Previous Notes













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 2005

March 31, 2005

-- I am so sick of hearing about the Mylar Balloon Lady. I have no passion for the story, one way or the other. And I really wish it would stop. I can't turn on the radio without hearing somebody with an agenda to sell, pontificating about it. The same goes for newspapers and cable news. Go to the websites of CNN or MSNBC or the LA Times or the Washington Post, and there's a good chance you'll either see a picture of that poor woman wallowing in her bed, or some nutcase with tape over their mouth and a clock around their neck like Flavor Flav. It's been going on for weeks.

The politicians are in on the act, of course, as well as newspaper columnists (including that shifty-eyed little prick over at the NY Times), and it's all simply too much to take. In most cases I'm all for invading somebody's privacy, if there's entertainment to be gained, but this is not entertaining at all.

Call me heartless and unfeeling, but I just wish it would stop.

At work I've been trying to stay away from any radio station that might present Mylar updates. Mostly I play Modern Rock Classics at Accuradio, but even that gets old after a while. How many times per day does a man really need to hear "Mirror In The Bathroom"? So, inevitably, I start searching around for an alternative, and it's a highly frustrating endeavor. Clive Bull is even on vacation this week, so that gives me three more hours of day to fill. Damn you Clive Bull, damn you!

Well, yesterday I came up with a plan. I can't believe it's taken me so long to think of it. It cost me $6.95, but it's money well spent. I went to Phil Hendrie's website, and bought one of his backstage passes. For a month I now have access to a thirty-day archive of his shows, and all kinds of fun little odds and ends. Yesterday I listened to all three hours of the previous day's show, and it was just what the doctor ordered.

For the record, he did touch on the story I'm trying to avoid, but in his own way. He was interviewing a "woman" (he is both host and guest), who was organizing a caravan of SUVs to travel from Orange County, CA to the hospice in Florida. There they planned to demand that Mylar's "machine be plugged back in." 

She claimed that the protestors down there are just pussy-footing around and it takes Californians to get the job done right. And in exchange for saving the woman's life, she would like for Mylar's father to donate some money to the construction of their subdivision's planned new community center. And maybe reimburse them for gas costs.

You can probably guess what kind of caller response that sparked. Phil Hendrie has been on the air for years in LA, and people still think his show is real. He gets them all whipped into a frenzy, and it's absolutely hilarious. The man is genius.

Money well spent.

-- The number of fucks in last night's Lost: zero. Sad, just sad. But the episode was great anyway. Is it just me, or does that show feel like it's picking up steam? It's always been excellent, but the past few episodes have been even excellenter. (Or is it more excellenter?) In any case, the final scene last night freaked me the fuck out. Yowza. Can't wait for the DVDs so we can watch all the episodes end-to-end, instead of spread out and mixed with reruns. Yes sir, I believe I will like that.

-- Have you seen the latest issue of Rolling Stone, with the kids of rock stars on the cover? An interesting collection. Of course Sean Lennon is there, above the fold and to the right, in the power position, but there are lots of others as well. The cover folds out three times, and there's a whole gang of rock 'n' roll spawn for us to gander at. Art Garfunkel's kid almost made me do a spit-take. Holy mackerel! I thought people get their hair from their mother?? Man, the only word I can think of is: unfortunate. And Billy Joel's daughter looks mildly like a fish. She got his big hooded googly eyes... When your mother is Christie Brinkley, but you resemble your father, well, that too is unfortunate. And Otis Redding III appears to be roughly seventy years old. But that's about all I can find to ridicule. The rest of 'em look pretty good. Too bad.

And that's about all I can do this morning. Kinda lame, I know, but I'll try it again tomorrow.

Until then...

March 30, 2005

-- I was in the cafeteria at work the other day just shooting the shit with my favorite sandwich-maker. She was assembling my special Jeff Kay Hoagie, consisting of turkey, ham, provolone, lettuce, and tomato -- just leave all them spreads in the bottles, sister -- when I believe I may have made a small mistake. She said something about coloring eggs for Easter, and without even considering it, I said, "Oh, do you have grandkids?" Do I even need to go on? I have a feeling that I'll be receiving one less slice of cheese from here on out.

-- I got pulled over by a cop yesterday, on my way back from the post office. He said I had an expired inspection sticker, which of course was true. How did he see it?? Does the man ride around with a telescope in his car? I thought about telling him that it wasn't really my fault, that I'm the product of 250 years of hillbilly oppression, but decided against it. I just kept quiet and provided him with the documents he requested. As he studied my driver's license he got all excited and said, "And this is expired too??" I said, "No fucking way!, I mean, no fucking way, sir." He told me, with an air of exasperation, that my driver's license had expired in December of '05 -- as if I didn't already know that. December '05? That hasn't even happened yet. When I pointed this out, delicately, he got all embarrassed and told me to beat it. Said he'd write me a ticket if he caught me again. And I don't doubt it. I've got an appointment for Saturday morning, to have someone do this so-called "inspection." It's the biggest scam this side of corporate consultants.

-- Toney and I installed a new toilet seat this past weekend. The one downstairs has been broken since we moved in, in the spring of 2000. One of the hinges was snapped off from day one, and recently the other one came loose. So, for the past few weeks it was just balanced there, a free agent. If a person got the urge, they could've picked it up and carried it around the house. Every sit-down was like a trip to an amusement park: Six Flags Over Poopballs. There was a lot of shifting and twisting, and one wrong move could send that knob off the edge and your naked ass into the floor. We decided we'd better fix it, and it wasn't as easy as it sounds. I couldn't get a good grip on the nut underneath, and turn the screwdriver at the same time. It was a pretty awkward procedure, but we finally got it done. Now it's like crapping at the Taj Mahal in there.

-- Toney and I were in Target recently, and it was apparently Take A Retarded Person Shopping Day. There were a couple of big groups of them in there, knocking shit off shelves and kicking up a helluva ruckus. Later we were in Sam's Club walking past the television department. Every TV was playing one of the Star Wars movies and Chewbacca let out one of his strange hollers. And Toney said, with all sincerity, "Oh my god, are they in here too??" I nearly lost my shit, right there beside a skid of pastel Reebok sweatsuits.

-- I'm currently listening to that old Beck album with the picture of Tina Turner's hairpiece jumping over a pole. It's sounding pretty damn good too.

-- Have you seen this site? They sell one item per day, at really low prices. Usually it's some kind of electronics, but not always. I haven't bought anything yet, but I'm pretty intrigued. I check it first-thing every morning to see what they're offering today. I have a feeling I know how this is going to play out...

-- One of the immature men I email all the time (for which I'm planning to give myself a good dressing-down in just a couple of hours) sent me this yesterday:

Remember when Costanza invoked the "world's colliding" scenario? I'm like that with music. I won't listen to music I REALLY like at work, because then when I listen to it at home, it reminds me of work. The music is my escape, so i cannot allow work-world to collide with relaxed-world. I'll listen to music i like driving home from work, but never on the way to work. My mood will become attached to the music, thus preventing future escapes. Its all quite complicated.

The other day a co-worker asked if i had heard of 10cc because she was looking for a song. I have a cd i made of junior-high era music that had a couple of 10cc songs, so i made her a copy of the whole cd. I was driving with her and another co-worker to DC last month, and she remembered she had the cd i made and wanted to play it. I demanded that she refrain from such action. Because everybody in the office knows Seinfeld (which allows us to communicate in a bizarre Seinfeldese) I immediately invoked the world's colliding explanation. In other words, "i don't want this good music to be associated with you people that I must tolerate every day".

Man, I can't believe that's never occurred to me! You've gotta keep the work music apart from the home music. That explains so much... I've been screwing it up for years. It's an epiphany!

-- And now I'm gonna turn it over to Metten, and drag my riffled ass into work.

See you folks tomorrow.

March 29, 2005

-- When I lived in Atlanta I somehow stumbled into a job with one of the major record companies (the most major of all majors, in fact), and spent six years there with the title of Assistant Inventory Manager. It was a great place to work, even taking into consideration a couple of crazy (CRAZY!) people in positions of power. The fringe benefits were un-fucking-believable, and for a while I felt like I'd scammed the greatest job ever in the history of the world. Not only did I receive copy of every CD we released, delivered by hand to my desk once a week, but I was also allowed entrance into a myriad of really cool record industry events.

Literally a month or so after I started there, frickin' Nick Lowe, one of my all-time heroes, came to the office, drank a bunch of Coronas and played a few songs for us on an acoustic guitar, right there in the large conference room. Including "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Love and Understanding?" I talked to him, joked with him(!). It felt like I was living in some kind of dreamworld. One day I was walking to the fax machine and bumped into Chris Rock. There were Atlanta Braves players milling about... Black Crowes buying Cokes out of the vending machines... Alanis Morrissette playing ping-pong... Every day was like a scene out of Alice in Wonderland.

And that's the way it went for several years. But eventually I got married, moved out of my hipster apartment in Little Five Points, and bought a house in the suburbs. Then I realized: they're not paying me shit! When you're young and cool, the freebies and the hook-ups are more important than money. Hell, I would've probably worked there for nothing, if they had dormitories where I could sleep at night. But there comes a time when actual money becomes an issue.

Just when I was starting to get really disgruntled about my paltry little salary, the ops manager called me into his office. And he told me to close the door behind me. Uh-oh, I thought. A closed door can't be good. Suddenly I was ready to fight for my piss-ant pay; if I was going to leave the company, I would do it on my own terms, goddammit. But he had news of a different sort. A job had come open at the Home Office in Burbank, and "they" wanted to talk to me about it.

Holy crap in a Bundt pan!

They flew me and Toney out there, put us up in the Universal Hilton, and wined and dined us like we were royalty. It was great, except for the fact that I had serious reservations about moving to Southern California. We had a new baby, I knew nothing about the place (expect what I'd seen on Entertainment Tonight), and was scared to the cusp of shitlessness. On the other hand, they were interviewing a couple of other guys, and I sure as hell didn't want them to get it. So it was kind of a blur, a big confusing blur of mixed emotions.

The day after we returned to Atlanta "they" called and said the job was mine. They added $10,000 to my salary, bumping it from pathetic to sad, and suddenly we were moving to California. It felt like I hadn't really had a say in the matter. One day you're just chugging along, and the next everything's upside-down. But I couldn't turn it down, that would be career suicide. So we just hunkered down and weathered the storm.

Home Office was nowhere near as fun as Atlanta. The place was crawling with humorless executives, and I had no entrance into any hipster events. Plus, I sat in meetings all the time. Meeting after meeting after meeting. It was absolute bureaucratic gridlock. Nothing was getting done because we sat around big tables all the time talking about all the stuff that needed to get done. I felt like I'd made a deal with the devil.

No, it wasn't a very pleasant time of our life (we had money trouble the entire four years as well), but I learned stuff there. When I was in Georgia those big-shot executives I mentioned seemed like mythological characters to me. They were just important names on memos before, and possessing the ability to strike fear in the hearts of powerful men. The fact that I was now riding in elevators and sitting in meetings with them freaked me out at first. Heck, I'm from Dunbar, WV.

But eventually I learned that they were just people. They didn't have any special super hero powers or anything. Oh, most were egotistical to the point of mental illness, and I wouldn't have minded kicking a few of them in the crotch, but they talked about a lot of the same things everybody else talked about. And they, you know, wore pants and stuff. It was an eye-opening experience. For me, anyway.

And to my complete and utter surprise, a few of them I actually liked. My boss, for instance, is one of the nicest people I've ever met. We still email each other to this day. And his boss was great too. He scared me to death when I was in Atlanta, but after I started working beside him, I quickly learned that he was hilarious and didn't take himself seriously at all. He cracked me up daily. Why had I been afraid of him? Even the Big Cheese, my boss's boss's boss (I think that's right), was a good guy. He was richer than the Almighty Himself, and wielded much corporate power, but was literally just a regular guy.

These three could probably sense that I was a little freaked, and started inviting me to lunch with them. Almost every day we went to the same place, a little sandwich shop within walking distance of the office. They had outdoor seating there, and we'd eat our meals in the California sunlight together three or fours days a week. They didn't have to include me, a mere office weasel, but they did, and I appreciated it.

Larry, the Big Cheese, was also really funny, and had one of those personalities that was larger than life. When he'd tell a story everyone sat mesmerized. And he was incredibly smart, one of the most logical and analytical minds I've ever known. Some of those VPs, who walked around the building acting as if their solid waste carried the bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, made you question just how they got to their lofty positions. I'd sit at my desk and wonder if they had family connections or something. But not so with Larry. I knew why he was where he was: he was fucking brilliant. Of all the people I met during those ten years in "the biz," there was nobody I respected more than him. And the fact that he was a really nice and kind man didn't hurt anything either.

About four years back his best friend suddenly dropped dead, and I heard that it shook him up pretty badly. He took an early retirement a couple of months later, and vowed to spend his remaining days living his life and spending time with his kids. Supposedly he was taking all kinds of extreme vacations, like backpacking across in India, and that sort of thing. Not my style, but I was happy for him.

A week or so ago I went to work here, and a fellow traveler from the old days stopped by my office. He asked if I'd heard what happened to Larry. (Only a first name is required.) My heart sank, because I didn't like the look on his face. Had he fallen into a volcano or something?? Holy shit.

It was way more fucked-up than that. You can read about it here. And here. And for what it's worth, I don't believe, for a second, the woman's account of events. There's no way in hell...

In any case, it was a sad and senseless ending, and every time I think about it I get a little sick to my stomach.

Have a great day!

March 28, 2005

-- I know this doesn't make for very exciting reading, but our weekend was really nice and peaceful. One of the best I can remember, in fact. At the very beginning we cleaned the house, dusted and vacuumed and tossed a ton of clutter (where does all that stuff come from??), then used the rest of the three days to just hang out and actually spend time with each other. Like most families, I think, we're guilty of getting caught up in the day-to-day crapola of living, allowing the proverbial quality time to suffer. This weekend we stayed home and weren't running around like speed freaks, I kept away from the computer (getting easier and easier), and it worked out just as I'd hoped. It was good wholesome Waltons-style fun.

For Christmas we bought the Secrets these really cool radio-controlled cars that can drive across any surface, including snow or water. They cost about a hundred dollars each and we thought they'd love 'em. Yeah well, they hardly even looked at the things. They sat in the corner of the dining room untouched, until a few weeks ago when Toney finally took them upstairs to the black hole known as the "play room."

Fast forward to yesterday. Toney put together a couple of Easter baskets for the hooligans, and included was a little cheapo game called Timber Tumble. Basically it's thirty or so identical pieces of wood and you stack them up in a tower, then try to remove pieces without causing the whole thing to collapse. They cost one dollar each, from Target, and you can probably guess what happened. That's right, they're the greatest frickin' toys ever invented! I'm not kidding, they played with these things all day yesterday, and are back at it today. One dollar.

Of course, the Easter Bunny doesn't come to our house. I never much cared for that particular holiday character, and will not participate in the furthering of such a ludicrous farce. No, these baskets were brought by the Easter Horse. He gallops in late at night, while everyone is asleep, and deposits wicker baskets of joy in houses around the world. At least that's what I tried to sell all day yesterday, but I don't think anyone was buying. The Secrets just rolled their eyes and shook their heads whenever I'd try to tell them "the legend." 

It's a common occurrence at our house, this hurtful dismissal of my ideas. But I'd like to know: what's wrong with the Easter Horse?? If people can accept a bunny, for god's sake, they can sure as shit accept a horse. I will not be deterred. As long as I'm still around, the majestic egg-bearing Stallion will continue to gallop.

My contribution to the holiday booty was a copy of The Incredibles on DVD. I went out and got it on Saturday, at Best Buy. And I ended up making an impulse purchase of Season Two of Green Acres for myself. (The Easter Horse doesn't just cater to children.) I watched three episodes on Saturday and, I swear, I was laughing my ass off. The writers for that show must've been eating psychedelic mushrooms or something. So great. Toney sat down at one point to see what all the hilarity was about, watched about five minutes, gave me a look of concern and left the room. Hey, what can I say? She doesn't get the comedic genius of the 3 Stooges, Soupy Sales, or Hee Haw either.

-- Last night's episode of Deadwood was fairly typical, as far as the fucks go. Swearengen is still silenced (he has piss in his lungs), but the other characters once again stepped to the plate and a full eighty-eight fucks were logged in just fifty-two minutes. The details are here. Mr. Wu returned for a memorable scene, in which he said "cocksucker" about a dozen times in thirty seconds or so. I think it's the only word of English that he knows, and he uses it with gusto. God, I love that show...

-- I also watched the first episode of the Americanized version of The Office over the weekend. And I have to say... maybe I'm sick or something, but I didn't think it was too bad. The script seemed pretty damn familiar though. I believe they lifted it directly off the British show, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in the long run. But I laughed a couple of times, and I liked all the lingering, uncomfortable reaction shots. I'm surprised the network allowed them to "waste" so much time on dead air like that. In any case, I thought it was good enough to give a second look. Make of that what you will.

And remember last Monday when I didn't upload the terrible update I wrote, and just turned my computer off in a huff? Remember how some of you chastised me for not just going with it? Well, I'm taking your advice today with this piece of shit. So, don't blame me; it's your fault, not mine. I will not be held responsible.

Holy crap.

March 25, 2005

-- Wow, it really IS a good Friday. How did they know so far in advance?! Pretty cool. No work today, the office is closed for some reason. I'm currently wearing my big red hamburger pants, disc one of the Left of the Dial box set is blasting -- specifically Dead Kennedys "Holiday In Cambodia," I'm thoroughly rested and working on my third cup of coffee from my big honkin' Strand Bookstore (8 Miles of Books!) mug, and all is right with the world. ...However, it might be about time to wash these pants. Whoa. I'm reminded of visits to the circus as a small child, when the elephants were brought in. Anyway...

-- Buck sends news today that they tried to burn down Morgantown again last night. Apparently there was some sort of sporting event (who the hell knows?) in which the Mountaineers came out on top, sending the citizens of the town into a drunken pyromaniacal frenzy -- as is, apparently, the tradition. I was going to say that I can't imagine ever getting so worked up over something like that, but upon further review, I can't really make that claim.

I lived in Atlanta when the Braves transformed themselves from the laughingstock of the National League, to the best team in baseball. I was a big-time Reds fan at the time, but I don't think even the Man of Steel himself could've withstood the intensity of that city during those years. It was all anyone talked about. Every game was an event, and the following day was filled with amateur critiques and detailed examinations of the previous night's action. Skyscrapers downtown were turned into giant tomahawks, and every car was emblazoned with the blue and the red. It was full-on Beatlemania, and I got swept up in it.

And the final game of the 1992 NLCS was the pinnacle of all that. You can click on "Cabrera" at this page to see how it ended, if you should give a crap. It was one of the most exciting baseball games I've ever seen, and to this day I get a lump in my throat when I think about. 

The moment Sid Bream (who ran about as well as I do) slid across the plate, the city exploded. People ran from their homes and apartments and were hugging in the streets, horns were blowing, people were doing hand-springs, firecrackers and M-80s were going off... It was one of the damnedest things I've ever witnessed: spontaneous and absolute pandemonium. I'm almost certain I saw the guy who lived below us just turn to dust on the lawn.

If they'd been burning shit down out there, I think I might've joined in. I'd like to think not, but I was whipped into such a state I can honestly see myself running into our apartment, grabbing some couch cushions or maybe a headboard or something, and adding to the bonfire.

Crazy, I know, but why pretend it ain't so?

-- The Smoking Fish has been spotted once again, this time at a NASCAR event in Vegas. Hell yeah! Keep your eyes open, folks. Our logo, he gets around.

-- I have the first episode of the Americanized version of The Office saved to the DVR. It's apparently set in Scranton (the bleak equivalent of England's Slough), and the British show is pure genius, so I'm intrigued. But I'm scared... Is it really rancid? I have a feeling it is, and I've already started cringing in anticipation. Let me know, people. I won't watch it until you've given me the go-ahead. It's all in your hands now.

-- A couple of weeks ago I bought a used copy of Scruffy the Cat's Tiny Days on CD, for $1.99. I already have it in my collection, but I knew it was out of print and quite rare. So, I figured I could sell it on eBay and maybe make a little bank. Here are the final results of that exercise. I guess I can't complain really, but I was sure it would sell for around forty bucks. I don't know why I had that amount in my mind, but I did. Oh well... Still not a bad return on my investment.

-- And speaking of used CDs, the mail just arrived and I am now the proud owner of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2. It's in perfect condition, a two disc set, and I paid seven bucks for it. I'm trying to get together the music for our big Myrtle Beach extravaganza coming up, and I've found that really familiar stuff works best. You can't be playing Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth on a road trip with the family, y'know? It's gotta be Tom Petty and John Cougar Mellenhead and Wings and forkin' Billy Joel, and that sort of thing. Before we leave I'm also planning to procure a cut-rate copy of the two-disc Elton John anthology. That '70's stuff is excellent driving music, I imagine. So... it will be mine.

And that's gonna do it for today. I was going to tell you a really sad story about a guy I once knew, but don't really feel like it anymore. Why bring the room down at the beginning of a long weekend? Have yourselves a good one, folks, and I'll see ya on Monday.


March 24, 2005

-- Late in the afternoon yesterday it started snowing. Nothing unusual for this place, it snows all the time. An inch here, two inches there... you hardly notice it after a while. But this was one was different. It was coming down in a hurry, and piling up just as fast. The local "experts" said we might get a dusting in the evening, but I may as well get my weather information from the sticky jar of gherkins in our refrigerator. A dusting, my ass.

Around four o'clock people starting sticking their faces in my office and telling me I might want to think about going home. The roads, they said, were bad news. One by one they abandoned ship. The Big Cheese told me he was sending his whole staff home, and said that if I was smart I'd take off as well. Within minutes I was the only person left standing.

Shit, man. These people live in snow, and they're freaking out. Wonder how bad it really is? I didn't like the sound of any of it. But I had my 4WD, and told myself I'd be OK. I went downstairs for a comfort shot of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (known as Reesey Cups in WV) from the vending machine, and swung by the break room to have a look out the window. It was practically white-out conditions out there, and the roads were completely covered. Simply excellent.

I called one of the guys who had left earlier, to see if he'd had any problems, and the report was not good. The interstate was apparently a demolition derby, and the landscape was littered with upside-down vehicles and mashed-in grills. Hell, maybe I should go home early, before it gets dark? The heck, man?? It's March 23!

I called my boss and he told me to do whatever I needed to do, so I closed up shop and left.

The security guard warned me not to get on the interstate, it's "fucked" he said. So I took an alternate route, and that was no better. I had to turn around and backtrack, because a bus was on its side and blocking the road. I checked the interstate but cars and 18-wheelers were stacked up as far as the eye could see. How was I going to get home?? A tiny bit of panic was starting to introduce itself into the proceedings. And to add to the fun, I was almost out of gas.

I came up with a complicated collection of backroads and residential streets that theoretically would get me home, and figured that was my only chance. My fuel wouldn't hold out long enough to sit in any of the crazy traffic, so I started out on my excellent snow adventure.

And to make a long story short, I pulled into our driveway almost exactly two hours after I left. And we live sixteen miles from the office. Somewhere along the way I came upon some shitty dump of a gas station -- full serve only -- and I bought fifteen dollars worth of the stuff there. So that was a weight lifted off my back. I think the guy was expecting a tip, but I just rolled up the window and drove off. What's the etiquette on that deal? I'm supposed to tip the zit-spangled gas station attendant too??

The bulk of the trip was taken up with gridlock traffic jams and people in cars driving sideways up hills with their feet mashed on their accelerators. Thoroughbred douches, I tell ya. I talked to my friend Bill in WV, checked in with my parents in Myrtle Beach, gave Toney a couple of progress reports, listened to a Lloyd Cole CD, and tried to will myself not to think about the fact that I really had to pee.

Truthfully, after I got some gas in my tank it wasn't too bad. Kind of relaxing, in a way. My only regret is that I didn't have my portable DVD player with me. I could've watched three or four episodes of Green Acres along the way. Oh well. I'll try to remember to consult with the gherkins from now on, and see if I need to take along extra electronics...

-- Earlier in the week Toney was talking on the phone with her mother (known as Sunshine in certain circles), and it was a marathon session. Shiny was on her high horse about something, and Toney's side of the conversation was" "Right... right... right..." We were trying to watch an episode of SVU when she called, but that was ruined, so to hell with it. I went into the bunker and started messing around on the computer. And about fifteen minutes later Toney appeared in the doorway with the phone still pressed to her ear, and holding up this sign. It summed up things rather nicely, I thought.

-- I forgot to link to last Sunday's Deadwood numbers, so here they are. A solid showing, for sure, especially considering the fact that Swear-Engine spent most of the episode wallowing around on the floor in pain, and saying nothing. Generally he's the main source of the fucks, but he was silenced this week and other characters were forced to take up the slack. And they did an excellent job! Trixie is really starting to emerge as a fuck-force to be reckoned with. I think she's slowly losing her shit, and her mouth is becoming fouler and fouler. The best show on television!

-- Finally, my old Peaches Music buddy Eugene has started a blog, and I'd like to point you in his direction. Check it out. He's a funny guy, and I think you'll enjoy your visit.

And that'll do it for today, kiddies. I'm off from work tomorrow, because of something religious (I think), but I'm gonna update the site anyway, since I missed Monday. So... I'll see ya then.

March 23, 2005

-- For most of the day on Sunday (after my home fix-it triumph) Toney complained that she needed to go to Sam's to buy coffee, and a couple of other small things. Stores around here on weekends are just insane, and the thought of wading into that swirling pool of humanity wasn't an appealing one. But by mid-afternoon I was starting to go stir-crazy, and volunteered.

"You're going to Sam's? To shop?" she said, as if I'd just informed her I was quitting my job and joining the touring company of Riverdance. Is it such an incredible thing that I might carry a three-item list to a store, and buy said items? Is that such a stretch? Sure, it's something that rarely happens, but I'm capable. Jeez.

After an hour spent looking at DVD box sets, CDs, computer gadgetry, and big-ass televisions, I figured it was time to get down to business. I couldn't decide whether to buy the outsize sack of Eight O'clock bean coffee, or the end table-esque bucket of Folger's, and called Toney for her vote on the matter. She sounded annoyed and told me, essentially, to grow a pair and make up my own mind.

I went with the Folger's because it gave us more bang for the buck, then moved on to the next item on the list: tortilla chips. Why so many choices?! Do you know that there are roughly one hundred different variations of tortilla chips? I had no idea, and consider myself to be quite knowledgeable on the subject of snacks. I couldn't call home again, so I just picked something called "restaurant style." We like restaurants, so I figured it was a safe bet.

Then a man who was stocking the shelf down the way gave me some very bad news: yo man, all those Frito-Lay products are buy-one get-one-free. What? Nooo!! Why do they do this to me?? I then had to decide if we really needed two massive bags of the same kind of chips, or if my "free" item should be something different. And suddenly I wasn't just confined to the one hundred variations, and was now thrust into a world of chips. Too much pressure. I mean, these are not small little bags, they're each, like, a three-month supply. Screw it. I just grabbed some Cool Ranch Doritos and moved on. I felt decisive and strong, like a modern-day Truman.

Toney pretty much refuses to buy cookies and candy and such, so I figured it was my chance to correct the problem. I walked over to the cookie aisle and had a look around. Hmm... those are kinda big, aren't they? I knew I might get into trouble if I brought some shit like that home, but was drawn to the pretty blue boxes of Chips Ahoy. You know the regular rectangular bag they have at normal grocery stores? Well, this was a cardboard box with four of those stacked up inside, and it cost about ten dollars. I hesitated for a minute, then snatched one off the shelf.

I didn't have a shopping cart, because they're, you know, gay. So my arms were starting to get full by this point. I wanted to check out the book department, but was having trouble walking and decided to just throw in the towel.

Then I remembered: jelly beans! We need jelly beans for our Myrtle Beach trip at the end of April. It's a tradition that we consume a large quantity of Jelly Bellys and listen to Tom Petty's Greatest Hits while on camping trips. We'd mentioned several times that we needed to load in our supply, but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I decided there was no time like the present.

I struggled to find them, with all the crap rolling around in my arms, but finally tracked 'em down. A four-pound sack? That might not sound like a lot of jelly beans but, believe me, it is. It seemed a tad excessive, in fact, but I knew they wouldn't go to waste. We'd taken the same quantity with us last year, and it was just right. So I contorted my body in such a way that I could grab the corner of one of the bags, and removed it from the shelf. 

And then I walked like a palsy victim to the check-out.

The man there didn't seem to approve of my selections. He didn't say anything, but was shaking his head in a manner that I did not appreciate. Maybe I'm the strange one here, but I don't go to Sam's Club for a fucking critique of my purchases. But I paid this Gene Siskel-of-groceries without incident, took my items and ridiculously elongated receipt, and went home.

And following my final trip from the car to the kitchen, Toney looked around and said, "Where are the chicken strips for tonight's primavera?"


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

And I'll see you good folks again tomorrow.

March 22, 2005

-- Sorry about yesterday. I woke up in a foul, foul mood, for reasons unclear, and it just wasn't working. I flopped down in my massive hamburger-themed sleeping pants and tried to squeeze out an update, but it was nothing that anyone would ever actually want to read; the Unabomber's Manifesto was a model of clarity and coherence by comparison. So I just turned off my computer and went to work. The hell with it.

I'm allowed five or six of those per year, right? Oh, I try not to use them, but the Blogmakers Union fought hard for those comp days, goddammit.

-- Sunday morning Toney came into the bedroom and used one of her pointer fingers to poke me awake. "We have a problem," she said, as I rolled over and looked around the room like the Mylar Balloon Lady. "We have a big water leak, and I think it's coming from the back of the refrigerator, running through the floor and dripping into the basement..." On and on it went, but I was only getting bits and pieces of it. One minute you're at the ham-carving station at the Lingerie Buffet, and the next there's somebody hollering about refrigerators in your ear...

I finally got it together enough to realize that my name is Jeff, and I live in the northeastern section of the United States. I hoisted my largeness out of bed and followed the nice lady downstairs to see what all the hubbub was about.

Immediately I could hear a hissing sound that didn't give me a good feeling. Then Toney showed me all the water on the floor between the fridge and the cabinet. The hell, man?? I pulled the refrigerator away from the wall, and there was a fine mist shooting out of the back, and dribbling down the wall. It was the water line to the ice maker again! This is the third or fourth time we've had a problem with it. The damn thing just springs leaks all willy nilly, and for no apparent reason.

I went down to the basement and turned the little lever that theoretically controls the flow of water to the line, and nothing happened. The mist continued with enthusiasm. By this time I was muttering fucks and bullshits under my breath, but they had not yet come fully into the open. I returned to the basement and turned the lever in the opposite direction, wondering if it worked backwards. Hell, who knows? Maybe it's European, or something? But that didn't do it either.

Jesus J. McChrist! I called my Dad (yes, I'm 42, what of it?) and as I told the story I got the feeling that he was trying not to laugh. He finally told me to go downstairs and turn off the water to the line, as if addressing a large retarded man. Ha! I already tried that, I hollered triumphantly. (One of my proudest moments.) Then I told him how the little lever in the basement is apparently nothing but a prop, and I may as well be twisting a friggin' bread tie.

He reminded me that the water was going to quickly ruin our kitchen floor, and I needed to figure out a way to somehow stop it from going into the line. Then he told me, rather cryptically, that it would be better to have a leak in the concrete basement (grasshopper), than on the wooden kitchen floor. The heck? What is this, The Karate Kid? I'm now supposed to take that tiny scrap of information, and prove that I am a man? Shit. I just wanted to return to the peaceful land of ham and teddies, to hell with this crap.

I thought about it for a few minutes, and came up with a plan. I had little confidence that it would actually work, but it would certainly transfer the leak from the kitchen to the basement. I decided I'd find a screw that was bigger around than the water line itself. I would go down there with some pruning sheers, snip off the line near the lever-prop, and attempt to twist the screw into the line and maybe cap it off. I ran this by Toney and she was highly skeptical. But I began gathering together the tools of half-assery anyway. I was being tested, after all.

I then went to the basement, as Toney and the Secrets looked on with alarm, and laid all my instruments out like a surgeon. I climbed onto an old TV stand, paused for a second, then cut off the line. And that's when all hell broke loose!

Water was blowing all over the place, at a surprisingly high pressure. I grabbed the little nozzle of line that I'd left, and every time I moved it a fraction of an inch, water was sent spraying into a new section of the basement. The hot water tank took a shot, as did my album collection. Toney came running over and I promptly drenched her with a high-powered jet of water. The kids screamed and fled the scene. And Andy tore ass out of there as well, with his tail and ears down.

By this point the fucks and bullshits were completely out of the closet.

I snatched up my screw and screwdriver and frantically tried to get it into the hole. And as I pushed it into place water sprayed directly into my face. It was running down my arms, pooling in my pits, then moving southward. My shirt was suctioned to my skin and my underwear weighed about ten pounds. It felt like I had whitewater rapids in the crack of my ass!

But check it out, boys and girls. I am now a Jedi Knight!

-- And I'm going to turn it over to Buck now, and wish you folks a fine, fine Tuesday.

See ya tomorrow.

March 18, 2005

-- Toney informed me yesterday that I'd be on my own for dinner, and that she wouldn't be home until around eight o'clock. I groaned and pictured myself sitting in the corner booth at Wendy's chewing and staring straight ahead, looking like a mental patient or a pervert, or both. I have no problem eating lunch alone in a restaurant, but dinner is a whole different ballgame. That's mental patient pervert territory. But what's a guy to do? I sure as shit wasn't going to go home and cook. I mean, seriously.

But then I got a better idea. Much better. I'd go to Jim Dandy's, a "saloon" not too far from our house, sidle up to the bar, and have one of their heart-halting fish slamwiches and a few pints of the golden elixir. Those sandwiches are impossibly good; I think it has something to do with the large amount of cheese they melt across the deep-fried hunk of whitefish. Mmmm... In fact, everything I've ever had at this place has been nothing short of excellent. They take the concept of bar food to a whole new level.

So I had my plan, and it was a good one. Then somebody reminded me that it was St. Patrick's Day. Shit! I wasn't wading into a sea of vomit-spraying drunks in novelty headgear to get my samlich. They're good, but not that good. Dammit. The whole thing was threatening to fly off the tracks. Stupid St. Patrick... I'd probably end up at home watching Geraldo talk about Barretta, and eating five or six granola bars for dinner.

But, to my surprise, the joint didn't look any more crowded than normal. Huh. Apparently the "celebrants" preferred other places in which to vomit and shit their pants, and that worked for me. I went inside, promptly turned a barstool over in some kind of clumsy spazz-boy dramatic entrance, and ordered a Yuengling and a menu. Then I told the bartender to drop my fish and fries into the deep-fryer goddammit, and start piling up that cheese.

The guys beside me at the bar were drinking Bud Light in bottles, and that irritates me for some reason. It's none of my business, and I have no say in the matter whatsoever, but Jim Dandy's has both Yuengling Lager and Harp on tap. Why waste your time on alcohol-laced ice water when the good shit is readily available? Such a squandered opportunity... But whatever. I nursed my lager and waited for my fried dinner to arrive.

The guys with tragically bad taste placed an order for food, and continued on with their waters and cigarettes. I wasn't really paying attention, I was transfixed by the image of Bud Selig's turkey neck swaying back and forth on the television above the bar. Man, I hope that doesn't happen to me... I think I'd have to start wearing scarves like Mary Tyler Moore, or something. I'm not a big fan of the swing-neck. I tried to think of some of my older relatives, and whether or not they've been afflicted, and didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling from that exercise. It's only a matter of time and I'll be walking around like Charles Nelson Reilly or Eddie Money, with lengths of strategically-situated fabric around my throat.

My food finally came, and it was as good as I remembered, but really hot. The first bite unleashed some kind of insidious molten liquid that dripped down my chin, and nearly caused me to jump to my feet and scream like a woman. But somehow I kept my shit in check. I'd already knocked over that barstool and caused the whole place to come to a sudden stop, and every head to swivel. I didn't want to make yet another scene. I just gritted my teeth and waited for the pain to fade. And decided I'd better let it cool for a few minutes.

Then the bartender brought the bad beer guys a couple of salads. The hell? Who eats salad at a bar? Budweiser and dainty little cherry tomatoes don't really go together in my mind. But, hey. I nibbled at my chunk of the sun on a bun, and eventually took it all in. And I finished up my fries and, damn, was that one fine meal. I decided to celebrate with one more for the road. This time make it a Harp, Jimmy (all bartenders are named Jimmy). I mean, it was St. Patrick's Day, after all.

And right before I paid my tab a man emerged from the backroom carrying two big plates of spaghetti, and placed them in front of my buddies to the right. Good god, man. Spaghetti?! This was getting out of hand. I hit the john before leaving, and when I emerged I saw both of those guys sitting at the bar hunched over their outsized plates of pasta, breadsticks in-hand. And I left the place shaking my head in amazement.

As I drove I realized that I smelled like a goddamn bingo parlor. Stupid smokers with their stank exhale... How is that still allowed in public places?? What is this, 1958? I'd probably have to bury my clothes. 

When I got home I poured myself another lager and let Andy run around in the backyard for fifteen minutes or so. I stood out there while he ran, beneath the stars. And all was right with the world. ...Except, of course, for a few minor things.

And now you're up to date on my kick-ass life. Have a great weekend, folks.

March 17, 2005

-- I was helping the oldest Secret with his homework last night, and this was one of the questions in his math book: Jon draws 2 triangles. Could you tell if the triangles are similar to each other without looking at them? Explain why or why not. 

What the hell does that mean?? Am I just a dotard here, or does that problem seem a tad abstract? I fully expected the next one to be: If Billy has three apples, and Suzy has a club foot, then who is the governor of New Hampshire?

He's in third grade and already it's getting a bit too advanced for me, especially on the math side of things. And it makes my sphincter flex. Just the smell of the textbooks takes me back to a time when I was expected to answer those ridiculous questions about Jon and his goddamn triangles, or whatever. It's easy now, sitting back on my big fat adult ass, to laugh it off and express exasperation. But when your day is filled with that kind of crap...

For the record, the smell of plastic sandwich bags and celery also returns me to grade school, because that's what most of us brought as our "snack" every day. Catch a whiff of one of those things, and I'm back at Dunbar Elementary in one of my ludicrous 1970's knit vests, my Harlem Globetrotters lunchbox open before me.

But when I think back on those years it's usually funny stuff that happened, like when a girl named Tammy peed her pants and we all saw her novelty panties drying on the heater inside the boiler room on the way to the cafeteria. Or when my friend Bill threw a fruit cup into the face of a kid we called Shave, and heavy syrup and peach chunks just kind of slid off his melon-like head.

But, boy, those textbooks bring back a few less-pleasurable memories...

I've never been any good at math, and it was a struggle for me all through school. By the time I reached Junior High, and was taking algebra and that sort of thing, I felt like I was running underwater. Plenty of effort was being put forth, but I wasn't getting anywhere. And other kids, some of whom I considered to be full-on doucheketeers, took to it with no problems. Highly frustrating. Why can't I understand this stuff?? I knew I was no Stephen Hawking, but I should've been able to keep up with those shitsacks.

By the time I was a senior in high school I'd somehow struggled through enough torturous math classes to meet the minimum requirements of most colleges, so I took a little break. In fact, during the twelfth grade I think I only needed Senior English to graduate. Could that be right? It seems that I had enough credits to get my diploma, and only had to take a year of English. In any case, I padded my schedule with softball courses, like Rock/Pop Music Survey, Singles Survival (home ec for boys), and, of course, the ultra-challenging "Office Helper."

But a funny thing happened during sixth period. I was taking a class called Consumer Math, that I figured would be where they teach the truly-dumb how to balance a checkbook and keep score at bowling, and so forth. And that's what it was, sorta. It was filled with a bunch of tenth graders who I think were required to be there because they couldn't pass an aptitude test. They went over the basics of math, the stuff that people actually use in real life, and it was pretty darn kick-ass. There were no polynomials or quadratics, or any of that sort of thing. It was just a simple, straight-forward refresher course on the basics. And as amazing as it seems, I learned things in there. Lots of things. I'd gone through a number of advanced mathematics classes, and had received passing grades, but never had a full grasp of the basics.

The next year I went to college, believing I'd finally unlocked my long-suppressed math talents, and jumped right back into it. And I lasted one day. I walked into class and there was an Arab man standing there in checked polyester pants and a turban, and he couldn't speak a lick of English. He was mumbling about those frigging quadratics again, and I felt the beginnings of a panic attack coming on. I wouldn't be able to grasp this bullshit even if the man could enunciate like James Earl Jones; under these circumstances I didn't stand a chance

I walked straight across campus and dropped the class, and that was the end of the line for me. Since then I've gotten by on the stuff I learned in good ol' Consumer Math, thank you very much. And I think I've done just fine. I was an inventory manager in Atlanta for several years, predicting sales trends and maintaining leads and whatnot, and actually won an award for my accomplishments there. Sixth Period made it all possible, not that goddamn geometry. And if the automatic scorekeeper goes down at your local bowling alley? Yeah, just give me a call. I can help. The knowledge lives inside me.

So, my fatherly advice to the Secrets? Don't let Jon's triangles get you down, and never, ever lose sight of the underwear on the boiler. If we could all do that, I think, the world would be a happier place.

-- Now I'm gonna turn it over to our good friend Buck, and I'm going to go to work. <sigh> 

See y'all tomorrow.

March 16, 2005

-- Do you ever wish for bad things to happen to a complete stranger? Truthfully, I don't. At least not very often. But the other night Toney was watching a show on one of the cable channels way up the dial, about weight loss. They were profiling several former-fatties, and looking at the manner in which they've been able to keep their riffle at bay. 

In the end they believed they could pinpoint five or six common practices, so all us current-fatties will have a roadmap to skinniness. That's what I gathered, anyway. I was in and out of the room and only caught bits and pieces of it.

But one of the women they were following around was so incredibly obnoxious I found myself drawn-in, and quickly rooting for her to balloon back up. I desperately wanted her to fail, and for her ass to expand to its natural Saab-sized state.

She lived in South Carolina, or somewhere down south, and was fat all her life. Then she got a divorce, I think (I could have some of facts wrong because, you know, I couldn't give a crap), and got heavily into working out. And like some born-again, she now can't shut up about it. It's seemingly all she talks about. She goes around town wearing her workout clothes, and lecturing people and judging them in this fake-ass "compassionate" tone.

One scene in particular got under my skin. They showed her walking through a grocery store and wearing, of course, a sports bra with hard-belly exposed. And she was power-walking all around, and putting on a big show for everyone. She would occasionally stop and pick up something from the shelf, and explain why it's, like, really bad for you?

God, I hated her. And right now, wherever she is, I hope something inside her has snapped, and she's sitting with a box of Dunkin' Donuts on her lap, her idiotic lips glistening with glaze.

Is that too mean?

-- We dug deep into the bowels of the DVR last night and watched an episode of Law & Order SVU, with special guest Martin Short. He played a "psychic" who insisted upon helping the NYPD find a missing woman. Nobody wanted him there, and at one point Detective Stabler threatened to stuff him in a urinal. But he kept hanging around, and eventually began serving up some useful clues. But in the end, of course, it was the Short character himself who had kidnapped the woman, and he was crazier than the proverbial shithouse rat.

I have a low tolerance for Martin Short. He's one of those guys who always show up on talk shows and can't sit still. He's always marching around waving his arms in the air, and maniacally switching from wacky voice to wacky voice... I hate that kind of shit. Robin Williams falls into the same category, as do Jim Carrey and people like Sid Caesar. They all drive me up the frigging wall. But Short was really good at playing that freaky character, and it got me and Toney to talking.

How come comedians play such great creepy-crawly weirdos? Like the aforementioned Robin Williams. One Hour Photo was good fucked-up fun, and that movie set in Alaska where Pacino was chasing him? I can't remember the name, but he was great in that as well. And John Ritter on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Michael Keaton in Pacific Heights. There's a bunch of 'em.

Kinda interesting. To me, anyway. And I hope there's more of it in the future. Maybe Tony Danza will show up later in the season playing a whore-killer, or Chevy Chase or somebody? I, for one, am all for it.

I wouldn't have minded seeing Martin Short stuffed into a urinal, though.

-- This has been a week of musical highs, and musical lows, my friends.

On the positive side, my ever-expanding network of liars and backstabbers came through for me once again, and I am now in possession of an advance copy of the new Eels album. It's a two-disc bunker buster of a CD, and it's not scheduled for release until April 26. And I don't want to get too carried away too soon, but it sounds like a goddamn masterpiece to me. I'm no Professional Rock Critic, but this thing is clearly something special. For what it's worth...

Also, a couple of days ago I learned the distressing news that Paul Westerberg will be playing in Philadelphia during the week we'll be in Myrtle Beach. He hasn't toured with a band in eight years, and it looks like I'm gonna miss it. I don't even want to think about, because it makes me too sad.

-- On a more positive note, here's another typically excellent update from Metten. Can this guy write, or what? Shit. Maybe I should re-think running his stuff right alongside mine?

Oh, and before I go, I've gotta say... Yesterday's comments, about puking and whatnot, were absolutely hilarious. I can't read them at work, they're blocked for national security reasons or something, but a friend copied and pasted them into an email and sent them to me. I started looking at them while on a conference call, and I had to shut it down. The one about the guy sitting at a stoplight and upchucking on his dashboard almost made me lose my composure. So anyway...

See ya tomorrow.

March 15, 2005

-- After telling you yesterday about the teenage girl I saw puking into the gutter in front of McDonald's, her boyfriend thoughtfully holding her St. Patrick's Day beads out of the line of fire, I was reminded of another fast food puking story. And, as so often happens, that story branched off into others, and before I knew it my brain was filled with memorable tales of upchuck.

Under the circumstances, I believe I would be negligent in my duties if I didn't share a few with you. So, for your Tuesday entertainment (it is Tuesday, isn't it?), here are the first three Vomit Stories that popped into my head yesterday as I drove to work and reflected.

-- Back during a previous lifetime I was in a Taco Bell in Charleston, WV (Kanawha City to be exact, for those of you keeping score at home), with my girlfriend Kelly. We were sitting there systematically loading burritos into our faces, just minding our own business, when a group of loud high school assholes came in. I know they were high school assholes, because I had been one just a year or two earlier, and we recognize our own. They were talking loud, stumbling around, and just generally being obnoxious.

Of course they chose a table right next to ours, and plopped down there with their pile of "Mexican" fast food. One of the guys in particular irritated me. He was obviously putting on an act, pretending to be really drunk. He was slurring his words like Foster Brooks, and seemingly couldn't keep his head from swiveling around on his neck. His mouth was all slack and he had a glassy look in his eye. I was convinced he was showboating, and rolled my eyes at his pitiful performance. Not even a hint of subtlety.

A few minutes later I was proven wrong.

At some point this Appalachian James Dean grew quiet and still. He was just sitting there with a taco clutched in his right hand, and his head slung down on his chest. Oh, I can't believe this, I was shout-whispering to Kelly, wotta douche! I still thought he was acting; it just didn't have the feel of authenticity to me.

Then, without warning, a massive amount of material came rolling out of him. The guy didn't even move, it just flowed from him like lava from a volcano. And I mean lots and lots of it. Sheeeeiit! Everybody in the place was screaming in protest, gathering up their food, and heading for the hills. Kelly and I got the hell out of there, and so did the friends of Vesuvius. They just left their buddy sitting at the table, all covered in his own goodness, and were out on the parking lot doubled-over in laughter when we left.

It was quite a pleasant dinner.

-- And I've told the story before about Rocky and the globe of puke. But here's a quick recap:

We were at a party at somebody's grandparent's house, or some such thing. I think granny had recently been put into a home, and her grandkids had thoughtfully turned her house into a 'round-the-clock party spot. (...I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here.)

Rocky got himself involved in a game of quarters, and I was across the room hanging out. I'm not a big fan of drinking games. I like drinking just fine, but I prefer to do it on my own terms. I don't particularly find much pleasure in guzzling beer from a funnel and a length of rubber tubing, or every time Dr. Dre says "Know what I'm sayin'?" on VH1, or anything like that. Just let me handle the pacing, goddammit.

Anyway, Rocky was playing quarters, and for some reason they were using this ridiculously oversized coffee mug, clear glass and shaped like a globe. And at some point he was required to drink the large quantity of beer contained in this ludicrous vessel, which he did. Then he sat there for an extended period with no expression on his face. It was a case of suspended animation; the place went completely quiet and Rocky just sat there still as a statue. Suspense hung in the air.

Then it all came back up. He filled the globe with almost the exact same amount of fluid that had gone in. Like some ancient puke master, he had stopped the flow once the rim of the glass was reached. It was nothing short of artistic. But it didn't look like beer anymore -- it was brown! Holy shit! Lots of hollering, running in circles, and screaming of "Oooohhhh!!" transpired.

And, to my utter amazement, the mug was washed and put back into service. When we left, the game of quarters had resumed, and the globe was being used again.

Like I said, I don't much care for drinking games.

-- And finally, when we were in Junior High a kid named Kevin got up in the middle of class one day, and puked into the trashcan. Right there, in front of everyone. Needless to say, the room erupted in howls and oh shits and various protestations.

But the teacher, Mr. Yerrid, came down hard on us. He flew into a rage and told us all to shut our mouths. "What's wrong with you people?!," he screamed, "Can't you see that this boy is sick? You should all be ashamed!!" Then he told Kevin to go on to the clinic, and said he'd be down in a few minutes to check on him.

After a minute or two of tense silence, Mr. Yerrid went out into the hall to make sure Kevin was gone. Then he returned, and in a conspiratorial voice said, "Oh God, did you see that? Baloney sandwich and bean with bacon soup!" And we all laughed and laughed, including Mr. Yerrid, who, by the way, was one of the coolest teachers ever.

-- And I think that'll do it for today, children. If you have any memorable puke stories, by all means share them with us in the comments section. And I'll see ya tomorrow.

March 14, 2005

-- I didn't leave the house yesterday, not even to take out the trash. We have a bad habit of just wandering around aimlessly on weekends, to avoid cabin fever and feeling like big lazy house-wallowing slobs. There's not much to do here during the winter, so we usually end up going to lunch somewhere and bouncing from store to store until we just can't bounce no more. But it's gotten to the point where our outings are so irritating we'd rather just stay home and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm not sure what it is about this place, but these people shop. Maybe everyone thinks like us, and are just trying to get out of their houses during the long-ass winter? I'm not sure, but places of business on the weekend are to be avoided. It's wall-to-wall crazy, everywhere you go.

I admit that I have no idea what I'm talking about, really, but I think a person would have to be a pretty sad excuse for a businessman not to make it here. If you build it, they will come. Or so it seems. I have a feeling that a person could open a business right next to a dollar store, selling the exact same items for two dollars each, and make a go of it. And I'm not joking. People just like having another place to go.

For a few months we considered opening a little hipster coffee shop here in town, but the idea evaporated over time. It's starting to bubble up again in my brain, though. We could rent a small storefront downtown, buy a few pieces of thrift store furniture and some coffee making supplies, call it The Smoking Fish, and start printing money. Toney could run it, and I'd be in charge of music and promotion... I have no doubt it would succeed.

But it'll never happen; it's just the winter talking. Daylight Saving Time is only three weeks away, so we're almost out of the woods. I'll be able to take the Secrets fishing on the weekends soon, instead of walking around Target... we'll start camping again, and all will be right with the world.

Dreams grow in winter, and spring brings 'em down. It's the way of the world.

-- I went into work for a few hours on Saturday, and afterwards I was starving so I went to McDonald's. I usually avoid that place like I would a street person wearing a derby of turds, but a Filet O Fish sandwich sounded damn good to me right then.

Toney had mentioned that the big St. Patrick's Day parade was happening that day, in downtown Scranton, which explained all the people walking around with shamrocks painted on their faces, and green beads hanging around their necks. The parade is a big deal here, and people supposedly travel for hundreds of miles just for the privilege of getting bed-shitting drunk at such a prestigious drunkfest. The bars have special permission to open at six in the morning, or some such ridiculousness, and I guess it's just full-blown Sodom and Gomorrah down there.

And as I walked into Mickey D's for my deep-fried fish swammich, I saw a teenaged girl puking with gusto into the gutter, as her boyfriend rubbed her back and lent moral support. Both were sporting much green novelty-wear, and had obviously been to the "parade." It was about two in the afternoon, and she was done. Wotta lightweight.

The subsequent oozing of the tartar sauce did cause my stomach to flex a bit, but not too much. I'm generally fine with puke, as long as I don't catch a whiff of it...

-- They have a new ketchup dispensing method at our local McDonald's, and I think I like it. It's a long curved pipe with a nipple -- a ketchup nipple -- on the end. Have you seen these? No more sticky packets, or big Wendy's-style hand pump. We've now entered the era of the condiment nipple, and I say God Bless America!   

-- Here's that picture I was telling you about on Friday. I snapped it with my camera phone inside the men's room of the Dairy Queen in Danville, PA. And, yes, that's a cup of piss on the back of the urinal. Can somebody please explain this to me? What series of events would lead to such a scenario? I've thought about it, and can't really come up with anything. Any assistance with this would be appreciated.

Hey, at least the culprit had been taking his vitamins...

-- Last night's episode of Deadwood was not only hilarious and really good, but it also contained the highest concentration of fucks since the infamous "Mr. Wu" episode of last season. Check it out. They're clearly taking it to the next level now.

And that's gonna do it, folks. I'm dragging ass this morning, as usual, and I'm gonna call it a day. More tomorrow.


March 11, 2005

A few random things:

-- I was messing around on the computer a few nights ago, after everybody else had gone to bed, when the back door suddenly EXPLODED open. It crashed and banged, and sounded like somebody had kicked the bitch off its hinges. Holy shit! My heart leaped into action so fast it felt like I'd given myself a coronary charley horse. I seriously thought we were in the opening seconds of a full-blown home invasion; I figured some low-rent Vin Diesel had already crossed the threshold. Instinctively, I grabbed my game-used Johnny Bench bat (with cupped end!) and left the relative safety of the bunker to investigate. As I turned the corner my heart was hammering away in my chest at a dangerous clip, while I prepared to get in at least two good swings before the big knife opened me up and spilled my guts on the floor. But it was just the wind. Apparently the door wasn't shut all the way, and the wind was blowing really hard out there. After that, of course, I was spent, and experienced a serious adrenalin crash. I was kinda shaky as I returned the bat to its regular place beside the electric beverage cooling machine, and went to bed. Fuck.

-- I saw a commercial a few nights ago for a new reality TV show that features, as best as I could tell, two teams of fatties who are trying to lose weight. Apparently the team who drops the greatest amount of ass-riffle will be awarded a cache of unspecified prizes. Ho hum. These shows are a dime a dozen nowadays. I wasn't really paying attention until the end, when they showed the participants struggling to climb onto a giant scale, something along these lines, to see which team weighed more. I'm not sure why, but I thought that was hysterical. And still do. I think it's the blatant indignity of it all that appeals to me.

-- A reader sent me this really cool Deadwood graph a few days ago. I have it linked as a Season 1 Recap on the master fucks page, but wanted to highlight it here as well. Really awesome. Thanks!

-- Toney made brownies yesterday while I was at work, and I've been eating them up, corners first. I love the edges, and corners have them on two sides. So I've eaten the corners out of the pan, and am now working my way down the left side. I'll keep you posted...

-- Last night when I came home from work our two trashcans and recycling bin were lying in the middle of the driveway again. Two weeks in a row. I think the trash guys hoist them above their heads, with both hands, and just hurl them as hard as they can toward the house. Pisses me off. I have to park my truck in the street, call Toney on my cell phone and have her open the garage door (she has one of the remotes in her car, and the other is inside the house), and drag all the cans into the garage. It turns the simple task of parking my goddamn car into a huge production. Last night I slammed the Blazer into PARK, jumped out while spewing obscenities, and promptly slipped on the ice and fell on my ass. My whole left side was covered in shitty slush. It was like the 3 Stooges out there. I know they do it on purpose; I have no doubt whatsoever. The pricks.

-- You know that wimpy old song by Bread, "Everything I Own"? Well, it's in my head and I can't get it out. The chorus just keeps playing over and over. I feel like crashing my face through plate glass.

-- Today is my mother's birthday, and I remembered! Thank you God, I'll try to repay you by being good. ...Ahem.

-- Check it out. September 6, boyee. Oh, I'll be there with cash in-hand.

And I know this is a pretty scattered update, but I'm kinda rushed this morning, and this is the best I could do under the circumstances. I have an, um, interesting picture I wanted to share with you, taken with my camera phone in the bathroom of a Dairy Queen, but am having technical difficulties. I'm sorry, but it's gonna have to wait until Monday.

So, until then... Have yourselves a great little weekend. And I'll see ya.

March 10, 2005

-- Before heading to Centralia some food really needed to get itself purchased and eaten. Not necessarily in that order. So we stopped at an old diner in downtown Pottsville that looked both historical and promising. Here's a picture, in case you should give a damn.

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the place, we were assaulted by a terrible heat. Apparently they were running the furnace wide-open, and it felt like a greenhouse in there. "Jesus Christ!" we were hollering as we made our way to a booth in the middle of the joint. By the time the waitress arrived with our menus, beads of sweat had leapt from my forehead, and I felt shinier than James Brown.

She was pushing the new hot food bar, all you can eat for $5.99, or whatever. But who goes to a diner to eat large quantities of lasagna from a steam table? I opted for the club sandwich, fries, and iced tea instead, which seemed to irritate her. Steve didn't take the food bar bait either, and she huffed off with our orders.

As we waited we saw that everybody in the place was smoking like maniacs, and it was not only mind-bogglingly hot, but also full of the exhale of strangers. Excellent. Two men with walkie-talkies clamped to their belts sat at the counter and kept looking back at us suspiciously. I'm not sure what that was all about, maybe only locals go in there? Who the hell knows?

An odd-looking couple sat in the booth behind us, and I got the feeling there were a few mental defects at play there. After a while the woman got up and left, leaving the guy sitting there with his cigarette. And when she walked past the window outside, he got all excited and pounded on the window. "Hi there!" he shouted, and waved excitedly as if he hadn't seen her in months. Holy crap.

But the food was good, damn good, and we ingested it and bailed out of that crazy place. The guys with the walkie-talkies didn't even kick our asses, which I chalked up as yet another victory. I could tell they wanted to. The waitress gave me a coupon for $1 off the hot food bar when we paid, but I don't think I'll be using it anytime soon. It was like something off Twin Peaks in there.

-- Centralia, of course, is the town in central PA under which a large mine shaft fire has been burning for more than forty years. It started in 1961, and is still going strong. The resulting noxious gases that rise from the ground, and fiery sinkholes and whatnot, have rendered the place all but unlivable. The government bought up most of the property, condemned it, and tore down the houses. But even today there are a dozen or so families that refuse to leave. Their houses are here and there, alone in big open fields that were once bustling neighborhoods.

It's an eerie place. The paved streets of a town are still there, but the town itself is gone. Last time I visited an old general store sat alongside the main road, but it's gone now too. Slowly but surely it's dying off, and it feels kinda haunted. Really quiet and haunted. Here's a good history of the town, if you're interested.

Back in the day there was a big four-lane road that went through the heart of Centralia, but it's now barricaded off and traffic is diverted to another two-lane road that kind of swings around it. I parked beside the barricade and Steve and I started out on foot, up the old main drag. A sign warned us that we risked serious injury or death if we continued, but all the beer cans and crap made it pretty clear that the road gets a substantial amount of foot traffic. And you don't hear of people be swallowed up on a regular basis.

It was covered in snow and Steve jokingly wondered why they hadn't plowed it yet. We walked for probably a mile on a steady uphill grade, then the snow went away and we saw some big-ass smoking crevices in the blacktop. It was really weird how there was no snow up there, the fire must be right under the surface. I could see the road ahead and it was snow-covered again, just the little section where we stood was clear. I figured the ground would shift at any second and we'd tumble into the flames, and that made me a tad uneasy, if you want the truth. I'm not a big fan of the flame tumbling.

But it was obviously party central. The debris of beer-drinking and sexual activity was strewn about. What a date: "Hey baby, let's get drunk and screw atop the mine shaft fire!" "What time are you picking me up?!"

After we hoofed it back down the hill we went into "town," and parked beside the cemetery. (Talk about your smokey bones!) There were big clouds rising out of the ground there, and we walked around and I snapped some pictures. It felt like we were in a junkyard. The ground was black and scorched, and people had dumped all sorts of debris. The people who bought those cemetery plots might wanna come back and apply for a refund. They obviously got the short end of the firestick.

I took a leak outdoors up there as well, for the first time in many years. It wasn't too bad; I enjoyed the cool breeze. I might have to do that more often now, the boys deserve an outing every once in a while.

After kicking around that war zone for a half-hour or so, we jumped back in the Surf Report company car, and drove around the streets of Centralia. It's like a ghost town, and kinda creepy. It's hard to imagine it once being a vibrant community. But apparently it was, and not too long ago. It was probably a lot like the town I come from. And now it's just big open fields, dotted with strange-looking rowhouses no longer a part of a row, and warning signs about poisonous gases and sudden ground collapse. There's not really much to see there now, and that's kind of sad.

There used to be a red paper heart nailed to a big tree in the center of town, with the words We Love Centralia in the middle. But it's not there now. I guess they don't bother anymore. The town doesn't even appear on most maps at this point, and before long it'll be like it never happened. Once the diehards die off, the government will tear down their curious houses, and it'll just be a big patch of nothing, used only for Schlitz drinking and teenage novelty sex.

Here are some of the pics I took. And I'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow.

Have a great day, y'hear?

March 9, 2005

-- Once the Great Yuengling Shoe Controversy was put to bed, a woman entered the gift shop and hollered for us all to follow her. There were sixteen of us on the tour, a smallish group by all accounts, and we piled into the old bar at the end of the hallway. The bar was built in the 1930's (I think that's what she said), so the workers could take their breaks in there over a pint or two of the golden elixir(!). Now, of course, because of the gradual and steady pussification of America, they don't allow the staff to drink on company time, and it's only used by us tour hooligans.

She gave us a brief history of the brewery, how the original Yuengling came over from Germany and chose Pottsville because it reminded him of his hometown. He built the original brewery there in 1829, and it promptly burned to the ground. In 1831 the new, and current, brewery was opened, and it's been in operation ever since, always owned by a Yuengling. It's America's oldest brewery.

The most interesting part, to me, was how the company survived during the "long and dark days" of Prohibition. They branched out into ice cream and various dairy products, and brewed near-beer and crapola like that. And here's the weird part -- they were allowed to continue making their porter, because it was believed to be healthful. Reportedly is was available with a prescription(!?), and was often prescribed to nursing mothers(!!) and people with low blood iron. Is that not bizarre? Wonder what the co-pay was in those days, for a six-pack of medical beer?

After the talk we followed our guide through a maze of hallways and rooms, and finally climbed a really steep set of stairs that was nothing more than a glorified ladder, really. Damn, it was a full-blown aerobic workout... We were in the section of the brewery where they did all the cooking, and it was kinda hot and aromatic. There were these giant open vats everywhere, and our guide told us how many barrels they cranked out every day. I can't remember the details, but it wasn't much. It's a pretty small operation, as you might imagine. But they still do it the same way today as they always did, and that's why it's so damned good.

We passed through a room with a stained glass ceiling, and big murals on the walls. Supposedly the ceiling was installed in the late 1800's, because sunlight would stream in through the original clear-glass ceiling and cause a hellacious glare off the big copper vats. One of the murals portrayed a group of female bottle washers, and boy did they look pissed off.

It was all very interesting, but I was standing there wondering just how many previous tour group members had fallen into the vats, or cascaded down the "stairs." I KNOW it's happened, it must've. Shit, the place is just one big accident waiting to happen. It doesn't take a vivid imagination to envision a fat woman tumbling through that joint, like the big ball in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I seriously can't believe their insurance company allows all us dumbasses to walk around in there the way they do.

After we left the cooking rooms, we went next door to see the canning and bottling operation. They were running cans at the time, and I was glad. It was bottles last time, and it's important to me to be a well-rounded Yuengling aficionado. (Ahem) The machine that filled the cans was slinging lager all over the place, and the smell was making my mouth water. I wondered if I'd get in trouble if I laid on my back and shimmied under the device with my mouth open? I finally decided against it.

Then it was time for the coolest part of the tour by far: the caves. They've been closed to the public for decades, but were recently opened again as part of their 175th Anniversary celebration. We went down another set of steep stairs into a chilly room that smelled like dirt, and was lit by naked light bulbs. It was where they used to fill the kegs, back when it was done by hand. The guide told us how the men did this back-breaking job, and how they would seal the "bunghole" with a big rubber hammer. Of course, Steve and I were giggling like Beavis and Butthead at that point, and some of the more sophisticated members of the group shot us dirty looks. Hey, I'm sorry, but I think you'd have to be dead inside not to laugh at something like that. I mean, she said bunghole.

We then toured the dark and damp corridors of the big man-made cave, that was once used for cold storage. Really awesome. The walls were just jagged rock, and the metal beams in the ceiling looked like something from Biblical times. There are hallways going everywhere down there, and I wondered just how far it all spread. It was like something out of an old vampire movie. I snapped a bunch of pictures, but most didn't turn out very well, even with the flash. Too bad, because it was cool as hell.

After the guide gave a little talk while standing beside a scary rusted ladder that led up to another room containing another scary rusted ladder, she asked everyone to follow her out of there. But Steve and I weren't finished looking around, and she eventually had to come back in for us. And we received a stern talking-to, like we were in high school again. When the three of us finally reached the bunghole room again, the other group members were just openly glaring at us. I thought it was mighty ballsy to be giving attitude while wearing loaner shoes, but that was what was happening.

Finally, we returned to the bar where it all began. Only this time we were allowed to drink! They had all of their products on tap, with the exception of Lord Chesterfield Ale, and we could have two cups each. Because of health considerations I opted for the porter, and Steve ordered a lager. As we sat at the bar and savored our rationed brewskis, the guide apologized for raising her voice at us. I just laughed and told her we were used to it. Some old man said I must be married, and everybody laughed.

My second sample was a hefty Black & Tan, and we hung out and talked to the guide who was really very nice. In fact, everybody there was extremely friendly, even the Keeper of the Glasses. I got the feeling that we could've probably talked our guide into a few more drafts, but I didn't want to get carried away.

We were the last to leave, of course, and after we had a couple of beers under our belts, we returned to the gift shop to retrieve our purchases. Hey, they know what they're doing... They ply you with alcohol, then turn you loose amongst the souvenirs. I looked again at the metal sign I coveted, and practically had to sprint from the building to stop myself from doing something crazy. One more cup of Black & Tan and that thing would be hanging on the wall behind me right this minute, I just know it. And Toney and I would be arguing.

It was all great fun, though, and as soon as it was over I began wondering when I could do it again. Last time I was there I vowed to make an annual pilgrimage, and this time I'm going to try to keep to that. Oh, it's highly recommended. Highly. Here are some of my pictures from the day. Check 'em out, if you're so inclined.

-- And that's gonna do it for today, folks. I have a few new Smoking Fish pics to share with you, that just came in over the wires, and tomorrow I'll tell you all about Centralia. Here go them fishes.

See ya.

March 8, 2005

-- Yesterday was fun, but I was draggin'. Like an idiot, I slept almost twelve hours Saturday night, and was refreshed and feeling great as I sat around the house all day Sunday. And the night before my Excellent Beer Adventure? Yeah, I MIGHT have gotten five hours, and there was a nice purple glow to the bags under my eyes. So I wasn't firing on all cylinders, and I worried that my trouble-making talents were slightly muffled. But, of course, I'm accustomed to such things, and pushed forward. You've gotta work through the pain.

In addition to feeling fatigued the moment I stepped out of bed, I was also really hungry. I asked Toney if she wanted to go to Waffle House after the Secrets went to school, and after I uploaded my pathetic little update. So we went over there and I ordered a ridiculous amount of food. I didn't want to say it out loud, for fear of unleashing a full-blown manifestation, but I wasn't feeling very good. I feared that I was on the verge of some kind of sickness, but I kept it to myself, and hoped it was the result of my powerful hunger. I pictured my stomach as a volleyball with no air in it, collapsed upon itself and looking like a bowl.

After eating everything on the left side of the menu (including grits) I did feel a little better, but not as much as I'd hoped. I went to Sheetz and topped off my gas tank and bought a couple of candy bars. My inner dumpling child was crying for sugar, so I fed him. By the time I met Steve at the Dairy Queen in Danville, I was about 75% of my normal self. The food, sugar, coffee, and highly-amplified X music brought me back to the land of the living, and I was starting to get excited about the day again.

I drove and Steve navigated. (I don't like being the passenger in a car, it makes me a nervous wreck.) We decided we didn't have enough time to do anything before the next Yuengling tour, so we went directly to Pottsville, the holy land. There was a lot of snow piled up, and it was kind of hard walking up the hill to the brewery. I just knew I was going to fall on my riffled ass, and saw the irony of practically crawling up the side of a mountain to pay homage to the the very product that had riffled my crawling ass in the first place. If that factory had never been built up there, I might be able to visit it without risking hip replacement surgery. Or something.

And as is the theme of my life, I tried to snap a picture of the outside of the brewery once we'd reached the pinnacle of the mountain, and the batteries in my camera were deader than Kelsey's nuts. So it was back down the hill to retrieve the back-ups in my camera bag, and a replay of the treacherous climb. It was like the Lucy Show.

I finally got my shit together, and we went into the brewery through a side door. The smell was really strong, and kinda bread-like. Ya gotta love it. We walked through some rooms filled with junk, and up some stairs to the gift shop. If there's space for a Yuengling logo on it, they sell it in the shop there. Need a Yuengling yardstick, or a Yuengling eyeglass repair kit? No problem. Hell, they even have Yuengling inflatable rubber rafts. It's fairly mind-blowing.

Steve started in to shopping, and I poked around as well. There wasn't room in the Surf Report budget for any major purchases, but I did want to pick up a few small things. Steve, of course, was piling it up. That boy can do some shopping. I saw a metal sign in there that would look really great in the bunker, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on it. For a moment I thought about whipping out the plastic and just buying the thing, but I came to my senses and told Steve I was going outside to call Toney. I had to get away from that place for a minute, before I did something crazy. Steve's shopping frenzy was beginning to cloud my judgment.

When I returned Steve had already paid for his massive cache of stuff, and I made my pitiful purchase of two beer coozies (camping supplies), a 175th Anniversary pub glass, and a Yuengling license plate for the front of my Blazer. I had a license plate before and it was stolen right off my truck, in the parking lot at work. The thieving bastards. I might have to install a set of heavy-duty anti-theft bolts this time around. Of course, they'll probably just take the whole bumper...

After we'd made our purchases, and I'd been yelled at by the shopkeeper because I tried to buy the pub glass that was on display ("I have those in bubblewrap behind the counter, sir! Put that back on the display! Put it back!! Bubblewrap!!!"), there was nothing left to do except hang out and wait for the tour to start. We were the first to arrive, but it didn't take long for the gift shop to fill with other like-minded fans of alcoholic beverages. Together we would venture into the bowels of the ancient brewery, this random band of brothers, connected from that day forward by a shared beer-making experience.

As folks began to stream in, the Keeper of the Glasses was watching their feet like Andy zeroes in on an oatmeal cookie. No open toes, no sandals or flip-flops, or anything of that sort. And she took two women to task because their heels were exposed to the open air, and told them they'd have to change before the tour began. "We have shoes you can borrow if you don't have another pair," she said. Neither of the women seemed to take to the idea of borrowed factory shoes, and said they'd just sit the tour out, and let their husbands go on. I wanted to suggest that their feet be bound in bubblewrap, as an alternative to the borrowed shoes, but didn't want to push my luck. That clerk didn't seem like a person you wanted to make angry, and I was a little afraid of her.

And I'm going to drag this thing out, because I have nothing else going on in my life right now. I didn't get around to preparing the pictures last night (I came home and crashed), so they'll have to wait as well. But, just to prove we were there, here's one of me and Steve behind the bar in the tasting room, following the tour. It was taken by our tour guide, who had reprimanded me just minutes earlier, for not following the rules of the tour.

Tomorrow I'll tell you the rest of the story, or more of it, anyway. Good day.

-- Oh, and before I forget again... Those cool Smoking Fish pictures from Africa that I posted yesterday? They were taken by the keeper of this excellent online journal. I meant to link to it yesterday, but it slipped my mind. Be sure to check it out, it's really good and funny.

See ya tomorrow.

March 7, 2005

-- This is gonna have to be super-quick. After Toney takes the Secrets to school we're going to play gristle hockey at Waffle House, then I'm driving into the day on my Yuengling Adventure, X compilation a-blasting. It's a beautiful sunny no-work Monday out there, tailor-made for brewery touring and smoking town exploring. And my digital camera is ready to go, complete with battery back-up, in case of emergencies. It's gonna be great but, unfortunately, it's eating into my normal morning rituals. So, in essence, today's update must suffer for the sake of future updates; it's for the greater good, comrades. I'm sure you understand.

-- For the record, we did nothing this weekend. On Saturday we decided to wander down to Wilkes-Barre and look around Barnes & Noble for a while, and maybe pick up lunch somewhere. But that turned out to be a fiasco, and before it was over we were both agitated and cussing even more than usual.

I'm not sure why, but everywhere we went was complete pandemonium. Traffic was clogging every street, parking lots were insane, and the stores were like Christmas Eve Eve. Toney wanted to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (or whatever), and we couldn't even walk in that shithouse. People were suspending the usual rules of personal space, for whatever reason, and getting all up in our life. She tried to show me a coffee maker she'd read about, called a BrewStation, but I came very close to punching some idiot with a dyed goatee and a mouth like a human butthole, and we never really saw it. The guy was talking on a cell phone at top volume, and wanted to be right where we were. And he wasn't going to let the fact that there were already people standing there get in the way of what he wanted. It was all I could do not to pick up an electric can opener and beat him into bloody submission. I wanted to wipe that fake blond pucker off his douchey face, the stupid fuck.

Then we went to some restaurant called Red Robin and there were people outside waiting. Screw it. We just got into the car and went home. It was a highly irritating outing, and neither lunch nor Barnes & Noble happened. What's with all the shopping all the time?? Good God. You can't go near a restaurant or a store in this place on weekends. It's like nothing I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a bit. If the American economy is "sluggish," as some people want to insist, then I'm TV's Mel Sharples.

On Sunday I never left the house, except when I took the kitchen trash out to the garage around 4 o'clock. Much better. I think the hermit life suits me well.

-- Here's a pic I took on Saturday of a house two or three blocks from ours. I thought I could hear muffled cries coming from inside, saying, "Somebody please help us! We can't get out! Need... food... water..." But I wasn't sure, so I just went home.

-- And here are a couple of mind-blowing Smoking Fish sightings I received yesterday. Possibly the coolest sightings yet...

-- Finally, I had my fuck-counting hat on last night, as promised, and here are the results. Not a bad showing, not bad at all. You may notice that I've added a couple of new stats for Season Two: cocksuckers per episode, and the ratio of fucks to cocksuckers. I'm confident that they'll prove to be helpful.

And that's it. I'm out of here. That Waffle House sausage ain't gonna eat itself. See ya tomorrow -- with brewery pictures!

March 4, 2005

-- It's on. Steve's British maid finally gave him the message that I'd called, and yesterday afternoon we made our plans for a long-overdue, and much-needed, pilgrimage to the Yuengling holy site in Pottsville, and the nearby Centralia. I asked him when he was available, and he started talking about dates near the end of March. But that simply wouldn't do. I was manic and wanted to go right goddamn then; the end of March seemed like the fall of 2010 to me. So we're going on Monday, this coming Monday -- in just a few days(!). 

We're in one of those calm-before-the-storm periods at work, so I'm taking a vacation day, and we're friggin' going. And I can't wait. I read on Yuengling's website this morning that they even let tour groups go into the old cold-storage caves behind the brewery now. Last time I was there they were off-limits. Oh, it's gonna be great. I'm going to zero-out the memory card in my digital camera, load in some fresh batteries, pop in the X "Make The Music Go Bang!" anthology, and hit the road. If the planets align in just the right way, I may even return with a picture of Dick Yuengling himself, holding the Fish. Stay tuned...

-- And as if that weren't enough, Deadwood returns this weekend. Season Two kicks off at nine o'clock on Sunday, and I'll be there with my fuck-counting cap on. Through my vast network of spies and backstabbers I was able to procure a Season One DVD set, and I'm interested to see if my little "tribute" to the show is mentioned in any of the commentary tracks. I have a feeling it is. That thing took on a life of its own for a while, and you just know that most of the cast and crew has seen it. In any case, I'm tracking the f-bombs again this year. And for the record: I LOVE the show. It's way more than just the sum of its fucks. I'm excited for its return, for many reasons.

-- West Virginia is getting national attention again and, as usual, it's not exactly flattering. A Braxton County sixth grade teacher was arrested yesterday, for allegedly having "sexual relations" with several of her male students. The knee-jerk reaction to this story is to say, "Heh, where was she when I was in sixth grade?" But then you see her picture... All the stomach-churning details are here, and don't miss the hilarious Fark reaction either. God bless America.

-- Thanks for all the comments about our new living room yesterday. I read them last night when I got home from work, and had to agree with some of the constructive criticism. In fact, I decided to do something about it right away, and stayed up most of the night making some changes and adjustments. How does it look now? Any better?

-- My old time radio mania is starting to get out of hand, as predicted. I just took delivery of more than 600 episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, and have orders pending for a metric shitload Life of Riley and Broadway Is My Beat programs. Every night it's like 1949 in the bunker, and I quite literally can't get enough. Somebody please help me.

-- There's disturbing news from Chris's old North Carolina stomping grounds of Boone. Check it out. It seems that he got out of there just in time, before all hell broke loose. Whew!

-- And that's all I have time for today, kiddies. I'm going to turn it over to Buck now, and drag my riffled ass into work. Have a great weekend. See ya on Monday.

March 3, 2005

A few very quick things:

-- I wasn't able to reach Steve yesterday, to set up our day trip to the Yuengling Brewery and the smoking town of Centralia. I called his house twice and got a proper British answering machine message(?). So Steve, if you're reading this, call me. This is a goddamn emergency. I'm dying here. I'm caught up in some kind of perpetual mid-winter loop of sleep, work, old Gunsmoke radio shows, and sleep again. I need to do something. If we don't act quickly I'm going to have to resort to linking to news stories on this website, complete with snarky "commentary." Don't make me do it, I beg of you. Pick up the friggin' phone! There are no British chicks living at your house, and we both know it. Stop the charade, and let's go to Pottsville. Goddamn.

-- My hair is the exact perfect length right now. Isn't that a great feeling? It's a very small window of time in which this claim can be made, and I'm smack dab in the middle of it. When I get a haircut, I get a haircut. There's no half-stepping with fancy-pants stylists or anything. I have them use the clippers, with the four and the two guards; it's like nuclear winter atop my head. When I go in, the girl says, "Four and two?" and I say damn right. Then I walk around with a slight military look for a week or so (a suspension of believablity is required, since I'm quite fat and forty-two, but still...).

Then there is a brief period when it all comes together, and things look pretty good upstairs. But it doesn't last long, and before I know it I've started the downward spiral again into Welcome Back Kotter territory. So I'm enjoying it while it lasts, thank you very much.

-- I forgot to post a picture of the reclaimed living room on Monday, as promised. Sorry about that, and thanks for the reminder in yesterday's comments. Here's a shot I just snapped. How does it look? I'm a little concerned that the couch and loveseat are too light in color, considering the fact that we have two hooligan Secrets, and a neurotic border collie. I mean, there's a limit to what Scotchgard can do, right? So that might've been a mistake... But we're pretty happy with it anyway. And if I had a "before" shot you'd know why. Sweet sainted mother of Meadowlark Lemon, we were living on the set of Sanford and Son. Check out that chair and ottoman from Sam's Club in the foreground, boyee. That shit woulda cost seven hundred bucks in a regular furniture store. God bless you Sam Walton, and your overseas connections!

-- Man, was last night's episode of Lost kick-ass or what? That show just keeps getting better and better, as the tangled web of fucked-upness is revealed. They're all tied together somehow, from earlier in life, and they don't yet know it. And we, the viewers, don't know a hell of a lot either. But it sure is fun trying to figure it all out. We record each episode, so we can watch it again, and try to find all the hidden clues buried within every show. Last week, for instance, there was a flashback scene featuring the Korean couple, and way off in the background was a TV -- with Hurley, the fat guy, on the screen. What does it mean? Why was he on Korean television?? Every episode is packed with stuff like that, and as soon as the DVD box set comes out, I'm there. I have a feeling that a person could watch it over and over, and find new stuff every time. The shit is genius.

And I think that'll do it for today, boys and girls. See ya tomorrow.


March 2, 2005

-- Do people still read magazines? I don't, not really. I subscribe to Esquire, for some reason, and I usually flip through it the day it arrives, and never look at it again. And I somehow scammed freebie subscriptions to Maxim and a couple of Maxim-wannabes, but I barely look at them either. They pile up in the bunker, glossy tit shot atop glossy tit shot, until I finally get disgusted and hurl them in the trash. Many have literally never been opened.

I don't know if it's the internet that has sapped my interest in real paper magazines, or just some kind of burn-out loss of passion. The only one I still read on a regular basis is Entertainment Weekly, and that's only because, regardless of what else might be going on in my life or the world, I still have to crap on occasion. And as long as there's crapping, there will be Entertainment Weekly. In fact, that should be their new advertising tagline... Maybe I should shoot them an email on that?

I used to be a magazine junkie. I subscribed to as many as I could afford, and picked up lots more at newsstands. Then I'd read the hell out of 'em. Rolling Stone, National Lampoon, Mad, Creem, Trouser Press, and on and on. They all made me happy to my core, during a previous lifetime. I even admired the old alcoholics with dangling moles who ran the newsstands themselves. They were the keepers of the news after all, great men. Some even had illegal fireworks for sale, under the counter, if you knew the secret passwords.

When I was a hideous teenager, before I had my driver's license, I would regularly take the bus to Charleston just to shop for magazines and albums (and M-80s). I knew where all the good places were, where a person could pick up British music papers like New Musical Express, or incredibly cool mags from lands faraway, such as Boston Rock. My appetite was insatiable.

But I'm not feeling it anymore. I wander into a newsstand today, and nothing happens. I just look around and quickly realize that I'm bored. The music mags I used to love now feature people on their covers that I don't recognize, or couldn't give two good droplets about. Plus, they usually come with a crappy CD shrinkwrapped to the front, and cost $8.95. Fuck dat. Most of the "news" magazines are at least a week behind the times, and usually have some sort of ideological axe to grind. The literary titles are, let's face it, generally boring and pretentious. And nobody carries good zines anymore, at least not here in Scranton. It's too bad, but the magic is gone is for me now.

It is kind of fun to check out all the hyper-specialized titles a person can buy these days, but that's just for laughs. It seems that every obscure niche interest has its own magazine now, and I find it both baffling and mind-boggling. I mean, how many copies of things like Diabetic Civil War Enthusiast could they sell per month? Or Black Knitting? Or Pie Recipes For Pipefitters? I made up all of those titles, but I'm fairly confident that if they don't already exist, they will soon. Crazy, man.

I recently learned that a friend of a friend is published in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, so I picked up a copy. And it wasn't too bad. I actually read several articles, and enjoyed them. So I went on their website and subscribed. I gave up on that periodical of liquor ads many years ago, but decided to give it another chance. Maybe I can recapture some of the magic? And I also sent in a subscription card for Tracks magazine. Apparently it's a music mag for old farts, and if that isn't a shoe that fits, then I don't know what is.

What magazines do you subscribe to? Are there any left worth reading? Help me out, people.

-- And why do I get the nagging feeling that I'm starting to repeat myself here? I'm not completely sure, but I think I wrote almost exactly the same update a couple of years ago... I'm really in need of an adventure; I need to call Steve today and set up a day trip to Yuengling Brewery and the smoking ghost town of Centralia. Shit. Winter can sure cramp a fat man's style. 

Oh well, at least we have Metten to help save the day. Once again, thank God.

See you folks tomorrow.

March 1, 2005

-- There's a crazy stack of snow out there this morning. Maybe a foot or so. It's now piled three-quarters of the way up the deck railing, counting what was already there before the new storm kicked in. I'll have to go out and shovel the driveway before I leave for work, and that's no fun whatsoever. But, beyond that, it doesn't really bother me. I like snow. It adds variety to an otherwise gray winter. Toney's to the point where she's had it, but I'm not there yet. It puts me in a good mood to wake up and find the whole world bright and sparkly. Sure, by the afternoon it'll be dirty and slushy and disgusting, but right now it's really pretty. So don't be killing my buzz, y'hear?

-- I wasted valuable writing time this morning by sitting with Toney at the dining room table, drinking coffee, and talking about our Myrtle Beach trip. It's amazing to think, especially considering the current weather, that in just a few weeks we'll be camped by the ocean, sitting in the sun with a frosty Samuel Adams clamped to the end of our right arms. We have everything planned down to the smallest detail. Reservations are in place, my time off has been approved, Toney knows the exact number of miles we'll drive every day, and where we'll camp on Night One (Rocky Mount, NC). My parents are going to meet us at Myrtle Beach in their Blue Oyster Cult tour bus, and it'll all be good.

We've learned from our mistakes of last year not to request a campsite right beside the beach, since we were nearly tipped over by the wind in the dead of night. And we'll keep our beer stash under lock and key, goddammit. It was stolen last year, and that's not happening again. I haven't decided yet, but we may sleep with it in our bed. And we picked a spot that's close (but not too close) to the bathrooms. You live and learn, and the bathroom situation is something that has to be carefully considered. Too close and you can hear the screen doors slamming all night long, and depending on which way the wind is blowing, can actually smell the piss biscuits in the bottom of the urinals. Too far, and it casts a gloom over the evening beer-blooping festivities. It's no fun to wake up at 3 am with your bladder afire, and have to hoof it a couple of city blocks in the dark before you can find sweet relief.

So... I don't want to be too cocky, but I think we have our friggin' bases covered here. We've corrected the problems of last year and, as long as we're not hit by a monsoon, it should be a lot of fun. I'll be far away from my job... it'll be sunny and warm... our only responsibilities will revolve around the preparation of meat, and the opening of beverages... I swear, imagining it and thinking about it is almost as much fun as the trip itself. Having something to look forward to is mental money in the bank.

-- And speaking of that, the camper now officially belongs to us. We had to take a small loan to buy it last winter, and we paid it off a few days ago. So we'll never be homeless. Sure, it'll be a roof constructed of plastic and vinyl, but a roof nonetheless. It's a good feeling.

-- Finally, I was listening to Clive Bull at work yesterday, like every other day, and he was talking about white dog shit. He said that he remembers seeing it all the time when he was a kid, but over the past quarter of a century or so, white dog "poo" has essentially disappeared. And he's right! What's happened to the white dog turds? I too remember it, all chalky and white, nestled in a green freshly mown lawn. How come it's not around anymore? Clive took a lot of calls on the subject, but in the end it remained a mystery. Do any of you folks have a theory on this subject? It's baffling.

And on that dubious note, I think I'd better turn off the computer, and get my sorry ass out there with a shovel. See ya tomorrow.

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