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Pr
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2003

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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

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

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   The State of My Fat Ass                                       March 2003

March 31, 2003

-- It snowed yesterday. By "it" I guess I mean the sky. The frickin' sky snowed on us during the final days of March. It's a sad state of affairs. It was spring for a couple of weeks, and now winter is back. Look at this. I haven't felt this way since Nancy and Banana Nostrils finally left our house for Canada last summer, then returned a couple of hours later with van trouble, and their passel of agitated, shrieking hippie children clutching saliva-slickened Not Dogs. Extremely cruel. It was Opening Day on Sunday, fer crying out loud. People should've been out washing their cars, smiling and waving sponges at each other, not huddled up in their living rooms beneath gloom-reduction lamps. It just ain't right. Goddamn Bush Administration.

-- I think I bitch about this every year, but the baseball season is supposed to start in Cincinnati. The Reds are the oldest team in the Majors and it used to be tradition that they open every new season. Of course there's no such thing as tradition in baseball anymore, and that's a damn shame. Designated hitters, wild-card teams, the Brewers in the National League, lights in Chicago, inter-league play... Anything goes anymore. Cats are sleeping with dogs.

When I was a kid baseball was an oasis you could escape into; a Reds/Dodgers game on the radio could effectively wash away all the bad stuff that had happened in school that day. Now the sport seems just as screwed-up and corrupted as the real world. Up is down, black is white. The first time I see Tom Glavine wearing a Mets uniform this year might just send me on over the edge. Oh, it's happened before. One of the more traumatizing moments of my childhood was seeing Tony Perez playing for the Montreal Expos. If I'd seen my father with a whore going into a whorehouse it wouldn't have been any more disturbing. Who knows what I would've accomplished with my life if Tony Perez had stayed with the Reds? It was a profound blow to my inner-pussy.

A person needs a private corner they can crawl into, where there are no surprises and things are friendly and familiar. I remember being ten or twelve years old and sitting terrified in the dentist chair as the shaky old doctor mixed up another batch of his patented lead and asbestos fillings, and the only way I could remain halfway calm was to run down the Reds roster in my head: Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Pete Rose, did he just fart?!, George Foster, Cesar Geronimo...

Now Opening Day is on Sunday night(?) and is played by American League teams(?!) full of unfamiliar players. Hell, I don't even know who the announcers are. I never thought I'd live to see this day. My corner is gone.

-- I watched About Schmidt over the weekend and was mildly disappointed. It's a pretty bleak movie. Basically it's two hours of Jack Nicholson frowning, and Kathy Bates's naked ass. It had a few memorable moments, like when he pissed all over his anal-retentive wife's museum-like bathroom, but by the end I was thinking about hurling myself into a woodchipper. I like black comedies, but this one goes a little heavy on the black, and way too light on the comedy. Sweet Maria.

-- I just realized that the Texas Rangers played in that fake Opening Day game last night. Bush! I bet he did it to make his rich oil buddies in Texas happy. And they won too! How surprising. This has Halliburton's fingerprints all over it. Any fool can see it.

-- The snow pile is gone. I think it was removed by some kind of machine, not by science. It looked like a Zamboni had been run over the entire parking lot yesterday. Bastards. Why can't The Man just let us watch their filth-laden piles of snow disappear in peace? What is this, the USSR?

-- Toney went to a day spa on Saturday to get a fancy-pants haircut that cost roughly the same as my first car. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it was a tall stack of bills. Personally, I prefer the Flowbee. That way I can save my money for the purchase of Hall & Oates albums. Anyway, she brought home a catalog of some of the services they provide there, thinking I might want to partake of one or two from the Men's section. Here's the male representative from those pages; for some reason I can't look at him without laughing. And here are the services I'm considering:

Relaxation Day For Men

Hydrotherapy bath massage
One hour deep muscle massage
Facial with scalp treatment
Manicure
Pedicure
Men's design cut
Healthy Lunch

$212.00

I like the lunch part, especially. I don't know anything about that hydrotherapy massage. What is that, a shower? I think I might enjoy having my thick yellow toenails professionally tended to by teenage girls. That seems pleasant. Do you think they'd let me bring a sack of Funyuns? I have trouble sitting idle for extended periods, without snacks.

Back Cleansing Facial

Relax and enjoy as you are pampered like never before. Truly a facial for your back, this treatment includes effleurage (the fuck?), exfoliating body scrub and deep pore cleansing. Followed by a soothing antibacterial mask.

$60.00

Like most men I'm very vain about my back. Because I do a lot of shirtless wood chopping and such, I want it to have a healthy glow. Sixty bucks is not bad. I might call them today and ask if by "back" that also includes love handles. I'm experiencing a mild love handle chafing problem, and this sounds like just the ticket.

Ancient Seaweed Body Wrap

A cleansing and remineralizing body wrap that helps eliminate toxins from the body using seaweed from the Dead Sea. You are then wrapped in a heated blanket to relax. During the wrap you'll enjoy a light aromatherapy head massage. End with a vichy shower, an application of moisturizer and a herbal drink. A great way to detox!

$75.00

This sounds fabulous. Maybe I'll surprise my Dad next time he's in town and we'll do this together. I can't remember the last time he was wrapped in seaweed. When he retired from the fire department I think the guys all chipped in to buy him a vichy shower, but I can't recall if it included a Dead Sea body wrap. He'd love it! Fan-tastic.

-- It's time for the fifth episode of Fun With Chris and Bob. I actually remember hearing about some of this, back in the day. Good god.

-- Now here's a classic. It's a story about a weightlifter who had a really bad day. Don't miss the picture, the link is after the article and it's something you won't soon forget.

-- Finally, some really big news: Nancy is pregnant again. Yes, the woman who preaches about gender neutrality is obsessed with having a girl. Gender doesn't matter -- when you're a boy, that is. She'll be forty when the poor doomed child is born in November. Forty! They're spinning the wheel of chromosomes, and who knows where it'll stop? Yowza.

She also used to get up on her organic soapbox and give high-horse speeches about how people should only have enough kids to replace themselves on Mother Earth (did you just hear wind chimes?), or whatever; any couple who has more than two children are simply selfish and irresponsible, she used to shout. That's obviously out the window. Between her and Ol' BN, and the wife he abandoned in Canada, they'll have five kids. The Green Party is probably glad on the one hand, and sad on the other.

She told Toney's mother and stepfather that this kid was conceived on the kitchen floor while both were sobbing uncontrollably about their recent painful decision not to move to California. I shit you not. It's like something right out of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

More later. I'm out of time. Have a great week, folks.


March 27, 2003

-- I was a paratrooper last night. My mission was to jump out of an airplane, behind enemy lines, and gain entry into a Toys R Us store, through the skylight. I spent most of the night worrying that I might break my legs when I hit the ground, or that I might pull the cord on my chute too early -- or worse, I wouldn't be able to find the cord at all! I'm a goddamn office worker, what do I know about jumping out of airplanes? When I woke up I was incredibly stressed out and my heart was racing. Then, as the waves of relief washed over me, I thought to myself, "Toys R Us?!" Man oh man, this war is fucking me up.

-- Did you ever notice that if you watch CNN, MSNBC, or any of the major networks, we're losing the war? Things aren't going well; we're killing civilians in droves, we're bogged down in a Vietnam-like quagmire, and the leaders are highly concerned. But if you watch Fox News, we're kicking massive ass! The war is only a week old, and look at everything the Allies have already accomplished. Still the media experts can't figure out why Fox dominates cable news.

Given a choice, most people will stay away from NancyTV.

-- I saw on the Internet yesterday that we're now using dolphins to deliver humanitarian aid to the Iraqis. Pretty slick. Check it out.

-- I'm kinda pissed that I wasn't offered the chance to provide an imbedded reporter for the war. Rocky or Chris would do a great job, I think, traveling with the Marines and filing reports with their Smoking Fish microphones. I think I'm going to send Rummy a nasty note. This is unacceptable.

-- While the rest of the world is at war, here are some pics from the Japanese Penis Festival.

-- It's kinda bizarre, but it feels like autumn here. There's been snow on the ground since November, and everything was freeze-dried at the moment of the first big storm, I guess. Now that the snow is almost all melted away, we're back to leaves covering all the yards, and the temperatures hovering at fall-like levels. It's like a low-rent Pompeii. See for yourself.

-- I'm listening to a CD-R of illegal downloads by obscure Canadian 80s band Payola$. This stuff can't be bought in any store. It's a wonderful time to be alive.

-- Speaking of that, my new Blazer didn't come with a CD player. It's a 2000 model, but it has a stupid cassette player in it. It makes me sad in my soul. I wanna party like it's 1982! To add insult to injury, Toney hasn't yet allocated the funds to have the vehicle brought up to code. We actually got into a low-grade argument about it over the weekend, but that's another story...

So, I've had to go into the basement and root around in the boxes down there to find old tapes to listen to. I can't stomach local talk radio (humorless liberals), and I might puke if I ever hear the Eagles again, so I'm desperate here.

It's been kinda fun, to tell you the truth. I've been playing The Cure, Shane MacGowan ("I might've fucked your wife, but I never fucked your daughter..."), ex-Georgia Satellite Dan Baird's kick-ass solo album, Love Songs For the Hearing Impaired, and a bunch of other vintage goodies. It's been a blessing in disguise, this outdated technology. I might just keep it.

Yeah right.

-- I was very excited the other day at work when a Senior Vice President copied me on a joke email. I'm usually not included in such casual levity, originating from so far up the corporate ladder. The only problem is, it was a Dilbert and I didn't really understand it. Here it is. What in the honeybaked hell? I prefer Beetle Bailey. Or Funky Winkerbean.

-- According to the recent TheWVSR poll, the new look of the site is either a hit, or it could be published on Ernest Borgnine's butt cheeks for all you care. Thanks for the input. If you haven't voted, let me know what you think. I'm slowly but surely updating the secondary pages, and fixing all the screwed-up links. Great Christ almighty, I've really let the place go all to hell. It's like one of those houses in West Virginia with a yard full of appliances, and cross-eyed kids everywhere with jam all over their faces. The aluminum siding is going up though, and the illusion of newness is right around the corner.

-- Through my complicated network of backstabbers and spies I've been able to secure an advance DVD copy of About Schmidt, so my Friday night is set. I'm very excited. Now if I can just find a blackmarket Adaptation... Can anyone help? I'll trade you a cassette copy of the Footloose soundtrack.

-- I received an email this morning that said only, "It Will Look Huge In Her Hand," and there was a link to some site that undoubtedly sells large bottles of cock supplements, or something. I think Toney has put my name on some kind of list. I'm not kidding, it's starting to make me self-conscious. It's the motion of the ocean, right? ...Right?

-- Finally, I asked Toney yesterday to make me an appointment with her doctor for a physical exam. I haven't really been to a doctor since I left home in, what, 1986? I don't like them, and the terrible things they might find. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. I don't really want to know that my cholesterol count is 690, ya know?

But I'm trying to be a little more grown-up these days. Well, Toney is trying to get me to be a little more grown-up, to be more precise. Plus, one of my old co-workers in Atlanta dropped dead earlier this week. He was in his late forties, and had a massive heart attack. Apparently it had nothing to do with the fact that he was married to a woman who looks exactly like Perry Farrell, like I would've guessed. No, it was the fact that he didn't take very good care of himself. I don't really want to go out early, thank you very much. There are too many good books to read, and The Sopranos are filming again.

Last night Toney reminded me that her doctor is not only a woman, but an Indian woman, as if those facts might be a problem for me. I'm glad she holds me in such high regard. What do I care about stuff like that? I'm worried about me here, and the Bob Marley-style tumor they'll surely discover within minutes of my arrival.

So, there you go. The appointment isn't until May and I'll stress about it until then. But, hey, what's life without a little self-inflicted irrational stress? It's better than parachuting onto the roof of an Iraqi Toys R Us. ...Right?

More of this shit on Monday. See ya round.

March 24, 2003

-- Wasn't the last war in prime time? I seem to remember it happening between eight and eleven on weeknights. Am I getting it mixed up? I swear Bernard Shaw was hiding under that desk in Baghdad, weeping into a phone, during the family viewing hour. Hell, I think they even halted the bombing for commercial breaks back then. Perhaps time is playing tricks with my memory?

Anyway, I don't like it that when I finally have a chance to flop down in the evenings, and catch up on the day's events, everything's already happened, and the "experts" are "analyzing" it all. That means that instead of spectacular explosions and laser-sited bombs equipped with a video camera, I get Tucker Carlson. It's just not the same. Ol' Bernie's not even around anymore. They just don't make mildly insane, drunk-sounding newscasters like Bernard Shaw these days. Well, there's Dan Rather, of course, but that's about it.

One memorable moment from the weekend's war coverage was when Oliver North described how bad his body smelled beneath his combat gear. He said that most of the soldiers hadn't seen a bar of soap in five days. I'm not sure why, but I found the spectacle of Oliver North discussing personal hygiene to be far more disturbing than anything else I've seen of the war so far. I nearly hurled. They should warn people before broadcasting something like that. Goddamn.

And I saw Newt talking. I couldn't hear him over the cacophony of my everyday life, but I saw him on the screen. I can't see his face without thinking of the graffiti in the bathroom of my favorite bar in Atlanta. It read: If you voted for Newt Gingrich you can't shit here, because your asshole is in Washington. I'm not sure why, but that's one of those little random scraps of life that will remain with me to the grave, or until Alzheimer's makes me believe my shit is a hat. Whichever comes first.

Despite the powerful pull of my instincts, I really don't want to make light of this conflict. People are dying, including some of the good guys, so I'll just move along. I already feel guilty for some of the "comedic" thoughts that have passed through my head. Generally speaking, I have no class. But I sincerely hope all the troops make it home safely, and this thing doesn't drag on. Get those crazy fucks out of power, and get back over here for beer and reality television. Ya know? This is America, goddammit.

-- I'm listening to the Steely Dan box set as I type this. Along with Lynyrd Skynyrd, they're my favorite overplayed classic rock band. I never get tired of their stuff, and that's more than I can say for Pink Floyd and The Doors. There's no reason that anyone should ever need to hear Pink Floyd or The Doors again. That shit doesn't even get traction on my brain; I can't even hear it anymore. Steely Dan is different, somehow. They sound all jazzy and nice, but their lyrics are fucked-up and creepy. Donald Fagen is a classic crackpot weirdo, and is one of my heroes. Please feel free to make of that what you will.

-- I learned yesterday, after the fact, that two worlds nearly collided on Saturday. There could've been a Surf Report convergence of Biblical proportions, and who knows what might've happened? If I'd known about it in advance, I would've been a nervous wreck. Apparently Sunshine, Mumbles, Nancy, Banana Nostrils, and their brood of l'il translucent vegans made a day trip to Boone, NC -- home of our very own Chris from Boone. Like certain chemicals, that crew is best left isolated and should not be allowed to mix with other people I know. The results would be too unpredictable for comfort. Apparently we're past the danger zone though, and everyone can return to their homes and their normal lives. Thank you for your concern. Next time we might not be so lucky.

-- My friend Steve stopped by the Compound on Saturday, and showed me a bunch of pictures he'd taken over the past few months. There was a really good one from our hometown of Dunbar, taken on Thanksgiving Day. Dunbar is, of course, home of the world-famous Commode Bowl Game, played on Thanksgiving for the past sixty or so years. It's been covered by every major news network in America by now, and probably a few foreign channels as well. The people who live on the river side of the railroad tracks (River Rats) battle the people who live on the hill side (Hillsiders) in a brutal, drunken "football game" at the high school. It's quite the social event, and is preceded by the Commode Bowl Parade. Check it out. I love the ads on the back of this, um, float. You've got to question the wisdom of the Tudor's Biscuit World people for buying space on a giant rolling toilet, but hey, it was nice of them to help out. Please note the white house in the background, on the other side of the tracks, behind the speed limit sign -- it's where I grew up. 

Ahem.

-- The Snow Pile in Front of Lone Star Steaks is changing shape, and getting smaller. For some reason I'm feeling a little sad about it.

-- Toney made a big batch of blueberry muffins on Saturday and I think I permanently stained the upstairs sink, after shotgunning a half dozen of the things, then immediately brushing my teeth. We've got big purple streaks now, and Comet doesn't even seem to help. We may have to have it replaced.

-- On Saturday I went into the little hardware store near our house to get an extra set of keys made for the Blazer. There was an old guy in there sporting a pair of those half-glasses that are apparently designed to be worn way down on the tip of your nose, and a seventy-dollar Cape Cod sweatshirt. He looked like the college professor type and was talking to the shopkeeper like he was a big smiling retarded man with his pockets full of apples. He wanted a twenty-five foot "electrical extension," and nobody knew what the hell he was talking about. Electrical extension? Do you mean an extension cord, sir? The old prick refused to admit that he was talking about an extension cord, and just ratcheted up the condescension instead. They were all simple-minded fools, you see, not to understand his sophisticated terminology. It was an amazing thing to behold. I wish I had it on video.

-- If you have an extra five seconds or so, let me know your opinion of the recent overhaul of this site. I think it's looking pretty good, but I might be pathetically oblivious to the truth. I've been working at getting the secondary pages updated, but it'll take some time. Tell me what you think. Am I just pissing in the wind here?

-- Speaking of websites, Mark Maynard called from his electric car last night to tell me that he and Linette finally launched crimewaveusa.com yesterday afternoon. Check it out. Pretty slick. Great job guys, as usual. But, remember, everything's a little easier when you're talented. Don't be getting the big-head, goddammit.

-- Yeah, Mark has his magazine, his blog, his band, and a bunch of other irons in the fire, but I'm not a one-trick pony either, you know. I, too, get around.

-- It's Monday, so it's time for another episode of Fun With Chris and Bob! This one is rated PG-13, for violence and rampant drug-use.

-- Finally, there's not really much to say about the Academy Awards last night, but here are a few observations:

Steve Martin's opening monologue was great. He ripped everyone, and was incredibly non-PC. I love to see a roomful of self-important artists treated with disdain. He told Mickey Rooney, who was all the way in the back of the auditorium, that he was sorry they couldn't give him a better seat, "but Vin Diesel is here!" He said that last year Halle Berry broke down a barrier for incredibly hot women, then added, "At least now they have a chance." He launched into a poetic tribute to actors, while a string quartet played softly in the background. He said actors come from all walks of life, they can be tall or short, skinny or thin. And, he said, they can be Democrats... or thin. It was good stuff. One of the best moments though, was when he was talking about a movie called Secretary. I've never heard of it, but he said it was about a sadistic boss who made his secretary wear a dog collar, walk around on all-fours, and carry him folders in her teeth. Then the punchline: "Who said there are no roles for women in Hollywood?" There was an audible gasp from the audience, and people were shown shaking their heads in disgust. Fuckin' great.

I like the way the microphones now just drop into the floor when a winner's time is up; it's very effective. A person can be up there droning on and on, thanking their mailman and their accountant, blah blah blah, and the mic suddenly plunges into the ground, leaving the person standing naked on the stage. Why didn't they think of that before?

When Roman Polanski won, the place erupted in applause, louder than normal. It's because of his personal problems; it makes him cooler. They were saying, "Yeah! He fucked a nine year old girl! Bravo!!" At least that's what I heard.

Michael Moore got up there and trotted out his tired old shtick again, and was booed for his efforts. Somebody screamed, "Get off the stage you fat fucker!" But that was only in my living room. I don't think that was picked up for broadcast.

See ya on Thursday.

March 20, 2003

-- I'm not going to talk about the war today, because I have no valuable insight or analysis. Sure, I have opinions, but I'm a fat man in checkered sleeping pants in Scranton, not Winston Churchill. Who gives a hand-dipped fuck what I think? I'll leave all that to the experts, like Sheryl Crow, Meathead, and the angry old man in the produce section at the grocery store. Plus, I'd really like for you folks to actually read my update today, not just skim it, groan, and roll your eyes. It's been my experience that poorly-reasoned, ideologically-driven sloganeering and rants can lead to skimming, and I can't have that. I hope you'll remember this when my birthday rolls around again in November.

-- More good news: I finally bought a Blazer Monday afternoon. I was tired of fighting, so I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. Now you won't have to endure anymore of my waffling and weaseling on the subject. Here's a picture I snapped last night around midnight (don't ask). It's a 2000 model, four-door, white, all the fancy ass-scratching devices, etc. etc. Pretty cool. I had to say a tearful goodbye to my Toyota Tacoma, but it was time. I'm sure he'll be placed with a good home, and will make plenty of new friends. Right? ...Please tell me I'm right.

After my little outburst on Saturday at the car dealership, and all the cursing and contorting of my face, I felt spent and didn't want to battle the bastards anymore. And I guess they ran the numbers and saw that they were screwing me for an adequate amount of money under the original plan, so we were able to come to terms with little effort on Monday morning. I told them I'd be there at 1:30 in the afternoon to sign their stack of papers.

Not five minutes after those plans were finalized, another dealership called on my cell phone. They had the vehicle for me, they said. These people had acted as if they didn't care whether I bought a car or ran for Mayor. I went to them first, but they didn't seem all that concerned with selling me anything. It was very puzzling, I'd never experienced a used car salesman so aloof and indifferent. "Sell a car today or don't sell a car, it's all the same to me, la la la la..." The more I thought about it, the more I blamed myself. Did I look like I couldn't afford a used Blazer? Is it my clothes? Is there an odor I'm not aware of? Shit.

I told ol' Dale Carnegie that I'd made a deal with someone else, and he finally came to life. "Have you given them any money?!" he wanted to know. After I made it clear that I wasn't going to be purchasing anything from him, that he'd missed the boat, he started acting desperate and I thought I could actually detect a minor whine to his voice. It was highly enjoyable. I told him straight-up that they didn't seem to want to sell me anything, and that I'd been wondering if the dealership was in fact a front for an illegal gambling casino. He hung up on me.

On my way to Wilkes-Barre my phone rang again and it was the guy's boss. He sounded like he'd done nothing but smoked filterless cigarettes and drank bourbon since the late 1950's. He was giving it one more try. He asked how much my payments were going to be, then informed me that they'd be able to save me fifty bucks a month, which, of course, was a load of utter horseshit. It was insane. I was on my way to one car dealership, and another was trying to persuade me not to walk into the building. Turn away from the light! Finally the old goat just threw up his hands in frustration, screamed "whatever!" into the receiver, and hung up in my ear -- just like the other guy.

Now that's the kind of respect one hopes for in such situations.

-- I talked to my Dad the other day, and he told me my mother went in for a routine eye exam this week, and ended up having to undergo a bizarre treatment that ultimately led to her being forced to wear a large floppy hat. Yes, you read that correctly.

After a test involving dyes, they found a clump of blood vessels behind one of her eyes that was pinching something off, and could ultimately make her blind. They wanted to do the treatment right then, and my mother agreed. So they injected her with a strange substance that allows a laser to do something special. After the shot was administered they made my parents sit down and watch a video that explained how important it is that she stay out of the light "completely" for the next five days. If any patch of her skin comes in contact with direct sunlight she will sustain a severe burn "from the inside out." Even bright artificial light, like florescent, can be risky, they said.

What the hell?!

After they lasered her eye, and corrected the problem, she had to put on a large floppy hat, sunglasses, a scarf and gloves, and practically sprinted to the car. I'm envisioning Jackie O, circa 1964. I talked to her yesterday and she was laughing about it. I asked her why they didn't just carry her out in a large burlap bag, and she said that probably would've been a better idea. She can't leave the house until Sunday, and has to stay away from windows. I'd be zippered up in a sleeping bag under the goddamn bed. I've never heard of such a thing. Holy shit.

-- Yesterday I realized that my thewvsr email wasn't making it to me. I hadn't been receiving notes from readers which seemed a bit odd, but I didn't think too much about it. Then, on a whim, I tested it and nothing happened. The mail wasn't getting through. The hell?! I called Earthlink to see what was going on, and they had stopped forwarding my email for some stupid reason. Everything was being dumped into an "administrative" mailbox that I didn't know existed, and had no passwords for.

The guy explained what had happened but it all sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher to me; I'm not the most technically savvy person in the world. He walked me through it, and eventually an avalanche of 592 emails came pouring into my mailbox all at once. Some were a month old! When he saw how long it had been going on, and that I hadn't realized it, he began talking to me like I was the guy from Sling Blade. He was suddenly talking louder and slower, and enunciating every syllable.

So there you go, 592 messages. And I'm the world's biggest dipshit. Of course 98% of them were from people trying to get me to refinance my house, purchase Viagra from Mexico or some shit, and contemplate how much better life would be with a longer, thicker penis. (I've suspected this to be true since 1975.) But there were also dozens of personal notes in there as well. I answered a bunch of them yesterday, and will get caught up today. If you sent me an email during the past month or so, and got no reply, there's your reason. I'm dum.

-- Now this is a classic. A reader sent me this last night, and it's an actual email his girlfriend received at work, from the owner's semi-retarded son, aka the VP of Nepotism. Check it out. Please send me more stuff like this, I love it. I beg of you. Maybe I'll start a separate page, for stupid work emails?

-- For some reason I have a difficult time spelling the words restaurant and occasionally. I think the specific brain cells designed to decipher those words were incinerated in the barley and hops holocaust that happened inside my brain over the past twenty years. Earlier this week I replaced restaurant with eaterie in an email to a friend. Eaterie. This is what it's come to.

-- You know, Archie always seemed a little odd to me. He wasn't like the other cartoon teenagers...

I'm almost forty and I still chuckle at stuff like that. What can I say? It all started back in 1972 when my friend Steve and I used to listen, over and over again, to an album of Cincinnati Reds World Series highlights that included Al Michaels saying, "Fingers on the rubber... The stretch... Here it comes!" We would move the needle back and play it repeatedly, and just laugh and laugh and laugh. Of course we were nine then. I don't really have that excuse anymore, do I?

-- Finally, here's a special episode of Fun With Chris and Bob, to get you through the weekend. Well, it's not really an episode, it's more like background information, but I think you'll enjoy it.

Have a great one, folks. Enjoy the shock and awe. See ya on Monday -- the goddess willing.

March 17, 2003

-- The weather was incredible this weekend. I don't think we'd seen forty degrees since October, then suddenly it was close to seventy on Sunday. Snow is melting, the thick crust of road salt is washing away, the sun is shining, and the air is crisp and clean. People were out in their yards and taking walks, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. I even saw a few overly-optimistic people wearing shorts, which offered me the opportunity to mock our neighbors behind their backs, which is something I'd really missed.

Almost seventy is a perfect temperature. I love it. We actually had beers on the deck Sunday afternoon, and it was like emerging from a cocoon -- with a frosty alcoholic beverage in-hand. Highly enjoyable. Beer and decks go together like baseball and peanuts, or Entertainment Weekly and bowel movements, and when they come together without warning they're even more satisfying. If you'd told me last weekend we'd be having Yuenglings outside in a few days, I would've told you to get the fuck out.

I'm sure winter's not over, we generally get snow deep into April, but the transition has clearly begun and it's exciting. This is the land of extreme seasons and each brings welcome relief from the last. It's a perfect set-up, when you think about it. Something new is always just around the corner.

-- The high temperatures played havoc with the Snow Pile In Front Of Lone Star Steaks this weekend. Check it out. At this rate it'll be gone by the Fourth of July.

-- Our dog Andy was out in the yard on Saturday and found an old tennis ball that had been buried in the snow for months. The melting snow is revealing all kinds of long-forgotten treasures, like steps and lawn furniture and shit. He was out there flinging the ball high in the air and catching it, rolling around and having a big time. Then he brought the game inside, and things quickly turned ugly.

I was sitting in a chair looking at the newspaper when he launched the ball in my direction, and it landed on my lap. The thing smelled like shit, and that's not just a phrase. I mean it smelled exactly like a large spherical hunk of turds, and it was on my pants. I shrieked like a woman and jumped out of the chair, just as Andy began one of his patented full-body pumps. The hell?! He was preparing to puke and I rushed to open the door, so he could get off the carpet.

He walked around the front yard with his head down and his back all humped up, and eventually let loose three sizable loads of something that looked like banana pudding. I kicked the disease laden shit-ball over into the neighbor's yard and brought Andy back inside, before he had a chance to eat what he'd just gotten rid of.

It never stops.

-- Andy's been doing a lot of puking lately. A few days ago he ate nearly an entire Atlanta Braves baseball cap that I liked to wear while shoveling snow. I threw it down with my boots one day, because it was soaked, and the dog went to town on it while we weren't paying attention. Next thing we knew there was only the bill left, and he would've eaten that too, if we'd let him. Predictably he vomited a large glob of string and thread on the rug by the front door. I quickly learned that there are few things more disgusting than a vomit-saturated pile of hat fabric. Nasty. He's pretty stupid, really. I'm kinda surprised the story didn't end with him in the front yard yelping and crying, and me chasing him around trying to pull the letter A out of his ass. The way things go for me, that seems like the logical conclusion to the episode.

-- There are a bunch of kids who live on our street that are in the eleven to twelve year old range, and I think every one of them passed through puberty during the winter. It's amazing. They were little kids the last I saw them, and now they look like the cast of Friends. A kid two doors down, who was recently playing with GI Joes and crawling around on his stomach, was out in his front yard this weekend in pleated slacks, practicing his golf swing. He probably has a stock portfolio as well. And a couple of little girls who ran a lemonade stand last summer, now look like they're in their early twenties. It's freaking me out, man.

-- Despite the kick-ass weather, we had a highly irritating Saturday. We went to Wilkes-Barre to look at a used Blazer, and almost bought it. We got all the way to the point where we were sitting at a table with the pile of contracts in front of us, when the dealership pulled some surprise bullshit out of their hat, and everything instantly changed. We ended up yelling and waving our arms around and surfing out of there on a majestic wave of hostility. I won't bore you with the details, it's just typical car dealership crapola designed to squeeze one more ounce of money out of you. We may or may not come to terms today on it, but if there's even the tiniest additional bump in the road, the deal's off; I'll pull the plug on the shit and go elsewhere. I've done it dozens of times before.

The whole thing had me so keyed up on Saturday I couldn't think straight. We went to the mall to see Amy Wynn, the sexy carpenter from Trading Spaces, but my heart just wasn't in it. When we arrived the line snaked all through the mall, and out the front door. It was crazy; it was Beatlemania. This picture doesn't really do it justice, but it's part of what we were faced with. People were everywhere, and I wanted to knee each one in the groin, person by person.

We got in line, and were so far away from where the ample-breasted woodworker would eventually sit, it made my blood pressure spike like a butcher eating a sack of White Castles. I was ranting and raving like a lunatic ("This is a pain in the ass! Not just in the general vicinity of the ass, but actually in the ass!!"), both because of the mob and the fact that I was standing in line with a bunch of housewives to see a representative from a cable television show about interior decorating. For some reason I didn't feel that my father would approve. And what if somebody from work would see me? How would I explain that one?

"I feel like a douchebag," I eventually proclaimed, almost directly into the face of an old lady sporting a red Trading Spaces smock, and an expression of deep concern. We finally gave up the ghost, and jumped out of line. Fuck it. Here are a couple of photos I snapped, but I never got to meet Amy Wynn. I wanted to get my picture taken with her, and to ask her about Frank's "wife," but it was not to be.

After we left the mall I was still in an agitated state, and we drove past an Olive Garden restaurant. It's a personal pet peeve of mine that people actually go to that house of swill when there are incredible, authentic Italian eateries every few feet. Scranton is a cluster-fuck of ethnicity, yet people still flock to chain restaurants and their tacky approximations of the real thing. I rolled down the window as we drove past, and yelled at the crowd of people out front, "Dumbasses! Fools! You're all a bunch of shitbags!!" Toney calmly advised me I'd best simmer down.

-- I got my new glasses on Friday. Check 'em out. The doctor told me they might make me physically ill, because the prescription is so much stronger than my previous pair, but they haven't messed me up too bad. The first day it reminded me of a cheap roadside attraction near Hawk's Nest, WV called The Mystery Hole. They have a room there that looks normal to the naked eye, but when you walk through it you realize the floor is actually tilted at about a twenty-five degree angle. That's what it felt like wearing my new glasses. I had to keep clutching the wall, for fear that I might go completely down. But by the next day I was OK. Physically ill. Ha! I'm not one of those people who are defined by exaggerated medical dramatics. I don't view a new pair of glasses as an opportunity to put on a show. I have a feeling I'm in the minority.

-- I watched an hour or so of the TV Land Awards over the weekend, and it was pretty frightening. They had loads and loads of obscure former sitcom actors on, and most haven't aged well. You could tell who they were, but some had already begun the process of decomposition. They looked like apple sculptures of people you once knew. Scary.

-- Finally, here is Episode Three of Chris from Boone's Mini-Series of Debauchery. This is a heartwarming holiday offering, in the tradition of It's A Wonderful Life. Enjoy.

Have a great week, folks.

March 13, 2003

-- While I was at the post office yesterday, checking on the progress of the humiliating failure known as TheWVSR.com Autograph Project, I saw a plump little woman cascade out of her still-running Ford Explorer and disappear into the building for an extended period. She was in there rubbing the edges of a dozen envelopes over the surface of her large glistening tongue when I left several minutes later, and her vehicle was still out there chugging along by itself. You see it all the time here, people leaving their cars unattended with the keys still dangling in the ignition. I've also witnessed drivers in mall parking lots, or wherever, tossing their keys into the driver's side floor, or closing them up in the sun visor, before going inside.

It's none of my business, really, but I find it all to be excruciating. I feel like catching up to the freaks, grabbing them by the shoulders and saying, "Put your keys in your pocket, for god's sake; it's an accepted practice. Somebody's going to steal your car!" But, of course, I don't. I just grind my teeth and agonize over it silently. To a person who's lived in the DMZ that is Atlanta, it looks like a game of Russian Roulette, and it's a difficult thing to watch.

In "The City Too Busy To Hate" you pull into a parking lot, attach The Club to your steering wheel, double-check to make sure all the doors are locked, activate the alarm, roll out a length of razor wire, and hope for the best. There's still a good chance the police will find your car a month later bobbing upside down in the Chattahoochie River, but at some point you've just got to throw caution to the wind. Leaving your keys in the ignition would likely lead to a nice relaxing stay at a State Hospital in Georgia.

Earlier this week I needed to mail a birthday card to my mother, and I pulled up to a mailbox in front of a grocery store. It was so close I probably could've just rolled down the passenger window and flung it in. But I thought it might be a little risky considering the high winds; my mother's card might end up on the roof of Pep Boys. So, I had a decision to make. Should I put my truck in PARK, and jump out for ten seconds to put the card into the box? Or would it be safer to turn it off and take the keys with me for the seven foot journey?

I'd had a lot of coffee, and was feeling a little crazy, so I left it running. I felt a twinge of anxiety while I was away from the door, very vulnerable and out-of-control; I pictured a man with a knit cap and an eye patch lying in wait for the next fool to come along. But, of course, nothing happened. This is, after all, a foreign country. As I drove to work I felt oddly exhilarated, as if I'd just stared into the abyss. It was like I'd seen the bright light, and had returned safely. I felt alive, and electric.

I think this is the way it starts.

-- During the past week I've had to call both Compuserve, my internet provider, and Earthlink, my webhost, with billing questions. I got myself roped into a three-year contract with Compuserve when I bought my computer (almost three years ago!), and I've cursed my stupidity every day since. It would be mighty hard to suck worse than Compuserve sucks. How do I hate them? Let me count the ways. Earthlink, on the other hand, has been nothing but a joy to deal with. Their shit works, they're helpful and courteous, and you know you can rely on them.

So, I called Earthlink first and got a recording telling me there would be an eleven minute wait for the next available agent. The sophisticated-sounding woman apologized and informed me of some online alternatives to such a lengthy delay, then hooked me up to their hold-music which was a soothing string quartet. After about five minutes one of Earthlink's Helpful Hippies® was on the line, taking care of my problem with competence and grace.

Then I called Compuserve.

It took a full minute to navigate through their Maze of Fucked-upness® to finally get to where I wanted to be. Once there I was dumped into queue, and was subjected to their hold-music, which was incredibly loud and consisted mostly of hollering and bellowing. It was one of those faceless female "soul" singers who quiver and shake and think it's necessary to hit four distinct octaves with every word. I could picture her clutching her chest, face contorted with the power of her emotions, twitching and jerking, and glittering in the spotlight. In addition to being unbelievably loud, it was also scratchy and crackly, and continuously faded in and out. It sounded like something needed some fresh batteries somewhere.

After about ten minutes of this I realized they were playing the same "song" over and over, then after another five I noticed it wasn't even the whole song -- it was just the chorus in a never-ending tape loop. I had to hold the receiver a foot from my head because of the high volume, and was grimacing like Gilbert Gottfried. The only relief was the occasional ear-splitting Arab woman who would come on and try to sell me something. I couldn't even understand what she was saying, because of her thick accent and all the crackling and fading and shit. I think she was talking about hair care products, but I'm not sure.

I waited an hour and ten minutes, and no human ever came on the line. Finally I had to hang up -- it was my feeding time. I still don't have the answer to my one-sentence question, because I rarely have a two hour block of time available to ask it. Fuck it. I'll just pay whatever they bill me for, until the contract is up. It's not worth the pain of trying to fight it. It's obviously a conspiracy, but I don't have the energy to do anything about it.

-- I had some problems on Monday uploading stuff to this site. The Pile of Snow In Front of Lone Star Steaks and the Harriet Carter stuff didn't make it, for reasons I won't bore you with. But they're up there now, baby. Check 'em out if you missed them the first time.

-- Here's a picture of a war protester I stumbled across this week. I've taken the liberty of renaming it "Actual Size."

-- I'm thinking of starting a band called Hammer Pants. For the past ten years I've thought about starting a band called The Lint Donkeys, but I've now outgrown them artistically.

-- I'm currently reading True Grit by Charles Portis. It's the book the John Wayne movie was based on, but that's not why I'm reading it. I'm reading it because it was written by Charles Portis. The man is a criminally unknown comic genius, and all six of his books are now back in print. True Grit was the last of the six, and it was just released. I beg of you to take advantage of the reissues and read Portis. His first book, Norwood, is one of the funniest novels I've ever read. Everybody in the world should read it, even the people at Compuserve. Now that they're back in bookstores, it would be almost a sin not to own them all.

See ya on Monday. They're saying more snow is on the way and I am fully engorged.

Until then...


March 10, 2003

-- I went to the eye doctor last week, for the first time in years. I generally steer clear of all things medical because I'm convinced I'll receive devastating news, like everyone on TV who's ever visited a doctor. But my eyeballs are not the greatest examples of bodily organs ever created, they're the Johnnie LeMaster of eyes, so I need to make a little effort to take care of them. It's hard to be cool when you're blind and white.

The doctor was about my age, which was a little disturbing. The thought of the shitboxes and retards from my high school now being in a position of making important medical decisions is a frightening prospect indeed. Doctors are supposed to be wise old men with white hair and wire-rim glasses -- not Matthew Broderick. But he was nice enough, I guess. He seemed like the kind of guy who probably enjoys the well-rendered shit joke, but has to fake it during the day and act professional. I give him the benefit of the doubt, anyway.

He and his optical henchmen ran me through a battery of tests, on many large pieces of humming high-tech equipment, each with a dainty little chin stirrup mounted to the front, and a piece of tissue paper in place so you don't pick up chin cooties from the previous patient. At one point the doctor, a group of women in lab coats, and an older man with an air of authority, were huddled around a monitor looking at colorful "maps" of my eyes, mumbling and exchanging knowing glances. It may have been my imagination but there seemed to be a hint of pity in the air. Here we go, I thought, tonight on NBC, a very special Blossom: will Six lose her sight?

He didn't have very good news for me, but it wasn't all that bad either. What I mean is, he didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. And it appears things haven't gotten any worse over the past few years, so that's good. In one of my eyes I have something wrong with the cornea -- it's not smooth like it's supposed to be, it has ridges in it like a Lay's dip chip. They don't know how it'll play out, but the worst case scenario is apparently a cornea transplant(?!). Who the hell knows? I always knew those years between the ages of thirteen and seventeen would some day come back to haunt me.

Anyway, he tested me for a pair of new glasses, since I probably wore the pair I have now to see Foreigner and Wet Willie in 1982. I wear contacts, I never wear glasses, so I just couldn't see the logic of spending good money on something I'd never use. It would be better spent on snacks. But Toney informed me our insurance will cover a new pair, so what the hell? Because of the way the machine works, he had his face pressed almost flat against mine during the exam, which made me feel uneasy. I wished I'd brought some Tic-Tacs. And the sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit the doctor obviously had for breakfast was making me hungry.

Finally, he shook my hand, gave me his card, and told me to call if I have any problems. Otherwise, I didn't need to see him again for a year. Fuckin' A! Another bullet dodged. He told me I could go out front and start looking at frames for my new glasses. Somebody will be there to help, he said. I was feeling mighty relieved; I'd been dreading this appointment for a month, and now all that was left was shopping. Shopping I could handle. I think I shook his hand a little too vigorously.

I'm not sure, but I think the guy who was at the helm in the glasses shop is the president of the Scranton chapter of the Banana Nostrils Appreciation Society. A bigger nerd has never walked. He wore a lab coat with red Converse high-tops, and broadcast powerful waves of geekiness in all directions. Just standing next to him made me consider putting on a dark robe, running through the woods and screaming, "I am a dragon!" He helped me select an appropriate pair of frames, after physically recoiling at the site of my glasses prescription. "Jesus!" he muttered.

He told me I needed to find a pair where my eyes are in the middle of the frame, not off to one side, so he vetoed the first pair I selected. He then made the puzzling statement, "I have the same problem when I'm buying glasses. I have a head like a Clydesdale." I have no idea what that means, but I laughed to be polite, then realized I should probably be offended. A little while later he launched into a full-on spazz-out and practically hollered, for no apparent reason and in a fake German accent, "I prefer you dead, Mr. Bond!" What in the sweet and sour hell?! I looked around the lobby to make sure people didn't think it was me who was having the geek seizure.

Finally I wrote the guy a check for my co-pays and shit, and he told me to give them a couple of weeks to make the lenses. "They'll be a challenge," he said. Yeah, whatever dude. Knock yourself out.

I then made a beeline for Wendy's and had a number one with cheese, no pickles, and a Coke.

-- As you can see, I'm experimenting with a new look for the site. I'm pretty happy with it, but it's a work in progress. It's gonna take a while to get all the secondary pages switched over, and the bugs shooed away, so it'll be a little weird around here for a while. But, together, I believe we can work through it. If you have any comments or suggestions on the re-design, don't hesitate to drop me a note. I need all the help I can get. As I said earlier, I'm like a dairy cow with a table saw here.

-- I'm being haunted by a Canadian dime. I've been carrying the damn thing around for a week, and it's causing me problems. Vending machines won't take it, and a cashier at a store even looked at it sideways and gave it back to me, as if she were handling turds. I can't get rid of it. It's really small and has a picture of Nancy Kulp on it, I think. It pisses me off when I have exactly sixty cents in change, I'm trying to buy a Hershey bar with almonds, and the dime just drops straight through the machine, into the coin return. Noooo!!!! Last week I successfully passed it off in the cafeteria at work, but the next day I had it back! It's freaking me out, man. I've thought about throwing it away, but it seems like bad luck, to throw money in the trash. I'm afraid one of my long-dead Depression-era relatives will chastise me in the dark of night, and that would surely send me right on over the edge. I guess I could toss it in a drawer at home, but I don't really want it under the same roof where we sleep -- I'm afraid of change. I might have to drive up to Canada next weekend, to unload it and get my life back in order.

-- I looked at myself in a well-lit mirror over the weekend, and I think I'm starting to look British. Not good. I need some sun, and a few vegetables. Goddamn.

-- I heard a guy on Fox News say that "going to war without the French is like going bear hunting without a piano."

-- On Saturday we went to lunch at Lone Star Steaks and I was marveling at the giant mountains of snow still piled up out front. I told Toney I bet they're still there in May. They're starting to melt a little, but it'll be weeks before they're completely gone. As a public service, I've decided to chronicle the demise of The Snow Pile In Front Of Lone Star Steaks, in another Pulitzer-caliber photo essay. Here's the first entry. Where else do you get this kind of entertainment?

-- On Sunday we were in Sam's and I saw a guy take one of his pinkies and wiggle it deep into his ear canal, then smell it.

-- There's an office near our house with a sign out front that says OB-GYN Ltd. What does that mean? We're good, but don't expect miracles? There's only so much we can do here? Don't be bringing us some shit that looks like an open-face roast beef sandwich, there's a limit, dammit. Is that what they're saying? I might call them later, and ask.

-- For some reason we're now receiving a shitload of catalogs at our house, addressed to Toney's mother. Last week we received one from a cigar company. The fact that she lives in Reno, Nevada makes this a tad confusing. But I've learned that it's best not to even attempt to figure these things out, because it'll only lead to more tears. Anyway, on Saturday we got one of those excellent Harriet Carter catalogs which have the power to brighten an otherwise dreary day. Here are some of the highlights.

-- It's Monday, so it's time for another episode of Fun With Chris and Bob. This week we find our hero trolling for skank in the backwoods of West Virginia. Parental guidance is suggested.

-- Finally, this is apparently a real television commercial for a real beer. I'm not exactly clear on it, but it made me laugh, and that's the important thing. Right?

More on Thursday...  Have a great week.

March 6, 2003

-- I was talking to a friend a few nights ago and he told me a story worth repeating, if for no other reason than to celebrate the fact that the shit has miraculously not yet happened to me. Apparently one of his other West Virginia buddies (somebody I don't know) recently moved to Columbus and, upon attempting to secure an Ohio driver's license, ended up neck-deep in problems.

After filling out the necessary forms, and providing the proper documentation, the DMV lady told him they'd be unable to issue him a license, because of an "unresolved incident" on his record in West Virginia. Unresolved incident? The hell? He was baffled. They gave him a phone number to call, and he left scratching his head.

When he got home he called the Department of Motor Vehicles in his former state, and they told him he'd need to talk to a particular sheriff in Wayne County. Wayne County...hmm. Things were slowly starting to come back to him. But that was like, ten years ago. Surely it couldn't be his unresolved incident, could it?

Years ago, when he was wild and irresponsible, he'd been pulled over in Wayne County, WV and had been ticketed for an expired license, car registration, and lapsed insurance policy. A perfect trifecta. It had cost him loads of money, but that had all been handled back when the other George Bush was President. Surely this was all just some kind of mistake, right?

He tracked down the sheriff and he was reportedly a character straight out of the movies, complete with thick Southern accent and no tolerance of nonsense. He was probably overweight as well, and chewed a kitchen match during all waking hours. He confirmed that the fine had indeed been paid, but there was still the matter of the forty-eight hours of jail time left to serve.

What?! He told the sheriff he knew nothing about jail time, he lives in Ohio and never makes trouble for anyone; couldn't they just forget it since so many years had passed?

Nope, was the simple answer. Forty-eight hours was the sentence, and forty-eight hours ye shall serve, he said.

My friend's friend couldn't believe it. He would've thanked God if he were only shitting bricks. He had some acquaintances in state government, and frantically dialed their numbers to see if there was anything that could be done. This was nuts. It sounded promising until he mentioned the county and the sheriff's name. I'm afraid you're gonna have to serve the time, one of his moles sadly informed him. The sheriff had a reputation.

What the fuck?!

During one of these crazed calls somebody mentioned that the county is reimbursed $113 per prisoner, per night, and that is why they're so adamant that everyone serve their time. He decided he'd make one last effort to get out of his newly-minted nightmare, called back the sheriff and offered to write him a check for $226.

"Son, you're marching on mighty thin ice," he said, then proceeded to lecture him on the seriousness of attempting to bribe a law officer. He made it clear that he didn't much care for the man from Ohio, and wouldn't hesitate to make things much worse for him.

So, the following weekend he had his brother drive him deep into West Virginia, and turned himself over to the Wayne County authorities, and two fabulous days in an orange jumpsuit amongst gasoline-huffing hillbilly criminals.

Immediately they made him an orderly, and he got to deliver meals to killers, and tried his best not to allow his shaking hands to splash gravy on men who may have recently set their mothers on fire. He never slept and shared a cell with a man who needed to fight somebody. He said that the only person there who was even mildly friendly to him, including the guards, was a double murderer. He was a very pleasant fellow, he reported.

Can you imagine anything worse? I've been pulled over many times for various expiration issues; before Toney whipped me into shape I wasn't too good with small details like paperwork and the paying of fees and the like.

One morning in Atlanta I was ticketed for the perfect trifecta, like the poor bastard above, and I thought the cop was going to remove his revolver and shoot me in the chest. He was absolutely livid. He seemed to take everything personally, like I'd just honked his wife's breasts, and threatened to impound my car and take my sorry ass to the Jefferson Street Jail (wherever that is). He kept calling me "boy." "Step out of the car, boy." "What the fuck's wrong with you, boy?" "Boy, if there weren't so many people around, I'd kick your ugly ass." My body was emitting a full smorgasbord of liquids.

So, it could've been me. I could've been the one passing out meals in jail, like a stewardess on Bludgeon Airlines. I've walked the halls of the Jefferson Street Jail in my nightmares, and I make damn sure my paperwork is constantly in order. 

I've been scared straight.

-- I wonder if I could talk that Wayne County sheriff into paying this ball-baby bitch a visit? Jeez. Far be it for me to criticize a fellow sarcastic prick, but at least try to be funny about it. Banjoes? Moonshine? Come on dude, you're phoning it in; that's Love Boat humor. Also, have you ever heard of Salman Rushdie? You guys might want to think about becoming roommates. You're screwing with the wrong group of people. Did you notice all those blue and gold WV stickers on all the cars while you were there? There's a very good chance an Appalachian jihad has already been called on your ass.

-- Every time I write one of these updates I let Toney read it before I upload it, mostly out of a sense of superstition; it's just the way it's always been done. Generally she walks out of the bunker, shrugs her shoulders, and says, "It's pretty good." That's usually the level of criticism and advice I receive from her. But a couple of weeks ago she voiced some concern about a paragraph I wrote about the Great White fire tragedy. She suggested I cut it, and I did. Since it feels like enough time has now passed, and since The Onion is making fun of it, here's the offending paragraph:

The tiny Michael O'Donoghue inside my head sees the band members hanging out in a bar late last month saying, "Well, we stole all of Ian Hunter's best songs and that didn't work out too well, what say we burn up a bunch of our fans?" How much you wanna bet their CD catalog is flying off the shelves right now? I also see Kip Winger sitting in a Motel 6 outside Knoxville, or somewhere terrible, mumbling to himself, "Brilliant. Simply brilliant..."

I don't think it's all that bad, but I guess it would've been in bad taste to publish it while the bodies were still smoldering, huh?

-- Long-time readers of this site know that I absolutely hate the way it looks. I did it myself (obviously) several years ago, when I knew even less than I do now. I've toyed with paying a professional to re-design it, but I'm concerned it'll end up looking like the website of a regional medical center in the suburbs of Lincoln, Nebraska or something. I don't want it to be dull and ordinary and corporate, and all that bad stuff. Plus, I don't really want to part with four hundred bucks to get it done. That money could be better spent on Lay's cheddar chips, Tasty Kakes, and cases of Yuengling lager. So I'm thinking about trying to do it myself. My ineptitude will guard against the bad bad slickness, and it will cost nothing. Here's what I have so far. Any ideas or suggestions? I'm at your mercy. I'm nothing more than a fat man in Scranton with a box full of tools I don't know how to use -- I'm like a dairy cow with a table saw here. Help me out, people.

-- I just realized yesterday that I've never had any visitors from the Axis of Evil. What gives? Maybe if I do this: WHOLESALE PLUTONIUM. There, that should do it.

-- I've thrown in the towel on the New Jersey radio personalities who used my comedy material to further their careers. I've officially moved on. They gambled on my short attention span, and hit the jackpot. Screw it.

-- After Rocky sent me his list of insane asylum Reasons for Admission, I did a little research on the hospital and found this shiny ball of fucked-upness. Extremely strange. I need to see this in person, and will. I have it penciled in for early June.

-- Mark your calendars for this momentous event. If I had friends I'd get them all together, buy some beers, and take in the show. Sometime I pretend I have friends, and I have a lot of fun.

-- Ski had friends.

-- Finally, can you tell the difference between porn stars and dictators? How about meat and accidents? I can't either.

I'll see ya on Monday, so to speak. I've got to tell you about my trip to the eye doctor, and how they basically told me I'd better start shopping for a trainable dog now. 

Have a great weekend, folks.

March 3, 2003

A few more things:

-- I need a little help. Remember the radio station in New Jersey I told you about that used the Wal-Mart Game as the basis for several hours of on-air fun and frivolity a couple of weeks ago? Well, I need some help in convincing them to let loose with a tape or a transcript of the show. Any ideas on how I might do that? Are there any legal buzzwords or insider insinuations I might drop? They've been almost completely unresponsive to me and have reportedly even been a bit hostile towards a member of my extended network of liars, spies, and backstabbers. I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing.

I've sent several emails to the station, including a couple to the program director, but have only received a dismissive one-sentence reply, telling me they don't make tapes available to the public. After that heartfelt response, they've now taken to simply ignoring me. I also called there a couple of times but have apparently been put on the same list as the middle-aged woman who shares an apartment with twenty-seven cats, collects Strawberry Shortcake paraphernalia, and devotes a big chunk of her life to ripping various radio stations a new one by phone.

I'm also hearing freaky rumors that the entire staff has been warned not to talk to anyone about "the Wal-Mart show." All inquiries are supposed to go straight to the top. And when I went to the station's online forum to ask if any of the listeners might have a tape, I saw that it had been abruptly taken down -- the whole forum! What in the pan-fried hell is going on here?

I'm not out to make trouble for these people, I just want to hear what they had to say about something I wrote. Is that so outlandishly wild? Is that a reason to treat me like a man wearing a suit of turds?

Maybe it doesn't have a thing to do with me and they're just afraid of Wal-Mart and their Big-Assed Arkansas Law Posse? Maybe that's all it is? They're certainly acting like they're trying to pretend it never happened. I don't know, and don't really care, I just want a frickin' tape.

Please don't screw around with them, and bombard them with email or anything like that; this is not The O'Reilly Factor. Advice is all I'm soliciting here. I don't want them to shut down the station and tear down the building -- they seem a bit overly paranoid. I just want to crack open a Yuengling and enjoy the show.

Goddamn.

-- Today is 03-03-03. You know what that means, right? This is the day the numbers say will be the culmination of a slow ascension of Mars into the residence of Espn, and dragons will lie down with unicorns. The number three, of course, means "oversized red hat" and the consistently spaced zeroes indicate that it's a good day to stay inside and eat relish and vegetable-based jellies. Obviously we're in a very brittle place and caution is advised. No reason to get nutty with it, but you may want to consider wearing a seven-buttoned shirt today and at least eight ounces of silver. The eyelash of a Negro boy-child in your left shoe might not be a bad idea either. Be careful out there!

-- Toney and I went back to PetSmart yesterday and saw something that disturbed me greatly. It was in a fish tank, with water, but I've never seen any kind of fish like it in my life. It looked like a parrot, or some other type of exotic bird, submerged in water. Is that possible? I'm almost certain it had feathers and a beak, but it was inside a twenty-gallon aquarium. I was going to say it was swimming inside the aquarium, but that's not exactly true. It was big and weighty and was just kinda suspended in there. I'd never seen feathers and claws on a fish before, and it made me uneasy. Do you think the PetSmart people, under pressure to keep providing new and unusual pets, are creating bizarre animal mutations at their home laboratory? I haven't felt like this since I saw The Amazing Rooster Boy at a traveling circus when I was twelve.

-- On Saturday we took advantage of yet another gray, overcast northeastern Pennsylvania day and did some more used-car browsing. Soon, I promise, I'm gonna get off the pot and buy something already. I'm slowly transforming into my grandparents on my mother's side. Everything they ever bought in their lives, above the price of thirty dollars or so, was agonized over until everyone around them were daydreaming about suicide. But it's not something you can just jump into, know what I'm sayin'? You can't be foolish just to avoid being a bore. I think Chris Farley said that.

Anyway, we went to a big car lot near our house, and had the quintessential Scranton experience. Sometimes, in this town, I feel like we're on Candid Camera and Allen Funt is going to run out from behind a partition at any minute, and give us a big hug.

We were poking around the lot, checking out their extensive collection of used Blazers, expecting to see a salesman come sprinting out of the building, smiling and thrusting his right hand at us. But even after we began lingering around a particular vehicle, nobody came to help us. The prices aren't posted and I actually wanted to see a salesman. We stood there and waited, then waited some more. And the place wasn't exactly teeming with customers; it appeared we were the only people there.

I told Toney I refused to go into the building. They'd come to us, by God, or we'd leave. After about five minutes though, we abandoned the Kay Doctrine and made our way inside. It was a nice-looking Blazer with low miles, we could take a stand on something later. Screw it.

There was a guy in there, kicked back behind a desk, watching TV and drinking coffee from a white Styrofoam cup, warm and toasty inside his little deserted showroom. Was it possible he hadn't noticed us hanging out for the past fifteen minutes? I mean, what the hell?

I asked him for the price of that maroon '99 Blazer they had out there, and he answered with one of the more amazing statements I've heard to date. "The prices are listed in the newspaper," he said. It's like something out of Monty Python. I told him I didn't have a newspaper handy and since we were there and everything, could he just tell us the price?

"Oh, you don't want that one," he said, "it's too expensive."

The fuck?

He proceeded to explain that it would be much smarter to buy a 2001 or 2002 model; we'd get more bang for the buck, he said. He went on to tell us why this would be so, but it just turned into a haystack of words that could not be scaled or comprehended. Finally I asked him, just for shits and giggles, if I could get the price on the '99 Blazer anyway, and the man actually rolled his eyes and walked off in a huff.

Every other place I've lived in my life car salesmen will practically throw themselves on the hood of your car if you so much as slow down while driving past their lot. But this place is not like every other place I've lived in my life. They sincerely couldn't give two shits whether you buy a car or wax your dolphin.

Where's that partition?

-- Speaking of getting off the pot, is this so-called war with Iraq ever going to happen? Sweet Maria. I'm so sick of hearing about it I actually watched the John Ritter Biography last night to try to escape. Nearly every TV show, radio program, and newspaper article is devoted to the subject. It's making me crazy; we're way past the point of saturation. I may personally board a plane and bitch-slap the next person on TV I hear utter the phrase, "America's rush to war." Rush, my ass. It feels like we've been talking about this shit since ninth grade.

I saw a bunch of college students in Baghdad on the news the other day ranting and raving about America. I might not have it exactly right, but one guy said something along the lines of, "Did it ever occur to you people that we might prefer to live under a brutal murderous dictator with a black black soul? Stay out of our affairs!" Hey, at least he was sticking up for his country.  You wouldn't find much of that on American college campuses.

I can't take it anymore.

-- In addition to the John Ritter documentary, we also watched two episodes of Trading Spaces Saturday night. Where else do you get the chance to see sleep-deprived people snapping at each other to "just shut up and sew?" And on what other TV show are you likely to see a flamboyantly gay Asian man drop to his knees, point to the ceiling and shriek, "Oh God, the crown molding. Look at the fantastic crown molding!" It simply doesn't get any better than Trading Spaces. And check this out: Amy Wynn, the tight-shirted power-tool wielding carpenter turned sex symbol, will be making a personal appearance at a Scranton mall in about two weeks. Oh, I am so there.

-- I came across this on Friday and it got me to thinking that maybe I should take this site in a whole different direction? What do you think? Some ideas are so pure and ingenious, they just leave you in a state of awe.

-- Finally, here are a couple of things you're gonna enjoy...

Chris from Boone has agreed to document his years spent working at a Bob Evans restaurant in West Virginia for us. I've heard a few of his stories and they're simply excellent. The first installment of his mini-series of debauchery is here.

And Rocky from the Insane Asylum came across some documents at his job that he thought I might appreciate, and was absolutely correct. Do yourself a favor and check out the Reasons for Admission.  They're even better than the Incident Report.

And that is all for today. I'm officially burned out. See ya later.

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