn't all that many, seeing as how I was in Dunbar, WV. We saw REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, the Doobie Bros., the Outlaws, Queen, the Cars, ZZ Top, the Kinks, Styx, Hall & Oates, Jefferson Starship, the Moody Blues, the Police, Phil Collins, etc. etc.

A few highlights:

Freddie Mercury asked the audience what we thought of his new moustache, and when the boos finally subsided he said something like, "Yeah, like I really care what West Virginia thinks."

The Cars were one of the dullest bands ever. They just stood still, played their songs, and said nothing. Afterwards I remember commenting that it would've been easier to just stare at one of their posters and listen to their albums all evening. Following the show we got drunk and vandalized an elementary school, just to get our blood pumping.

I went to see Rick Springfield with my girlfriend (opening band: The Sparks!?) and he made this comment: "You know, sometimes it gets hard up here onstage. ...Whoops, maybe I should rephrase that, sometimes it gets difficult up here onstage." A thousand teenage girls then let loose an orgasmic high-pitched squeal. And I rolled my eyes and hollered, "Oh, come on!" I was already becoming jaded and cynical.

I saw Bob Dylan in West Virginia, but it was during the period when he was a pissed-off Christian. He refused to play any of his old songs and acted as if he'd rather be somewhere else. When he was finished he just put his guitar down, in mid-song, and left. Highly unsatisfying.

Styx was late in arriving to their show, but some lackey came out and begged everyone to stay put, promising that the band would be along soon. After an hour of drinking overpriced arena beer he came back out and promised everyone a free Styx album if they'd just be patient. They finally arrived and did their show, in front of a thoroughly drunken crowd. And a week or so later we got to take our ticket stub to an empty store at the mall and trade it for a Styx album. I got Equinox. And this was all reported in Rolling Stone, which I thought was incredibly cool.

At a ZZ Top concert I made the mistake of going to the bathroom. It was like a scene out of a nightmare. Ugly-ass men were standing all around, urinating into anything that vaguely resembled a toilet. They were pissing into sinks, trashcans, floor drains, baseball caps, shoes, anything. And there were girls in there too, which blew my mind. I was trapped inside that hall of penises for a full ten minutes, and it sounded like Niagara Falls in there. And it smelled like I was inside a bladder. Absolutely horrifying.

After I left West Virginia I went crazy seeing all the bands that never came to Charleston, and for many years I practically lived for the shit. Now, it doesn't excite me much. I still look at the concert listings in the paper, but I think it's just an ancient reflex refusing to die. At some point I know I'm going to start buying Sting albums, but I'm fighting it. Please know that.

Here's the latest from Rockin' Randi, and I guess I'll go to work. <sigh> Have a great weekend, folks.

February 5, 2004

-- I have a new Nancy 'n' Nostrils story that made me grimace when I heard it. And I'm not a big grimacer; I can't remember the last time I grimaced. We Kays aren't traditionally grimacing people...

Anyway, Eninen pay some radically pierced college girl to watch after their brood of filthy children, to allow them the time to stare romantically into each other's eyes in coffee shops, and get themselves all hot with arousing talk about French history, and whatnot. She's reportedly a really nice person, liked by everyone, including the passel of doomed translucents. And she's been with them for years. Until today, maybe.

She had to leave the house of chaos yesterday in a hurry, to get to class, and forgot her new $2000 Sony Vaio laptop. But not to worry. It's inside its case and everything, safe on the dining room table. I'm sure that's what she told herself. Little did she know, however, that Nostrils, who simply can't stay out of other people's business, fired the thing up -- in the middle of the kitchen floor. I don't know why he set it up in the kitchen floor, but that's what he did.

Within minutes one of their wild-ass soy-crazed kids knocked over a mop bucket full of dirty water, directly into the keyboard. Holy crap! The shit smoked and sizzled and popped, and finally shut down. From what I understand, it wasn't just a little splash of water either, the entire bucket was emptied straight into the works of the thing! And that's where the grimace came in.

Luckily, though, Nostrils "knows a lot about computers" and proceeded to tear the poor woman's kick-ass laptop apart, looking for the problem. And when Sunshine came in, later in the day, he had it strewn all over the house. It never worked again, and he may or may not have got it back together correctly. There were a few "unnecessary" items that he felt didn't need to go back in.

As my Dad would say, those people could tear up an anvil. And the sad thing is, they won't replace the computer. I know they won't. They'll say it was her fault to leave it, or lecture her about an over-emphasis on material things. Somehow it will be the girl's mistake that Nostrils removed her computer from its case and allowed a bucket of water to be poured into it. Mark my words. It wouldn't surprise me if she ends up apologizing to them.

Stay tuned.

-- I heard a news story a few days ago about a city in Ohio (Columbus?) that's experiencing a rash of car thefts. One of the ways they're combating this is to leave a few special cars parked here and there, in the neighborhoods where they're having the problem. If/when a person breaks into one of these special cars the motor shuts off after about a half-block, all the doors lock, and the stereo comes on and blasts the COPS song, "Bad Boys." I love that. Of course we can look for a lawsuit from the ACLU any day now.

It reminds me of another story I heard years ago, about a man whose van was repeatedly broken into, on the street in front of his apartment. He complained to the cops over and over, but they didn't seem to give a hot-boiled crap. Frustrated and crazed, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He placed a bottle of vodka, laced with cyanide, beneath the driver's seat, and locked everything up tight. You can probably guess how that one played out. I think the van owner gets out in about twenty years, if he behaves himself.

-- I apologize in advance, but Rocky's been doing some more thinking...

-- And here's a personal ad placed by a man I'd undoubtedly enjoy kicking in the nuts.

-- One of the more entertaining five minutes of the past week was hearing Groundhog Day being explained to Clive Bull, the host of the British radio show I listen to every day. Hilarious. He kept saying, "You're joking!" and "You can't be serious!" and "What in God's name is a Ground Hog?" He wanted to know why only the shadow of a burrowing animal was valid, when people also create shadows. It was great. He finally said he was going to try to get the same tradition started in England, using border collies. Good stuff.

-- At this site you can order, in bulk, some of the candy we all gobbled down as kids, but haven't seen in years. Like Zots. Check it out. I'm not clear if this stuff has been warehoused for thirty years, or if it's newly produced. Anyway, it's pretty cool. On that subject, do any of you remember something called Big Mouth Gum? Toney has no recollection, and that's frustrating to me. It was nothing more than a two-pound block of sour apple bubblegum, with a perforation running down the middle. Kids would pack the whole thing (both sides of the perforation!) in their mouths, as sport, and would nearly suffocate as their teeth rotted inside their skulls. If the soccer moms of today laid their eyes on shit like that, they'd probably die of cardiac arrest on the spot. It was so much more fun before the pussification began.

-- I've just been informed of another smoking fish sighting, this time in Aruba! Let's take a look.

-- And proving once again that TheWVSR has some of the most industrious readers anywhere, here's a list of funny names found in the New Orleans phone book, as reported by a loyal Surf Reporter on the prowl:

Andre Poupart
Brown Pool
Villasteen Collard
Randy Boner
Krissy Free
Brandy Credit
Bertha T. Booty
B J Slutsky
Elmer C. Blush
Glee Butts
German Creamer
Robert Sowerwine
Lady Smooth
Harry Skummy
Stephaney Princesse
Mike Pollinatr
K Litter
Kenneth Murders
Bud Stuckwish
Queen Nard
King Sly, Sr.
Basma Slack
Lucious Fortune
Tammy Crater
Dong Qing Dong
Charles Clutterbuck
Veronica Quirk
Hung & Bich Quach
L Goodthrust
Joe & Pearl Goodjoint
I Finger, MD
Ben Dover
Cecil Quaintance
James Compliment
M Polite
M Peaceful
M R Big
Silent Dune
Bobbi Pop
Bea Happy
Jo Cuppy
Christy Curl
Harry Beevers
B Fatty
Steve Lightwine
Kevin Character
Hobert F. Creasy
Joyce Goodrum
Frederick Chopin
Brain & Denise Sladmo

You simply gotta love it.

-- Finally, it's time to turn this pirate ship over to the capable hands of Captain Buck. I'm going down below and pop in my casual hook. Arrrgghh...

Shit. What am I doing?? See ya tomorrow.

February 4, 2004

-- My parents are in the process of buying one of those gigantor travel trailers in which one member of the family can be driving down Interstate 77, while the others are in the back chillin' on couches (with seatbelts), eating microwave popcorn and watching Cabin Boy, or whatever. It's like miniature tour bus, I think. Maybe not quite posh enough for Shania Twain, but certainly adequate for, say, Shania's Underarm and Upper-Lip Maintenance Crew.

It's something they've always wanted, and now it's a reality. Their plan is to chase the sunshine and spend winters in places like Florida and Arizona. They also want to take several months and travel around the western United States, a part of the country they've never spent much time.

I wish I were more like my parents. I admire them immensely, even as they silently make me realize my many flaws. Two less-spoiled people I don't believe I've ever met. They worked their asses off for decades and complained less in that time than I do in a single trip to Home Depot. I demand instant gratification and make stupid decisions, while they plodded along and lived their lives slow and measured. Now they're retired, healthy, still young, and able to do whatever the hell they want. At this point it's just free time and dead presidents, yo.

I fear that whenever I'm forced into retirement I'll have to take a job as a security guard, to keep us in Hamburger Helper and Veg-All, because I simply had to have all the latest electronic gadgets, and spent my entire adult life charging Applebee's meals to Visa cards.

(Did I mention that I'm planning to buy this kick-ass camera next week?! I'm frickin' psyched!)

My parent's lives are a harsh mirror to look into, believe me. They started with nothing, worked hard, made wise decisions, and came out on the other end with the awards promised by the American Dream. I sit around and whine because I don't have it all, right now. And because of that attitude I'm afraid I'll come out on the other end in a stained white t-shirt, drunk, bitter, and power-farting into a wobbly recliner.

Toney's mother, Sunshine, has a burning hatred of anyone who has more than her, and that drives me crazy. She plays the victim, which, I guess, is a lot less painful than taking the blame yourself. I won't be able to pull off that act in my old age, because I know better. I'm a white male, reasonably intelligent, living in the United States during the most prosperous times in human history. If it doesn't work out, it's all my fault.

Yes, it's one harsh goddamn mirror. They could've at least instilled in me a penchant for blaming others for my problems. Don't you think? It would've been the humane thing to do, in my opinion. Everyone needs a safety net, after all.

February 3, 2004

-- I'm sorry, but I couldn't give the ass of a rat about Janet Jackson's tit. Why is this such a big deal? Seriously. It was a split-second flash of a woman's breast, for god's sake, not a live televised suicide. People are acting as if they're ready to throw themselves into the pits of the Grand Canyon because of it. I sincerely don't understand what all the hubbub is about.

All that grinding and thrusting and humping was far more offensive than seeing Janet Jackson's right breast -- with or without the Bruce Lee flying star, or whatever that thing was. They should apologize for repeatedly pumping their sex organs in the faces of the world, not a renegade tit escaped from its harness. The whole deal was trashy and cheap, but it barely rates a roll of the eyes, to me. The reaction shocks me more.

It was good to see that David Silver is still working, though. I wondered what happened to him after he lost his DJ'ing gig at the Peach Pit. Looking good, David! Say hey to Donna for me.

...How does he get away with violently ripping the shirt off a woman, anyway? If Hugh Downs ever tried some crap like that with Barbara Walters on 20/20, there'd be hell to pay. There's clearly a double-standard at work here.

-- This past weekend they allowed the general public into our exclusive membership-only social club, and it just ruined everything. A couple of times a year Sam's lets in the riffraff, as some kind of misguided recruitment tool, and it's nothing short of excruciating. I've filed numerous complaints with the board of directors, but to no avail.

The place was overrun this weekend by mule-faced women in polyester, and their unshaven camouflage-laden partners, eating up all the samples and crowding the snack aisles with their massive riffle asses. The joint looked like they'd set free a cage of wild dingoes an hour before our arrival, and it's usually so nice and neat. It's depressing. Our club is supposed to be a sanctuary, a place to get away from the masses for an hour or two, and maybe relax with a comically-oversized hotdog. That's why we pay the hefty membership fees, after all. It's what the word 'exclusive' means.

I hope it doesn't come to this, but we're seriously thinking about applying for membership at Costco (we're fairly confident we can get in). Sure, they have a reputation for snobbery, but, goddammit, what are we to do? What, I ask you! These are desperate times.

-- What should I do about this?! Should I call the FBI or something?? I'm very concerned.

-- I finally watched Old School on Sunday, and I hate to sound like an old fart who's always saying it was better in my day, but it was better in my day. The flick is an obvious attempt to be the current generation's Animal House, but it's not worthy of even wiping Flounder's flabby crevice. I didn't hate it or anything, there just weren't many laughs. And lack of laughs, I've learned, generally undermines the success of comedy. It was likable enough, but kinda lame. Sorry, but that's my honest opinion. (Obviously I'm out of step with the culture, considering all the apologizing I'm doing...) I suggest, instead, Run Ronnie Run. Now that's comedy.

See ya tomorrow.

February 2, 2004

-- We need to completely overhaul our living room, because it looks like crap. We have a couch and chair in there, purchased in California, that long ago should've been relegated to a fiery heap in the city dump. The chair has a rip in it and if the couch were ever sent to the Law & Order lab for fabric analysis, they'd undoubtedly find traces of nearly every fluid and substance a human body can generate.

Back in the Cali days, when we were going through some Frank Sutton-sized cash-flow problems, Toney ran a home daycare (the lowest point of our life to date), and that couch was puked on, shat on, pissed on, snotted on, cried on, farted into, and used as a flatbed booger receptacle. Of course we've had it professionally cleaned since then, but a humid summer day can unlock quite a few interesting smells from deep inside the foam -- interesting, indeed. We try to forget, but the foam reminds us.

The carpet is that hard-ass Berber crap that is supposedly all the rage. I'm not sure why, because it's like walking on rope. The TV is sitting on an IKEA stand that cries out: first apartment! You can see the miles of wires and shit behind it, along with the overloaded electrical outlet. Classy. And the walls need painted, stat.

If Vern from Trading Spaces were to walk into our living room they'd have to snap open a capsule to revive him.

So, our plan is to rip up the carpet, have the hardwoods restored, paint the walls, and get all new furnishings. We don't spend much time in there (we watch TV and eat our Funyuns in the family room), but it sets a tone of seediness for visitors to the Compound, and I can't have that. Early don't-give-a-fuck is not a look we especially appreciate at this point in our lives. Just walking through the space (can you tell I've been watching HGTV?!), makes me grit my teeth and contort my face like Gilbert Gottfried. It's gotta be tended to, and quick.

Therefore, we spent a good part of Saturday looking at furniture. And they almost had to revive me. Sweet Maria, that stuff's expensive. Do people really buy $700 chairs?! Seriously. I want to be a grown-up, I really do, but does it have to include $700 chairs? I admit it might be in need of calibration, but I have an interior sensor that tells me roughly what things should cost. And those chairs on Saturday almost caused my sensor to catch fire. Couches don't seem all that outrageous, but their little brothers can flat-out wreck a sensor.

Lamps too. Have you ever looked at the price of a lamp in a furniture store? If you're anything like me they'll make you involuntarily shout, "Oh, that's just goddamn stupid!" right in front of a salesman and a family of old-school Jews.

I don't know. The thought of spending three grand on living room furniture makes my stomach pulse. But what are you gonna do? I guess we could go to a flea market and buy a shrink-wrapped Pleather sofa, a leopard skin loveseat, and a few black lacquer and glass tables, for $600. That's always an option. But, somehow, I know this little project is going to cost us around five hundred CDs. That's how I break these things down in my mind: at ten dollars a disc, how many CDs could I buy with this amount of cash?

It's hard being an adult.

-- Speaking of the old daycare days, here's an actual conversation that took place between me and an irritating little kid who walked around our house with the same stupid expression frozen on his face, for roughly a year.

Kid: Are you my daddy?
Me: If I were your daddy, you'd be much smarter.

Was that mean?

-- My boss is giving me a hard time about the week I want to take off in April, for our trip to Myrtle Beach. I sent him the request form about two months in advance, just to make sure there weren't any problems. Now I have problems. He says I need to be in the office that week, because of something or other, and I explained that we've had reservations for over a year, and can't change them. This all happened Friday night, after dinner. He called me at home, thoughtfully starting my weekend off on a positive note. After I laid out my defense, at length, he said, simply, "We'll talk about it on Monday." I don't like the sounds of that.

How should I handle this? Should I become indignant and raise my voice with moral outrage, or start whining like a ball-baby bitch? Anger might make him dig in his heels, while the crying option could undermine my supposed position of authority. However, the pussified reaction would probably get me what I want... Do I go for short-term gain at the expense of my long-term reputation? Or do I act assertive, the way they like, and piss away our kick-ass summer vacation? I have a feeling I'm not going to like the outcome either way. Maybe I'll just stay home today, and watch Maury?

-- Here's a picture of me inside the bunker, working on the site. Toney took it on Saturday, and I thought it turned out kinda artsy-fartsy and cool. Awesome hat, huh? It makes me think more clearly.

-- Two people sent me this video clip on Friday, and I couldn't stop watching it. I laughed every time, and I'm laughing now just thinking about it.

-- And a reader sent me this link to a news article, with instructions to "read the opening paragraph." Some of you ask how I'm able to stay excited about doing a website, year after year? Man, the rewards are huge! Seriously.

-- Here are some old Doonesburys from 1971, starring presidential candidate John Kerry. Pretty funny stuff, as well as slightly bizarre.

-- And, since it's Monday, we'll wrap things up with the latest from Chris, who is still angry and white. Take it away, my friend.

More tomorrow.

                      

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Copyright 2004 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.