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   The State of My Fat Ass                                   February 2006


February 28, 2006

-- I saw an Adelphia commercial this morning reminding us that the Winter Olympics start in mid-February, and promising that "your cable company" and NBC TV will be on the case. It's comforting to know.

-- A few days ago I mentioned a movie, Damnation Alley, from the early days of HBO, and how much I was looking forward to the DVD release later this year. Well, one of your fellow Surf Reporters has reportedly secured me a copy via the Chinese underground, or some shit, and I may not have to wait so long after all. May God bless the vast network of liars and backstabbers.

The whole thing got me to thinking about the movies we watched, and loved, when HBO first made it to West Virginia, and I remembered another one that is as obscure as obscure gets. Do any of you remember a flick called Kenny & Company?

It's about three suburban twelve year old boys, just living their lives and getting into lots of low-grade trouble. I saw it three or four times on HBO, back in the day, and thought it was hilarious. A lot of my friends loved it as well, especially Vincent. He'd walk around quoting lines from it, and bringing up situations from the movie all the time. For a few months Vincent was all about Kenny & Company.

Grasping at straws, I did a search for it at Netflix, and came up empty. No surprise. Nobody's heard of that thing, nobody. Then I started reading about it at IMDB and saw that it was directed by Don Coscarelli, who went on to do a boatload of Phantasm movies. Weird. I returned to Netflix and typed in his name, and there was Kenny & Company! I just about hyper-crapped. I guess I'd searched with and instead of &. Who the hell knows?

Anyway, I watched it on Saturday, the entire DVD. I saw the movie itself, the short making-of documentary, both trailers, and the movie again with commentary. It's not Citizen Kane, but entertaining. Plus, all those kids were twelve at exactly the same time I was twelve, so it was a trip back in time for me. Same horrible '70s clothes, same bikes, same attitudes.... Good stuff.

Now does anyone remember a movie from that same era about a murderous group of old people living in a senior citizen's apartment in (maybe) NYC? I remember them putting a dead body inside the cornerstone of a new building. And when the tip of the cadaver's foot protruded from the concrete, they just chopped it off with an axe and did a little touch-up work. It was hilarious in a brutal, mean-spirited kind of way, but I don't remember what it was called. Any ideas?

-- Speaking of Netflix, if you'd like to be one of my Butt-Buddies(tm), or whatever they call it, I'm registered under jeff(at)thewvsr.com. Just send me an invite, and I'll promptly accept it.

-- Yesterday a guy at work invited me to something called the Beast Feast. Apparently it's the local version of Dunbar's infamous Critter Dinner. He said they have bear stew, snapping turtle soup, elk, deer, wild duck, and all sorts of bizarreness. I've gotta go. It costs $25, for all-you-can eat gopher gravy and coon cutlets (or whatever), an open beer bar, and entry into the grand finale shotgun raffle. My only concern: parasites. I'm a very busy man, and don't really have time to deal with hookworms and lung flukes. Should I worry?

-- It's incredibly cold here, and the wind's been blowing for days. On Sunday I was wearing my Buttcrack Mountain jacket, and a gust of frigid air rocketed straight up the back of my shirt. I seriously thought I was going to be thrown into cardiac arrest. That jacket just doesn't do the trick when the hawk is out. I've now reached a point where I'm wishing for spring one minute, then hoping for one (just one) big-ass snowstorm before the season ends. It's been a highly unsatisfying winter: bitingly cold, but no snow. Wotta ripoff.

-- I just went upstairs to get a chocolate chip cookie, and our dog Andy (Blacklips Houlihan) is already on high alert for the mailman. He's not getting cocky about it, but he's fairly certain that he'll once again be able to bark until the evil mail carrier retreats from our property. He has a substantial streak of success going, and has no reason to believe that it'll be any different today.

-- One of my co-workers, a guy roughly my age, went in for hemorrhoid surgery more than a month ago, and still hasn't returned to work. Apparently there were "complications." What do you think could've happened?! A catastrophic collapse? It's none of my business, but I want to know anyway. Details, for some reason, are hard to come by. What could it be? I thought it was a fairly routine procedure: walk in, pants down, ass up, laser on, out the door. Am I wrong about that?

And, believe it or not, there are other things on my mind as well. But they'll have to wait.

Have a great day, folks. See ya tomorrow.




February 27, 2006

-- It was another busy weekend for us, "highlighted" by an all-day endurance test of a swim-meet in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. It was the oldest Secret's final meet of the year, and featured almost every kid on every team in the district competing for individual honors. An excruciating affair.

The swimmers had to arrive no later than 7:45 AM, and the pool is, you know, far from here. So there we were, driving down the interstate in what felt like the middle of the night -- on the day of the week traditionally reserved for lying around the house and wallowing like a hog. I did my best to coffee myself into a state of pleasantness, but it was a case of far too much, way too soon.

The Aquatic Center was/is a nice place, but packed to the rafters with loud-talking Pennsylvanians. And it was hotter than the proverbial owl piss in there. The observation deck is a huge balcony overlooking the pool, and we were packed-in shoulder-to-shoulder. I just knew the thing would collapse and I'd end up with somebody else's femur plunged through my chest, but somehow it held up under the strain.

Here's a picture I took with my half-assed cell phone camera, just to give you an idea of our perspective.

There were so many kids swimming at this thing, each race was busted-up into as many as six heats for each age group. That meant that any one of the thirty-seven races could take a full hour to complete. No shit. It was like astronaut training.

And we were surrounded by overzealous parents, screaming and wailing like mental patients. Some even booed our team... parents booing little kids. What the hell, man? Apparently they don't take too kindly to getting their asses kicked over and over and over again by our superior athletes.

Ahem.

Behind us was a family of yellers who never shut the fuck up, all day long. They all had thick Scranton accents, were wearing matching shirts that said "Chlorine: Breakfast of Champions," and just talked and hollered with abandon. The man would scream so loud his voice would sometimes shatter and splinter-off into high-pitched hysterical shrieks. The woman would start out at a reasonable volume, but it would escalate until she was finally emitting a piercing siren-like tone that made me feel like letter openers were being shoved straight through my temples.

At one point I got up because I needed to urinate with a great urgency, and was also craving liquefied cheese. And as we were driving home Toney told me that the hollerers talked about me while I was away. "I'm glad he's gone," they said, "I hate when parents come to these meets and give us attitude, simply because we love our children more than they do." Or something along those lines. Note that she told me about this after we'd left.

It was a long painful day, but we finally made it to the other side.

Now the season is over, and I feel kinda sad about it. They run that team like a boot camp, and expect (and receive) absolute commitments from everyone involved. This is no piss-ant youth basketball league, it's serious business. Secret the Elder loves it, and is reaping the benefits of all his hard work.

It's all good, and I can't wait for it to crank up again. Phantom Ass Syndrome, or no Phantom Ass Syndrome.

-- Speaking of my cell phone camera, here's another picture I took over the weekend. It's inside Sam's Club, and the dude's eating a ravioli sample. His jacket says World Series across the front; no year or location or anything, just "World Series."

-- I should probably say something about Don Knotts now, but you probably know how I feel. People are writing tributes to him here, and here too. All I can say is ditto. He was a comic genius, and a great West Virginian. And he'll live-on as long as there are humans left to laugh.

And since I updated on Saturday, I'm not going to beat myself up about this one being so short. Screw it.

See ya tomorrow.



February 25, 2006

1924-2006

-- Toney told me she was in a store (I can't remember which one) a few days ago, and they had new fancy-ass cash registers. Not only would the machines tell the cashier how much change to give back to the customer, but it also spelled out exactly how many bills and coins to hand over.

Say you bought something for $5.25, and gave the person a ten dollar bill... The machine would flash a display telling the zitster running it that they owe the customer $4.75 -- that's four one-dollar bills, and three quarters. She didn't say if it showed a picture of a quarter, so the cashier wouldn't have to guess at it, but it probably did.

Stuff like that used to disgust me, but not anymore. I'm actually quite thankful for it now. Because most of those people need all the help they can get. And I'm a very busy man.

I, of course, learned the fine art of cash registering on big cast iron car-sized machines at a Fas-Chek grocery store in 1982 West Virginia. Those babies didn't powder your ass for you, and hold your hand. No, cashiers back in my day were on their own, out on the front lines of marketing.

In fact, register two at our store wasn't grounded properly and would routinely send a powerful jolt of electricity coursing through the body of whoever was running it. It wasn't uncommon to hear a crackling sound, then look over and see the flashing skeleton of one of your co-workers.

Knowing basic math was the least of our worries; we had that part covered. We were more concerned about simply surviving the shift.

-- Here's the official Sex Pistols response to their invitation to attend, and take part in, the next Rock n Roll Hall of Fame shindig. They're being inducted this year, but apparently won't be at the dinner. Because, you see, the whole thing is a "piss stain." Heh.

-- A friend sent me this picture last night, and wanted to know if those are wings he sees. I don't know what the hell he's talking about. She's not wearing a fairy outfit.

-- Toney was flipping through a Lowe's ad a few days ago, and suddenly started laughing. I couldn't remember ever busting out while looking at photos of guttering and ductwork, and was understandably curious. She pointed at the description of a really expensive Cadillac-of-toilets, which reportedly provides "extraordinary bulk flushing." Then it all came together for me.

-- And finally, from the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk... What are the worst-sounding names of towns that you know? He mentioned Slough and Penge, and two immediately jumped to my mind as well: Saugus (CA) and Snellville (GA). 

He's not talking about yuk yuk names, like Cocklips, Missouri or whatever, but towns whose names just sound really bad rolling off the tongue. Do you know any more?

And that's gonna do it for this rare Saturday update, my friends. I've got the youngest Secret's basketball game this afternoon, three Netflix movies that've piled up and begun causing me anxiety, an all-day swim-meet extravaganza tomorrow, and hopefully another visit to the local knife-bar -- all staring me in the face. So I'd better get to it.

Have a great weekend. I'll see ya on Monday.



February 24, 2006

-- On Monday Toney and I took the oldest Secret to a ski resort not far from here, so he could spend the day snowboarding with a friend. The friend's mother was there too, and you can probably guess how that worked out. Yes, Toney and other kid's Mom chatted the entire time, and I was the big retarded child sitting in the background with a fake smile plastered on his face for hours on end. It's an old familiar tale...

But I'd never been submerged in ski culture before, and found it interesting. At least for a while.

I don't think people I knew went skiing much when I was growing up. There are plenty of ski resorts in West Virginia, but I can't recall too many of my classmates doing it. Maybe I was just unaware? Anything's possible, I guess. But I didn't go as a youngling, and never contracted the fever as an adult either. The idea of strapping two venetian blinds to my shoes and plunging down the jagged face of a mountain just doesn't rank too high on my list of things to do. In fact, it falls at number 243, right behind this.

I knew all about it, though, because I'd seen lots of Elvis movies. I figured there'd be a rustic lodge with a big stone fireplace, lots of blondes in tight sweaters, and a wacky, good-natured guy with a broken leg on the couch. I also assumed there would be some impromptu singing, and looked forward to it.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that it was nothing like that. (Lied-to again!) The so-called "lodge" was like an airport hangar filled with tables from my Jr. High cafeteria. Everybody was sitting around eating Fritos and M&M's from a vending machine, and it smelled faintly of feet. There was a fireplace but it was full of coats. I still don't understand that; is it a custom to throw your jacket into the fireplace when you go skiing? I'm completely confused.

After we got the kids situated we did locate a bar/restaurant with an actual fire in the fireplace, and settled there. When the haggard waitress asked if she could get us anything, I ordered a big basket of fries covered in sour cream, "bacon" bits. and liquefied neon-orange cheese. The other kid's Mom said she'd go with a whole wheat watercress wrap with extra sprouts, or some shit. I just rolled my eyes and shifted my weight from one ham to the other.

And that's where we remained for what seemed like an abbreviated lifetime. The place was absolute pandemonium, and there was a sustained roar, like at a ballgame. Waiters and waitresses were working their asses off carrying out more and more deep-fried goodness to an insatiable public, and it was just a sea of smacking lips and knit caps. Insane. The Varsity in Atlanta is an exercise in tranquility by comparison.

Once the cheese was consumed, I decided to go exploring and maybe watch the boys come down the hill a few times. I found them, and it was great fun. They were like old pros on those boards, moving fast and rarely falling.

I noticed a group of women skiing in long dresses, and thought that was odd. But then I saw that their male companions were old-school Jews, with the hats and the beards and everything. I watched some sort of snowmobile "ambulance" rocket out of a shack at one point, then return with a grimacing and writhing Japanese man on the back. A little while later he was taken away by a real ambulance, with sirens blaring. Shit! That's why they used to sell fake lift tickets in the back of Rolling Stone; it was all the coolness without the danger.

As I stood watching, an old man with an air of authority appeared and began giving everyone a ration of shit. He told a fat woman on skis that she should seriously consider lessons before she kills someone. He gave the people waiting for the lift a stern talking-to about the dangers of rowdiness. And then he told me I needed to back up, way up. "If every parent simply ignored the rules like you, we'd have chaos here," he said. 

As he walked away he was mumbling angrily about insurance liabilities and lack of respect, and I wanted desperately to run up behind him and give him a swift Kill Bill kick to the small of the back. But I decided against it.

All in all, it was a good day. A little too long for us cheese-eaters, but Secret the Elder had fun. I had my camera, and took exactly two pictures before the batteries shit the bed. Here they are, for what it's worth.

-- And since I've been milking last weekend for all it's worth, a bunch of little things have been building-up in my notebook all week. I don't have time to get to them right now, but I MIGHT do a rare Saturday update tomorrow. Or later tonight even. No promises, but I'll try.

In the meantime, I'm gonna turn it over to Lakrfool now, and drag myself into work.

Now go take on the fukkin day.



February 23, 2006

-- I wrote about my Saturday adventures in donuts, beef, and pork, but forgot to tell you how the weekend started...

Friday after work I stopped to fill up my tank, at one of those massive gas complexes. It's a place where you can order a meatball sub at the pump, and maybe get a haircut and book a European vacation as well. The place was packed, as usual, and I had to wait for the privilege of handing over a substantial amount of my "hard-earned" money. Simply excellent.

Eventually I was able to work myself into position (the bastards). I brandished my ATM card like a master, then went to work on my gas cap. I opened the little door and gave it a twist like I'd done a million times in the past. But on Friday, for some reason, the thing rocketed from my hand, and rolled under my Blazer. Grrrrr...

How was I going to retrieve it? No freaking way I was going to drop to the pavement and shimmy; say what you will about it, but Jeff Kay doesn't shimmy. I wondered if it would be crazy to simply stuff some paper towels in the opening, and drive away after the tank was filled? A new cap couldn't cost more than five bucks, and it would be money well-spent if it meant I could avoid the spectacle of wallowing around on concrete in front of the entire population of Dunmore, Pennsylvania.

But I was relieved to see that the rogue cap was only a few inches under my truck, up near the front driver's side wheel. Whew! Another bullet dodged.

Then I bent over to pick it up, and blew the entire ass out of my pants. There was a loud ripping sound and I could feel cold air in places where cold air shouldn't reach. It was a catastrophic breach of denim integrity, right out in public. I finished the job at hand by awkwardly keeping my back to the vehicle, and I don't think anyone saw my cottony ass.

When I got home, of course, Toney buckled over in laughter for what I thought was an inappropriate amount of time. After she gained her composure, she said, "I've never known anyone who destroys pants like you do." That was the word she used: destroys. Again, inappropriate. Not to mention hurtful.

-- Now let's fast-forward past the Krispy Kremes of Saturday morning, and the bacon cheeseburger at TGI Friday's, to Saturday afternoon.

After our late lunch the Secrets disappeared into a Playstation trance, and Toney was flipping through a magazine, also in a catatonic state. I was pacing around the house like a caged tiger. I have no problem hanging out after dinner, with a few adult beverages and snacks, but I can't just sit around and do nothing in the middle of the day. It makes me insane.

I finally told Toney I was going to go out and buy a lottery ticket, then maybe stop for a beer at a shitty-looking dive bar I'd been intrigued with.

We'd always assumed it was a place where escaped convicts got together to socialize, and for years I'd never even considered going inside. But recently I heard a couple of people mention that they frequent the place, and it surprised me. Maybe I had it all wrong? Maybe it was just a classic old dump of a neighborhood watering hole? And in that case... I needed to get in there.

As I left the house Toney said, "You'll probably be knifed, just for being an unfamiliar face." The Secrets just went on sucking the brains out of humans, and leaving the husks behind.

I couldn't remember ever visiting a bar with a screen door before, but this place had one. And the wooden door behind it didn't want to open, so I shoved it hard and there was a hell of racket once it gave way. Everybody in the place turned and looked at the clumsy doucheketeer stumbling into the room. Let the stabbings begin!

I self-consciously took a seat in the middle of the bar, and asked for a Yuengling draft.

Wotta dump. It looked like, oh, I don't know, 1969 in there? Not exactly a romantic era, y'know? There was crap (twenty-five years worth of phone books?) piled up on all the counters behind the bar, the walls were covered in cheap-ass wood paneling, and the lights were dimmed. It smelled like cigarettes, booze, industrial cleaner, and winter coats. I noticed a room in the back with a battered and cig-scarred pool table in the middle of the floor, but nobody was using it.

The bartender brought my beer, and asked for two dollars. Well, you can't argue with the prices, I thought. He mumbled some obligatory comment about the weather, then returned to his cigarette down the bar.

There was a morbidly obese and expressionless woman sitting there, also smoking. When I first sat down in the dimness, I thought she was wearing a neck brace. But she wasn't. To my left was a man sitting in silence, throwing back pints of Coors and an equal number of whiskey shots. At one point his cell phone rang, and he started hollering into it, "I'm on my way! Goddamn. I'm hurrying as fast as I can!!" Then he ordered another beer and Beam, to uproarious laughter all around.

A few minutes after I got there a man came through the back door(?), and took a seat at the bar near me. He was in his fifties, loud and boisterous. He announced to the whole place that there was no need for anyone to buy more Powerball tickets, because he had that night's winner in his shirt pocket. Everybody else dug their tickets out and told him he was wrong, they had the winner. I left mine in my jacket, for fear of feeling ridiculous.

Then Mr. Boisterous started telling everyone how he'd be level-headed if he won -- not like "that idiot" in West Virginia. "He was a holy-roller preacher-man before he hit the jackpot," he said, "Then somebody stole a suitcase full of money from him in the parking lot of a strip club!" On and on it went, to more and more laughter.

Jack Whittaker: West Virginia's goodwill ambassador to the world.

I just stayed out of it. Even though "that idiot" bought his ticket a mile or so from my parent's house, and I knew a little about it, there wasn't much to correct in the way the story was being told. Suitcase was a bit of an exaggeration, but close enough.

The bartender came down and asked if I wanted another beer, and I told him I did. The place was a bonafide shithole, but pretty entertaining. When he sat the pint in front of me I offered him some money, and he put his hand up like he was a member of the Supremes ordering me to stop in the name of love. "It's cold outside," he said, and kinda dead in here today. Every other one's on me."

Well, that does it, I realized. I'm hooked for life. They have themselves a new semi-regular.

As I nursed beer #2 I noticed a bubblegum machine sitting on the bar, a few feet away from Ol' Beer N Beam (who was still "hurrying as fast as I can"). I couldn't believe my eyes. The thing was absolutely filthy. It looked like it had spent a substantial amount of time at the bottom of a lake. The glass was all cloudy and appeared to have been smeared with bacon grease. I wondered just how drunk a person would have to be to buy a gumball from that thing. And would it cause a more powerful hallucination than a worm in the bottom of a tequila bottle? The questions just kept piling up.

Yes, it was an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a boring Saturday afternoon. I considered ordering a third beer, but knew I'd be starting up the slipperiest of slippery slopes. So I threw in the towel. As I was preparing to leave, Boisterous was in the middle of a speech about how he and his wife never hid sexual topics from their kids. "When my oldest daughter was five," he screamed, "she'd look at our wedding picture and say 'there's Mommy and there's Daddy and there's me,' and she'd be pointing at my wife's stomach!"

The place was rocking with laughter as I struggled to get the door completely shut, without knocking the Pabst mirror off its Nixon-era nail.

-- And I don't know what's gotten into me, but I'm being awfully long-winded these days. Tomorrow I'll tell you about spending Monday at a ski resort -- a brand new experience for me.

In the meantime, here's the latest from our good friend Buck.

See ya.



February 21, 2006

It was a busy weekend here at the compound. I'll try to sprint through the highlights for ya...

-- On Saturday I slept-in until the irresponsible hour of 8 am, and climbed out of bed with a powerful hankering for Krispy Kreme donuts. I guess it was because I wrote about them on Friday, and the thought got wedged somewhere in the folds of my battered brain and festered there.

So I popped in my contacts, pulled on some jeans, and Andy and I (dog is my co-pilot) went in search of fat. Luckily, since I live in America, I didn't have to go too far. In fact, I didn't even have to get out of my truck; they have it set-up so that a zitster can simply pass the box(es) of deep-fried goodness to us through a window, and the fatee isn't required to go to all the effort of lifting his ass off a chair. How cool is that?

Andy did as he always does at a drive-through. He growled and snarled at the worker, then, as soon as the food was in the vehicle, reared his head way back and began manipulating his nostrils at a high rate of speed. The appeal of Krispys cuts across all species.

I shotgunned a bunch of those babies, washed 'em down with Eight O'Clock Bean Coffee, and worked on an extracurricular writing project all morning. Somehow the planets aligned and I got a lot done, therefore I was in a really good mood. Toney suggested grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, but I proposed we go somewhere instead.

We had a gift card from TGI Friday's that was set to expire at the end of February, and that's as good a nondescript chain restaurant as any. They seated us at one of those booth/table hybrids, and Toney and I had our backs to the wall. We were situated so that we were facing, head-on, a family in a more-traditional booth across the aisle from us. It was a little awkward repeatedly locking eyes with another Dad during the afternoon meal, and there was so much "decorative" shit attached to the wall I almost brained myself several times on a large plastic C-3PO.

But, as it turned out, the family provided an excellent floor show for us. Dad was obviously pissed about something, and was in full sulk-mode. He was really fat and wedged into his seat, with the table pressing deep into his gut. I wondered which organs were being forced from their housing. He was also wearing shorts on one of the coldest days in recent memory. Whatever. The kids were crawling all around, under the table, and into various laps, never remaining still for more than ten seconds at a time.

After a few minutes it became clear that the woman was not the mother of the children, she was apparently a girlfriend or something. He had the kids for the weekend, we surmised, and it wasn't going very well.

By the time we got there the waitress had already brought our sister-family their check, but they were in no hurry to pay. The girl came by once and attempted to collect the big leather receipt-holder, but he barked at her, "I haven't taken care of that yet!" Very nasty and disrespectful, the dude was crying out for one swift kick to the luggage. I was certain they were planning a dine-and-dash mission, and settled back for drama.

Eventually one of the kids told Dad, right out in the open, that he didn't want "her" to come over to their house that afternoon. And this caused "her" to also start sulking. Yes, it was a scene straight out of Norman Rockwell.

Finally the rude fat-ass exhaled theatrically, extracted a money-clip from his big ol' shorts, and began flinging bills into the middle of the table like he was Sinatra at The Sands. Then they began the process of putting on their coats, which took in inordinate amount of time. They were standing in the middle of the aisle, stretching their arms all out and bumping into people trying to eat their lunches at other tables. But they didn't care, especially Tiny.

Before they left one of the boys started whining that he wanted more soda. Dad acted all disgusted and put-out, and retrieved the slobbery, boogery cups they'd been sucking on since we arrived, and went straight into the waitress station(!). He angrily slammed open the door to the ice machine, and began digging it out with his bare hands(!!). When this method proved to take too long, he just used the nasty cups themselves to scoop ice straight out of the bin.

Toney told the Secrets to preserve their drinks, because there wouldn't be any refills.

Some little sashaying poofter wearing an abundance of flair came running over as Dad was helping himself to soda from the fountain, and I thought there was going to be a confrontation. I'm pretty certain Fats wasn't supposed to be in that staff-only section of the restaurant, and I know for a fact that he shouldn't be rummaging through the communal ice supply with his ass-scratching hand.

But the waiter lost his nerve when he saw that Dad was angry and hostile, and acted like he'd just gone back there to get a straw.

As they were leaving (finally), Ol' Riffle Ass turned back to me, and caught me staring at him with open-face astonishment. He shot me a look that said, "You want a piece of me, asshole?" I went back to working on my (kick-ass) bacon cheeseburger, and was a little apprehensive walking to our car later. I was certain the guy was going to leap out from behind a Dodge Ram, stripped to the waist and smeared in blood, with a machete raised above his head.

But nothing happened.

-- And I'm being far too long-winded this morning. I was going to tell you about the whole weekend, and haven't even finished with Saturday yet. Later that same day I went (by myself) to a dive bar that I've been both intrigued with, and a little frightened of. Before I left the house Toney said, "You'll probably be knifed!"

But I'll have to tell you about that, plus Sunday and Monday, next time.

See ya tomorrow.


                          

February 17, 2006

-- As you probably know, I'm completely addicted to buying used CDs via the internet. I'm constantly monitoring half dotcom, secondspin, and amazon, and snare some great deals. I check each of my want lists at least six times per day, and can spot a change like a dog hears the rattle of a baloney wrapper. If I knew of a way to have an always-running display creep across my computer screen, similar to the stock market ticker, I'd do it.

Just yesterday I ordered a "like new" copy of an out-of-print Stiff Little Fingers compilation that usually sells in the $28 range, for a cool $6.99. It's that kind of thing that keeps me hungry for the buzz.

And after all this time, following years of crazy activity, I've now been ripped-off for the very first time. I usually only deal with people who have a good reputation; if a seller has less than 97% positive feedback, I'm highly skeptical. If they're in the 80s, forget it. Generally speaking, anyway...

Back in early January I got greedy, and took the bait of some doucheketeer in Indiana with an 88% approval rating. He was offering a copy of "Bad Music For Bad People" by the Cramps at an impossibly good price, and I pulled the trigger on it. Now he has my money, I got nothing, and he's not answering emails.

It's changed everything, and I fear that it'll never be the same again. Today I feel like I'm naked and sobbing and leaning against the wall of a prison shower with deep personal bruising. ...Am I being over-dramatic?

-- Earlier this week two worlds collided on Clive Bull's show, and I found myself perched on the very edge of my battered and beleaguered seat.

One of my least-favorite features on his show is the taste test. Almost every day he, his producer, and the traffic guy converge and eat some unfamiliar food, then comment on it. What that means for us, the listeners, is that for several minutes there is only the sound of three men chewing, smacking their lips, and sometimes making low guttural moans. I'm just not a fan.

But on Monday or Tuesday they tested.... Krispy Kreme donuts!

Clive's always talking about these mythical treats, and has long vowed to track some down for a taste-test. He'd been led to believe (rightly so), that they're the greatest thing in the history of planet Earth, and wanted to see for himself.

He finally found them, at an upscale grocery store in London, and the stage was set. Oh, the suspense was substantial.... Would he like them? Would he be disappointed? What would he have to say about this holy grail of American excess?

Apparently the word donut means something different in England, because all three were chuckling that the Krispys were actual rings "like on the Simpsons." But when they finally chomped down on one, it suddenly sounded like a porn film:

"Oh my God... yes yes that's it!... more more!!... SWEET SAINTED MOTHER OF ALL THAT'S GOOD!!"

Suffice to say, they were not disappointed. And I was sitting in Pennsylvania with tears welling in my eyes.

-- Check this out, somebody auctioned off a high school yearbook that features an, um, interesting looking sophomore named Tom Waits. It finally sold for $288.24, far too rich for my blood. But it reminds me of a brief story....

Back in my Atlanta record weasel days I worked for a guy who'd been around for a long time. He was always boiling over with tall tales about encounters he'd had with various rock stars, and he had a good one about Waits.

He said that one day the singer was scheduled to make a visit to the office, and everybody was real excited. This was a long time ago, probably the mid-'70s. They tidied up the place, brought in a catered lunch, and waited for his arrival.

And waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally he comes rolling in, drunk as all hell and carrying a six pack of beer with two cans missing from their rings. He reportedly stunk to high heavens, sat down in a chair and slid way down on his spine. He didn't say a word to anyone, and just continued drinking.

Before he left he also slung vomit in the general direction of a sink in the men's room, and caught a trashcan on fire with a cigarette.

Ahh... the good ol' days.

-- And finally, I need your help with something. For some reason I can't view anything on my computer that contains Java script. For instance, I can't see inside my beloved French laundry at home, and I can't even view the retina-searing Bon Jovi ad on my own homepage. Why is that? 

I stayed up way too late last night trying to figure it out. I did as many people suggested, and went into the security section of "internet options" to make sure that Java is enabled, and it is. What the hell, man? Is it a Norton thing? What's blocking it? 

I'm sure it's something simple, and I'd be much obliged if you could offer some advice.

And that's all the time I have for today. Those reports at work ain't gonna run themselves. I'm off on Monday, for some reason, and I probably won't update then.

So have a great long weekend, and I'll see ya on Tuesday.



February 16, 2006

-- I was giving the TV remote a workout a few days ago and stumbled across a flick on the Fox Movie Channel that I hadn't seen in years: Damnation Alley. I couldn't believe my eyes. Jan-Michael Vincent, armor-plated cockroaches, big-ass scorpions.... a true classic. I saw it in a theater when I was fourteen, and a thousand more times during the early magical days of HBO.

And then it just disappeared. It's rarely on television, it's not available on DVD, and I couldn't even find a VHS copy. Most people I mention it to have never heard of it, and stare back at me like I've just begun talking in the language of the majestic porpoise. I began to wonder if maybe I'd imagined the whole thing.

Because it was feeding time at the Compound, and since I'd joined the thing near the end, I didn't see much of it on FMC. But check this out. Coming to DVD in 2006! I will be there as they unlock the doors, with money in-hand, sucka.

Now somebody needs to release another movie we saw in high school, called Mannequin. It was advertised in the newspaper with the tagline "R has never gone this far!" and featured a man ripping a pair of underwear off a woman with such enthusiasm it looked like he was starting a lawnmower. It's another one that I'm beginning to suspect only played inside my head, and not at the Capitol Theater like I remember. It's not even listed on IMDB.

Do you know anything about it? What the hell, man?

-- It's that time of year again when Toney and I have started making our summer camping plans. It seems to be an automatic reaction to winter, designed to help us cope.

I don't believe we're going to do any major treks this season, like to Myrtle Beach, which requires two full days of driving to get there and two full days back. That's, as they say back home, boolshit. We'll probably go to Cape May and Lake George, NY, and places like that.

Here's one campground we're NOT considering. Holy crap. I think we'll pass on this one too.

-- Last night I was listening to an episode of the old Gunsmoke radio show, from 1954 I think, and a commercial came on advertising an upcoming news special. It was reportedly about the growing number of people who are entering the country illegally through "America's unlocked back door" on the Mexican border. And the name of this program? That's right, it was called Wetbacks. This Thursday on the CBS Radio Network.

-- I just finished reading 1776, a really good book about George Washington and the Revolutionary War. Because it focused on the titular year only, the thing ended with the war still raging, but with Washington having just crossed the Delaware and kicked some serious Hessian ass.

I loved it, it read like a novel. I had a pretty good idea how it would wind-up, but learned plenty along the way. And it seemed fair and level-headed as well; there were no crackpot "revelations," like how GW carried his "brother" around in a knapsack, or whatever.

I don't know what it is about getting older and suddenly becoming interested in history, but it seems to be pretty standard. Ten years ago I couldn't have given a single tiny butt-droplet about any of it. But I read a review of this book a couple of weeks ago, and found myself getting as excited as I used to about a new Clash album. Go figure.

It's only a matter of time before I'm painting Civil War figurines and staging "battles" on the dining room table, isn't it?

-- I know that when your ears burn it means that somebody's talking about you, but what does it mean when your love handles itch? Just curious.

-- You know how I'm always going on and on about the genius of Phil Hendrie here? Well, I believe I've identified a clip that perfectly illustrates it for the uninitiated; it's Phil in a nutshell. I'd love to upload it to the site, but it's kinda long and I'm afraid I'll get myself Neti-Potted again. So if you'd like to hear it, send me an email (thewvsr(at)gmail.com), and I'll forward it to you. It features Korean War veteran Lloyd Bonafide talking about March of the Penguins, and is nothing short of excellent.

-- And that's gonna do it for today, my friends. These updates are getting screwed up, and are often written on the fly (Monday's was a real turd), because of a seemingly insignificant change at my job. Every morning I'm required to run reports, analyze the data, then distribute a fancy-pants spreadsheet that summarizes everything, before the second conference call (the 1 o'clock ballbuster). Recently somebody requested that the spreadsheets go out two hours before the call starts (grrrr...), and that's sent me ass-over-tits. I've tried to write at night, but so far it hasn't worked. It's gonna require an adjustment on my part, but everything will be OK. Just wanted you to know what's going on....

See ya tomorrow.   



February 15, 2006

-- I hope everyone had a pleasant Valentine's Day. Toney and I don't do much in the way of Hallmark holidays anymore. We used to, of course, but if I showed up with a comically-oversized "heart"-shaped box at this point, there would be uproarious laughter all around.

They all know me too well, and would instantly see right through such a calculated charade. There would be lots of hurtful eye-rolling and people yelling, "Oh, riiiiiggght!" I might as well slip into a sequined jumpsuit and try to convince my family that I'm one of the Asian figure skaters we've been watching on TV all week. What ain't just ain't, I'm afraid.

In fact, Toney wouldn't even give me a goodbye kiss yesterday morning as I was leaving for work. She'd apparently heard me burping, theatrically and with great gusto, in the bunker a few minutes earlier, and stiff-armed me at the door. What was she afraid of, residue?

Yes, it's a regular den of romance around here these days.

-- A few days ago I mentioned two things that make sick by association, long island iced tea and an old Utopia album, and I believed that to be a complete list. But I forgot one....

When we lived in California I contracted some sort of soul-sapping illness; the doctor claimed it was bronchitis but I'm almost certain it was malaria and/or tuberculosis. It happened in the middle of summer and the temperatures were rising to triple digits every day, yet I was huddled under blankets on the couch, shivering and sweating and chattering my teeth.

I was absolutely miserable for days on end, and afraid to go to sleep for fear of seeing The Light. Our oldest Secret was really young then, and watched Barney videos all the time. And the one he was hooked on at the time featured a big black woman with a ukulele, who played a song that went something like this:

Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons
Stuffed up her crack, crack, crack


I might not have the words exactly right, but it's close. Whenever I think about it, and hum the tune or whatever, I'm transported back to hell. It's a powerful, evil song, I'm telling you. Both powerful and evil.

-- And since we're on the subject of near-death experiences, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you think your time might be up? Luckily I haven't been in any real car accidents in my life, or experienced an illness worse than bronchitis, but I have been scared, as they say, shitless, a few times.

In high school I used to "run around" with a guy named Mike. That's what we'd do back then, run around. He'd come by my house after dinner, and we'd just tool around the valley and see what kind of trouble we could get into.

He was always pulling crazy-ass stunts with his car. One time we were on Fairlawn Avenue in Dunbar, traveling at 40 mph or so, when he suddenly reached down and yanked the emergency brake. For no reason whatsoever. There was a loud squawling sound, lots of smoke, and then it was 360 after 360, just spinning down the road.

He thought that shit was hilarious. Me? Not so much.

One night he came by to pick me up, and I didn't feel like doing anything. It was highly unorthodox, but I decided to stay home that day. And he rolled his car a few minutes later, turning it into a smoldering pile of metal that looked as if it had been hit by a train and dragged for several city blocks.

He wasn't hurt too badly, but who knows what would've happened if I'd been in the passenger seat? Nobody wore seatbelts back then, and I could've easily been killed. After I saw the blackened scrap heap that was previously his car, I walked around looking like Edgar Winter for a few hours. Horrifying.

The ironic thing is that Mike didn't even drink much. I was always riding around with people who were slamming back copious amounts of cheap-ass beer, blasting Van Halen, and cutting loose with unscripted rebel yells. And nothing bad ever happened. The worst thing I can remember is when Bill would borrow his older brother's car, and then return it later that night littered, simply littered, with shredded lettuce and taco cheese.

Bill's brother would routinely threaten us with bodily harm, but that's about as scary as it ever got for us. Mike was stone-cold sober, yet dangerous.

I was also working at a grocery store once when three guys came in wearing ski masks and carrying shotguns. They made the cashiers and the manager lie face-down on the floor, and I was in the backroom dribbling liquified waste matter down my legs.

A similar thing happened at a convenience store where I worked.... My co-worker committed the sin of insulting a man's car stereo, telling him "it sounds like shit." The guy left and returned a few minutes later with a handgun, and commenced to pointing it at us, shaking, and hollering nasally belligerence for a few minutes. Again with the moistness.

What about you? Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes? Why not use the comments section to tell us about it?

-- I'm going to provide you now with a link to a video that made me laugh so hard I had tears streaming down my face. However, I must warn you that it's really gross. ...Not in a bloody medical procedure kind of way, but gross nonetheless. Click at your own risk. I will not be held responsible.

-- And now I'm gonna turn it over to our good friend Buck, and call it a day.

See ya tomorrow.



February 13, 2006

-- Unfortunately, we were only grazed by the "storm of the century" this weekend. Folks just a few miles down the road from us felt the hammer of the gods, but we missed out on all the fun somehow. We only received two or three inches of snow, and it was so light and powdery you could walk around your car and just blow it off. 

Seriously, I opened one of the doors of the Blazer to retrieve my ice scraper yesterday morning, slammed it shut, and all my windows were instantly clear; the shit just fell to the ground. By nine or ten in the morning even the residential streets were completely free of snow, and it was not even close to being a big deal. Wotta ripoff.

-- For some unknown reason I find myself watching the Olympics this year. Yesterday I logged a substantial amount of time in front of the TV, staring at stuff I generally don't understand. Like that "sport" where they shove a crockpot full of beans down the ice, then frantically mop in front of it. What's the deal with that? Whatever it is, Poppa Half-Shirt should get into it, because that's the speed at which he rakes his yard; the man is a natural-born crockpot mopper if I've ever seen one.

I also watched a bunch of manly women speed-skating, a gang of potheads snowboarding, ugly people lying on their backs and rocketing down an ice track, and lots of Asian men skating in a tight circle really, really fast.

Most of the time I don't have a clue what's going on, but find myself enjoying it anyway. I feel like Andy (Black Lips Houlihan) tied to a bench somewhere, just watching and snorkeling and smiling.

-- I went looking at TVs again yesterday afternoon (I'm in a frenzy). I visited three different stores (Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City) and not a single person asked if they could help me. Usually they descend en masse the second I set foot in the department, but yesterday I was starting to develop a complex. Do I now look as if I don't have the means to purchase a television, for some reason? Is there some sort of Costanzaesque odor that I'm not aware of? Is it because I was wearing my LL Bean "Buttcrack Mountain" jacket, and they feared I might be interested in, as Phil Hendrie would say, "ranch-style homosexuality?" I just don't know. They were helping other people, but nobody came near me. Whatever. I'm still jacked up about this one. Any opinions?

-- When I was a senior in high school I was on the staff of the school newspaper, and the teacher in charge was named Mrs. Knighton. During most of the year she was pregnant, and here's what was gestating in there. The dude hosts a show on that new Al Gore cable network(?!), and I used to hang with him before he was even born. Yes, it was obvious even then that he was talented.

-- Speaking of Google Video, do you ever search around on that thing? I typed the words "west virginia" into it on Saturday, and this was one of the highest-ranking results. What in the honeybaked hell? Have you ever found anything interesting there? Why not share it with us in the comments? We'd like to know.

-- On a semi-related note....

-- When I was in the shower yesterday I started thinking about stuff I'd like to do before I die. One of the things I came up with is to have a few beers with my deceased grandfather in 1948. Do you think I'm setting my goals too high?

-- And I know this is a short and disjointed mess this morning, but I'm afraid it's the best I can do under the circumstances. One more ridiculous thing before I go....

By now I'm sure you've heard the news about the Vice President accidentally shooting a man while on a hunting trip in Texas? Yeah, I'm thinking about recording Leno and Letterman for the next few nights, then playing a drinking game where I toss one back every time somebody says "Or you could just go hunting with Dick Cheney!" Yuk yuk yuk.

Anyway, one of your fellow Surf Reporters sent me some really bizarre information last night, and I thought I'd share it with you this morning.

Apparently there was a book published several years ago, called Trance: Formation of America. I'd never heard of it, but as best as I can tell it's a collection of pure undiluted crackpot conspiracy theories about our elected leaders. Here's the Amazon link.

One of the many shocking "revelations" in the book is that Dick Cheney is addicted to something called "The Most Dangerous Game," aka the hunting of humans. Here's an exceedingly sleazy excerpt.

So, you see, it wasn't a hunting accident at all. Cheney had obviously gone to Texas to do what he loves the most: setting free a bevy of elderly lawyers, then hunting them down with a shotgun. What better way to spend a winter afternoon?

It's all coming together now, isn't it? The secret is out. And remember, you read it here first.

See ya tomorrow. ...Unless the Men In Black come knocking.



February 10, 2006

-- Have you ever found yourself locked into a pee schedule that exactly corresponds with one of your co-workers? Over the years it's happened to me several times. After a day or so I'll start noticing that I've been standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some guy a little too often, and will feel the need to somehow break the rhythm.

But now it's happening with a woman. All week, it seems, we've been brothers-in-pee, always entering our bathrooms at the same time and, shockingly enough, exiting together as well. 

I thought it took women longer? Isn't that the prevailing wisdom? There are always lines in front of ladies rooms, and I've been told that it's because there's "more to it" for them. What with all the dobbing and whatnot.

Is that yet another fallacy? I'm starting to wonder. Either this woman is an especially no-nonsense urinator... or she's forgotten her pledge and is unwittingly exposing a conspiracy.

I demand an investigation!

-- LOST is really getting under our skin. We watched it on Wednesday night and so much shit happened we spent thirty minutes afterwards analyzing the previous hour. And, as usual, came to no real conclusions. One gets the feeling that every word spoken on that show, and every movement made, "means" something. It's maddening. During our impromptu discussion group this week one of us said, "I think Locke is the key." Locke is the key!

See what I mean? We're like '60s potheads now, sitting on a big woven rug and listening to Dylan.

-- You may have noticed the small National Lampoon navigation box that I added to the homepage? Yeah, it's part one of a three-part series. Eventually there will also be an RSS feed with ever-changing links to content on other network websites, and finally the ads. This will require me to alter the layout of the page somewhat, but shouldn't be a big deal.

I'm certain the Lampoon folks already view me as uncooperative, because I'm refusing certain types of ads. But I have real opinions on what's acceptable and what's obnoxious. I just want the page to load as normal, and not have King Kong's face (or whatever) overtaking it all. We'll see how it goes; I'll probably be booted before it starts.

-- Through my vast network of liars and backstabbers I was able to procure a gratis copy of the latest Paul McCartney CD. Yesterday as I was driving home from work I decided to pop it into the player for the first time -- and very nearly nodded off and crashed through a fucking guardrail. Sweet Maria. I don't want to pre-judge, but that thing sounds like music to dust furniture to. Good thing I had Heart's "Bebe Le Strange" with me, or I could be writing this update with a forehead-mounted typing stick.

-- Our tax refund was direct-deposited into our checking account last night. Under normal circumstances this would be an exciting day for us, but we made the decision to pay down debt this year. We still owe Dell some money for the two computers we recently bought from them, and there's a small balance left on the living room furniture. Add in a few other odds and ends, and it's all gone. And just how sad is that? Paying money for stuff we already have (and in some cases already power-farted into)? What am I, Clark Howard? It's a sad state of affairs.

The only instant gratification we'll see from that money is a weekend-upgrade to Samuel Adams. At least it's something....

-- Toney did a household survey this morning on cereal. She's going to the grocery store today, and wanted to see what we prefer. The kids, of course, requested all that novelty stuff that makes you crap cobalt blue, and I went with the classics. 

Like candy bars, I only eat cereal that was around before World War II. Like Cornflakes and Rice Krispies, and that sort of thing. Are there any cereals that have been introduced since Roosevelt that are actually worth eating? Tell me about it.

-- Check this out. At first it irritated me, but upon further review, I believe I'm all for it. Some folks are obviously scamming the system; they're burning copies of discs the moment they arrive in the mail, then returning them within the hour. Throttle the bastards!

Here's further evidence.

-- And that's all the time I have for today, my friends. I'm gonna turn it over to Metten now, and wish y'all a great weekend.

So, have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.




February 8, 2006

-- Last night after work I met Toney and the younglings at Bennigan's for dinner. I was in the mood for one of their big-ass burgers, Toney didn't feel like cooking, and it was Secrets Eat Free night. So the planets were aligned, and we didn't really have a choice in the matter. ...Hello?

When this particular Mega-Chain outlet first opened in our neighborhood they had shockingly good hamburgers. I'm serious, they were big, seemingly handmade, and tasted like they'd been cooked by master craftsmen on a backyard charcoal grill. They were damn good, and I wanted to go there all the time.

Then they changed something, and it all went to hell. Suddenly the patties didn't seem handmade anymore; I got the feeling they'd arrived from a distribution center in Columbus, Ohio, or someplace, via United Parcel Service. And the backyard smokiness was gone as well. They'd ruined everything, the fools. And I mourned my loss deeply and thoroughly.

Yesterday, for reasons unknown, I started experiencing burger nostalgia, and felt compelled to give them another shot. It had been many months, and maybe they'd switched back to their previous methods? I had to know.

So I called Toney when I left the office, and we met up at the restaurant. The place was packed and it sounded like there was a sizable collection of drunkards in the bar area.

As the twelve year old hostess led us to our table, she told us that Long Island Iced Teas were on special all night, for just $2.49 each. I thanked her, and gave her a Charlie Manson stare until she finally scampered away.

When the waitress arrived she was also pushing those "iced teas," and didn't want to take no for an answer. What the hell, man? Are they having a contest or something? Is a member of the staff going to win an all expense-paid trip to the Redneck Riviera? It was getting on my nerves. I had a burger experiment to conduct, dammit, and wasn't much interested in getting bed-shitting drunk on cut-rate hootch.

And, of course, there was the other reason...

You can read the details here, under the heading National Lampoon Scouts. It was a terrible night that featured puking near a Ferris Wheel, and lying in a heap on a friend's floor with a gang of cats napping on my back. Thanks Rocky! Thanks again.

To this day I can't stand the smell, or even the sight of a Long Island Iced Tea. Even after twenty years, or whatever, it makes my stomach churn and gurgle. And that's no joke. Just seeing the tell-tale brownish cloudiness in a highball glass, from across a room, makes me sick.

The only other thing in this world with that kind of power over me is this Utopia album, which I played repeatedly while suffering from a bad case of flu in high school. A couple of notes from that CD and, brother, it's every man for himself.

Do you have personal puke triggers like that? I have a feeling everybody does.

Anyway... I ordered a root beer, thank you very much, and my big-ass burger. And as we waited, a group of middle-aged men flopped down in the booth behind Toney. I got the feeling they were on some sort of business trip, and were probably staying at the hotel across the street. Predictably, they did their part to help their waitress win the trip to Florida. They ordered up a round of the devil's cocktail, and told her to keep 'em coming.

The folks seated across the aisle from them, a youngish couple, were not amused. They were both eyeing the men suspiciously, over the rims of their coffee mugs. And that made me a little queasy as well. Who drinks coffee with a steak (he), or a giant dinner salad (she)? It's like the people I sometimes see drinking a piping-hot cup o' joe at Taco Bell(!?). Disgusting.

It was slipping away from me. I was being distracted by rogue beverages all around, and my study was now in jeopardy. And there's nothing more tragic than a scientist who's lost control of his own experiment. Ya know?

By the time they brought us our food, the "tea" drinkers had significantly elevated their volume, and one had already yelled the word bullshit! at the top of his lungs, causing the place to go instantly silent. They were also getting a little touchy-feely with the waitron. On Secrets Eat Free night.

Because of all this, I'm not completely confident in my findings. But I believe the burgers at our local Bennigan's have improved slightly. They're smoky again, at least. I still suspect that the patties were stamped out by a machine in Ohio (or possibly Indiana), but they tasted better than they did six months ago.

Clearly, further research is required. I'll keep you updated on this developing story….

And not that it really matters, but as I was exiting the parking lot of the restaurant I'm almost certain I saw, through the window, one of the businessmen eating a chicken tender with his shirt off.

-- On a related note, Tim sends along more good news from (and about) my old stomping grounds. Pass the beer nuts.

-- Now here's lakrfool to close out the category.

See ya "tomorrow."



February 7, 2006

-- Apparently the Winter Olympics are about to start? Is that correct? Based on the fragments of previously-ignored crapola that's been collecting in my mental lint trap over the past few weeks, I believe that to be the case. And by now the TV networks have probably finished with all their "rags to riches" and "against all odds" background stories, huh? Awesome! I can't wait.

When I was a kid the Olympics were really boring. Back then they seemed to focus more on the events, and who was performing well, etc. But now it's so much better. Today it's more than just dry competition, it's like extended episodes of Oprah and Extreme Makeover Home Edition (without all the gay men in protective eyewear, of course).

Now we get to see inspiring backstories about a deaf orphan from the Eastern bloc persevering and on the verge of becoming a superstar in the pressure-cooker world of amateur luge. And a heart-tugging tale of a person who turned an unfortunate childhood landmine accident into an internationally-recognized figure skating move known as the "flying stump roundabout."

Or whatever.

I'm being sarcastic, of course. I can't stand all the melodrama; it's thenthitive and makes my ass hurt. Just once I'd like to see a biographical feature on an athlete that starts this way:

"Rich, cute, and white, Megan wanted for nothing during her storybook upbringing in the affluent Connecticut neighborhood where her family still lives. And today she makes official what was, by all intents and purposes, her birthright: a prominent spot on the United States Olympic Team!"

At least it would be something different.

-- I've now watched the first disc of the new Tom Snyder/Tomorrow Show punk interview DVD box set, and here are some quick thoughts….

Joan Jett/Paul Weller/Kim Fowley "punk roundtable" episode: Joan and Paul look like high school students, both impossibly young. Joan is wearing a Peaches t-shirt, and that's always cool. Kim Fowley -- wotta douche.

Elvis Costello: Funny and smart. So much so, I think it caught Tom off-guard; he was undoubtedly braced for assholism. Elvis performs two songs off Trust, with the Attractions.

Iggy Pop: One of his front teeth is rotten and as black as anthracite coal. He's fidgety and acting all weird during the interview, and performs two and a half roarin' songs.

Plasmatics: Wendy sprints all around, shows her panties, then blows up a Chevy Nova. She sounds pretty ditzy while talking to Tom, and I still think they were one of the worst "bands" from that magical era.

Stay tuned for disc two.

-- Speaking of music, the new Pazz n Jop survey is out. Two of my favorites from last year, Marah and Eels, get bent over the proverbial couch, I think. Boo hoo. From the top 40 albums, I only own numbers 4, 9, 17, and 26, just so you know.

-- I heard "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" this morning and I'm sorry, but I still prefer Satan's solo. It's something I've been struggling with for twenty-some years now…

-- Phil Hendrie's show was a rerun last night (again), and he was talking about a group of people who live near NYC, called the Jackson Whites. Are you familiar with them? Sounds pretty bizarre to me. Here's some info. Apparently they're inbred and often exhibit webbed fingers and toes, as well as "pie baldness." All of it's new to me (except for the first time I heard him talking about it), and is freaking me out a little. What do you know about these so-called Jackson Whites? And what the hell is pie baldness?

-- Check this out. Harper Lee actually spoke with a reporter. Maybe it'll inspire Salinger to make up for this affront, and sit down for his long-overdue Surf Report interview?

-- And finally, here's the latest from our good friend Buck, straight from the holler.

Sorry all this is so late today. I'm operating on half an ass here. Or something.

More tomorrow.



February 6, 2006

-- It snowed last night, just a little bit, and I've been outside already shoveling and sweeping and cleaning off the cars. And you know what would hit the spot right about now? Yep, a big sack o' Sausage McMuffins. But, of course, when is that not true?

-- I'd rate Friday's experiment a B. I got up early as planned, and accomplished some things. It wasn't the eight hours of solid extracurricular writing I'd fantasized about (always with a pencil behind my ear), but it wasn't a bust either. Around one o'clock I asked Toney if she wanted to go to Damon's for lunch, and that was my downfall. Not much got done after I ingested that prime rib sandwich. But I'm perfectly happy with a B; I think it's a respectable showing. When the lure of slow-cooked beef only causes me to lose one letter grade, how can I bitch?

-- On Saturday we ventured into downtown Scranton and took in a "travel show" at the Hilton. We've been to this shindig before, and it's basically forty or fifty travel agencies and tourist authorities handing out brochures and Jolly Ranchers and refrigerator magnets. We picked up a bunch of stuff about England, and had a conversation with a woman who strongly suggested that we travel with an organized tour group the first time we go. I don't know about that. I have visions of us being trapped inside a bus for a week with a gang of senior citizens eating baloney sandwiches and smacking their lips. But she claims we'll waste a lot of time trying to do it on our own, and will miss plenty of stuff. We're stubborn, and probably won't take her advice. Any opinions?

-- After the travel show we stopped at Sam's, the exclusive shopping club we were invited to join, and the place was full-on pandemonium. It looked like everybody in the world was having a Super Bowl party, buying up pillowcases full of shrimp and giant Flintstones-style racks of ribs and entire flatbed carts full of crap. We had to park way out in right field, and it was hard to even walk inside the store. Toney was going to pick up a few things, but it was like Christmas Eve in that place. So screw dat.

I checked on my Samsung TV, and they still don't have it back in stock. (I'm very nervous.) We tried to browse for a little while, but it was just too crowded. The hell, man? If everybody's having a Super Bowl party, then who'll be left to attend any of them?? 

People were really starting to get on my nerves with all their football-fueled giddiness and whatnot.

And there was an overzealous sample lady there, handing out chips and salsa, who was actually chasing people through the store with her snack wagon. I'm not kidding, the thing was on wheels and she was pushing it through the aisles commanding people, ordering them, to try her products. I'd never seen one go mobile before.

By the time we threw in the towel, about ten minutes after we arrived, I was in a complete state of agitation. And when a couple of little girls outside the store asked if I wanted to buy Girl Scout cookies, I snapped and said, "Cookies are for suckers!"

That night I broke my Yuengling moratorium.

-- On Sunday I took the Secrets to lunch at Wendy's (Toney refused). And as I was eating my burger I saw a woman blow her nose with a napkin. She held it up to her face, began making great snorkeling sounds, and then the napkin went dark. I wasn't really all that hungry anyway...

-- Then it was time for another marathon PAS session at the oldest Secret's swim meet. This one was pretty exciting though, because the other team was really good. Usually it's a complete blowout, and the only thing I care about is how my kid performed; there's generally not much drama or suspense about the outcome. Yesterday, however, there was a real possibility of actually losing, so there was electricity in the air.

Well, electricity and the sour funk of the fat man sitting in front of me.... The dude's face was fire engine red and sweat was cascading down his skull the entire time. He was wearing what appeared to be a blood pressure cuff on his upper right arm; apparently it monitors his shit constantly? I just don't know. He smelled like it was high-time to break out the sponge-on-a-stick, and get down to business. And I was seriously concerned that his temples might burst open, and streams of blood would start spraying over the crowd.

The Secret's team won, as usual, and then I broke the moratorium again.

-- So as not to feel like a complete social misfit, I watched most of the Super Bowl last night. Decent game, huh? Aren't they usually lopsided and boring? That's what was filed inside my head, anyway.

I thought the Stones were pretty good during half-time. I noticed they bleeped out the word "cum" during "Start Me Up." Heh. The new song sounded really good, and you can't go wrong with "Satisfaction." 

It was a solid performance, I thought. But there's just one tiny thing I can't get past:

Mick, 62 years old
My Dad, 64 years old

Mick, strutting and thrusting, showing his belly
My Dad, playing bingo in Florida

But maybe that's just my hang-up?

I didn't think any of the commercials jumped out as exceptionally brilliant this year, but I didn't see them all. What were the good ones?

After the game I watched some interviews being conducted in local sports bars, and people were slurring about how "we did it!" and all that stuff. I love that: WE did it. The guy's completely shitfaced in Scranton, works for Stanley Steemer during the week, and is taking partial credit for a Super Bowl victory. Simply excellent.

More tomorrow. I'm running way behind here.... See ya then.



February 2, 2006

-- We did our taxes last night. Well, to be more precise, Toney did our taxes last night. It was made quite clear that she didn't really need my "help." (Hurtful.) So she fired up the TurboTax on my computer and did all of our federally-mandated bookkeeping, while I had salted peanuts in the shell and tried not to make too much noise with all the cracking.

We're getting a refund again, thanks to our little Gameboy playin' write-offs, but not as much as last year. Toney's part-time job messed that up for us. Why does that always happen? She only made a few thousand dollars in 2005, but I think they withheld something like a buck twenty-nine. Wot's up wit dat?

Whatever. I'm not really feeling it this year. The whole amount is going right back into debt-reduction projects, and it's hard to whip up much of a passion for that sort of thing. Last year we overhauled the living room, and I was all into it. But paying for shit we've already got? It's a cruel and sick joke.

-- I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow at my job. There's not much going on right now, so I'm gonna stretch the weekend a little. My plan is to hit the sack early tonight, get up before the rooster crows on Friday, and work on my extracurriculars.

I have a writing project that I'm all jacked-up about (not the "novel"), and I want to devote six or seven hours to it tomorrow. I'm always whining about not having enough time to do anything, so tomorrow's my chance. It'll just be me and Andy and our considerable neuroses until late in the afternoon.

The reason I'm telling you all this? To put pressure on myself, so I won't waste the day eating sausage at Waffle House and flipping through the used CDs at Gallery of Sound; it'll hopefully work as an incentive to go against nature.

I will report back on Monday with a truthful account of the day. Please beat me unmercifully if I fucked-off. I beg of you.

-- I received an email yesterday from a guy I used to work with in Atlanta. I hadn't had any contact with him in years, and it was a true voice from the past. In fact, his note could've been written in the distant past -- he's roughly my age, and is still, as he puts it, "rockin'!!!!!!"

Hey, somebody's gotta do it.

But he mentioned a person that I'd almost forgotten, a former co-worker who mispronounced lots and lots of words. She also dressed like a million dollars, but the doors on her car wouldn't open from the outside. We'd see her out in the parking lot climbing into the hatchback, while wearing a custom-tailored business suit. Oh, she was a classic.

From off the top of my head, here are some of her greatest hits:

salt = "sot"
plastic = "plascit"
straw = "skraw"
basket = "bakset"
Pier One = "Prior One"

There are plenty of others, but I'm just not coming up with them right now. Do you know people like this, who mispronounce common words? Tell us about it, we'd like to know.

-- Check this shit out. I haven't seen anything like it since we visited the blowfish house at the Myrtle Beach Aquarium. I mean, seriously.

-- And I'm not completely sure, but I believe this video was filmed next door to us, at Poppa Half-Shirt's house. It may be a genuine Half-Shirt Production! I'm going to have to watch it a few more times, but there are a lot of faces in there that sure look familiar. Plus, I noticed that their recycling bin was overflowing with Coors Light cans this week. Coincidence? I'm just not sure. The kid at the end threw me for a second, but then I remembered: Halfy's oldest son is an academic genius. It's probably one of his friends from the math club!

Of course, I could be completely wrong about all of it...

-- And finally, I'm gonna turn this bitch over to Buck, and drag my sorry ass to work. Right... now.

See ya tomorrow.



February 1, 2006

-- Yesterday I drove past a Goodyear tire store and had a negative feeling down deep in my soul, like I do every time I drive past there. I hate Goodyear with such a white-hot passion that it's now hardcoded in my DNA. I'm not kidding, just seeing their logo makes my blood boil. 

And as I continued driving, I realized that I no longer remember why. I know it has something to do with an episode in Atlanta, but I can't recall the details of it. In fact, I can't remember anything about it, except that they pissed me off and I vowed to never set foot in one of their stores again.

Apparently only the bitterness remains at this point. But it's enough.

-- After one week of hemming, and another of hawing, I've decided to give this a try. It seems like an excellent deal, with no downsides. (Am I missing anything?) And it'll help with my "quest." I'm getting the ball rolling today with the latest Franz Ferdinand. Because, as you may be aware, rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution.

On a related note, I applied to take part in the yourmusic affiliate program, so I could run ads on TheWVSR and maybe pick up a few nickels from the actions of fellow travelers. But a couple of hours later I received an email back that said something along the lines of, and I'm paraphrasing, "Ha!" In good conscience I can't really hold it against them.

-- And speaking of music, I'm listening to a Foreigner best-of CD right now, for the first time in years, and.... I'm shocked, simply shocked, at how bad they sucked.

A lot of that classic rock stuff, I've found, sounds pretty good when you go back and revisit it (especially after a dozen or so years of hiding from it). Like Billy Squier, for instance. You guys were mocking me a few days ago for listening to him, but I think you might be surprised at just how fun his greatest hits CD is. Sure, there's a lot of finger-snapping and hand-clapping, and there was that unfortunate video where he danced around a bed like a full-on homo, but he had his moments. Same goes for Bad Company and Def Leppard, and that sort of thing.

But Foreigner? No. I liked them when I was in Jr. High, but I was wrong, so tragically wrong.

-- I think our Adelphia internet connection is about to shit the bed again. It's now moving at the speed of a rash on a tuba player's ass. And that's not a good sign, is it?

-- There's something I've been meaning to ask... At Saddam's trial in Iraq, why is everybody standing around inside those big playpens? I don't understand. I think the judge actually has a rotating Duck Duck Goose mobile hanging above his desk. What's it all about?! I'm baffled.

-- From the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk: Do you have any celebrity autographs? If so, give us a call and share it with London! Or whatever.

I personally have many prized autographs, including baseballs signed by my two biggest baseball heroes, Johnny Bench and Mickey Mantle, and this poster from Shane MacGowan. 

As I look around the bunker here, I also see a picture autographed by all four member of REM (Michael signed it with a peace sign, the pretentious fuck), another from the Barenaked Ladies, a Soupy Sales 8x10, a poster signed by my spiritual advisor Paul Westerberg, a soup ladle autographed by the Soup Nazi, a signed pic of Carl Reiner, and another from the Olsen Twins (Thanks for believing in us!).

And while not technically an autograph, Toney has a cassette of Weird Al Yankovic leaving a message on her home answering machine, from back in our record weasel days. And just how cool is that?

What's in your collection?

-- Speaking of answering machines, this is always worth another listen.

-- And I know this is kinda lame today. I had other plans, but I got very little sleep and my brain is expanding and contracting inside its housing. All I can say is thank God for Metten, who's returned from the dead today to take up the slack, the terrible terrible slack. 

Here
ya go. Whew!

I'll try it again tomorrow.



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