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

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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

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

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  Willard "Bill" Hershberger

    

   The State of My Fat Ass                                         July 2006


July 31, 2006

-- I happened to catch something amazing on television Saturday: the triumphant return of a local celebrity.

He's the weatherman at the most popular TV station in town, and I have a feeling that if he ever jumped ship and went to a competing station, they'd suddenly be the most popular in town. Because this dude is the King of Northeastern PA. I can't begin to understand any of it, but it's true. I've lived in plenty of places in my life, but I've never seen anything like this before.

A couple of years ago we went to a mall in Wilkes-Barre on a Sunday, and it was like Beatlemania inside. There was a long, snaking line of people extending from one end of the place, wrapped around the end, then back up the other side. Folks of every age and demographic were wide-eyed and chattering expectantly, clutching photos and Sharpie pens, and standing on their tip-toes trying to get a glimpse of something. Way off in the distance we could hear rolling screams of excitement, like someone had started The Wave.

What in the brown 'n' serve hell?! Is Madonna here? Johnny Depp? The Pope?? No! It was The Weatherman. And just how freaky is that?

I started watching him in the mornings, just to see what all the hubbub is about, and he falls squarely in the "wacky" category. Likable (of course), but full-blown goofy. He might show a map of the United States and Telly Savalas's face will be rotating over the entire state of Pennsylvania, for reasons unknown, then a gang of ketchup bottles will come down from Canada and push Kojak out into the Atlantic Ocean. Or something similar.

By the time it's over I generally have no idea what kind of weather to expect, but am thoroughly entertained.

I was somewhere recently and a woman was bitching about the rain. She said "Joe" (no last name is necessary) said it would be clear all day, so she'd left her umbrella at home. "He never gets it right," she screeched, "but we still looooove him!" In most places they'd want to burn a bastard's house down if it rained without warning, but this guy has full weatherman immunity -- something I'd never even thought possible.

Every year he rides his bike about 500 miles, and takes pledges to raise money for a local charity. It's a big to-do, and is hyped for weeks in advance. This year he rode from Maine, back to Scranton, including a much-feared trek through New York City. And as I was flipping through the channels Saturday night, I came across his Welcome Home party.

At first I didn't know what was going on. It was happening during prime time, and they were preempting the network broadcast. Had something happened? Had another sinkhole opened up and swallowed the city of Dunmore or something?? Eventually I figured it out, and was completely transfixed.

Hundreds of people, if not thousands, had turned out to watch The Weatherman pedal back into town. There were food booths and bands playing.... Folks were packed up against barriers, and lining the street. Commentators were there with microphones, talking about the excitement in the air. A guy who looked like a diesel mechanic was asked how long he'd been there, and he said he'd arrived two hours earlier "to get a good spot." It was unbelievable.

Then they started making the announcements: "Joe's only three blocks away!" A huge roar goes up. Then it's two block, and one. Finally, on the screen, we see policemen on motorcycles, their lights flashing, and the crowd is in a full-on frenzy. People are shown behind the barriers just openly sobbing.

And then we see him come around the corner, it's Joe, pedaling and waving, smiling and pumping his fists in the air. The crowd is now in a state of what appears to be collective sexual climax. It's just a big distorted wall of high-pitched shrieking, unrelenting and sustained. He dismounts, hugs his wife and kids, then his mother and sister. Nuns are there, and priests as well. People are wailing and hollering, and I just can't stop watching.

The whole concept of local celebrity fascinates me to no end, especially the local mega-celebrity like "Joe." The man probably has to travel with a bodyguard when he goes to the corner grocery store for a sack of Funyuns. Yet, if he drives 75 miles in any direction nobody knows who the hell he is. It's gotta be a bizarre life.

Ya know?

-- And speaking of local celebrities, I'm gonna turn it over now to Metten, who's back today with a rare and hilarious update. Right.... now.

See ya tomorrow. 
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July 28, 2006

-- When we were camping a couple of weeks ago there was a guy who walked past us several times every day, and Andy hated him. It was a constant parade of people going by, day and night, but for some reason the hound had a major problem with this one particular frowning bald man. Most everyone else was OK, but Andy would go completely ass-over-tits crazy whenever Ol' Midnight Oil shuffled past.

My instincts told me to yell at the dog and try to get him to calm down. But the thing was, I sort of agreed with him. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I had mixed feelings about the guy as well. He seemed angry and wound-tight, and that's not a good combination. Mix in cheap beer and high temperatures, and you've got a potential situation on your hands. 

Plus dogs are keen judges of character, and you can't just go dismissing their appraisals all willy-nilly. Ya know?

So I started yelling at Andy, for the man's benefit, but used fake names. The first time I said, "Todd, shut up!" When he went past again, I hollered, "Jimmy, that's enough!!" I changed the name every time, just to keep things interesting. And, of course, none of it even registered with Andy. Because, after all, his name is not Todd.

I reminded everyone, as well, that if the guy would happen to return in the dark of night, shirtless and brandishing a bloody cleaver, he wouldn't be able to calm our dog by whispering his name. He'd be calling him Robert and whatnot, and that would probably make matters worse for him. I only thought of this part after the fact, but I acted like it was part of the master plan.... Don't tell anyone, OK?

The Secrets thought it was all a riot, of course, and got in on the fun. Then Toney started doing it as well. But they took it way too far, and the air of authenticity was shattered. They started calling him Roland and Hubert and stuff like that, and I just rolled my eyes in exasperation. All my important work, being undone in a swirl of goofiness....

"Roland's as legitimate a dog name as Robert," Toney said, "Who names a dog Robert??" Then I heard one of the kids say, "Calm down, Billie Joe Armstrong! Calm down!!" and I stormed off in a huff.

No respect for the art of fake dog-naming, none whatsoever.

-- I signed a contract today with the National Lampoon, allowing them to use the Wal-Mart Game in a book to be published in October, called Not Fit For Print. They're to pay me a small amount of money (and I do mean small), and I'll get a new eye-catching credit to add to my resume. Then I'll put the resume in a box, put the box into the car, drive the car around the world, until I get heard.

Or whatever.

-- I've been meaning to mention this for a while now, but keep forgetting.... Over at AOL Radio, previously Radio@Netscape, previously Spinner, they have a new all-Replacements channel. It's called Replacements O.D., and unfortunately, I believe it's only temporary.

But check it out while you can. They not only mine the old Twin/Tone catalog, but bootlegs and solo albums as well. It's pretty damn ass-kick. A few days ago at work I heard them play at least one whole side of The Shit Hits The Fans. And that's not something you hear at work every day, know what I'm sayin'?

-- And since we're on the subject, here's a funny article about Paul Westerberg.

-- And now a completely unrelated link to an interesting article about horror films that are so bad they're good, shoe-horned right into the middle of this thing.

-- Over the weekend I'm planning to take your advice and switch from Norton to AVG anti-virus. My Norton "subscription" is up, and I'm not giving them anymore of my money. I asked you folks for guidance a while back, and the response was loud and clear. Now if I contract some sort of tunneling Singaporean worm that destroys my hard drive and causes a house fire, I won't have to blame myself. I appreciate it!

-- Now I need a little more help.... What is StumbleUpon? As best as I can tell it's something along the lines of MySpace, and that sort of thing, but I can't really figure it out. In fact, I can't really figure out MySpace either, but that's another story....

The reason I ask about StumbleUpon is because they're driving substantial traffic to TheWVSR. For the past couple of months they've been the number one referring website, and I can't really get my arms around any of it.

What's it all about? I need closure, people!

-- And finally, something that should make me happy but, I'm sorry to say, only succeeds in scaring the living crap out of me. Below are two excerpts from an email conversation between two of your fellow Surf Reporters, forwarded to me yesterday after one participant dared the other.

If you need something MORE to laugh about than that, I could sometime tell you about the "adult" dream I had starring one Mr. Jeff Kay. Not a daydream, mind you, but a real one. I didn't know what to think when I woke up....

Then, following a little "you've got to be shitting me" back and forth:


That's about how I felt when I woke up. And it shall never be spoken of again.. Because, really I don't want to think about a half-naked Jeff Kay all too much, even if he WAS rubbing me down in the back of a camper trailer....

Nice technique, though.

After I read this, blinked about twenty times really fast, then read it again, I sent portions of it to a close friend. Here's what he had to say:

I'm speechless. You have now reached the point in your artistic career that you have women out there dreaming about you in your rolling box o' beds. You are my idol!

If I weren't so rattled I'd say something like, "Hey, it's all in the technique, my good man, it's all in the technique." But I can't manage even a half-assed joke here. Because the thought of a "half-naked Jeff Kay" in the back of a camper trailer gives even me a full-body shiver. Holy shit!

Have a great weekend, folks. I'll see ya again on Monday. 
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July 27, 2006


-- After Toney and I finally stopped laughing at the big retarded woman on the bumper cars (Wheeee!) at Knoebels on Tuesday, we had a conversation about dating services. Yes, you read that correctly.... Toney actually brought it up, and she had a really good point.

On the millions of TV and radio ads for services like eHarmony that we hear every day, they always mention a free "compatibility test." This is presumably used to match you up with a person who has the same interests as you. Blah, blah, blah.

Toney contends that our relationship works so well, at least in part, because of a shared interest in such things as cruel mockery. And most people, she believes, won't admit to that particular darkened corner of their personality -- especially when trying to attract a mate. She doubts that they even attempt to measure it, and this reveals a huge flaw in the system.

Because, you see, we believe that sarcasm and a penchant for ridicule are just as valid as any of the more fancy-pants character traits, such as compassion and caring. I mean, seriously.

Can any of you shed some light on this for us? Do you have experience with a dating service, and if so, do they gauge the more socially unacceptable side of human personality? Because if they don't, they're completely missing the boat....

And we see an opening for a business opportunity. Good afternoon, thanks for calling ePrick!

-- A couple of weeks ago a California-based bigshot at work asked me for local airport and hotel information. He said he was planning a quick visit to our office, on his way back from a meeting in Toronto, and needed my help. I gave him everything he asked for, and that was that. He never told me the dates of his proposed visit, and not another words was said about it.

Needless to say, I'm paranoid. In his first email he mentioned that he would fly in on a Wednesday night, tour our facility and meet with people on Thursday, then take a late flight back to LAX Thursday night. But which Thursday?? That's the 64 oz. question. Sweet sainted mother of Cesar Geronimo, I'm gonna be blind-sided here!

So, last Thursday morning, very early, I called both hotels I'd suggested to him, and asked if he was registered. Then I repeated the exercise this morning. And I feel like Cannon now, doing investigative work and waddling from room to room. It's a sad state of affairs.

-- I overheard two people talking at work yesterday about a person they know who reportedly has a secret recipe for cornbread. WTS?? What's the point of keeping recipes secret, unless you own a restaurant or something? Seriously, what's it all about?? Do you know anyone who does this, and is it, as I suspect, a desperate plea for attention? Help me out, people.

-- As mentioned, I've been buying-up, slowly but surely, all the kick-ass British reissues of the Boomtown Rats catalog. The sound is awesome, the liner notes are hilarious, there's a heaping helping of bonus tracks, and the price is right. It's enough to make an aging hipster weep straight into his Trouser Presses.

Anyway, my old vinyl copy of one of their more obscure albums had a small skip in it, that was long forgotten until I started playing the CD. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I hadn't heard the thing in over twenty years, but when I popped the reissue into my player the other day I actually anticipated the skip.

It wasn't an actual memory, I don't believe, it was something primal, from way down deep. My body tensed at the spot where the skip should occur, then I had to go back and figure out why. 

Freaky, man.

-- For no relevant reason whatsoever, here's another selection from the massive Surf Report sound library. This one dates from the Atlanta years, aka the late 1990's. It's a heartwarming number called "Who Cut The Cheese?" And since we're at it, this is racing legend "Emerson Fitapaldi" calling into Christopher Rude's old morning radio show, at 96 Rock.

Toney to me, during the Atlanta years: "You're being ruined by Beavis and Butthead, the Jerky Boys, and Christopher Rude."

-- Now I'm going to turn this bastard over to Buck, and go to work.... My paranoia is causing me worry that the bigshot may have registered under a fake name, like Mel Sharples or somesuch.

Holy crap, I'd better go. See ya tomorrow.
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July 26, 2006

-- I feel like I've been beaten with a sack o' taters this morning. I think it's time that I subscribe to some sort of exercise regimen, I really do. If you remember, an hour of bike-riding recently left me walking around like a lower-case r for a week, and now a day at an amusement park has kicked my ass, up left then sideways. I feel like my entire muscular system is buzzing. I'm almost certain that coffee is the only reason there's any bunker-animation whatsoever at this point.

But anyway, we had a really good time at Knoebels yesterday. It wasn't overly crowded, the sun was shining, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all....

The place has been there for seventy-five years, and I think some of the original rides are still in use. I might be wrong about that, but it's what it feels like. There's a real retro vibe to Knoebels -- in the best sense of the word. A lot (but not all) of the attractions are vintage, yet well-maintained and clean. And the food is shockingly good.

The Secrets each rode fifteen or twenty rides I'd guess, but I only managed four: the haunted house (cheesy fun), the bumper cars (straight out of the 1940's and kick-ass), The Twister roller coaster (pretty damn intense), and the legendary Phoenix coaster (awesome!).

The Phoenix is a godlike structure to coaster geeks worldwide. I remember seeing a local news report a couple of years ago about a group of British guys who traveled to America specifically to ride the thing. At the end of the report they were shown on their knees bowing to the Phoenix, like something off Wayne's World. Apparently they weren't disappointed.

A big retarded woman was on the bumper cars with us, and they kept having to shut the thing down in mid-ride to help her out of "situations." At one point she was packed in a corner, with the out-of-use broken cars, just flooring it straight into the wall. She also kept going the wrong way, and I think the employees were afraid that someone might knock her clean through the chain link fence and out into the fairway. Near the end she was just whipping round and round in a tight circle, at a high rate of speed, yelling "Wheeee!"

I probably shouldn't have laughed so hard, and for quite so long.

The Twister was a little scary. I used to be all about the roller coasters, but now I look at the things and envision catastrophe. I rode with the oldest Secret and my sphincter was clipped-off tight for at least an hour afterwards. I just knew that bitch was going to jump the tracks and go hurtling into the treetops. Holy crapballs. Too many maniac turns, at too high an elevation....

And first thing this morning I saw this linked at Drudge, which helps nothing. But, of course, the guy undoubtedly had an undiagnosed heart condition. Right? Right.

For lunch I had a really good Southern-style pork barbecue sandwich. Not exactly your standard carny food, y'know? They also have excellent homemade french fries, and cheese fries and whatnot, which generate lines of people that rival the roller coasters. Later in the day I bought some sort of bizarre sweet tea slushie type of drink. A new one on me, but really good.

When we were having lunch, inside a big picnic pavilion, there were signs everywhere advertising the return of their "famous" all-you-can-eat spaghetti supper. Can you imagine?! Maybe I'm the strange one, but the last thing I'd want to do before boarding a thrill ride is to load up on pasta and marinara sauce. Shit, you'd probably have to carry an umbrella to keep the red vomit off of you.

So it was a good time, as usual. I've been to my share of big corporate amusement parks, and Knoebels holds its own against any of them. Plus, I don't think we spent even seventy-five bucks, food included -- for a family of four. And how cool is that? Sure, the clientele skews slightly in this direction, but not to the point of distraction. The whole thing is just highly recommended. In fact, we're going back in less than two weeks.

Here are some pics I took yesterday, and the big honkin' photo essay from last year.

Thanks for the (mostly) great ideas yesterday, for attractions at the big proposed Surf Report amusement park. Keep 'em coming!

And I'll see ya tomorrow. 
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July 25, 2006

-- This will have to be a quickie. Last night at dinner, almost literally at the last moment, we decided to go to Knoebels today. It's a great old time-warp of an amusement park down in the middle of the state, and the kids love it. In fact, I love it too; it's more fun than Disney, in my opinion. We're going today, and probably again in a couple of weeks. And I'll have more on that upcoming fiasco as the time gets nearer. Sweet sainted mother of John Parr....

A couple of months ago, when we were plotting our summer over coffee, Toney and I came up with a list of vacation days I'd need to take. I turned them in with the best of intentions and, of course, everything came off the rails. I've found that it's a fool's exercise to try to make plans farther out than, say, seven days. Go beyond a week, and you may as well be blowing diarrhea in the wind. I really should've known better.

I didn't though, and ended up with an approved day off tomorrow with no plans for it. I thought I'd just hang around the house and do some extracurricular writing. But the idea of Knoebels was floated at dinner last night, and it met with everyone's approval. It was one of those Well, why the hell not? moments.

So we're going. And Toney and the Secrets are breathing down my neck as I type this, for me to get off this computer and drag my big ass into the sunlight.

Like I say, this will have to be a quickie.

-- Yesterday Surf Reporter Aaron sent me a bunch of Smoking Fish pics that made my brain crack open a little. I'll let him introduce them to you the way he introduced them to me:

Jeff, I saw the smoking fish tasting dog meat in Vietnam last week in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon). See the little puppy dog tails in the window? Ain't he a nasty fucker? Sorry the pictures aren't better. The natives got pissed off that I was taking them and shoo'd me away in a language I didn't quite understand. Aaron (in Australia)

When Aaron first started reading TheWVSR he lived in Dog Balls, Pennsylvania. (I think that's correct.) Now his home base is Australia, and apparently vacations in places like Vietnam(?!). Makes me feel like one of those people who never venture more than ten miles from where they were born....

Sir, I'd hoist an ice cold Foster's in your honor, if it wasn't, you know, piss. I'm afraid a Yuengling will have to do. Cheers!

Here are the pics he attached, minus a couple of redundant shots. Cool.

-- Here's the best Deadwood t-shirt ever. I'd buy one if there was anywhere on the planet I could wear it. Ya know? I could just see me walking into a parent/teacher conference in one of those things.... Heh.

It falls into the same category as the shirts they were selling at a Shane MacGowan concert I attended in Atlanta years ago. They said on the back, in large letters, "I might've fucked your wife, but I never fucked your daughter." 

Hilarious, but wonder how many they sold? Seriously. Even taking into account the across-the-board bed-shitting drunkenness of the crowd there?

-- And that's gonna have to do it for today, my friends. The oldest Secret is literally tapping his foot, like something off a 1950's sitcom. I'll leave you now with a class project. 

I'd like to know what rides and attractions there would be at a Surf Report amusement park?

Like, say, The Emasculator, where a person must back a pop-up camper into a tiny space in front of the entire world (including their wives and girlfriends), for a chance to win a stuffed animal. 

Or The Ball Baby Bitch, where you're strapped to a rolling sofa emblazoned with the word SUNSHINE in sparkly letters, and sent rocketing over the 200-foot Jew Bastard Plunge.

I'm sure you guys can do better than that, but you get the idea. I'm all out of time here....

See ya tomorrow. 
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July 24, 2006

-- I was in a coal mine on Saturday. Yeah, it was a touristy tour-type tour, but it was a coal mine nonetheless. The old #190 Slope, to be exact. Toney suggested we take the Secrets, and I groaned a little inside, fearing cheesiness. But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

Here's some info on it.

I'd been on one of those deals before, in Beckley, WV, and it was the source of my hesitation. It was a long time ago, but I remember it as being pretty lame. I recall lots of mannequins dressed in novelty mining clothes, and sitting beside powdered-up old ladies in a modified coal car on a trip underground that wasn't nearly scary enough. And, of course, a large gift shop that sold "souvenir spoons" and whatnot.

I'm not sure if this Lackawanna mine is simply better, or if I enjoyed it more because I'm an old man now. But it was fun. The descent into the black hole was a little unnerving, smelly, and rough, and that's all good stuff. 

Our guide was also excellent. With his help, I walked around down there imagining what it must've been like for the miners working in the dark, breathing the dust, and dealing with the danger. I thought about their home life, and how difficult it must've been in those days.

In Beckley I was probably looking for an RC machine, preoccupied with getting my hands on a Nehi Red Apple.

Of course there were a couple of douchebags in our group yesterday, trying to impress us all with their vast knowledge and probing questions. But that goes with the territory, doesn't it? You just fantasize about "accidentally" bumping them over a railing and sending them down a darkened shaft, and that seems to help.

A painfully skinny teenage girl was shivering and showboating for everyone (it's a constant fifty degrees down there), and she was a little harder to take. I wanted to tell her to have a freakin' burger once in a while, and get some platelets in her blood, and she might not shatter like a delicate flower at the slightest change in temperature. Jesus J. McChrist.

But I liked the way the ceiling kept getting lower and lower the longer we walked; it created a mild feeling of claustrophobia. And the dampness, and the constant drip drip drip.... I liked the stories the guide told us about the kids who worked down there (as young as seven years old), tending to the work-mules (some of which lived their entire lives underground), and how they went about stopping the big (and brakeless) five-ton coal cars. Let's just say that it was a process that could easily earn a person the nickname "Ol' Seven Fingers." Holy crap.

So, it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. And the place is only a few miles from our house. Who knew? Maybe I'll try to set aside my deep, deep prejudices more often, and just go with the flow? Sometimes it works out.

I took a bunch of pictures, but most of the shots inside the mine itself didn't work out very well. Unless, of course, you like black rectangles with a blurry light up in one corner.... Here's the best I could do. Hopefully it'll give you a general feel for the place.

Pretty cool.

-- On Sunday Toney and I worked in the yard for two or three hours. The grass was kinda high (I don't care if the neighbors put together a petition, I'm not mowing in 98% humidity), but we got everything whipped into shape, and it looks really good now.

And how's that for a pisser? Last weekend, when we were camping, it was like hell on earth. This weekend, when we're just hanging around at home, temperatures are in the 70s and the soul-sapping humidity is at a tolerable level. Ya just gotta love it.

In the afternoon I went out and bought a six-pack of some sort of highly-hopped American microbrew, and we sat on the deck and partook. A beautiful day. It seemed like the bugs were even on vacation.

God is Allen Funt, isn't he?

-- And just so you're completely up to date on our exciting weekend, I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on Saturday: an entertaining flick with hilarious dialog. I also ripped through the first disc of the first season of Perry Mason, which was also great. One of my all-time favorite shows.... Every episode is like a really good movie.

I did some reading on Raymond Burr after I finished watching the shows, and I'm still a little surprised at his gayness. I had no idea, until he died and news reports said he was survived by a "life partner." Apparently they lived in northern California for decades as a married couple, raising flowers and running a vineyard(!).

Whatever. It's not like I care one way or the other, but you usually hear rumors about such things. Ya know? I knew nothing of Perry Mason's sweet tooth for the man ass. Gomer? Check. Paul Lynde? Obviously. Rock Hudson? Not exactly shocking. But Raymond Burr?? No.

On top of that, my research revealed that not only was Perry Mason a homosexual, but Paul Drake was not. It's like we're living in the bizarro world.... It's almost as hard to fathom as Bob Mould being gay, while the members of Depeche Mode are all married and have a bunch of kids. Sometimes it's almost too much for the brain to process.

Hello?

-- Here are last night's (lackluster) Deadwood numbers, and you're all caught up.

See ya tomorrow. 
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July 21, 2006

-- Over the past couple of years I've developed a low-wattage concern, beneath the scar tissue of my mind, about job security. I work in an industry that's vulnerable to technological advances, I think, and worry that I'll be forty-eight or fifty years old and doing salad bar maintenance at Shoney's or something. 

Depending on which co-worker I'm talking to, we either have nothing to worry about, or are as doomed as the freakin' dinosaurs were. I have a feeling that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and that's not exactly where I'd like it to be.

Because of this, I've started paying attention to what other people do. I like to compare my situation with theirs, to see who's more at risk. And it seems that I come out on the losing end of the equation every time.

Last week I was talking to a guy at the Secret's swimming practice, and it sounds like he's a big shot at Proctor & Gamble. I'm pretty sure their plant here manufactures toilet paper. Toilet paper! Talk about job security -- I can't think of a bigger demographic than the ass-wipers. Hell, the moment the bombs start falling is when we'll need them the most. No way to compete with that.

Another person I spoke with owns two or three pizza shops locally. So there you go. Pizza will never go out of style either, and apparently the dude has a loyal following. PLUS, he's helping the first guy, in a you grease 'em up and I'll wipe 'em down situation. We've got nothing like that happening at my job.

When I started out on my life's journey (heh) I was hell-bent on doing something "cool" and "interesting." No way I would've considered a gig inside the shitpaper industry.... Now here I am, forty-three and imagining a future where I'm saying things like, "A memo just came down from home office! We're to start leaving the skin ON the cucumber slices! Did you hear me people?! Leave it on!!"

Of course, there's always Amway. Right? Maybe when the shit hits the fan I can turn this website into a household cleaner portal? Humor and off-brand detergent.... It's something to consider.

-- I'm struggling this morning. My contact lens solution is playing havoc with my left eye. They make two different formulas of the stuff: original and advance. Somehow I ended up with advance cleaner and original conditioning solution. And that doesn't compute.

My eyes burned all day yesterday, and I took my contacts out as soon as I got home from work. The moment I popped them back in this morning I knew something was wrong, very wrong. Far worse than yesterday. I removed them immediately, but my left eye is still red, burning, and watering to beat the band. I can't get it to stop. I've splashed water in there and everything, but it's just drip, drip, drip. 

My eyes: I hope they don't have to come out.

I feel like I'm writing this update while looking through a shower door today. If it's not one thing it's a freakin' nother. And dat's da troof.

-- Will, the keeper of the blanket, has added a few new quotes to his list. You can read them at the bottom of the page, here. Thanks Will! I appreciate the ongoing effort.

-- Surf Reporter Don sends along this extra-nice Smoking Fish sighting, captured in the heart of the motherland. Thanks, man!

-- And a very shady and mysterious person, who insists on remaining anonymous, forwarded me these sightings as well. Yikes. I just want to be clear here.... I'll keep the identity secret as long as the pressure is off. But if Alberto Gonzales dispatches some suits to my house, I'm gonna start singing like a bird. This ain't Robert Novak, goddammit.

Great pics, though! Extremely cool.

-- The very first word of dialog in Sunday's episode of Deadwood was "fucking." I wish I'd paid attention to the last word spoken, because there's a very good chance they came in with a fuck and went out with a fuck. Check the numbers if you don't believe me.

-- Surf Reporter Jeff has a daughter going into first grade. Last year's class was asked to write letters to the incoming students, to welcome them aboard and tell them what to expect. Here's the letter that Jeff's daughter received a few days ago. As you can see, it features the rather confusing term "lunch cunt." And so it goes at Redd Foxx Elementary.

-- Before I get to the question of the day (apparently Clive doesn't do topics anymore), I'm going to turn it over to our good friend Buck, who wants to question my manhood some more. Here ya go

Be sure to check out the Monuments to Buck pictures, linked at the bottom of his update, because it took me a substantial amount of time getting those things ready last night. Shit.

-- And finally, what's the most unusual thing you've ever bought via the internet?

When we first moved from Atlanta to Southern California, Toney and I bought a box of Vidalia onions from some outfit in Georgia. (We were homesick, what of it?) They were very expensive, and the produce Nazis at the California border confiscated two of them, leaving us with only four. Four onions for, like, twenty bucks. Then later that week we were in Costco, and saw that they were selling big twenty pound sacks of the things for about seven dollars. Yes, it was a Great Moment in Douche.

What about you? Have you ever ordered anything strange over the internet? Tell us about it in the comments.

And have yourselves a great little weekend, y'hear? See ya on Monday. 
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July 20, 2006

-- I'm getting a little tired of this subject, to tell you the truth, but we're almost to the end and I'll get back to the regular stuff tomorrow. 'kay?

Sunday It was already hot at eight in the morning, when I crawled off my shelf-bed and joined Toney outside with a humongous cup of coffee. So freakin' muggy. There was a haze hanging over the world, so thick it seemed to muffle sound. And it was supposed to be the hottest day yet.

As we bitched and sniped the Secrets tore ass to the playground, like they'd done the previous day. I don't know how they can run and jump in that stuff, I really don't. It's a miracle of science.

A few minutes later an old man, out walking his dog, stopped to chat. There's a lot of that in campgrounds... neighborly chatting. Of course it goes against my nature, but I make an effort to be civil. He asked us where we live, then launched into twenty minutes of stories loosely related to our town.

He used to be in the business of well-digging and once dug a well near us, "probably in 1956, '57," which required him to go down in excess of 300 feet. He lost money on that deal, he told us. The ground is reportedly very hard in our area, and the coal is so pure it has to be cut out in blocks like ice. Not conducive to well-digging. He also spent many years working in a factory where they made radio tubes, and once had a job where he was required to leave his house at four in the morning. His body never adjusted and he repeatedly fell asleep behind the wheel. "I'm lucky that nobody ever got hurt," he said. Yeah, no shit.

He was a nice guy, and I liked listening to him. But at the end he asked, once again, "And where do you folks live?" I thought about telling him a different town this time, to trigger a new set of stories, but I really needed to visit the outhouse.

And it just kept getting hotter and hotter -- even worse than the previous days. Sun was beating down on the camper, unobstructed, and eventually the big industrial air conditioner seemed to be struggling to keep up. I didn't think it was possible, but we lost our sanctuary. It was only slightly cooler inside, and that sucked.

I think it was Toney who suggested we "go to the store." We needed, um, ice. Right, ice. And firewood. We could probably save some money if we found a proper grocery store, and it would be well worth the effort, we told ourselves.

So we took off with the A/C blasting, secretly hoping that it would take a long time to find a store. We drove past a very cool-looking drive-in restaurant beside the river, that was completely packed. I suggested we hit it on the way back, for lunch. As usual, nobody answered. 

We somehow ended up in downtown Lewisburg, and drove past the old restored theater where Steve and I saw a silent Buster Keaton movie a couple of years ago, complete with live orchestra. I mentioned this, but nobody had anything to say about it.

We found a grocery store, and I stayed in the truck with Andy while everyone else disappeared inside. While they were away I did a quick inventory of our Yuengling supply, and was pleased to find that we had eighteen left. Oh yeah.

When Toney and the boys returned, they were only toting ice and various crapola the Secrets wanted. No firewood. The heck, man? She said they didn't have any. So we tried the Wal-Mart next door, and they were sold-out as well. Irritating. I'd been highly satisfied with the thought of us bypassing the criminal pricing of the camp store, and bringing in some outside wood. Now it was getting all screwed up.

I remembered a handwritten sign I'd seen along the road somewhere. It said "Firewood $3." Wonder if I could find it again?

Damn right, I could. We turned at the scary-looking dirt road where the sign was located, and continued past several dumpy houses. It looked like the owners of each and every one of them had started adding on rooms, but had run out of money or lost interest or something. There was an abundance of shabby half-finished construction out there, and the road stopped abruptly at a dead-end near a shithole with a two story "addition" that looked to have been started in the mid-1970's and never finished.

Finally I saw the wood. It was stacked in five or six piles beside the road, and there was another "Firewood $3" sign tacked to a tree nearby. Below the sign was a nailed-up coffee can where, I assumed, I was supposed to deposit my money.

I thought for sure I'd be shot clean through the face as I began loading one of the stacks into the back of my truck, so I made a big show of putting the money in the can. I was making big exaggerated movements and waving my arms around. The kids were laughing at me, but I knew, just knew, that we were being watched. From somewhere.

It turned out to be great stuff. It burned forever, and seemed to be almost smokeless. We even had six or eight pieces left over, something unheard of with camp store wood. If we ever return to that campground, I'm making a repeat visit to Unfinished Additions Road, and that's a fact.

We went back to the rolling box o' beds, and topped off our coolers with ice. I stacked the wood near our fire ring, then suggested we go back to the drive-in we'd spotted earlier. This time, under the scorching sun, everybody agreed.

It's called The Fence, and here's their website. The first time we drove past it was completely packed with people, very similar to this picture. It's gotta be good, I theorized. And I was right.

They offer old-fashioned car hop service, but it was too hot for such nonsense, and we made our way to their air conditioned dining room instead. We ordered regular drive-in fare: hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and root beers. But for some reason it was all magically delicious. I don't know what they do differently, but I applaud their efforts. I was about ready to tell our waitress to bring us another round of everything, but Toney reigned me in.

And it was all downhill from there.

I've never been so uncomfortable in my life, for so long. My core temperature was so elevated I was afraid I might finally explode, right there in my folding chair. Toney was past her tipping point, and was openly hostile about the whole exercise. She proclaimed, repeatedly, that we will NEVER camp again, and nobody felt the need to argue with her. Not even the Secrets, who were now completely spent and lying in heaps.

I went to the bathroom late in the afternoon and was shocked at what was looking back at me in the mirror. My face was all ruddy and elongated, shiny and dark brown. I looked like John Kerry, if one of his parents had been from India, and, you know, he'd died recently and come back as a zombie. It was literally frightening.

We didn't really need to light the charcoal to cook dinner, but I went through the motions anyway. Steve, who lives about ten miles away, came by for a quick visit, but I barely even remember it. My brains were so scrambled, not much was sticking.

I do know that there was a private party across the street at the pavilion, thrown by "the union," and they made it clear to us campers that we weren't welcome. However, we got to listen to their DJ play a bizarre mix of songs all night, as "union" members got shit-faced and cranked off rebel yells. I wanted to go over there and tell the guy that Metallica, Enya, and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook don't really go together. But fuck it, it was too hot.

And that was that. We went to bed completely pissed-off and disillusioned. Toney was livid and acting like a maniac, and still hasn't fully calmed down. It was that final day that put us over the top. Before that it had just been your standard-issue horrible. But Sunday was like something out of the Old Testament.

Now here's the kicker.... We took off early on Monday morning, wanting to be back in our comfortable air-conditioned house before noon. When we got here, around one o'clock, I told the Secrets to go inside, as I mentally prepared myself for another infuriating session of trailer-backing and high-end obscenity-shouting.

Toney jumped out to serve as my guide again, and I got myself into position. Then I threw it into reverse and put that bastard right in the middle of our driveway, like a grizzled long-haul trucker. First try, straight as an arrow.

And there was nobody there to witness it -- not the snickering bucktoothed hick at the campground, and not even Mr. Helpful who "straightened it up" for me. I was certain Allen Funt would emerge from behind a partition and give me a big hug while convulsing in laughter.

And so it goes.

-- Next time I promise we'll get back to the regular stuff, which is starting to pile up. I feel kinda guilty about droning on like this, so I'll leave you today with another Phil Hendrie clip. Hopefully it'll be enough to salvage the day? In this one he's "interviewing" high school football coach Vernon Dozier, who doesn't want any PUSSIES! on his team with asthma. A classic. Please accept it as a token of my appreciation.

See ya tomorrow. 
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July 19, 2006

-- The rest of our big weekend camping trip was dominated by heat: brain-melting temperatures, and maxed-out humidity. It was all-encompassing, and almost inescapable. Here's how it played out:

Saturday We woke up to the sound of rain pounding the top of the camper, and the canvas above our heads. "Oh shit!" Toney hollered, sprang from the bed and ripped out the door. The shit?? I haven't moved that fast since Reagan was in office. Turns out she didn't want the folding chairs to get wet, since it takes them roughly a week to dry. Good thinking, pass the beer nuts.

Eventually I started to move around, and could tell that my back ache had returned. Oh great. Was I now going to spend the rest of the weekend all gnarled-up and grimacing, with my hands drawn up to my chest like a T. Rex? I'm just one portable party atmosphere, I told myself, fun for all.

Luckily enough, it went away shortly after I hoisted my ass upright. And Toney and I began our morning ritual of drinking coffee and plotting the day. But we had to do it inside this time, because of the rain. The Secrets had already turned on Nickelodeon, and Timmy Turner's voice was boring a hole straight through my brain stem.

This is when we had our first (of several) soul-searching conversations about whether or not "camping is for us." It was already grotesquely hot outside, I needed to pee like Man O' War but didn't cherish the thought of trudging through the rain to the bath house, and we both felt like we'd been dipped in chicken grease then smoked in a smoke shack.

Visions of Double Tree Inns danced in our heads.

As we waited on the rain to stop I signed up for 48 hours worth of wireless internet, for eleven bucks. A little steep, I thought, but who gives a hot-buttered damn? I was developing a slow-burn bad attitude, and I'm pretty sure Toney was right there with me.

The weather sites we visited said the rain would end around noon, and they were right. It stopped right on time, and was replaced by the bad crazy sun. I'm not kidding, it was like a blast furnace outside. Like sub-Saharan Africa or some deal. Horrible.

I dragged my wilting ass to the bath house to take a shower, and enjoyed the air conditioning inside. It didn't smell too good (there was tag-team crapping going on, along with much uneasy shit-chat), but it was cold in there. And cold is good.

I didn't like the looks of the shower nozzle, and my fears were confirmed when I turned on the water. The thing was nothing but a misting device, the kind they have at outdoor cafes in hellish cities like Dallas. It took forever to get the job done, because I was standing inside a lukewarm cloud. Grrr.... Stupid water-saving bean-counting basta'ds.

The Secrets played with other kids at the campground, wide-open and for hours on end. I don't know how they did it, but they did. It looked like they were having a great time, and Toney and I reminded each other that it was the reason we endured this type of thing. And as we said those words another marble-sized bead of sweat worked its way down the full length of my butt-crack.

In the late afternoon we took the kids to the pool. There were four tables there with shade umbrellas, three of which were occupied. At the fourth people had draped towels over the bench seats to "save" them. I shoved the towels to one end, and sat down. Toney said, "Um, I think somebody else is sitting here." I didn't even answer.

She dragged a chair over beside me, not wanting to involve herself in the coming confrontation, and we watched the Secrets rough-house and do stuff that's not really advised. There were lots of fat people in attendance, including a woman who looked like Ginny Sack. Her gargantuan thighs appeared to be constructed of still-wet cement. And lots of it. As she waddled past I said, in my most thenthitive and understanding Oprah voice, "Well good for her!"

And that's what I did the rest of the time we were at the pool; whenever another swaddler shuffled by, I said, "Well, good for her!" I tried to do it with the men too, but it didn't feel quite right. I've never heard anyone say that for a 500 lb. man, so I confined it to the women for authenticity's sake.

I was now getting on Toney's nerves.

After swimming (where the towel people never returned to the scene of their crime) we went back to the camper, and got ready to cook dinner. Which, of course, is code-speak for "opened the goddamn bar."

Toney brought along twelve Cokes in the old-fashioned glass bottles, as a treat for the Secrets, and she handed them each one. Immediately they started chugging them down, like they were in a race of some sort. I'd noticed them doing this earlier, and asked what was going on. They looked at me like they didn't know what I was talking about. Do they have a summer soda-drinking camp somewhere? I think our kids could benefit from such a thing. Perhaps we've sheltered them a bit too much?

As we enjoyed our three or four before-dinner Pottsville beverages, we heard someone hollering over in the commons area near the playground. It sounded like an adult, not a kid, and he was yelling, "Trow it! Trow the ball!!" Occasionally he'd crank off a theatrical, exaggerated laugh, like an actor in a silent movie. Or, you know, some doucheketeer like Nostrils. He was the loudest person in the place, and every head was turning in his direction.

Yes, that's correct, it was Mr. Highly Involved Dad, putting on his evening performance. God, how I wanted to hurt him. I sat there grumbling and spinning great fantasies that featured the trowing of hot oil, as well as a little spear-chucking. I looked around at neighboring sites, and saw other people shaking their heads as well. I thought I could probably take advantage of some good old-fashioned mob mentality, but it was far too hot for such a project. Screw it.

Around the time we returned from the pool, a country band began setting up in the pavilion across the street. It was comprised of three or four very old men, and one very old woman. By the time we placed our burgers on the grill, they were well into their third or fourth Hank Williams song. And they played until ten o'clock. Their voices were pretty good, and the harmonies were top-notch, but they desperately needed to up the beats-per-minute; plodding is a good word to describe their performance. I kept waiting for them to cut loose like Jason and the Scorchers, but it never happened. Around hour two, or so, all the songs started sounding exactly alike.

After dinner we all walked down to the camp store, and had Choco-Tacos for desert. Yum. We bought a bundle of over-priced firewood and a couple sacks of over-priced ice, and trudged back to our sweat-soaked Coleman chairs. I built a fire for the Secrets to prod (before they crashed like a ton of lead around nine o'clock), and grabbed me and Toney another beer each. And that was that. We barely moved until bedtime, except, of course, for the wild slapping of mosquitoes off our thighs, necks, and forearms.

It was a miserable day, and the next would be even worse.

And I apologize for dragging this thing out, but I'll have to finish up tomorrow. Stay tuned for a surprise ending....

See ya Thursday. 
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July 18, 2006

-- C minus. That's what I'd rate the weekend camping trip, a big fat C minus. Toney wasn't so forgiving and said F minus, which I don't believe is even a legitimate grade. Then she added, paraphrasing a character on Boston Public, "and if they'd let me, I'd give it a G." She also suggested we shove the rolling box of beds off a bridge, into the Susquehanna River. Scary, because Toney is usually the family's camping cheerleader....

Here's what happened:

Friday I wasn't able to leave work as early as I'd hoped, and we didn't get on the road until about 3:45. But it was only a ninety mile trek, so no big deal. We had our traditional travel CD, Tom Petty's Greatest Hits, and an outsize sack of Sam's Club Jelly Belly knock-offs, and were in a great mood, anticipating a little time away from reality.

Soon after leaving interstate 81, and entering interstate 80, we hit traffic. For a long time we crept forward at a speed so low it didn't register on the dashboard gauges. Several times we were completely stopped, and people were out of their cars talking to each other. It was hotter than the proverbial owl piss and I had the A/C in my Blazer cranked, just knowing that the engine would soon explode.

We made it through that particular mess, caused by a crew of "workers" leaning on shovels behind road cones, rocketed down the road for a few miles at normal speed (free at last!), before it all happened again. Same reason, same results.

It took us three hours and ten minutes to travel less than a hundred miles. Grrrr.... But there was plenty of daylight left, and we gritted our teeth and attempted to will away the white-hot all-consuming irritation that had overtaken us.

The woman at the front counter in the campground wasn't very friendly, and immediately she and I were having "words." She was acting like each person there was just another drudgery she was forced to endure, literally rolling her eyes in exasperation at every question posed to her. I've worked retail and am familiar with that feeling, but I also know that you're not supposed to be so obvious about it.

With all the traffic issues, I was in no mood. So the two of us sparred, trading smart-ass jabs. And after the transaction was complete, I'm almost certain she gave me a little conspiratorial nod of the head, which seemed to say: it's been nice doing battle with you, you're a formidable opponent. I returned the unspoken compliment, and we were off.

I'd been assured that we were assigned a prized pull-through site, which save me the humiliation of displaying my lack of backing skills. There's nothing worse than rolling into a campground late in the evening, when all the other campers are already set-up and guzzling Busch Light, and having a snickering audience as I struggle to get our camper in place. But we wouldn't have that problem here, we'd made arrangements on the front end.

The place looked great. We had to drive a long way to reach our site, and I was almost shocked at how pretty and well-maintained it was. Up in this part of the country, I've found, campgrounds are an iffy proposition. I guess it's because the season is so short, and it's hard to make any money at it. I don't know. But camping in the northeast can be pretty scary, if you don't play your cards right.

No issues here, though. It seemed to be packed-out with All-American families. Kids were everywhere, folks were playing horseshoes in the big grassy commons, and everyone seemed happy. It looked like some sort of Norman Rockwell paradise to me. I couldn't believe it. And so close to our house, too.

As we made our way to the site I passed a guy standing in front of his camper, drinking a beer. He had buck teeth protruding through a Fu Manchu moustache, and a filthy baseball cap advertising some sort of heavy machinery brand. I waved at him as we passed, as required by the Kamping Kulture handbook, but he didn't return the gesture. He just looked at me with the smile of the semi-retarded. The hell, man? Is the dude drunk already??

We found our spot, but there was a problem. While that entire row of sites was designed to be pull-throughs, some were built-up in the back with railroad ties, to make them level. So there was no pulling-through happening here, none whatsoever. 

Was it really our site? Perhaps there'd been some sort of mix-up? We were in deep denial, and decided to go around the big one-way loop again.

As we passed BuckyChu this time, I was almost certain he was chuckling. Heeeere we go. 

A man and woman had been preparing to set up a large tent near a tree the first time around, and they had a full-on infrastructure built the second time we passed. Humiliating.

And, of course, it was true. I'd have to back the camper into our space, in front of a large captive audience. I began running my hands through my hair, and spewing obscenities, just a-stressin'. The office lady had landed a knockout punch. Oh, she was good....

Toney told me to calm down, and jumped out of the truck to act as my guide. I started to back up and the camper went off on its own, not obeying my demands. I felt like every male eye was upon me, and fluids were exiting my body at an alarming rate. Then a car came, and stopped a few feet away, intending to wait until I was finished. I flew into a rage, threw the Blazer into drive, and took off. The box o' beds bounced wildly on the uneven road, and I saw Toney throw up her hands in frustration in the rearview mirror.

I had to go all the way around the loop again, and the bucktoothed hillbilly was still standing guard, with his Natural Light or whatever, and was now openly laughing at me. I thought about throwing open my door as I passed, and knocking him on his ass, but he looked like he'd been in a few bar fights in his time. And a few post office fights. And a few church fights. And a few JC Penney bedding department fights. I opted to stare straight ahead instead, acting as if I didn't see him.

The tent folks were now sitting in lawn chairs in front of their fully-constructed canvas mansion, sipping mixed drinks and talking. They'd arrived at the same time we did, and were already vacationing! They didn't seem to notice me driving past again, but my face became hot with embarrassment anyway.

I backed the stupid thing in as best as I could, and decided we'd just shove it the rest of the way. The trailer is so light, you can just roll it into place, a fact that's saved me several times. But the guy camping next to us came running over and offered to "straighten it up" for me. Instinctively I told him no, but Toney was urging me to let him do it. So I did.

And at that moment my testicles were officially snipped off, and placed inside a figurative lockbox. Another man had backed my camper, and there's simply no returning from such shame. May as well start the hormone injections today.

But we were finally landed, fully-ballless but landed, and it didn't take long to have our little nest built. Across the street was a pavilion or clubhouse, or some such thing. They were playing bingo inside, and it was packed with people. As we set up the camper, put out our awning, and all that jazz, it sounded like Ben Stein was over there talking his monotone into an amplification device: B-11, that's B-11.... Continuously, until about ten o'clock.

Despite the high heat, we built a fire (the kids always insist), and cooked some kick-ass chicken on the charcoal grill. And, of course, plenty of Yuengling was consumed. Plenty of Yuengling.

And as I walked to the (incredibly clean and air-conditioned) bathhouse to get rid of said liquids, guess who I saw? That's right, Fu Man Wood-Hick, out walking with his chinless wife. He still had his surgically-attached beer and the same amused expression on his face. He looked right at me and his big teeth appeared to jump up and down inside their frame of redneck facial hair, as he apparently mocked me without hesitation. 

Would the humiliation never stop??

But there was more beer, lots more beer, back at the camp. And we thought the worst was behind us, that it would be smooth sailing from there. Oh, how inexperienced and naive we were back then....

Tomorrow I'll tell you the rest of the story. 
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July 14, 2006

-- A few days ago Toney went to Subway (eat fraish!) and picked us up some comically elongated sandwiches for lunch. I scribbled down what I wanted on the back of the envelope our electric bill came in, and made a big to-do about VERY LIGHT mustard. I wrote it in all caps, and underlined it, because I know how those people operate.

And, of course, when I unwrapped my tube-lunch there was mustard slung everywhere; it looked like O.J. had caught Nicole chatting with a condiment. Grrrr....

I tried not to act too irritated, I didn't want Toney to think I was blaming her. My old boss in Atlanta used to ask me to pick him up something from Arby's, back in the day, then proceed to bitch, bitch, bitch about it when I returned. "I don't know what you bought me," he'd say, "but it certainly wasn't what I ordered." I always wanted to wait until he had it raised to his mouth, then throw a haymaker and drive that bitch deep. So, I'm very careful not to act like him.

But it pisses me off. The term "very light mustard" means something completely different to me and, apparently, the rest of the world. I like just a single pencil-thin stripe of the stuff across the toppings. It's supposed to be a compliment to the sandwich, not the main ingredient. Ya know? This was a single stripe alright, but it was as wide as my thumb.

And when I bit into it, there was oozing, substantial oozing. I hate to be a sandwich crybaby, but that's goddamn disgusting and almost too much to handle. I smiled though and continued, not wanting to make a scene. And by the time I was finished I had mustard all over my hands, halfway up my left forearm, and a little in my eyebrows. It was all I could do to finish two-thirds of it, the point where it's no longer a statement. But I finally choked it down. And it smelled like we were living literally inside a bottle of French's.

All I could taste was mustard, nothing else. Call me a radical, but I believe a well-prepared sandwich should be a collection of different tastes and textures all working together to achieve a common goal: deliciousness. One should not dominate the others, like a fixin' Nazi.

But I'm convinced that America is in love with spreads and dressings, and that's why I can't get a fair shake at Subway. They're simply giving the people what they want.

There's a little Italian place near our house that we frequent, and I always take notice of the way our fellow diners use salad dressing. And I'm generally disgusted. They automatically dump the entire contents of the little plastic container on top of their salad, then pick up a knife and begin scraping the cup, attempting to get every last drop.

I use about one-third of mine.

Once we were there with Sunshine, and she bitched and complained about the "tiny amount" of dressing they gave her. (It wasn't served in a tumbler.) She scraped and scraped, but still wasn't satisfied. Finally she began snatching up our leftover dressings, and adding them to the mix. In the end, she had a salad saturated in Italian, Creamy Garlic, and Thousand Island. I had to avert my eyes.

Just a few days ago we were there and I saw a guy dump his cup, then twirl the container round and round on the tip of his tongue, like he was chalking up a goddamn pool cue.

Yeah, it might seem that it's none of my business, but it is. These people are influencing America's sandwich-makers, and screwing up my life. They're indirectly responsible for the ooze. Businesses, of course, want to please their customers. And more often than not, they know, people view food as little more than a vehicle with which to transport sauce.

So there you go. Now I guess you're all going to tell me that I'm the weird one, simply because I don't want to end a meal with tarter sauce bleeding through the waistband of my underwear? Well, have at it.

-- Here's even more Monuments to Buck, and this is Syd Barrett circa 1968 & 2001. I was going to write a little something about the recently-departed Syd, but there's no time.

I'm outta here, I need to get to work. We're camping this weekend, and won't be returning until Monday afternoon. So the next update will be Tuesday.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see ya then. 
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July 13, 2006

-- Tomorrow's one of my "summer flex hours" half-day Fridays, and we're supposed to leave on our first camping trip of the season in the afternoon. We had another of our optimistic Myrtle Beach trips booked (and paid-for), but we canceled because of crapola too convoluted and boring to go into here. Instead, we've decided to keep it low-key this year, and not venture too far from the Compound.

The place we're heading to tomorrow is less than a hundred miles away, and is supposed to be really nice. A few Surf Reporters suggested it to us, as well as a couple of Toney's Pennsylvania buddies, so we're going to check it out. We also have a Hershey Park extravaganza set for August, along with a three-day weekend at a state park roughly seven miles from our house.

And that'll probably be it for the rolling box o' beds this year, unless we get a wild hair and go to Cape May before school starts -- something I'm lobbying for.

I feel a little guilty that the summer is half over and we're just taking off on our first trip. But things have a tendency to get complicated. For instance, Toney had outpatient surgery yesterday, which stressed me out far more than the situation warranted. (Go figure.) Everything worked out, of course, and she's fine. But it's just one thing after another.

-- Needless to say, Heat Wave '06 is predicted to descend upon us tomorrow, and last until the day we return from our trip. Expect soaring temps and high humidity, the weatherdouches are saying from "the backyard." It seems to happen every time.

But, luckily for us, we've got a big honkin' industrial-strength air conditioner clamped to the top of our camper. I'm not kidding, I think that thing was designed to cool a small warehouse; it has the power to turn our sleeping quarters into a deep-freeze within seconds. It's enough to bring a tear to a fat man's eye.

When we were shopping for a trailer, we told the salesmen that A/C was a non-negotiable item. And one guy immediately launched into the standard Northeastern PA bullshit speech about not needing it "up here in the mountains," and I wanted to punch him full in the mouth. It didn't take long for him to realize that I was serious about the requirement. And who was right and who was wrong? Hmm?

-- One good sign concerning the weather, though: yesterday we received the L.L. Bean Fall Catalog in the mail. So it can't be too far away, right? Back-to-school sales and ducks (or whatever) flying in a V must surely be right around the corner. 

Ahhh... beautiful autumn. Fireplace smells, the baseball playoffs and World Series, Halloween, copious amounts of bourbon.... It's the most wonderful time of the year.

-- On the back front (get it?), things are much better today. I didn't exactly spring from the bed this morning, but I got up without engaging in a ten-minute production of speaking in tongues and making faces like Renee Zellweger. A huge improvement. By tomorrow I'm confident I'll be in good enough shape to re-injure myself hooking up the camper. Pretty cool, huh?

-- I found out some distressing news this week: the cafeteria at work is closing. For years they had some shady outfit running the operation and, despite the fact that everybody mocked the quality of their "food," we all co-existed quite nicely. But then a bean-counter somewhere monkeyed with the program, and sacked the first group of people, and brought in a whole new crew of criminals and derelicts. And it's never been the same since.

In the old days I'd walk over there between the two ball-busting conference calls, and order up a nice turkey club wrap. The snaggle-toothed woman who worked that counter liked to talk, and would entertain me with tales of debauchery and screen door-exploding fist fights from the trailer park where she lived. I was always happily humming this song as I made my way back to my office.

Then I'd enjoy the mean-ass impeccably-built wrap she'd prepared for me.

It was a good set-up, so naturally it had to be ruined. I never warmed to the new people, they folded their wraps like a burrito for one thing(?!), and I usually just bought pre-packaged garden salads from them. The woman who ran the cash register couldn't be trusted either. She was always getting "confused" and giving you change for a smaller bill than you'd handed her. I was always amazed at the way her confusion only ran one way.

And now they're crying the blues, claiming they're losing money, and shutting the whole deal down. Which sucks. We work out in the middle of nowhere, and it's a trek to the nearest fast food ass-plumping establishment. I'll probably end up eating out of the vending machines more often than not: a bag of Jolly Ranchers today, a double-decker Little Debbie oatmeal cookie tomorrow....

I wish they could bring back the original crew, but I know, deep down, that the spell has been broken, and we'll never go home again. The meddling smartest-guys-in-the-room bean-counting basta'ds....

-- What do you do for lunch at work? I'm entering uncharted territory here, and need some guidance. The thought of carrying in a sack of sandwiches every morning, and putting them inside the upright-butthole that is the department refrigerator, doesn't really appeal to me. But eating Tart n Tinys for lunch every day doesn't sound very good either.

Help me out, people. I turn to you, once again, in my hour of need.

And I've got more, lots more (including this NSFW video that Wordnerd sent in, which I can't decide whether or not to link to...), but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. 

Have a great day, and I'll see you on Flex Friday. 
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July 12, 2006

-- The situation with my aching back got better yesterday as the day wore on. By the time I came home from work I was walking with only a slight stoop, instead of all the twitching and dragging I'd been doing earlier. I started the day as "the gimp" from Deadwood, and returned as Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. A vast improvement.

However, I'm back to square-one this morning. It took me ten minutes to get out of bed, and that's no joke. When I was finally upright, I felt like I'd accomplished one of the world's greatest feats. Like I was freakin' Neil Armstrong or something. And as I sit here in the bunker on the official TheWVSR dining room chair with the back broken off, I'm not feeling so good. Could it possibly be worse than yesterday? I don't really want to say those words out loud, but I'm worried that it might be true.

We're supposed to leave on our first camping trip of the season on Friday, and here I am all gnarled-up and pathetic. If it's not one thing, it's another steamer trunk full of bullshit.

-- Do you ever yell out a burst of nonsense when you're hit with a jolt of pain? I always have, and this morning, when I was attempting to hoist my ass off the mattress, I'm almost certain I hollered out the phrase, "Sony Walkman sack o' shellac!" That shit's scarier than the owls yesterday.

-- I just received an auto-renewal notice for my "backstage pass" at Phil Hendrie's website. When he announced his retirement several weeks ago, I assumed I'd stop forking over my $6.95 per month once he left the air.

But, a funny thing's happened. He's gone and made the site goddamn unleavable. (Phil, I wish I knew how to quit you.) During the final weeks a huge amount of vintage material was added, including complete streaming shows dating all the way back to 2002, and dozens (hundreds?) of lengthy character segments from even earlier.

A lot of this classic stuff was previously banned by his syndicator, because of post-Jackson nipple hysteria. But now it's back.

And even more exciting.... in October the site will no longer be owned by Premier Radio, it'll be Phil's with no corporate strings attached. He promises big, exciting things -- like every show in its entirety from the Los Angeles era. And that means ten years of Phil Hendrie at the peak of his powers.

So, forget about quitting. I'm just getting started.

Yesterday I listened to a sick and twisted "interview" (from early 2003) with a father who's under fire because he insists on spanking his fourteen year old daughter, skirt-up underwear-down -- sometimes in front of his poker buddies, and once in front of her date. The callers wanted to lynch that bastard. Heh.

-- I'm blasting the Hoodoo Gurus  this morning. Just thought you'd want to know. Are those guys underrated, or what? I submit that they are.

-- Since I can't seem to stop obsessing about the subject, check this shit out. It's a veritable clearinghouse of paranoia-generators. We're scheduled to visit HersheyPark next month, and Knoebels in a few weeks, and I probably won't let the Secrets get on anything more extreme than the antique cars. 

Thanks internet! Thanks a lot. Now I look at the Scrambler and see nothing but a giant hand-mixer, fixin' to whip up another batch of L'il Fudge Stripe Amputees.

-- A few days ago I opened an account at Sharebuilder, an online brokerage service for people who don't know shit about what they're doing, and have no money, but want to play around in the stock market.

Yes, in a couple of weeks I will have something new to obsess about, and will be monitoring the performance of my "portfolio" roughly a hundred times per day. I might even check into the feasibility of having one of those Gomez Addams ticker-tape machines installed at the Compound.

I'm purchasing Sirius Satellite Radio the first time out, and next month I'll probably do the same. I have it set up so that I make a buy on the first Tuesday of every month. And I have dreams of someday parlaying it all into a balance in the high three-figures, at least. God bless the United States of America.

-- The Monuments to Buck project is getting off to a fast start. Check it out, yo.

-- And I'm gonna leave you now with yesterday's Clive Bull topic, which is.... a bit strange. His question: how often do you wash your bedspread or comforter? 

A lot of his callers said they never wash theirs, and that led to an offshoot discussion about other washable things that never get washed. Like winter coats. 

Got anything to say about that? I suspect that Clive is still under the influence of World Cup fever and isn't thinking straight, but I can't prove it....

More of this stuff tomorrow. 

And by the way, my back situation has improved remarkably during the writing of this update. I think I'm operating at 80% capacity at this point, and that's not bad. 

Perhaps it's only a first-thing-in-the-morning deal now, and I'm on the verge of, um, putting this behind me? I sure hope so, because Toney wants her long-handled spoons back.

See ya next time. 
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July 11, 2006

-- This is going to be brief; I'm all gnarled-up here. Last night I hit the sack around ten o'clock, and read for about 45 minutes. Then I started to get up and visit the smallest room one more time before turning off the light. And a lightning bolt of excruciating pain shot through my body.

The storm is centered in my lower back, and feels like muscle inflammation of some sort. I'd been fine when I laid down, and, before the wise-ass comments begin.... let me make it clear that I only read in bed, nothing else. I didn't hurt myself on a love trapeze, or anything like that. I mean, seriously.

I never made it to the bathroom. But, luckily, it wasn't anything urgent, it was purely a preventive maintenance measure. I even had trouble turning over on my side while lying down. Whenever I moved in a certain way I'd get the juice, and nearly shit my net. It was a long night.

I'd blame it all on the bicycle ride I took on Sunday, but if that were the cause I would've gone through this on Sunday night/Monday morning, not 24 hours later. Right? There's not an incubation period for such things, is there? The whole thing is baffling. I did nothing yesterday besides sit on my ass.

And now I'm lurching and grimacing and scaring the children. It hurts like hell to walk through a room, or get out of a chair. When I'm sitting I can usually find a comfort zone, and all's well as long as I don't move or take a deep breath. I won't even go into the logistical problems I encountered during my "morning constitutional." Let's just say that I was about to ask Toney to bring me a long-handled wooden spoon.

I'm going to attempt to go to work in a little while, and hopefully I won't have a spazz-out and plunge down an elevator shaft or anything. Wish me luck.

-- This morning there was a whole gang of owls in our backyard. Very strange. One comically oversized specimen was sitting on the deck railing, just chilling and moving it's head almost completely around on its, um, shoulders. Others were flying from tree to tree, and weighing down the limbs with their great heft. We saw at least four of them, and how bizarre is that?

Laugh if you'd like, but that sort of thing makes me a bit nervous. Just like the hundreds of moths we encountered on Sunday, I wonder if it means something? Is it an animal omen of some sort? Is it Something Horrible?

I've told the "bird in the house" story before, but it's the source of my anxiety, so I'm gonna tell it again....

When we lived in Atlanta I worked part-time at a bookstore in Buckhead. One night I was working with some cutesy teenage girl, and she was making fun of her Dad for not hiring a crew to paint their house. Oh no, she said, he views it as shameful to call a plumber, or an electrician, or anything like that. He believes he should do everything around the house. She said he'd even built homemade scaffolding, and it was reportedly one of the most ridiculous-looking things she'd ever seen.

As she was telling me all this a customer came through the front door, and during the two seconds it was open, a bird flew in. Holy shit! It's well-known in The South that a bird in the house means there will be a death in the family. And while this wasn't technically a house, it was called Book Warehouse, and that was close enough for me. I wanted the bastard out of there, and spent the next fifteen minutes chasing it around with a broom and acting like a mental patient.

And the very next day.... I found out that the "ridiculous" scaffolding had collapsed, and the girl's father suffered a broken neck and died on his way to the hospital. Talk about your full-body shivers!

Now I keep a book here in the bunker called 2001 Southern Superstitions. Yesterday I checked it for information on moth swarms, and found nothing. This morning I checked it for owl infestation, and got the same result. The only owl info contained in this invaluable resource is: if an owl hoots at midnight, someone will be injured. And that doesn't pertain to our situation.

So maybe we're in the clear?

-- I'm sorry to have to report that lakrfool will no longer be writing a column here at TheWVSR. Yesterday he showed me up with his mad comedy skillz, so that's that. He's out the virtual door. I simply can't have that.

-- A Surf Reporter with a very cool last name, John Toney, sent me this link yesterday, about yet another disastrous amusement park accident. This one took place in my boyhood stomping grounds, King's Island, near Cincinnati. The best part is the reader comments at the bottom.

One of my favorites:

"I rode the [Son of Beast] two weeks ago. At the end of the ride I had sharp pains in my chest. I knew it wasn't a heart attack, it felt like my sternum was being seperated."

Good stuff.

-- Now I'm gonna turn it over to Buck, who's also pushing his luck, and twitch and jerk my way to work.

See ya tomorrow. And, of course, I'm only joking about lakrfool.... He's welcome to show me up anytime. 
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July 10, 2006

-- I'm sick of my Chevy Blazer. It's now making a new noise, one I'd never heard before, and I just know that it's the initial warning sign of Something Terrible. My original plan was to drive the shitbox until it was completely paid-off, so we could finally wash away an ancient Hyundai-based catastrophe we endured in California ("Mr. Kay, are you aware that that car doesn't have a working engine in it?"), and are still paying for. 

But I'm about ready to jump ship.

Yesterday Toney and I went browsing at several local car lots. They're closed on Sundays, so it's a good time to check things out without some smirking hands-rubbing salesman walking up and saying, "Looks like we might get some rain?" On Sundays you can just look around in peace, and it's a beautiful thing.

The only problem is, the vehicles I want are, you know, really expensive. We looked at a whole row of Toyota 4Runners, all fresh from a 2-year lease I'm sure, and the prices made my anus drop. What am I, Bill Oates?? The Highlander is more reasonably-priced, but kinda small and only offers a towing-capacity of 3000 lbs. Ha! I require far more balls than that. Once the rolling box of beds is loaded with the standard supply of beer and Andy Capp Salsa Fries, a Highlander simply won't do it.

So, I'm a bit discouraged this morning; I feel like yesterday's exercise was nothing more than blowing diarrhea in the wind. I know that I should ride out the final fourteen or fifteen payments on that Chevy Melancholy, and not go into another massive purchase already at a deficit. But I don't want to; I really don't.

We'll see which side of my brain finally wins the battle.

-- At one of the car lots we visited yesterday, moths were everywhere. It was crazy, the place was completely moth-spangled. They kept flying in my face and touching off a series of wild Skippy Hicks dances near a high-traffic thoroughfare. Wonder what it's all about? Does it have anything to do with all the caterpillars in the trees around these parts? Good God.

It's kinda creepy, like an omen or some such thing. Maybe it's my grandfathers communicating from beyond the grave? Don't buy a rice cooker, Jeff! Don't do it!! We're a Chevrolet family, and if you go against us, we're gonna tell everyone about some of the things we've seen you do from up here! Shit!

-- We went to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean flick on Saturday. It was showing on six or seven screens at the big Curvature of the Earth Metroplex near our house, but we still had to wait a couple of hours to get in. There were swashbuckling nerdlets milling about in pirate hats, and waving plastic swords. As well as a crush, a freaking crush, of people of every age and description. Talk about mass-appeal....

The movie was OK, but not nearly as good as the original. I think the first one was a phenomenon because of the characters, but this one is more about the stringing together of one ludicrous action sequence after another. But whatever. It was an enjoyable way to spend... lots of hours. As Phil Hendrie's frequent guest Doug Dangger might put it, I give it five gay thumbs up. Heh.

And it's worth noting that following a rather intense scene in which Jack Sparrow is apparently killed, there was sobbing heard throughout the theater, undoubtedly from the pirate hat brigade in deep distress. What a classic example of douchey douchiness.

-- I received this email on Saturday, from a person with the unfortunate first name of Annis:

Why is this web site showing up continuously on unrelated searches? I find it offensive and totally ridiculous.

-- I rode my bike yesterday (without a helmet, thank you very much), and returned to the house with my ass seemingly afire. I did OK on the hills around here, surprisingly enough, but my butt received a thorough thrashing. It's still hurting, as a matter of fact. I assume this will improve over time? I feel like I'm suffering a post-Phantom Ass trauma here, and I can't have that.

-- Here's yet another Smoking Fish sighting, this one featuring a self-described "extremely drunken person." Thanks for the effort, dude! I appreciate it. Y'all keep 'em coming, OK? Our logo, man, he gets around.

-- Last night's episode of Deadwood was fairly typical as far the fucks went. But the fight sequence... Was that brutal, or what? Sweet sainted mother of Wade Utay.... 

-- And finally, this is something new and tasty from lakrfool. Shake hands with beef!

More of this sort of thing tomorrow. 
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July 7, 2006


-- When I was in high school there was a guy, older than me, who walked around in a homemade t-shirt that said across the front: SUCK A ROD. That's it, nothing else. It was made with cheap iron-on letters, and they were all crooked and askew, as if he'd created this masterpiece while drunk. Or after another hit off the gas can. Or whatever. It seemed like he wore it three days a week, until the principal finally made him stop.

And when I was in grade school, sixth grade I think, a kid started showing up in a shirt that featured a cartoon of two pigs copulating, above the words "Makin' Bacon!" I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that he wore the thing at least twice a week -- well into high school. Hell, he's probably still wearing it. Nobody, as far as I know, ever challenged him about his livestock-fucking shirt, and I still don't understand how he got away with it.

A big sexually-ambiguous riffle-thighed girl in high school was also fond of the custom-made t-shirts, just like Mr. Suckarod. But she went in a different direction with it, and had a lot more ambition. She took it upon herself to advertise album releases, by the (always female) artists she liked. One day, I remember, she came to school in a massive curtain of white fabric, almost completely covered in iron-on letters.

It said something along these lines: FINALLY!! HEART'S GREATEST HITS/LIVE WILL ARRIVE IN STORES ON TUESDAY APRIL 14, ON COLUMBIA RECORDS AND TAPES! THE DOUBLE ALBUM WILL FEATURE TWO NEW SONGS, LIVE VERSIONS OF OLD FAVORITES, AND ALL THEIR GREATEST HITS! LIST PRICE IS $11.98. BUY IT!!!

I just thought you'd want to know.

-- Because of the big sucking hole that Phil Hendrie's retirement has left in the center of my weekdays, I spend a lot of time bouncing frantically from station to station, like an Alzheimer's patient searching for the house he's lived in for the past fifty years. And yesterday I'm almost certain that I heard someone on the radio say that American presidents travel to foreign countries with their own portable toilets.

Seriously. They're set-up right in their hotel rooms, so the chief executive never has to use the local crappers. The reason, supposedly, is so his "waste material" can't be collected by foreign governments, and analyzed(!). Apparently this is something that's done quite frequently; toilets are pre-rigged with a secret compartment, where the Prez's turds (and whatnot) are captured and later retrieved.

I'm pretty sure I actually heard this, but haven't been able to find anything about it on the internet. Was it just a bizarre dream, or is it real? Can any of you help?? I need to know. Because, now that I think about it.... the whole thing actually sounds like a Hendrie bit. And I'm very concerned that my brain is starting to sputter and misfire, and create phantom Philisms. Please tell me that I'm not losing my, um, shit.

-- Yesterday I learned about an artist in West Virginia who has painted, and continues to paint, watercolor portraits of well-known Charleston landmarks, past and present. The hook? Each features the city's most famous homeless man, Aqualung. 

Sometimes he's just a small part of the picture, pushing his overloaded shopping cart down the sidewalk in the background, in others he's nearly the main focus. And supposedly these paintings are the cool thing to own among local hipsters and yuppies. Here's a short article about it. 

Very cool. As soon as the Budget Tapes and Records edition is released, I'm all over it.

-- And speaking of tapes and records... For the past couple of weeks I've thought that the new Red Hot Chili Peppers CD is a real piece of festering crap. But now I'm starting to change my mind, with gusto. Go figure.

-- We're going to take the Secrets to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie tomorrow. It's the most anticipated film of the year, here at the Compound. Reviews are mixed, but who cares? Only a gilded-in-gold doucheketeer is going to go into it expecting anything other than pure escapist fun. So pass the Junior Mints, goddammit.

I've got more, but have suddenly lost the drive to continue. Just like that: Whap! I'm done. And one thing I've learned through the years.... it's not wise to fight a whap.

So, have a great weekend, my friends. And I'll see ya on Monday. 
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July 6, 2006

-- Would you ever go up in the Space Shuttle? I wouldn't. I watched the latest launch on Tuesday, saw the astronauts walk past the press just a-waving and a-smiling with their helmets tucked under their arms, and had a sinking feeling that their "parts" would soon be raining down on Florida and southern Georgia. I had visions of two old guys fishing on a lake in a rowboat, and a human bladder, on fire, screaming from the sky and splashing in the water near them. And I experienced a full-body shiver.

I know it's not fair, but I associate those Reagan-era space ships with catastrophic explosion, not the dozens of successful missions they've accomplished. It's like when I get on an airplane, and start humming Buddy Holly tunes without even realizing it. It's sick.

Plus, every time they launch one of those shuttles, shit flies off in every direction. And the "experts" say it's designed that way, that it's well within the accepted shit-flying-off guidelines. Nothing to worry about, they claim, the engineers fully expected the windows to fall out of their housing during launch.

No thank you. I've seen two of those things explode in the sky so far, and dozens of missions scrapped because of some malfunction in the powerful 286 computers on-board. I think I'll just stay down here, with the Wendy's and the beer gardens, if that's OK. And when that Virgin Records nutcase starts taking people into orbit for profit, I'll sit that out as well. You guys can just send me a postcard from the moon, thank you very much.

I will, however, hoist an adult beverage in honor of the men and women who have the balls to take part in the various NASA missions. Man, those things must be the size of mangoes.

-- On a related subject, what's the deal with people dying at Disney World all the time? It seems that every couple of months we hear about another kid climbing on a ride down there, smiling and clapping his hands in anticipation, and returning to the loading area as a corpse strapped to a chair.

Then, after the lawyers get finished "consulting" with the family, we learn that the kid had a heart with only one chamber or some such thing. It's always a pre-existing health problem that contributed to the tragedy, not any flaws in the ride, or because of anything that Disney did. Oh no.

Do you think that maybe, just possibly, they're taking things a bit too far with the thrill rides? You know, when they start killing people?

I remember climbing aboard something called The Bat at King's Island, when I was but an ugly teenager. It was a roller coaster, but you sat in ski lift-type seats, with your legs dangling below you. The chairs were attached at the top, like a monorail, and it was scary as shit coming off those big drops. It felt like you were about to be driven into the earth like a tent spike.

And that's when I decided that I might want to start picking and choosing my coasters. I no longer felt comfortable in completely trusting, say, the Paramount Corporation, with my safety.

Indeed, The Bat only lasted at King's Island for a short time. They ran it for a while, then hastily dismantled it in the dark of night, with no explanation. Something happened, and they didn't want to talk about it ...At least that's the way I remember it. I have a feeling, based on nothing but a hunch, that there are dozens of bodies buried throughout that park, their skeleton hands still clutching a cotton candy.

Am I getting carried away again? Yeah, I didn't think so. Have you ever had any horrifying experiences with so-called thrill rides?

-- Yesterday I forgot to mention that Sunday's episode of Deadwood set a new world record: 137 fucks in 51 minutes! It surpassed the previous champion, the "Mr. Wu" episode, which logged 133 fucks in 54 minutes. Those boys just keep raising the bar....

-- And finally, since Clive Bull has apparently abandoned the concept of rotating topics, and has turned his show into a World Cup forum, I'm going to try to come up with one of my own.... 

Have you ever had anything unusual happen involving a person who knocked, unsolicited, on your front door? It could be a salesman, a religious fanatic, a politician, or a person looking for help.

In California we once had an Arab window salesman at our house for what seemed like hours. We literally couldn't get him to leave, and I started to wonder if I would be forced to call the police. Another time, in Greensboro, a stranger who said he was part of the "neighborhood watch" came into my apartment and did an inventory of my electronic equipment. I did call the police that time.

What about you? Use the comments link below to tell us about it. And pray for Clive to return to his normal format soon....

See ya tomorrow. 
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July 5, 2006

-- And we're back.... I hope you guys had a pleasant holiday. I'm happy to report that ours was very nice indeed, despite the soul-sapping heat and humidity that's installed itself right up the poopshoot of our lives.

That big Soviet humbox that we bought from Sam's in the spring has turned out to be the greatest thing ever. It completely cools the main level of our house, and changes everything. Now we have a means of escape at our disposal, and are no longer mumbling mental patients between June and September. It's a new, more civilized era at the Compound.

Somebody asked me recently why we've never sprung for central air. Well, let me tell you.... We've had at least two, possibly three, companies come out and give us estimates on it, and the news was not good. The layout of this place is hard to explain, but believe me when I tell you that it would be one hell of an undertaking to add ductwork. In fact, there's a section of the house, the family room and the bunker, which they say they couldn't reach at all(!). So, what we're looking at is $10,000 (or so) to cool part of the house. And that seems like an awful lot of money for a half-assed effort. Ya know?

We've looked at alternatives, such as ductless air conditioning. But that would also require a wheelbarrow full of cash. We might very well go that route in the long run, but for right now.... we're clinging to our vibraboxes. Just like everybody else in this part of the country.

-- I usually come out of these long weekends feeling guilty about something, but this one was perfectly calibrated. I spent lots of time with the Secrets, knocked out the yard work early (as Toney cleaned up the flowerbeds and whatnot), got the inside of the house all dusted and vacuumed, engaged in two full-blown deck feasts, drank a substantial amount of beer, went out to eat a couple of times, and spent eight solid hours yesterday working on my extracurricular writing project.

As shocking as it seems, there's NOTHING to beat myself up about this morning. And I'm just not accustomed to such emotions.

-- We allowed Secret 1 to buy an airsoft gun on Friday, and that's been quite the ordeal. The first one was a rifle sort of thing that ran on batteries, and lasted for about fifteen minutes. It was an automatic, and continued firing as long as you held the trigger. But it quickly shit the bed and started making a godawful grinding noise, so we took it back.

The guy at Dick's Sporting Goods rolled his eyes and talked to me like I was the biggest idiot who ever walked the earth. He asked if I'd remembered to put the BBs in, then said, "And what about the batteries?" Grrrr.... Eventually he realized that the gun was, in fact, broken. And I gave him one of those silent, extra-long West Virginia stares.

The second gun, a pistol that you have to cock before each shot, lasted a little longer, possibly a full hour. But it finally flew apart and a large spring came out, along with some other stuff. We all worked at putting it back together, but only managed to get ourselves whipped into a frenzy of bug-eyed frustration. Toney took this one back.

So now we're on gun number three, and it seems to be a keeper.

On Saturday I spent at least an hour on the deck, in a shooting contest with the Secrets, and it was a lot of fun. We were trying to hit a target way down in the yard, and it wasn't an easy thing to do. Those little dingleberries hook and slice and curve upward, and do all sorts of unpredictable things. But I finally hit it, causing me to cut loose with an involuntary rebel yell straight off the Molly Hatchet Gator Country Tour '78. 

I have a tendency to get a little carried away.

-- I'm thinking about having the door to the subterranean Surf Report bunker replaced with one of these babies. What do you think? I'd also like to have it wired so that the only way to open it is to pull a specific book off the shelf, or swivel the head of a statue, or something like that. You know, like on Scooby Doo.

-- I'm also very seriously considering placing an order for this. I've been experiencing a twenty-five year hankering, and believe it's high-time to do something about it.

I was also partial to Big Mouth gum back in the day, which was nothing but an outsize block of sugar-spangled green apple bubble gum, with a perforation running down the middle of it. Remember that? Kids would bet each other that they could wedge the entire thing into their mouths (their Big Mouths), then drool all over themselves like stroke victims. Good times.

What are your favorite, no-longer-available vintage candies?

-- And finally, I'm gonna end today's update with a multiple-choice quiz.

Do you believe this photo is (a) a scene from the annual Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic (b) swooning fans at the big Septic Tanks of Tomorrow Jamboree in Dog Balls, Alabama (c) a pair of Siamese hags joined at the neck fat?

I'll have the answer next time. Please, no cheating!

See ya tomorrow. 
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