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









A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.



Do I smell wiener?



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



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     Deal of the Day


   The State of My Fat Ass                                        June 2005

June 30, 2005

-- Several weeks ago, back at the beginning of May I believe, I mailed my friend Brad a CD. It was the Rhino Records Paul Westerberg anthology, Besterberg, which I was able to procure through my vast network of liars and backstabbers. And the thing never arrived. It never got to Brad, and it wasn't returned to me either; it simply disappeared. I handed it to a mail clerk in Olyphant, PA, paid him the required postage, and would've gotten roughly the same results if I'd tossed the thing into a dumpster behind Denny's.

As surprising as it may seem, I've never had this happen to me before. And I've used the postal service in my life. Beginning with my geekish teenage baseball card mania back in the day, all the way through today's half dotcom/eBay sickness... I'm constantly receiving packages in the mail. And I've never had a single problem.

Of course I've heard all the stock jokes about the poor service the post office provides, about how they use the packages marked fragile to throw up underneath the wheels of their trucks when they're stuck in mud, or whatever. But I always considered it a myth perpetrated by people dealing in stale humor. Still do, in fact. I think it's one of those things that people believe, because it seems that everyone else believes it.

I'd sure like to know what happened to that Westerberg CD, though. Wonder where it is, right this minute? Was it delivered to the wrong address, and the person just kept it? Is some selfish shitbag walking around humming "Dyslexic Heart" today, because of his selfish shitbaggery? Did it get shredded by a big sorting machine somewhere, and will eventually show up in Brad's PO Box, a pile of mutilated plastic and paper inside a sack? It's something that will nag at me forever, I fear. I need closure!

But I'll give 'em a pass this time, based on the decades of satisfactory service I've received. I'm not yet prepared to launch into any high-grade bitching about it. I mean, I work in the distribution game myself, and know better than most how things can sometimes get fucked-up. (Sorry to use such an insider term... it's just something we say, in the industry, describing a situation when unforeseen problems occur.) So I'll just chalk it up as an aberration, and try to move on.

Before I do, though... I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you about a strange event, from a previous life, when I received a message from God (or whatever) via the US Postal Service. Hey, I'm not kidding...

When I was but an ugly youngster, back in the Dunbar days, I became obsessed with the National Lampoon, and that sort of thing. I daydreamed about someday writing for the magazine, and maybe even working on some cool-ass movie like Animal House. At some point I made the grand decision that I was going to be a comedy writer. That was what I was gonna do with my life. Next question?

I even told somebody this during a job interview once, and he busted out laughing. Right to my face. Not exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted to make people laugh.

But I started writing jokes and stuff anyway (I'd show that prick!), and sending them off to Johnny Carson and David Letterman, and to the Lampoon itself. Apparently I thought the concept of starting at the bottom and working your way up was for suckers. I even sent a large packet of fat jokes to Phyllis Diller, which I just knew she'd love. One I can still remember: She was so fat, when she changed clothes she had to pull the blinds down in three rooms! 

No reply.

A big-shot at the National Lampoon, named Matty Simmons, did send a hand-written note once, encouraging me to keep at it. I thought that was pretty cool, and hung it over my desk in my room. But I never sold anything, and after a year or so began feeling a bit discouraged. I started wondering if I should maybe just enroll in an air conditioning/refrigeration school, and say the hell with it? Maybe it was finally time to grow up?

Thankfully, it never came to that.

During this period I was also obsessed with underground music, and punk and new wave, and whatever else you might call it. The local shops weren't quite cool enough for me, and I'd sometimes go on record-buying road trips to Columbus. Ohio State was/is there, and they had some freakin' great record stores. So I'd save up my money, and hit the road. God, it was like a trip to Disneyland for me. I'd return home with stacks of the coolest shit you could ever imagine.

I was telling a guy at a record store in Charleston about one of my planned music-procurement expeditions (leaving out the part about the local shops being kind of lame), and he asked if I could pick him up a copy of something called The Offense newsletter while I was there. The hell? Never heard of it. But I told him I would, acting as if I were hip to his request.

The Offense turned out to be something I later learned was called a "zine," and was dedicated to the bands who recorded for the British record label 4AD. It was literally ten or twelve Xeroxed pages, typed on some dirty old typewriter and stapled down the left side. What the heck? I bought two copies and took them home. I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.

And I quickly realized that it was written and edited... by just some guy. He was no professional journalist or anything, he was just somebody who was full of passion and energy about the subject. It was like a swift kick to the luggage. Never had it crossed my mind that something like this was possible. Do It Yourself? It was as if the sky opened up and a big lightning bolt blasted me awake. I was fired up, and would do it too. I'd start my own humor magazine, goddammit, and people in Columbus would drive down here to buy it!

Then, predictably, I started losing my nerve and it all began to fade. I mean, what did I know about publishing a magazine? I was just some shit-kicker in Dunbar, WV, after all. I'd surely make a fool of myself. Self-doubt started to eclipse the enthusiasm I'd felt earlier, and I put the project on the back-burner. Meaning, of course, that my inner-pussy was winning, and this so-called humor magazine would never see the light of day.

And then God (or whatever) sent me a sign, through the United States Postal Service. A copy of Rolling Stone arrived in the mail, and there was a big article in it about the "new underground press." It was all about the growing popularity of zines, and how people all over the world were just doing it themselves. I couldn't believe it. I read the article over and over, the fever gaining steam again. And I eventually launched my own zine, which I dubbed The West Virginia Surf Report.

The weird part? The issue of Rolling Stone that arrived that day was inexplicably seven or eight months old. I'd already received it once, back when it came out, but hadn't noticed or absorbed the article the first time around. Then it showed up again, for reasons I cannot explain. Spooky, huh?

That was in the mid-80s, and I'm still messing around with this stuff. The zine eventually morphed into this website, of course, and it's all kept me from going insane. There was a period during the Atlanta years when I gave it all up and, I'm not joking, I almost lost my goddamn mind. Apparently I've got to have some kind of creative outlet (hope) to get me through the day, and this crapola somehow does the trick. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, TheWVSR is but a tiny fleck of fly shit on the dashboard of life. But it's been mighty important to me.

So, that's my mail story. I'll turn it over to Metten now, and wish you folks a fine, fine Thursday.

See ya tomorrow.

June 29, 2005

-- It looks like the t-shirts will be done late next week. They'll be dark blue (I don't like the term navy blue for some reason... it's feels like old lady talk) with white lettering. Reading between the lines of yesterday's email from my supplier, though, makes me believe it might actually be the following week before they're in my trembling sausage fingers. But that's fine. I told her from the beginning that she could just work us in whenever she finds the time. I vowed that I wasn't going to be a pushy bastard about it, and I've really tried not to be. Stressing unnecessarily over stuff like that has already snipped weeks and weeks off the back-end of my life, and I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I was kind of a pain in the ass about the artwork, but we're past all that now and everything has finally been approved. So, barring any natural disasters or people being run over by trucks or whatnot, we should be back in the Surf Report t-shirt business very soon. And I ordered three times the number I did the first time 'round (in four different sizes!), so you folks better buy 'em or I could very easily end up in divorce court. Stay tuned.

-- We're leaving for Cooperstown on Saturday morning, and won't be returning until Tuesday. (So, no updates next week until Wednesday.) The weather, as improbable as it may seem, is supposed to be perfect. This has been one hell of a summer already, with high temperatures and Brazil-like humidity, but the professional guessers, I mean meteorologists, say we're gonna get a break -- exactly on the days we'll be camping. How often does that happen? Almost never, right? But they say the high temperature on Saturday and Sunday will only be about 74 in Cooperstown. Ya gotta love it. I don't want to set myself up for disappointment again, but I have a good feeling about this trip. I believe we're going to have a good time. The Secrets are going to get a crash-course in baseball history, and I'm going to walk around acting like Nostrils Doubleday. At this point I don't believe my kids could even pick Joe DiMaggio out of a lineup, and that makes me sad. The older one even told me once that baseball is boring(!?). And that cut me. Deep. But it's all about to change, starting this weekend with our first family pilgrimage to the holy land.

-- Isn't it great that I'm no longer ranting every day about the Neti Pot video, and yet another $600 bill received from Earthlink? I simply couldn't be happier with our new "hosting partner." They've been nearly flawless so far. I don't even think about it anymore, and that's the way it's supposed to be. Y'know? A person shouldn't be walking around all the time obsessing about their webhost. If they are, something is wrong -- either with the service, or the person. But now it's not even a concern. I'm free! So, a tip of my tiny Duke cap to my friends at Hostito, and also to Jason Headley for suggesting them to me. Entire clusters of days now go by without me wanting to gut-punch a stranger. And that, my friends, is progress.

-- Somebody sent this to me yesterday and it made me laugh. So I thought I'd share. It's funny, because it's true.

-- I promised to tell you about my close-call on Friday, when my two-decades long (and counting!) streak of never crapping at work almost came to an end. But I now realize that there's not much to tell, really. It was just a case of my tried-and-true suppression techniques suddenly not working, and me white-knuckling it at my desk all afternoon. Usually it's not a problem. I've become a master of my own intestines; I rule them, they don't rule me. But on Friday I had a revolt on my hands, and it took a little extra effort to keep things under control. Yeah, not much work got done, and I sat at my desk staring straight ahead, wiping sweat off my forehead and experiencing mild hallucinations. But I made it. I mean, that goes without saying, right? And that's all there is to it. Sure, I nearly ripped the screen door off its hinges when I got home, trying to get inside. And it turned out to be a twi-night doubleheader... But the streak is alive!

-- And finally, I need your help with something. Toney and I were talking, on our drive back from Philadelphia on Sunday, about things that people do only on television, never in real life. We didn't devote much brain power to it (we're easily distracted), and only came up with two: renewing marriage vows and hanging spoons off noses. Both happen all the time on TV, but I don't know anyone in real life who has ever actually done either. In fact, that spoon thing has always confused me. What is that all about?? And how is it done? I'm sure you folks can come up with lots more, so help me out here.

-- Now I'm gonna turn it over to our good friend Buck, who's already getting ready for the holiday, and wish y'all a great Wednesday.

See ya tomorrow.

June 28, 2005

-- So, somebody said we should go to the pool, and I began the process of peeling myself off the patio chair, attempting to free my vulcanized ass and upper thighs from the heated vinyl, without bringing too much attention upon myself. I prayed that when I stood up there wouldn't be two big sweat circles on the back of my shorts, or even worse: a big wet crack-stain straight down Broadway.

But somehow everything was OK, and we all hopped in a gold SUV. I don't mean it was gold in color, I'm fairly certain it was actually constructed of gold. I thought this pool was right next door? Huh. Apparently I'd misunderstood. Or, more likely, hadn't really bothered to listen that closely.

Once we were all safely inside, we rolled down the driveway, then a hundred yards or so down the street, and parked. (I'm not even sure she put it into drive.) "We're here!" Toney's cousin announced. And man, was it great to get out of that car and stretch my legs!

The people who own the pool were in Florida, and had reportedly offered it up for use during the big "graduation" celebration. He's a lawyer, we were told, and they had quite the set-up. It looked like a martini bar out there. There's a big kidney-shaped pool surrounded by lots of fancy-pants patio furniture, a full bar, etc. Very nice indeed. The Secrets immediately jumped into the pool, and Toney and I free-fell into chairs, beneath one of the huge umbrellas. Ahhh... sweet shade. It probably drove the temperature down to a brisk 92 or 93.

The "graduate" was already there with a hooligan buddy, and also his younger sister and a friend. The boys each had one of those fifty-pound Super Soaker water cannons, or whatever, and were squirting the girls repeatedly, and squarely in the face when possible. The girls were squealing that high-pitched ten year old girl squeal that makes you feel like a screwdriver is being driven right through your temple. The two boys were in full show-off mode and were running around and putting on a big performance for everyone. I wondered if I could casually stick my foot out and trip one of them, without being too obvious about it.

And that's what we did for the next couple of hours. Somebody offered me a Mike's Hard Lemonade, whatever in god's name that is, and I declined. I'm not a big fan of the novelty malt beverage, plus alcohol combined with the heat... I'd be asleep within minutes. So I sat there and watched six kids swim, and drank bottled water. Paaarty!

Eventually other people started showing up, including a family with two sulky teenage girls. One sat down in the chaise lounge beside me, promptly kicked off her shoes, and pulled an iPod out of her purse and plugged in the earbuds. She didn't say a word to anyone, and was acting put-out and simply exasperated by it all. She was wearing jeans and socks in that heat(!?), and maintained a don't-fuck-with-me expression the whole time. I don't mind admitting that I was a little scared of her.

The other girl jumped into the pool and was promptly squirted with high pressure water right in the face, and spent the next fifteen minutes cursing under her breath and trying to adjust her contacts.

And as the crowd grew, so did the "performance." The two boys with the big water guns were in a frenzy, blasting everyone and pissing a lot of people off. At one point The Graduate actually shot his elderly grandmother full in the face, and sent her sunglasses flying. Her head flew back like the Zapruder film, and I simply couldn't believe my eyes. His parents started yelling at him, but they might as well have been talking to the container of Helluva Good dip on the patio table.

He also shot his dad in the face, causing him to lose his contact lens. Man, that kid was ripe for an ass-kicking, but he was getting away with it. Over and over again. Dad was angry, but nothing like I would've been. God, I probably would've seen a white flash, and woke up a couple of hours later in a jail cell wondering what I'd done.

Finally everybody was asked to return to the house for dinner. The two performers just dropped their cannons and left, without helping to clean up. And the rest of the attendees walked around picking up empty water bottles and pool toys and whatnot, many holding a hand over one sore eye. I asked Toney if it was possible to retrieve the $25 we'd put inside that Congratulations card.

The rest of the afternoon was spent silently baking in the sun, and taking it all in. It was like My Big Fat Italian Wedding. Everybody was talking at the same time, waving their hands around and getting all worked up about stuff. It was great. I thought this kind of thing only happened in movies, yet here I was sitting right in the middle of it. Just wild sustained ethnic chaos, with hotdogs and cole slaw.

Of course I secretly assigned a lot of nicknames. That's one of my things: secret nicknames. Frankie Valli was there, Big Pussy, Janice from Friends... And the star of Welcome to the Dollhouse, as well as a girl who reminded me of Dora the Explorer. Every time she walked past I whispered to Toney, "Backpack backpack, backpack backpack..." Yeah, a man needs a hobby.

And the conversations! All were extra-loud and overlapping. By simply adjusting my ears and eyes, it felt like I was channel-surfing. "Never go to Disney in summer! Only go in October... Well, maybe priests could just stop molesting children? Wonder if anyone has thought of that solution??... Oh god, French people are so rude, and what's the deal with Orientals and their cameras? Always with the cameras!... I never much cared for the Showboat Casino, it just doesn't smell right in there. Know what I mean?..." On and on it went. Highly entertaining.

At one point an older gentleman with a piece of corn stuck to his face started screaming, "I've always liked Larry Bowa! You're the one who doesn't like Larry Bowa! Don't even talk to me about Larry Bowa!!" I mean SCREAMING. And the other guy hollered, "What are talking about?? I got no problem with Larry Bowa! Why you think I don't like Larry Bowa?? Why are you always going around accusing people of not liking Larry Bowa??" Finally the first guy got so worked up the piece of corn launched off his cheek and landed on the concrete beside a woman's open-toed shoe.

And that's pretty much our Sunday. It was way too hot, and a little too long, but not bad. A fairly average family gathering, I'd say. Just different from what I'm used to. God knows I could make just as many "observations" about a Kay family picnic. It just wouldn't be anywhere near as loud or animated. And there would be a lot less talk about Atlantic City, and more about... oh, I don't know... carburetors? 

So anyway, you're up to date on that deal.

Here's something new (and good, of course) from Metten, and I'll get back to the normal stuff tomorrow.

See ya then.

June 27, 2005

-- I feel like I've been beaten down. We went to Toney's cousin's house yesterday, in Philadelphia, and ended up spending hours and hours sitting around on various patios in the blazing heat. At one point I think my core temperature became so elevated that the top of my head was ready to split and open up like a clam. This morning I'm completely drained and actually hurt, as if I dug drainage ditches all weekend.

Of course I was dreading this cookout celebration, in honor of some kid "graduating" to high school. The hell? Who celebrates that?? Not from high school, but to it. I'd never heard of such ridiculousness. But whatever. Last time they invited us to their house we made up some half-baked excuse, and I think we offended them. So, we had to go.

Well, "had to go" is probably a little unfair. I don't have a problem with them, and that's the truth. As far as Toney's family is concerned, these folks are pretty normal. Then again... the Osbournes are pretty normal compared to the rest of Toney's family. But my deep, deep dread was nothing personal. I just don't much enjoy social events where everyone's a stranger. And apparently this was going to be quite the shindig, with a whole load of family and friends in attendance. Every time I thought about it my stomach sank.

Toney and I had an extended conversation about what kind of gift to give this kid, on his so-called special day. And it didn't go the way you might think. She was the one who wanted to just hand him a card, and I thought we should do more. See, you thought it would be the other way around, didn't you? One of the major struggles throughout my adult life has been trying to learn how to act like an adult, on the rare occasions when such a thing is called-for. And it's been an uphill battle, believe me. Many are the times when I've made serious errors in judgment, and spent the next week or so slugging myself in the genitalia over it. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) Socially inept, I believe, is not too harsh a description.

So I took $25 out of my own pocket, and stuck it in the card. I wouldn't know this kid if he walked up to our front door, but my instincts were telling me it was the right thing to do. And, Sweet Jesus, am I glad we did it.

Toney's cousin told us to get there around one, and for the kids to bring their swimming trunks. One of their neighbors, she said, was out of town, and offered up the use of their pool for the graduating-eighth-grade extravaganza. (Seriously, wtf??) We arrived at 1:30 and were the first people there. The temperature was roughly the same in Philly yesterday as it was on the surface of Venus, and we were led straight through the big, cool house, out the back door, and onto their new fancy-pants patio. It was nice, to be sure, but, shit. Every pore on my body had swung wide open, just during the short walk from the car, and was now pumping copious amounts of fluids. And that's a whole lot of pores.

After forty-five minutes or so of stewing in my own natural juices, somebody suggested we go to the pool. Nobody else had arrived at this point, and I started to get a little confused. I had it pictured as a bunch of rich bastards walking around in their pressed shorts with belts, talking about summering at the Cape, or whatever, and eating sophisticated finger foods. I'd been stressing about it all week, and thought banjoes would surely start playing when we walked in. But we were the only people there, and were swigging Cokes straight out of the can in the blazing heat. It was nothing like my nightmares had suggested.

So far, anyway. But that was before Frankie Valli arrived, and Dora the Explorer, and Welcome to the Dollhouse, and Chandler's girlfriend Janice...

And I hate to do this, but I'll have to tell you about all that tomorrow. I couldn't get my sun-dried ass out of bed this morning, and am all out of time here. 

Sorry for the lameness, but it's the best I could manage under the circumstances. 

Oh, and I also need to tell you about my close-call on Friday, when I was white-knuckling it all afternoon, and my twenty-plus year streak of never crapping at work very nearly came to an end.  But it'll all have to wait...

See ya tomorrow.

June 24, 2005

-- Toney jumped ship on 24 after the third episode. She said it was too violent and disturbing, and that I was on my own with it. In fact, following the episode in which Bauer's daughter and friend attempt to get away from their kidnappers, and the friend is run over by a car and left for dead in the middle of the street (bleeding from the eyes or whatever), my wife said she wasn't even able to go straight to bed for fear of bad dreams. She went upstairs instead and watched HGTV, hoping that an hour of "gay men painting a room" might take the edge off.

I was kind of surprised by this. It was a really exciting show, I thought, and wanted to do a cannonball into the next one right away. I hadn't even considered the disturbing aspect of it; it had never even crossed my mind. I guess it's safe to say that it didn't disturb me? Thinking back, I can now see that it was pretty brutal. But, during the show itself? Gimme more, goddammit! Gimme more!!

The next day we had a conversation about what scares us, and I've been trying to unlock that mystery ever since. Obviously it differs from person to person.

Of course, I've been scared plenty in my life. I mean, keep in mind who you're dealing with here... Usually, though, it was because I felt like I, or someone I cared about, was in danger. Like when I was working at a grocery store and three guys in ski masks came in with guns, and made all the cashiers lie face-down on the floor. That scared me. And similarly, when some drunken shitsack came into the convenience store where I was working, and began waving a handgun around. Pretty damn scary. I wrote about that here, if you're interested.

And I was really scared when my mother had brain surgery, and there were complications afterward. Yeah, I didn't care for that one bit. And when we were camping as kids and a tornado, or some such thing, rolled through... I just knew we were all going to die. It was early afternoon and dark as midnight outside. Everything was calm and quiet but you could sense something terrible and strong brewing out over the ocean. They practically had to put me in a straitjacket that day.

And when I was in third grade my cousin and I begged my parents to let us sleep in our camper, which was parked in the backyard on a concrete slab. We thought it would be an adventure, and they finally agreed to it. My dad ran an extension cord across the back lawn, and got us all set up. Everything was fine until it got late, and we knew that my parents were probably asleep. That's when we started hearing things, and was sure somebody was walking around outside.

We finally turned on a radio to take our minds off it. We knew we were probably just freaking ourselves out, and running scared was simply out of the question -- my Dad would never let us hear the end of it. So we started searching for a good channel, spinning the dial back and forth, and there were all kinds of bizarre sounds coming out of that thing. Stations were broadcasting over top of each other... Strange voices were fading in and out... There was an eerie whistling noise... It was sorta like the Yankee Pot Roast Foxtrot (or whatever) clip that I linked to a couple of weeks ago. Really spooky.

And it didn't take long for the camper door to burst open, and for both of us to tear ass across that backyard like the hounds of hell were bearing down. We were completely terrified. We ended up spending the night in sleeping bags in the living room, safe in front of the TV with a big bowl of Cheese Doodles between us. My Dad didn't even mock us!

But these aren't really the kinds of things Toney and I were talking about. I was wondering more about TV shows and movies and whatnot, designed to scare. Which ones work, and which ones don't? And why?

Monsters never did it for me. Oh, they can be entertaining, to be sure, but I never really found them too frightening. Even as a kid. I mean, what are the chances of actually running across, in the normal course of events, a man constructed entirely of flesh scraps, or a person who looks like Michael Landon by day and a Welsh Terrier by night? I'm no mathematician, but I'd say the odds are fairly low.

And gore doesn't do it either. I can watch a zombie gnaw on a still-beating heart 'til the cows come home, or an escaped mental patient dig through a person's intestines like he's looking for his car keys, all day long. This is where Toney gets off the boat, but it doesn't bother me for some reason. In fact, I often find it to be hilarious.

The original Dawn of the Dead, I believe, is one of the funniest movies ever made. It just cracks me up. I took a girlfriend to see it once, and she practically had a nervous breakdown right there in the theater, as I sat wiping away the tears of laughter.

But turn on Rosemary's Baby, and I'm checking the door locks and doing sphincter-flexes. Creepy stuff like that, and The Omen, give me the heebie-jeebies. When things look normal but are, in reality, incredibly fucked-up… Yeah, that's when the laughter stops.

There's a scene in a David Lynch movie where Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern are driving down a country road, and come upon a car wreck that just happened. There's a woman walking around in the dark, and you think she's OK. But then she starts talking nonsense, and it becomes clear that she's all messed up inside and probably dying. Those are the kinds of things that get to me.

I'll leave you now with three designed to scare moments that jumped immediately to mind when I started thinking about all this. These are the ones that REALLY worked on me, and you can make of them what you will. All three nearly caused my brain to crack in half.

-- Go ahead and start laughing now, but when I was in grade school I saw a really disturbing episode of Mannix, in which he'd been given some kind of hallucinogenic drug. There were long bizarre scenes where he stumbled around inside a mansion with all brands of insanity going on around him. Bugs, snakes, people milling about with huge gaping sores… That would've been enough for me, but then he found The Picture. It was a photo of Mannix himself, and his eyes were closed as if he were lying in a coffin. He stood studying this picture of himself – when suddenly the eyes popped opened! I just about power-shit straight through my flannel Hot Wheels pajamas, and had nightmares about it for days afterward. My parents were forced to institute a Mannix ban, if you can believe it, and the whole ordeal messed me up pretty good. Even today, almost thirty-five years later, I get a little twinge of uneasiness in my stomach when I think about it. …Yes, goddammit, Mannix.

-- When HBO first came to our area I think I was in Junior High. We all thought it was just about the coolest thing in the world that people were actually saying shit and fuck right on the TV, and we watched pretty much everything they broadcast (much of it behind our parents' backs, of course). Most movies we saw over and over again, like Car Wash. God, I must've watched that ridiculousness fifteen times. After a few beers, Bill and I can still recite whole scenes of dialogue from that thing. But I'm getting off-track here... One movie from that era was a low-budget horror film about a sorority house receiving obscene calls from a heavy-breathing pervert. I guess it was originally released under the name Black Christmas, but we knew it as Stranger In The House. It was one of those deals where people start showing up dead, and the cops tell everyone to stay inside with the windows and doors locked. Then they trace one of the calls – and realize it came from inside the house! For whatever reason, that scared the living hell out of me. I think it was because I was accustomed to seeing maniacs trying to get in; the thought of one already being in screwed me up, and good. No other movie that I can think of terrified me like that one. And I believe it was directed by the same guy who later did Porky's, if you can believe it. Kind of embarrassing, but true. I have an old VHS copy of it, and watched it not too long ago. It doesn't seem all that scary now, but it's still a whole lot of fun. A forgotten horror classic...

-- I was probably in my early 20's when I read Stephen King's Pet Sematary, and I don't even really want to go into it. Simply put, it's one scary-ass book. I had to use Toney's bedtime transition technique while I was reading it, except I opted for Johnny Carson instead of homosexuals with paint rollers. The movie (with Herman Munster) kinda sucked, but the book is spooky. The part where he's walking through the woods in the dark carrying his dead son -- on his way to the freaky cemetery -- sticks out in my mind as especially frightening. Talk about a feeling of impending doom! It may not be art, but I have a feeling that that ugly mofo did everything he set out to do in that book. I was afraid of the dark for an entire month.

So there you have it. I'm not smart enough to piece it all together and make an analysis. I'll leave that to you folks. If you can figure out what's wrong with me, please let me know. And I'd be interested in knowing what scares you, as well. Use the handy-dandy comments link below.

-- And I think that'll do it. Sorry about yesterday, but I started constructing this towering pillar of crapola and realized it was gonna take more time than I had. So I took a sick day. But don't worry, it was approved by the Blogging Commission in Harrisburg, so it's all on the up and up (whatever that means).

Apparently we're going to Toney's cousin's house near Philadelphia on Sunday, for a cookout celebrating their son "graduating" to high school. I guess people make a big deal out of such things? I had no idea. But we're going to the party, it appears. I have no problem with Toney's cousin, or her family, but this is reportedly going to be quite the shindig, with lots of their friends in attendance. And they're all rich as hell and live in a world I don't know. 

I have visions of men standing around a patio wearing shorts with belts (seriously, how can you trust a man wearing shorts and a belt?), talking about their golf games and their stock options and the trouble they're having with the gardener at their summer home on "the Cape." 

Then I'll roll in feeling like Cousin Eddie in Vacation... Oh, man. Oughta be fun!

Of course I'll tell you all about it on Monday. See ya then.

June 22, 2005

-- I'm not sure what I was dreaming about last night, but when I woke up this morning my ass was packed full of fabric. Maybe I was involved in some kind of bicycle race or something? Seems pretty unlikely, but that would certainly explain it. As soon as I stepped down from the dormancy platform I sensed the discomfort out back, and was forced to administer the two-finger crack pluck. I believe I even had to double-dip to complete the task. 

It was if I wasn't getting out of bed at all, but jumping out of a car at an interstate rest area. 

Everybody at rest areas pluck, immediately upon exiting their vehicles. Pay attention next time and you'll see that it's true. Sometimes when we're pulling the camper we stop at these places and have a sandwich and maybe a nice Diet Coke with Lemon, and I sit there and watch person after person get out of their cars and promptly pluck their cracks. Some even lift one foot off the ground, for extra leverage. 

This is something that transcends age, class, race, religion, and body type. At least that's what my research (a work still in progress) has indicated so far. It appears that an ass is an ass, and left to its own devices for an extended period, it'll gobble up some cloth. 

Stay tuned for further developments on this exciting study...

-- A few days ago a close relative (notice the ambiguity?) told me about a guy he knows whose gut grew so large that he was forced into emergency surgery for radical reconstruction. He said that for years this guy's belly was so huge "he could haul it around in a wheel barrow," but recently had begun seeing a change. 

Apparently it had shifted to the side. It wasn't centered anymore; he had a beer gut that did a hard left! This concerned him, of course, and he went to see a doctor about it. The doctor examined him and determined that a lining of some sort in there had been stretched to its limit, and had finally ripped open. Now his innards were just rolling around, all willy-nilly. So they rushed him into surgery and installed a nylon net to hold his shit into place, and to center up his massiveness again. 

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Holy crap. When it gets to the point where they have to introduce goddamn industrial mesh to shore up your gut for you, a few salads wouldn't hurt a thing. Or maybe a walk around the block or two. But he's reportedly made no such lifestyle changes, and actually appears to be larger than ever. "If he doesn't watch it," my source commented, "he's going to blow out his net." 

After I stopped laughing, I reflected on this troubling story and couldn't help laughing a little more.

-- Buck's recent stories of hillbilly fun, many involving high explosives, reminded me of a strange public service commercial they used to show us in WV when I was a youngin'. After school each day everybody (and I mean everybody) tuned into Mr. Cartoon, on Channel 3, and took in a few Bugs Bunny cartoons, before catching our second wind and bursting out the front door for another round of creative troublemaking. 

Mr. Cartoon was also the weatherman at the station (third from left here). You could easily tell which mode he was in by the jacket he was wearing. If it was a normal suit jacket, he was doing the weather. If it was red, white, and blue striped, the transformation to Mr. Cartoon had been made. He also sported Ray-Ban sunglasses when he was doing the kids show (wacky!), and would remind us all to attend "the church or synagogue of your choice" on Sunday. I don't think he did that when he was talking about "frunnel" systems and whatnot. 

Anyway, during the show everyday, they'd run a frightening public service spot reminding kids to NEVER pick up a blasting cap. Apparently this was a big problem, since they went to all the trouble of filming a PSA about it. I never heard about anything specific, but I guess kids were just exploding all over West Virginia? Their guts must've been raining down all over the region?? Shit! 

I always said to myself, what in the hell is a blasting cap?? What is that, something used in mining? Would I even recognize one if I saw it? Why do they just assume I know what they're talking about?? Did they go over this in school on the day I was out? I'm doomed!! 

Hell, I still don't know what they are. But they rammed it down our throats, day after day, that if we ever found one not to pick it up. Never pick it up! In the commercial a boy and girl didn't heed this warning and something terrible happened to them. The reason I know this is because there was the sound of an explosion, and the kids suddenly changed from color to black & white. When they go black & white... well, son, that's something I wouldn't wish on anyone. 

Are exploding children still a problem down there? Does anyone know? I'd like more information, if there is any.

-- And finally, since we're talking about news shows... here's a short clip from Sweden worth watching. Notice how she blames it on the chair? Some things are universal. Just like the crack plucking I was speaking of earlier...

See ya tomorrow.

June 21, 2005

-- A few quick updates on previous discussions...

I know a lot of you have been concerned about my lost ATM card situation. I appreciate all the letters and prayers, I really do, but the problem is now behind me. The new card arrived in yesterday's mail, and has been activated and added to the starting lineup. Yeah, that's great, but it took almost two weeks. Two weeks! Pretty damn casual about it, aren't they? That whole time I walked around feeling like a man with no thumbs. Everything just felt wrong. I'm afraid to use credit cards too much (it's a long, sad story), so I've been buying gas with cash, for god's sake, like it's 1978. It's a wonder they didn't give me one of those 76 balls to put on my antennae, or a tiger tail to hang out of my tank, with fill-up. And no online purchases... It's just sad. I hope I can someday forget any of this ever happened.

And Netflix... I think I'm hooked. It's a lot of fun; it feels like I have the keys to the freaking Blockbuster in my pocket. Only the selection is much better, and there are no fat boys with unkempt facial hair at my house pontificating about Lord of the Rings. I'm constantly remembering a movie or a TV show I'd like to see, and adding it to my queue. My list now has 137 titles on it, and continues to grow. It's a good time. My only complaint: it takes two days for my discs to reach me, and two more for my returned discs to reach them. So, for instance, we watched Sideways over the weekend, and I mailed it back on Monday. They won't receive it until Wednesday. They'll mail me my next selection same-day, and it'll arrive here on Friday. I don't like waiting that long. Monday to Friday seems like a looonng boat trip across the ocean to me. So that's kind of irritating, but overall I'm pleased. I think it'll quickly become one of those things I can't imagine living without, like DVR and fudge.

I watched the big Phil Hendrie netcast on Friday night, with Yuengling in-hand, as planned, and it was pretty interesting. He seemed to be really keyed-up and was constantly moving and fidgeting about. Wonder if that's normal, or because a camera was trained on him? Don't know. But during the commercials he'd fling off his headphones and start screening calls, like a man possessed. Lots of cussing too. "All these callers are fucking boring, man! They're really fucking boring!!" he kept saying. He was kinda maniacal, which isn't too surprising, now that I think about it... 

It was fun seeing how he does the show, something I'd always wondered about. But I like hearing it on the radio more. I like imagining his retarded sidekick Bud Dickman is right there in the studio with him, and his boss "Darth Hall" really is monitoring his show for FCC violations. Of course I know they aren't, but it's easier to suspend belief and really get into it over the airwaves. I had a nagging feeling that I was watching the great and powerful Oz move levers behind a curtain Friday night, and I'm not sure I liked it much. It was an interesting exercise, but the finished product is what it's all about.

And not one of those half-dozen or so car dealers I spoke with during my recent ill-conceived frenzy ever called my house. Can you believe it? I mean, I'm glad, but it's just shocking to me. Most had my phone number, and knew I had contracted the fever to buy a big ol' truck, but none followed up on it. It's incredible. If I were ever foolish enough to give my number to five or six car salesmen in Atlanta, I'd eventually need to have it changed, or be forced to leave the state altogether. But not here. These guys seem to have a different take on selling cars: "Buy one, don't buy one, I don't give a fancy crap. ...Pass me a cuppa two tree a dem beer nuts, will ya?" I've lived all over this country, but no place like this one. Sweet Maria.

In our continuing effort to visit every chain restaurant in America, we had dinner at a place called Damon's Grill a few nights ago. And I must say... the shit was extra-good. I had a prime rib sandwich that was epic in scale, and almost too much for me. And that's saying something. I was actually struggling near the end -- an almost unheard-of phenomenon. This place just opened here, and was absolute pandemonium; it sounded like a goddamn rock concert inside. I'm convinced that you'd have to be the world's worst restaurateur not to make a go of it in this area. These folks will flat-out support an eatery. They just keep building 'em, and people keep on comin'. It's not like one is stealing away people from another. They're ALL packed. Yet I hear folks bitching all the time about the sluggish economy, and how northeastern PA is a "depressed" area. Yeah, and I'm TV's Joe Mannix.

-- And this update kinda got away from me... I was going to write about being scared today, but went off on these follow-up tangents. Oh well, the scared will keep. I'm just gonna get out of the way now and let Buck take it from here, because he's on a roll and I never stand in the way of a man on a roll. Take 'er away, my friend.

See ya tomorrow.

June 20, 2005

-- Now we're talkin'. The high-heat and mugginess that last week caused me to consider laying my head on a fucking railroad track is now gone. At least for the time being. The weather this past weekend couldn't have been better, and it felt like the whole world was in a good mood. We logged some time on the deck, engaged in outdoor activities, and everything. At night, during the Scrote Hour, it was even a bit chilly and I had to get up and close some of the windows. Now that's more like it. I just love the Scrote Hour window closings. Ahhh... sweet relief.

-- On Saturday I finally mowed the lawn the way it's supposed to be mowed. For the past two weeks I've been doing just enough to get by -- which means front yard only. When it feels like the Sudan outside I only take care of the part that can be seen from the street. It's one of my "rules." So the backyard was pretty high, and was waving in the breeze like a field of wheat. Poppa Half-Shirt next door shot me a dirty look and said (with his eyes), "It's about time, you lazy hunka shit." But what do I care? It was, like, 68 outside. And how could a person be angry when it's 68? I just gave him a big Howdy Neighbor wave, and kept going.

On Sunday Toney and I pushed the box o' beds out of the garage, and did a quick clean-up in preparation for our big Fourth of July Cooperstown camping extravaganza. When we returned from the ill-fated Myrtle Beach trip last month we just stuck that thing in the garage and walked away. The sheets were still on the beds, there were towels and stuff crammed in there, etc. But neither of us wanted to even look at that damn camper, for weeks afterward. So we figured we'd better tend to it while the weather is decent, and whip things into shape.

There must've been twenty pounds of sand inside. It was everywhere. Toney kept sweeping and sweeping and sweeping, and probably reduced it down to two or three pounds. I'd left my fancy-ass flip-flops/shower shoes right inside the door, and they were completely encrusted with South Carolina. I accidentally dropped one on the driveway and sand flew out of the treads in every direction, leaving a big tan circle the size of a manhole cover on the blacktop. Crazy.

But we took care of business, and it's ready to go again. Hopefully we'll have better luck in Cooperstown in a couple of weeks. 'Cause if we don't... If we see another return of Camp Slop, our outdoorsman days may be over. If we find ourselves knee deep in filth again, there might just be a bunch of La Quinta Inns in our future. I hope that doesn't happen, but we'll see.

-- On Sunday afternoon the Secrets and I went fishing. Our poles were inside the camper and when I saw them it gave me the idea. As usual, though, I had to spend a half-hour or so on the deck getting our equipment ready for action. One was missing a leader and hook, and another had a reel that was all screwed up. It was just a big jumbled mess of line, and I began hacking at it with my pocket knife. I think I got a little carried away, though. When I did a test-cast into the back yard about a hundred yards of line shot out, and it was attached to nothing. The bobber, hook, and all that nylon landed in the neighbors' yard. Woops.

But I finally got it together (despite all the hurtful laughter), and we went to the lake at the State Park near our house. It was extremely crowded, but we staked out a spot on the pier. A couple of teenage boys were out there too, and a grade school-aged brother and sister team. I don't like fishing so close to people, because I'm always convinced one of us will get hooked and have an eyeball yanked straight out of our skull. But what are you gonna do? It was almost shoulder-to-shoulder around the lake.

I got bait on all of our hooks, and everybody's lines cast out and everything, when a group of unusual women invaded our space. I think they were old school Cajuns or something(!?). They were dressed in brightly colored tribal wear of some sort, and I decided they were speaking French. There must've been twenty of them! They came out on the pier and freaking sat down. Right on the wooden planks. What in the hot buttered hell?? All twenty were talking at the same time, in some bizarre language that upon closer inspection I realized wasn't French at all. Latin, perhaps? Who the hell knows? I told the Secrets to be careful with their hooks, because we didn't want to make anyone mad. I had visions of one of those bizarro women springing to her feet and flinging a handful of voodoo dust in my face. And I don't like that.

But they finally moved on without incident, and we actually caught a few fish. Nothing too exciting, but fish nonetheless. It was a good time. 

One of the teenagers started talking to us, just shooting the shit, and I thought he might be semi-retarded. He had a strange way of talking, and I had him on the short bus, window seat near the back. But the oldest Secret thought he was Russian. There are a bunch of Russians at his school, for some reason, and he knows a little bit about it. But I'm not fully convinced... We had a fairly lengthy Russian-or-Retard debate later in the day, and nothing was really resolved. 

In any case, he was a nice kid and knew a hell of a lot more about fishing than I do. He even helped me out when that stupid reel got messed up again. He proceeded with the confidence of an expert, and had our shit correct within seconds. But when we were leaving I saw him sniffing a grub worm. So I just don't know. So many mixed signals...

Yes, there was quite an eclectic mix at the lake on Sunday. Shit. It was like a David Lynch film.

-- And, believe it or not, I have lots more, and no time. Surprising, huh?

I'll just leave you now with this strange new Smoking Fish sighting. (Speaking of David Lynch.) 

And a treat:  a rare Monday update from Buck! Enjoy.

See ya tomorrow.

June 17, 2005

As is becoming the tradition here, I'm getting a really late start this morning and am being forced into a quarter-ass effort (at this point I'm only aspiring to half-assery.) But I'm just gonna quickly clean out the crumbs of my notebook, and hope for the best. I apologize in advance.

-- The beer bear story coming out of my hometown of Dunbar, WV is taking on a life of its own. In case you haven't read it, here it is. And here's a partial list of the news outlets that have carried the piece. Including this one in India(!). I can't claim to actually know these two guys, but I know who they are. The older brother is more commonly known as Mad Dog, and they've been around town all my life. "Either relocate them or let me eat them." You simply gotta love it. I'm starting to get a little homesick here...

-- Tonight Phil Hendrie is going to stream live video of his entire show, and I will be there, Yuengling in-hand.

I've been a big Hendrie fan since we lived in Southern California. One night I was driving home from work, it was really late, and I stumbled upon his show somehow. Just pure chaos. I remember sitting in the parking lot of our apartment, not able to turn off the radio and go inside. "What in hell is this??" I kept thinking. It sounded like three people were talking at the same time, one guy was complaining of a rash and kept scratching himself, another man was sobbing uncontrollably... It was insane. I finally went in and tried to tell Toney about it, but she just looked at me with concern.

After that I began seeking him out, and quickly realized that Phil himself is both host and guest. The "stories" he covers are ridiculous by design, and never fail to whip the callers (who are real) into a hilarious frenzy. To the casual listener it all sounds like a real radio talk show, but it's actually absurdist theater.

And Jesus J. McChrist is it funny! I remember driving on the 405 freeway in LA, heading toward the airport, and laughing at something on the Phil Hendrie Show to the point where I literally became lightheaded, and was afraid I might crash. One of Toney's friends claims to have actually pulled off the road and parked because of this. She said she was laughing so hard she almost lost control of her vehicle.

I've always wondered how he did the show, and what it must look like. And tonight I'll get my chance. You need to be subscriber to access the stream, but, of course, I already am. Every morning as I prepare for the 12:30 conference call I listen to the previous night's show, and it makes a stressful process bearable. It's the best $6.95 I spend every month.

And I see that he's now posted a fifteen minute sample video on his site, of an earlier bit. Check it out. I just noticed this and haven't watched it yet. I hope it's a good representation, since I've now played him up so much. Oh well, it's not like I'm risking a lot of hard-won integrity here, or anything... Let me know what you think.

-- I'm supposedly getting my own personal DSL line installed today at work. I've complained so much about the oppressive firewall and various filters associated with the network I'm forced to go through, my boss got an approval for me to bypass all that crapola. And if all goes well I'll be able to actually see this site from work soon, and read the comments and everything. Plus, I'll be able to check on benefits, and access internal company websites and whatnot, without an act of Congress or a signed letter from George W. Bush. 

I don't work for the company whose servers I now rely upon, and they're obviously paranoid about "outsiders," and have me locked out of everything. It's gotten to the point of ridiculousness, but hopefully it'll all be behind me after today. Of course, I'll undoubtedly have a whole new set of problems... Oh, I've been around long enough to know how these things work. Wish me luck.

-- There was a little old lady in Target this week handing out full can samples of something called Jones Soda. She gave me one flavor, and Toney another. They weren't cold, so we took them home to "enjoy" later. Last night I saw them sitting in the fridge and decided to try one. Holy shit! I nearly went into diabetic shock. It was just a container of thick sugar syrup, and I nearly upchucked into the sink. Nasty. I invited Toney to try her can, and she took a sip, was still for a split second, then I watched her lower jaw retract just as mine had. Both cans were promptly emptied down the drain, and we frantically drank tall tumblers of water in an attempt to wash away the taste. Do you think we were punk'd? Is that shit for real?? Sweet sainted mother of Bonnie Franklin.

And I think that'll do it. Did I at least reach the quarter-ass plateau? Am I setting my goals too high here?

See ya on Monday. Have a great weekend.

June 16, 2005

-- I was talking to Toney yesterday about Jarts. Do any of you remember these things? They were sharpened steel daggers with wings, designed to be used in a modified game of horseshoes -- with the added excitement of possible death or impalement.

My brother and I had a set back in the '70's, as did a few of our friends. We'd take them out in the yard, start by playing the way they were intended, then, inevitably, take it all to the next level. We'd start flinging them straight up in the air, and run for cover. Good fun. 

Thinking back on it, of course, I now realize that we could've easily met the same fate as Ralphie's arrow-catching son on The Sopranos. But we were dumbasses, what can I tell you?

I remember one kid sitting on the curb and rubbing the heavy steel tip of one of these so-called lawn darts on the concrete, attempting to make it razor sharp. Not surprisingly, that kid is now dead. It wasn't a Jart-related death, as far as I know, but it may as well have been. Wotta psycho hillbilly douche.

Toney has no recollection of this particular childhood relic of unintended consequences, and apparently she'll never get the chance. It looks like they're not only banned from sale in America, but we're not even allowed to play the game anymore. Sad. I was gonna try to buy a set off eBay, but I guess we're not allowed? Even try it, they say, and the Jart Police will get you.

Too bad. I wanted to have a few beers, slip on a "space helmet," and enjoy a nice nostalgic afternoon in the backyard. The meddling bastards!

-- I mentioned yesterday that my office at work is situated straight across the hall from the bathrooms, and that I am regularly treated to the soothing sounds of an exploding ass serenade. ...And now that I think about it, I don't believe it happened quite so frequently before Starbucks came to town. Interesting. Anyway, it appears that I'm not alone in my situation.

A reader sent me this note yesterday afternoon:

Per your update today, I have a story of my own. I happen to be stationed right next to the ladies room at work. Seems safe, right? Allot better then the Men's room, one would think... NOT. It is worse. Much, much worse. I would prefer the delightful sounds and smells of the local truck stop shitter to this. Maybe it is the fact that these disgusting poop sessions are coming out of some women who I am attracted to that makes it all the more worse? A few months ago, I saw Stacy 'X' (to remain nameless) go into the bathroom and not more then 10 seconds later hell was unleashed. A series of plops, rips, farts, gushes and god knows what else was heard by everyone within a 10 cube radius. What is worse is that Stacy is about the best looking women I have ever seen in real life!! Drop dead... A female co-worker of mine (who shares any and all information about women) told me later that Stacy pees like a horse. It is like a waterfall that goes on for a good 2 minutes. That explains the gushes...

Have a great day.

Oh, I will. Thank you very much for that. I am jealous of your ladies room pee spy, though. I have no such surrogates at my office. How might a person go about recruiting such a person, without being slapped with a restraining order? Hmm... I need to put some thought into that.

-- I watched two more episodes of 24 last night, and I think it's starting to mess with my head. After I turned off the TV I came in here to see if I had any email, and there was one from the woman who'll be making our Surf Report shirts. And as I was reading it I started to wonder if she was REALLY a t-shirt lady, or if she's just posing as one. 

Perhaps I should take a day off from that show?

-- Here are two more Smoking Fish sightings. And no, I have no further information about the second one. Things are starting to get a little strange, aren't they?

-- Now here's Metten with a fresh and tasty dispatch from the Great Midwest.

And I'll see you good folks again tomorrow.

June 15, 2005

-- Over the weekend Toney and I went on an Easter egg hunt for yet another window air conditioner. We have two of these ludicrous hum boxes for the bedrooms, and need about two more. But I ain't a Vanderbilt here, and all this has to be done in measured steps. Without mentioning the recent weather specifically (I promised) enough is freaking enough, and I wanted one for the family room window. At least we could watch Scrote capture the whore killers in relative comfort, y'know? But, as it turns out, I'm a foolish, foolish man.

There are no air conditioners to be found within a hundred mile radius of this place. Yeah, these folks are just proud as all hell about the weather (supposedly) being so mild here that houses don't need to be equipped with central air. I think it's actually incorporated in the official county seal somewhere. But, boy, let it be hotter than the proverbial piss of an owl for two weeks straight, and there's a stampede for relief. Predictable.

Just a week or so ago Sam's Club had an entire aisle of General Electric air conditioners, in many different sizes and flavors. They were stacked far and high. And on Saturday not one remained. It looked like a scene from the old Soviet Union; the shelves were completely bare. And it was the same at Lowe's and Home Depot. One of the places had a single unit left. But the box was opened and bashed in, as if an angry mob had descended upon it. Plus, the thing was HUGE and had a plug that resembled a Victorian torture device. I'd probably have to rewire the house for that crap, so forget it.

So, in a nutshell, we drove around for a couple of hours, bouncing from store to store and getting more and more irritated. And that night we watched Scrote while stewing in our own natural juices, just like the night before. It's a sad state of affairs at the compound these days...

-- I saw Dick Cavett on Larry King Live a few nights ago, and he now resembles a human skull sprayed with flesh-colored paint. The man has not a single ounce of head padding. How does something like that happen? How does a person lose all their face beef? He's taken it too far, but I see a lot of people walking around who could
undoubtedly benefit from learning his secret. You know who I'm talking about, ol' Jiggle Neck down at the grocery store? Or Pizza Pan over at the bank? Maybe he should do an exercise video? Slim Down That Hideous Head, with Dick Cavett!

Or am I getting completely off-track here? I believe I am... Blame the heat.

-- Last week I left my ATM card in a bank machine (again, the heat) and when I went back to retrieve it, there were no happy endings. I walked in and asked if they'd found my card, and the teller said, "Oh, are you Jeffrey Kay?!" Not believing my good luck, I confirmed that I was. And she said, in a chipper and friendly tone, "Yeah, we shredded your card!" Then there was a pause, and I got the feeling that she wanted me to thank her. I just turned around and walked out. I had all the information I needed, thank you very much.

And for almost a week I've been in a strange limbo with no direct access to my bank account. I don't like the feeling. I have to pay CASH for gas, fer god's sake, and just feel kind of... adrift. A new card is coming they say, but it's not here yet. I'm not completely comfortable without my debit card; what is this, 1974?! 

How could they just kill my friend like that?? Maybe I should've requested the shavings, and said a few words?

-- This is an actual complaint letter received by Continental Airlines, purportedly written by a passenger during a recent flight. 

I know this man's pain. My office at work is situated straight across the hall from the rest rooms, and I hear people blowing ass all day long. Sometimes footsteps rumble past, the sound of someone running, then, within seconds, a high-pressure assplosion echoes off the walls, followed by the kind of smells I haven't encountered since my parents used to take me to circuses as a child. Yes, I carry a lot of clout down at the office...

-- Here's a new Smoking Fish sighting, this time at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Very cool! Let's try to get one at every ballpark, what do ya say?

-- And I also received another one that I have chosen NOT to add to the main Gallery. Be careful when you open it, because it features nudity. Shiny nudity, in fact. Yeah... this could take the concept of the Fish Sighting in a whole other direction. Check it out.

-- And on that note, I'm gonna turn it over to Buck, and go to my aromatic little 85-degree broom closet across town.

See ya tomorrow.

June 14, 2005

-- So, we sat there and watched the long, drawn-out Michael Jackson verdict yesterday. (Did I mention that I had the day off?) We saw the convoy of menacing black SUVs make its way to the courthouse, and all the Jackson family members get wanded and patted down as they entered the courtroom. (When did Janet start looking like Yoko Ono??) And we saw the big gangs of nutcases and mental patients outside crying and waving signs and releasing doves(?). It was quite the spectacle, and suspenseful to boot.

I was convinced that Michael would make a run for it, and head for the Mexican border, and that only added to the entertainment value. Good good fun.

The only downside? The so-called analysts. God, a bigger group of douches I don't think I've ever encountered all at once. It was just pure undiluted douche. Like any self-respecting TV owner, we were flipping around from channel to channel and hoping for the best. If somebody was saying something remotely interesting we'd stick around for a while. Then when the cliches kicked in again, we'd jump ship.

One guy, on Fox News I think, was getting angrier and angrier as the reading of the verdict grew closer. He kept saying that Michael had been railroaded by con artists and an overzealous prosecutor, and that the jury was mostly made up of white conservatives. If I had ten bucks for every time he said, "this is NOT a jury of Michael Jackson's peers," we could have central air conditioning installed in our house this afternoon. By the time the SUVs arrived at the courthouse, this guy was practically calling the jury a group of Klansmen, itching to lynch a coon. He was wound tighter than an eight-day clock, and seething with fury.

I have no doubt that this man calls himself a "progressive."

A woman, over on CNN, said that the jury had deliberated far too long to acquit. She was practically guaranteeing, based on her vast knowledge, that Michael Jackson was going down. And this was all said in a smug, knowing tone, as if she were delivering Great Truths to the masses from on high.

Later, when word leaked out that the jury was supposedly staring straight at the judge, and avoiding looking at Michael, they had him in an orange jumpsuit serving Veg-All and salisbury steak to men with tattoos on their necks. The only question was how many years he'd get.

And, of course, there were the people who seemed to want him to go to prison, if nothing else, for being a goddamn freak. And the ones who would make excuses even if they had video footage of a naked Michael Jackson body-surfing across a sea of boy ass. The whole thing was quite depressing... Yet I couldn't stop watching.

In retrospect, I probably should've just turned the sound down, put on a Devo CD, and watched it that way. It would've been much more enjoyable, of course, and the commentary would've been just as relevant.

Oh well, you live and learn... In five or ten years I'll undoubtedly get a chance to make the proper adjustments; there's always a second chance in such matters. Maybe during the Tom Cruise trial? Or while they're reading the verdict sent down by the Kelsey Grammer hatchet murder jury? Whatever. There's no doubt I'll get the opportunity to make it right soon.

Shit, I was only going to write one paragraph about Michael Jackson today, and it turned into the whole update... I'll try to get back in the real world tomorrow. I promise.

Have a great day.

June 13, 2005

-- No work today. I'm taking vacation and creating one of those homemade three-day weekends. Ahhh... I think I could get used to not working, yet continuing to be paid. Yes, it's a concept I believe I could warm to. Around 12:40 I may raise a glass of sweet tea in tribute to the conference call that I'm not on. Now that's something to be celebrated. The poor ball-mashed bastards.

-- I think I'm going to get things rolling with the t-shirts this afternoon. Here's the design I came up with. As you can see, I'm not much of a graphic artist, but I believe it'll do the trick. If you have any "suggestions" on how I might make it better, let me know. 'Cause I'm placing the order today. For quite a few of them too. I figure that if they don't sell, I can donate them to a homeless shelter, and get some free-roaming human advertising out of the deal. I mean... help a worthy cause.

Many of you suggested I use CafePress for the shirts, but I think their prices are too high. I've heard they produce a good product. But it'll sure cost ya. I should be able to offer these Surf Report version 2.0 shirts for around fourteen bucks each, postpaid. If I went with Cafe, it would most likely be ten dollars more per shirt. Way too much, in my opinion. This ain't a Motley Crue concert, goddammit.

No, I'm trying to keep the prices down, and also maintain the quality. And if that means forking over a little cash up-front, and setting up a freaking distribution center in my house, then so be it. Twenty-five dollar t-shirts would make me feel way too guilty, and I can barely look at myself in the mirror as it is...

-- The reason I said Motley Crue up there is because I'm listening to them as I type. Decade of Decadence, to be exact. It's just me and Andy at the compound this morning, and it's time to rock! While getting paid!! I wish I could teach Andy to throw up a set of devil horns, I really do. Black Lips Houlihan is a natural-born spaghetti-eating rock star.

-- I talked to my parents yesterday and they said their two dogs captured and killed a blue jay last week. And now other blue jays are swooping down at them while the hounds are out snorkeling around in the back yard(!). It's apparently becoming a big problem. One dive-
bombed and hit Pepper full in the back, and a few have even come at my Dad(!!). These birds ain't half-steppin'; they're obviously bent on animal justice. And now my parents have a real-life Hitchcock movie on their hands. Shit, I'd be afraid to leave the house. At the very least I'd invest in a batting helmet or something. Freaky.

When we lived out in that spider-infested desert in California, there were big black birds that would fly low over our house all the time. They were huge and you could hear their wings go whoosh whoosh whoosh as they passed over. Absolutely horrifying. Off in the distance there was always a whole gang of them sitting on rock cliffs, just looking down on us dumb white people barbecuing and washing our cars. I was certain one of these nightmarish creatures would eventually swoop down and carry off one of our babies; just pluck one right off the front lawn. It never happened, but I feel in my bones that we got out just in time.

If one of those pissed-off blue jays were to dive at me now, I'd surely lose my mud. I don't think it's even a question.

-- On a related note... I was leaving for work on Friday and had my backpack, my big oversized travel mug, a couple of CDs, and a bunch of other necessary road items loaded in my arms. I was standing there trying to juggle all this crap while attempting to put the key in the lock of my Blazer, when a big bee flew straight into my left ear! It was large and furry and looked like a flying teddy bear. It was making that scary buzzing sound that bees make, and I shrieked like a school girl. Shit went flying in every direction, and coffee went all down the front of my shirt and pants. I think I slung a little on the side of the house too. It was a great way to start the day, let me tell ya. I'm pretty sure I cleaned out all my veins and arteries, though. I'm not a doctor, but I'm almost certain I experienced a case of insta-angioplasty, standing right there on the driveway.

-- I used the kick-ass Hostito webstats feature to update the search engine page this weekend. Check it out. The new phrases are at the top, and are all genuine and real. Further evidence the end is near...

-- And  for those of you keeping score at home, I'm now blasting Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits. Alice always reminds me of Atlanta, because I worked with a woman there who looked just like him. I don't think she got much sleep, for some reason. Apparently it's extremely time-consuming being a bitter and angry hick?

-- I'll leave you today with a fresh quote from Nancy. She and the whole gang traveled to Florida last week for something dull, and she told Toney yesterday, in an exasperated tone: "We had no idea that Orlando was so touristy!" So, there you go. I'll make no comment, and just let that stand on its own. But please keep in mind that these people have doctorate degrees, and help shape and mold the minds of the next generation.

And that's gonna do it, folks. More tomorrow. 

Did I mention that I'm off today?!

June 10, 2005

-- Sorry about yesterday, but I'm under a great deal of pressure here and had to get away for a while. Despite what you might have heard, I was NOT in a nuthouse in South Africa; I want to put a stop to those rumors right now. I was only visiting friends there. And I'm feeling much better, thank you very much. Well, a little better anyway...

No, actually I got up yesterday, started writing, and quickly realized I was boring myself. The weather, looking for a new car, freakin' Netflix... Jesus man, enough is enough. You're turning into a blue-ribbon dullard. So I turned off the computer in a huff, and had coffee with Toney instead. We sat on the deck, I bitched until I grew tired of bitching, and finally went to work. And all day I fantasized about going out into the hall and just punching the first person I encountered, full in the gut. Sometimes I wonder if I was conceived on the wrong side of the bed?

But the chemicals are being my friend today, and I think I can do this. I wouldn't be expecting too much, though...

-- For the sake of closure, I'll quickly update you on the three subjects I'd been beating like the children of Bing Crosby, and never mention them again. ...Unless, of course, something truly interesting happens. <ahem>

The weather: A big part of the problem, I think. For days on end it's been disgustingly hot and humid, and I feel like I'm walking around with a blanket soaked in sea water over my head. I hate it. And our stupid house, built by insane people when I was three, doesn't have central air conditioning because that's a badge of honor in this crazy region of the country. At this point it looks like the Malcolm In The Middle house, because I'll be damned if I'm going out there and doing any yard work. I will be damned.

The new car: I've thrown in the towel on that deal, because it was causing me to lose my shit. What I wanted to buy cost more than what I was willing to spend, so it was a case of self-inflicted frustration. And those salesmen... Sweet Maria. All I can say on that subject is lake of fire. I'm just going to continue driving my Blazer, and spare myself the wear and tear on my stomach lining. There's nothing wrong with the vehicle, and it serves my purposes. All this happened because of want, not need. So, screw it.

Netflix: I got my first two discs, and everything's good. I watched Team America, and thought parts of it were really funny. Other parts? Not so much. And last night we saw the first episode of 24, which we both enjoyed. Mesmerizing information, huh?

And that's that. I will now make a conscious effort to stay away from these subject, for the sake of us all. Thanks for sticking with me through these dark, dark days.

-- I called Toney yesterday afternoon and asked if she wanted to hit one of the thousands of chain restaurants around here, for dinner. The thought of going home to an oven-like house, sweating into a plate of spaghetti (or whatever), then cleaning up, just wasn't very appealing to me for some reason. 

Of course it sounded good to Toney too, and after a brief discussion we decided on Uno Chicago Grill, or whatever that place is called. Is it a pizza joint? It feels like it might be, but isn't, really. It's all very confusing.

Anyway... We met there after I left work, and it turned out to be a good choice. We'd been to these Uno deals before, in other cities, but this one just opened, and it was our first visit locally.

They led us to a giant booth (or boof for those of you in Atlanta), big enough to seat four people on each side. Only there was a planter in the middle of the table, and that supposedly turned it into two booths. So, we were sitting there with another family, separated only by this symbolic fern. I didn't really care for that too much, but it wasn't the end of the world. (I try to be reasonable, I really do.)

Another thing I didn't care too much for was the distance between the table and the back of the seat. Apparently they used Japanese specs when they designed this place, and that's a mistake for Northeastern PA. I'm fairly thick, front to back, but I'm positively petite compared to some of my fellow Scrantonians. I had to wedge my gut in there, and experienced a mild case of claustrophobia during the entire meal. I felt like a pig in a crate.

But, luckily, the food was really good. I had some kind of smoked turkey club sandwich, and Toney opted for one of those huge dinner salads served in a bowl from Land of the Giants. And we had their homebrewed amber ale in big-ass glasses, and it was mighty tasty. Very hoppy, which I love.

A satisfying outing, indeed. And it was air-conditioned, and somebody else did the dishes (I suppose). Until this heat wave is over, I'm now prepared to propose we have all of our meals in chain restaurants. Maybe we could get a home equity loan?

-- As I was polishing off my comically oversized beer, a teenage girl who was seated across the aisle from us returned to retrieve the doggy bag she'd left behind. I'd noticed her earlier. She was with, I think, her mother and grandmother, and was probably fifteen or so. She had the sleeves and neck cut out of her t-shirt, and was apparently cultivating some kind of Avril Lavigne look. And when she bent to pick up her leftovers, a pair of underwear constructed entirely of rope and steel erupted from the back of her pants. 

I'm not joking, it was two strings, one going horizontal and the other vertical, joined above the ass crack by a piece of heart-shaped metal. What in the hell?? What is the purpose of such a garment? I'm not a woman, but I can't imagine a length of crotch rope being very comfortable. And who thought it was a good idea to incorporate stainless steel into underwear? I'd be terrified I'd make a wrong move and slice something off. Maybe it's supposed to be sexy? I don't know... maybe if you're turned on by cheap trampiness. Anyway, she was fourteen or fifteen years old! What's she doing?? 

If I were her father there'd be a short family meeting on the subject, followed by the presentation of a big bundle of pastel granny panties. Then I'd confiscate her ass ropes and bungee down my propane tanks. ...Hello? Is this thing on?

-- Speaking of 24 and underwear, remember this pic? It was taken at a bar in Burbank, called Dimples. (A place in which I have personally partaken of adult beverages.) Apparently ol' Kiefer likes to feel unrestricted when he's drinking?

-- Here's a Starbucks commercial that makes me laugh every time.

-- And here's a fresh Smoking Fish sighting, this time in San Francisco. Very cool!

Have a great weekend folks. I'll see you on Monday.

June 8, 2005

-- It might be this disgusting weather, I'm not sure, but it feels like time is standing still. There's no way, no freakin' way, that this is only Thursday. I'm dying here. Slowly and painfully. I'm thinking about going to a grocery store and kicking back in a meat case. Under the circumstances I'm sure they'd understand. Right? How could anyone deny a man the use of a pork shank as a pillow, considering the humidity we're living with? (Ahhh... the eternal question.) The weekend really needs to get here so I can become one with a chair. How could it only be Thursday??

-- The car buying experiment isn't going very well. For one thing I can't settle on a vehicle. I'm bouncing all around, one day looking for one of these, the next day looking for one of those. There's no focus or clear goal. So I'm taking a day off. I'm getting myself all worked up, and not thinking straight. I stopped at another dealership last night, and apparently the asking prices on used cars are a closely-guarded secret, and can't be divulged to just anyone. Is this a new development in the retailing of automobiles, where they won't tell you the price? I'm not sure I care for it. I'm finding it kind of hard to make a decision when I don't know how much anything costs. Or am I just being old-fashioned and stuck in the ways of the past? I'm taking a day off to regroup...

-- My first two Netflix discs should arrive today. I was hoping for yesterday, but it didn't happen. I read somewhere that the company's goal is to eventually have enough distribution centers so that every address in America is a one-day shipping point. Apparently they're not all the way there yet. But that's cool. Tonight I should be able to join the cult of 24, and I'm looking forward to it. A few of you signed up to be my Netflix Butt Buddy(tm), and you're all welcome. I'm registered under Through modern technological advances you can now mock the viewing choices of your fellow man from the comfort of your own home!

-- I'm not yet as old as Uncle Ray, or quite as crazy, but I think I may be traveling the same path he has taken. Give me fifteen years...

-- Here's a virtual Lite-Brite, goddammit.

-- Earlier in the week I checked the description of the Law & Order SVU episode that would be shown that night on TNT, since it's now getting to the point where I've seen them all. And this is what it said: The victim of a sexual assault is unable to identify her attacker. That's every episode! That or: Detectives investigate the mysterious deaths of seven whores. I need more information, people!!

-- My brother saw this in a newspaper in North Carolina yesterday. Have you been voodooed?

-- And it's a good thing we have something new from Buck today, because I'm all outta gas here. Take it away, my friend.   

See ya tomorrow.

June 7, 2005

-- Yesterday as I was driving to work I called about the menacing black Durango we spotted on a car lot over the weekend, and the guy gave me a price that was incredibly low. Too low, in fact. My first thought, when he gave me the numbers: wonder what's wrong with it? Then late in the morning Bill forwarded me your comments (I can't access them directly at work, for national security reasons), and absorbed all the Durango negativity... At the same time Toney was checking Consumer Reports, and it was pretty much all-bad as well. So, forget that. I don't see any Dodge Durangos in my future.

But I've still got the fever. I'm ready to change vehicles, goddammit.

Yesterday afternoon I called a Chevy dealership to ask a few general questions about used Silverados, and it didn't go very well. I only wanted to know if they had any 2002 or 2003 extended cab models in stock, and their asking price. The guy wouldn't tell me anything. Instead of answering my questions, he asked a million of his own.

Almost immediately he wanted to know what I do for a living, and that's when I shut down. What does that have to do with anything?? Do they set their prices based on vocation at this joint? What am I, a complete dumbass?! I wouldn't tell him anything, and it got kinda tense. He finally said, in an exasperated tone, "Sir, you can't buy a truck over the phone." And I said, "Maybe not, but I can sure buy one somewhere else."

And so it goes.

On my way home last night I stopped at a dealership in our little town, and they probably had a dozen used Silverados on their lot. One in particular caught my eye, and the guy gave me a price that was about two thousand dollars more than the number I'd pulled out of my ass as the maximum I'd be willing to go. I told him what I wanted to pay, and he didn't have much of a reply. So I started to leave, and he called me back. He wanted my name and cell number "for his records."

What do you think are the chances I'll receive a call from him today, offering to sell me that truck for $500 above my ass number? I'd say the chances are pretty high. But we'll see what happens...

-- Something really strange is taking place at our house. It appears that our spoons are turning into forks! I'm not kidding. We used to have an almost equal number of each, but that sure ain't the case now. Recently we've noticed that we're always running out of spoons, and, indeed, after I emptied the dishwasher last night it looked like there were about 25 forks in the drawer, and only about eight spoons. How does something like that happen?! How does the calibration get so far out of whack? I think a transformation is taking place inside the silverware drawer as we sleep, I really do. I believe the spoons are defecting to the other side. Perhaps it's more prestigious to be a fork in their world? I don't know. Or maybe some of them felt like they were a fork trapped inside a spoon's body, and grew tired of living their shameful lie? It's a baffling situation. I may start tagging the spoons in some way, to prove my transformation theory. But in the meantime, we have more friggin' forks at our house than the average Denny's. We're up to our butt cheeks in tines here! Somebody please make it stop!!

-- How was I not aware that the entire Boomtown Rats catalog had been remastered and reissued on CD? This is information that should be piped directly into my brain; something obviously broke down somewhere. The original Rats albums were only available on CD for about fifteen minutes during the late '80s/early '90s, and then disappeared. Over the years they became highly collectible, and fetched upwards of a hundred bucks each -- when you could find 'em. Now, you can apparently pick them up for ten dollars, or whatever, at Amazon... Why wasn't I informed of this?? I need to be doing some of my own fetching, at this new lower price, and right away.

They changed my life, you know. That's right, the Boomtown Rats changed my life. I was a dumbass of the highest order, but they showed me the way. When I was a young ugly teenager with unfortunate hair, I found myself trapped inside a cage of Beatles snobbery. For several years I wouldn't listen to anyone else. The way I had it figured was that they were the best, so why waste my time on anyone else? I had t-shirts for every day of the week, each emblazoned with a different Beatles album cover. And, needless to say, I'd only seen photographs of naked women.

One day I went to Budget Tapes and Records in Cross Lanes, WV, to buy a George Harrison solo album, and there was something crazy playing in there. It was turned up really loud, and sounded kinda good. What in the hell? What was happening to me?? This was treasonous! But the longer I listened, the more I liked it. And finally I went and asked the hipster behind the counter what he was playing. He handed me the cover of A Tonic For The Troops, I took a look at it and shuffled away in my ludicrous size medium Let It Be shirt.

Needless to say, I ended up buying it. It made me feel kind of dirty and dangerous, like I was shoplifting porn. I took it home and played the living hell out of it. God, it was just so damn good. To this day I could sing you every word of every song on that record. Of course, nothing good would come from that exercise... I'm just sayin'.

And that purchase turned out to be one of the slipperiest of all slippery slopes. I became completely obsessed with "new wave" and punk and all that strange shit from England. It took over my life, and that's no exaggeration. And, eventually, it led me to interesting books, and good movies... Everything changed after that first big jolt of Boomtown Rats. It was like a kick to the balls, if, you know, getting your balls kicked were a positive.

Have a great day.

June 6, 2005

-- Suddenly it's hot and muggy up here. It's my least favorite kind of weather. When it gets all hazy and humid like this, and you walk around wearing a patina of facial sweat... well, I can do without it. Right now it's 7:35 am, and I'm shining like Nat King Cole. I have nothing else to say on the subject. I just wanted my protest to be noted in the official record.

-- I told you last week that I was absolving myself of all responsibility, and allowing you folks to decide whether or not I should give Netflix a try. Well, there were a few nays in the mix, but the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that I should go for it. So I have. I pulled the trigger on Saturday morning, and had some fun adding selections to my queue all weekend. I'm starting out with the first season of 24 (I've never seen one second of that show), mixed in with a few intriguing new releases, like Team America and Finding Neverland. We'll see how it goes. I went with the two-at-a-time, $14.99 per month plan, and can always pull the plug if I'm not getting my money's worth. Right? If you want to be my Netflix Butt Buddy (I think that's what they call it), I'm registered under And, as always, thanks for making my life decisions for me!

-- And speaking of pulling the plug... my relationship with Earthlink is now officially over. Late last week I called and drove the final nail into that coffin. They made a perfunctory attempt to change my mind, but it was all scripted and half-assed. So, that's that. I'd been with them, off and on, since the mid-1990's (I believe I was one of their first dial-up customers), and used to be an Earthlink cheerleader. Not anymore. In the old days they felt like a partner, and in the end it was like dealing with the fucking bank. Too bad.

-- On Saturday we made reservations at a campground near Cooperstown, NY, for the 4th of July weekend, and I guess we'll give this camping thing another try. I'm gonna take Tuesday off, and we'll stay three nights. This is high-stakes, my friends. If things don't go very well, I suspect that we may throw in the towel. I could be wrong, but that's what my gut is telling me. And my gut, in addition to its impressive second-trimester appearance, is in-tune with the cosmos. So, it'll be an interesting experiment. As incredible as it seems, we've yet to take a camping trip in which other family members weren't involved. So, Cooperstown will be our first true solo flight. Not sure if that's good or bad. In any case, wish us luck. The future of the box o' beds could be hanging in the balance.

-- On Friday I told you about an email I'd received from a fellow Surf Reporter which mentioned, in passing, her deep, deep fear of midgets. I now have a little background information on the origin of that deal, and am going to share it with you now. ...Since, you know, it's both hilarious and bizarre:

When I was about 12, I used to go roller skating every weekend with a bunch of friends. After they closed we would all wait outside for our parents to pick us up. On one particular occasion, a group of neighborhood boys coaxed me and my friends to follow them to the back entrance. They said they wanted to show us something. We followed them around the building and lo and behold, there it was. About 15 feet from the back of the building was a tiny house that looked like a shed except it had windows with flower boxes and it appeared to be very well kept. The boys started towards the house while the girls stood back and watched.. Next thing you know, they start ringing the bell and knocking on the windows.. Then the fuckers ran away.. Making my friends and I look like the culprits. The door opens and out pops this little creature. She was pissed!!..and behind her was an older little man and they start yelling at us telling us to get the fuck away from their house. They were pointing their little Vienna sausage fingers at me and screeching. I just stood there.. paralyzed. My girlfriends and the boys just ran away and left me there. Finally, after I started to get feeling back in my legs, I hauled ass out of there. To this day I can still see their faces... And that little midget house! WTF?? I'm scarred for life.

Shit! It's like something off the Sundance Channel.

-- And here's a follow-up to another recent story. Who's laughing now? Hmm?

-- I got a wild hair up my ass (what exactly does that phrase mean??) on Saturday, and decided I was going to trade in my Blazer for something with a little more coconuts. Toney and I got into one of our sitting-around-the dining-room-drinking-coffee conversations, and started daydreaming about upgrading our camper to something with hard walls, and a real terlet. That led to me needing a truck with more towing capacity, and that, in turn, launched me into a crazy-ass Do It Now! mindset. For some reason I got it in my head that I wanted a Nissan Titan, and whipped myself into a low-grade frenzy about it. Consequently, we spent a significant part of Saturday and Sunday bouncing around from car dealer to car dealer, looking for that perfect coconut mobile. There are no used Titans to be found, apparently, and I sure as shit can't afford a new one; I'm not Ted Turner here. But we found a 2002 Dodge Durango that just might be the ticket. Today my passion seems to have subsided a bit (who the hell knows why?), but yesterday I was crankin' on it. I might give them a call later today anyway, to see if it's something worth pursuing. Or I might just forget about it, and chalk it up as another ridiculous episode in a long line of ridiculous episodes.

-- One of the car salesmen I talked to on Saturday gave me his business card, and I stuck it in my back pocket without looking at it. But later in the day I took it out and saw that there was writing on the back. Check it out. If he thought I was going swing by McDonald's for him, he's out of his goddamn mind.

-- And I think that'll just about do it for today, folks. I'll leave you now with the Doucheketeer of the Week.

See ya tomorrow.

June 3, 2005

No time today... I couldn't drag my bloated earthly container out of the bed until after seven this morning, and I'm way behind schedule. So I'm just gonna start writing, and see how it goes. At the cut-off point I'm gonna cut it off (the update, that is), and go to work. 'kay? Let's get to it, goddammit.

-- I was reading an email from a longtime Surf Reporter a few minutes ago, and seemingly as an afterthought she tacked onto the end of the message that she'd seen a midget in Target yesterday "pushing her shopping cart around by the wheels," and this caused her some concern. Midgets, she says, have always been a bad sign for her. When she spots one something bad is usually right around the corner, she claims. This, of course, made me laugh, but I know what she's talking about. I have my little superstitious quirks too. None involving the little people, but probably as valid.

Just this past weekend I was sitting in front of my computer trolling for filth, and trying to decide whether or not to haul myself across town and get a much-needed haircut. Then I looked down and saw that I had 13 new email messages in my mailbox. Thirteen! It's a sign, I thought. Don't do it, Jeff. Something horrible will happen if you start out for that haircut place. The numbers are trying to warn you! So, I stayed home and am proud to report that I'm still alive. As of this writing.

And I've told the story about the bird in the house. That one really gets me. Somebody, back when I was but a youngster, told me that if a bird gets in the house it's a sign that there will be a death in the family. I'm not a big fan of the death in the family, and this ominous warning has stuck in the folds of my beleaguered brain ever since.

When I lived in Atlanta I had a night job at a bookstore, and one night I was working with some cutesy teenage rich girl from Buckhead. I was straightening the shelves or whatever, and a customer came through the door, and at the same time: a bird! The thing just flew straight into the store, and immediately launched into some kind of birdish freak-out. It just wouldn't stop flying, and was seemingly puffing itself up to twice its normal size and making one hell of a racket.

Holy shit! Invisible shivers ran down my spine. I told Legally Blonde, or whatever her name was, what I'd heard about a bird in the house, and she laughed. This isn't a house, she said. It's called Book Warehouse, I pointed out.

And the very next day, I ain't shittin' ya, her father fell off some scaffolding while painting their house, and broke his neck. Dead.

At this point it would take shock treatment, or possibly a lobotomy, to convince me against the cosmic significance of a bird in the house. 

One time, not too many months ago, the oldest Secret was heading toward the front door, on his way outside, and I could see a bird(!) standing on the welcome mat just on the other side of the storm door. Everything happened in slow motion after that. "Nooooo!!!" I screamed, and moved as if I were Harrison Ford protecting the president in some action film. I believe my body was literally horizontal at one point, as I attempted to stop the door from being opened. After it was all over, and tragedy had been successfully averted, my son had a look on his face that said: shit!

So, I can appreciate her concern about the midget spotting at Target. I have a feeling we all are haunted, somewhat, by these types of irrational fears. Or am I just telling myself that to feel better about my mental illness? Let me know. What freaks you out, as a sign of impending doom? What's your own Personal Midget?  I'd be interested in knowing.

And I think that'll close out the category. I have lots more "ideas" scribbled in my notebook, but they'll have to keep. 

Have a great weekend, folks. I'll see ya on Monday.

June 2, 2005

A few quick things:

-- The security guards at my job are required to "wand" everyone with a hand-held metal detector before they're allowed to exit the place. A couple of days ago I was trying to leave, and was standing there waiting for them to finish up with some scraggly looking dude. He had his arms stuck straight out like he was Jesus on the cross and the guard began waving the wand up and down his nasty torso.

Then suddenly the security man recoiled in horror, covered his nose, and yelled, "Christ man, you stink!" He told the guy to just move along, and continued hollering about how bad he smelled. Right to his face too. Within a couple of seconds another guard was screaming in protest, and everybody was beating at the air, trying to send the funk away.

Of course I was laughing my ass off at this spectacle, because I'm basically a twelve year old boy trapped inside a giant 42 year old "container." As I approached the wanding area the first guard was still screaming, and said, "Man, that guy smelled like he'd been rolling around in shit!" And then I stepped right into the middle of it. It was as if I were inside an ass. Just pure turds. The man had apparently crapped his pants, because this was no mere fart. I violently whipped my head to the side, the guy half-heartedly wanded me while holding his breath, and I got the hell out of there.

Last night as I was leaving one of the big-shots on the security staff said they'd all watched the surveillance footage, and laughed and laughed and laughed. He said I was doing some kind of fancy Texas Two Step, and they'd never seen a man move like that before. Also, he reported, the expression on my face went from amusement to panic to disgust in one second flat.

Man, I wish I could get my hands on that. I really do. I'm going to talk to the guy today, to see if it would be possible. I have a feeling I already know the answer, but it's something that must be pursued.

-- On a semi-related note, my brother sent me these pictures the other day, with no explanation. One appears to be a pill of some sort, designed to treat "trapped wind." I'm not sure I know what that is, but it may be what we West Virginians call a "vapor lock." I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy... And the other looks to be bundles of potpourri, or something, that you're supposed to put into the bed of a night-farter. But I'm just guessing on both of them. Any further information would be appreciated.

-- I tried to link to this last Friday when I was doing the big link-o-rama, but the site appeared to be down. Now it's back up, and I'll try it again. Read the final entry of this guy's blog, where he's talking about his sister's ex-boyfriend just suddenly showing up at their apartment, and acting all weird. Then check out this news report about what happened after the entry was posted. Freaky, man.

-- The man who helped bring down an American president, in full bad-ass pose!

-- And a man who had nothing to do with any of it.

-- Finally, I need a little help from you folks. Somehow I've contracted Netflix fever, and need some guidance. I've got it in my mind that I must, simply must, become a member. This sort of thing happens from time to time... But I just can't make myself turn over my credit card information to them. I have concerns, you see, about how many movies I would actually watch in a month. We have this DVR box, which is constantly recording stuff for me, and lots more goes in than comes out. 

Would I sign up with Netflix and end up paying $17.99 a month to watch two movies or something? Would I be able to find the time to make it worthwhile? I hate to be one of those people who are constantly going on and on about how busy they are: "Oh, I'm such a busy man. Busy busy busy. Please be in awe of my busyness." But there really aren't too many three-hour chunks of free time lying around the Compound these days. 

What should I do here? Give into the fever, or let it fade like I did with the mp3 player obsession from earlier in the year? I leave it entirely in your hands. It's all up to you now. I wash my hands of the whole thing.

-- And now I'm very pleased to be able to pass the baton to our old friend Buck. We haven't heard from him in a while, but now he's back. So, take 'er away my good man...

And I'll see ya tomorrow.


June 1, 2005

-- I had it in my mind that the previous weekend lacked a full-scale deck feast, to put it over the top and make it truly special. And during the days leading up to the three-day Memorial Day weekend we began making plans to not repeat the error. We were going to have gargantuan steaks, bottomless glasses of beer, and crazy amounts of gloopy side items. We'd wipe down the patio furniture and commence to eating ourselves right up to the cusp of a blackout.

On Friday Toney reported that she'd bought two huge steaks at Sam's Club, and they'd cost a small fortune. But, she said, they were big enough for all four of us. I didn't like the sound of that. It felt like we were cutting corners, and maybe indulging in some hopeful forecasting, like during the Myrtle Beach trip. I told her I'd go out on Saturday morning and buy the kids their own steaks, because I didn't want any Deck Feast half-steppin'. She said whatever.

So, that's what I did. She took off with the older Secret, and the young one went with me. I chose Wegman's for some reason, a grocery store roughly the size of my hometown. Toney had tacked on a couple of items to my short list, and I had to get steaks, peanut butter, and hamburger buns. Three items. And it took me a frickin' hour. I don't think that's an exaggeration, I believe I was in that store for a full hour.

The place was crazy crowded. We could barely walk. The produce section, which is right by the front door, was like a Moroccan street fair. Just hordes of people prodding vegetables, sniffing fruit, and shucking corn(?). We finally maneuvered through there, and needed to pass by the deli, because that's where the bread is. Pure insanity. I felt like we were on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. People were waving their arms in the air, hollering stuff, jumping up and down... I grabbed my son's hand and barreled through the chaos, snatching some cheap-ass store-brand buns along the way.

We couldn't even get near the meat case. When we arrived there they were stacked-up two deep all down the length of the thing. All I could see were brightly-colored asses stuck in the air, as their owners leaned over and dug through the meat. I was running my hands through my hair at this point, and starting to feel the onset of a low-grade panic attack.

I finally wedged my way in between two of the asses, and grabbed a couple of smallish steaks. Only one item left, and we could get out of this shithouse! As we stopped and started our way to the peanut butter aisle, my cell phone rang and it was Toney. And she was bitchin' up a storm.

"I'm at Target," she hollered, "and the place is crazy. I'm in the 10 items or less line, and some bitch has a full shopping cart in front of me." Then, a little louder and for somebody else's benefit: "If it were 200 items or less, she wouldn't qualify!" She proceeded to tell me about the little fat kid with a bowl haircut who was throwing snack after snack after snack on the belt, and just generally ranting. Oh, she was hot. Eventually I heard somebody else talking to her, she said, "Gotta go," and abruptly hung up.

I didn't even get a chance to tell her about the rainbow of stretch-pant asses pawing through the pork. Wotta ripoff. I hoped she wasn't in the midst of some kind of Jerry Springer bare-knuckle brawl, over at Target. But it was entirely possible. She'd said, "little fat kid with a bowl haircut."

Around four o'clock we started in on the bottomless glasses of beer, Toney began working in the kitchen, and I eventually fired up the grill.

I put the corn on first, because it traditionally takes the longest. I leave it in the shuck, or whatever it's called, and cook it directly on the grill. Very tasty. But then I got my first look at those Sam's Club steaks, and promptly removed the corn and set it aside. Good God. It was a side of beef. I'd never cooked anything that large in my life. How long would it take? Would they be done that day? It was like something off The Flintstones.

"Told ya," Toney said.

I got 'em going, and hoped for the best. And around the ten-minute mark I realized that the grill was no longer working. What the? Oh crap, I was out of gas! Toney had asked me if we needed to check on that beforehand, and I'd assured her everything was OK. More hopeful forecasting. Now here I was staring down at two massive steaks sitting atop a grill that was deader than Kelsey's nuts. The shit was just a prop, not actually functioning. This was not good, not good at all.

Then I remembered the rolling box of beds. I'd just borrow the tank from our camper, and all would be right with the world again! Heck, it shouldn't be too hard to remove, since it had nearly flown off on our way back from Myrtle Beach. And it wasn't. Within minutes we were back in business. I'm such a man, working with my tools and switchin' out tanks...

My contribution to the Deck Feast cause, besides the handy grillwork, was a cucumber and onion concoction that my grandmother used to make. She was a genius at turning a dollar's worth of food (or whatever) into a really kick-ass meal. I think it was that Depression-era upbringing. But she was a great cook, and one of the things I remember really liking as a kid was this cucumber deal.

Last summer I asked my Mom about it, and she knew how to do it. Not that it's too complicated or anything... But it's half a cup of water, half a cup of vinegar, salt and pepper, and a little sugar. And in that you put cucumber slices, raw onions, and ice cubes to keep everything crunchy and cold. For some reason it goes great on the side with steaks. So that's what I did.

We also had homemade macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, and lemon merengue pie for dessert. As amazing as it may seem, and as difficult as it was getting there, everything turned out great. I had to employ the use of a meat thermometer to check on the big Flintstones steaks, and once they reached 150 degrees I yanked 'em off. Perfect!

All four of us made a gluttonous dinner of those two monsters, and the ones I bought at Wegman's are still in the fridge. They'll probably go bad and will eventually be tossed in the garbage. There was even enough left over to make Andy believe it was raining beef. He was in doggie heaven and simply couldn't believe his good fortune.

So, 2005's Deck Feast 1 was a rousing success, I'm happy to report. We'll have to do it again real soon. Here's how my plate looked before I started in with the wild dingo-frenzy. That's half a steak you see there, cut straight across the middle.

Ahhh... sweet meat nostalgia.  

See ya tomorrow.


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