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

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Is that man-ass 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 View From Down Here
                          
July 2007

 


July 31, 2007

-- It’s hotter than the inside of an ox up here, and I don’t care for it. In fact, I don’t really like summer all that much. Here’s how I’d rank the seasons: fall, spring, winter, summer. 

I’m not a fan of extremes (in weather as well as politics), but prefer cold ridiculousness over the hot variety. How would you rank ‘em? Are there any other fall spring winter summer people out there? …Hello?

-- Summer does have baseball going for it, but other than glancing at the standings in the newspaper two or three times per week, I don’t follow it anymore. 

Certainly not as much as this guy. 

I don’t know any of the players anymore, feel no strong allegiances, and am bothered by the lack of respect for the history of the game. You know, stuff like inter-league play, and the way fabled long-standing records are being “broken” by depressing charlatans not fit to powder the sacs of Henry Aaron and Roger Maris.

So, as far as I’m concerned, baseball doesn’t do much to move summer up in the rankings anymore. Maybe when I was a kid, but not now… 

Do I sound like a bitter old man on a park bench, with his checker buddies and chronic flatulence? So be it.

Continue reading here
 




July 30, 2007


-- Holy shitcakes, Batman! Wotta weekend. Not only did we have “visitors” (something I’ll talk about in a more intimate setting), but I was also experiencing scary-ass computer problems. To tell you the truth, I didn’t much care for any of it...

On Thursday somebody mentioned in the comments that I’d labeled a Smoking Fish picture as being taken near “ Cape Code .” And when I went in to fix it, the file wouldn’t open. 

The hell?

The program itself started as normal, but when I clicked on the specific page where the picture resides, it just started clicking and clacking and making noises like a fatty reaching into the pork rind sack.

Grrr… I shut everything down and re-started my computer, but the same thing happened. It didn’t matter which page I attempted to access, the machine would immediately bog down and start all that rattling.

Did I have some sort of virus? Hell if I knew. I rebooted again, refreshed my Norton information, and performed a complete system scan. Nothing. Then I ran AdAware, and it didn’t turn up anything unusual either. Spybot: same result.

Screw it. I just shut it down for the day, hoping a good night’s sleep would fix the problem. And, of course, it didn’t. 

Friday morning I went straight to my sitebuilding program, before opening anything else, and tried to access the Surf Report homepage. And once again I got the snack sack rattle.

Continue reading here
  




July 26, 2007


-- The youngest Secret is showing an interest in golf, so Toney went out and bought him a cheap set of clubs, and signed him up for a weeklong “golf camp” at a local course. 

He was one of about eighty kids, and they did an hour’s worth of instruction every day, followed by nine holes on the course itself. He had a blast and I think I’m going to have to find us a driving range nearby, for a little father/son fun in the sun, or whatever.

Right now we’re just going out in the front yard and hacking around. But I’m not really a fan of hard plastic balls continuously rocketing off the sides of our cars. Ya know? We need to make other arrangements.   

When I still lived in West Virginia I monkeyed around with golf for a while. I had a set of clubs and a jaunty little towel, and all that stuff. And I fully understand why some folks get obsessed with it. 

There’s definitely an element of escape in golfing: the tranquility, the quiet, the alcohol abuse. Plus, you’re competing against yourself, and always trying to improve your score… It’s no mystery to me why the sport seems to take over so many peoples’ lives.

But I still have bad attitude toward it. 

Continue reading here  




July 25, 2007


-- Yesterday we traveled to Pennsylvania
’s Lower Pierogie Belt, and visited Knoebels amusement park. That’s right, there’s no apostrophe in the name, and you’re also supposed to pronounce the K… And don’t blame me, I only report the news. 

The weather was perfect (sensible temps and low humidity), the place wasn’t overly crowded, the cheese fries were especially good, and a splendid time was had by all.

The oldest Secret took along one of his friends, so he’d have someone to accompany him on the stuff I wouldn’t ride even if a gun barrel were pressed against my temple: so-called attractions with catchy names like the Eviscerator, and the Quadriplegic Maker. No thanks. I’ll just be over here on this bench with funnel cake sugar in my hair and eyebrows…

Continue reading here
  




July 24, 2007


-- I was at Target on Sunday and ran into a guy I used to work with. He’s in the same unemployment boat as I am, only he’d been working there for 27 years, and I’d only managed to log 17. 

He was buying a printer cartridge and paper, so he could crank out more resumes.

We stood and talked, over near the bath towels, and his horror stories sounded vaguely familiar. He told me about going on multiple interviews with the same company, then never hearing from them again. He said there doesn’t seem to be even a hint of urgency with any of the people he’s dealing with. And he complained that Monster and CareerBuilder are a complete waste of time.

Somehow this made me feel a little better; at least I had anecdotal evidence that it might not be just me. But when I told Toney about it she had a completely different reaction. She saw it as an indication of there being few good jobs available, and lots of competition when one does open up.

For an afternoon we considered folding up our tent here, and Moving South. Again. But those ideas have already started to fade a bit. There are several huge negatives to such a scenario, which can flat-out ruin a good fantasy 

One thing’s for certain though, if something hasn’t broken by early fall we’re going to have to take some kind of drastic action. 

And by “something” I mean a new job or, even better, the website/book situation kicking into gear. Over the past few months there’s been amazing progress on the latter, and it gives me dangerous thoughts about maybe, just possibly, doing it full-time someday. And that, of course, would be the freakin’ dream come true.

Stay tuned. Either I'll find a job and nothing much will change, the gods of comedy writing will smile down on me, we'll end up homeless and living in a lettuce box, or uproot everything and move to the Land of Opportunity (AKA North Carolina).

The next few months should be interesting.

Continue reading here
  




July 23, 2007


-- I’m getting an incredibly late start on this one, so it’ll probably be brief. Although you never can tell… My booger-hooks sometime have a mind of their own, and set their own agenda. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Pass the brown gravy.

-- Toney and the younglings made it home without incident on Saturday. And the trip sounded exactly like the nightmare we’d predicted. Apparently they spent 22 to 23 hours every day inside Sunshine’s apartment, while she nodded out on “antibiotics” and bitched about “the Mexicans,” and how the “rich bastards” deserve to have their houses burned to the ground by wildfire, etc. etc.

Good ol’ Grandma.

I’m sorry they had to endure such a thing, but I’m also celebrating my decision to stay home. My participation wasn’t necessary to satisfy the obligation, and the whole thing makes my butt cheeks sink-in just thinking about it. I don’t believe I could’ve made it for five days, I really don’t. I think all three of them deserve a medal from the Pentagon, or something, for their courageous sacrifice.

Continue reading here
  




July 20, 2007

-- Except for 10 or 60 phone calls received, and two meals eaten at home, I worked my ass down to a smoldering nub yesterday. Roughly 15 hours inside the Surf Report bunker... It’s dedication or mental illness, and either way’s fine with me.

Yesterday evening for dinner I made myself an excellent sub sandwich with Boar’s Head Black Forest ham, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, thinly-sliced red onion, and fresh-ground pepper. Oh, it was the sandwich of kings.

For lunch I had three slices of toast with apple butter. And in between meals I downed roughly the equal of Lake Huron in ice water.

When I quit working at 10:30 last night I watched an episode of The Shield, drank two Lord Chesterfield Ales, then went to bed.

So there you go. Critique away. Use the comments link below to produce another exciting episode of Reviewing The Shit Jeff Eats.

Continue reading here
  




July 19, 2007


-- Last night I was in bed snoozing, when the phone started ringing. For a few seconds I didn’t understand what was going on. The shit’s that bell?? Am I on a game show? Asleep in a bed?? What the?!

When I figured it all out I flung the covers off me, and went tearing down the hallway. There’s a phone right beside the bed, on Toney’s nightstand, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. And there are few things less unsettling than a late night phone call. Ya know?   

I ran into the kitchen just as the answering machine took over.

I stood and watched while the message was being recorded, and it was some unknown hick going on and on and on about “the circus.” He was talking so loud there was distortion, and he said “y’all” a lot. What in the hot buttered crap??

A wrong number? I assumed so, but I still didn’t care for it. I looked at the clock on the stove and it said 12:56 , almost one o’clock in the morning. What kind of circus is still going on at that time of night? And why was this Gomer Pyle screaming about it into our answering machine?

I drank a glass of water and went back to bed, while crazy thoughts began dancing in my brain. I concocted many scenarios in which this mysterious phone call was a direct threat to me. I probably shouldn’t read Dean Koontz while I’m home alone for a week...

Then Andy started barking!

Continue reading here  




July 18, 2007


-- Today hasn’t been very satisfying. So far, anyway. I got up and attempted to write an update, and felt like a man sitting atop a toilet at a cheese festival; nothing was coming out, regardless of how loud I grunted.

I was starving too, and don’t usually eat breakfast. Morning is for coffee, and I’ve written previously about my problem with food and hot beverages. So, nine times out of ten, I don’t eat anything until lunch.

But that wasn’t gonna cut it today. Not a chance. I rifled through the fridge and kitchen cabinets, hoping for the best, and finally settled on a bowl of Rice Krispies, with slices of a mushy banana on top. It tasted OK, but didn’t do much for the white-hot hunger in my belly.

The prop dude from The Office was scheduled to be at the mall today, collecting local items to be included in future episodes of the show. I wanted to give him a few Surf Report shirts, and since the writing wasn’t happening… I decided to take a ride.

Continue reading here  




July 17, 2007


-- Toney and I are both fairly obsessed with a show on HGTV called House Hunters. In fact, if the truth be told, I’m probably more obsessed with it than she is. 

I’m the one whose central nervous system is fine-tuned to know when it’s 7:30 pm , regardless of circumstances. Yes, I think I could be hanging off a rock cliff in Maui , struggling for my very survival, get all wide-eyed and shout, “Hey, we’re missing the show!”

The first time we saw it was at my parents’ house in West Virginia . That was several years ago, and the format wasn’t the same back then. In the old days it had more of a documentary feel; basically they just found some people shopping for a new house, and followed them around with a camera crew. 

Now it’s much better. Today the prospective buyers tour three houses, always three, then choose one at the end of every half-hour episode. 

The viewers get to tour the houses with them, of course, and make their own choices. So we end up hollering stuff like, “#1 is a trashy dump! Did you see that carpet?! I’d be afraid to take a shit on that rug!! House #2 is the only way to go...”  

Oh, it’s highly-involving television.

Continue reading here  




July 16, 2007


-- Toney and the Secrets made it to Reno yesterday without incident. They arrived late last night, around midnight Eastern, and I was tracking their plane during the final hour on the internet. I wish they’d enhance that feature, and let us actually see inside the cabin. A cartoon jet moving across a map doesn’t really cut it, y’know?

I took my family to the Philadelphia airport yesterday morning, and drove back to an empty house. Well, Andy was here, but he was just as dismayed as I was… I don’t think I’ve been home alone for an extended period in almost ten years. 

I went upstairs late in the afternoon and the controllers on the Playstation were still dragged out into the middle of the floor, and the kids’ stuff was strewn everywhere. For a split-second I thought I was going to become emotional like Nostrils and/or Oprah, but quickly got my shit correct. 

Going from continuous noise and rambunctious activity, to absolute silence and empty rooms, is not an easy transition, my friends.

Continue reading here  




July 13, 2007


-- Because our dog Andy is the world’s worst when it comes to walks, we went out and bought him something called the Gentle Leader “head collar.”  This was supposed to stop him from constantly pulling and tugging and lunging, and all that nonsense. 

It’s an amazing thing to behold. Attach a leash to his collar and that hound instantly starts acting like it’s up to him, as if the task is his alone, to save a gang of dimpled, apple-cheeked orphans trapped in a catastrophic mudslide. Man, he gets down to work. 

Several times he’s nearly yanked my shoulder from its housing while we were out “walking,” and I often fantasize about throwing his stupid ass off the Turnpike bridge. It’s all highly irritating.

We’d been looking at those hilarious so-called head collars for a long time, but they’re pretty expensive. We’d been told by several people they work miracles though, and Toney finally broke down and bought one. I think it cost in the neighborhood of $25.

A few nights ago we took it out of the package, glanced at the directions, and called our dog over. Toney slipped it over his head, with that strap going across his snout, and that’s when everything went downhill.

Continue reading here  




July 12, 2007


-- On Tuesday morning we got up earlier than usual, and started the dreaded process of breaking everything down. Man, I hate that part of camping; it eats it from the ass-in. But, unfortunately, it’s part of the bargain. 

We’d drive back to Culpeper today, or Bell Pepper, or whatever that place was called, and be home by mid-afternoon on Wednesday. That’s what we finally decided.

We’d briefly toyed with the idea of doing the whole trip in a single day, but we made that mistake once before. And it was not good, not good at all. So Toney went online and booked us a room at the same hotel we’d stayed on our way to Myrtle Beach . We found it to be a perfect place to stop.  

We rolled up the awning, careful not to wrench it sideways. I’d had a nightmare in which we did exactly that, you see. The thing was completely rolled-up on one end, but there was still a yard of awning left on the other end, and we couldn’t get it to move in either direction. I’d woken up in a clammy sweat, running my hands through my hair.

But it worked out, and we swept off the indoor/outdoor carpet the best we could, de-sanded the inside of the camper, etc. It didn’t take as long as I’d feared, but it still wasn’t much fun.

While I was loading our luggage into the trunk a young hillbilly child walked up to me. He was probably 12 years old, and said, “Y’all leavin’ this mornin’?” I told him we were, and he answered, “Well, y’all have yourselves a safe trip, y’hear?” And he walked away. I’d never seen him before in my life.

Continue reading here  




July 11, 2007


-- When Toney got out of the shower on Monday, she said there was no hot water. Not even a drop. I’d gone through the ordeal of firing up the hot water tank in my parents’ camper when we first arrived in Myrtle Beach , and there’d been no problem before.

I didn’t like the sound of it. Something had changed, you see, which meant I’d probably be required to make some kind of correction. And I don’t much care for the corrections.

Mostly as a stalling technique, I turned on the hot water in the sink. It was completely cold, and remained cold. Then Toney noticed the coffee pot wasn’t on anymore. The shit was deader than Kelsey’s nuts.

What in the hand-tossed hell?? Do campers have fuse boxes, and that sort of thing? I had no idea. Where’s my freakin’ cell phone?

My Dad had me check the hot water tank first. He seemed concerned about something, and asked me to take a look around in there and tell him what I saw. 

That checked out, and when I was re-locking the cover something snapped off. It was a little plastic tab on a spring that held the door shut, and now there was nothing there. It was just hanging open with the innards all exposed and visible to the world. This day was already making my ass hurt...

Continue reading here  




July 10, 2007


-- The first batch of t-shirts are going out this afternoon. I’d hoped to mail some last week, but I found out visitors were coming and had to hastily break down the operation and hide it in the basement for a few days. 

But we’re up and running again, and I’ll be shipping out a batch every day until they’re gone. Look for your package to arrive soon, and thanks again!

Also, just so you know… it appears we’re actually sold out on a couple of sizes. It’s freaking me out, man… No problem though, I’ll just order more. And, of course, I’ll fulfill orders based on when they were received, or as it’s known in the distribution biz: first-in, first-out.

I really appreciate everyone’s support. And if you haven’t bought one yet, now’s the time. I’m going to place a reorder with the T-Shirt Lady, and that’ll probably be the end of it. Don’t allow yourself to be caught Fishless in the coming fall season.

-- On a semi-related note, the long-rumored Surf Report email newsletter will be getting off-the-ground later this week. And I think some of you might enjoy the first edition. 

Ahem.

Continue reading here  




July 9, 2007


-- Through a series of unlikely events, I found myself traveling abroad yesterday. That’s right, I spent upwards of an hour 100 yards or so inside Canada
on Sunday, above Watertown, NY . I wish I could tell you the whole story (I really do), but I can’t. At least not here.

When we were leaving the good ol’ US of A, a woman at the border asked us where we were traveling from, and how long we were planning to stay in Canada
. We told her we’d come from Scranton , and were only planning to stay for a few minutes, hopefully less than an hour. 

It’s a wonder we weren’t whisked to an interrogation room following that answer. But after a few more deadly-serious, absolutely-humorless questions, she allowed us to proceed.

We were helping, um, relatives with some sort of convoluted cluster-fornication (blah blah blah), and ended up sitting inside the border station for a half-hour or so. Ahhh, the ambience. It was as if we’d been magically whisked to a county clerk’s office in Trenton
, NJ , circa 1948.

Because there was a translucent child walking around with one of those voices that makes you think something is being shoved straight through your brain stem, and two parents who let him just keep on shovin’, I got the hell out of there. I’d just stand outside in the humidity; screw it.

And across a busy road I noticed a store of sorts. It was a duty free shop, and the joint seemed to be doing a turnaway business. So the youngest Secret and I started walking…

Inside the front door was a massive display of Molson Canadian, and I knew I’d found myself a nice alternative to the previous dullness. 

Continue reading here
  




July 6, 2007


-- On Sunday morning there was Baptist preaching going on near the pool, across the road from us. Occasionally we’d hear a choir singing, but most of the time was taken up by a man with a thick Southern accent shouting about Jeeesus into some sort of amplification device.

It was mildly irritating.

Toney cooked breakfast, a conglomeration which featured eggs, sausage, onions, and green peppers. Yum. I ate roughly my own body weight in the stuff, and it was good.

The boys wanted to go to the beach again, and Toney said she’d take them while I showered. And as soon as they left I could feel a disturbance forming in the lower quadrant. There was a definite swirling pattern to it, and a recognizable eye, which meant I’d probably have to deal with it.

I performed a mental review, and realized I hadn’t had a sit-down since we left home on Thursday. Now here it was three days later and I was eating eggs and peppers, all willy-nilly. Who did I think I was fooling?

I briefly considered the bathroom inside my parents’ camper, but ruled it out. It’s one of those airplane toilets, perfect for one thing, but not the other. I had visions of hoses backing up, catastrophic bowl-striping, and the Secrets hollering about the funk for all the world to hear: Ohhh God, it’s even in the curtains and the upholstery!!

Continue reading here  




July 5, 2007


-- I woke up on Saturday morning to someone, somewhere hollering, followed by what sounded like a dog yelping in pain. What the? Where am I? What’s my name??

Myrtle Beach ! That’s where I am. And it’s Andy! Andy’s been seriously hurt!!

I sprang from the bed, eyes bugging-out like Benjamin Linus, and crashed through the camper door wearing nothing but a t-shirt and boxer briefs, to find Toney sipping a cup of coffee with our dog sleeping contentedly at her feet.

“The shit’s going on out here?,” I asked through gasps and coughs. She looked up, confused, and said, “Why are you standing outside in your underwear?”

It was the yappin’ dog next door. I eventually figured it out. The thing sounded like its head had just been run over by a sausage truck every time it barked. Grrr… And God only knows who was yelling like that. We were in the South after all.

While getting dressed I realized my back wasn’t hurting. Huh. I almost always spend Day Two of a camping trip walking around like a man who’s just lost his balance and is trying not to fall down a flight of stairs. But everything was perfectly fine this go ‘round. Excellent.

I also realized I didn’t get up during the night to pee. Not once, even after all that designer beer. It’s the bathroom that makes the difference, you know. Just knowing it’s there removes all pee-pressure, and allows the subconscious to focus on other pressing matters. Like barbecued pork, and whatnot.

While camping in our rolling box o’ beds I always, without fail, would wake up at 3 am or whatever, feeling like my bladder was stretched to its maximum expanse. And I’d have to tromp down to the bathhouse in the dark, seeing throat-slashers lurking in the shadows, and relieve the terrific pressure.

Having a baffroom just a few feet away makes all the difference. And I recommend it highly.

Continue reading here  




July 4, 2007


-- I hope you guys are having yourselves a wonderful holiday. These days off don’t mean much to me anymore, since I’ve been off every day since early March. But I hope it’s working for you, I really do.

This morning I’ve already had coffee on the deck with Toney, taken a long walk beside a creek (or as they’re known back home in the motherland, crick), sat on a bench and pretended to think deep thoughts, and had a yummy grease-spangled breakfast from atop the high bar at Waffle House.

Here was my view during breakfast. The place was packed, and when I was returning from the pisstol I didn’t notice a fork on the floor, and kicked it at high velocity into the waiting area. It came to a sudden stop beneath the tip of a man’s shoe, who was wearing a Cape Cod t-shirt and a wotta douche expression of disgust.

In case you’re keeping score at home, I had scrambled eggs, bacon (aigs and biken), hash browns with a square of neon-orange cheese soldered to it, toast, and sweet tea with lemon. It was very good indeed. 

The elderly (and sturdy) waitress even called me “honey,” and rubbed my back at one point. I swear I think they import those women from Alabama , or somewhere. They don’t make ‘em like that up here.

Continue reading here  




July 3, 2007


-- Remember how I was bitching a few weeks ago because I didn’t have Microsoft Word on my laptop, and was forced to use some kind of crapola like Wordpad, or whatever?

Yeah, I had the original install disc, but everybody I talked to said Microsoft is really strict about that sort of thing, and I probably wouldn’t be able to use the program on more than one computer.

Grrr

One of you guys suggested a free program called OpenOffice, which I downloaded and installed. And I liked it, except for one thing: it saves files in a format that nobody recognizes. Like .lmnop, or something. 

So I’d do a little writing at my afternoon office, then forward it to myself. And my PC at home would say, “The shit’s this?? Some kind of crap from the Czech Republic ?” No seriously, that’s what it would say. 

I didn’t want to install the program on my home computer (it seems to want to take over your system, and set itself as the default for everything), so I just went back to using Wordpad.

Until yesterday, anyway. I was writing another “special report” at the bread company, got highly irritated, and threw a temper tantrum that included the absolute destruction of a French baguette.

Continue reading here 




July 2, 2007


-- It was 44 degrees outside when I hefted my heft off the dormancy platform this morning. On July 2! Man, I love it; it puts me in a good mood. I even had a cup of good ol’ Eight O’clock bean coffee on the deck today, and gazed off into the distance pretending to think Deep Thoughts. Good stuff.

Yesterday was crazy-cool as well, and I mowed the entire yard. Sometimes I’m guilty of only doing the front, the part the neighbors can see. But since the gods were giving me a heat and humidity reprieve, I thought I’d better take advantage of it.

The Half-Shirts were having some kind of to-do over there, and it looked like about fifteen people were on their patio. Including what appeared to be a human embryo propped up in a lawn chair, with a full-sized Betty White head attached. Everybody was drinking margaritas and apparently having a great time. 

And what was Poppa Half-Shirt doing during all this? That’s right, mowing and weed-whacking and raking – all at his usual hyper-speed, like Babe Ruth running the bases and tipping his cap in those old films. 

Yeah, Halfy’s the same kind of host I am. Except I sneak away and get on the computer.

Continue reading here  




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