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.





The Essentials
Electronic Mail

Friends of TheWVSR

African Adventures
Greg Beck
Erica in Charlotte
Krista Garcia
Ha Ha Comix
Jason Headley
Matt Hearn
Idiot Ramblings
Todd Krafft
Brenda Love
Mark Maynard
Adam McKee
Craig Mitchell
Mitten and Metchell
Marc Parker
Dave Polaschek
Rock n Roll Confidential
Sex Stone
Eugene B. Sims
Jeff Somers

Tap Into TheWVSR!

   Add to My Yahoo!
   Subscribe in NewsGator Online
   Add to Google The West Virginia Surf Report!
   Subscribe with Bloglines
   Add to My AOL
   Subscribe in Rojo

       120x60 White Logo

     Sirius Satellite Radio - $30 Rebate Hosting & Servers


  Willard "Bill" Hershberger


   The State of My Fat Ass                                          May 2006

May 31, 2006

-- Man, it's hot up here. It's early in the morning as I type this and I'm sporting a shiny whole-body patina of sweat. And I don't like that. Monday night I tossed and turned because of the heat, restless and wallowing around in my own natural juices. So last night, after work, Toney and I installed the big Soviet humboxes in the bedroom windows, so we can sleep in comfort at the very least. Those babies ran wide-open all night long.

I hate this kind of weather. I'd take a snowpack up to the windowsills in a heartbeat, over this misery. At least with cold you can curl up beneath the Scrote-watching blanket, and life is good; there's no escape from the Satan weather.

Before turning in last night I took Andy outside so he could snorkle around and sling urine and whatnot, and was surprised to find that the temperature had dropped dramatically. There was a thunderstorm a-brewin' and it felt pretty good out there. But not inside. Oh no. It was as if there was some sort of self-sustaining heat core somewhere in the house, just going to town.

Toney said the clattering and humming of the air conditioner irritated her, and she didn't sleep very well. Me? I was like JFK in Dallas.

-- Last night I turned over to the Weather Channel to see if there's any relief in sight (supposedly there is), and noticed that they have a second-by-second countdown to the beginning of hurricane season, down in the corner of the screen. It starts tonight, you know. At 11 PM you're completely safe, but at midnight you'd better start watching your ass, mister. 

Is that not hilarious? Don't you just love the hype? And people like Sunshine will lap it all up, believing that setting foot in Florida in June or July is as risky as anything the Apollo astronauts ever faced. It's almost as classic as people who say," Oh, I'd never have the nerve to visit California, they have all those earthquakes out there." Or the ones who believe that the internet is nothing but one big baby-rapist social club. You know, like Sunshine. ....And some other people.

-- On Sunday we worked in the yard like the guys on Cool Hand Luke. A few times I was forced to take an emergency break, because it felt like I was on the verge of upchucking into the rhododendrons. But we got everything done, and it looks great. 

I'm not one to pat myself on the back, as you may know, but I believe the shit is nothing short of stellar. There are other yards in the neighborhood that are as nice as ours right now, but not many that are nicer. And that's the troof. 

When I left for work yesterday I drove real slow, so I could take it all in from the street. And I think I experienced something that I'd always believed was a myth: the satisfaction of a job well done. Who knew that it was for real??

-- After our day of toil, I took an ice-cold shower and hobbled out to the deck, adult beverage in-hand. Toney joined me, and we both moaned about our aches and pains for a while. At least until the Rolling Rocks kicked in....

The Secrets wanted out of the sun, and were inside playing a new-to-them PS2 game called The Simpsons: Hit & Run. But Andy joined us on the deck and immediately began trying to catch bees again. For some reason the hound is obsessed with bees; he leaps and barks and tries to hypnotize them with his stare. He completely ignores other flying insects, like flies and gnats, but bees cause him to lose his shit. I warned him (once again) that if he ever manages to catch one, he'll wish that he hadn't. The dumbass will end up looking like a border collie with a full-on set of Sandra Bernhard lips.... But he pays me no mind. It's as if he can't understand a word I'm saying.

The Half-Shirts next door were having a big holiday blow-out, as we nursed ourselves back to health. As best as we could tell, they had a bunch of extended family over there, and were kicking up one hell of a racket. They were knocking back the booze, of course, and it sounded like the whole gang was talking at once -- and it was a heady brew of New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Scranton accents. 

One woman had a voice that cut straight through everything like a knife. Every time she opened her mouth it felt like knitting needled were being plunged into my temples. I told Toney that I couldn't live with such a person. I don't care if she was the sweetest person in the world, and the love of my life. I'd have to settle for second-best.

There were several teenagers down there, and their parents were letting them drink beer. I heard one person holler (there was no speaking, only hollering), "You're allowed twelve sips, because you're twelve years old." Maybe it's because I was raised in Baptist-saturated West Virginia, but that was almost shocking to me. What do you think about that?

When I went to bed that night the Half-Shirt Jamboree was still in full swing. I was reading my (kick-ass) Lincoln book  in bed, and could barely concentrate because of all the noise. The last thing I remember hearing, before drifting off to sleep, was somebody screaming, "Bullshit! Just utter undiluted bullshit!!" Sweet dreams.

-- And that's all I have time for today, kiddies.

Before handing over the reins to Buck, please allow me to alert you to this extra-cool, and slightly art house, Smoking Fish sighting. Thanks for going above and beyond, Todd! You guys keep 'em coming, OK? Our logo is always out and about.

And Will, the Keeper of the Blanket, has made a few additions to his list here. The fresh quotes, as always, are at the bottom.

-- Finally, here's our good friend Buck to close out the category.

See ya tomorrow. 

May 30, 2006

-- And we're back....

I hope everyone had a great holiday, and got to spend some downtime away from work, and all that good stuff. Ours was nice, thanks for asking. I had the whole thing envisioned in my mind before it happened, and reality ended up being fairly close to fantasy. And that's a victory, huh?

On Friday I took my company up on its offer to let us all go home at 1 PM. That sort of thing usually translates into me getting out of there at 5 instead of 6:30, but I was hell-bent on jumping ship at the first possible opportunity. And as soon as the second conference call (the One O'Clock Ballbuster) was over at 1:30 or so, I turned off my computer and walked out the front door. Didn't even tell anyone I was leaving, I just got in my truck and drove away. Ahh, what a wonderful feeling....

On my way home I bought a case of real Latrobe-brewed Rolling Rock in the classic longneck bar bottles, Toney and I went for a nice Mexican lunch while the Secrets were in school, and the super-sized weekend was officially underway.

-- We'd planned to spend Saturday working in the yard. All the weather "experts" kept telling us that the weekend would be beautiful and sunny, the "nicest Memorial Day weekend in twenty-five years." And when we crawled out of bed on Saturday, it was raining. So that was that. We decided we'd go buy yard supplies instead.

I pulled into the drive-through garden center at Wal-Mart, and loaded the back of my Blazer with a dozen bags of mulch. They supposedly load it for you, but I didn't feel like spending the entire day there, so I did it myself.

As I waited to pay, I saw the most excellent nerd. He was wearing a Sherlock Holmes cap, and was sporting a huge unkempt beard with no moustache, like something out of Moby Dick. Unconventional. His too-tight brown(?!) t-shirt was tucked into a pair of massive uniform pants, and the dude was in bad need of a sports bra. He was with his elderly mother (of course), and was acting all exasperated. He kept calling her "mother," and rolling his eyes a lot.

I couldn't stop watching the guy. He was a perfect specimen -- a fully-realized geek. And I wish I had video footage of him helping the clerk load a gas grill into the back of their Jeep Cherokee. He was sweating profusely and huffing and puffing... His massive ass was pushed way out, and I got the impression that he'd never lifted much in his life heavier than a Gamecube controller, or a family-sized sack of Cheetos.

It was all so entertaining I didn't even really notice that the cashier was moving as if she were underwater, something that would normally ratchet my blood pressure right up. When I realized this, I considered walking over and shaking the man's hand in gratitude. But then I thought about where it had undoubtedly been, and the myriad tasks it had performed (probably within the past hour), and decided against it.

-- When we finally got away from that cluster-fornication, we went to Home Depot, where I planned to purchase a new weed whacker. I bought a really nice one when we first moved here, but one of the Secrets took care of that for me; by the time he was finished with it, the thing was nothing but a prop. Thanks! And since last summer I've been making-do with a ridiculous cheap-o model that would undoubtedly cause my Dad to avert his eyes in shame.

But no more. I've now got the big honkin' heavy-duty whacker, with enough power to slice through telephone pole guide wires. And the Secrets can "help" with the cheap-ass grandpa-shamer, thank you very much.

As we were leaving, I noticed the hot dog stand in the parking lot, and the excellent smells it was pumping out. I'm not much for breakfast, and was starting to get hungry. I saw that they were supposedly serving the same kinds of dogs as NYC street vendors, and wondered if they had onion sauce and all that goodness. And they did! I bought a "regular" from them, and it was just about the best thing ever. I gobbled it down in three or four bites, standing in the middle of a handicap parking space only a few feet away from the stand itself.

Then I was in a frenzy. I wanted some of that sauce, goddammit. I asked Toney if she'd ever seen it in a grocery store, and she blinked at me like I was suddenly speaking porpoise. But I was almost certain that buried inside the scarred-up folds and flaps of my brain, I had a vague memory of seeing it on a shelf somewhere. And I would find it.

We went from store to store, and it wasn't a popular mission amongst the family. We started at a fancy-pants specialty market, where we bought steaks for Sunday's planned deck extravaganza. As Toney perused the wares, I wandered off in search of my beloved onion sauce. I couldn't find it, and finally decided to ask an employee. Surely it was under that roof somewhere, the shit was right up their alley.... 

But the zitster listened to me describe it, and said, "Dude, I have no idea what you're talking about." Dude??

Then it was to this store, and that. And finally I tracked it down, only a mile or so from our house. It was in the meat case, above the wieners -- just a tiny jar that cost four dollars(!). Super-expensive, I thought, but worth every cent. I've been eating the living crap out of the Ballpark Franks over the past few days, and it's almost time for another jar of the secret ingredient.

Have you ever had this stuff? It's almost too good.

What do you think goes into the making of the perfect hot dog?  I arrived late at the onion sauce, and worry that I might be missing something else kick-ass.

-- And I'll tell you more about our exciting weekend tomorrow.

In the meantime, here's a cell phone picture I snapped outside Wal-Mart only a few minutes after our mulch-purchase. I'd sure like to know the back-story on that deal... Wonder if Ahab Holmes had anything to do with it? Perhaps "mother" got the wrong flavor of Nestle Quik, and he snapped?

And here's an interesting duck x-ray being auctioned off at eBay. Usually the duck x-rays they offer at that site aren't quite as intriguing as this one, y'know?

Finally, this is a brief video that the Warner Bros. animation crew supposedly did for inclusion in a WB Studios in-house blooper reel, back in the 1940's. Apparently the cartoon folks were feeling a little left out of all the fun, and decided to make a contribution. Good stuff.

More, lots more, tomorrow. See ya then. 

May 25, 2006

-- I'm having my Eight O'Clock Bean Coffee this morning from a San Francisco mug. It has a sailboat on it, and a few uniquely-shaped buildings in the background. It looks to have been illustrated by a second-grader who knows his way around the construction paper and glue, and is one of my favorites.

I know it's semi-retarded, but I like to buy a mug whenever we visit someplace new. I picked this one up in 1993, on the trip Toney and I took after we were married. (I hesitate to use the term "honeymoon" because it sounds ridiculous.) I'd been to San Francisco once before, through work, but had only seen the inside of a fancy-pants hotel then. And that first visit didn't merit an official mug purchase.

Some of my other favorites are from the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Strand bookstore in NYC, an old-fashioned diner mug from Cape May, NJ, an oddly-colored classic from Depoe Bay, Oregon, and one that says in big bold letters: Don't Mess With Texas.

I feel like I've been to a lot of mug-worthy places, but there are so many more to go. As I inventory my collection I realize that I've never logged much muggable time in the middle of the country. With the exception of several work-related visits to Chicago and Dallas, I've spent most of my life near the oceans. I need to make an effort to remedy that situation.

On Clive Bull's radio show from London, people often call up and cite some statistic about Americans, and the number of us who have never had a passport. And they snicker and insinuate that we're self-absorbed and lack curiosity and/or respect for other cultures.

Perhaps. But there's more to it than that. It also has to be taken into account (if you want to be fair, mind you) that this is one big-ass country. ...No pun intended. A person could spend two lifetimes traveling around America, and still not see it all. Plus, there's an awful lot of water to cross in order to get to Europe and other places. And crossing water costs money.

I, for one, would love nothing more than to have a whole cabinet full of European mugs to slurp from. And Asian and Australian and... most other places too. But when I was young and free I was also poor as fuck. I was worried about keeping myself in Burrito Supremes -- seeing Prague (or whatever) was out of the question. And now that we have a tiny amount of disposable income, we also have kids... and it all gets logistically complicated.

So those callers to Clive's show tend to irritate me. They speak in such snobby and knowing tones. Who are they to judge my mugs? It's easy to criticize when you can drop your doughy white-fish ass in a train seat, and be in Paris or Brussels in three hours. If I traveled for three hours I'd be in Maryland.

Yes, I've still got a lot of gift shop work to do, I admit it. But it has nothing to do with lack of interest. If I hadn't stormed out of that convenience store on Saturday, and had hit the lottery as the Powerball gods intended, I'd be all up in Prague, and Denver. And what's wrong with Denver? Should I feel guilty and narrow-minded for wanting to see Denver?? Should I hang my tiny Duke head in shame?

Dammit, I'm starting to get pissed here, and that wasn't my intention.... What parts of the country remain mugless territories to you? I've been up and down both coasts, with the exceptions of Maine and Washington State. But nothing much in-between. What about you?

Pass the freakin' whitener. And the Irish Whiskey, while you're at it.

-- The season finale of LOST was fun to watch last night, but typically frustrating. There were few answers, and lots of new questions. And so it goes. I've never seen one minute of American Idol, but I hear that Skippy Hicks was the winner? Is that his name? Anyway... what are we going to do now?? Everything's come to an end. How can we possibly go on? Will somebody please hold me?

-- Here's a very special Surf Report shirt photo. Congrats man, on both your new tax write-off, and your impeccable fashion sense. I'll hoist a deck-beverage in your honor this weekend.

-- Finally, a little something new from Buck, who seems a bit agitated as well. Sweet Maria, it must be in the Mountain Dew.

And that'll do it for me, boys and girls. I need some time away from this computer and this website (re-read this post if you don't believe me), so the next update won't be until Tuesday, 5/30. 

Have a great holiday, and I'll see you then. 

May 24, 2006

-- I think I made a big mistake this past weekend. I went into a convenience store, a place called, coincidentally enough, Convenience Store, to purchase my weekly three dollar allotment of lottery tickets. Because, as you may be aware, you can't win if you ain't in.

In line was a middle-aged man with his t-shirt tucked into his shorts (wotta douche), an old lady, and me. My sphincter automatically seals off whenever there's a senior citizen there, because they're generally in no hurry, buy lots of scratch-offs (which they invariably scratch right there), and request specific numbers for the Powerball drawings, and whatnot. Usually they have some sort of heavy plastic "lottery pouch" with them, in which they store loads of mysterious paperwork. Oh, they're serious about that shit, and it makes me insane.

But it wasn't the oldster causing the problem this time, it was Mr. McTuck. He was tapping his finger on his lips trying to decide which scratch-off games to play, and asking the cashier for advice as if he were seated at a four-star restaurant. When I arrived he already had dozens of cards spread out across the counter, like a game of solitaire, and he had absolutely no concern for anyone other than himself.

I fantasized about lifting the nearby rack of NY Posts high in the air, and bringing it down hard on the top of his head. But I decided that might not be a good idea, and sighed repeatedly and with exaggerated volume instead.

When he finally finished with his scratch-off games, and removed a long list of specific lottery numbers from his neatly-pressed shorts with belt, something inside me snapped. I said, "Oh, you've got to be shitting me!" and made a big show of storming out of the store. In the parking lot I was nearly struck by a Ford Explorer, and I yelled at the driver like a crazy homeless person.

And as I made my way to an alternative lottery establishment, I realized that I'd probably just blown millions of dollars.

I have a feeling that it was pre-ordained that I'd hit the jackpot that day. All I needed to do was buy my tickets at that particular Convenience Store, at that particular time of day, with three particular dollar bills. And if I met those simple requirements, the planets would align in my favor. 

I'd been so close, but had blown it by losing my cool!

Indeed, the tickets that I bought at the other store didn't do a damn thing for me. And that proves it, doesn't it? ...How could I have been so stupid?!

-- Tonight's the big season finale of LOST, and I'm excited. It's a super-sized two-hour episode, which should translate into about one hour of actual show. Is it just me, or are there more commercials in that deal than any other TV program in history? Regardless, I'll be there with adult beverage in hand, sitting way out on the edge of my seat and smiling like a retard. I'm completely under the spell of that show. And I still maintain: Locke is the key.

-- We were told yesterday that we can leave work on Friday at one o'clock. I don't usually take them up on such offers, but I will this time. I'm gonna rocket out of there like a breakfast burrito from a beer drinker, and start the long weekend early.

Believe it or not, I'm all fired up to work in the yard. I'm itching to whip this place into shape, lay in some mulch, engage in much weed-whacking and sidewalk edging, and top things off with a good soak-down of harsh chemicals.

Yes, that's what Saturday's going to be all about, working like a freakin' Amish, followed in the evening by thick steaks on the grill and some genuine Latrobe-brewed Rolling Rock.

And by the way, I'm gonna close-up shop here for a few days. I really need some downtime, and the bunker is going to go dark from Friday through Monday. So, tomorrow's update will be the last until next Tuesday. You know, in case you should give a tiny crap...

-- Here's yet another Smoking Fish sighting, this time at a place that was previously christened Further Evidence. Keep 'em coming, folks!

-- And this is something new and hilarious from lakrfool -- one of his best efforts to date, in my opinion. Don't miss it.

-- Finally, the question of the day.... This sounds like a Clive Bull topic, but isn't; I made this one up all by myself, using my own beleaguered brain. What accent irritates you the most? It can be a regional American accent, or one from a foreign country. 

I have a strong opinion on this (my whole body is tensing up just thinking about it), but am going to keep it to myself for now. I want to hear your opinions first. Use the comments link below.

-- Oh, and before I forget... the fingernails sank.

Have a great day, boys and girls. See ya tomorrow. 

May 23, 2006

-- On Sunday, at Sam's, we got onto the subject of fingernails, and whether or not they float. Yes, you read that correctly. As I polished off my big emasculation dog in the snack bar, a few feet away from a man purchasing a 50-inch plasma screen TV and a rotisserie chicken, Toney told the youngest Secret she needed to clip his nails when we got home, because they were getting a tad womanly.

At the same time, the older Secret was telling us about a friend who hated one of his teachers, and was always coming up with elaborate schemes to "get back at her." These included such classics as the thumbtack on the chair, as well as a few originals that seemed to invariably feature a network of lines, pulleys, and cream pies. It just goes on and on.

As usual, I was barely hearing any of this, because it's just too confusing. It seems like the entire world is talking, all at once, 'round the clock. But I got enough of it to suggest that both things be brought together for mutual benefit. Perhaps, I said, the friend could put fingernail clippings in the teacher's coffee?

Toney shot me a shocked look that screamed, "Don't give him any ideas, dumbass!" But the oldest Secret was already running with it. He was laughing and imagining the woman taking a big slug of Maxwell House, and ending up with a bunch of nail clippings stuck to her lips. Good times.

Then we started wondering if fingernails and toenails would float. I thought they'd probably sink, but everybody else had the opposite opinion. So, there was but one thing to do.... we needed to conduct an experiment.

And when we got home Toney cut the youngest Secret's fingernails, we put them in a paper cup full of water, and watched with great anticipation. Care to guess the outcome?

-- A few people mentioned this yesterday in the comments, but it looks like Anheuser-Busch has gobbled up Rolling Rock, and is planning to shut down their historic brewery in western Pennsylvania. It's that last part that makes me sick.... They're reportedly going to start making the stuff in one of their sprawling beer factories somewhere, and that's a sad state of affairs.

So, does it mean that they'll now have to change the label? It says, and has always said, "From the glass-lined tanks of Old Latrobe...." But that won't be a true statement anymore. I think they'll need to change it to something like, "From a characterless but functional football field-sized vat in an industrial park near St. Louis..." 

Somehow it just doesn't have the same ring.

For a few years (Greensboro), Rolling Rock was my beer of choice. I drank a lot of it. Oh, nothing like this guy with his Coors Light, but a substantial amount anyway. They served it in the longneck green bottles at College Hill, one of America's great bars, for a buck seventy-five each. We called it R Squared and did our best to drive up their stock prices.

It's not a great beer, by any means, but it's better than most everyday brews. It has a distinctive flavor, and I might buy a case this weekend, just for old time's sake. Here's the Snopes page where they attempt to explain the mysterious "33" that is printed on every bottle and can of Rolling Rock, and don't even come close to pulling it off.

Those St. Louis fuckers just better keep their booger-hooks off Yuengling, that's all I can say.

-- And since we're on the subject, here are the 100 best beers in the world, and the 50 worst. Supposedly.

-- Have you ever revisited, after several years, an album that you thought you didn't like, and realized that it is, in fact, really fucking good? I'm experiencing that now.

I was a huge fan of the early Angry Young Man albums by Elvis Costello, the ones produced by Nick Lowe "with one hand on the board and one hand on the bottle." But then Elvis booted Nick to the curb, and started crooning. He went from writing pop songs, to creating art. And I don't like that.

Maybe if he'd just eeeased into it? I don't know, but I've always had a real problem with Imperial Bedroom, the moment everything changed. It sounded completely different from all the previous albums, and I never warmed to it. I was pissed that he'd abandoned Nick and changed his approach, and the thing always meant betrayal to me. I can remember hollering at my turntable: Just sing, goddammit! What are you, Bobby Vinton??

But over the past few years I've been working on getting all the Elvis albums on CD, preferably in the new fancy-pants editions from Rhino. A month or so ago I picked up Imperial Bedroom, out of a sense of duty, and was shocked to realize that it's incredibly good. I can't stop playing it.

So there you go. Perhaps I was a tad unfair, back in the day? Anything's possible, I guess. I hope Elvis will accept my apology. 

But the Nick records are still best. I will never concede that it isn't true. Never!

-- And finally, Surf Reporters Kyle and Daniel spotted the Smoking Fish this past weekend, and managed to snap a few photos. Check it out. Thanks guys, for being on your toes. Our logo, man, he gets around.

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

May 22, 2006

-- I hope you guys had a great weekend. Ours was nice, thanks for asking. It's pretty damn cold up here, and rainy too, so that always helps. Perhaps I'm weird (anything's possible), but cold and rainy make me happy.

I was in a deep, deep funk most of last week, feeling pessimistic and questioning the point of it all. I was like Morrissey with a southern accent and a preference for women. But the weekend helped, thank God. I was getting sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

Not even staring down the barrel of another five-day work week is getting me down this morning. It's amazing. Cats are sleeping with dogs....

-- Steve came to town on Saturday and we bought our Steely Dan tickets. They cost sixty buck each, which almost turned my colon inside out. But we've got 'em, and they're pretty good seats. So that's that. Barring death or dismemberment, we'll be in attendance for the Khaki Slacks and Stock Options Tour '06. Pass the merlot.

After our excellent Ticketmaster adventure, we went to lunch at Five Guys. Man, I need to take better advantage of that place. I've been there four or five times now, but I should be hitting it at least once a week. They serve up some of the best hamburgers ever, and a "regular" order of fries is enough to feed a family -- which is perfect for me. Plus, they have big crates of peanuts to munch on while your order is being prepared. It's the happiest place on earth.

After lunch we returned to the Surf Report compound, and Steve helped me cobble together some notes for an extracurricular writing project I've undertaken.

This exercise mostly involved sitting around in chairs and reminiscing about various episodes of ridiculousness from the Dunbar days. Like in Jr. High when we'd get behind the curtains in Mr. Lee's West Virginia Studies class, and throw handful after handful of magazines out the second-floor window for sport. That was our entertainment back then.... And when we'd go to lunch and see paper strewn all over the neighborhood, we'd just laugh and laugh. The whole thing was inexplicably retarded, yet I still find it funny to this day. Go figure.

-- On Saturday night Toney, the Secrets, and I attended a block party in our neighborhood. I was dreading this thing like a rectal exam, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. They closed off a short street that runs past a park, fired up a bunch of grills, set out a long table o' snacks, and tapped a keg. It's a recipe that rarely fails to please....

I had it in my mind that Toney would be talking non-stop to the many people she knows, and I'd be off by myself staring at my shoes and being a big miserable sack. But, surprisingly enough, we didn't know hardly anyone there. Nobody from our block attended the thing (I guess it was too cold to be outside in only half a shirt), so I was able to hide behind my wife all night, and that's the way I prefer it.

The thousand or so kids played a game called Manhunt (who the hell knows?) in the park the whole time, and the adults stood around drinking booze and shooting the shit. Everybody was really nice, and surprisingly sarcastic and funny. The joint was crawling with cynical bastards, and we fit right in; I had no idea we were surrounded by such excellent assholes.

One woman kept wondering why her neighbor wasn't there yet, and finally broke out her cell phone. "Where are you?" she hollered. Then: "Having a beer by the fire? Goddammit, get your sorry ass down here and socialize! You can have a beer by the fire any night. We're getting drunk in the park!" This was a fifty-five year old woman who looked like a school teacher off Leave It To Beaver.

I went home to use the bathroom, and when I returned there was a gang of people standing around hammering back the brewskis and reciting lines from Animal House. And I heard a man that we do know, a person deeply involved in the church and usually very businesslike and intimidating, hollering, "Do you mind if we dance wif your dates?"

One of the ringleaders of the event had some sort of harelip or something going on. He was really nice, but it was hard to understand him at times. And the more he drank, the worse it got. By the time the sun went down, the shit was almost completely unintelligable. At one point I asked him how long he'd been living in the neighborhood, and if he was born and raised here. And here's a recording I made of his answer. Did he say something about sixteen years? I can't really make it out.

When it started getting dark, some people built a roaring bonfire at the edge of the park (totally illegal, I'm sure), and surrounded it with camping chairs. Everyone continued drinking and drinking, and it started getting a little crazy. One guy, who looked like Ernest Hemingway, kept proposing toasts to people like Grover Cleveland and Richard Nixon(?!). After an hour or so, he asked his teenage son to go home and fetch his harmonica for him. Then he wailed on that thing like J. Geils, for a really long time. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Ernest was throwing down!

After his little performance, he raised his cup again and said, "To being drunk!" And the whole crowd of respectable parents and middle-class suburbanites hollered back: "TO BEING DRUNK!!" I laughed my big ass off at that, and wondered what my parents would think of this shindig. We were a long way from Dunbar, WV.

It was a great time, and I sure as hell couldn't have predicted it. The only downside: somebody offered me a Cuban cigar when we were beside the fire, which I foolishly accepted and attempted to smoke. (I had no idea what I was doing...) And the next morning I woke up believing that a small woodland creature had somehow managed to crap in my mouth during the night. Blecch. I think I can still taste it.

-- On Sunday I mostly laid around the house and wallowed in my heft. We did go to Sam's, where I purchased a pillowcase sized sack of salted peanuts in the shell, and a kraut dog from the snack bar (where I witnessed a man purchasing a fifty-inch plasma television -- and a rotisserie chicken). Then I watched an entire Atlanta Braves game, several episodes of House Hunters and Designed to Sell, and finally The Sopranos.

And you're up to date on my exciting life. What did you do this weekend?

See ya tomorrow. 

May 19, 2006

Ohhhh yeah, that was Blue Oyster Cult with "Don't Fear the Reaper." Sounding so fine, mighty fine, here on the Skippy and Jeff morning show at WSHT. Jeff, before we broke you were about to tell us about some of your great adventures in toenail trimming? Is that correct? Well, you wanna do that now? We've got, let's see, four whole minutes to kill. Hahahahahahahaha!!

Yeah, thanks Skippy. Glad to help out with your problem -- any time. Hahahahahahaha!! The first time I can remember cutting my own toenails, I was probably six. And let me tell you, it didn't go very well. It was in West Virginia, at our old house, and....

Just kidding. But not too far-fetched, huh? Screw it, I'm just phoning it in at this point. By August I predict that this site will be nothing but links to wacky news stories about replacement penises being harvested on forearms and whatnot, and maybe a few of those ghetto prom pictures for good measure. But, of course, not until the Surf Report watermark is in place... Heh.

Here are a few quick and easy-to-write odds and ends to round out the week. Then I'm going to go off by myself and wallow in self-pity between eleven and noon, have a light lunch, then spend the afternoon raging in anger.

-- Do you ever feel like you have a sixth sense or ESPN, or whatever? I do. Just yesterday morning I was here in the bunker, and it flashed in my brain that it was about time for The Beautiful South to have another album. So I went to their website, for the first time in many months, and learned that they just released an album in England this week. Pretty spooky, huh?

What made me think of them, right out of the blue like that? Just a coincidence? Perhaps. Or maybe it's something else, something psychic? Maybe I've been gifted with the ability to sense developments in the careers of great rock bands that nobody's ever heard of?

Wait! I'm feeling a vibration right now. And it has something to do with... the Reivers. I'm not getting it all, but it's definitely about the Reivers. I'll keep you posted.

-- To learn that The Beautiful South has a new album is always bittersweet news for your humble correspondent. It's great, of course, because, to paraphrase Ice-T, I'm totally and completely on their dick. But it also creates great anguish, since the only way to get said album is to pay thirty bucks, or so, for an import copy. And I just can't do it. 

Thirty dollars for a CD?! Why, I'd surely have a stroke, and end up in yankee bean territory.

When their last album was released, I ended up buying an import from Singapore, if you can believe it. For some reason it was reasonably priced, and looks to be the exact same version they sell in the UK. I try not to think about it too much....

I shouldn't have to go through all this. Why can't some American record company just release their CDs? Lord knows they crank out skids and skids of bullshit every year. How about throwing a motherfucker a bone every once in a while? Shit.

And by the way... if you ever get a chance to see those guys in concert, do not make the mistake of staying at home. Holy crapballs, are they fun.

-- Speaking of concerts, Steve is driving up here tomorrow and we're going to hand over lots and lots of our money to Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, for Steely Dan tickets. Just in time too. I think those guys are each down to their last billion. A real shame.

It'll be a fun time, though. I'm excited about it. Maybe I'll rip off my shirt?

-- And now that David Lee Roth has been jettisoned from the radio airwaves, like shit from a goose, how about another Van Halen reunion tour? This time with DLR? Last summer they did it with Hagar, why not Dave this year? Hell, they'd make tractor trailer-loads of cash.

Of course, I think Eddie is still toying with the idea of becoming the lead singer himself. A bad idea, I think. Here's Phil Hendrie interviewing him about that, early last summer.

-- I keep hearing an electronic bing bing in here, and can't figure out where it's coming from. It's not my cell phone; it sounds like it might be coming from my printer. Is that possible? It's making me crazy. I might just be paranoid, but I'm convinced that it's a malfunctioning listening device of some kind. I just checked to see if my Beavis and Butthead dolls are wearing a wire.

-- And believe it or not, I've got more of this crapola, but I'm gonna call it a day. I'll leave you now with part of an email I received earlier this week. I thought you might enjoy it, you know, since I did....


Regarding the link on today's update about the man nairing his ass... Let me tell you that while it does remove hair, it also provides several negative effects. Unfortunately, I know this because my Italian ancestors cursed me what may be the hairiest ass ever (I may be wrong, but I never lost a 'hairiest ass contest' during college), and I tried this experiment a few years ago (with Epil-Stop, not Nair).

The negative effects:

1.) The hair in the crack acts as air conditioning, by keeping cheek to cheek contact to a minimum. Once you take that hair away, it is a "thumbs up" bonanza. That is to say, that your ass will sweat like you just ate 4,000 jalapenos while flying from Japan to the US and not having access to a bathroom, and the sweat smell will not be pleasant.

2.) The hair offers a certain level of "lubricity." Without it, toilet paper scrapes by, and falls apart. This leaves shit and paper in your crack. Swamp ass is soon to follow.

3.) Like the article said, the growing back period is not pleasant.

I could go into further detail, but I don't think that I need to. Just know that messing with the veritable force of hairy-assedness is not a good idea.


Have a great weekend. See ya Monday.  permalink

May 18, 2006

-- And we're back.... You're listening to the Skippy and Jeff morning show on WSHT radio, your home for classic rock and demoralizing, soul-sapping repetition. Jeff, before the break you were getting ready to tell us about your Los Angeles and Scranton lunch memories. You wanna pick that up now?

Yeah, thanks Skippy. It's a little ironic that our Southern California stay was, without a doubt, the most miserable, feces-encrusted period of our married life, yet it provided the best lunch experiences.

I worked in Burbank, and the lunch options were many. Including, if you can dig it, the commissaries at various movie studios. In fact, the entrance of Warner Bros. was only a few hundred yards from my desk, and I dined there often.

Back in the pre-9/11 days, it was no problem to just walk through the gate, and wander around at will. Sometimes the guards would make you show your "pass," but all you had to do was wave some sort of card, any card, at them, and they'd let you through. A driver's license, a MasterCard, your membership in the Richard Marx Appreciation Society, it didn't matter. I think I even flashed a Kleenex one day, and never had a problem. Unfortunately, I hear all that's changed now.

Anyway, once through the gate, you could pretty much do whatever you pleased. Within reason, of course. I walked all over the place, checking out the various sets and soundstages. There was a full-on New York City ghetto in there somewhere, that was cool as all hell. And well-maintained suburban "homes," the elevated train that appeared in ER, the Daily Planet building from Lois and Clark... There were surprises around every corner.

You'd see people walking around in bizarre costumes, and big-shot executives buzzing past in golf carts tricked-out to look like Rolls Royces. One day another guy and I just stood and looked at Clint Eastwood's assigned parking spot for minutes on end, just not fucking believing it. I was a long way from the Dunbar Bowling Alley.

The commissary was open to anyone, and it was good. They had real, live chefs on staff, serving up superior meals. It wasn't exactly cheap, but the atmosphere was stellar. We always sat outside on the patio, and took it all in.

Over the years I saw many celebrities at the WB, including the cast of Friends, Drew Carey, and my hero George Clooney.

One time I was outside eating my sprout-laden sandwich (California, remember) and saw a massively pregnant woman arguing with a man. She was waving her hands around, raising her voice, and looking ready to pop. Her bra strap had fallen onto her upper arm, and it was as wide as a seatbelt. But, of course, it needed to be, to support the load... because it was Adrienne Barbeau.

So that beat the living crap out of the Douglasville, GA Taco Bell. It really did. I couldn't afford to go there every day, but I went as often as I could. Many of my co-workers liked to pretend that it was no big deal, but I was never able to pull that off. Every time I went I nearly broke down in tears.

There was also a really kick-ass Chinese place not far from the office, called Frontier Wok. Massive portions for less than five bucks, prepared in an open-kitchen with frightening towers of flames shooting up in the air all willy-nilly. I went there so often they knew me by name. Mister Jeff, they called me.

And when I was really poor, which was often, there was always Del Taco -- home of the 59 cent taco. I'd get a sack of those babies and eat them at my desk, because drinks from the vending machine were cheaper than the "expensive" ones they sold at the "restaurant."

Once I saw Red from That '70s Show in Del Taco, scarfing down a burrito. He had the wrapper all spread out, nice and neat, and kept smoothing it like it was very important to him. He didn't seem friendly, so I kept my distance.

Another time, while standing in line at the counter, I heard tires squealing, then an impossibly loud crash. We all ran out, and saw a car inside, all the way inside, a laundromat. An old man was behind the wheel, and his "gas pedal got stuck." Heh. He took out several rows of washing machines and drove them through a bank of dryers on the back wall. Amazingly enough, nobody got hurt. But I think some poor bastard's underwear was wedged deep inside the grillwork of a 1989 Mercury Sable.

So those are the California highlights and, to tell you the truth, I'm getting a little sick of this subject. So let's just skip Scranton. OK, Skippy?

No problemo Jeff! Or should I call you Mr. Jeff now? Hahahahahahaha. Oh god.... Here's Bob Seger, with "Turn the Page." On SHT....

-- Yeah, I don't really know what I'm trying to do here today either, but luckily I've got Buck to salvage the mess. Take it away, my friend.

And I'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow. Promise.

Ho-ly shit. 

May 17, 2006

-- Yesterday I was walking to the cafeteria at work, and it occurred to me: there are few things more pleasurable than the workday lunch break. Ya know? Lunch, in general, is a pretty kick-ass meal, what with its close relationship to the sandwich and the mountain of fries and whatnot, but when it comes right in the middle of something like a job... well, it can often rise to the level of magic. It's the eye of the shitstorm.

And I thought I'd take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Workday Lunch Break, something that I don't believe gets its due respect. What follows are brief descriptions of the places that have brought me so much lunchy pleasure throughout the years. ....Hello?

My first "real" job was in Greensboro, NC. At least that's the way I looked at it.... It was at a record store called Peaches, and I have a feeling that some of the other employees there didn't view the gig as "real" at all. In any case, I remember two regular lunch spots from the Peaches era.

Near the store was a small out-of-the-way diner type of joint, called the Greenhouse Restaurant. I'd go there and order a club sandwich and sweet tea, and the elderly waitress would call me honey and sweety and that type of thing. She was an old lady, painfully thin and looking like a marionette on strings. She had a terrifying smoker's hack, and would leave the pitcher right at my table. So, running out of tea, one of my major pet peeves, was never an issue. I'd just top my shit off, at will. I don't believe too many other Peaches People went there, but I always liked it.

When payday was still a ways off, and I couldn't afford the extravagance of a club sandwich and bottomless beverage, I'd hoof it up the parking lot to Sally's Hot Dogs. It always smelled powerfully of onions and grease, and by the time your order was ready, you smelled that way too. I knew a guy who had a friend that worked there, and the funk reportedly seeped into his skin and not even a series of showers would wash it away. He'd supposedly be out watching a band at a club somewhere, and when the temperature rose to a certain level he'd start stinking like a human onion ring dipped in Calvin Klein cologne. Blecch. But Sally's served up some good dogs for cheap, and that's a combination you can't argue with; I tithed ten percent of my weekly pay to them, I believe. Is it still there?

In Atlanta I worked in an industrial part of town, and it was a road trip to the food. About five miles from the office was a stretch of highway with every fast food joint known to man sitting shoulder to shoulder. So I logged many an hour inside the Taco Bell and, for some reason, Subway. There was also a Hardee's (a filthy dump with bullet holes in the windows), an Arby's (with a musky grandmother's-house funk inside), a McDonald's (that I can't remember ever visiting), a Shoney's (tip required, so fuck dat), a free-standing Chick-fil-A (really good, but shockingly expensive), and lots of others. But it was Taco Bell and Subway that got away with most of my meal money.

When a group of us would go to lunch, we'd usually end up at Wallace Barbecue, in Austell. Man, I hesitate to even think about that place, because it makes me too sad. It's quite simply one of the best places on Earth. I can taste it right now, yet I can't. Know what I mean? Shit! When I get to work I might check Travelocity and see how much a plane ticket to Atlanta would cost. I need me some Wallace, urgently.

Sometimes we'd also go to a place called the Beautiful Restaurant. It was located in the heart of an all-black neighborhood, and served up some serious kick-ass "soul food." Pork chops, black eyed peas, collard greens, the world's best banana pudding.... Awesome food, but some of the other patrons didn't seem too thrilled with this herd of whities invading their space. There was always just a hint of cultural discomfort at the Beautiful, but it was impossible to resist their chops and greens. If you were careful not to make eye contact, I learned, everything would be fine.

Directly across from the office was a tiny sandwich shop that served up lame-ass sandwiches on white bread, and I only visited it in the most extreme emergencies. Many of my co-workers ate there daily, however, because it was convenient. Technically, a person could walk there, and many people did. But not me. Hell no. There was a four-lane, high traffic road between us and the picnic sandwiches, and they sure as shit weren't worth dying for. I saw a guy almost get clipped by an 18-wheeler trying to cross that road once, and he probably would've been sucked into the wheel-well and ended up in north Florida as a clump of blood, hair, and denim.

One day a true-blue doucheketeer drove over there for lunch, then got confused and walked back to the office. At the end of the day he went out to the parking lot, and his car wasn't there. He started freaking out and called the cops, convinced that somebody'd jacked his Nova or whatever. Needless to say, he endured much mockery, once the police found his car parked across the street at the sandwich shop where he'd had lunch. And it lasted for about a year, until the very same guy was caught masturbating in the men's room, and the car incident was pushed off the radar. Heh.

And later today (or tomorrow) I'll post my lunch memories from the California years, as well as the current Scranton era. If you'd like to join in on this exciting celebration of work lunches, feel free.

See ya later. 

May 15, 2006

-- Not much to report this morning... The oldest Secret was under the weather all weekend, and we didn't venture too far from the compound. I was planning to take the family to Toney's favorite Mom 'n' Pop Italian restaurant for dinner yesterday, but was worried that a hearty stream of vomit might put a damper on things. 

So I just bought a couple of big (and decidedly kick-ass) pizzas, a case of Yuengling Black & Tan, and it was my kind of Mother's Day. And luckily for me, Toney's kind as well.

I hope everyone had a good one, where applicable. I'm generally not a big fan of the extortion-racket Hallmark "holidays," but when you can work beer and pizza into them.... much of the bitterness has a tendency to evaporate.

Here are a few random nuggets I cobbled together during our weekend of dormancy:

-- For the past couple of weeks I've had a copy of Shopgirl sitting on top of the downstairs TV, nestled inside its red, red Netflix envelope. But I just can't bring myself to watch it. I have a feeling, and I could be wrong, that it'll be creepy as fuck. The idea of Steve Martin, who is even older than I am, pining for Angela Chase, makes me nervous.

I like Steve Martin, always have. The first "concert" I ever attended was a Steve Martin comedy show at the Huntington Civic Center, during his wild & crazy King Tut white suit days. I laughed so hard I thought my pancreas might dislodge from its housing. I don't really want to start thinking of him as the modern-day Roman Polanski. Ya know?

So I'll leave it in your hands. Tell me how to proceed. If it's a dirty old man pervfest, I need to know now.

-- I'm a little worried about our neighborhood. We've lived here for six years, and it's been a full-on Leave It To Beaver town:  no crime, kids everywhere, parents out mowing their lawns and washing their cars, gas grills a-cranking on the weekends....

But that's the way it was in Atlanta too, until the graffiti started showing up. I remember seeing it on a stop sign first, and it spread from there. Before we knew it, things had become a tad questionable. And by the time we moved, it was more than just a tad.

So you can probably understand my concern when I discovered some tagging near our house on Saturday. Check it out

Do you think it's <gulp> gang-related?

-- Steve told me about this  on Sunday morning, and I was excited all day. The 1975 World Series, all seven games in their entirety, on seven DVDs! It's the freakin' holy grail -- the reason God and Al Gore gave us modern technology. June 13 is the day it'll be released, and man, I'm all over that like a dingo on a Cub Scout.

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

-- Surf Reporter Todd sends along this photo of what he claims is white dog shit. I'm not so sure; it looks more like radishes to me. But I assume he knows what he's talking about.... 

Thanks Todd, for this rare glimpse of a true endangered species.

-- Here's something both entertaining and a bit baffling. Is Jack finally losing his shit?? Sweet Maria. Maybe it's a result of all the times he's been, you know, dead?

-- This is an article announcing the release of a Play-Doh perfume. Not a bad idea, but I'm still waiting on the New Electronics scent. What other perfumes and colognes would you like to see on the market?

-- And finally, here's something new and tasty from lakrfool.

Have a great day, I'll see ya tomorrow. 

May 12, 2006

-- So, I guess I'm doing requests now, like a lounge singer? Is that what it's come to? Apparently so.

A few days ago a friend sent me an email that said, "You need to write about 2 Guys and 2 Girls sometime." And he was right. I'm sort of amazed I've never mentioned that dubious episode here, but I'm almost sure that I haven't. So I will honor the request, this one time. But never again. This ain't Smiley's Lounge on Route 60, goddammit.

-- You see, back in our day we didn't have ready access to pornography like you young whipper-snappers do now. In the late '70s, when we needed it most, we didn't have fancy-pants VCRs and computers that are little more than automated porn machines (APMs), right inside the bedroom.

No, all we had were community magazine stashes located at strategic points around the town. Under a house, inside a rotted-out tree stump... We all knew where they were hidden, and whenever one of us would somehow come across (so to speak) a new issue of Oui, or Penthouse, or Swank or whatever, there'd be a palpable electricity in the air.

But porn films? Forget about it. It was something far beyond our reach, not even worth contemplating. Might as well wish for real live flesh and blood breasts, for crying out loud. Completely laughable.

Or was it? A guy at our school, who didn't generally have a reputation for being full of crap, began floating a crazy idea. He claimed to have access to a large stash of porn, and it somehow, I'm almost certain, involved the local fire department(?). The details are a little foggy... But he said he thought he could get his hands on some movies, and if we could only find a projector and a parentless venue, we might be in business.

Holy shit! Could it be possible? Film footage of <gulp> people doing it?? Sweet sainted mother of all that's good! We planned and schemed for a ridiculous amount of time, but none of us would (or could) allow the dream to die. And finally all the pieces started to fall into place....

The films -- two of them -- were officially "borrowed" and reportedly in male teenage possession. And I have no idea how this came about, but somebody also secured the use of a big-ass 8mm film projector. Also "borrowed," from the school or the public library? I simply don't know. But two of our main goals were now met, including the most crucial of all: sir, we had the porn.

Then, as if they were in on it themselves, my Mom and Dad came to me and my brother and told us they were going out of town for the weekend. In the standard accusing tones, they said we were expected to answer to our grandmother (who lived all the way across the street), and they'd be back on Sunday.

Boing!! Our three pronged plan was now complete! We had our parentless venue. And I wanted to thank God, but something told me I might be pushing my luck with that.

Word spread quickly, and the "team" sprang into action. And that night, after dinner, guys started arriving for their evening of film appreciation. The 100 lb. projector was smuggled in, wrapped in a blanket. Somebody brought it up the driveway, and through our garage. Then there was a frantic sprint to the house (so as to avoid the suspicious eyes of our holy-rollin' neighbors), and finally through the back door.

At least eight people were piled inside my bedroom, where the viewing was to take place. In preparation for this update I conducted a number of email and telephone interviews with fellow attendees, and attempted to recreate the guest list. There were eight, possibly ten, guys packed in that small (and impossibly hot) room, with the slanted upstairs walls. Not exactly Radio City Music Hall.

But nobody seemed too concerned about the ambiance. We were passing around the source of the evening's entertainment, and giggling like idiots. 

The movies were in plain white boxes, and one had writing on the front: 2 Guys and 2 Girls Fucking and Sucking. I'm still not sure if that was the title, or just a description used for cataloging purposes. As we were soon to learn, it worked either way.

The projector master was having trouble with his machine, and the crowd turned nasty. It was made clear to him that failure was not an option. Under the circumstances, the poor bastard probably would've ended up in the Kanawha River, with his A/V equipment chained to his body, if he hadn't gotten his shit correct. But he eventually got it going, and aimed it at the only vertical and windowless wall in the room.

We watched the little 8x10 rectangle of light with great anticipation. And then it started! The thing was in color, but was badly washed out, like those "health" films they showed us at school, about body odor and gonorrhea. Every few seconds it would jump and jitter, and the only sound was the clickety-clack of the huge heat-generating projector.

The 2 Guys were sitting on a couch, in a room with no other furnishings. They looked bored, and ill at ease. Then, with no explanation, the 2 Girls were there. They just strolled over to the couch, as if they'd been standing a few feet away the entire time. The 2 Guys seemed to be very pleased with this turn of events, and there was an extreme close-up of one of them smiling a mouthful of giant Chicklet teeth.

And we all let out a spontaneous cheer that seemed to surprise everyone.

Then the 2 Guys and 2 Girls began stripping off their clothes (apparently introductions weren't necessary), and it wasn't exactly a pretty sight. The guys were grotesquely hairy and had beer guts, and one never removed his black dress socks. The girls had big bouffant hairdos, large sagging breasts with incredibly dark drink-coaster areolas, and pubic patches the size of a regulation Major League home plate.

From there, I don't think I need to describe it. The title/descriptor kicked in, and after about five minutes it was over.

There was a second or two of silence, then we all started giggling again like a roomful of Beavises. We tried to act cool, like we found the whole thing hilarious -- as if we were appreciating the campiness of it all. But, of course, it was a HUGE deal. We'd just seen our first porn films, and nothing would ever be exactly the same again.

After the projector was broken down, and the crowd started to disperse, a few of us ended up in a friend's garage, playing ping-pong and talking about the greatness of the evening. I guess we had a little pent-up aggression (or something), and eventually took to the streets and engaged in a wild vandalism spree. Some rocks were thrown, a few windows were broken, a mailbox may have been tipped over....

And so it goes.

-- What about you? Did you have to convene a friggin' Manhattan Project to arrange for your first porn experience, like we did? Use the comments link to tell us about it.

And I'll see ya on Monday. 

May 10, 2006

A few quick things....

-- Last year I made a half-assed attempt at offering these updates via RSS feed, or XML feed, or BLT feed, or whatever. And since I had/have no idea what I'm doing, I went with an outfit that caters to people who had/have no idea what they're doing. For a few months I sent out a daily feed, and only about ten people subscribed to it. Amongst those ten people, I think seven told me it sucked. Eventually I just stopped doing it.

Now I'm getting emails from people asking me to start it up again. And on Monday I did. I'm trying to make it a little better than last time, but I'm offering no guarantees. In any case, it's back up and running, if you're interested. And if you have any suggestions for me, I'm all ears.

-- Brad sent me these excellent Bonds-taunting pics last night, taken at the Phillies/Giants game on Friday. Heh. Tough crowd. I especially like the Asterisk Boys.

-- Over the past weekend I got it into my mind that I needed to add a few new "exhibits" to the bunker.

I'm wanting one of those old Civil Defense fallout shelter signs that used to hang on the outside of schools and government buildings and whatnot. I watched an eBay auction all Saturday morning, and was convinced I was on the verge of securing one for cheap. But, as usual, the snipers moved in during the last few seconds, and crushed my dreams. Again. I'm a very patient man however, and one those babies WILL be mine...

After my deep, dark eBay disappointment, I decided to get some prices on custom framing. I chose a piece from my vast collection of fucked-upness -- a rare old advertising poster for Michael O'Donoghue's notorious Mr. Mike's Mondo Video -- and took it to a frame shop near our house. The woman measured it, did some calculations, and said, "Forty-seven dollars, plus tax."

I thanked her and told her I'd get back with them, but was secretly thinking, "Shit!"

I went to another place in a neighboring town, and the woman there pissed me off almost immediately. She had an air of authority about her, like she was the High Queen of Framing or something, and was talking down to me. Her price? Exactly double: ninety-four bucks. I laughed in her big fleshy face, all exaggerated and everything, and walked out.

So nothing got done. Screw it.

-- Last night I met Toney and the Secrets for dinner. And while I was pummeling my entree into submission, one of the boys brought up that David Blaine douche.

I guess he's trying to be the new Evel Knievel? Is that correct? Well... I don't know everything, but I do know that the dude is one poor-ass excuse for a daredevil. Evel jumped freakin' buses on a motorcycle. And this guy's doing what? Holding his breath for a really long time? Pitiful.

Remember when he locked himself inside a see-through fiberglass box and dangled from a crane for several weeks in London? Instead of the adulation he expected, folks were throwing shit at him -- half-eaten burritos, ham sandwiches, etc. -- and flipping him off with abandon.

I don't really even get the guy's act. He's always having himself buried and locked in boxes. And this is magic? It's not as if he's trying to escape, like Houdini. He just kicks back for a while in an unusual place, climbs out, and starts taking bows. The hell, man?

-- And finally, a question: how come there are no albinos anymore? When I was a kid, I used to see them quite regularly. In fact, there was a full-on albino family that lived in our neighborhood -- they had pink eyes and practically glowed in the dark. But I haven't seen one in years. Why??

First it was the disappearance of white dog poop, now this. I'm losing touch with my roots!

More tomorrow. 

May 9, 2006

-- And the answer to yesterday's music quiz: Steely Dan, and Black Crowes/Drive-By Truckers. Those are the two concerts I'm seriously interested in attending, from the just-announced summer line-up at the local Coca-Cola or Ford or Blockbuster or Kotex Hi-Flo amphitheater.

Steely Dan are one of my all-time favorites, and are the definite act on the list. I've seen them twice before, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all. My friend Steve, another Dan fanatic, is delaying his vacation by a day so he can be there as well. Oh, it's gonna be fun. Do classic rock stations still do those rock 'n' roll party buses? If so, I might want to get in on some of that action: the bald spot and beer belly express.

And I'm an on-again, off-again Black Crowes fan. Living in Atlanta during their peak, it was pretty easy to hate them. I'd go to club shows around town, and there'd be Chris Robinson again. The guy was everywhere, just hanging out and acting cool, with his surgically-attached Heineken bottle, huge candy-apple head, and pit stains. Always with the massive dinner plate-sized pit stains. Wonder if he ever consulted a doctor about that?

But they were/are a really good band, and at least one of their albums is a masterpiece. So, that small fact wins out in the long run.

I've told the story about the Black Crowes listening party I attended in Atlanta, back in my record weasel days. It appeared to be your standard industry event: open bar, big bowls of chips, and the new album blaring over the loudspeaker. But it was just a ruse.

Eventually, after everyone had a few adult beverages under their belts, the buses rolled up. And they took us to a "secret" location -- an old dilapidated pool hall across town. Inside, of course, were the Crowes, rocking like the Russians were in Decatur. They were just roaring amongst atmospheric filth.

Afterwards, in the parking lot, they served up a feast of some of the best smoky barbecue ever, and an ocean of beer. They had colored lights strung up everywhere (that I'm almost certain hadn't been there when we'd gone in), and it was one of the coolest record weasel events I ever had the pleasure of attending.

So I have a soft-spot in my heart for the Black Crowes, and I'm also a big fan of the Drive-By Truckers. Living in Scranton, and being an old man, I haven't had the opportunity to see them play live yet. But I know their CDs, front to back. (It's something I can do from a chair.) I bought the new one the day it was released, and I'll do the same with the next one. A great, great band. As my friend Scott would say: much respect.

And there you have it. Pass the beer nuts.

-- A few quick notes on some of the other acts appearing this summer at the Hi-Flo Auditorium:

Lynyrd Skynyrd: The only way I'd ever see them is if Ronnie Van Zant rises from the grave, puts on his black hat, and grabs the mic. He wrote the songs, sang the songs, and set the tone. He was The Man, and has been dead for, like, thirty years now. The group that tours under the Lynyrd Skynyrd name is nothing but a tribute band, as far as I'm concerned. Fuck dat. May as well drive across town to see one of these guys.

Poison/Cinderella: In my less-than-expert opinion, Cinderella was the best of the 80s hair-metal bands. They had their cheesy moments, to be sure, but they also released this. Say what you will, but I play that album as much as I play anything in my collection. The thing is shockingly good. Unfortunately, they're touring with Poison. And Poison is an oily Pringles fart straight into the Hanes brief of popular culture. Or something.

John Fogerty/Willie Nelson: I have a feeling, and I could be wrong, that this would be one of those Shut Up And Sing concerts. I suspect that both of these guys would take the stage, play a couple of tunes, then start talking politics. And, I apologize, but I just couldn't give two shits about what that great political scientist John Fogerty has to say about world events. Just play "Green River," goddammit. And blow the rest of it out yer ass. Same goes for Springsteen. And Nugent.

Vans Warped Tour: I'm being told that the Buzzcocks are playing at this thing!? Is that true? Holy shit, I'd look like Homer Simpson walking around... but the Buzzcocks! I'm going to have to give this some thought. Maybe if I carried a skateboard, and said Wot up G? a lot?

I don't have even a droplet of interest in any of the other shows, so that's, as they say, that.

-- And since this is one of those dreaded all-music updates, here's some very sad news to close out the category. I read this yesterday, after having just played a Go-Betweens best-of in the bunker on Sunday. The guy was a heck of a songwriter, and died way too young.

See ya tomorrow. 

May 8, 2006

-- Some kind of horrible spore or something is in full flower up here right now, and it's kicking my ass. My eyes are itchy, there's a continuous drip drip drip of crystal clear snot coming out of my face, and my right ear is sealed off so tight it only serves an aesthetic purpose at this point. Also, and this is the worst part, I'm disoriented and feel like I recently popped a double-dose of Contac Severe Cold & Lobar Pneumonia medication. And I don't care for that.

So don't go expecting much from me today, OK? I don't want to whine like Mr. Banana "Vaginal Dryness" Nostrils, but I'm barely upright here. If it wasn't for the Everclear CD I'm blasting, I don't think there would even be a Monday update. In case of emergency break glass, and crank up "You Make Me Feel Like A Whore." It never fails, but use sparingly.

-- On Saturday we went to Sam's, the exclusive club we're members of, to buy yet another window air conditioner.

Since the folks in these parts view central air as a weakness, or some such thing, we've been reduced to collecting bulky-ass humboxes. And every summer I'm required to drag them up from the basement, install them strategically around the house, then perform the ritual backwards in the fall. I'm not a fan of any of it.

Last year we added an additional humbox to our collection, to cool the family room and make evening television-viewing tolerable. But we made the mistake of waiting until it was already soul-sappingly hot to buy it, and had a hell of a time finding one; the air conditioner section of every store in town looked like a scene from Omega Man. This year we wanted another for the living room/dining room, and vowed to buy it early.

And we did. It's still mighty pleasant here, but Sam's has their traditional mountain of GE air conditioners on display already, and we yanked one down and busted out the ATM card.

So we're all set, I guess. When the humidity cranks up and the temperatures rise, we'll have our humboxes in place, each a-humming. Of course it'll be so loud in here we won't be able to talk to each other, but it's a small price to pay for comfort. Ya know? So what if I'll have to text-message Toney to pass me the white gravy at dinnertime? It beats the heck out of 'round-the-clock crack moistness.

-- When we were rolling our new purchase to the car on Saturday, a big gust of wind kicked up and blew a handful of those evil spores straight into my eyes. My contacts instantly turned into tiny discs of fire, and I had tears streaming down my face for thirty minutes. 

I was planning to mow the lawn when we got home, but it never happened. I'll be damned if I'm going out in that swirling hell. 

Does anyone know where I can buy a used astronaut suit, preferably air conditioned and in a men's husky? It's going to be a long summer....

-- Speaking of summer, on Friday they announced the lineup of the big summer concert series at the newish fancy-pants amphitheater here:

Rob Thomas/Jewel
Def Leppard/Journey
Sammy Hagar with Michael Anthony
Dave Matthews Band
Phil Lesh and Friends
Lynyrd Skynyrd/3 Doors Down
Black Crowes/Drive-By Truckers
Vans Warped Tour
John Fogerty/Willie Nelson
Counting Crows/Goo Goo Dolls
Toby Keith
Steely Dan with Michael McDonald
Allman Brothers
Rascal Flatts
Brooks and Dunn

I'd like to go to two of those, and one is pretty much a definite. Do you know me well enough to guess the shows I'm interested in? 

And what about you? Would you spend your hard-earned bucks on any of those artists, and/or "artists?"

-- On Sunday we all went to a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons game, at Lackawanna County Stadium. Again it was a good time. Every time I go to a Red Barons games, I'm a little surprised at how much fun I have.

You can say a lot about the people around here, like how they're the worst drivers in the world and that they talk funny and whatnot, but they sure do support their minor league baseball team. And that's a sign of good character if there ever was one. There's always a big crowd at the park, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and it makes me happy in my soul.

Here are a few action pics I took during the game.

-- And that'll just about do it for today, my friends. I'm gonna hand over the reigns to Buck now, and venture out into the vortex of spores.

See ya tomorrow. 

May 5, 2006

-- Yesterday, before I left for work, I thought I could sense a slight disturbance way down south somewhere. It wasn't anything of consequence yet, but I know how these things can go. What starts as a minor storm, out in the middle of nowhere, can eventually transform itself into a big powerful, howling monster that threatens us where we live. It's not to be taken lightly.

So I decided I'd better have a quick sit-down: one more for the road. Since I've never "sat down" at work, and never will, I must be conscience of the warning signs; I can't be all cavalier with my bowels, like most people. A category three storm, coming ashore at noon or one o'clock in the afternoon, can translate into one long-ass day of sweating and squirming. And sometimes hallucinating.

Everybody was upstairs, so I opted for the downstairs facilities, where I could enjoy the Castanza buffer zone. And when I flopped down, I felt something wet. The hell??

Cleaner! Apparently Toney was in the middle of bathroom maintenance, and had gotten interrupted by the Secrets or a phone call or something. And here I was, ready to leave for work, with a big ol' ring of lemon and pine striped across my ass and the backs of my legs.

I tried to clean myself up as best I could (now there's an image for ya), but was pretty sure I could still smell it on me. I was mumbling to myself as I exited the Little Room, and Toney pounced.

"Did you just use that bathroom?!" she hollered. I didn't immediately answer, because I was, you know, a little scared. "You're like a cat!" she continued. "As soon as the litter box is clean, it's right back to the crapping!" She was waving her hands around, and acting all exasperated and everything. Hell, I was the one wearing the lemony ring of disgrace.

Shaken, I just walked to my car and drove to work. Then I spent the rest of the day convinced that I smelled like a mop bucket. Quite enjoyable.

-- Last week I took Friday off, creating my own personal three-day weekend. Ahh, it was a beautiful thing... And for no other reason than laziness really, I didn't shave the entire time. I just let it go; screw it. I will not hoist my fat ass off this couch, I proclaimed, simply to adhere to societal expectations! I am sedentary, hear me roar!!

And you know how some guys look really cool with a couple of day's worth of growth? Not me. By Sunday morning I looked like Booger on Revenge of the Nerds. And by the time I crawled into bed that night, I appeared to be in the final stages of radiation poisoning.

It didn't go very well, that's for certain. But I'm still thinking about growing a handlebar moustache. How long do you think it would take to get a really impressive wingspan going? And what's the best kind of wax to use?

Any tips on this subject would be much appreciated.

-- Earlier this week a few of you suggested that I look into Lasik eye surgery, as an alternative to the big toenailish contact lenses I wear every day. I don't believe it's possible in my case, because of the issue I have with one of my corneas, but even if it was... the answer would be a resounding NO.

The concept of elective eye surgery makes me laugh. Eye surgery that's not medically necessary, but I can go ahead and have it anyway, if I'd like? Gee, let me think about that for a minute….

No. No fucking way. I'm convinced that something would go horribly wrong during the procedure. A nurse would bump a table or something, the laser would jerk out of place and incinerate one or both of my eyeballs in their sockets, then proceed to shear my jaw clean off. I'd probably end up like this poor bastard, in a pair of Yoko Ono sunglasses.

I believe I'll pass.

-- I saw this notice on a Charleston, WV entertainment website yesterday:

SOUTH CHARLESTON MUSEUM FILM SERIES: 7 p.m. Admission $2. The schedule includes "King of Stink," about ramps, and "The Whole Hog — Traditional Butchering in West Virginia ," followed by an open mic with Larry Sadler. 311 D St. , South Charleston .

You know what this means: date night!

-- During dinner last night Toney told me, in a matter-of-fact tone, something very disturbing. She said that one of the teachers at the middle school (where the oldest Secret will be going next year) doesn't have tests. She has -- get this -- "knowledge celebrations." 

I stopped chewing in mid-stroke, dropped my fork, and told her we need to step in and make sure that neither of our kids get anywhere near this kook. And she said, "Already handled."

I don't know what that means exactly, but have no doubt that it's true. My wife doesn't believe in half-stepping.

-- Check it out. Technology is moving so fast, it's almost scary. And so affordable too! Yes, it's a great time to be alive.

-- And finally… I'm curious about something. Yesterday I saw a teaser for a local news broadcast, and one of the stories they were covering was about a house where a mass murderer once lived.

The dude killed a bunch of people, and buried them around his yard like tulip bulbs. Of course he's in a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison right now, but his house is on the market. The story, I think, was about the difficult time the realtors are having unloading the place.

So, I'd like to know: would it bother you to live in the former residence of a notorious murdering maniac? I wouldn't be too thrilled about the bodies in the yard... but beyond that, I don't think I'd care that much. Especially if I could get a good deal on the place.

When we first moved here, a young girl was brutally murdered at a Wendy's restaurant. A maintenance man (I believe) attacked and killed her early one Sunday morning. 

It was a horrible story, and the whole area was shaken. There were calls for Wendy's to tear the place down. People vowed to never set foot in the place again. Indeed, it was closed for a long time. And when they finally reopened, they had very little business for weeks. 

It was just me, I think, and a really old woman who probably thought she was at the 1942 World's Fair. I went there quite regularly, starting on the very first day, and had my traditional number one with cheese, no pickles, and a Coke. And it was good. 

What were people afraid of, vibes?

So what do you say about the house? Toney says no way, but I think I could deal with it quite easily. Especially if we could have a lot of built-in equity up-front.

Any opinions? Let us know in the comments.

And have a great weekend.

May 4, 2006

-- The oldest Secret and I recently enjoyed a nice deep-fried lunch at Long John Silver's. I had the fish 'n' more (with an added chicken plank), and he opted for the chicken 'n' more. You know, in case you were wondering.

The place was packed, as always. In fact, I don't really like going there because it's always crowded, and it takes a very long time for a person to receive any actual food from the kitchen. The cashiers all move like they're playing a high-pressure game of chess, and it's just very irritating.

Anyway, we were sitting there paying our dues to the Future Angioplasty Practitioners of America, when the Secret started talking about cole slaw. He wanted to know if anybody ever really ate it, or if it was, more or less, a garnish. I told him I eat it, and explained the hot to cold, hot to cold experience that I so much enjoy at LJS. He rolled his eyes and went back to his chicken.

When we were finished I pointed at the spot on my plate where the cole slaw used to be, to show him that it was gone. He said, "You ate it??" I asked him what he thought had happened to it, if I hadn't. He answered, like the ten year old boy that he is, "I dunno. Maybe you stuck it up your butt?" Everything's up the butt now.

And, forgetting that we were surrounded by lots and lots of people, I said, "Yeah, that's right. I'm sitting here at this very moment with my crack packed full of slaw!"

About ten heads turned my way, and they all stopped chewing in mid-motion. Every one of them had a what the crap? look on their face, and I broke out in a burning-hot flop sweat. The Secret, needless to say, was laughing his ass off.

Simply excellent.

-- I mowed our lawn this past weekend, for the first time this season. In fact, everybody in our neighborhood - everybody - mowed their lawn this past weekend, for the first time this season.

But for the others it was likely just another chore. For me it was a call for celebration. The summer of 2006, I'm proud to announce, marks my thirtieth year of bitching about yard work!

That's right, it doesn't seem like it's been that long.... But when I was thirteen, thirty years ago, my Dad told me it was time to start helping out with the yard work. Each week, he said, I'd be mowing our lawn, or my grandmother's lawn across the street.

And thus began a grand tradition of bitching and moaning that lasts until this very day.

Over the years many things have changed: my politics have shifted; I've gone from a rabid Reds fan to a casual Braves fan; my jeans size used to be found at eye-level on the wall at Target, and now I have to practically lay down on the floor to find 'em.

But my hatred of lawncare has never wavered. I hated it when I was thirteen, and I hate it now. The consistency and sustained passion is like a freakin' laser beam through the decades. I'm sorry, I'm getting a little emotional here...

I know that many of you will feel compelled to send gifts on this special occasion, but it's not necessary, really. If you simply hoist a glass of your favorite adult beverage during the next few days, and recognize the accomplishment in some small way, it will be more than enough.

And I thank you.

-- International Surf Reporter Greg Cooke enjoyed our Where Are My Damn Box Scores?? file, and sends along a similar recording -- all the way from Australia. He explains that the caller is trying to report a leaking hot water tank to a help line, and here it is. Thanks Greg! Funny stuff.

-- Here's another Smoking Fish sighting, this one captured by Robin with a cell phone camera. Cool! Keep 'em coming.

-- Did you see the commercial for this outfit during last night's episode of LOST? Freaky, man. Freaky.

-- My friend Tim forwarded me this rather interesting link yesterday. Heh. Reminds me of 1978.

-- Finally, from the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk: do you know anyone who was named after a rock star? 

I thought about this one for a while, and could only come up with one. My old boss in Atlanta named his oldest son Eric, after Eric Clapton. (Whatever.) What about you? Use the comments link below to tell us about it.

And that'll have to do it for today, my friends. See ya tomorrow.

May 3, 2006

There's a California big shot lurking around at my job, for reasons unknown, so I don't have an abundance of time this morning. I'd better get in there in case he has a noon flight or something, and needs to give me my pink slip in the morning. I'd hate to keep him waiting....

-- And before I go, I have a message from the Groveling Desk. It says to remind you folks not to forget about the Amazon links on the Surf Report homepage. I'm not clear on it, but apparently things have been disturbingly slow in that category, and they've felt the need to publish this memo. So, please. If you're planning to do some Amazon shopping, remember to enter their site through one of our links. It'll cost you nothing extra, and we'll receive a small percentage of what you spend. It's a free and easy way to support TheWVSR. Thanks for your cooperation.

Holy shit. Please know that I had nothing to do with any of that. I feel dirty just passing along the request.... Anyway, I'd better call it a day here. I've got more, lots more, so tune in tomorrow.

See ya then.

May 2, 2006

-- For most of my adult life I've worn gas permeable contact lenses. Most people know them as hard lenses, and the first few days of wearing them feels like you've got a big fungus-laden toenail in your eye. But, amazingly enough, it doesn't take long to grow accustomed to the things. Pass the beer the nuts.

The big problem for me is that I can't see without them. Glasses don't really do the trick, it has to be the toenails or I'm stumbling around in a soft-focus world; it's like I've somehow entered the least-popular Hallmark card of all time.

There's an issue with one of my corneas, you see, and only the hard lenses will fix it. The good news is, it hasn't gotten any worse in twenty years. And it doesn't cause me any problems either, except I'm terrified of losing a lens (it would take days to get a replacement, since NASA is the only place that can make them), and I can never take a break from the stupid things.

Right now I'm in the grips of some sort of Satan-sanctioned hay fever, just sneezing and hocking and going to town. My eyes are watering too, and I recently decided to go a whole day without my prescription toenails, just to rest my beleaguered eyes. It lasted about two hours.

I was down here in the bunker, drinking yet another mug of good ol' Eight O'Clock bean coffee, reading about (ahem) world events on the internet. I came across an article about Bill Gates visiting Vietnam, and how he was being treated like a full-blown rock star there.

I read the first few sentences of the piece, and started thinking: who the fuck is Bill Oates?? It was as if the writer of the article assumed we all know this guy....

And when I figured it out, I went straight upstairs and put my contacts in. Very depressing. It's only a matter of time before I'm being fitted for a seeing eye horse. I just know it.

-- A couple of days ago at work I turned on my printer, and it started spitting out paper all willy-nilly. One page after another came out, with a single line of gibberish printed across the top of each. It was crap like half-moons, squares, a fish, the infinity symbol, a mailbox(!), and what appeared to be Russian letters. WTF?

I couldn't get it to stop. I attempted to cancel the print job, but there wasn't one. It just kept going and going. I turned off the power to the printer, and jammed it up like a fat man at a cheddar festival. I extracted all the mangled paper, turned the power back on, and it started all over again.

It smelled like I was literally inside a toner cartridge, and finally the paper ran out. Whew. I waited about thirty minutes before I re-loaded the tray, hoping it would reset itself or whatever. 

And you can probably guess what happened when I turned it back on....

Eventually it did stop running, but on its own terms. It was like something out of a Buster Keaton movie. You know, if they'd had laser printers back then.

-- Some good news: our house didn't explode during the night last night. Pretty cool, huh? We're making progress.

-- Yesterday at work I made a decision. I am taking it upon myself to bring back the popular '70s greeting, "Getting any?" People used to say that all the time, but for some reason it's fallen out of favor. I think it's a shame, and plan to do something about it. Care to join me? Together we can make it happen!

-- I'm in the midst of a powerful Smithereens jag. Just so you know.

-- Check it out. They're making a movie at the West Virginia college I attended for about fifteen minutes. And it will feature Matthew "Pits" McConaughey, Jack from Lost, and Al "Fucking" Swearengen! Awesome. Too bad it's about massive death.

-- Do you know people who refer to businesses by their full and formal names? Like my grandfather, who used to enjoy shopping at "Sears Roebuck?" 

Toney has a friend who is a regular at the clothing store Ross. Except she refers to it as "Ross Dress For Less." 

And when we lived in California we worked with a woman who was the same length across as she was up and down, who would pay an occasional visit to "Baskin and Robbins 31 Flavors." I don't even think there's supposed to be an "and" in there, is there? 

Whatever. I find it humorous for some reason. Like people who go to restaurants and order the "Balsamic marinated breast of chicken with whole roasted California garlic." Ya know?

More of this random crap tomorrow. I've got barrels of it, barrels!

See ya then.

May 1, 2006

-- I'm dragging massive ass this morning. I not only went to bed much later than common sense would dictate (again), but was also awakened shortly after falling asleep and spent the next hour or so walking around the house with a baseball bat.

I hit the sack at midnight, an hour later than I'd intended, read another page of the 500 page novel I've been living with for what feels like a decade, and turned off the light. Then all hell broke loose. I could've sworn I'd just closed my eyes, but forty minutes had somehow passed when Toney and I sat bolt upright in bed and said, "What the shit??"

The whole house had shuddered, waking us up. It stopped for a few seconds, then really went to town. The windows were rattling, there was a loud rhythmic thumping, and it felt like something of substantial power was about to break loose.

Was it the heater? The hot water tank? Pipes under the ground? All the possibilities started racing through my head. Hell, maybe it was an earthquake? I lived through a few minor temblors in California, and they'd felt very similar to what we'd just experienced. Perhaps our house is built on top of the great Cheesesteak Fault, and we didn't know it?

But Toney said she thought somebody was trying to break into the house, yanking violently on a locked door. Gulp. That scenario hadn't occurred to me. I told her she'd better go check it out, and Andy and I would stay behind to guard the bedroom.

When that idea was shot down, I reluctantly reached under the bed and located my trusty panic stick. It's a black George Foster bat that I received on Bat Day at a Cincinnati Reds game back in the '70s, and it comes out whenever I become convinced there's an intruder in the house -- about three times per year.

I slinked around with that thing on my shoulder, checking locks and flipping on lights. Everything was as it should be. But... what about the basement?

I didn't much care for the idea of going down there. It was dark, for one thing, and you can't turn on the lights until you're at the bottom of the stairs. It leaves plenty of time for, say, an escaped mental patient to leap out from behind the beer fridge, and chop your spine in half with a gardening tool.

But, of course, I found nothing unusual in the basement. The hot water tank and heater weren't cracked open, and the windows were still locked shut. So, what the hell?

We flopped down in the living room to discuss it, and the oldest Secret came stumbling down the stairs. "Did you feel all that rumbling a few minutes ago?" he said, rubbing his eyes. The three of us decided that it must've been water or sewer pipes shitting the bed, or whatever the technical term might be.

I went around turning on the water, but everything appeared to be normal. Then I flushed one of the toilets and it refilled with a brown grossness that looked like the Chattahoochee River in August. Simply excellent. Busted pipes... beneath our house... end-loaders digging up the lawn... millions of dollars... uncontrollable sobbing... alcoholism... death.... I have a tendency to get carried away in certain circumstances.

Toney called the water company's emergency line and was thrown into their house of mirrors voicemail system. Finally, after five minutes of pushing buttons and saying things real loud into the receiver, a human came on the line. And she listened to Toney's description of what had happened, chuckled, and told us we didn't have anything to worry about. 

I didn't much care for the chuckle, if you want to know the truth.

Hydrant flushing. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn't, but that's what had reportedly caused all the late-night bat-wielding and frantic pow-wow sessions. She said that if there's air in the pipes, it can sound "like the world is coming to an end." Yep, that about describes it! Once the crews were finished, she promised, the water would return to normal and we'd have no further problems.

I guess we were supposed to feel relieved, and we were, but I just couldn't get past that chuckle. And I fell asleep mumbling obscenities, like so many nights before.

-- I'll try to get some sleep tonight and write a real update tomorrow. I promise. In the meantime, here's a really cool Smoking Fish sighting. Thanks to Kelly and Dan for sending it in! Keep your eyes open, folks, especially during the summer vacation season. Our logo, man, he has a tendency to get around.

And I'm going to make an effort not to drone on and on about this every day, but I'm still pretty shaken about the whole Phil Hendrie thing. Toney is tired of hearing about it, and you guys are probably getting there as well. Sorry, but it's a huge blow.

Over the weekend I purchased a computer program called Total Recorder that allows you to "record" streaming audio as mp3 files, and I've begun the process of recreating the Hendrie Archives here in the bunker. At the end of September Phil's site will reportedly be shut down, and I guess that's that. So, I've got some work to do. 

Here's one of the files I created last night. A true classic. Remember, Phil is the host AND the guest, Mavis Leonard. The caller (a priest!) is real, and believes the whole thing is legit. Phil completely loses his mud at the end, and it's his most requested clip ever.

Now I'm going to turn it over to our good friend Buck, go to work, and try not to doze off and drool into my keyboard.

See ya tomorrow.