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









A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.



Is that an erection I smell?



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



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   The State of My Fat Ass                                        June 2004

June 30, 2004

-- "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down." Guess where I heard that phrase during, say, the past two weeks or so? It's apparently a bathroom rule of thumb amongst certain types who believe we're running out of water(??), and who die a little every time a toilet is flushed. Whisking away only bodily fluids, to them, is as typically Ugly American as <gasp> mozzarella cheese from the green can. In more enlightened cultures (anywhere but here) it's apparently common for the toilet to be used mostly as a place to store your piss. Cardboard boxes on the kitchen shelf don't work as well, so they warehouse it in the bathroom. And it gets added to all day by every member of the family, eventually turning the color of orange juice (with pulp), until somebody drops a pitiful brown soy ribbon in there. Then, and only then, can it be flushed down.

I wish this were a joke, I really do. I've been losing sleep because of it...

-- As we were driving through rural Virginia on our recent vacation, I periodically scanned the radio dial for something interesting to snap me out of my white line fever. Familiar CDs sometimes only add to the problem, and the head starts to bobbing, so I went on a few Easter egg hunts across the AM band. I heard an announcement that Ben Wilson (or whoever) was interested in trading laying hens for clean fill dirt. And I heard lots of preachers who talked like nobody I'd ever encountered in real life. Strange inflections and elongated syllables... Then I found this, which Toney only allowed me to play for about thirty seconds; she had her hand on the door handle and was, I believe, preparing to jump. But it sounded great to me, and I located and downloaded it yesterday. The Beastie Boys, or somebody, should sample this thing. It's excellent. AM radio in the middle of nowhere is like searching for buried treasure.

-- And since we're on the subject, check this out. It's Rush Limbaugh (aka Jeff Christie) from 1971, when he was a Top 40 disc jockey in Dog Balls, Pennsylvania. Pretty bizarre stuff.

-- And, sadly, that's all I can muster today. I've only been back in the saddle for a few days and already my brain is like one of Denny's three-egg scrambles. I'll turn it over to Jason now, and will try to do better tomorrow.

See ya then.

June 29, 2004

-- Twice I've heard a doctor being interviewed on local radio about something he calls The Water Cure. He believes that nearly everyone in this country is dehydrated and it's why we have so much disease. We're living on soda, coffee, and booze, and it's apparently killing us all. He says that because we're not getting enough water, our bodies are acidic and a breeding ground for trouble. His simple message is that people need to drink an ocean of water every day, and we'll be healthy and live long fulfilling lives.

The formula: one ounce for every two pounds of body weight. Plus, you need to replace every ounce of alcohol, carbonation, or caffeine consumed each day, with even more water. I'd have to have a tanker truck make daily deliveries! But it'll supposedly cure depression, asthma, cancer, obesity, and a thousand other things. He tells endless anecdotes about people under his care shrinking and eliminating head-sized head tumors, and old people throwing away their canes, and whatnot. Water, he says, is a miracle drug, and it's right out in the kitchen.

The guy might be a quack, but he's mighty convincing. And, as far as I can tell, he's not selling anything. Apparently he's just some kind of Johnny Waterseed, going around the country spreading the word. He says that pharmaceutical companies want to have him assassinated, which sounds about right (and is appealingly paranoid). If water is the answer, after all, they're shit out of luck.

In any case, the man is getting to me. I now have it in the back of my mind that my outsized body is crying out for water, and I've been chugging massive amounts of the stuff since we returned from our trip. It's only been a few days, but already things are a little different. For one thing, I wake up every morning thirsty as a mofo. Before I began drinking all this water I never woke up thirsty. What's the deal with that? It should be the other way around, right? Something's happening.

And, it might be in my head, but I just generally feel better. More energy, and all. It's probably the placebo effect, but it seems to be real. Also, my pee is a thing of beauty, clear and sparkling. And who among us hasn't dreamed of beautiful pee? Sometimes at work I want to call the guys over to take a look, but I don't think society is quite there yet. We Americans are still fairly repressed, after all. Maybe if Kerry is elected, I can finally showboat my urine?

I'm going to continue downing crazy amounts of water every day, and see how it goes. I'm enthused by the instant results; I think this obscure left-of-the-dial doctor might be on to something. If anybody knows something about him, please let me know. He's my new spiritual leader (replacing Orville Redenbacher), and I don't even know his name.

And feel free to laugh all you want. By fall I'll have a six-pack bladder, and will be able to crush cans with my kidneys. And then we'll see how funny it is. Then we'll all see.

Whoa, step back!

June 28, 2004

Remember how I said I wasn't going to drag this thing out? That was pretty funny, huh? Yeah, I just can't stop laughing. Anyway. Here are reports for the last few days of our big North Carolina adventure. I updated over the weekend as well, so don't miss that chunk of the story. And we'll get back to the normal stuff tomorrow. Thanks for sticking around.

Day Five  Facing fear

-- I was starting to get a bad vibe from the neighbors, the ones who set up their camper to face ours. They hadn't said a word to us since they came over to pet Andy on the first day. They seemed friendly enough, but now neither of them would make eye contact with us. What gives? Did they overhear something that offended them? God knows it was possible. Did I do something to piss the guy off? What's the story? I don't like people being mad at me, especially when there's no intentional reason for it. It was starting to nag at me, this averting of the eyes and cold shoulder. I kept trying to retrace my tracks, to see what went wrong.

I remember laughing about the guy's cell phone, which plays "Dixie" when it rings, but I'm pretty sure I was discrete. Beyond that, nothing. It was bugging the crap out of me. What did we do??

We were scheduled to have brunch at Nancy's house, which is something I'd been dreading since I learned about it days earlier. You can laugh all you want, but I'm afraid to eat at her place. I literally have no idea what I'm putting in my mouth, and my imagination runs wild. Brunch should be fairly straightforward: eggs, waffles, fruit, etc. In the hands of Nancy and Nostrils though, anything is possible.

But, surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. The eggs had some kind of powerful French armpit cheese mixed in, but it was kinda interesting once you got past the initial shock. That was the only challenge, really. My lower jaw didn't retract in disgust even once.

Everything was in slices, like pie. We had a big wedge of armpit eggs, a large hunk of some sort of bizarre German pancake that had little to no taste... I got confused in the beginning and put syrup on my eggs, because I couldn't tell which was the pancake. Sunshine smuggled in her own syrup, in her purse, because she says the kind Nancy & Nostrils use is "straight out of a tree in their backyard." After trying a little, I suspect that she wasn't joking.

It was an odd meal, as we'd expected, but not too gut-wrenching. Nothing like the spaghetti they served us years ago topped with a carrot-based marinara sauce. It was nothing that horrifying. Another bullet dodged.

After breakfast everybody sat around and argued and sniped at each other for a while. There was a power-struggle going on between Nancy, Sunshine, and Toney. They wanted to make our plans for us, and Toney was about fed up with it. We had no say in what happened each day. So, there was tension, and I was starting to feel fatigued. I was ready to go home, the novelty had officially worn off. I was sinking in a quicksand of bitterness.

It was decided that Nancy's brood would come to our campground again, and the kids would swim in the pool. I think she wanted us to go to a concert in the park, or something, and wallow in the mud and paint each other's naked bodies while doing a serpentine body hair dance. Something like that, anyway. And Sunshine wanted to go to the mall again, to purchase yet another forty dollar bra. Toney told them both no, which was a start in the right direction. But it did nothing to cut down on the tension.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Our dog Andy nearly turned the trailer over when he spotted a stray cat curled up in one of our Coleman chairs. He broke the chain attached to his collar and almost brought down our awning. Both animals took off like a rocket, and we didn't see Andy for a while. I started to get worried but he eventually came trotting back, smiling and soaked. Apparently he'd leaped into the creek in pursuit of the offending feline. It was like a Warner Bros. cartoon come to life.

Oh, and we noticed that Nostrils was correcting Nancy a lot about the words she used. "Um, honey? We use 'bum' not 'butt,' remember?" And she would apologize and promise to get it right the next time. The hell? We found out later that they're trying to be "less American." Make of that what you will.

It was on this day that I began saying to Toney: "PAID IN FULL!" It became the theme of the entire endeavor. Our obligation was nearly met. The trip was almost over, we'd survived, and were now free. They couldn't hold this crap over our heads any longer. Because, goddammit, we were PAID IN FULL! We'd traveled hundreds of miles to visit them both, and gave up a large chunk of vacation time. PAID, baby!! I eventually began pumping my fists in the air as I repeated it. Free at last!

But later that night I wasn't feeling quite so euphoric, while watching Sunshine's home movies. There was a shot of me sitting on the side of the pool earlier in the week, when I'd refused to remove my shirt in front of the concentration camp people. I was dangling my feet in the water and looked quite pathetic, like the sad fat boy who's too large and unhealthy to play with the other children. It's an image that haunts me still. I looked like one of the Campbell's Soup kids sitting there; suspenders were the only thing missing. 

Why can't I just be left alone to thrill in my own mean-spirited thoughts? Everything had been looking so good to me. Yeah, I might be free, but I also resemble a rosy-cheeked Swiss dumpling child. And that's a difficult thing to reconcile. 

Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Day Six  War and peace

Another day of appeasement. We had two lunches, to help keep the peace. (It's almost over, just go with the flow...) We had Chick-fil-A at the mall with Sunshine, and huge football-sized hipster burritos with Nancy. Both were good, but I felt like I needed to make a repeat visit to Section J.

Nancy played tour guide for us in the afternoon, and we finally got to see a little of the area that wasn't bathed in the shadow of a Ross Dress For Less. We walked around downtown and checked out a few things, at a high rate of speed. Nancy sprints everywhere, and it's hard to keep up with her. But it was fun, and I felt kinda guilty for being so mean to her over the years. Sometimes a glimmer of normalcy shines through, from some ancient pre-graduate school past, and it makes ya feel kind of bad.

But then she dragged us to the food co-op and kept us waiting while she "picked up a few things." We'd ran through town like we were engaged in a contest of some sort, past a several places I would've liked to check out, then spent an hour or so standing around inside a hippie grocery store. Strike all that stuff I said about feeling bad... I walked around and perused the shelves, as we waited. Boy, you must have to be mighty rich to lead the simple life. That shit is expensive. Toney called me over and asked if I wanted a spelt and hummus sandwich for a snack. I told her I was still a little full from our half-dozen lunches, thanks, and went back to my issue of Midwifery Today.

As we rode back to the campground in Nancy's shuddering Euro-van, Translucent One suddenly erupted in rumbling soy flatulence. And the vehicle immediately filled with something that smelled like drain cleaner and cinnamon. Sweet sainted mother of Bonnie Franklin! I pressed my face against the screen window and made an attempt to take in more fresh air than vegan bowel vapors. But it didn't work out very well. I'm not joking, I nearly puked. Under the circumstances I would've welcomed a big whiff of good ol' shit classic.

When we got back to our trailer the neighbors were breaking down camp, preparing to leave. I couldn't take it anymore and walked over and attempted to strike up a conversation. "You guys have been doing this for a while, huh? I wish we were this organized..." I said, cheerfully. And the guy didn't reply. He just turned his back on me and walked away! What the fuck?! I couldn't believe it. Jeff Kay: making friends and influencing the owners of Dixie phones. I considered confronting the man, and forcing him to put his cards on the table, but Toney advised against it. It's still making me crazy. What did I do??

That night Sunshine wanted to buy us a going-away dinner, and she chose a place that Nancy and Nostrils would hate -- just for spite. It was a big truck driver buffet, with strong Christian overtones and lots of American flags on the walls. It was everything Eninen hate, all rolled into one. Nobody there says "bum," that's fairly certain. But the food was good and I activated my buffet rule of continue eating until the hallucinations begin. I ingested large amounts of beef, and at one point considered getting up on the bar and wallowing around in the heavy brown gravy. It was a disgusting display of gluttony, and I felt like my pants might explode off my ass. Nancy had a baked potato, seated beneath a garish Ten Commandments plaque, while wearing an expression of pure disgust. Sunshine can be pretty mean, but you have to admire her spunk and creativity.

When we returned to the campground our neighbors were gone and their empty site was a monument to my many inadequacies as a man, and a human being. I just sighed and opened another can of beer.

Days Seven and Eight Going home

Mumbles helped us break down camp, and get everything ready for the road. Then we all went to Waffle House for one last meal together, before hitting the highway.

The good-natured old man bussing tables there told me he'd fought under General Patton in Europe during WWII. He said he was born just a few miles down the road, and had only been away while he was in the service. He loved that little section of the world, and wanted to go out close to where he came in. I wish I could've talked to him more; he was the most interesting person I'd met all week. The man is undoubtedly a dozen epic novels, cleaning up other people's slop in a greasy spoon.

We considered driving straight through, and not stopping for the night. We figured we'd get home around 9PM, and were both eager to get back to a real bed, computers, and ScroteTV. But after about four hours of sitting inside that Blazer, all cramped and hot, we changed our minds. We stopped at Staunton, VA again, and I'm glad we did.

We set up our camper, cranked up the air conditioner, hooked up the cable TV and watched an episode of Andy Griffith (the one with Bobby Fleet and His Band With a Beat), while we decompressed. Then we spent an hour lazing in the big pool, that we had to ourselves, and which was surrounded by green rolling hills. It was one of the more pleasant evenings in recent memory, and I'm thankful we didn't bypass it and keep on driving. I sure wish that Staunton campground was near our house; we'd be there every weekend.

When we finally got home the next day, it felt like our house was huge again. It was the same after our Myrtle Beach trip. When you live inside a canvas pod for a while, you eventually get used to it. And as I carried in our luggage and stuff, it felt like we were trespassing in MC Hammer's mansion or something. It's not a bad feeling, really.

We showered and washed clothes and made a huge salad.  We were craving something fresh, and wanted everything to be clean again.  In the evening Sunshine called and I happened to answer.  Immediately she started ranting about something Nancy had done, shouting obscenities and hollering.  And after I handed the phone off to Toney, I dropped to my knees and kissed the carpet.


Here are a few photos I snapped while we were away.  We'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow, I promise.  See ya then.

June 27, 2004

Day Three Roughing it in living rooms and pubs

-- I still don't know what caused it, but when I popped my contact lenses into my eyes in the morning, they felt like tiny discs o' fire. The pain was immediate and sustained, and tears began streaming down my face. I tried to ride it out since it's not unusual for them to burn a little for the first few minutes, but this was over the top. After about ten minutes of anguish I removed the damn things, and was incapacitated for several more hours. Light hurt, my eyeballs were stinging, and I was really out of it. It sucked. All I could do was sit in a chair wearing sunglasses or with a towel over my face. I felt like some freakish creation of Dean Koontz: a man who doesn't exactly have eyesight but who "sees" things nonetheless.

I have no proof, but I think it had something to do with all the goddamn foliage. It looked like Vietnam where we were camping, and I believe my contacts were coated in some sort of evil pollen that my eyes didn't take too kindly to. It happened once before, in Sporegon, and I blamed the strange trees there too. In any case, that's how I spent the morning. No fun.

In the afternoon we all climbed into Sunshine and Mumbles' so-called Monster Van, and went to Nancy's house. She's lived in her "new" house for about three years now, and we'd never seen it. This was something she reminded Toney of on a regular basis. Nancy, I know, will eventually become one of the world's most accomplished guilt-wielding mothers. The Translucents will be powerless against her. Already she's a black-belt.

The house is nice, but really small. Eight hundred square feet, for five people. Yikes. You could fart in there and blow out every window. Supposedly it's a political statement of some sort, but I wonder. It seems that the high-horse explanations come after the fact. I just think they lack common sense and normal reasoning powers, because of too many years spent on college campuses. But that's just my theory.

I was still in Dean Koontz mode during all this, I could only make out colors and shapes and just wanted to go home. But we stayed for hours, everybody in different rooms hollering at each other. Why so much noise, all the time?! I kept making hand gestures to Toney, trying to get her to take the proverbial bull by the horns. Or, as Nancy might put it, take the bull by a hug (or whatever). I just wanted to get the hell out of there. And I was relieved when Toney finally announced that we'd better get going.

And the next thing I know, a pot of diarrhea coffee is being brewed, and we're bound to drink at least one cup each. What the hell, man? We're being held prisoner, in a mid-century chalet!

While we sat in different rooms sipping our steaming bowel-rippers, the phone rang. It was Nostrils, and I could only hear one side of the conversation. Nancy listened for a few seconds, then said that maybe he should just come home if things were that bad. Then, a few minutes later, she promised to bring fresh underwear when she picked him up. What in the honeybaked hell? Not again! Is pants-shitting a daily ritual for this man? What happened this time, did he become frightened by a large bird?

We finally got away, and headed to Wal-Mart to buy a new cooler. Ours was leaking like a bastard, probably because it was overloaded. I had about a hundred beers in that thing, and it weighed roughly the same as a Ford Festiva. We got a Coleman Extreme, which supposedly keeps ice from melting for five full days. Ha!

Nancy was supposed to meet us at Sunshine's apartment later in the day, and Toney and I were going out for a few beers with Nancy and Nostrils that night. But by the time we arrived she was already there, and ready to go. Jesus J. McChrist. Is there no downtime?? We told her we needed to swing by the campground first, to transfer the contents of our hemorrhaging cooler, and this pissed her off. She wanted to go, right this minute. Toney began crumbling under Nancy's pressure but I blurted, "No!" We're gonna tend to our goddamn cooler, like we'd planned. Just go inside and read Mother Jones, lady, and we'll be right back. Shit. Control freaks, as far as the eye can see.

At the campground we saw that we had new neighbors, on both sides. In front of us was an ancient pop-up that had been turned around, so that our doors faced each other. The heck? And behind us was a mixture of dome-like tents, and a shitload of clean-cut teenagers. Whatever. We switched out the coolers and hustled back. Nancy was probably almost finished with her article about how George W. Bush caused the dinosaurs to become extinct, and was undoubtedly tapping her Birkenstock impatiently.

We picked up Nostrils in their sputtering and shaking hippie van, and the first thing out of his mouth was, "Did you bring the ointment?" I just tried to put it out of my mind.

There was some complaining about the fact that Sunshine had only agreed to watch the Translucents for two hours, so our time was limited. We were going to an Irish pub, and two hours just didn't afford us much drinking and bonding time. Bonding?? Then, after we parked, they dragged us all over town, playing tour guides, and eating up precious barroom time. Didn't we just have a conversation about this? Screw architecture, let's drink!

The pub was really cool, and the homebrew excellent. I chose the IPA and it was hoppy and addictive. We ordered three appetizers to share, and that was our dinner. Nostrils snorkled down an entire basket of hot wings, marrow and all, then licked his fingers and the wax paper that lined the basket. He put on a frickin' clinic. The rest of us had vegetarian nachos, and some kind of spinach dip and bread. It was all good.

I didn't have much to say, mostly because I'm not exactly passionate about the plight of the tomato-pickers, or whatever it was they were talking about. They grilled me about my job, as usual, but I kept my answers brief. For some reason they're obsessed with my work, which is very confusing. What's their angle?? I didn't give them much to contemplate, because I don't trust their motives.

After "dinner" Nostrils suggested we go to a great little bakery they know, where we could all enjoy an Eastern European pastry. Eastern European pastry? I laughed and said, "What's that, a slice of white bread?" And that little attempt at humor garnered nothing but the sound of crickets. Everybody looked at me like I had a row of penises growing out of my forehead.

The pastries were good, but expensive. Nine bucks for me and Toney, with nothing to drink. Goddamn communists. Nostrils couldn't sit still and was up and down a thousand times. Adding a little more sugar to his coffee, then a little more cream... I wanted to smack him. My eclair was already being broken down by acids by the time he finally started lingering over his silk cake, or whatever he bought. It seemed like we were there for hours. He made some sarcastic remark about how I'd gobbled down my dessert, and I just stared into his nose holes and said nothing.

As we were finally leaving Nostrils spotted someone he knew, and struck up a conversation with her. I wondered if they had a gas oven in the back, big enough to fit a human head inside? Holy shit, those people can sure drag things out. And what about Sunshine? We were well past the two hour limit she'd laid down for us. Agreements are only vague guidelines for Eninen, I guess.

And out on the sidewalk, as we waited, I noticed that Nancy's armpit hair was backlit by the setting sun, and was gently rustling in the wind. It was strangely moving, sort of majestic in a way. It made me proud to be an American, and I had to fight the urge to salute.

Day Four  A space perfect for entertaining

-- As I entered the bathhouse for the day's first bladder evacuation, I was met at the door by an obese hillbilly child. "You're on your own in there," he said. "Both toilets are loaded up and I'm afraid to flush." Pardon? I was still half asleep, and this is how the day began. Although I admired his choice of the term "loaded up," it was quite jarring. I have no doubt he was the culprit in at least one case. Possibly both.

Toney cooked breakfast on the outside stove, and Sunshine arrived early. The day had been mapped out for us, as usual, and was designed to appease both Sunshine and Nancy. We would go to the mall with Sunshine in the morning, and have lunch at her beloved food court(?!). Then the see-through brood would descend upon the campground for an afternoon of swimming. Afterwards, everybody would have dinner at our place. Sweet Jesus.

I had to call my Dad to help walk me through the lighting of the hot water tank on our camper. We needed to wash dishes for the first time, and I had no idea how to go about it. I'm forty-one years old and don't know shit, which is quite embarrassing. He talked me through the process though, and didn't make fun of me too much, and all was right with the world. My contacts weren't even scorching my eyeballs today. I felt like I'd awakened from a bad dream.

I had Panda Express at the mall, and had to remind myself that we were on a camping trip. Sunshine loves malls, and shopping in general. She could pack a lunch and spend an afternoon at Lane Bryant -- I'm surprised she hasn't asked them to erect a picnic table over by the girdles yet. When I see another Marshall's store, she sees heaven. When a TJ Maxx sign appears on the horizon, she becomes as excited as a kid on the Disneyland monorail. Crazy.

After the mall we walked around an RV dealership and daydreamed. We found our dream rig, which carried a price tag of $20,500. Ha! May as well be twenty million. It was hotter than owl piss out there, and I was already running out of juice. Holy shit, the humidity. I lived in the South for over thirty years, and never got used to it. It saps you, and I don't like it.

The swimming portion of the day was OK, I guess. There was no way in hell I was taking my shirt off in front of those people, so I just hung out with my legs in the water or chilling in the shade. Of course, Nostrils was showboating his Auschwitz physique, and doing handstands and shit. Wotta douche. The Translucents were all trussed up in life jackets, probably manufactured during one of the World Wars. I didn't see it, but I was told by two independent witnesses that Nancy's bathing suit couldn't quite contain the jungle down below, if you get my drift. One said it "looked like peat moss."

Just another day at the pool.

Between swimming and the dinner extravaganza, I went out exploring. Things had been so crazy I hadn't seen anything except what was right around our camper. I found a huge pond covered in lily pads, which was really cool. I don't think I'd ever seen such a thing, I thought lily pads were only on cartoons. And I ventured into Section J, which was apparently an overflow part of the campground. Since it was a weekday, the place was completely empty. Not a soul around. And up on top of the hill, in this abandoned area? A big sparkling new shithouse! I parked my truck, went inside, and had a seat. I'm here to tell ya, there's nothing quite like a mid-day dump in good ol' Section J.

During dinner Nancy told a charming little story about how her sons like to dress up like girls and breastfeed dolls. Ahhh, how cute. Probably learned it from their Daddy.

And Translucent One told Sunshine that she's not very smart, because she gives them HoHo's which are full of sugar and preservatives. This pissed Sunshine off and there was a lot of shouting and cursing. Mama's Family, once again. He learned that from one of you, she screamed, while pointing at Nancy and Nostrils. Great fun.

Our neighbor, who I'd noticed hadn't had much to say to us since they first arrived, asked Nostrils to move his van. He was going to have company, he said, and the vehicle was parked on his site. Sunshine, a uniter not a divider, said something like, "Why don't you tell him to park it up his ass?"

As Mumbles and I cooked dinner Nancy and Nostrils tossed a Frisbee back and forth with oversized mixed drinks sloshing around in their left hands. And the neighbors behind us bowed their heads in prayer, while Sunshine spewed obscenities about the goddamn heat.

It's only a matter of time before we're kicked out of here, I whispered to Toney.

Nancy had made some kind of horrifying salad that contained (as best as I could tell) long-grain rice, dirt clods, wasp nests, and garlic. And she began lobbying me to try it upon arrival. No way. It's well-documented that I don't like garlic, but that doesn't stop people from pressuring me to eat large amounts of it. It's the same with mayonnaise. People act like it's a personal insult if you order a sandwich dry, or pass on the garlic. I mean, what the hell? This became an issue eventually, and Nancy pouted for a while about it. It's maddening.

Translucent One said that he wanted to try a regular hotdog, instead of a Tofu Pup, and he was shut down like something in Castro's Cuba. And I'm sure he was set straight later that night. It was a question he would regret asking, and it wouldn't happen again. It was a worse transgression than calling a girl a girl.

And speaking of Tofu Pups, for spite Sunshine kept feeding them to Andy, just so they'd run short. She was still pissed about the HoHo's comment and was sabotaging their dinner as revenge. Nancy asked what had happened to all their pseudo-wieners, and Sunshine said the squirrels must've got 'em. Later I saw Andy behind the trailer in the throes of a full-body pump, puking into the tall grass.

When the sun started going down I began stacking up some wood in the fire ring, and this drove away Nancy and the gang. Their kids are deathly afraid of fire, they said. Shoulda known. Plus, if it would happen to pop or spark or something, Nostrils would undoubtedly power-shit into his twelve-dollar natural-cotton briefs. So, we'll see y'all tomorrow! Thanks for coming.

And Sunshine & Mumbles stayed until almost eleven, hollering about that HoHo's deal, and downing something called Mudslides. We'll be hearing about those HoHo's for years to come. The expiration date isn't anywhere near on that particular rant; it's loaded with more preservatives than the snack cakes themselves.

Yes, it was one of our most successful camping days yet. It was just like something right out of Boy's Life. With a little peat moss and profanity.

June 25, 2004

-- I just opened a Gmail account, and while I'm fairly giddy about the prospect I can't help but also feel a little disappointed. Supposedly they're still in the beta phase of the whole deal, and you have to be invited by an existing member to join. Oh, it's a very exclusive club, that free Google email. But, even though they're still testing and have relatively few users, my first three choices for a username were taken. Already, all the good ones are gone. How could that be? I was forced to go with one of the less-profane phrases my teachers used to call me in high school, thatkayboy. But it wouldn't have been my first, second, or third choice. I'm feeling a bit let down by it all. I thought I was getting in on the ground floor of something, but I should've known better. As always, I'm getting in around the third floor custodial lounge, behind the outsized carton of sanitary napkins. It's a sad state of affairs, yet typical. I'm a third floor napkin kind of guy.

But, enough of my whining. Let's get back into this North Carolina fiasco, I mean, vacation. We've still got a long way to go...

Day Two What in the hell is Nutella?!

After we left "Stanton" we drove up. The rest of the way, it seemed, we climbed. Up. And since we were dragging our bedroom behind us, I couldn't build up much speed and was forced to hang out in the right lane with the struggling 18-wheelers. I had it dropped down into one of those shadowy gears beyond the D, the ones that are just a number. And up we climbed.

At some point shit started looking a little rural, if you know what I mean. Gone were the Wendy's and Arby's at every exit. They were replaced by other restaurants called Meal Barn, and EAT. We stopped to get gas in one of the tiny banjo towns along the highway, and I had to go inside to pay with a credit card. Pay at the pump technology hasn't yet reached Dog Balls, NC, I guess. The frightening woman behind the counter actually pulled out one of those big black 1982 slider things, and laid my card beneath a stack of "carbons." Chu-chunk! Incredible. It was the land that time forgot.

After signing all the appropriate paperwork, I asked ol' Perry Farrell where I could find the men's room. When I walked in a thousand flies were disturbed and began buzzing around, and the funk was large. The urinal was out of order, so I had to go into the stall. And it looked like someone had taken a crock pot of goulash in there, and had just flung the contents in the general direction of the toilet. Most of it made it in, but some was on the tank, the wall, and the floor. Nasty. And I don't think it was really goulash, it only looked like it.

We made it all the way to Nancy Town without the transmission in my Blazer shitting the bed, and I was relieved about that. I asked the woman at the campground if we could have a pull-thru site, with cable TV hookups. And she answered, "No." That was her full response. I asked if she had anymore information beyond the no, and she said there are no pull-thrus available, and the sites along the lake don't come with cable. She said we could have a less-desirable spot, off the lake, if we absolutely had to have cable television while we camped. The way she put it made me feel pathetic, so I mumbled that we'd forego the television hookups (I guess). I buckled under society's pressures, but at what price? A full week with no Scrote?! I'd allowed myself to be bullied by a woman in a yellow polo shirt, with a political axe to grind.

Toney's mother wanted us to call the moment we arrived, but I asked Toney to please give me a fifteen minute head start. I didn't need Sunshine there spewing "advice" as I set up the camper. It took me about ten solid minutes to back it into place, with a full gallery of snickering spectators, so I was in no mood for further bullshit. It didn't take us long to get everything in place, though, and by the time Sunshine and Nancy arrived we were pretty much finished. We were camping on the banks of a lake, just a few feet from the water. I tried to force myself to focus on the beauty, and not the mosquito breeding-ground aspect of the situation.

Nancy and the translucents were at Sunshine's apartment awaiting our call, and they were all there within minutes. And chaos descended upon the camp. The noise was simply incredible, and I'm sure our neighbors were all very pleased that we'd been assigned a spot near theirs.

Translucent One, who is five, asked if we'd driven to North Carolina in our "white SUV." Here we go, I thought. What toddler uses a term like SUV? He'd obviously overheard adult conversations. When I told him we had indeed traveled in our white SUV, he gave me a disapproving look and ran off to shriek and wail with his brothers. Excellent. It's just like being around a gang of Jesus freaks.

Over the cacophony Nancy announced, with obvious pride, that she'd prepared a chocolate cake with Nutella frosting, for after-dinner. Sunshine shot me a secret look of alarm, which was an emotion I was also experiencing. Nutella? The hell is that??

It didn't take long for Sunshine to order us all to her apartment, because of the heat. She was using a lid from a Domino's Pizza box, which she'd dug out of the trash, to fan herself. And the bitching had officially gotten underway. "Oh God, oh God..." she gasped, as if she were approaching The Light. Unless she's absolutely comfortable, and everybody in the entire world is doing exactly what she wants, she's miserable. And we were informed that the party was moving to a place with air conditioning, between gasps and vigorous fanning. She was miserable.

Sunshine rode with us to her place in our white SUV, and Nancy and the translucents took their shuddering, smoke-belching (but acceptable) hippie van. As soon as we were in the car she started: "What in the hell is Nutella?! Why can't those people just buy a goddamn Betty Crocker like everyone else? Now we're going to have to eat that shit, and you can bet it's bitter and awful. I was laughing my ass off, because these were the same questions and concerns I had. Sunshine and I were in sync on the Nutella.

We sat around the air-conditioned apartment for hours, amongst the unceasing noise, sipping bottles from a Samuel Adams variety pack. Eventually Mumbles came home from work and dinner was prepared. Hot dogs, hamburgers, various salads and chips. Good stuff.

At some point Sunshine and Nancy got into an argument and Sunshine stormed out of the apartment, and slammed the front door. She sat on the front porch in a lawn chair with her arms crossed, in the internationally recognized posture of a person who is fucking pissed. But there was so much going on, I have no idea what any of it was about. I felt like I was at a Chuck E. Cheese, on Ritalin Day. The noise was simply amazing.

After dinner Sunshine dragged Translucent One off by himself, and began grilling him about Nutella. He said it was a chocolate spread that you put on crepes. Crepes? Seriously, what kid talks this way??

And then the cake was served and, surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. It was flat, like brownies, probably because it was made with all natural ingredients and there wasn't anything in there that could rise. But I was able to choke it down OK, and the infamous Nutella frosting wasn't too bad. It was a bit gritty, but nothing like I'd feared. A bullet dodged.

Nostrils called Nancy after dessert and said that he'd be late in arriving because he'd encountered a frightening rainstorm, and had been forced to pull his car to the side of the road. What a rugged individual, I smirked to myself. Then I heard Nancy talking to him about how he also needed to go home and change his clothes, which would delay him further. The hell? Had he shit himself?? Did the rain scare him that much? After she hung up she told us that Nostrils wouldn't be able to stay long, because he had a splitting headache. Apparently he'd mistakenly caffeinated himself earlier in the afternoon, and was thus rendered useless. I'm not making any of this up.

Sunshine wanted to show us the river that runs past their apartment, so we all trudged down the bank amongst the poison ivy and tick colonies. Translucent One's feet slipped out from under him and he got mud on his hands and pants, which touched off something like I've never witnessed before. He began making noises like when you dial-up to the internet, and speaking in different voices. No joke, he sounded like that guy on the Police Academy movies, and waving his arms and shit. I was preparing myself for the chanting of "Redrum! Redrum!!" to begin. And this frenzy lasted for at least ninety minutes. He got frickin' mud on his pants! 

But then I reminded myself that his dad was across town huddled beneath an exit ramp, shivering in his own waste, because of brisk winds, or whatever.

As we were preparing to leave that madhouse I found Nancy in the kitchen with her arms plunged elbow-deep in the garbage can, digging out the beer bottles I'd so callously tossed in there. She was collecting them in a big and filthy canvas bag. We told everybody goodbye, and hightailed it out of there, just as a haggard-looking Nostrils arrived.

It may have been rude, but we said hi and goodbye, and just kept on trucking. My nerves were shredded and I felt like I could go for a good long cry. We went back to our camp beside Lake No Cable, and downed a few more adult beverages to calm ourselves down. Then a few more, just to make sure.

It was going to be exactly like I'd had it pictured. Exactly. 

Pass the beer nuts.

June 24, 2004

-- Mission accomplished. Our North Carolina trip is now behind us, and we're back at the Compound with our Guilt Cards marked PAID IN FULL. We're free! For the rest of the summer we can do whatever we want; our leisure time is ours again. And it's a great feeling. I have an urge to visit the Lincoln Memorial, for some reason.

I'm not gonna drag this thing out like I did with Myrtle Beach. Today and tomorrow should be ample time to tell the story (OK, and maybe Saturday), then on Monday we'll get back to the important stuff. Like the sandals controversy and animals eating cookies off household appliances, and whatnot. So, let's get to it, shall we?

Day One Of ass hairs and waterfalls

By referencing and cross-referencing three massive RV guides, Toney found a highly-rated campground almost exactly halfway between here and our ultimate destination of Nancy Town, North Carolina, in Staunton (pronounced "Stanton" for some reason), Virginia. And that was our first-day goal. We'd briefly considered trying to make the entire trip in one day, but scrapped that idea early on. Why kill ourselves for the privilege of spending an extra day submerged in chaos? As long as we were working our way towards Sunshine and Nancy, they'd be pacified. Screw it.

Both had been hammering Toney about the fact that we never travel to see them, failing to take into account the small detail about them always being here. It doesn't take long to travel to our living room, y'know? I think Nancy actually knows the dates we were last at her house, and it was, like, four years ago. She's still pretty young, but has already mastered the art of guilt like a well-seasoned granny. She's constantly making mental notes and storing shit away for later. And I don't like that.

The drive was fairly uneventful. Toney had to complain at The Cracker Barrel because her eggs were barely cooked, and there was a hair in her hash browns that may or may not have come off a human ass. I looked at it closely and it seemed kind of assy to me, but I'm not really an expert on such matters; I wish we'd had access to the Law & Order labs to get the full story. That midget in the white coat could tell us the shape of the ass of origin, and the vectors of the convexity of each cheek (or whatever). He's good, I tell ya.

The manager knocked off the price of Toney's breakfast, which was the least he could do under the circumstances, I thought. Cracker Barrel seems to let us down a lot these days. I'm starting to lose confidence. It's sad, really. I feel like a long-term love affair is starting to unravel.

When we were crossing the eastern panhandle of West Virginia we stopped at one of their interstate piss centers, to piss. I had our dog Andy on a leash and was allowing him to sniff everything vertical, and to add his "scent" to the pre-existing aromas. Poles and trees are like guest books for dogs, apparently, and Andy signed as many as he could manage. He never seems to run out of ink.

About five minutes into it a fat woman in a uniform came busting out of one of the buildings, hollering and waving her arms. "Dogs aren't allowed up here!" she screamed at me, as if I'd inadvertently activated a nuclear missile and it was now on its way to China. She directed me to a tiny leper colony on the other side of the parking lot, beside the highway, and all chewed up with deep tractor trailer tire ruts. Nice.

I took Andy over there, beside high-speed traffic, and began the process of profiling the bitch. Probably still lives with her parents at the age of fifty, a virgin, collects spoons or bells or something... And she exists for this shit. This is her life's work, to keep dogs in their proper locations at a southbound rest area in West Virginia. Bravo, fatty! Fucking bra-vo.

The campground in "Stanton" was really nice. We got a pull-through site, which meant I didn't have to do any trailer backing. After we set everything up we walked around and tried to get a cell phone signal. We were way out in the boonies and both of our phones said NO SERVICE. We were finally able to make calls to our parents, to let them know we hadn't plunged off a bridge or anything, by standing in a particular square-foot section of grass beside the lake, on one foot.

The place was really pretty and there was a waterfall a few feet from our campsite. We waded out into the creek and skipped stones, and sipped Rolling Rocks from cans and watched a family of ducks paddle upstream -- just twenty-four hours after leaving my desk at work, and all that crapola. I could feel the stress disappearing, and we both wished we could just stay there for a week. It was a paradise, quiet and beautiful, in the middle of nowhere. We decided we'd return there on our way back.

We had a dinner of hotdogs cooked over charcoal, watched lightning bugs, and listened to the Southern accents of the fellow campers around us. It seemed like the best place on earth, and it sure beat the hell out of a Red Roof Inn and a humming Sprite machine down the hall, the way we used to do it. When it all comes together like that, camping can't be beat. It pisses me off that I was such a snob about it for so many years.

And here I am dragging it out again. Sorry. I'll get it all in between tomorrow and Saturday. I can't be late for work today, so I'll stop right here. Day Two was crazy, and I don't want to rush it.

It's good to be back. I'll see you folks tomorrow.

June 15, 2004

-- This week's offering from Jason.

-- Here's my latest obsession. It's a site where you can listen to sound files of vintage Top 40 radio broadcasts, from the 1950s through the '90s. Some clips are only a few minutes long, but they vary in length and the longest I've found is an hour and a half. It's all here, the commercials, the newscasts, the sports scores... It's exactly as they were originally broadcast, and the sound quality is excellent. I just love this kind of stuff. I've been playing clips from the late '60s every day at work, since last week.

I heard a traffic report from 1967, where a man was arrested for being under the influence of LSD. And yesterday I heard a 1962 "auditorial" about World Series tickets being priced out of reach of the average fan. Reserved tickets were going for an astronomical eight dollars, and box seats were a jaw-dropping twelve bucks. The sport is going to hell, the guy implied; it's all about profit now, and it's a damn shame. Apparently hand-wringing has been around since the beginning of time. The sky is falling!

And I love the ads about suntan oil(!). They say that the foundation of a quality summer tan is to get yourself good and burned the first time you lie out. Heh. Nowadays people are going to the emergency room in tears if sun is allowed to momentarily shine on a patch of skin that isn't slathered in some kind of medicated mayonnaise, developed by the Union Carbide Corporation.

The 1969 Rambler will be the best Rambler yet... Janis Joplin tickets go on sale Saturday -- at Montgomery Ward... The conflict in Vietnam... The Apollo moon mission... President Johnson... Clearasil is skin-colored for discretion... Here's a song by a new artist named Linda Ronstadt, who just happens to be one hot chick...

It's my current obsession. And I'd like to shake the hand of the man who runs the site. He's turned my dreary afternoons at work into a daily time machine excursion. It's only a matter of time before I physically cross over to the other side. I'm convinced of it. Yesterday I found a love bead in my pocket. Seriously.


-- I'm really enjoying our new DVR box. So far I've used it mainly to record stuff off Turner Classic Movies (Vertigo, The Poseidon Adventure, The Asphalt Jungle, Spellbound...), but I'll probably branch out once I completely get the hang of it. I like the feature where you can tell it to record all episodes of a particular TV show. I might set it to capture Seinfeld during the week we're gone. Wonder if it would fill the entire fifty hours of storage space before we got back? I have a feeling that if I told it to record Law & Order for a week, there'd be nothing left of our house, except a chimney and the front steps, when we returned. The shit would probably burst into flames during Day Two. Wonder if it comes equipped with an asbestos Scrote Muffler? I bet it doesn't.

-- You know that period of time right after you bang your elbow on something, or stub your toe, but before the pain actually takes hold? What's that called? I think mine is a little more developed than the average. I slammed my elbow yesterday and contorted my face like Gilbert Gottfried, as required by nature, and waited for the verdict. Would it be bad, or no big deal? Oh God, please, no! And I stood there grasping my arm and grimacing for a full two seconds before I received the news. Not bad at all. Wonder why it takes so long now? I don't remember this when I was younger. I don't think my shit's linked up right nowadays. I think I need to run some kind of Norton analysis on my nervous system. Things just aren't clicking anymore. Perhaps I need to spend a week at one of these places?

-- Speaking of contorted, did you know that Jewel, aka The Gimp, on Deadwood, is the palsy girl from Facts of Life? Remember, during the later seasons of that kick-ass sitcom, they had a cousin or something with cerebral palsy who would show up periodically to make everyone feel uneasy? It's the same woman, apparently. Now she has a sizable role on one of the coolest shows on TV, and seems to be having a great time with it all. Even with Al Swear-Engine constantly screaming at her to quit dragging her foot on the floor, and random citizens openly mocking her to her face. It's all cool with her. I like it. However, I'm not sure I'm prepared for any sex scenes next year, between her and the doc. I get a feeling that things are heading in that direction, and I'm a little nervous. Is that harsh?

-- And I think that'll just about do it, friends. We're off for North Carolina, the land of Nancy and pork barbecue (how could that possibly be true??), early tomorrow morning. We've got our twenty pound sack of gourmet jelly beans and Van Halen CDs, and are ready to hit the road. I'm out of here until Thursday, 6/24, if you can believe it. I'll take detailed notes and plenty of pictures, and will file a full report once I'm back in the saddle, next week. <sigh> 

See ya 'round.

June 14, 2004

-- It's hard to believe that we're leaving on a lengthy camping trip day after tomorrow. We've invested almost no emotion or preparation into it, and it doesn't even seem real. When it pops into my mind I feel mildly panicked, because we haven't done shit to get ready. No oil change, no packing, no massive beer stockpile... It's the destination, of course, that's sapping our enthusiasm. We're going right into the heart of Nancyville, with the honorable Sunshine serving as interim mayor. We're gonna drive hundreds of miles, spend hundreds of dollars, and burn six hard-earned vacation days, for the privilege of living inside a very-special episode of Mama's Family for a week. I think our subconscious mind is protecting us against reality, as part of some primal survival mechanism.

Vacations are supposed to be a pleasant escape from the drudgeries of everyday life. When you know in your heart that those drudgeries are, in fact, the best part of the deal, it kinda up-ends the whole exercise. While I was out mowing the grass Saturday morning, with sweat pooling in my ass crack and gnats using my face as a fleshy theme park, I remember thinking to myself, "This is it, son. It's all downhill from here." I was at the pinnacle of that particular stretch of days, and that's no joke.

-- Speaking of camping, we drove to the Poconos yesterday to check out a campground there called Keen Lake. It's highly rated in all the books, and we're still looking for somewhere close, for weekend getaways. We remain in pursuit of "our place." But I don't know. It was kinda cool, and we'll probably give it a try, but it still didn't feel quite right. For one thing, it was loaded with permanent camps, and I don't like that. People just leave their trailers there year-round, and use it as a summer home, or whatever. They have lawn ornaments and underpinning and wooden decks, and the like. I'm not a fan. It would feel like we were camping on a vacant lot in a residential section of a small town. Talk about being the topic of conversation! They have a nice big lake there, with a wooded island in the middle that can only be reached by boat. That's kinda interesting. And there's a waterfall in the park, and lots of other things to explore, but we just didn't feel the magic. Ya know? Here's the facilities in the primitive section of the campground, where all the hardcore tent campers with large bags of trail mix and/or weed congregate. You'd have to put a gun to my head.

-- Another camping stress: try this shit. Just try it, Mr. Big Shot.

-- How could I make secret recordings of Nostrils eating, and then transfer it to this site? Do those crazy spy stores offer something that would get the job done? I'd love to have six or eight short sound clips here, which you folks could play and try to decide if it's Nostrils eating pork, or our dog Andy struggling with peanut butter toast. I know it would be entertaining, and challenging, but I lack the know-how. Any tips would be appreciated.

-- now redirects to But those pirates over at want fifty bucks a year to leave their big-ass ad off the bottom. How can I get around this? I'm not paying their extortion money (the pricks), but I'd like for it to work cleanly. Again, I need your help. Because I'm dumm.

-- I went fishing on Sunday morning and didn't catch a thing, just the way I like it. I don't go out there with a burning desire to hook something, it's the act itself that I enjoy. It's nice just standing in the quiet open air, watching the water ripple and splash. It's cathartic and clears the mental cache file.

Fishing beside me was a sizable group of Arabs. I don't think I'd ever seen Arabs fishing before, it's usually just fat white men (or women who look like fat white men), but I did yesterday. Both men and women. Unfortunately there were no turbans with a collection of hand-tied flies attached, or veils with Pennsylvania Fish and Game licenses attached. These were Americanized Arabs, which makes it a lot less interesting, really.

Before I left, Andrew Dice Clay began fishing near me. I'm almost certain it was him, anyway. He appeared suddenly, carrying only a fishing pole. No tackle box or anything else. His hook had a single worm on it, and he didn't have any others. He chain smoked and grunted the whole time. And judging by his casting abilities, it was the first time he'd ever fished in his life. Apparently he went to Wal-Mart, bought a rod and reel, had the cashier bait his hook, and drove to the lake. Oh!

-- When we were leaving town for our Pocono adventure, we got ourselves caught up in a rare traffic jam. After inching forward for five minutes or so, we saw about a thousand flashing lights up ahead. Holy crap, we hollered, wonder who got their head cut off? It turns out that yet another person jumped off the high-flying Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge, and used the pavement of our little town for suicidal purposes. We're starting to earn a reputation for such things. Apparently people drive for miles and miles to kill themselves here; I believe the Chamber of Commerce promotes it, but I could be wrong. This time it was a seventy year old man, from the central part of the state. When we drove past, the fire department was rinsing off the pavement with high-pressure water. We didn't see any actual gore, I guess they'd already used the snow shovel to clean up the exploded guts, but it was still creepy as all hell. What would drive a person to do such a thing? How could it get that bad? Especially with Andrew Dice Clay and a group of middle-easterners fishing at the park? How could you want to leave this world?

-- I watched about fifteen minutes of Gunsmoke over the weekend. TVLand was having a marathon, and I couldn't help but compare it to Deadwood. Hilarious. The streets were clean, the people were well-scrubbed and neat, only the bad guys were evil... It was like a Disney version of the Old West. Not once was Miss Kitty ordered to serve it up for half-price, or an opium addict drowned in his own bath water, then fed to the fucking pigs. It was a whole different take on history. 

And speaking of Deadwood, they went out last night with a relatively small number of fucks. It was the season finale and a lot of loose-ends were tied up, leaving less time for mind-boggling profanity, I guess. Here are the details.

-- Finally, here are a couple of new Smoking Fish sightings, this time in Florida.  Apparently our logo is taking a few days off, for rest and relaxation. And who can blame him?

See ya tomorrow.

June 11, 2004

-- Sorry about yesterday. I didn't update because I overslept; my heft was still in the sack at 7:30. Plus I'm experiencing some sort of weird hay fever thing that makes it feel like my head has grown to twice its normal size. I'm fairly confident that it's not physically larger, it only feels that way. I'm sneezing and hacking and dripping, and walking around with a head the size of Lenny Kravitz's. And that's one big head. So, I apologize. Please know that I felt guilty about it all day on Thursday, and considered having someone at work shoe me in the nuts as punishment. Believe me, I get no pleasure in being lame. But, whatever. Let's get on with it...

-- You know those guys gyrating and flailing on Viagra commercials? Yeah, they make me a little uncomfortable. I don't really like imagining what made them so giddy. I mean, I have a good idea, and that's the problem, I guess. These are not men with movie star faces, they look more like my neighbors or the management team down at Wendy's. And I just don't want to think about them "getting happy." Also, the concept of dignity is a little something that each of them might want to reacquaint themselves with. To burst from one's house, do a handspring off the porch, and break out with an impromptu Erection Dance on the front lawn is, I believe, a little beyond the pale.

"What's John doing out there?"

"Must've taken another one of them hard-on pills. I saw him carrying flowers and a CVS bag earlier."

"Christ, he almost got hit by that Fed-Ex truck!"

And, forgive me, but some of those guys look like they still live in their parent's basement, at the age of forty. I don't believe it's a slam-dunk that a chemically induced woody automatically translates into sex for these men. Not with another person, anyway. One particular partier appears to have spent the past twenty years with a video game controller in his hand, and a vendor-pack of chocolate Donettes at the ready. Very curious.

Do some people take Viagra so they can resume being chronic masturbators? I'd never really thought of it before, but I bet it's true. And eventually I developed a hundred dollar a day habit... it was hell, I tell ya, hell! Breaking into houses, stealing from my grandmother... Do the makers of the drug set aside a portion of their advertising budget to target the wanking demographic? I bet the SciFi Channel sure hopes so.

And what happened to those guys, anyway? They look too young to be doing the Boner Jig. Did the inner tube somehow get damaged while wearing the pink bear suit? Did they stub it against a towering stack of Japanimation videos, during some sort of whirling frenzy? Did they mistakenly strike their organ with a sword, while out "slaying dragons"? Perhaps they were rendered impotent after years of Pop-Tart abuse? Maybe something built up? These are the kinds of things I find myself wanting to know and not wanting to know, at the same time.

And I don't really need all that during Law & Order, thank you very much. It's hard enough trying to figure out who killed the seven whores.

-- They're finally burying Reagan today. Nobody consulted with me about it, but I think it's time. Didn't he die at the end of May? He's racked up more frequent flyer miles posthumously than I've amassed in my entire life. He'll probably get two or three free-trip coupons in the mail next month from Delta. Ha! Wonder if they put him on a commercial flight, back in coach? I'm picturing the casket pressed up against the backs of people's seats, and four or five backpacks scattered across the top of it... Ahem. I guess I shouldn't go down that particular "comedic" path, should I? At least not until Monday.

I liked Reagan. I thought he was a great president, which was another of my dirty little secrets. Growing up in a Democrat household, in a Democrat town, in the middle of a Democrat state, you can't really go around admitting to such blasphemy. But it's true. I remember when Jimmy Carter was running this country, and it wasn't a pretty sight. That big-toothed funny-talking wuss was a disaster in the White House. By the time he finished, the entire nation was on suicide watch. When he was running for re-election against Reagan, I was very confused. I remember thinking, "Now let me get this straight, I'm supposed to hope for another four years of that crap?"

But I'm a rebel, a punk, a free-thinker not bound by society's expectations. I was a modern-day James Dean really, with Bert Convy hair. I bucked the considerable generations-old peer pressure I was experiencing and, um, supported a Republican. Secretly, anyway. I'm ashamed to admit that I was rebel without any balls. I liked Reagan, but kept it to myself. I was afraid I'd be exiled by my family. And I was quite fond of them.

I still admire Ronald Reagan. Just looking at this picture makes me feel good. Sometimes you can judge a man's greatness by the people who hated him. If you're despised by the New York Times editorial staff, France, Fidel Castro, and 95% of American college professors, well, son, you're probably on the right path.

-- My brother sent me an instant message last night asking if I thought he should carve out a mole on his neck. After I responded with "Pardon?" he told me he had a mole that rubs against his shirt collar, and he wants it removed. But, he doesn't want to go to the doctor, because it's too big of a hassle. Apparently he's thinking about snipping it off with wire cutters or toenail clippers, or something. I thought this over, and finally advised against it. It wasn't an easy choice, but that was how I was leaning at the time. I reminded him that he'd probably bleed to death, or maybe flip the cancer switch. You just don't go messing around with moles. But he wants to do it himself, like Rambo. He talked to some "expert" at his job who said that he should wrap a horse hair around it, or some such craziness. At this point I kind of lost the thread of the conversation, and I'm not sure what he's planning to do. But I'm a little concerned.

--  I'll turn it over to Randi now. Have yourself a great little weekend.

June 9, 2004

-- I'm very excited. We have new electronics in the house. Toney picked up a DVR box from Adelphia's mall store on Monday, and I hooked it up last night. It goes without saying that it's awesome. You can pause live events, if the need for fluid expulsion strikes, or if you desire more TGI Friday's potato skin snacks, or whatever. It can be set up to record an entire season of TV shows by pushing (mashing for you folks in Atlanta) just three or four buttons on the remote. And the coolest of all... if you turn on a program that started ten or fifteen minutes before, and you wish you'd seen it from the beginning, no problem. Just hit record and it'll save the whole show -- even the stuff you missed. How cool is that?

I set it to record Letterman last night, as a test, and it worked. I just watched his monologue, and he said that Joan Rivers celebrated her 71st birthday yesterday, and the city of New York marked the event by announcing that she'll be undergoing a three year, fifty million dollar renovation. As somebody on Monty Python once said, my nipples are exploding with delight.

Once I get into this thing full-blown, I have a feeling I'll never watch a regularly-broadcast show again. We'll just cherry-pick from the schedule and there will always be something good to watch, just waiting for us. I plan to keep an eye on AMC, Turner Movie Classics, and Fox Movie Channel, for old Hitchcock films, and the like. Can't wait. The era of desperate channel surfing is over.

And for some reason it's all free. For the first seven months anyway, then it's $4.95 a month. Also, we get fifteen or twenty Starz channels at no cost, for a year. Why are they doing this?? One day in 2005 we'll probably receive a two hundred dollar cable bill, and we'll howl like a retard with a toothache. But that's next year; we'll worry about it then. Right now we're in television heaven.

On my way home from work tonight I might stop at the tobacco store, and see if they have any cigars I can hand out in celebration of the arrival of our new electronics device. I'd like to share our joy with friends and colleagues. It takes a village.

-- One week from today we're leaving on our next camping extravaganza. We're going to North Carolina to visit Sunshine & Mumbles, Nancy, Nostrils, and their brood of little vegan translucents. For some reason I'm not that excited. In fact, whenever I think about it I'm engulfed by a deep shadow of sadness. We don't currently have an abundance of cash in the slush fund, and that doesn't help a thing. Plus, I know that the entire trip will consist of us sitting in folding Coleman chairs, in high humidity, listening to crackpot pontification. Bush is a criminal... Mexicans are ruining the country... this eggplant meringue pie is very tasty Nancy, is that dirt sprinkled across the top?... Jesus J. McChrist.

I told Toney I was going to go to Wal-Mart and buy a bunch of retina-searing red, white, and blue t-shirts, size Medium (so that every contour of my powerful upper body shines through), and wear one every day we're in NC. I'd like to get a bumper sticker for my SUV as well. Maybe Rush Is Right? I haven't really thought it through yet... Perhaps My Boss Is A Jewish Carpenter would be better? That one would irritate the whole bunch. Whatever. In the end it'll be my liver that pays the steepest price. Its always comes back to the liver. ...My nipples are no longer exploding. In fact, they've inverted.

-- I'll just hand it over to Jason now, and go have myself a long cry. See you tomorrow.

June 8, 2004

-- I performed a little experiment over the weekend. No, I wasn't trying to pop popcorn with a cell phone again -- although I still believe that would work under the proper conditions. This one involved our dog Andy, the vacuum cleaner, and a cookie. For reasons only clear within the walnut-sized brain of a border collie, Andy is deathly afraid of the vacuum. He apparently views it as the upright dog-killing machine.

If we just open the door to the closet where the vacuum is kept, he gets low to the ground and slinks away. If it's actually plugged in and roaring he hides inside my office, beneath a chair, shaking it up like Ric Ocasek and/or Janet Reno. Please God, don't let me get sucked into that hanging bag of death. I've never hurt anyone, except a few stupid squirrels and bunnies...

On the other side of the walnut coin, Andy lives for table scraps and junk food from the human world. I think he'd crash through plate glass to get at an Oreo, and who can blame him? And he can hear the rattling of a Frito's bag through concrete. He's finely tuned to snacks, like something created by the scientists at NASA.

So, I wondered what would happen if I laid a cookie on the vacuum cleaner? Would he be brave enough to approach The Machine, or would he just say screw dat? Would it touch off such a complicated dilemma within him that his system would simply shut down? It was a question worth asking, and answering.

On Saturday morning I removed Andy's nemesis from the closet, and watched him hunch down and retreat beneath the dining room table. I left it sitting in the middle of the living room. Then I made a big production out of retrieving a chocolate chip cookie from the plastic Sam's Club container, creating as much noise as possible. I could tell that the sparks were already starting to fly within Andy's skull. What the hell's going on here?? So many emotions...

Dogs aren't supposed to eat chocolate, so I tore off just a small wedge of the cookie and laid it on the vacuum. Then I called Andy out from under the table and made him aware of his golden opportunity. He kept looking at us for reassurance, wagging and smiling, but with his torso still low to the ground. Eventually he walked up to The Killing Machine, retrieved the cookie, and sprinted out of the room. Food triumphed over fear. But it took a lot of coaching on our part.

I tried it again a few minutes later with the vacuum running, and it wasn't even a contest. No fucking way. He ran down to the bunker and commenced to vibrating. No amount of coaching could break through that kind of fright. It would be like someone trying to talk me into cleaning my own gutters. Ain't going to happen.

Isn't science interesting? I think I'm going to do it again next weekend, using sour cream 'n' onion chips and his beloved spaghetti with meat sauce. With the spaghetti he'd be required to linger for a few seconds, while he slurped it down. That would be a variation worth exploring. I'll also try to get some pictures.

One thing, though. Does anyone know if border collies have a tendency to snap under pressure, and start ripping out necks? Just curious. I sure wouldn't want to go out as a Fark link. Ya know?

June 7, 2004

-- It was rainy and cold this weekend, like October. And that's fine by me. I like a little October sprinkled into my summers. I don't believe I even left the house on Saturday, it was pleasantly uneventful. We just hung out on couches, messed around on the computer, and ate chocolate chip cookies. On Sunday we forced ourselves to break the chains of laziness and went out amongst 'em. We went to a couple of open houses, places we can't afford, checked out some Chevy Silverados, which we can't afford, and had dinner at Don Pablo's, something we probably couldn't afford under normal circumstances -- but we had a coupon.

The houses we tramped through were listed at $348,000 and $309,000. They were huge places that seemed to never end. One of them had a really cool hidden room above the garage. The realtor called it a "loft." The way you get up there is through a narrow staircase located inside a closet in the laundry room. I liked that. 

It was big and bright, with hardwood floors. The owners had it tricked out with hipster furniture that didn't match anything in the rest of the house, powerful stereo equipment, and art supplies. The idea of a secret space is appealing for some reason. But I would've gone the extra mile and had a fake shelf built in front of the closet door, something like Batman's set-up.

We were talking about those sprawling estates last night and Toney reminded me that our little shack in California would probably sell for more, at this point. And she's right. Here's one she found from our old neighborhood, same floor plan, same little cracker box. Check out the square footage, and the price. The places we looked at on Sunday were over 3000 square feet, and were like something from Architectural Digest. Crazy.

After I burn out my Blazer I'd like to get a big-ass pick-up truck. I want one with four doors and enough towing capacity to drag around a small U.S. city. I'm not sure why, but that's my current inclination. Maybe it's the passing of Ronald Reagan? I don't know. When Carter dies perhaps I'll feel the urge to buy one of those Darryl Hannah cars that run on feces and vegetable oil?

In any case, the best time to look at cars around here is on Sunday, when the lots are closed and the salesmen are being assholes somewhere else. It only took me a few minutes to find my dream vehicle, and it had a sticker price of $42,000(!). Simply hilarious. At some point the prices stop being shocking, and cross over into absurdity. Forty-two grand for a pick-up truck?! Yeah, and I'm Paul Harvey. Good day.

At Don Pablo's they gave us the corner booth again. They always seat us there, for some reason, and it's a blind spot in their operation. I'm convinced that it's not assigned to any wait person whatsoever. The hostess gives us our menus, then nobody comes. I threw a tantrum because of this a few months ago, and was very close to punching someone. Me and the manager have a "relationship" stemming from that memorable afternoon. And yesterday, when we were deep inside that blind spot once again, he and I locked eyes across the room, I gave him the international open-armed sign for what the fuck?!, and a waiter was there within seconds, acting all nervous. From that point on it was smooth sailing.

But the people behind us irritated me. (I'm a lot of fun to go places with.) They had a little kid, maybe three years old, who was practically hanging off the ceiling. He was standing in his seat, dangling upside-down in the booth with his head on the ground, trying to climb up the window, etc. And the parents were doing nothing. They were those "raise your child, not your voice" types, and were careful not to stifle his creativity by making him sit in his fucking chair like a civilized human being.

When people started giving them dirty looks the mother rolled her eyes and told her husband that it might be a good idea if they let him watch a movie. I was totally confused, but I watched her reach into a big straw bag by her side, and produce a portable DVD player. She sat it up in the middle of the table and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie started playing -- at the same volume level that Mumbles prefers. And he's as deaf as a bucket of gravel. Simply excellent.

The dad reminded me of Nostrils, bugging the living shit out of the waiter with a litany of stupid questions. I'm not sure but I think he actually asked the kid, "Yes, and what is beef? Could you describe it to me?"

They have really good food at Don Pablo's, but it seems that every time we go there I leave with my blood pressure spiking through the roof. It's a Mexican-themed aggravation factory.

On our way home we stopped and bought a twelve-pack of Yuengling, in anticipation of the Sopranos season finale. The show was good. It couldn't match the previous heart-pounding episode, but it was far from a disappointment. I won't ruin it for ya, but somebody got their head blowed off.

Then it was time for Deadwood, and my weekly scorecard of fucks. It started out slowly, but exploded with profanity during the last ten minutes. In the end, it was one of the highest concentration of fucks to date. Just for fun I counted the cocksuckers this week, and there were only seven. A weak showing, to be sure. The final scene is one of those things that will surely be burnt into my psyche until the day I die. I've never seen a television show like this in my entire life. Holy crap in a Bundt pan.

And that brings you up to date. I'll be back tomorrow.

June 4, 2004

-- My new grass-mowing strategy is to knock it out during the earliest possible part of the weekend, so that it doesn't cast a shadow over my entire days off. So far it's working out well; it feels like I'm cheating in some way, and that makes it tolerable. It also allows me to snicker and laugh at my neighbors as they're out there on Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. Mine's done, douches! I say to myself, with glee. Instead of taking the sound of a neighbor's mower as an accusation or an insult, it now allows me the opportunity to be a smug prick. It's quite satisfying. And so, I'll be out there tonight, mowing, even if I have to wear a coal miner's helmet with the light on. I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm absolutely driven to be the first one done. I wish I'd discovered it years ago, this childish and spiteful aspect of lawncare. It's changed everything.

-- Nancy and the gang are scheduled to be at the Surf Report Compound sometime in the late summer, and they've asked Toney if they can sleep in our camper, on the driveway. She says that since the translucents keep such odd hours, it might be best if they have their own space. Ha! Suddenly they're concerned about other people's feelings?! Yeah, and I'm TV's Blossom. No, they have another agenda here, and their request will be denied. Even if I didn't know in my bones that they'd tear the shit up, or burn it down, I'd have to say no. And if they hadn't already made several snotty, elitist remarks about camping, and if I weren't absolutely certain that they'd fornicate in there several times daily, I'd still have to veto the idea. Because they're up to something. I just can't figure out what it is. Why would they even be thinking about any of this, months in advance? Can somebody help me out here? I'm missing something obvious...

-- Something that's been sticking in my mind... In Myrtle Beach I saw some lanky teenaged jackass in the bath house, in full NBA uniform, gold chains, and hip-hop attitude, brushing his teeth. And he did it by squirting the toothpaste directly into his mouth, then brushing. Is that the cool way to do it now? Is it the way all white hip-hoppers kicking it on the Class A motor home tip tend to their toofas? 'Cause I don't know. I don't get the memos anymore; I'm off the hipness mailing list. I believe I got dropped the day I bookmarked

-- I received the following note from Buck yesterday, in reference to my sandals dilemma. He kinda beats around the bush, but I believe he has an opinion he wants to put forth.

What are you a fucking retard? Hell no you don't buy the sandals. Perhaps in the dark recesses of your chamber at the command of Toney you don a leather teddy...but sandals? IN PUBLIC? The fact that you are even considering such a foolish notion causes me great pain.

I know you're an avowed puss, but you're about to cross the line here pal. Next thing you know it's going to be trailmix, self-composting toilets, wife swapping with Nostrils and you'll vote for the Nader ticket.

Oh the humanity. You're a young man.... don't do it--you have much to live for.

Thank you, Buck. I think I get what you're trying to say.

-- Check this out. These people were having an oak tree removed from their yard, when something went horribly wrong and a third of their house was sliced off. Here's the story. Something like that can flat-out ruin an afternoon.

-- A promotional postcard arrived in the mail yesterday, announcing the upcoming publication of Jason Headley's novel, Small Town Odds. Jason is a native of the Appalachian motherland and is a longtime friend of the TheWVSR. He stopped washing his hair a few years ago, and now has a frickin' novel coming out through frickin' Chronicle Books. It never stops with this guy. You may remember that Mr. Headley allowed me to read an early draft of his book, and it's really, really good. And, as much as I wish it were otherwise, I'm not just blowing smoke. It's in Richard Russo's league, and Russo's a genius. So, when the book comes out I'm afraid I'm going to have to make it required reading for all Surf Reporters. I know this is highly unorthodox, but necessary. We have to do our part to make Jason Headley rich and famous. I feel strongly about this. He may be the only one of us to get out. And this would be strictly secondary, of course, but once the movies and True Hollywood Stories kick in, I might also be able to sell my early draft of his first novel on eBay, and become rich myself. But that's strictly secondary. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Jason. Despite my white-hot jealousy and all-consuming bitterness, I hoist a Yuengling in your honor.

-- And now I'll turn it over to Miss Randi, who just returned from Myrtle Beach herself. Nothing about hip-hop oral hygiene, but I think you'll enjoy it anyway.

Have a great weekend. See ya Monday.

June 3, 2004

-- There was a big color insert ad in the Saturday paper last weekend for a new furniture store opening in Wilkes-Barre. The vibrant photos showed whole rooms of furniture for impossibly low "grand opening" prices. And the stuff didn't look too bad -- at least in the pictures. We made a note to check the place out if we were ever in the neighborhood.

Later that day I called an RV dealership in Dallas, PA, to see if they had a metal vent cover for the hot water tank door on our camper, and they did. Ours apparently flew off while driving back from Myrtle Beach (I wondered why that church bus behind us suddenly veered left and crashed through a guardrail!) and now there's a big opening in the side of the thing. They had two on their shelves, which blew my mind. So, we decided to drive out there and pick one up. It was only six bucks. I figured we'd have to order it from a website and it would cost as much as the trailer itself.

And since we had to drive through Wilkes-Barre to get to Dallas, I suggested we stop at the new furniture store and have a look around. I'm simply bubbling over with bright ideas...

It was in an old abandoned Service Merchandise store, and they'd just hung a canvas banner over the previous tenant's sign. This threw up the first red flag in my mind, and we should've just left then; when your entire business presence can be folded and placed into the trunk of a Chrysler LeBaron, it doesn't exactly inspire confidence. But the memory of the big color photos haunted me, and pulled me onward. We went inside and everything was confirmed.

The store was still a Service Merchandise, with all the inventory and fixtures removed. These people were just squatters, here to unload some shit before they moved on to the next city, one step ahead of the law. That was the report that came back from Common Sense Central Command, anyway. In the middle of the floor was fifteen or twenty cheap-ass living room suites, with lots of brass and animal prints and couches so low you'd have to free-fall into them. And after a few free-falls it would be nothing more than a pile of kindling and bad fabric. It was the kind of crap people try to sell out of the back of U-Haul trailers, in abandoned lots beside Exxon stations.

We did a quick lap around the impressive selection, and made the mistake of pausing in front of the least hideous couch (located in the jewelry department). Within seconds a pot-bellied Jethro lookalike was all over us, like dingoes on a Cub Scout. He was talking a mile a minute, clearly excited and considering us a golden opportunity. They have a no-hassle layaway plan, he shouted, that's famous all up and down the eastern seaboard. Yeah, in police precincts, I mumbled to myself.

It took some effort but we finally shook off Jethro, and we thought we were in the clear. But we were sadly mistaken. The baton had only been passed to Garrett Morris, a more-skilled deal closer. I saw Jethro talking to him, over in sporting goods, and Garrett shook his head and made a bee-line for us.

And this is when I started to get scared. I seriously didn't think they were going to allow us to leave. As Garrett chattered on with his pre-programmed spiel I was making sure we were situated in a spot where the path to the front door was clear. Just in case I had to throw a punch, and make a run for it. I also kept looking over my shoulder, so nobody could sneak up behind us. I was afraid they might ambush us, tie us up, drag us behind the stack of mattresses in electronics, and make us sign a contract to buy a purple sofa with palm trees on it, and a built-in snack pantry.

We weren't very nice to Mr. Morris, and finally told him that we weren't buying anything from him, not one damn thing. This was after about five minutes of non-stop talking that would've been a marvel to witness, under different circumstances. The man apparently doesn't need to breathe, like normal humans. It was quite amazing, really. And he was pushy as a mofo. I believe in-your-face is the term commonly used to describe his style.

After putting our collective foot down, and beginning our move for the exit, Garrett launched into a frantic series of complicated hand signals, and within seconds Billy Bob Thornton was before us. Smiling and stinking of aftershave and cigarettes.

Mr. Big.

"So, do you folks have a truck, or would you like for us to deliver your new sofa and loveseat?" This was his opening line. We busted out in nervous laughter, and pushed past him. Holy shit. My heart was racing as we finally made it through the doors.

And I was surprised to see my Blazer sitting off by itself in the parking lot. I fully expected to see a man there, loading a set of end tables into the back, with a clipboard under his arm.

The guy at the RV place acted as if he couldn't give two shits whether I bought the vent cover or not. Or whether I was satisfied or happy when I did. He didn't care: your typical northeastern Pennsylvania store clerk. Come in, don't come in, I don't give a crap. Fuck you, and have a nice day. Generally this irritates me, but on Saturday I wanted to shake the man's hand and congratulate him on his accomplishments.

He's a great American.

June 2, 2004

-- I was eating a salad at work yesterday when I chomped down on a length of celery, and something didn't feel quite right. It jammed between two teeth and hurt more than I felt it had a right to. Odd, I thought, but kept on chuggin'. Later, the left side of my mouth began aching dully and things felt a tad off. It was kinda puffy in there. By mid-afternoon it hurt enough that I wanted some relief. I went to a convenience store and asked the guy if he had any aspirin, and he pointed at a box of Excedrin in little foil packets. Two for 99 cents? Holy shit, man. Aren't those supposed to be a quarter, or something? What kind of racket are you people running here??

But what choice did I have? I bought the pills and took them when I got back to my desk, washing 'em down with a Mountain Dew Severe. Within a half-hour I felt weird as a motherfucker. I think I was having an out-of-body experience, and was all jittery and completely useless. And, as far as I could tell, it didn't do anything for the pain in my head. The low-grade throb remained, dominating my attention. I was just floating around my office, doing nothing; no emails were tended to from that point on, and all phone calls went to voice mail. Excedrin can kiss my ass. What's in those things, heroin??

While all this was happening, I was also experiencing considerable discomfort because of a strange need for a bathroom sit-down. In the afternoon! Simply unheard of. Since I will not allow such things to happen at work, under any circumstances, it wasn't exactly a good time yesterday afternoon at the office.

When six o'clock mercifully arrived I high-tailed it out of there, and headed home to a big bottle of good old fashioned Bayer aspirin. I popped two as soon as I walked through the door, and finished greeting a smiling and wagging border collie. Then I took a much-anticipated seat in the small room, and emerged a few minutes later walking on air.

Toney was out so I was on my own for dinner. I nuked a couple of hotdogs and heated up some baked beans. I turned on the news, and settled down for my piping-hot white trash meal. And when I took my first bite of the West Virginia-style hotdog (with coleslaw), and crushed down on the two teeth that had been assaulted by celery, it felt like my head exploded off my shoulders. It was just a blinding pain, as severe as it was unexpected. Holy shit. I went all wobbly in the knees, and sat my dinner aside, finished for the evening with solid foods.

Later, I watched Hitchcock's North by Northwest (beneath a fluffy Scrote-watching blanket) on Turner Classic Movies, and the lightning storm inside my skull subsided a bit. By the time I went to bed things were almost back to normal. This morning it still doesn't feel quite right, but nothing like yesterday. I think the microscopic repair team is busy inside my mouth fixing things up as fast as they can, but they're undoubtedly unionized and it'll probably take a while. I'm hoping to be back to produce-chomping shape by mid-afternoon.

But I won't be rushing things, that's for certain. I think I could go for the rest of my life without experiencing that hotdog-triggered scene from Scanners again, thank you very much. Jesus J. McChrist.

Today's gotta be better, right?


-- I saw a couple of things in magazines recently that made me laugh. First, in Stuff, they have a monthly feature of six or eight photos showing various people sitting down. And you're supposed to guess whether they're Lazy or Paralyzed. Cold cold shit, but pleasingly so. And in Weekly World News I read an article, while waiting in line at Wal-Mart, about a new crime phenomenon that's reportedly rearing its ugly head in major US cities. Apparently thugs are laying out a trail of donuts on sidewalks and leading fat people down dark alleys, where they're promptly robbed. The policeman quoted in the article said that it's becoming a big problem, and referred to it as DTM's (donut trail muggings). Is that not genius? It warms my heart, it really does.

-- Speaking of Wal-Mart, we were there over the weekend and I remembered I needed a couple of t-shirts. I was checking out their wide selection of sweatshop wear, trying to find something with no pocket on the front (what's that for anyway, to carry a sandwich?) and no funky variations (it's not easy to find just a regular goddamn t-shirt), and finally located a big bin of acceptable Fruit of the Looms for $3.88 each(!). And the first shirt I pulled from the stack had a big hunk of thoroughly-chewed gum stuck to the neck. Wonder if that came all the way from Malaysia, or if it was added locally? I'd be interested in knowing. I should've had it sent to a lab.

-- Thanks to everyone who has helped with my sandals dilemma. With over half the precincts reporting, it looks like I might be compelled to buy myself a pair. I'm a little surprised, if you want the truth. I figured it would go in the exact opposite direction. Shows how plugged-in I am... Voting is still open, but unless something dramatic happens it looks like the only thing left to do will be to decide which brand and style to buy. And which socks will best compliment my new footwear. I'm thinking brown dress socks would be best, right? Earth tones go with sandals, I believe.

And that'll do it for today, boys and girls. Have a good one. See you tomorrow.

June 1, 2004

-- We had a nice long weekend, despite the fact that Monday was a complete washout and temperatures plunged to November levels. Last night while watching Scrote I had to dig out my Scrote-watching blanket from the closet, where I assumed it had been stored away for the season. But it was (and is) forkin' cold. A few days ago we were using the air conditioners, and last night I seriously considered firing up the furnace again. It's the day after tomorrow!

But Sunday was absolute perfection. Sunny, warm (but not too warm), no wind... We did some serious deck-sittin', after working in the yard all afternoon. We raked and cleaned up the flower beds and trimmed the bushes, and it was actually kind of enjoyable. The place looks really nice now, and it felt good knowing we were responsible. It's not a feeling I'm particularly accustomed to.

Our friends Steve and Myra came by in the late afternoon, and we hung out on the deck over adult beverages. Toney dragged out the blender and started whipping up margaritas, and Steve and I enjoyed a few Yuengling Lagers from heavy pub glasses. He brought along a package of hundreds of pictures his mother sent him, from when we were kids. Steve and I grew up about seventy-five yards from each other in West Virginia and now live seventy-five miles apart in Dog Ass County, Pennsylvania. And his mother kept everything.

The whole gang was in that envelope, including a few Surf Report regulars. Bill from West Virginia, Rocky from the Insane Asylum, The Angry White Guy... all in elementary school photos, wearing knitted vests.

The Brady Bunch fashions made the early photos funny, but it was the hair that did the trick later. There's a photo of me, from the Junior High years, that was simply breathtaking. How did my mother allow me to leave the house looking like that?! Incredible. Did she hate me?? I had sort of a white boy's afro, but it was cut and shaped to resemble a mullet. It looked like my hair had been sculpted, like the shrubbery at Disneyland -- into an approximation of a goddamn mullet! I couldn't manage a real mullet, I guess, so I had them carve me one. Oh, the humanity! The curtain of humiliation that hung down in the back was both long and wide, and I have no doubt a shotgun blast couldn't have penetrated it. Maybe my parents appreciated the safety and protection my hairstyle afforded? Yeah, I'm sure that's it...

There's also a photo of me at high school graduation, with my cap six inches above my head, atop the hair pile. They'd made a big deal about us not chewing gum during the ceremony and in the picture I'm blowing a big bubble. I was a rebel, I tell ya.

It was good fun. We made a pile of all the classmates who are now dead, and by the end it was a fairly formidable stack. A lot of those little vest-wearin' kids went on to lead hard-ass lives, and paid a steep price for it. We had to make a decision whether or not to include the ones who are still technically alive, but are burnt to the point that their brains are like the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. In the end we decided to include them, since it was more dramatic.

It was an enjoyable evening, confirmed by the low-watt hangover I nursed all day on Monday. Thank god it was rainy and shitty out; I didn't want to get off the couch.

-- Toney spoke to her mother yesterday, and picked up yet another classic Nancy & Nostrils story. This one just blows my mind...

Sunshine was at Nancy's house over the weekend when some guy knocked on their door. He was in his late teens or early twenties. Nostrils seemed to know him and followed him to his car. She saw them out there talking with the trunk lid open, then Nostrildamus returned to the house carrying a big box of wine bottles. All were open and contained varying amounts of wine. What in the hell?

To her credit, Sunshine began the interrogation process immediately. Nancy said that a few weeks earlier they were dining at a local bistro (Nancy's word) and Nostrils noticed that people were ordering whole bottles of wine, but sometimes weren't finishing them. A seven-dollar eco-friendly light bulb lit above his head. And he somehow managed to cut a deal with one of the busboys, to collect all the leftover wine and sell it to him for twenty bucks a box. This guy apparently shows up at their door once a week or so, with another box of backwash, and Nostrils buys it off of him!

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Used wine?? I swear on a stack of virgin Buzzcocks vinyl that it's true. Holy crap. They're taking the concept of recycling to the next level. And you know it's only a matter of time before the scheme escalates to entrees. He'll be purchasing half-eaten steaks and picked-over seafood by the end of June. Mark my words. Of course these transactions will have to take place in a secret location, since Nancy doesn't allow "corpse" in her house, but it'll happen -- if it hasn't already. Nostrils is a closet carnivore of the highest order; he'd eat his way through a wall of meat, if Nancy wasn't around.


-- Finally, I need your help with something. Toney's been trying to convince me to purchase a pair of sandals. The first time she mentioned this I only grunted in amusement, but she's starting to wear me down. What she has in mind isn't Birkenstocks, or some shit you might see at a Phish concert. It's more like this. I don't know. They'd be handy while camping, but I have serious reservations. I mean, sandals! Just the word makes me cringe. I fear that the moment I slipped them on I'd be compelled to pick up an acoustic guitar and begin singing "Men Have Feelings Too." So, I'll leave it up to your good judgment. Whatever you folks say is what I'll do. Thank you in advance for your participation in this potentially life-altering decision. Please vote here.

And I'll see ya tomorrow.

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The West Virginia Surf Report!
Copyright 2004 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.