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   The State of My Fat Ass                                    February 2005

February 28, 2005

-- I stayed up too late last night, watching the Festival of Dullness known as the Academy Awards. Holy crap, was it just my mood, or was that incredibly bad? Chris Rock did an OK job, as far as I could tell, but something just felt flat about the whole deal. His introduction of Tim Robbins was a classic: "When this man is not dazzling us with his performances, he's boring us to death with his politics." I nearly swallowed my TGI Friday's frozen potato skin. But those moments were too few and far between, there were long stretches where literally nothing of interest happened. 

And what was the deal with them giving out awards in the audience? It felt like Let's Make a Deal. I thought Monty Hall was going to come out and give away a 1971 Buick Skylark. And sometimes they made all the nominees stand onstage together, shoulder to shoulder(?!). It just felt wrong. I lost interest quickly, and started doing other things with the TV on in the background. 

But, of course, I had to see who won the big prize, so I was being held hostage. It's a familiar theme these days...

Now I feel like shit, and it's another Black Monday. I do have some good news though. I've got an ultra-rare Buck Special Edition for our enjoyment today. (Thank God.) And here it is.

I'll try to do better tomorrow. Goddamn.

February 25, 2005

-- The living room reclamation project is finally winding down. It's been a long week and a half, living in half the house, all over each other. But we rolled out the rugs yesterday, and moved the dining room table back into place, etc. etc. And the new furniture is scheduled to be delivered today between 10 and 1. All that'll be left are some small little things, like a picture to hang on one of the walls, a couple of new plants, and some window crapola. Valences, or some deal? I have NO idea. But it's almost done, and I'll be sure to post a few pictures on Monday. Last night after we got things set up, and were surveying the rooms, Toney remarked about how good it looks. And I said, "Yeah, it's amazing what just a few thousand dollars can do." How come I can't just enjoy things? Always with the cynicism...

-- Clive Bull read another of my emails on the air this week, and that never fails to blow my mind. I typed a short note, hit the send button in Scranton, and a few minutes later it was being broadcast on the radio in London. He was talking about words and phrases that people get wrong, either because of some mental block, or simple ignorance. I told him about I know who says ludicroust all the time. He always puts a T at the end, and it drives me a little nuts. So he read it, and a few other emails he'd received, then took a call. And during the course of the call things got a little heated, and an exasperated Clive finally exploded: "What you're saying to me is ludicroust!" And everybody laughed. It was excellent. The funniest part of the whole conversation, though, was when a caller talked about a Japanese man who works in his office. Supposedly he gets his sayings all mixed up, and one day he slammed down his fist and screamed, "This place is really starting to grate my goat!!"

-- It's too late now, but we also worked with a woman in Atlanta who mangled lots of words. She pronounced plastic as "plascit," and salt as "sot," amongst many others. One day she, Toney, and I went to lunch together, and were returning to the building when we spotted another person from our office sporting some sort of novelty headgear. "What's that foo wearing, a scraw hat?" she said. And Toney and I nearly shat ourselves trying not to laugh. She was legendary for that sort of thing. I miss her.

-- Yesterday I read some excerpts from a 1979 interview with Johnny Carson, in Rolling Stone. I guess there were rumors at the time about Chevy Chase taking over the The Tonight Show after Johnny retired, and they asked him about it. Carson said that he didn't think Chevy Chase could ad-lib a fart after a baked bean dinner. Yowza. The whole interview is here, in case you're interested. Johnny Carson was the man.

-- Toney has a Pennsylvania buddy whose father was recently diagnosed with eyelid cancer. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Freakin' bizarre. Apparently they're going to have to come off! I told her I need some more information on this deal, stat. I mean, a person needs their lids, don't they? Are they going to fit him with prosthetics?? It all seems so strange to me... But I would like to get involved somehow. What color bracelet would I need to wear, to support eyelid cancer research? Can somebody please help me with that?

-- According to this article Hunter S. Thompson wants to be cremated, and his remains to be blasted from a cannon. That's a pretty good idea, but I think I'd tweak it a little. Why the need for cremation? When I die I might ask them to just stuff my whole body down a cannon's barrel, and light a match. I can see it now, flying over a row of houses in a high majestic arc. Yes, I believe I like that idea...

-- We thought our downstairs TV was about to shit the bed, but apparently we just screwed something up by sitting on the remote. Everybody's faces were all elongated, like John Kerry's. And when there were words at the bottom of the screen, we couldn't see them. It was as if the picture was stretched, and was now too big for the TV to handle. Since we were in the middle of the reclamation anyway, we swapped televisions, but it didn't fix the problem. The heck? Toney started fiddling around with the DVR remote, and found something called "zoom" that happens when you hold the pound key down. Why?? What purpose does this feature serve? In what situation would a person think, "Y'know, this would be even better if everybody's faces were really long..." Stoopid.

-- Finally, here's something new and good from our old friend Buck. He's got some mind-boggling moonshine news to report, so don't miss it.

Oh, and I got a lot of positive feedback on yesterday's update. I appreciate it, I really do. I thought it wasn't half bad myself... Since I posted it late in the day, and am pretty confident a lot of people didn't read it, I decided to give it its own page. That way I can link to it today. So here it is. And thanks again for the kind words.

See ya on Monday.


February 24, 2005

-- I've never been a reality TV kind of guy. I haven't watched a single episode of Survivor, don't know a thing about The Apprentice, and couldn't give two good ass droplets about The Bachelor. I fully admit that I don't know what I'm talking about when I say this, since I have no actual knowledge of the shows in question, but I think I'd rather plunge my arm down a garbage disposal.

Generally speaking, I watch movies, the various Law & Orders, and Lost. And that's about it. We did watch Trading Spaces for a year or so, but it made me so anxious I had to stop; I thought it was starting to affect my health. So, I have no measurable experience with the phenomenon that is reality television, and I couldn't be more proud.

Somehow though, despite our instincts and prejudices, we occasionally find ourselves sucked into the festival of retardation known as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, over on ABC. It's because it comes on right after America's Funniest Home Videos (still the funniest show on TV), and considerable energy is required to lift the remote and push all those buttons to go somewhere else; so many buttons.

I've watched maybe three or four episodes because of this, and every one has left me shaking my head in amazement. I simply cannot believe what is happening on the screen before me.

In case you've never seen it, one of the carpenters from Trading Spaces supposedly (ha!) watches a bunch of videos sent in by "average" Americans, in which the hapless and/or diseased beg for free interior decorating. He agonizes and finally chooses the family he feels is most deserving, has a meeting with his team of over-caffeinated homosexuals and Australians, and they eventually converge on the house, hollering through bull-horns and pumping their fists in the air.

Since ABC is owned by Disney, the "deserving" family is always jettisoned to Disneyland or Disney World, the minute their sob story is out of the way. In every episode I've watched, with the exception of last Sunday's, I think, a member of the family has suffered from some strange novelty-disease. It's never cancer or emphysema, or anything like that. No, that would be bad for business. It's always an obscure affliction that causes people to shed their skin like a snake, or a severe oxygen allergy, or something along those lines. They then remodel the house while the family is away... with the disease in mind.

...I'm sorry. I'm getting a little emotional here.

Breaking slightly from the formula, this week's show had no boy in a plastic bubble, or a child required to live his entire life inside a cedar trunk. It was about a family in the suburbs of Atlanta, whose house fills up with turds whenever it rains. You think that's a joke? Yeah, I know it sounds like one (and a good one, at that), but it's not. These folks reportedly had a significant problem with their septic tank that caused human waste to come shooting out of the air conditioner vents, and oozing up between the floorboards during rainstorms. Apparently they didn't have home owner's insurance, or the means to correct the problem, because they lived there, in the house that dripped feces, for years.

Enter the team of over-caffeinated homosexuals and Australians. They surprised the family by showing up at their front door unannounced, in a Shania Twain tour bus. They came pouring from the outsized vehicle screaming into amplification devices, doing rebel yells, and waving their hands in the air. And the family responded by sprinting onto the lawn, twitching, bending at the waist, and turning in circles. The father, a Leon Spinks lookalike in a ludicrous ski sweater, began speaking in tongues and sobbing uncontrollably. And I'm almost certain I saw one of the kids in the background just suddenly burst into flames, because of the excitement. I guess they put him out in time?

The bulk of the show is taken up by scenes of demolition and construction, and a far too stimulated crew hooting and hollering every time another wall comes down. And there's always an emotional moment in the middle of the show, just when it looks like they're going to run out of time, when a giant army of local construction workers show up in matching hard hats, pledging to donate their time to the cause. I hate to be cynical, but I always wonder why it takes a network TV crew to mobilize these armies of do-gooders? Where were they last year, for instance, when these poor people were knee-deep in their own shitballs? Hmm?

And, of course, they always have a myriad of little mini-disasters, and interviews with the highly-stressed decorators and landscapers along the way. One regular member of the crew seems to be in a constant state of strife. He's sort of a cross between Jim J. Bullock and Senator John Edwards after a six-month deep-tanning regimen. He's constantly wringing his hands, and making otherwise rational Americans scream at their TVs: oh, just shut the hell up, bitch! I can't really put my finger on why, but the guy gives me the creeps, and I'm always pulling for him to fail. Or, at the very least, for a socket wrench to fall off the second floor and... not kill him, that would be mean, but maybe bounce off one of his shoulders, or something.

Sunday's show had a great bonus scene when a man in a lab coat apparently emerged from the woods across the street, and announced that his name was Dr. Germ. He had a pocketful of test tubes, and had been sent by the carpenter from Trading Spaces to test the standing "water" in the basement, for diseases and whatnot. I found this to be hysterical. The entire crew stood around, hushed and biting their fingernails, as this so-called doctor ran his tests. It was the lab coat that did it for me. What an excellent douche he was.

The team, of course, managed to get the house done, against great odds. (Whew!) They constructed a big-ass 5300 square foot(!) mansion for the family, and it was tricked out with all the bells and whistles. I mean, the shit was nice. And, as usual, they seized upon little things the kids had said, and turned their bedrooms into monuments to their interests. The youngest boy told somebody early-on that he wanted to be a cardiologist (a common dream of nine year olds everywhere), so they gave his room a heart theme -- complete with a nightmare-generating cabinet that I believe incorporated human flesh and hydraulic pulse. Oh, they're big on the theme rooms on that show... A person could say they like peanut butter and jelly, just in passing, return from Disneyland and find that their bed is now a four-poster sandwich.

But the family seemed pretty pleased with their new digs, and rightly so. It's a friggin' estate, after all. The mother, especially, was excited with the prospect of being able to take a "baff" in her new sunken tub. Dad spent the last fifteen minutes crying into his giant sweater, and the kids were walking around in a state of disbelief. There was a lot of hugging, shaking, running in place, and making sounds like a British ambulance. All understandable, I say. I mean, when they left town their house was a literal shitbox, and now they're living in a place Hammer might find to be a bit much. I think I'd be making some ambulance sounds too.

My inner-cynical bastard wouldn't mind seeing some follow-ups on these stories, though. I'd like to revisit this family, as well as the five obese sisters from a few weeks back, in, say, a year? I have a feeling that some of their old problems will have returned -- just a hunch on my part. Somebody should do an independent documentary, with no ties to Disney or anyone, where they go back and check on last year's winners. Now that's some reality television I wouldn't mind watching.

Yeah, I'd do it myself, but I have my own set of problems... Wonder if Dr. Germ is hiring? Wonder if he needs any help down there at the "lab"? Just wonderin'.

--  Now here's an especially satisfying update from Metten, to close out this fine fine Thursday.  See you folks tomorrow.

February 22, 2005

-- We got rid of almost all of it. Our tax refund was deposited into our checking account on Friday morning, and with the exception of a chunk we squirreled away in the Myrtle Beach fund, it's all gone now. Saturday and Sunday were spent going from store to store, doing scribbled math on the backs of envelopes, drinking Mountain Dews, and plotting our strategy. 

We had it all mapped out in our minds beforehand, but those plans went out the window as soon as we entered the real world. It all seems so simple when you're sitting in a chair, elbow-deep in a canister of Pringles. But things have a tendency to get complicated real quick once you actually walk out the front door.

I won't bore you with all the tiny details, but we ordered a sofa, a loveseat, and two end tables from one of those big-ass furniture chains, with the salesmen who seem obsessed with the weather and rub their hands together a lot. All that stuff will be delivered on Friday. The floor people said we shouldn't put down area rugs until the end of the week, so we delayed delivery of the furniture until then. And speaking of rugs, we bought two of 'em. A plain one to go underneath the dining room table, and a big fancy-pants one for the living room. Now, that was a painful experience. Shouldn't rugs cost, like, fifty bucks or something? Shit. I was near tears. And we also purchased a chair and ottoman, at Sam's Club of all places. But it's really nice, and the price was right. So, we bought tuna, bath soap, and furniture. What of it?

Most of this was accomplished on Saturday, and we ended the day at a little neighborhood Italian restaurant called Armetta's. There I ingested a large slab of deep-fried chicken, encased in a thick jacket of cheese, and topped with a mountain of pasta. And it was all washed down with the help of two or three pints of the golden elixir. I don't generally despise shopping like society says I should, but Saturday kicked my ass. Way too stressful. By mid-morning it felt like everything was getting away from us, and I had a nagging feeling we were making bad decisions. I think we salvaged it in the end, though. At least that's what I keep telling myself...

On Sunday we spent a week looking for lamps. God, it just went on and on. When I think about it now, my stomach collapses against my spine. But the things were either jaw-droppingly expensive, or spindly pieces of crap; there were no in-betweens. We went to six stores, at least, and had no luck. JC Penney -- not exactly a Fifth Avenue boutique -- has lamps in their store that cost more than my first car. When I turned over the first price tag there, the West Virginia in me came roaring to the surface and I practically shouted, "I'll be goddamned!" When did JC Penney start outfitting the lifestyles of the rich and famous?! We finally bought our stupid lamps at Lowe's. They have a city block of the things, and I was irritated that we didn't think to go there first. It took us about five minutes to find what we were looking for, once we passed through their big hydraulic doors.

So we're all set now. By the weekend our living room reclamation will be complete. I wish I'd taken a few "before" photos, but I probably would've been too embarrassed to post them here. Wotta dump. The rest of our house looks OK, but the living room and dining room were straight off the set of Sanford and Son. It was a thorn in my side, but we never had the money to do anything about it. 

So, hooray for the mismanagement of federal withholdings! I recommend it highly.

-- I was going to tell you about an unbelievable episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition (or whatever that retard fest is called) I saw over the weekend, but it'll hold until tomorrow. I just can't stop thinking about it... Anyway, here's Buck's latest, and I'll see you folks on Wednesday.


February 18, 2005

-- I came out of work last night and there was snow on the ground. Not much, but enough to cover the grass and require a quick swipe-down of the Surf Report Company Car before I could hit the highway, Cinderella CD a-blaring. I was slipping and sliding as I made my way out of the parking lot, and when I pulled onto the main road everything suddenly went crazy. The rear end swung almost all the way around and I had to instantly switch from Atlanta-style (the default setting) to my ancient old West Virginia way of driving. It only took a second to right myself, but it made me realize I'd better watch my step. It was slicker'n cat shit on a marble floor out there. (And the previous day had felt just like spring.)

As I drove I saw vehicles fishtailing all over the place, a few pulled off the road with their emergency flashers kicking, and one massive GMC truck with the front end gnarled and smashed-in, smoke rolling to beat the band. Dipshits, I muttered to myself, as I goosed the volume a little on "Sick For The Cure." Just keep your speed down, and your foot off the brake. It's not too difficult a concept, ass-smokers; this ain't exactly bookshelf assembly here.

I planned to stop at Best Buy on my way home, to pick up one or two of their $9.99 CD specials. I had my eye on that Franz Ferdinand, and possibly The Killers. But should I do it? Should I really leave the relative safety of the interstate in all this slickness, to buy even more compact discs? Is it really a smart move to risk your life for cut-rate music that you know little about? Ha! I headed down the exit ramp, shaking my head at the early signs of pussification I find creeping into my life from time to time. As I slid to a prolonged stop at the red light, my cell phone rang, and it was my Mom.

"Where are you?" she asked. "Oh, I'm driving like some old lady, with my hands in the two and ten o'clock positions," I said. I gave her the whole story, including the part about the truck I saw with its grill in the front seat. Of course she was highly alarmed, and told me multiple times to be careful. And when I pulled onto the Best Buy parking lot, it was like a friggin' ice rink. I'm not exaggerating, it was just one big sheet of ice. 

I saw a car driving literally sideways, as if the wheels were installed the wrong way. Two "robust" women were making their way into the Staples store next-door, and were walking like they were on a tightrope. Their arms were stuck straight out, they were teetering, and taking tiny little Tim Conway steps. I reported all this to my mother in Florida, and she started in to squawking: "What are you doing?? You're not going home? You're out buying records?!"

The call ended with pronouncements of deep-dish exasperation, multiple use of the word "foolish," and an order to call her the moment I got home. And for some reason I find comfort in the fact that our relationship has remained almost exactly the same since, oh, I don't know, kindergarten? I'm not sure she does, but I do.

-- Yesterday marked an end to an era. The piss & vomit ensemble is no more. We put it out on the curb, and it was hauled away by the city. Toney called them earlier in the week to see if they'd cart away our shit-packed furniture, and they said it wasn't a problem. The carpet though... no way. The guy told her they don't deal with carpet scraps (for some unknown reason); it's a non-negotiable policy. Grrrr.. For a moment I was irritated, but then my brain cleared. Hell, we'll just leave it out there anyway. I bet they take it. And they did! When I slid into my parking space last night I saw that everything was gone, carpet and all. I've learned over the years that you can't count on anyone doing what they're supposed to do. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it helps. Half-assery cuts both ways.

-- TurboTax told us we'd have our tax refund on or around February 18, and at midnight last night it was deposited into our account. Man, if I were a tax accountant, I think I'd be enrolling in realtor school or something. It's only a matter of time before all the world is using that program. Hopefully they'll fix that Box 14 problem next year, but still... It's nothing short of kick-ass. We're gonna be doing some serious living room reclamation this weekend.

-- Here's a site I've got bookmarked. Oh, you know I do. That shit is way past due.

-- And Buck just sent me a new update, but I don't have the time to get it together this morning.  I'll add it tonight, or Saturday morning even, and link to it again in my next update as well. It'll give us something to read over the weekend...

Have a great one, folks. I'm off on Monday, for a holiday or some deal, and I may not update that day. I don't know, I'll just play it by ear... In any case, I'll see ya soon.

February 17, 2005

A few quick things:

-- I bought 500 episodes of the old Gunsmoke radio show off eBay, and they arrived in yesterday's mail. They're mp3 files, on four CDs, and it cost me less than ten bucks, including shipping. Is that a deal, or what? I started listening to them at work, just recreationally, y'know, from this site, and before I knew it, I was addicted. So I had to go out and knock over a liquor store, so I could buy more, more, more. Did you know that the original Marshall Dillon was Cannon, and the original Doc was Floyd the Barber? I sure didn't. I can't really imagine Frank Cannon on horseback, or Floyd performing a delicate saloon surgery, but somehow it works. They're really fun to listen to, and some are actually exciting. I can feel a new obsession bubbling up... By year's end I'll undoubtedly have my own personal Museum of Broadcast History here in the bunker. It's one of my "illnesses."

-- The living room floors are coming right along, although I was worried last night about our health. They're putting down the polyurethane early in the mornings, so the stink will be weakened by the time the Secrets get home from school. But weakened is a relative term. It still smelled pretty toxic in here at bedtime last night, and I figured we'd all go Slingblade in our sleep. I could feel it eating into my brainstem as I laid in bed reading last night, or at least I thought I could. But I believe we're all OK; I had everybody count to one hundred this morning, and it all checked out. Today we opened more windows, so it hopefully won't be so bad. It's almost like spring up here, which is a stroke of good luck. Here's a picture from yesterday morning, and another from today. We're almost there.

-- I've been listening to my pirated Top 20 Pazz n Jop singles CD, as promised, and have a few preliminary comments. The Usher song: one of the worst things I've ever heard. Seriously, I hate that kind of half-baked "soul" music. Blecchh. Sam Cooke is doing squat 'n' thrusts in his grave; I think I'd rather listen to Nostrils eat a candy apple. And the Eminem cut is pretty weak too. I like him, but he sounds like he needed a Red Bull or two before he recorded that crapola. Didn't care much for the Kanye West song either, or M.I.A. I find myself hitting the skip button when their stuff comes on.

On a more positive note, I'm gonna go out and buy the Franz Ferdinand CD. Today, if I can get out of the office for a few minutes. Those guys sound like they're right up my alley. How did I not know about them? And LCD Soundsystem too. I've liked everything I've heard, and their smartass attitude is highly appealing. Those are the two standouts so far. Everything else falls somewhere in between. But I still need to give it a few days. You can't rush science.

One aspect of the experiment does concern me, and I hesitate to even admit to it... The Britney Spears song ain't too bad. When it comes on I let it play, and I've even caught my toe tapping a few times. Frightening, as well as discouraging.

And I haven't spoken to him about this yet, but I'm thinking about sending a copy of the CD to Buck, to get his feedback. I have a feeling that might generate some fun. Buck and Jay-Z, together at last! Stay tuned on that deal.

-- Here's a scene from an old Batman comic, in which The Joker reveals himself to be mighty touchy about a certain subject.

-- And finally, here's a comic that made me laugh.

More tomorrow.

February 16, 2005

-- Toney and I watched The Buddy Holly Story a few nights ago, and it was highly entertaining as usual. I've seen it four or five times over the years, and have always had a soft spot in my heart for it. Not sure why, it doesn't exactly have a happy ending, but it makes me happy anyway. And I believe it goes far beyond Gary Busey's giant Chicklet teeth. Sure, those are a lot of fun, but it's something more. I think it's the story of a nobody hick who makes a success of himself using nothing more than balls, enthusiasm, and raw talent that appeals to me. Now there's a tale a delusional swaddler such as myself can get behind.

But watching it again after several years, I noticed a few unsatisfactory holes in the storytelling. Like the obnoxious fiancee back home. Why no follow-up on her? She was constantly nagging him to give up his childish rock n roll dreams, settle down with a "real" job, marry her and get down to some baby-making. He struggled with this, and finally walked away from the shrill wench. (I always pump my fist in the air at this particular point in the film, like a member of a NASCAR pit crew.) It would've been nice to see her reaction after he became King of the World. Real nice.

And his parents too. They seemed to be in cahoots with the fiancee; if not literally, then certainly intellectually. The man couldn't even get through a fried chicken supper without them badgering him about his "jungle music." We saw nothing of them later in the movie. Or any of the other nay-sayer and doom-and-gloomers in his hometown. Shit, wotta bunch of dream-killers. I wanted to see them all revealed as the miserable shitsacks that they were.

Ol' Chicklets eventually married a Puerto Rican woman too. No hometown reaction on that deal? He was from Dogballs, Texas (or wherever), and this was 1959. Hell, that's a whole movie in itself, and we got nothing. She was also pregnant when he died, and they didn't tell us what happened with the baby. I had to go on the internet to find out that she had a miscarriage shortly after she learned the news of his death. Pretty sad. I was imagining a newborn in a crib wearing horn rim glasses.

But it's still a good movie, and I will undoubtedly watch it a few more times. The scenes at the Apollo Theater in Harlem are priceless. And I loved the part when the band went on their disastrous trip to Nashville in the early days. They wanted to turn him into some schmaltzy country singer, with sappy strings and plodding tempos. Chicklets was having none of that, and eventually punched the producer in the mouth. Good stuff.

According the filmmakers he almost threw in the towel after that. He was going to go into his father's business and leave his musical "pipedream" behind. And that's the part I've been thinking about... What if he'd really done it? What if he'd walked away from rock n roll at that point? The name Buddy Holly would mean nothing to any of us, and he'd probably be retired in Texas right now, proud of his new indoor/outdoor carpeting on his front porch. 

A single decision on a single day out of an entire lifetime has the power to change everything.

How many Buddy Hollys are out there right now, who really did say fuck it? Maybe the guy who sold me car insurance is another Robert DeNiro? Or Bob Dylan? Or Richard Nixon? The man who manages the local Price Chopper grocery store might be an unrealized William Faulkner who just couldn't take it anymore. And Janis Joplin might have cooked my grilled ham and cheese yesterday. How are we to know? Now that I think about it, she looked like she was itching to pull out a jug of whisky and start wailing the blues.

All of us have made big decisions in our lives, turning down jobs that would've taken us to other cities, bailing out of various relationships... There's no way to predict what might have happened if we'd chosen a different path somewhere along the way. When I was nineteen or so I was offered a job with the FBI in Washington DC. They were going to put me through law school, and groom me to be an agent. (Hey, I can't believe it either.) But I turned them down at the last minute. I lost my nerve, and chose to play it safe in good ol' Dunbar, WV. My life would've been COMPLETELY different if I'd gone the other way. It's impossible to say if it would've been better or worse, but it certainly would have turned out differently. A whole alternative set of adventures...

So anyway, that's what I've been thinking about. No regrets, just thinking. I do that once or twice per year.

-- And now here's Metten, who's been doing some thinking of his own.

See ya tomorrow.

February 15, 2005

-- Things are starting to get a little wacky around here. We (Toney) called five or six places yesterday requesting estimates on restoring our newly-discovered hardwood floors, and three actually called us (Toney) back. One guy didn't want to come out and look at them, said he was familiar with wood, and told us just to multiply the square-footage by $2.40 for his price. We did the math and it was about $1000. Wotta douche. 

Another couldn't make it to our house for several days, so he's out too. We need to get this reclamation show on the road, dammit. The third guy came here, measured everything, and wrote us an estimate. His price was in the neighborhood of what we imagined it would cost, so we hired him on the spot. Usually we send them away, so we can "think about it," but what's the point? This was our man.

He gave us a canned speech, explaining the process of what he's going to do, and I believe it was tailored for the semi-retarded. Perhaps he'd had to dumb it down over the years, I don't know. But at one point he said that things have a tendency to fall on floors "because of gravity." And he told us about these little stick-on discs of felt that you can put on the bottom of your chair legs, to protect the floors... I think he spent a full five minutes on the miracle of this invention. I just stood there amazed, trying to get my brain around such a wonder. Stick-on discs of felt! My god, technology is moving so fast it's almost scary.

One thing bothers me a little, but I'm trying not to dwell on it: he's starting today. He came straight to our house when we called him, and he can start this morning. Doesn't seem like he's exactly slammed with work, does it? He claims he had a gymnasium project at a church scheduled for this week, and they postponed at the last minute. But, I don't know; it sounded a little rehearsed to me. I get the feeling he has a lot of these so-called gymnasium cancellations. But whatever. He's been in business for thirteen years. If he goes around screwing up peoples' floors in this area of the country, somebody would've already strung his ass up. These people aren't exactly known for their compassionate understanding up here.

So, he's starting today, and for the next week we're going to have to live in about half of our house. Last night after dinner Toney and I moved all of the furniture out of the living room and dining room, and stuck it here and there. Our kitchen is fully packed-out, and the dining room table is now set up in our downstairs family room. That's where we're going to eat our meals until next Tuesday. I warned everybody they'd better not sling any gravy on my CD racks, and I'm not joking. If I go to play a Dinosaur Jr. disc, or whatever, and find a spaghetti noodle, I'm not going to be very happy.

This is going to be a long week... It's only been a few hours and we're already living all over each other. The Fairly Oddparents is playing at full concert volume at this very moment, just three feet from where I'm typing. I'm currently experiencing a full-body clench, and have a feeling it'll be a semi-permanent state until next Tuesday, when our furniture can go back in.

They're going to sand the floors today, coat it with polyurethane tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. Then it has to set and harden, or some shit, until a week from today. We'll need to use the backdoor until then, and have to try to keep Andy off it and everything. Yeah, it's a Lucy Show waiting to happen, but I think we'll be OK.

And the most exciting part? The city is going to come and cart away the piss & shit ensemble on Thursday. It's the end of an unsavory era. I wish I could follow them to the dump, to watch it burn. I really do. I bet it'll generate a blue flame, because of all the compacted toddler "fluids" in there.

I'll try to talk about something other than floors tomorrow. I promise. Shit, I'm boring myself here... Have yourself a great day, y'hear?

February 14, 2005

-- I'm on vacation today, for no reason whatsoever. That's the plan this year, to just go around expanding a bunch of weekends, all willy-nilly. I always hold back for some mythological holiday season extravaganza that never materializes, and end up "donating" six or eight of my hard-earned vacation days back to the company. But not this year, goddammit. I'm taking them all, a little here, a little there. My boss asked why I wanted today off, and I said it was so I wouldn't have to go to work. And it's no more complicated than that, really. ...Highly satisfying.

-- Yesterday we officially kicked off the living room reclamation project. I can't believe we actually did this, but we ripped the carpet off the floors and dragged it into the front yard. Pretty darn adventurous. My instincts always tell me to get out the yellow pages when something like this needs doing, but Toney convinced me we could do it ourselves. And we did. It was five excruciating hours of rug-tugging, and staple pulling, and prying up of friggin' tack strips... And both of us had to use antibacterial foam on our gashes and wounds. But we got 'er done.

And the hardwood floors underneath? To my utter amazement, they look great. I was certain we'd lift up the carpet and find a cornucopia of fucked-upness, but we were pleasantly surprised. Check it out. They're not going to require much attention at all. It's an amazing development; things don't usually work out so well for us. A little polyurethane and we'll be in bidness.

When I was in fifth grade my parents moved us to a bigger house, and they pulled up the carpet in the master bedroom. The plan was to have hardwood floors, but what they found was about fifty coal-black dinner plate-sized dog pee burns, all around the room. It looked like a flame-thrower had gotten away from someone in there. The previous owners had these ludicrous Farah Fawcett animals called Afghan Hounds, that apparently were allowed to just prance around and expel waste directly into the floor coverings. A couple more good urination years and they would've turned the entire floor black. 

Needless to say, the room was re-carpeted. And for several months I tossed and turned at night, convinced I could smell something -- there in our big new house of piss.

So, you can probably understand my pessimism. I figured our floors here would be scarred and burned and stained and rotting. In fact, I knew they would be. I was prepared to see worms. But they look great. And if I don't develop lockjaw from the long gash I now have in my right leg -- the shit was sliced open like a Subway roll by a mean-spirited staple -- I'll be forced to declare the exercise a complete success, just like Toney predicted. And while that might seem like a good thing on the surface... I'm having disturbing visions of myself climbing up ladders and wriggling under the house, as a result.

Stupid beautiful floors...

-- I saw a guy at Lone Star Steaks on Saturday with a toupee that makes Sam Donaldson's look natural. It was unbelievable; I think it was just a plastic shell attached to his head. I did an actual double-take when I saw that thing, like a character in a sitcom. I'm almost certain it had a chin strap and everything. But the thing about it? I kinda liked it. It was a look I wouldn't mind adopting for myself. I'm thinking about having my head shaved so I can wear one too. I still have all of my hair, but I'm not going to let that stand in the way! 

I know this isn't much of an update, and it's late and everything, but I'm on vacation, goddammit. For no reason whatsoever. I'll do better tomorrow (possibly). See ya then.

February 11, 2005

-- The Village Voice's Pazz n Jop survey for 2004 was released a couple of days ago, and I've been burning up a lot of valuable time pawing through it.

Every January they invite all the music critics in the whole freakin' world to submit their lists of what they believe are the best albums and singles of the previous year. Then they crunch the numbers, and publish the results. The final lists, I think, are as close to an intelligent critical consensus as we're ever likely to get. So I look forward to it every year, and have for a long time.

In fact, when I was still a Jiffy Pop-haired youngster I used paper route money to subscribe to the Village Voice, just so I wouldn't miss the one issue per year I gave a crap about. The thing would show up at our house (in Dunbar, WV!), week after week, filled with grotesque caricatures of Reagan and Thatcher, reviews of bizarre art shows that made me feel sad and dirty, and ads for wet briefs night at Jimmy's Fudge House, or whatever. And my Dad would sometimes flip through these things, look over at me, and just silently leave the room shaking his head.

But dammit, I had to get the Pazz n Jop. There was no internet back then, and you sure as shit couldn't pick it up at the local newsstand. So what's a Jiffy Pop to do?

I still get excited when the new lists come out, but, unfortunately, it's starting to mean less and less to me. At this point I've never heard of at least half of the artists mentioned, and the confusion quotient seems to grow February by February. Check out the surveys from 1979, 80, and 81. Now those were some surveys a person could sink their teeth into. 

The best album from 2004? It's by Kanye West. I have no idea who this person is. Or is it a band? I just don't know. Never heard of Arcade Fire either, or Modest Mouse. I feel like I'm looking at the roster of horses running today at Santa Anita. 

Was it really better and more exciting back then, or am I just a bloated burnout now? Yes, it's the eternal question...

Of course, if you feel alienated (or confused) by the master list you can always click over to see a specific critic's submission, people you know and trust and who have similar tastes. Like some of the old farts from Creem magazine, or the founder of Trouser Press. Or even a guy who used to hang out in the record store where I worked in Greensboro. It's all there, sliced and diced and ready for geekly consumption.

And as is the tradition, I've been downloading (illegally and brazenly) the top 20 singles, and will burn them to a CD this weekend. Then I'll play it in my car for a few weeks, and get myself acquainted with some of these "great" artists. In previous years I've been largely underwhelmed, but have discovered a few nuggets wedged into the towering wall of noise and crapola. So I'm going to try to keep an open mind on the matter.

I'm not expecting any new Clashes, though; I may as well be honest. Now that was music. They just don't have bands like that anymore. ...can somebody please help me change my sack?

-- Here's our good buddy Buck to close out the week, and I'll see you folks again on Monday.

February 10, 2005

-- I talked to the mailman yesterday. I was getting into my car as he walked up with our daily ration of crapola, and we had an actual conversation. Oh, it wasn't lengthy, but it was more than just the usual grunts and averting of eyes. I view this as a major breakthrough, and an overarching positive sign for humanity on the whole. I mean, if we can be friendly with the hippie dippie mailman (here with the hippie dippie mail, man), then anything is possible. Like peace in the middle east. Or a trip to a Scranton deli counter without wanting to slam some old bastard's face in the carrot salad.

We got off to a bad start with the man. When we first moved here Toney took exception to the fact that some days he only delivers mail on one side of the street... and that set the tone. We were troublemakers from out of state, here to rock his patchouli-scented boat. Plus, he looks at our fluffy little border collie Andy and sees a wild blood-soaked dingo crazed with disease. For a year or so he wouldn't deliver our mail if he could even see Andy through the window. He's a man deathly afraid of dogs, so... he becomes a mailman. Our mailman. Good times.

We went 'round and 'round with him for a long time, and it all came to a head one memorable Saturday morning. I was sitting in the living room watching Spongebob and Toney was outside with Andy. I can't recall the exact details, but I think he tried to mace our dog. And when I went out to see what all the ruckus was about, Toney was cussin' 'n' cryin', Andy was turning circles, and our buddy was across the street hollering a bunch of belligerence and waving his arms around like a mental patient. He kept yelling, "Cchhrrriiisssttt!" and I think Toney tried to throw something at him. It was quite a scene.

Ever since then we've just kind of co-existed, and tolerated each other. But it was chilly, mighty chilly. Until yesterday, anyway. We talked about W-2 forms, and how they're supposed to be in our boogery hands by the last day of January, and we laughed and acted like normal people. Humanity may survive after all.

-- I left the gym last night in a huff. I went over there around eight o'clock, late enough for the after-work crowd to have cleared out. But something was askew. Usually I have no trouble at that time, but last night the place was jammed. When I pulled into the parking lot I saw that the windows were completely fogged up with the combined heat of a hundred sweating bodies. Needless to say I was horrified by this spectacle, but tried to move it to the back of my mind. I went inside, put my jacket in a locker, and started scanning the floor for a treadmill.

There were none. All were in use except the weird one with the long skinny handrails, and that's simply out of the question. Nobody uses the skinny handrail treadmill, because it's just too creepy and physical therapyish. I'd feel like a man whose head was recently reconstructed during a fifteen hour touch-and-go surgery, eager to walk and master zippers again. So I took my place in the rear holding pen, and waited for a machine to become available. 

And I waited. And waited. Twenty minutes went by and I was still waiting. I felt like a doucheketeer, and considered trying out the escalators to nowhere, or the upside-down bicycles. But I feared I wouldn't be able to figure out how they work, and might get my pants caught in the motor or something. So I waited.

And during this whole time in the pen some little girl, nine or ten I'd guess, kept looking over her shoulder at me with an expression of concern on her face. Apparently she thought I was watching her, and checked on me every few seconds to see if I was moving in for the attack yet. What the hell, man?! That's all I need, to go for an innocent workout and end up in some government pervert database. I can imagine the telephone pole posters now: This man lives in our neighborhood! Protect your children!! For a little while I tried slipping on my headphones, and staring off in the opposite direction of the girl. But I could still see her out of the corner of my eye, keeping track of me. Shit. I felt like I was in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

So the hell with it. I threw a private little mini-tantrum, retrieved my jacket from the den of wieners, and stormed out of the place. And as I was leaving I saw three or four people step off their treadmills.

-- Sorry about yesterday. It just wasn't happening for some reason, so I abandoned ship. My idea was that I'd go to work, finish the update there, and come home for lunch and upload it. Ha! When will I ever learn? There is no leaving. Once you're there, you're there. Sorta like the Hotel California. I had a terrible cafeteria lunch at my desk, and finally threw in the towel at around 7:30 last night. I never looked at the update, and spent a big part of the day muttering under my breath and reminding myself to buy lots of lottery tickets on the way home. I've gotta do something... I can't live this way.

-- On a much happier note, TurboTax informs us that the Feds accepted our tax return, and our refund should be direct-deposited into our bank account around February 18. Is that not just simply kick-ass? I can't believe we paid that accountant all that money for so many years to do our taxes. Wotta couple of suckers we were. But that's all behind us now, and the days of the shit & puke ensemble are almost over!

-- Now here's Metten, to close out the category, and I'll see you folks tomorrow.

February 8, 2005

-- We did our taxes last night, using TurboTax. For the past eight years or so we've paid an accountant in California to perform the dirty deed for us, but last year he pissed Toney off. So, that's that. And since it's pretty straightforward these days, basically just my W-2 and the mortgage interest, we figured we couldn't screw it up too bad.

We picked up the program at Sam's for around forty bucks, and it's been lying around the house for several weeks while we waited for all the necessary documents to arrive in the mail. Didn't there used to be a law saying that all that stuff had to be in our boogery hands by the last day of January? Did I just dream that? Yesterday (February 7) we finally received the final piece of the puzzle, and since we usually get a fairly hefty refund, we went ahead and slogged through the process last night after the Secrets went to bed. We had to see what the final figure was gonna be, so we could make concrete plans for our living room reclamation project.

It was pretty easy, but time-consuming. The whole process took us nearly two hours. It's all broken up into lots and lots of manageable little chunks, and the questions are phrased so that even a chimpanzee in a straw hat could understand them. It's just simple Q&A, one step up from flash cards, and the program puts it all together at the end in the accepted format. But, still, we had a couple of problems.

Box 14 on my W-2 has some cryptic code in it, and a small dollar amount. TurboTax has no idea what the code means, and neither do we. So we came to the mutual agreement that we'd just say fuck it. I have a nagging concern that this decision may some day land me in a Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison. You can't just go around ignoring boxes all willy-nilly, can you? Shit.

And when we got to the end it said something about us not contributing to my company's 401k plan, which isn't true, so we had to go all the way back to the beginning and figure out how to fix it. I was running my hands through my hair at this point, feeling the onset of the earliest stages of a freak-out. The chair was starting to eat into my ass, as well. But we corrected it, ran all the double and triple-checks, and got our final figure: a refund of almost $4500! Hell yeah!! That'll allow us to finally get rid of the vomit & shit ensemble, and pay for a great little beer-soaked week in Myrtle Beach as well.

I know the experts say you should manage your withholdings so you neither owe nor receive a refund, but last night I didn't care about any of that. The experts are a bunch of dullards, many of whom undoubtedly have only seen photographs of naked women. Forty five hundred bucks, boyee! I went upstairs and made sure our little tax write-offs were snug and comfy in their beds.

And I reminded Toney that she needs to tell Nancy all about it; it's a key part of our yearly celebration. To Nancy and Nostrils, of course, every dollar of tax money refunded by the federal government is a blow to their socialist souls. Great fun! The look on their faces when we say we'd rather give our money to the Wal-Mart Corporation than to Nancy Pelosi, is almost better than the refund itself.

All in all, it was quite satisfying. And over time I'm sure I can put that pesky little Box 14 completely out of my mind. ...I hope.

February 7, 2005

-- I watched about fifteen minutes of "the big game" last night, then switched over to America's Funniest Home Videos. They had a collection of clips showing people hitting themselves in the face and/or the crotch with yo-yos, and I felt like I'd finally arrived home after sitting in traffic for a long time. 

I've never been much into football. I don't know why... I'm male, American, and straight, but it's never appealed to me. When I was in grade school I had a Miami Dolphins rain poncho, but it was purely a PR move. I couldn't have given two shits about the Miami Dolphins, I'm almost certain I only picked them because of their colors, but I was concerned about being branded a freak. So I sold myself out with novelty raingear.

Later in life I took a more obnoxious, assholish approach, and declared all football fans "shitkickers." I had this short speech that I'd break out whenever I found myself in a debate on the matter, and it included the assertion that the only strategy involved in the game was a large black man saying, "Gimme da ball." Not exactly chess, I'd proclaim with an obnoxious, assholish smirk.

I also had this theory (which still holds up, btw) that football, basketball, soccer, and hockey are all the same game. Rectangular playing fields, a clock, some sort of goal on the short ends of the box, and one team trying to stop the other from scoring. It's all the same game! Only baseball is different. There is no clock in baseball, every field is different, there are no goals... Baseball was my game, goddammit, and all others were for the shitkickers. Jeff Kay would never be a slave to the rectangle!

But I'm over all that now. Today I can't really understand why I ever wasted energy working up such a frivolous hostility. I mean, seriously. What do I care what people do with their Sunday afternoons? Of course, as is almost always the case, it was about me, not the so-called kickers of turds. I think it had something to do with expectations. I'm not a big fan of expectations, and never have been. I suspect that I was like one of those problem children born into a family of lawyers. You think I'm gonna do what with my life?? Hell no, I'm going to be a BMX bike racer!...

I seem to remember a similar rebellion during the late 1980's, involving Pink Floyd. Whenever I'd hear one of their songs I'd practically lose my shit. If I saw somebody buying one of their albums in a record store, I'd jump to all kinds of unfair conclusions about them, and concoct a myriad of unflattering judgments. I'd stand there and watch them make their pathetic purchase, and have their whole miserable life mapped out in my mind, front to back. Then I'd shake my head in a superior manner, go home, and pretend to understand the beat poets.

Yes, I admit it: I haven't always been so well-adjusted and rational. ...Hello?

In the case of football, my bitterness has evaporated almost completely by now. Over the years I've watched a few games on television -- mostly whenever WVU or Marshall are playing in the Tampax Tampon Bowl, or whatever. And I've been surprised to find them both exciting and fun. I guess it helps to have a dog in the fight, or maybe I was just wrong all along? I don't know, but I'm at the point now where I kinda wish I knew more about it, so I could join in the fun. I now begrudgingly envy the passion, and the crazed drunken brotherhood.

But, alas, at the end of the day, I know in my heart that, given a choice, I will always choose video footage of obese women parasailing. There's just no use in trying to fight nature.

February 4, 2005

-- Toney told me I might want to rinse off the floor of the shower before I got into it today, because she poured a heaping helping of drain opener down it. Apparently it's clogged again. How does that happen all the time? What could possibly be running off us that would close-off a big ass steel pipe? I mean, I'm pretty certain there are no chunks of anything being dislodged by the water stream, or anything like that. But this happens quite frequently. Sometimes by the time I've finished shampooing my tiny Duke head, I'll be ankle-deep in a tepid stew of my own filth. So we napalm it, and that takes care of things for a couple of months. Then, in no time, we're back to the standing pool of frothy butt water. It's both irritating and baffling.

Anyway, when she gave me this warning about stepping into a puddle of harsh chemicals, it reminded me of a story I heard in Atlanta. It was a guy on the radio, Neal Boortz, and he said he used to work in an office on the third or fourth floor, and they had a substantial pigeon problem. There was a wide ledge outside the windows, and the birds would hang out there, making a racket, shitting everywhere, and stinking up the place. They complained to the building manager, but he said there wasn't much they could do.

So, out of frustration, one of his co-workers came up with the idea of coating the ledge in some kind of acid. The idea was that the pigeons would land, their feet would be burned a bit, and they'd immediately take off. And once word got out, within the pigeon community, their problem would be solved. But it didn't work out quite the way they had it planned...

To their horror, they watched as the birds landed on the acid-laden ledge, stood there for a few minutes, then flew away -- leaving their feet behind! He said the ledge was covered in bird feet, and there were pigeons flying around the neighborhood with just two sticks coming out of their bodies, with no feet at the bottom. And when he was walking to lunch one day he saw one of them come in for a landing on the grass, and do a forward roll for about a yard, until it finally came to a stop.

I'm not sure if this is true, but it sure is funny. To me, anyway... And I'm happy to report that my feet are still currently attached to my legs, and not sealed to the shower floor. I consider it a victory.

-- I have a zit on my nose this morning, like I'm thirteen again. Wot's up with that? Stress-related, perhaps? It feels like it's the size of a Cert, but my perception may be a bit skewed. I was emailing back and forth with Buck earlier, and mentioned this, and here's one of his typical mind-bending responses:

A friend of mine here at work had one on his back that was the size of a 50-cent piece, got infected, smelled like curdled eggs and shot out what looked like a pint of cottage cheese. They had to surgically remove it and it looked like the cap on an acorn according to him.

He said when he was a kid he had terminal acne, you know one of those guys who wakes up on a park bench after a three day drunk and a blind guy is trying to read his face...and he asked God to take them off his face and put one big one on his back. Be careful what you ask for.

Is that not excellent?

-- You know how you can tell when your life is getting a little too crazy? It's when you find yourself taking a leak, looking down, and screaming, "Hurry up!!" It's at that point where it's probably a good idea to take it down a few notches. Don't ask me how I know...

-- Our old buddy Chris, formerly of Boone, sent me a link earlier in the week, of the 11 Worst Songs of 2004. Check it out. The man has it pegged.

-- And I can't believe I've allowed myself to get into this position, but I now have fifty -- fifty! -- Gmail invitations. I don't even know fifty people. What am I going to do?! Too much responsibility... If you need one of these friggin' things, please email me. Sweet Jesus.

-- Finally, reader Mark, aka ISWIN, suggested this to me, to help deal with my problems. Has anyone tried this product? Any thoughts? Is it covered by the HMO's? I'd appreciate any and all feedback.

And that'll close out another Surf Report week, boys and girls. Have yourselves a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.

February 3, 2005

A few quick things:

-- Remember a couple of months ago when I told you about the big tree falling in our backyard, in the middle of the night, nearly taking out one end of our house? Sorta like this? Well, we (Toney) called ten or twelve tree services, to see about getting that shit dragged out of there, and having a couple of other diseased and menacing vertical terrors removed as well. Three or four places actually called us back, and gave us estimates. The prices they quoted us varied greatly, but we came to terms with one guy who said he'd give us a good deal if we didn't make him take the wood away. He said he'd split it into firewood-sized hunks, and stack it for us, for $650. Hell, that sounded good to us; we could take it camping. And it was a couple hundred less than any of the other quotes we'd been given. So, we shook hands, he said he'd be back "sometime in early January," and that was that.

Well, he finally came back on Tuesday, and almost immediately got into it with Toney, claiming he'd quoted us $700. Toney showed him the piece of paper where she'd written down all the prices as she'd received them, but he wouldn't let it drop. He kept on and on about the $700, grumbling under his breath, and slamming things around. And this is the way he left our neatly stacked firewood-sized hunks of wood. I thought about calling him, to see when he was going to come finish the job. But he's quite large and manhandles trees for a living, he thinks we ripped him off, and he owns a chipper. So, I think I'll just forget about it. I've seen Fargo.

-- A couple of years ago I signed up with some outfit that serves ads to your website. They're affiliated with thousands of different companies, and you can pick and choose which ones you'd like to appear on yer site, and so on. Well, I monkeyed around with it for a few months, and it didn't really pan out for me. I decided to just stick with Amazon, and eventually they purged me from their files.

But as I was sitting on a long, droning Saturday conference call a few weeks ago, I decided to check it out again. I signed up from scratch, and as somebody in Terre Haute, or some goddamn place, spoke at length about logistical issues surrounding the corrugation supply chain, I scrolled through all of the advertisers, and clicked the ones I thought might work on TheWVSR. Then I hit submit, and waited for the results.

About half immediately came back with: Welcome aboard! Go sell our shit! We want to be in the Jeff Kay business!! A fourth of them wanted me to agree to some legal mumbo-jumbo before they'd get themselves involved, and the last fourth said they'd approve me "manually." That meant they wanted to check out my site first, before committing. And amongst that final fourth, most got back to me and gave me the thumbs up -- including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal(!?).

But a few of them turned me down, and it's nagging at me. I mean, what the hell, man? It's not like I tried to sign up with the Church of the Latter Day Saints or something. I'm talking Verizon Wireless here. And the Discover Card. Ha! A credit card company!! It's like being told by Al "God rest the souls of that poor family... and pussy's half price for the next 15 minutes" Swearengen that you're not good enough to drink in his bar. And 1-800-Contacts. And the BBC Gift Shop. They all turned me down, essentially telling me they don't associate with such riff-raff. It's quite a nad-kick, if you think about it.

In case you're interested, here are the folks who agreed to risk it all by allowing me to run their ads on my site. You'll be seeing their retina-searing flashing boxes of commerce sprinkled here and there, and if you want to buy something through one of 'em, I'll appreciate it. If not, that's fine too. As J. Mascis says, whatever's cool with me.

-- This guy has taken a vow to temporarily replace water with beer, in all aspects of his life. That includes the brushing of teeth, and the brewing of coffee. Shit!

-- I read this joke in a magazine recently, and failed to see the humor:

Q: What's the most effective form of birth control after the age of 40?
A: Nudity

Is that funny? I don't believe it is. In fact, I find it to be quite hurtful. I prefer the postcard we had on our refrigerator for years (wonder what happened to that thing?), that showed a woman sitting in a doctor's exam room, and he's saying, "I'm sorry, we're all out of birth control pills. Try these instead." And he's handing her a box with "Birkenstock Sandals" printed on the side. Now that's comedy.

-- I'm thinking about pitching an idea for a new cable network: The Date Channel. Once it's off the ground we'll all be able to turn to a three-digit station way the hell up the dial, and see what date it is! There'll be nothing there except the words, Thursday, February 3, 2005, or whatever's fitting for that particular day. Is that a great idea, or what? I won't be working at my horrible job forever, goddammit. Oh no, my days there are numbered! TDC is the key to the future!! ...Hello?

-- And this is where I'd usually pass the baton of bitterness to our good buddy Buck, but this is all he sent me yesterday. So, maybe next week?

You guys have yourself one wonderful fucking Thursday, y'hear? I'll see you tomorrow.

February 1, 2005

-- We've had a thick-ass snowpack on the ground for weeks, and it'll still be there when baseball season opens in April. It just goes with the territory up here, like square chewy pizza you order by the "tray." Our dog Andy was in the front yard a few days ago, snorkeling around for the perfect place to sling a little urine, when he lost his footing, flipped over on his back like a turtle, and started sliding down the hill. I didn't think we'd ever see him again, but he eventually clawed his way home. It'll be this way until spring (remember this?), and after a while it can start to get to a person.

So, probably as some kind of unconscious defense mechanism, we've started planning our summer trips, and buying supplies and whatnot. We picked up a couple of Coleman sleeping bags for The Secrets -- half price at Dick's Sporting Goods. And I got the deal of the century on a really nice Eddie Bauer duffel bag. Last year I used a suitcase to haul my draws around, and that didn't really seem to fit with the whole camping theme. So I've been on high alert for a more appropriate sack, and scored big-time at Target on Sunday.

The original price was $59.99, but everything in the aisle had been marked down multiple times. There was a stack of red stickers on the price tag, and the one on top said $22.48. That's a damn good price, I said at an inappropriate volume, and put it in the shopping cart. But that wasn't the end of it. Oh, no. To our amazement, it scanned at $11.24, half-off the lowest price! When that total flashed up on the screen I think a little poop came out.

I might not be able to perform a brake job at home, using sticks and bread wrappers, but I know how to shop for shoulder bags, mofos. I've got duffle-buying skillz that nobody can touch. Who looks pathetic now, huh?

Here's our preliminary camping schedule for 2005 (subject to change up to one hundred times):

Myrtle Beach in early May. We already have reservations for this extravaganza, including a week's rental on a golf cart. There's nothing like coming out of one of these endless winters, heading south and tooling around in the sun on a motorized cart for six or seven days, with a coozie-encased Yuengling surgically attached to your left hand. For two decades I thought I was too cool to go to that gaudy tourist trap known as Myrtle Beach, but I recently realized that I'm not cool at all. And it rocks! Incredibly liberating...

Lake George, NY in June. We've never been there, but it sounds like our kind of place. A campground with an outdoor pub, featuring "popular prices" during happy hour? Oh, we're so there.

Cape May, NJ in July. We're thinking about doing this on the Fourth of July, to see fireworks over the ocean and all that jazz. A really nice campground... a town full of Victorian homes... lighthouses... kick-ass food everywhere you turn... You can't go wrong.

Cooperstown, NY in August. One of The Secrets recently informed me that baseball is boring. And it cut me. Deep. He and his brother don't know it yet, but they're in for an education. They're going to be introduced to Msrs. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mays. And they're going to respect their authority. By the time we return home they'll be begging me: "Dad, tell us again about Bobby Thompson's 'Shot Heard 'Round The World'. Will ya Dad? Will ya?" I've been cut. Deep.

And in early September: the season-closing extravaganza to bookend the Myrtle Beach season-opener. Our plan is to spend a week in Maine, a few days in Portland and a few more at Bar Harbor. Toney has it all planned out, and I'm really psyched for this one. I've never been to Maine, but I have it pictured in my mind and like the way it looks. Can't wait!

Of course all of this hinges on many factors, not the least of which is the availability of funds. But we've made our plans, and had fun doing it. It took up most of our Saturday morning (and two pots of coffee), and got our minds off the border collies sledding past our house outside. And, trust me, that's not an easy thing to forget.

-- Dave Barry(!) linked to the Neti-Pot instructional video I posted to the homepage yesterday, and I can't wait to see the amount of bandwidth we burned up. Yikes. His blog entry is here. Pretty cool, huh?

And that'll do it for today, children. More tomorrow.

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