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You don't understand. I'm a mysterious loner, not lonely.









A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.



Is that an erection I smell?



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



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   The State of My Fat Ass                                       March 2004

March 31, 2004

-- I had no internet again this morning. It's up and down, up and down... all the time. Like the the size of Oprah's calves. We pay a premium price for Adelphia Powerlink, and it's fine when it's up. Problem is, it's often not up. It causes a rolling anger to start in the vicinity of my stomach, and by the time it reaches my head I'm a wild man spewing illogical obscenities, such as fuckeater. Seems to me the large amount of cash we send them every month should buy us a service we can rely upon. But I am clearly living in a fantasy world.

And there's almost nothing we can do about it. Our options are minimal, because we live in Hooterville. Our little piss-ant phone company (who owns all the poles and wires and land, and locks out competitors such as Verizon) offers high-speed internet, but it has an air of cheesiness about it. I just get a bad feeling. It feels like the internet service you see advertised on fliers tacked to laundromat bulletin boards. The man featured in the ads has unfortunate teeth.

One of the biggest downsides of living in a small town is the lack of options. We have to use Adelphia cable, because there's nothing else. We can't have a satellite dish because of the Waltons-style pine trees surrounding our house; the signal simply can't penetrate the canopy. And if we want to have phone service, there's one company to choose from. Doctors? Yeah, there are about five, and four aren't taking new patients. Mexican food? Their hours are 11AM to 11PM, daily. It gets old.  

There's a thin line between quaint and fucking infuriating.

I was talking to a guy from work who is being transferred to Nashville, and it made me so jealous I wanted to bite a pencil in half. He's shopping for a new house, a place that has all the things he wishes his current place had, and basically gets a chance to right all the wrongs. He's getting a new opportunity to get it right, and there are few things more attractive. A different city, a clean slate, new options... To a neurotic fuck-up such as myself, that's like the proverbial seventy-two virgins.

But whatever. We're all where we are because of the choices we've made. No use whining about it after the fact. But I am washing my hands of any responsibility for the shittiness of this update today. Blame that on the Adelphia Corporation. Fuck it.

March 30, 2004

-- I feel like I'm living inside a clove of garlic. Seriously, I wish you could smell it in here. Toney made pesto last night, apparently an extra-pungent batch, and we might have to sell the house now. The dishes upon which this concoction rested have been rinsed and placed inside the dishwasher, but I think they're mutating in there, growing stronger and cockier with each passing moment. I'm near tears.

Toney loves garlic, and I can't stand it. Oh, it's OK as a subtle ingredient in spaghetti sauce or something, but she likes it in abundance. I simply can't get behind such a plan. The smell of it makes me sad, and the taste causes me to contemplate the taking of my own life. When I'm at a Chinese buffet and walk in front of a trough of some kind of garlic mess, my head involuntarily flies back like the money-shot in the Zapruder film. And Toney's drawn to the very item that causes me to have the vampire reaction.

So, over the years we've had to come up with a method for living, a Garlic Method, and it's worked pretty well for us. Last night, for instance, Toney made herself a big batch of the funk topping, and heated up a single-serving of spaghetti sauce for me, which she'd squirreled away in anticipation of Garlic Night. It's a little hard to eat pasta through a World War II gas mask, but the Method works overall.

(The fact that I go onto the internet and complain about the smell probably doesn't help anything, but still...)

One time in San Francisco we walked past a restaurant called The Stinking Rose, who's motto is something like, "We season our garlic with food." I was nearly killed when I blindly ran into traffic, screaming like a schoolgirl and pawing at my clothes. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it's a stench I'll remember well into my Alzheimer's years. There were people sitting in front of the window, just shoveling that stuff in and smiling and laughing... It's my own private 'Nam. I'm almost certain a yuppie man was drinking iced tea with a big clove over the lip of his glass. Sweet sainted mother of Blanket Jackson!

My boss in California (the guy on the left here) ate garlic like Tic Tacs. I think he kept a basket inside one of his desk drawers, and snacked on it all day. Sometimes we'd have to walk several blocks to a meeting in a different building, and on hot days he'd start pumping the funk. It would waft off his skin and keep getting stronger and stronger. It was oozing from his pores and he'd transform into the devil's potpourri. He's a nice guy, but an intervention was clearly in order. He's probably sitting in a big garlic chair right now, in garlic pants, having a garlic smoothie and daydreaming about being garlic.

Anyway... I'd better stop before I burn some bridges. I'll let Jason take it from here, and I'll see you folks tomorrow.

March 29, 2004

-- Another lightning-fast weekend. It was really nice here, sunny and warm. We walked around the park on Saturday and the water in the lake was so clear you could see a thousand Dr. Pepper cans resting on the bottom. Who throws trash in a lake?! Grrr... Sometimes I think that a full two-thirds of the population needs a good 360-degree ass-kicking. A thin layer of ice remained on top of the water near the middle. I hurled a stick out there and it bounced around and sounded like it was skipping across cement. Amazing. So much water, turned solid by the cold. It seems impossible.

Folks were out working in their yards, walking their dogs, riding bikes... And everybody was in a good mood. It looks like winter is finally over, and that excites even a bitter old burn-out such as myself.

The teenagers on our block also emerged from hibernation and their days of lemonade stands and games of tag are clearly over. They all look like they're about thirty now. The way they change so fast is frightening. The little girls who used to run through the neighborhood squealing and laughing could now be cast members of The O.C. And I'll probably be working for the boys soon. They already look at me with disappointment and suspicion, so they're almost there.

We pulled the camper out of the garage on Sunday, and wiped it down with cleaning stuff that smells like oranges. We loaded all the supplies we accumulated over the winter, including flashlights designed to withstand a nuclear blast, walkie-talkies that will reach all the way from the campsite to the nearest tavern, smoking chips made from old Jack Daniels aging barrels, and the Stanley Kubrick DVD box set. It's fun. Less than two weeks and we'll be waking up beside the Atlantic Ocean, inside a contraption I would've snickered at and ridiculed five years ago. Who knew?

As long as my vital organs, and the organs of my loved ones continue to function in the manner they were designed, and if I don't get downsized at my job and end up losing the house, and if there's no tragic fires or gas leaks, or anything like that, I think this is going to be a good summer. I'm feeling my own style of optimism, all of a sudden.

-- A few months ago I told you about some churches around here who charge their members for "flamingo insurance." They're apparently required to pay some pre-determined monthly fee to the church, and if they fail to keep up with the payments they'll wake up with a front yard full of pink flamingos -- and all the public humiliation that goes along with it. It's good old-fashioned Sopranos-style extortion, with a whimsical twist. And cruel as all hell, it seems to me. Here's what one of our neighbors' front yard looked like on Saturday morning. Obviously they allowed their policy to lapse.

-- And here's another photo I posted a while back, along with the photoshopped version created by one of Mark's readers, to resemble the Jim Jones mass-suicide. Just a little blast from the past.

-- I bought a couple of 40's over the weekend, and I ain't talking about Schlitz Malt Liquor -- I'm talking pants. Something's gotta be done. I'll look like Cannon by the time I'm fifty, and that's no joke. ...Although I'm not 100% sure I could manage such a magnificent moustache...

-- I spit on my socks Saturday. I bet none of you can make that claim. I was getting ready to go out, and had grabbed a pair from the dresser and slung them over my shoulder. My plan was to put them on downstairs, where my shoes were located. So, I stopped in the bathroom and was brushing my teeth, when the socks slipped off and fell into the sink just as I was in mid-spit. Great big gob across both heels. It never stops.

-- Say it ain't so, Scrote! Say it ain't so!!

-- Can somebody please explain to me why lots of people willingly adhere the logo of their insurance company to the rear of their automobiles? I've never understood this. Is it a sign of prestige to have State Farm? Does that say, I'm a playa? Yo yo yo man, you on the Nationwide tip, dog! I'm completely at a loss.

-- Here's the latest from Chris. He's taking a week off, but has supplied us with some classic internet comedy, in his style. Check it out.

-- And finally, here's a page I created to track the number of fucks spoken on the new HBO series, Deadwood. It's not an easy task, but I'm doing the best I can. Any suggestions for additional data to be included is welcome. Let me know.

More tomorrow (if my organs continue to function).

March 26, 2004

-- Why do kids have to share? Seriously. I've never really understood the mania surrounding childhood sharing. I don't do much of it as an adult, and I think most people are the same. My neighbors don't drive my car, for instance, and I get to use my DVD player all the forkin' time -- not just when it's my turn. Why, then, are kids forced to hand over their most cherished items to little hooligans who may or may not have their best interests at heart? I think it's cruel.

Oh, sharing is fine if it's your idea. Kids should know it's a nice thing to do, and is always an option. But it shouldn't be mandated. It's like the mayor showing up at your door, with some zitty stockboy from the Price Chopper, and telling you to hand over your leather jacket because the zitster doesn't have one, and he gets cold collecting all those carts in the parking lot. That's what it's like to a kid, I think.

Nancy's apparently having trouble with one of her translucents, because he doesn't want to give up the socialistic goods. Of course, at the House of Nancy this is practically an act of treason.

If she were an elementary school teacher she'd be the kind that makes all the kids, on the first day, dump their school supplies on a table in the middle of the class, and everybody takes from the pile as needed. That way nobody has too much, and nobody has too little. Like in Cuba. And little Johnny gets to build up a lifetime's worth of bitterness and resentment as he watches some shithead, who only contributed a 19 cent Bic pen, using his fifteen dollar Monster Truck zip-up organizer.

Back when we lived in Atlanta and Nancy was in South Carolina, she asked us a few times to let friends and acquaintances of hers stay at our house, on their way to somewhere else. These were people we didn't know, and she wasn't going to be with them(!?). She just wanted to incorporate our house into some crazy-ass underground railroad for the trail mix and body hair set. Obviously, that little idea didn't fly, and she acted as if we were the most selfish ugly Americans who ever drew a breath of globally warmed air.

I also remember her bitching because we had three bedrooms in that house, and really only needed one. She wanted us to turn over the extra rooms to Haitian hepatitis sufferers, or something.

So, you can see why she and Nostrildamus are beside themselves with worry. It's a bigger crisis than the time they caught one of their colleagues listening to Sean Hannity at a stoplight. They've tried everything, from withholding the water cress treats to telling him the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Haliburton Executive, but their middle translucent just won't go along with the program. It's his Tonka, goddammit, and everybody else just better keep their booger-hooks off of it.

This has all the makings of a real-life Shakespearean tragedy, and I'm just gonna sit back and watch the eco-friendly fireworks. 

-- And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'll turn it over to Rockin' Randi (who I'm sharing my website with today), and wish you folks a nice weekend. 

See ya Monday.

March 25, 2004

-- It's supposed to be a nice weekend coming up. If it pans out we're gonna pull the camper out of the garage and get it ready for our upcoming trip southward. Just planning the escape is exciting. We need to get away from this place for a while. The grayness, the cold, the people who pronounce th as t.... It's time for a break.

I have a feeling that a mid-April getaway will become yearly tradition here at the Compound, as long as the Compound remains in this part of the country. Having something to look forward to is essential for northeastern Pennsylvania survival, I've learned. It makes the four month-old snowpacks of filth a little more bearable.

And this, of course, will be the inaugural voyage with our new expand-o box of beds and portable kitchen supplies. We'll have to pull it, situate it, set it up, and sleep outdoors in it, with the bears and people from Canada. I'm not historically the most outdoorsy of people, so this is fairly intimidating. It's a big adventure. We're used to Red Roof Inns and airports and theme Arby's, so this represents a complete shift in travel theory for us. It's exciting.

I am a little worried about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, poison oak, copperheads, mountain lions, Bigfoot, tornadoes, hurricanes, drifters "from Tallahassee," and various other little nagging concerns. But let's just keep that between us, OK?

-- We made reservations yesterday to have dinner at this place while we're in Myrtle Beach. Supposedly you eat with your hands, drink beer from big Viking mugs, and wave chicken drumsticks around, while rooting for your knight to behead his opponent. Homer and Marge went once and I've been intrigued ever since. It's really expensive, but I think somebody gets eaten by a lion during dessert!

-- Hypothetically speaking, what should a person do if they forgot their mother's birthday and didn't remember until, say, two weeks later? No reason for asking... I'm just wondering how something like that should be handled. Hypothetically.

-- Have you seen the H&R Block commercial in which they're trumpeting a new enhancement to their tax preparation service, where they actually go back and double-check their work? Wow! It just keeps getting better and better!! They say the average mistake (that previously would've gone unnoticed) is worth $1500. Kick-ass. In a few years they'll probably go all the way and start hiring actual accountants, instead of just accountant-style associates. Progress is a beautiful thing to behold.

-- We may have to get a restraining order against Dish Network. They keep calling our house, day after day after day, inviting us to re-join the Dish family. And we explain, semi-calmly, that we'd like to be a part of their cult, we really would, but the huge pine trees to the south of our house (known in the industry as "big ass trees") won't allow us to pick up a signal. This seems to confuse them, and they call back the next day as if the previous conversation had never taken place. It sounds like the same guy every time! I may have to go all Chris From North Carolina on him, if it keeps up. Interrupting dinner with that shit is one thing, but Law & Order is something else altogether. Wonder if a satellite can function from deep inside a telemarketer's ass?

-- Van Halen announced this week that they'll be hitting the road this summer, for their first tour in many years. The big mystery, of course, is who'll be their singer? So far they're not saying, but through my vast network of spies and backstabbers I've learned that the rumors are true. It will, in fact, be Wing! I can't wait. Gross unfettered snobbery prevented me from seeing the band years ago with David Lee Roth (who is apparently making a cameo appearance on The Sopranos this week -- no shit), but I won't make that mistake twice. No way. Apparently they almost went with Teddy Pendergrass, but he was unable to really sell "Jump" during rehearsals. That's what I'm hearing, anyway...

-- Speaking of really fucked-up, check this out.

-- I received a whole new batch of Smoking Fish photos this week, including this one from the Mother Land. Very cool. And then there are these. The one on the top is so pleasingly bizarre it almost made me weep -- and the second one ain't too shabby either. You people are awesome.

-- And I'm all out of time here... I'll turn it over to Buck, to take up the slack. 

See ya tomorrow.

March 24, 2004

I recently watched part of a show on the Travel Channel about the ten best water parks in America. Yikes. They sure have ratcheted those places up during the past twenty-five or so years, haven't they? I thought I'd crossed that particular life experience off the Big List as a youngster but, clearly, I don't know shit. I'm like some sad old man now, who still thinks people line up to buy Jethro Tull albums. What was once kick-ass is now candy-ass, and I'm worried that I might be forced to reinstate the entry. And God knows nothing good can come from that.

One of those places has a nearly-vertical drop where a normal-sized person can reach speeds of sixty miles an hour! I can't even imagine such a thing. Just watching footage of strangers flying helplessly down that trough of death made me nervous. Hell, considering my heft, I might cause a sonic boom. I'd probably come out of that thing like a cannonball, and end up in the parking lot wedged beneath a Chevy Trailblazer. It could be tragic. That is, of course, if my love-handles didn't slow me down like fleshy brake pads. I just don't know the logistics...

And what if you somehow got yourself turned sideways in one of those flumes? What if you hit a dry spot, and your foot got thrown to the side while traveling at such an accelerated clip? I can imagine being shot into the pool at the bottom, and being joined a second later by a femur and a battered set of genitals.

I bet the bathrooms at that place get a workout as well, considering all the high-speed chlorine enemas they administer every day. They should open a colonoscopy clinic next door, since every patron undoubtedly leaves the park clean as a whistle.

And speaking of that, one of the places they profiled has an attraction where you can swirl round and round a giant toilet bowl, like a human turd, then free-fall out the bottom into a bigger pool underneath. Pretty cool. I only wish they'd gone the extra mile and created a giant fiberglass ass from which you're ejected before entering "the bowl." You just know they discussed it, and some uptight bean-counter vetoed the idea. Oh, I know how these things work. The pricks.

Truthfully, I don't know if I'd have the courage to willingly send myself hurtling down one of those horrifying hamster tubes. And if I did, there's a good chance I'd be confined to a wheelchair for a month afterwards. I bet muscles that haven't moved since 1982 would be awakened from their slumber, and wouldn't be at all pleased. No, I think I'll just keep the item marked off, based on my experience back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

I'll just sit at the bottom now, with other old men, and wait for another college girl to lose her top. That's one entry that never leaves the list.

March 23, 2004

-- I heard a hand-wringer talking about the dangers of cell phones on the radio last week. The guy said that holding such a device to your head for hours every day would, over time, turn you into a latter-day Bob Marley, without all the coolness. That's not a direct quote, but it's close. He claimed it was like working near a microwave for extended periods, and listeners called in with a myriad of "evidence" that what he was saying was true.

One guy said his uncle owned a sandwich shop and, to speed things up, he removed the glass from the door of his microwave. He'd just fling stuff in there, punch the buttons, then snatch it back once he thought it was done. The thing was practically running all the time! Of course, everybody in the shop grew massive tumors, and the uncle's left hand eventually turned into a KFC chicken strip (or something). What that has to do with cell phones, I don't know. But it's a good story.

Another true believer claimed he and his buddies put a phone inside an uncooked turkey and called its number repeatedly for an hour, at which time the bird was cooked to a golden brown, and was ready to eat. Can that possibly be true?! I seriously doubt it. I have a feeling that the caller was one of the Jerky Boys; I believe he was doing material.

But I was intrigued. And when I got home I put several kernels of unpopped microwave popcorn inside a Tupperware container, and sealed my cell phone in there with it. Then I went into the living room, turned on TVLand and dialed my cell number with the home phone, over and over, for about 45 minutes.

When Toney got home from the store there was a plastic container on the kitchen counter, ringing. She had an expression like Jeff on Curb Your Enthusiasm, right before he says, "What the fuck? What the fuck?!"

That was the best part of the whole experiment, because nothing else happened. The popcorn didn't pop and the kernels didn't look any different than when I started. I was deeply disappointed. I was ready for a hot wireless snack, goddammit.

I believe I've been duped. Sometimes I think that half the crap I hear every day is utter bullshit. At least I hope so, because I've got a pounding headache this morning...

-- West Virginia is back in the national news today, and it ain't pretty. The governor is apparently throwing a fit over a t-shirt being peddled by Abercrombie & Fitch that reads, "It's all relative in West Virginia." Here's the story. He's demanding that the retailer stop selling the shirt, and they destroy all existing inventory of the offending item.


The only thing I see offensive about the whole deal is the price of the shirt. Twenty-four dollars!? Holy crap. I was born at night, but not last night, baby. It's kinda funny though. I wouldn't mind having one, but I ain't paying that kind of money, and I seriously doubt Abercrombie has a husky section.

One little annoying thing: why is it always West Virginia? I've driven all over the eastern part of this country and I know for a fact that we don't have the market cornered on inbred water-heads. Why do we have to carry that particular cross, all alone? Why does Kentucky get a pass, for instance? When you think of Kentucky you conjure up images of big green horse farms and mint juleps beneath a willow tree. Across the river in West Virginia? Oh, it's all about cousin-fucking, over there.

It's a tad unfair, I think, but nothing to get your manties in a twist about. There's a lot of comedy in ugly stereotypes. Maybe I'll shoplift one, and justify the act from atop my high horse?

-- I'll let Jason take it from here, and I'll see you folks tomorrow.

March 22, 2004

-- I tripped and stumbled through the front door at work on Friday, and nearly took out the metal detector. It's a big airport-grade device, not just some pussified Bed Bath & Beyond set-up, and as I turned to walk through it my foot wrenched to the side and I crashed into the right wall of the thing. I'm pretty certain that the opposite side actually lifted off the floor. It started buzzing and whistling, and lights (that I'd never even seen before) began flashing off and on.

All the commotion caused the crack security team to drop their Scranton Times and TastyKake Krimpets, and come running. And, of course, every employee head within a fifty yard radius swiveled to see what in god's name was going on at the front door.

And there I was flailing and windmilling my arms and trying to get my rubber band legs back under control, shit flashing like The Price Is Right -- because my snow boots had betrayed me once again. It's like the bottom is narrower than the top, they're kinda V-shaped, and I just can't seem to master them. I suspect that they may actually be ladies wear, but I'm not sure.

Of course, there was no explaining any of this (and I don't think it would've helped, now that I think about it). I had to collect myself and keep walking as if nothing had happened, and try to ignore all the laughter and hurtful pointing. There were no other options, under the circumstances.

Most people trip going up stairs, or walking down empty hallways. No, that's not good enough for me. I have to turn over a quarter-million dollar apparatus hooked into the central alarm system of a large warehouse complex. I have no doubt the whole episode is on tape and has already been viewed dozens of times. And it'll probably be shown at parties this summer, as well. The pricks.

-- On Sunday we went to Wilkes-Barre to a "home and garden show." We thought it might be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, but were sadly mistaken. I had it pictured as a couple hundred booths set up in an auditorium somewhere, but it was more like twenty vendors, in the middle of a mall. And of those twenty vendors, five or so were selling hot tubs. Maybe I'm way off base, but I place hot tubs just below Miracle Beds on the White Trash Living Meter. This is luxury! Could you pass me another Busch Ice, honey, and turn up the volume on the projection TV? Pitiful. Not to mention nasty. I'm sorry, but Jeff Kay does not willingly submerge himself into a bubbling cauldron of ball broth, even if it's his balls that helped create the stock.

Anyway, this "show" gave new meaning to the word lame, and it was unbelievably packed. It was wall-to-wall people, and at any given moment you might have two or three denim-encased man-hams pressed up against your person. Not my idea of fun. We decided to make one quick lap and get the hell out of there.

Inside the entrance six or eight long banquet tables had been set up, and zit-spangled nerds were seated at every available position. They were laying out trading cards in front of themselves, with unicorns and dwarves on them(?). I just don't know... But they were a sad lot, each destined for at least another decade of virginity, I estimated. Mixed in, of course, were the standard male ponytails, satin jackets with Asian-style writing, and teeth retainers. I had to look away.

When we got to the middle of the mall there seemed to be an electricity in the air, and it was obvious that folks were excited about something. The crowd at this point was almost impenetrable, but we pushed onward. What were they doing up there, giving away bundles of cash? Pontiacs? Trips to the moon?! People were smiling and standing on their tip-toes and waving their arms. What the hell, man?

Yeah, it was the local television weatherman. He was signing autographs and had the place whipped into a full-on Beatlemania frenzy. I couldn't believe it. If J.D. Salinger and Ronald Reagan had been there, singing "Reunited" by Peaches and Herb, there wouldn't have been such a crowd. The man is a celebrity.

When we got near the table where he was holding court I saw that four or five women were busy selling hats and mugs and crap, emblazoned with the weatherman's likeness. They had Paulie Walnuts-sized wads of cash in their hands, and were working at a feverish pace. It's been nearly 24 hours and I still can't believe what I saw happening before me at that mall yesterday. Sweet sainted mother of Cloris Leachman.

We finally escaped that five-pronged cluster-fuck and went to Barnes & Noble, where I flipped through this elaborate coffee table book of black & white photographs of bloody murder scenes from the Law & Order television show.

It was one of the more surreal afternoons in recent memory.

-- Speaking of trading cards, this page is really entertaining. It's dedicated to remarkable sports cards, like the ones featuring men with impossibly large afros. Great fun.

-- And this is an early-1970's educational film, apparently designed to teach young retarded women about their periods. I'm not the queasy type, but there's a scene in this thing that made my lower jaw retract. Yowza. Speaking of TastyKake Krimpets...

-- This is interesting. One of our Further Evidence links has apparently touched off a full-blown research project. Cool.

-- And that'll do it for today, kiddies. Here's Chris to top things off with another great big blast of angry.

More tomorrow.

March 19, 2004

So, we found ourselves at a potluck dinner last night at one of the many Catholic churches in town. It's a long story and, believe me, I tried to get out of it. But I met Toney there after work and ate ham, and a few other miscellaneous items prepared in the kitchens of strangers (with unknown cleanliness standards). I dreaded it all day, my sphincter snapped open and shut whenever I remembered, but it wasn't that bad. As usual, the event looked far worse in my mind than it actually turned out to be.

We sat at a big round table and the crowd never launched into any of those confusing semaphore signals that do a good job of intimidating the non-Catholics. It was a huge relief.

I attended a traditional Catholic wedding in Georgia years ago, and I've been fairly freaked out ever since. Robes, candles, people jumping to their feet and patting each other on the back, secret handshakes, little old ladies starting the wave... It was unbelievable. I had no idea it was going to be so choreographed, and I'm almost certain I was the only person there faking it. I felt like I was suddenly onstage with Gladys Knight and the Pips, but had blown off all the rehearsals.

(It was even worse than the Jewish wake I went to in California. Do I put on this little hat they gave me? Is it offensive if I do? Is it offensive if I don't?? They should post the rules, like at a swimming pool. Seriously.)

But last night was mostly about eating, I guess. And community bonding. That's cool. I like small towns and the idea of knowing our neighbors is attractive, even if the process is almost always excruciating.

One part of it that I especially enjoyed was the eighth-graders charged with tending to our every need. If our tea glass got below the halfway mark, they'd be there to fill it, in all their awkward eighth-grade splendor. It was excellent. Apparently they were doing required community service, in their quest to become full-blown Catholics.

Very interesting. The church I attended as a kid constantly attempted to recruit new members, like godly representatives from Sprint Long Distance. The Catholics apparently do none of that and, in fact, make you jump through some serious hoops to get in -- like getting assholes more rolls. I like it.

And the little ceremony where all the eight year old kids got their first sip of wine was fascinating as well. Again, at the Baptist church a fifty year old man might be run out of town for drinking wine. Here, they were celebrating third graders taking their first belts. It was funny to see the disgusted looks on their faces after they swallowed. I couldn't agree more, the shit is nasty. Afterwards the kids received a merit badge with a cross and a liquor bottle on it (I might be fuzzy on some of the details...), and everybody clapped. Strange.

The priest was hanging around near our table most of the night, and he made me nervous. I felt like he had the power to peer into souls, and it was only a matter of time before I was thrown out. He was wearing a long leather jacket and could almost certainly kick my ass. The few preachers I've known in my life were gentle old men who patted you on the arm and were reassuring. This guy looked like Johnny Sack. I kept watching him out of the corner of my eye, but there was no trouble.

It was an interesting evening, and a pleasant one. Everybody was really nice, and that ain't always the case in this part of the country. When we moved here I had ideas about being part of the community, attending city council meetings and the like, but it hasn't yet happened. Apparently it takes a little effort on my part, which kinda sucks. Toney had to drag me kicking and screaming last night, but I'm glad we went. I have a tendency to isolate myself, which isn't good, and this was a good start in the other direction.

Now here's Buck, to finish off another week of Surf Reporting.  Have a great weekend, and I'll see ya Monday.

March 18, 2004

-- I stayed home from work yesterday. My stomach was doing The Twist when I got out of bed, and the thought of just hanging around the house was appealing to me. So that's what I did. No conference calls, no bitching, no eleventh-hour fire drills... It was nice. I get sick days and personal days and vacation days every year, but many of them are donated right back to the company because I feel guilty about using them. Even if I have a vacation scheduled weeks in advance, it feels like a betrayal when I actually take it. It's one of my many hang-ups.

But yesterday was good. I spent the afternoon working on the book I'm trying to write, and got a lot done. It's exciting. I have no idea what I'm doing, but somehow I'm doing it. Perhaps I'll betray my company and co-workers more often? Of course, I couldn't just call in sick, that would be unthinkable; I'd have to actually be a bit sick. Maybe I'll keep a stash of rotten lunch meat on hand, and eat a rancid sandwich the night before I want to get some writing done? It might help with the guilt factor if I, you know, power-shit my pants before making The Call to my boss? Any advice on that?

-- Yesterday was apparently St. Patrick's Day. I wouldn't know, really. It's not something I celebrate, since I have no idea what it's about. I have friends who use it as an excuse to drink to massive excess, but I'm not clear on why. Was St. Patrick a lush? I'm not sure, because some of those same friends use Christmas and Easter as excuses to drink to excess as well. And I'm fairly certain that if Jesus were alive today, he wouldn't be taking part in Penny Til U Pee night at Tink's. Ya know?

Scranton has a huge St. Patrick's Day parade every year, and I guess tens of thousands of people attend this annual celebration of debauchery. Reportedly it's one of the biggest in the country and people travel from other states to take part. It's held on the Saturday before the Big Day, and on that Saturday the bars open at 7AM(!). I've heard that the folks who attend usually get to see grown men and women puking into the gutter and/or urinating off the top of parking structures, etc. Needless to say, I don't go anywhere near this "parade." I'm just not much of an enthusiast of airborne bodily fluids. At home the fluids are somewhat contained.

One of the more amazing bits of news from this year's St. Patrick's Day, is the fact that Shane MacGowan is apparently still alive. Yes, you read that correctly. Here's a photo of him performing yesterday at a "parade" in Northern Ireland. Amazing. And he still looks so healthy!

-- And since I mentioned Shane, I can't let this opportunity pass without again showing you folks the poster he signed for me several years ago in Atlanta. Heartwarming.

-- Speaking of healthy-looking, I saw a person in the break room at work the other day who looked like Miss Teen USA from behind. I thought, who the heck's that? What's a high school cheerleader doing in a big dusty warehouse like this? But when she turned around her face looked like Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke -- on a teenager's body. I think I may have actually shrieked. Holy hell. She could've been seventeen or fifty-seven. I simply don't know.

-- And on that note, I'd like to make another public plea for the folks at the Places Rated Almanac to add an Ugly Index to their calculations of the best U.S. cities in which to live. Sure, health facilities, schools, and the arts are important, but no more important than ugly. Few things trump ugly, at the end of the day.

-- Here are two designs being considered for the West Virginia state quarter, which I think will be released in 2005. Appalachian warmth? The hell?? What is that, a quilt covering the state? I'm not a fan. It's true that West Virginians are a friendly people, but we ain't the nation's snuggle blanket, goddammit. And can't they come up with something a little more exciting than a really high bridge to represent the Mother Land? Pitiful. Is that really the best we can do, a length of interstate highway? Hell, the Smoking Fish would be a better idea than that. Or Don Knotts -- he'd look good on a quarter. Of course if I were in charge I'd put something on there that had nothing to do with the state, like a pineapple or Stonehenge, just to fuck with people. It's sad.

-- This is pretty interesting. You can now request various "funeral backdrops" to be displayed behind your casket after you die. Las Vegas is getting in on the act with giant projections of playing cards and slot machines and the like, but I'd have to go in a different direction. Like, maybe the potato chip aisle of Kroger? I think that would be kinda cool, to create the illusion I'm amongst snacks. And maybe the undertaker could tuck a single tasteful sack of Funyuns under my lifeless hand, to complete the motif? Yeah, this is something I need to explore...

-- And I think that'll do it for this fine snowy Scranton Thursday. I'll be back tomorrow, with more of this crap. In the meantime, I'll now turn it over to the capable hands of Rockin' Randi, who has a bone to pick with some of you people.

See ya later.

March 17, 2004

When did Hyundais become respectable? Seriously. I see them now being driven by businessmen who act like their turds are odor-free, and soccer moms with the required frazzled look on their faces as mandated by the Soccer Mom Lobby. It's all very disorienting. In my day Hyundais meant one thing: this person is poor. How did it change?

I drove a Hyundai Excel for many years and was indeed poor at the time. It was during the period of my life when I lived in a 500 square foot apartment in Atlanta, across the hall from a still-undiscovered Arrested Development (no joke), and sometimes ate pasta for dinner with Campbell's bean with bacon soup as a topping.

I bought my car brand-new for something like $4000, and the shit looked like a miniature Mercedes-Benz. From a distance it was extremely impressive, but when you got close enough to see the logo, the reaction was always, "Oh." And you instantly went from being a player, to a man who eats pasta with Campbell's bean with bacon soup as a topping.

But somehow those Krafty Koreans have turned it around. There's no stigma anymore. The new models look incredible and, according to the television commercials, they ain't all that cheap anymore. It's now OK to have a valet park a Hyundai -- they're no longer the vehicular equivalent of a faded skin-tight Dollywood t-shirt, or a gold toof.

I find this fascinating. I thought prejudices die hard? Apparently not as hard as one might imagine, at least when it comes to cars. It seems almost impossible to me.

When I was a kid Toyota was a Johnny Carson punch line, and only teenagers and hedge-pitted notdog & shamburger-eaters drove them. I believe some models actually came from the factory with the "You can't hug your kids with nuclear arms" sticker already attached. Now, of course, they cost more than what my parents paid for the house I grew up in, and no self-respecting notdogger would be caught dead in such a crass symbol of American capitalistic status. Or whatever.

Hondas too. Back in the day the Honda Civic wasn't much more than a lightweight metal windbreaker with wheels attached. You put it on over your clothes and rolled in it to the convenience store where you stocked the Yoo-Hoo and Winstons for eight hours a day. You could practically hold one in the palm of your hand; it was a pitiful excuse for a car. But it gave way to the current models that cost six hundred bucks per month, for seven years, and say, "I am a man with a giant penis."

(How come West Virginians can't change their image like that? Not all of us still use terms like "rice-burnin' Jap crap.")

I don't think I could ever buy another Hyundai, because I have a history with them. I remember the oil flying out of the motor as I drove down the interstate, and the way the engine would nearly seize up when I turned on the AC.  I just generally associate them with hard times. But I'm impressed and amazed how they've changed other peoples' minds.

It's almost like when Nixon became cool, near the end.


March 16, 2004

-- My current musical obsession is this Rhino Records box set, which chronicles "the '70s punk rebellion." I've been playing it for days. Even though I intimately know and already own 95% of the songs, they sound even better strung end to end this way. As the kids say, it's awesome. Toney wonders how I can crawl out of bed and immediately start listening to "shit" like X-Ray Spex and Pere Ubu, but why beat around the bush? If you're awake, you're awake. And, like certain expensive cheeses, Polly Styrene is appropriate in almost any setting.

But as I was enjoying the box this weekend I realized that lots of the people involved are now dead. And it wasn't from old age either. If they were 23 in 1977, they'd only be 50 today. But a bunch of them have already punched out, and gone home early. Half of the Ramones, half of The Pretenders, Stiv Bators from Dead Boys, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, Johnny Thunders, Joe Strummer, and on and on. All deader than Kelsey's nuts. Sad.

As I was trying to put it into perspective I realized that a large number of people I went to school with are also now dead. And I'm only 41. Most died in some kind of alcohol or drug-related fucked-upness (like Russian roulette!?), but a few died in car accidents (one took a truck mirror to the back of the head while walking along a busy road), and at least one killed himself. My high school has taken heavy casualties over the years; it's one hard-livin' group of people.

If somebody were to do the math, in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the classes of, say, 1979 thru 1983, in my hometown, have triggered more funerals, by percentage, than the crazy-ass punks on the Rhino box set. I'm not sure what any of this means, but it probably means something.

I'm just glad I was born with an inner-pussy, that won't let me go too crazy. Like the Democrats and Republicans constantly pulling each other to the middle of the road, not allowing anyone to implement too radical an agenda, my inner-pussy and inner-Stiv have so far kept me between the lines. They've played tug-of-war over the years, but neither has dominated the other. Oh, inner-Stiv kicked some ass in the early 80's, but inner-pussy eventually made a comeback. And both are now my dear friends.

And this is the kind of thing that happens when I get some sleep...

Here's the second installment from Jason in Athens, with a new photo of the author himself at the top of the page. I'll have more thought-provoking tomorrow.

Oh, I almost forgot... the "experts" are predicting we'll have up to nine inches of snow before bedtime tonight. Hard to believe, but for some reason I'm hoping it's true. I hate it, yet I love it. Go figure.

See ya. 

March 15, 2004

-- The weekend was not satisfying. I need another day, and about twelve extra hours of sleep. It's not good when you go into Monday exhausted. Part of the blame goes to HBO, of course, for keeping me up to watch lame episodes of two of my favorite shows. (Man, what a bummer x2.) Also, too much shit was going on at work last week, and things kinda bled over into my end-of-week healing and recovery period. I'm feeling a tad swollen today; I'm puffy and my brain is expanding and contracting inside its housing. Five hours of sleep just doesn't cut it. Both ends of the weekend were clipped off, and I'm hoping the bags under my eyes don't get infected. Do they still make Bactine?

-- I went to dinner Friday night with the out-of-towners and a bunch of people from work, and the meal consisted mainly of beer, with a side order of beer, and some beer to drink. I'm too old for such shenanigans. We went to Old Forge, which is basically a town built around fifty or so Italian restaurants. It's a famous place, known as the "pizza capital of the world," or some such thing. We had the banquet room at one of the many eateries there, and there were twenty or so in our party. The furnishings were mid-century Moose Lodge.

I took a seat near the end of the ludicrously-elongated table, and poured myself a glass of Yuengling Lager from one of the five or six pitchers being passed around. Then I did it again and again and again, just to keep up with the flow of traffic. (Those people can frickin' drink.) A couple of little old ladies continuously shuttled out fresh vessels of the golden elixir, and Miller Lite, or some such swill designed to appease the pathetic.

And this period of the meal lasted for hours. I'm not joking, there wasn't an ounce of food to be had, and I was starving. What is this, dinner or a meeting of the Shriners?! Shit. Let's get some za out here, grannies!

Finally, they brought out three or four square pizzas, and I had three pieces, each the size of a pack of cigarettes. Then it was all gone and the drinking resumed. I couldn't believe it. I was about forty miles from my house, drinking on an empty stomach, and feeling social pressure to keep going. I wanted to go home, climb beneath a big blanket, and watch Ol' Scrote on Law & Order, not spend the night in a Pennsylvania drunk tank with a growling stomach and a bunch of assholes from work. I'm a lot of fun to go places with...

Around ten the "meal" ended, and somebody asked if I wanted to go with the gang to a bar called Julia's. What?! You've got to be shitting me?! Was that hundred pitchers just a warm-up? Is this Bon Scott's birthday or something?? Goddamn. Those old ladies are going to have to go into physical therapy after all that beer-toting. It won't do anything for my career, but I parted company with "the gang" and drove home with my hands gripped on the steering wheel in the ten and two o'clock positions.

And the next day they made fun of me over the phone -- something about minivans and Home Depot. The pricks.

-- On Friday, before the hops and barley festival, we had a few problems with a group of temp workers at my job. They were brought in to do some auditing of the physical inventory. They weren't actually temps, they worked for an inventory company. But they had the aura of temps, if you know what I mean.

There were a couple of Indians, one who couldn't speak English, and one who translated for him. And there was a fat chick with an axe to grind, a group of stoners in big pants, a doughboy who was supposed to be the supervisor (but clearly couldn't give a honey-glazed fuck about any of it), and a bald man with a growth on his head that looked like a buttermilk biscuit had been surgically implanted into his scalp.

The stoners were joking around, planning their night of partying and playing grab-ass with the fat chick. The Indians were confused, and the biscuit kept changing colors like a mood-tumor as its owner tried to understand what we wanted from him. It was a fiasco. I felt like a foreman at a retard house.

Afterwards, we called the firm to complain, and the guy told us, without actually saying it, "Hey, what do you expect? They're temps." I'm glad I don't usually have to supervise people at my job. I'd surely strangle someone sooner or later. Stupidity pisses me off.

-- Toney and I went inside the library house yesterday. It's a ridiculous house in our neighborhood that looks exactly like a 1970s-era public library. It's for sale and the realtor had an open house Sunday afternoon. Oh, we simply had to check out the inside of that thing. It's a square structure with a flat roof, and the middle is open. The rooms are all around the perimeter, and there's a big patio in the center, surrounded by floor to ceiling glass.

It was built in 1969 and looks like a bachelor pad in some old Peter Sellers movie. I felt like I should be drinking a Mai Tai, and listening to Dave Brubeck. On one of the walls is an architectural award the house earned back in the day, which is simply mind-boggling. There are no sidewalks or driveway leading to the joint, you just walk across lawn to get to the door. And the asking price? $189,900. All I can say is, good luck. If you knocked the one off the front of that number, I think it would still be overpriced. Real estate rule of thumb:  If it's described as a "contemporary" there's gonna be some fucked-upness.

The big tub of Vaseline on the nightstand in the master bedroom probably should've been put away before the public was allowed in, as well. But maybe I'm just overly critical?

-- The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm were mediocre at best last night. There was little conflict in The Sopranos, and few laughs in Curb. What the hell, man? Those are the things we tune in for. I was so pissed I couldn't fall asleep until well after midnight. HBO has a contract with America to entertain us on Sunday nights, goddammit. I don't think they acted in good faith this week.

-- A British TV network recently asked some celebrities for their favorite swear words. I said a few of them last night before turning in. Here ya go. If you're at work, be sure to turn down your speakers before clicking; your boss will think you have Tourettes.

-- And I think that'll do it for today. I'll let Chris take it from here.  See ya tomorrow.


March 12, 2004

I joined BMG Music Service again. It’s about the fifth time. I keep joining and quitting, joining and quitting. I have no grand scheme to soak them for mass quantities of compact discs at low introductory prices, I'm not that devious or organized, it’s just somehow worked out that way.

Every once in a while I see one of their ads promising twelve CDs (always twelve) for some ridiculously low price, and I decide to take them up on it. Then after a year or so I start getting shit I didn’t order, and eventually rack up an ungodly bill. I refuse to pay, and we part company. Then a few months later it starts all over again.

Sometimes they send me notes bordering on the desperate, begging me to return to the fold, even though I left owing something like $87.52. I'm always happy to oblige. Life's too short to let $87.52 come between old friends, especially when the other old friend is willing to forget it.

My current deal is twelve discs for the price of one. You get two “free,” then you buy one, and after that's paid for they give you nine more “free” ones. The reason I say “free” is because there’s a substantial shipping and handling charge added to everything. So it’s only free in a very vague Clintonesque kind of way.

I chose Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home” and “The Best of The Church” as my initial freebies. Then I paid for “The Babys Anthology” which ended up costing over twenty bucks(!?). Now I get to choose nine more so-called free selections. And when it’s all said and done I’ll have shelled out about sixty dollars for twelve discs. Not a bad deal: five dollars each. And it’s the reason I keep taking the bait.

Once you’re in you’ve gotta be smart, but there are ways to get your stuff at really good prices. They're constantly running overlapping specials and semi-complicated deals. The buy one, get one free deal is to be ignored, because you end up paying about twelve bucks per disc. It's something to hook the rookies. Sometimes, however, they run buy one, get three free, and that’s one to jump on. The goal, you see, is to lie in wait until you can get the price per disc below eight dollars.

After a while you learn the tricks and it becomes sort of a game. You feel like a low-rent stockbroker, playing the angles and leveraging against the back end. Or whatever.

But beware, because I’m fairly certain that once they realize you're a pro, they just begin mailing out Oasis and Barenaked Ladies CDs, all willy-nilly, and things quickly spiral out of control. You’re sending things back unopened, they’re saying they have no record of receiving it… It gets crazy, which I believe is their plan.

I think they keep a running total on the average you pay per disc, and once you dip below a certain number, you're flagged in the system. And that's when Oasis begins shipping in bulk from an insidious warehouse in New Hampshire (or someplace dull), set aside to service the “unprofitables”. I believe it’s actually built into their system, this distribution center of confusion. Once you go red it's all over; the packages just keep coming, and you become a music club goalie flailing away like a retard. So, there’s only a small window of opportunity, but things are really good while it remains open.

The selection is fairly mainstream but they can sometimes surprise you. For instance, they have a two-disc Daniel Johnston collection. I bet the oh-so-hip record emporium in town here doesn't even stock that thing. This weekend I might go in there and mention that BMG Record Club is cooler than they are, just to fuck with them. Painfully thin Ric Ocasek lookalikes with laminates around their necks generally enjoy that kind of critique.

In any case, record clubs, if you play your cards right, are a good way to fill in the holes in your music collection. At least that's been my experience. Last go 'round with Columbia House I picked up the first ten or so Springsteen albums for about the cost of dinner at Friendly's. It's about time to re-join them as well... A measly $57.46 shouldn't come between old friends.

But right now I get to choose my nine free discs, and that’s the fun part. Before the Barenaked Ladies catalog starts rolling in from New Hampshire, I also plan to get my hands on a cut-rate Velvet Underground box. My goal is to pay no more than twenty bucks for it. That’s the big prize this time around, and I will be successful, goddammit. They're not dealing with a trained monkey here.

And I think this may well be the worst update I've ever written. What the fuck am I doing?! BMG?!! There's no comedy in this! The California visitors are screwing me up... I'll let Randi take it from here, and I promise to do better on Monday. Holy shit.

See ya.

March 11, 2004

-- Visitors from "the coast" will be converging upon my workplace today, making it necessary to break out my fake smile and insincere easy laugh for the next couple of days. I'm spoiled, because I'm the only employee of my company who works here; my boss is 3000 miles away and all the people I deal with locally work for somebody else, and have little say in what I do. It's excellent.

But every once in a while a gang of my California colleagues pile onto a plane and come out to visit. I'm not a big fan of it. Oh, I have no problem with any of them personally, it's just the disruption that bothers me. I've constructed my little utopia here with care, and don't take kindly to visitors tramping all over my metaphorical landscaping, or brushing their teeth in my figurative bathroom, splattering up the mirror and wiping their bloody mouths on the symbolic guest towels. I like them all just fine as individuals, but they belong on the other side of the continent, thank you very much.

One of the people who will be arriving later today is a woman who is seemingly obsessed with the small number of minorities in Scranton. Ms. Correct, who would undoubtedly say she dreams of a colorblind society, carries around a racial scorecard and takes inventory everywhere she goes. She believes that since she doesn't count the right number of blacks or Hispanics at the pizza joint down the road, it must be a hostile environment to them. Therefore, by extension, we're all night-riding Klansmen here -- eating the meatball hoagie of oppression. She's always good for a few laughs...

Oh well. By Monday it'll all be over. I've just gotta ride it out. My Dad ran into burning buildings for twenty-five years, I'm sure I can endure this. I'm almost certain of it.

-- I was talking to a guy yesterday about how practically every place I've ever worked as an adult is now gone. Peaches Records in Greensboro? History. The indie record distributor in Atlanta? Gone. The corporate record distributor in Atlanta? Yesterday's burger. The home office of the corporate record distributor in California? Nothing but a stressful memory. I am the kiss of death, apparently. The good news? They all wait until I've moved on to shit the bed. So far there hasn't been any bed-shitting on my watch. Maybe they just couldn't recover from losing me? Yeah, I'm sure that's it... For the record, my junior high and high schools are also gone. I've left a wide path of destruction in my wake.

-- Wonder if I keep hitting the back button on my computer if I'll eventually be working at Peaches again in my denim smock, listening to the BoDeans? I might try it later. Those were happy times.

-- I finally caught the new episode of Spongebob this week, where he and Patrick are cavemen or whatever. It was incredibly bad; the laughs were just not there. Toney snapped this photo of me as I watched. Do they have a whole new group of people making that show, or something? Sad. Who's jumping the shark, under the sea...? Spongebob Squarepants!

-- I received the new issue of FHM magazine yesterday; it's one of the mags I scammed for free somehow, and it's satisfyingly smutty. Meadow Soprano is on the cover, and is in various stages of undress in a "steamy" photo spread inside. Pretty eye-opening, on many levels. For some reason I have a strong urge to buy stock in the Gillette Corporation this morning... Those people are clearly at the top of their game. Holy moly.

-- I'm thinking about getting a set of these, so I won't have to expend so much energy while taking Andy for a walk. Our route is at least three-quarters of a mile and a pair of robotic pants seems like just the ticket. Hell, wonder if the pants themselves could just walk him?

-- Here's an entertaining story about a girl who somehow ended up with Chris Rock's old cell phone number, and continuously receives calls from celebrities. If something like this had happened to me and Mark when we were in LA, we'd either be filthy rich or in jail right now. The mind boggles at the possibilities.

-- And I think that's enough for one day. Our old friend Buck has fought his way back above water, and is with us again today. So, I'll let him take it from here.

And I'll be back tomorrow.

March 10, 2004

-- We're scheduled to leave for Myrtle Beach exactly one month from yesterday, and last night I drove home in a snow storm like something out of the movies. The two just don't go together. I don't want to conjure up premature heat and humidity, but this crap has gotta end. I thought it was over already? What's the deal, Neil?

We've got a lot invested in our inaugural voyage with the new camper, and I'm worried something is going to screw it up. Like ball-high snowdrifts, for instance. I had to fight my boss for the week off, and he's still not very happy about it. And I've got pull-through sites reserved in campgrounds all up and down the eastern seaboard, meaning I might not have to embarrass myself by trying to back that uncooperative bastard a single time during an entire week. That's huge. And any revision to the plan could make it all come tumbling down, like a house of revoked man-cards.

We've managed to collect most of the equipment needed for a successful excursion into the wilderness, including a small TV with built-in DVD player, and a pair of walkie-talkies strong enough to reach from most campsites all the way to the nearest Papa John's Pizzeria. So we're ready to go. Now if it would just stop snowing... Every flake tightens the rectal drawstring a tiny bit more.

-- Apparently it's lent season again. I know because people at work are going around comparing the things they're "giving up." I'm not sure what it says about me, but I'd never heard that word in my entire life, until I moved here. Lent. From what I can gather it's a Catholic tradition where a person gives up something they enjoy, for forty days, to show God they're serious (or something). And since this place is saturated with Catholics, it's a huge deal.

Restaurants run "lenten specials," because meat is something often sacrificed. And bars and beer stores know to adjust their inventories, in anticipation of the hoards of men who give up the brewski every year. It has a substantial impact on the local economy, as bizarre as it seems.

Lent, $10,000 Holy Communion parties, flamingo insurance, hoagies, perogies, Sinatra-worship, polka... Sometimes I feel like I'm in some vague European country here, during a time period I can't quite put my finger on. I kinda like it, if you want to know the truth.

When I first moved to Scranton I thought people were talking about a laundry problem, I shit you not. I decided there must be something about the northeastern Pennsylvania climate that caused clothes to produce large amounts of lint. Maybe it was like the hard water problem in Southern California? I was very confused, and just couldn't understand how a person could reduce their lint output by not eating chocolate in March. But I acted cool; nobody knew of my dumbassery. 


Catholics intrigue me. Coming from the Land of Baptists it seems wildly exotic to see religious people laughing and having fun, and mixing Jesus and cocktails. Where I went to church as a kid they issued you a stick to ram up your ass once you reached third grade, and had matured to the point where you could be adequately judgmental and superior. If it weren't for all the scary robes and candles and secret hand-signals and stuff, I might be able to embrace Catholicism.

Nah, on Sundays I watch Meet the Press.

-- Finally, here's a little test that's fun to take, where you drag and drop the names of states onto a US map. I was cocky the first time I tried it and ended up being relegated to the short bus. But I buckled down the second time and aced it. Check it out. It's not as easy as it seems.

See ya tomorrow.

March 9, 2004

-- As I was preparing to upload the Monday update yesterday, before I left for work, the power went out. I was copying and pasting and singing along to "Johnny Can't Read" by Don Henley (are you judging me?!) when everything groaned to a halt and my monitor had a little white dot in the middle of it, like a 1968 television. What in the honeybaked hell?! This better not fuck up my files! Did I save everything?? Did we pay the electric bill?! I was howling like a retard with a toothache.

During the Greensboro days my electricity was turned off on a fairly regular basis, because, at the time, I thought paying utility bills was for pussies. So, even though it was a lifetime ago, it's one of the first things that pop into my mind: is there some jackoff in a van outside trying to teach me a lesson? Am I going to have to go down to Duke Power again and cut a deal with a man in a Sears suit?

Ah, the memories... Good ol' Duke Power, across from the plasma center, where'd I'd be in a perpetual state of outrage for being wronged by this massive faceless corporation, once again. The fact that I hadn't paid my bill in five months had nothing to do with it. I feel like a number! I am a victim!! Power to the people!!!

Anyway, after ten minutes of Little House on the Prairie living Toney called the electric company (not Duke Power), and they acted like they were unaware of any problems. I went outside to see if I could spot a light inside the house of a neighbor, but there wasn't much to see. I was convinced it was only a problem at our place, that something underground had shit the bed and I'd have to pay for it -- because we were too cheap to spring for the two dollar per month insurance policy, or whatever. I was stressing.

When I got to work I called home and nothing had changed. Sweet sainted mother of Bonnie Franklin. I could envision, clearly, the heavy machinery in our yard, digging and digging and digging. And I could see our Myrtle Beach trip going down the shitter, because we were liable for it all. Every pore on my massive body was swung wide open, but my sphincter was cinched off tight.

Finally we got some good news. The electric people said they were now aware of the problem, and it would be fixed before 1PM. Around noon they arrived and it didn't take long. Here's the culprit. No joke. It's what caused the electric to go out, and my early-morning anguish. Our neighbor was apparently trapped inside her garage for hours, but that's really the only bright spot in this whole story.

I guess I should be happy that it didn't cost us any money, and it didn't screw up my computer, but I'm not really wired that way. Once the power was restored I raced home, published the update, snapped a photo of the suicide bomber and sped back to the office. That's the part I'm fixated on. I was cheated out of at least one Mountain Dew Severe, by a goddamn rodent with a lack of street smarts. I feel like I'm looking at that Sears suit again.

-- Before I go today, I'd like to introduce Mr. Jason Castleberry, who will be penning a weekly column for TheWVSR from his Southern outpost in Athens, GA. One particular sentence in his piece today made it clear to me that I needed take him up on his offer to contribute to the site. Can you guess which sentence? Welcome aboard, Jason. It's gonna be fun. And thanks for the cool Smoking Fish photo as well.

More tomorrow.

March 8, 2004

-- I experienced culture shock last night after watching most of a special two-hour Trading Spaces, then switching immediately over to HBO for the Sopranos season premiere. I went from fabrics and throw pillows and candles floating in water, to Paulie and Christopher shooting a waiter in the fucking face because he complained about the tip they left him. It was extremely disorienting. The Trading Spaces people should've been a little more sympathetic to the situation, and included some footage near the end of the show of Amy Wynn going berserk, spewing obscenities, and threatening Doug with a hacksaw. It would've made for a much easier transition. I might write a letter.

-- I thought The Sopranos was really good. Well worth the wait. Thirteen new episodes, people! I'm so excited. HBO does a good job of turning Sunday night into an anticipated event. Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm is a hell of a one-two punch. In case you're interested, here are the official bookmaker odds on which regular Sopranos character will be the next to "go into the witness protection program." Apparently Johnny Sack is the safe bet, and who am I to argue? As for Curb, last night's episode included a scene in which a cast member of Survivor got into a game of one-upsmanship with a holocaust survivor, over who's experience was more impressive. Now that's entertainment.

-- This weekend we got an update on an old story that was mentioned here several months ago. Toney's sister-in-law, you may remember, decided she wanted to have gastric bypass surgery. She saved her money and was mentally prepared, but when she visited the doctor she was told she wasn't fat enough. This bad news sent her spiraling into depression and she immediately launched a campaign to pack on the required forty additional pounds, to put herself over the top. She ate donuts and candy and full-stacks of pancakes, nearly 'round the clock. It took a long time, but she finally got there (an inspirational tale reminiscent of Rocky), and the doctor agreed to perform the procedure. Well, over the weekend we found out that since the surgery she's lost almost forty pounds! She's now back to the weight of her initial doctor visit. ...Excuse me, I'm getting a little emotional here...

-- A person I know (can you tell I'm being purposefully vague?) had a colonoscopy last week. He told me that the hospital mailed him some literature several weeks beforehand, and he was asked not to eat corn, peanuts, or popcorn five days in advance of the procedure. This, he guessed, was "so their scope wouldn't get hung up on a kernel." He was also told not to take any aspirin during this time, because he might bleed to death "if they ripped open his bunghole."

The night before, he was required to ingest a massive amount of laxatives and clean himself out. He spent the whole night on the toilet, taking care of the required cleansing, and on into the next morning. Apparently it was a very thorough event, and he thought he recognized some things he'd eaten in high school.

They put him completely under for the test, and when he awoke he felt like he needed to unleash the mother of all farts. They warned him that they pump air in there(?!), and he might feel gassy afterwards. The recovery room was full of nurses, so he couldn't just let it fly. So, he laid there in misery for several excruciating minutes, and finally got up to find a bathroom. He located one, went inside and locked the door. Immediately he blasted off, and blew "jelly" all over the wall.

Later the doctor told him that he's simply baffled why more people don't have the procedure done, especially since most insurance companies pay for it in full. I'm no medical expert, but I have a few theories.

-- Here's a quote from one of my favorite fictional characters, Travis McGee, taken from the novel I'm currently reading:

"Old friend, there are people -- young and old -- that I like, and people that I do not like. The former are always in short supply. I am turned off by humorless fanaticism, whether it's revolutionary mumbo-jumbo by a young one, or loud lessons from the scripture by an old one. We are all comical, touching, slapstick animals, walking on our hind legs, trying to make it a noble journey from womb to tomb, and the people who can't see it all that way bore hell out of me."

I'd like to have that turned into a plaque of some kind.

-- I saw in the paper yesterday that David Crosby is planning to perform here in the next few weeks, with special guest CPR. It's pretty bad when you reach the point where the paramedics are just worked into the show. Ya know? Apparently it's become so inevitable that the men with the defibrillators are now being given secondary billing in his shows? Sad.

-- I took a little time over the weekend to update the list of search engine phrases people used to find this site. So, here ya go. The new ones are at the top, and I promise they're all real.

-- And here's a really cool collection of '70's and '80's video arcade games you can play on your computer, at work on company time. Pretty darn authentic, if you ask me. I felt like I was in the back room of the Dunbar Bowling Alley again, with my Jiffy Pop hair and skin-tight Paul McCartney and Wings sleeveless t-shirt.

-- Finally, I'm gonna turn it over to a man who undoubtedly logged a little time in the Dunbar Bowling Alley as well. Here's this week's rant from The Word Processor himself, Chris From North Carolina.

And I'll be back tomorrow, goddammit.


March 5, 2004

It seems that the news is being dominated these days by stories I just don't care much about. I try to stay up on current events, but lately I've been kinda bored by it all. Feel free to think less of me, but I just don't have any emotional investment in any of it. Here are some things I'm currently not caring about:

Gay Marriage. I don't have any hardcore feelings one way or the other. Gays should have the same benefits and perks that we married breeders have, it goes without saying. But beyond that I start to lose interest. If John and Kerry want to go down to the courthouse after their shift at Bennigan's is over, and tie the knot, what do I care? How does that affect me? At the same time though, I'm not a big fan of special interest pressure groups. So I'm kinda pulling for them not to get what they want. This is based in a craving for spite, nothing to do with homosexuals. Generally speaking, I just like to see the self-righteous denied. So, you see, my two low-watt emotions about the issue kind of cancel each other out. As that great American philosopher J. Mascis once said, whatever's cool with me.

The Passion of the Christ I have no interest in seeing this movie. Bloody subtitled films about the crucifixion are not really my cup of meat. My tastes run more towards the Cannonball Run series. It seems that any flick with Jesus in it sparks controversy. If He's portrayed as a gigolo, a disco-dancing dandy, or a furry, the Christians howl with outrage, as the elites sneer and talk about the "chill wind" of censorship. And when He's given sympathetic treatment, those same chill-winders do all the howling. That Jesus sure is a lightning rod of emotion; how come I can't tap into any of it? I once crossed a picket line made up of crazed overweight Baptists, to see Monty Python's The Life of Brian. But it was no act of defiance; I just enjoy a good comedy. I have a feeling that there are few laughs in this current Jesus film, and I just can't work up a passion for The Passion. Maybe if Dom DeLuise were involved?

Martha Stewart. Powerful people sometimes use their privileged positions to unlawfully benefit themselves?! I'm simply shocked. Obviously she's guilty, but why all the hubbub, bub? Why the big jury trial and the long drawn-out legal proceedings? They should've all just sat down in a conference room somewhere, opened some Diet Cokes, looked at the facts, and made a ruling. It should've taken one afternoon. Fine her three times the amount she profited, place her on probation, and humiliate her a little in public. Then let her go back to making her couch covers, for god's sake. I'm baffled by this one. Shouldn't the Feds be more worried about, say, our nuclear secrets being traded for cash and gifts, than this crap?

Kobe Bryant. One of the first thing they teach you in fiction writing class is that there usually has to be good guys and bad guys in a successful story. This Kobe thing has no good guys, and I just can't get into it. The billionaire basketball player cheating on his wife in a hotel room with a trampy woman sporting a camel-hump of semen? Not much to invest in there, is there? There are no Luke Skywalkers in this sordid little tale, and I don't care about it. Other than the fact that I'm happy they're all being humiliated and scrutinized for being scumbags -- I enjoy that part of it. Their underwear appearing regularly on MSNBC, and serious discussions about their pubes taking place on CNN, are excellent byproducts of scumbaggery. Other than that though, I don't care.

And I don't care about Michael Jackson, Laci Peterson, or 9/11 (or Vietnam) footage being used in campaign commercials, and a whole bunch of other things as well. Ho hum, and zzzzzzz.

Pass the beer nuts. Fuck it.

March 4, 2004

-- Toney's mother, Sunshine, believes she's being victimized by a conspiracy, perpetrated by the nation's foodmakers and its clothing manufacturers. Here's how it works: the food people get everyone fat by selling all the bad stuff really cheap, then the clothing people cash in by charging outrageous amounts for their "stout" lines. Somehow, you see, they're in cahoots; plumping 'em up, then cashing in when it comes time to conceal all the grossness. As always, she's not joking. This is a fact in her mind.

She apparently flew into a rage inside a Lane Bryant store this week and accused the workers there of wagging the hotdog (or whatever), when she checked the price on a 4X t-shirt. She began shouting at high volume her Oliver Stone theory, which reportedly juxtaposed the words "ramen noodles", "Kraft macaroni and cheese", and "full-figured gals." She was eventually asked to leave the store, which only confirmed her beliefs. She was silenced by The Man, and The Man is Jewish.

Seriously, how did Toney come out of that household? It just doesn't seem possible. Scientists should conduct a study.

-- I've really been enjoying my old-time radio show CDs. They're a lot of fun, as well as informative. I had no idea, for instance, that Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese cost only two ration points. Why, a mother on a budget could keep her family happy for a full week on just one package of the delicious, creamy delight, while at the same time supporting our men and women in uniform... Oh sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, the CDs. They're a lot of fun, with the exception of The Shadow. I can't stand The Shadow. He's a pompous invisible know-it-all who walks around undetected, acting like the smartest guy in the room. I have a feeling that if people could, you know, see him, they'd kick his ass on a regular basis. Three dimensional people just can't be that arrogant and get away with it.

-- I'm thinking about finally starting a collection of seasonal undergarments. I missed my chance to procure some President's Day briefs, but I still have time to buy a pair of big green boxers with leprechauns on them. I believe I'll start there. I feel kind of bad that I'm 41 years old and it never really occurred to me to acknowledge the holidays with underwear. What was I thinking? I see it in the stores, but it just never registered with me. I can be such an idiot sometimes.

-- Yesterday at work I wandered out into the warehouse, just to get my blood moving, and began talking to one of the guys on the receiving dock. He told me that earlier in the day a truck driver had busted through the door and said, "I have two requests, people! I need a tape measure and a bathroom!!"

--  Here's some porn that's safe to view at work.

--  And here's a lifetime compressed down to a few seconds.

-- You know, when we're in pain or suffering in some way, we always think about how we took it for granted when we felt fine. So, with that in mind, I just took a moment to reflect on the fact that my butt is not all inflamed and itchy. Tomorrow I think I'll do lupus, or tuberculosis.

-- In yesterday's filler, I mean update, I wrote a little about the weather in Southern California, and I'd barely finished uploading it before I received the following email. It's one of those things that really makes you stop and take stock of your good fortune. I hate to bring the mood down today, but I believe the message is worth sharing.

With all the news on TV lately about the sub zero weather and snow that the east coast and upstate NY areas are experiencing, we shouldn't forget that Southern California has it's share of devastating weather also.

I've attached a photo illustrating the excessive damage caused to a home from a west coast storm that passed through the San Diego area a couple of days ago. It really makes you cherish what you have, and reminds us not to take life for granted!!!

Here's the photo. Brace yourself.

-- On a happier note, I've received a new batch of Smoking Fish photos, from an exotic locale. I usually just pick one to include in the gallery, but all were so good I added 'em all. I can do that sort of thing, you see, because it's my website. Check it out. Extremely cool.

-- And now I'll turn it over to Rockin' Randi, who's just about fucking had it. I'm not sure what's going on with Buck. He sent me a cryptic message yesterday that said he felt like somebody had laid his nuts on a windowsill, and slammed the window shut. I don't think he's talking about an STD, so it must be his job that's getting him down. I'm confident he'll be back in his normal capacity as soon as things settle down for him. In the meantime I'll move Randi up in the rotation, and we'll check in with her on Thursdays. Randi?

More tomorrow.

March 3, 2004

-- We're starting to ease into spring here, finally. The rock-hard foot-thick snowpacks, that have covered every inch of grass in the county since November, have begun to give up the ghost. Water is running everywhere. If you stand outside and stay quiet for a moment, it sounds like you're beside a swift-moving creek. All the nasty salt and gravel and crap is being washed away by the very stuff that made it necessary to spread it around in the first place. It makes me happy, and excited.

I complain about this place a lot, but the seasons here are fairly spectacular. Sometimes I feel like we're sitting in the perfect spot where all four seasons are allowed to perform exactly as they were designed. I suspect that if we moved fifty miles in any direction something would be out of kilter. The winters are extremely wintry, without being too ridiculous. Spring is like something out of a movie, and summer is goddamn hot like summers are supposed to be. By the time fall rolls around, with the trees changing color, the cold bite in the air, and the smell of fireplaces, you feel like doing an underwear dance on your front lawn. The seasonal calibration in northeastern Pennsylvania is nothing short of impeccable.

In California there was a sexually-ambiguous weatherman who did the morning show on television. He would strut around the set in a suit with a flower in the lapel, constantly exasperated at the incredible weather he got to predict every Monday through Friday. (He's probably doing it right this minute.) "Another day in paradise!" he'd proclaim day after day. And it did seem perfect for a while, but it got old. It was too much. It was like living on Krispy Kremes alone. It sounds like a good idea in the abstract, but try doing it sometime. I began to miss the changes in season, and the friggin sun started to piss me off. I think I actually gave it the finger a few times.

It's not like that here; you get the full sampler tray in Scranton. And each item compliments the others, like a meal prepared by a master chef. Sure, the people are often abrupt and have no idea how to properly merge onto an interstate, but right now I'm willing to give them a pass. Two weeks from now might be a different story, but today there are no inbred assholes or sausage-eating fucks.

-- I took our dog Andy for a walk on Sunday, and he humped up and laid out a heapin' helpin' of piping hot yard biscuits, right in the middle of the street. Of course I just whistled and acted all casual, and walked on. But all evening I was paranoid that somebody would drive over one of the turds, slick out, fish-tail out of control, and crash through a house. I had visions of the police knocking on my door, thrusting a poopball at me, and saying, "Recognize that?!" It was always ol' Scrote from Law & Order in these frightening scenes.

Before I went to bed I considered going out there with a flashlight and picking it up, but I remembered that the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. So I just laid low and hoped for the best. I'm only now confident enough to talk about it publicly. I believe I'm safe at this point. The statute of limitations on dog shit is extremely abbreviated. I learned that on Perry Mason, I think.

-- I'm listening to the Ass Ponys right now, and you probably aren't. Stand-out lyric: "Well, I swear upon my mother, and I believe with all my heart, that I could rule the world if I could get my car to start." I'm right there with ya, brother. I might have that embroidered on a pillow. Or, as we say in West Virginia, a pilla. Whatever.

See ya tomorrow.

March 2, 2004

-- Have you ever noticed that when you're on a conference call you can tell who's clearing their throat? It's true. Everybody seems to make a distinctive noise when moving phlegm around. (Perhaps it could somehow be worked into airport security?) I have to dial into a call every day at 12:15, and there's always a few awkward minutes at the beginning when we're waiting for the bitching to get underway. Nobody says anything during this period of limbo, but if you listen closely you can tell who's on the phone. Nervous people clear their throats a lot.

I'm still in the early stages of my analysis, but I have theories that there are regional differences as well. I believe people in Chicago have a slightly different timbre to their throat-clearing than people in, say, Atlanta, or Los Angeles. I find this to be fascinating. I'll have a full report, as soon as possible. I'm still finishing up a field-study that I'm confident will prove conclusively my theory that sneezes do indeed travel in pairs. After that, I'll get on this throat-clearing thing. I hope you're as excited about this as I am.

-- Today's another Super Tuesday election day for Democrat presidential hopefuls. The field of candidates has narrowed quite a bit, and it's essentially left now to Massachusetts Senator Elongated, and Senator HiGloss, from North Carolina. One of these men will do battle with President Smirky in November, for the highest elected office in the country. Of course, you can't completely rule out Dennis Kucinich. His campaign has surprised a lot of people, and has really heated up during the past few days. Here's a photo from the trenches.

-- I had a Vietnamese character in one of my old paper zines named Espn Hbo. I just remembered that, for some reason, and it made me laugh.

-- Have you seen the commercial for a cell phone company where a teenaged girl comes home to find a Room For Rent sign on the front lawn? She goes inside and asks her mother about it, and Mom explains that their wireless bill is so high they're going to have to start taking in boarders. There's a Toby Maguire lookalike sitting there, and the girl gets all excited (and possibly horny). But then a toilet flushes and a middle-aged grotesquerie with a newspaper under his arm busts through the door, and Mom tells Daughter that this is, in fact, her new roommate. It's creepy as all hell. I have to look away when it comes on. Who came up with this concept, David Lynch? Shit.

-- And speaking of creepy, check this out. It's an ad for the new season of The Sopranos, showing all the people who have been "whacked" in previous years, kinda sticking out of the soil and maybe decomposing a little. Freaky, man, freaky.

And that's all I have time for today, children. Have a great one. See ya tomorrow.

Back to you, Williams.


March 1, 2004

-- I felt like we were on Trading Spaces this weekend. Almost on a whim we decided to paint the living room, dining room, and upstairs hallway. Several weeks ago we removed the ugly old previous-owner wallpaper from several walls in the living room, but had been putting off the painting. Well, to be more accurate, I'd been dragging my feet. But Toney finally had enough, and early Saturday morning we did a cannonball right into the middle of a large home improvement project. And it took nearly the entire weekend to swim back to shore.

I can't believe it actually happened; it all seems like a dream sequence to me now. We just painted the inside of a fucking house. Can that possibly be true?

I didn't have enough time to properly prepare, that was the problem. Usually I like to circle a date for such a thing, two or three weeks in advance, and work up to it. But the temper-tantrum only took place Thursday night, and thirty hours later I was on a step-stool with a roller in my hand. The sequence of events was wildly compressed.

I found out that I'm not very good at estimating the required length of a strip of masking tape. I had some serious overlap issues. Sometimes I'd tear off a hunk that was almost twice as long as needed. It was baffling. I like to think that I'm reasonably intelligent, but my tape estimating skills are for shit. I started feeling stupid about it, so I concentrated and still it was way off. I just couldn't get it right. It would either overlap massively, or I'd need to fill in with a series of little Vienna Sausage segments at the end. It was nothing short of sad.

But it turned out really well, I think. Except for a little section in the dining room where people might think Michael J. Fox lent a hand, it's nearly perfect. It's looks really good, and somehow makes the rooms appear larger. I couldn't be prouder.

By Saturday night I was trying to convince Toney that it would be OK to just paint around the furniture, instead of going to all the trouble of moving it. I told her that whenever we buy a new couch we'll just make sure it's a bigger one. But now that we're finished, I'm glad she kept me going in the right direction. Except for the fact that my body now feels like it's in the early stages of Lou Gehrig's Disease, I think I'm feeling the satisfaction of a job well-done that I've heard so much about.

-- Our neurotic dog Andy is completely exhausted. He is, as Toney calls him, the Woody Allen of dogs. And I believe he was convinced that by painting and moving things around and setting up ladders and such, we were preparing for an animal sacrifice. He pranced around on his tip-toes for forty-eight straight hours. And now that everything's back in its place he's spread out on the family room floor like a bearskin rug. He's absolutely spent.

-- And Nancy's pissed off at us for buying our paint at Wal-Mart. She asked Toney where we'd bought it, and gasped audibly when she received her answer. Obviously she'd prefer we use "emulsion" made from roots and berries, and rollers constructed of sea sponge, or something. Or, at the very least, we should buy our paint from an independent hardware store. It's hard for her to understand this way of thinking, but we were painting our living room, not making a political statement to impress our colleagues. Hell, we don't even have any colleagues; we have friends and co-workers. I could've used a big ball of her armpit hair, though, to sand down some spackling. Organic ain't all bad.

-- As incredible as it might seem, an editor from the Utne Reader contacted Mark Maynard on Friday about the "Sleep Is Creepy" article I wrote for the new issue of Crimewave USA. It seems that they want to pay me actual cash-money to reprint it in their May/June issue. A contract is reportedly forthcoming. Yeah, I can't believe it either.

-- Since we're on the subject of literary journals, here's an email I received over the weekend that made me laugh out loud:

Tighty whities and skidmarks - I had a friend in college whom we called Buck. When visiting his apartment there would almost always be a laundry basket full of laundry (der) sitting around somewhere, and there were always skidded up tighties on top. One day I told him he needed to wash those, that I was tired of looking at them and what would a girl think if he by some odd chance succeeded in luring one home. He countered with "those are clean, I just haven't put them up yet."

Perhaps I should've waited until the Utne contract was signed before I revealed so much about my sophisticated sense of humor?

-- Check out this cluster-fornication. Apparently gay marriage is a hotly debated subject in Russia, as well as the U.S.? I just don't know.

-- The Academy Awards were highly unsatisfying this year. I didn't think Billy Crystal was very funny (which means I'll read a review later today about how he made the show funny again), and frickin' Sean Penn won best actor over Bill Murray. That's a horrible turn of events. The man looks like a bottlenose dolphin, and is always running his mouth about something or other. He might be a great actor, but I can't stand him. I was shouting at the TV when they called his name, and within seconds he was talking about weapons of mass destruction. Yeah, blow it out yer ass, Flipper.

I have no opinions one way or the other about Lord of the Rings because I've never seen any of them, nor will I ever. Horseback riding midgets with swords is not really my cup of tea. They may be kick-ass movies, but I'll have to take your word for it.

The best part of the show was when some old man, the president of the academy or an accountant, or something dull, got all flustered and began making jokes directed at "Williams." Nobody knew what the hell was going on, or who this Williams was, but I'm pretty certain that he thought the show was being hosted by Robin Williams. Seriously. The man had no idea what was going on. It was my favorite Oscars moment this year, but it probably won't show up in any of the clips. What's the frequency, Williams? Excellent.

-- And I'll now turn this thing over to Chris, who has cranked out another novella of anger, for our enjoyment.

Have a great day, and I'll see you again tomorrow.

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