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   The State of My Fat Ass
                                 September 2002

September 30, 2002

I'm sitting here in the bunker at 6:05 on Monday morning, sporting a green t-shirt and a bright red pair of sweatpants. I look like a goddamn Christmas ornament. A few minutes ago I went past a full-length mirror and did an actual double-take, like on cartoons. I'm a walking, talking seasonal decoration; I look ridiculous. I grabbed whatever clothes felt right in the dark, trying not to wake Toney, and now I'm ready to be hung with care on a huge branch somewhere, by a Christian giant. All that's missing is the big wire hook. I sure hope the house doesn't catch fire this morning. It would surely burn to the ground as the firemen pointed and laughed at "the fat guy's get-up." The smart-asses.

Shit, I'm getting off-track here, before I even get started...

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Ours was pleasant, if uneventful. It's been raining for days, because of that Hurricane Eilene or whatever, and it's been pretty cold. At night it's been getting really cold, in fact, and Toney won't allow us to turn on the heat. It's not "time" yet. She controls the thermostat based on date, not on temperature. She's a lot like my 87 year old grandmother in that respect. We argue about it a little, but I just come off sounding whiny and fragile and pussified, so I don't put forth much effort. I'd rather be cold than a ball-baby bitch.

Here's what's going on:

-- On Friday afternoon, at work, I went out to the warehouse to get a comically oversized Mountain Dew from the machine, and a forklift carrying a pallet of urinals went zipping past. Yes, I'm getting closer and closer to my goal of Seeing It All. The powers that be are on a crusade to replace all the urinals in our building with these ridiculous "waterless" units that don't flush, and look like oversized sea shells. Or pee shells, I guess. I mentioned earlier how disconcerting it is to take a leak and not flush afterwards. With these things you just walk away. It always feels like there's unfinished business at hand. I've noticed that people are going out of their way not to use the pee shells, and I think it's for that reason. There's just something about them that throws you off, and who needs to carry around urine luggage all day?

Of course, as bad as they are, I've seen worse. For instance, in some stadiums they just have these huge open troughs where you're supposed to stand shoulder to shoulder with other guys and take the wiener out of your pants. No thanks. And, on rare occasions, I've even encountered big round communal piss pits situated in the middle of a floor, where you not only huddle up with your pee-buddy, but you can actually look across and see additional urinating penises right before your eyes. It's like a Festival of Cocks, and I always politely decline the invitation. I'd rather sit in a stadium full of people and pee my pants. It's not even a contest.

-- I watched the first installment of the Ken Burns Civil War documentary on Friday night. I know I'm a little behind the times, but what's new? It was really good, and a couple of things struck me especially. They said that when one of the first battles was about to break out, at Bull Run I think, rich New Yorkers traveled there with their families and picnic baskets, to watch the action. And following another especially bloody fight in a neighboring state, opportunistic businessmen immediately snapped up the land and turned it into a tourist attraction. All this made me feel a little better, because I'd suspected that, as a people, we were becoming bigger and bigger dumbasses as time went on. I'm sometimes guilty of thinking of the past as the good old days, and feeling disgusted with the way we're all spiraling into the cess, but I guess we were always dipshits. It's somehow reassuring.

-- On Saturday I finally watched Fight Club. (If you look back on what people were doing five years ago, that's probably a good guess at what I'm doing today.) Damn, now that's a movie! I had the general impression that it was gonna be really weird, and I think that's what's kept me away from it until now. Call me shallow but I generally don't like weird and surreal, I like story. I think that some of those art-house flicks are just covering up their lack of storytelling abilities, by piling on the fucked-upness. Plus, I don't have a goatee to scratch in deep consideration. Fight Club is pretty strange, but it's the story that's strange, not the telling of it. You don't come away feeling like an idiot for not being able to grasp the importance of the green balloon, or some such bullshit, or for wasting two hours of your life. It isn't Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, like I'd feared. I recommend it highly; it receives the prestigious TheWVSR seal of approval.

-- We had a posh lunch at Sam's Club yesterday, beneath the giant trampoline. Sparing no expense, we treated ourselves to a couple of their kick-ass Emasculation Dogs while cowering in fear. What's the deal with that? In every Sam's and Costco store I've ever been to, they have a gigantic trampoline chained to the wall, high above the snack bar. I'm always certain that some restraint wire is going to snap and a mass of steel and tightly stretched rubber will come crashing down on me, and I'll die on the floor of a wholesale club with a shattered spine and a kraut dog clutched in my hand.

-- Speaking of that, I saw an item on Headline News over the weekend about the National Organization for Women protesting Wal-Mart stores, for a litany of grievances. There was film footage of horrifyingly ugly people waving signs and screaming in outrage. But one of their complaints was, get this, that Wal-Mart routinely violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. I almost swallowed my tongue. You can't go in that store without passing through a gauntlet of wheelchairs, people flailing their arms and rolling their eyes, clattering canes and snap-on crutches... What's their violation, hiring them all, and not allowing other businesses the opportunity to show how progressive they are? ...Is that insensitive?

Damn, I wanted to write about my connection to The Boomtown Rats today, but I don't have enough time to do it justice. Since this is so short I'll try to squeeze out three updates this week, so check back on Wednesday, if you give a shit.

Also, be sure to check out the new Best of TheWVSR page, when you get the chance.  I whipped that baby up on Sunday morning.

Have a great week, folks.


September 26, 2002

So, I was flipping through my notebook this morning, trying to decide what to write about, and the thing's been picked cleaner than a nasal passage on a long car trip. Yeah, I've got nothing here. What am I going to do?! Are there any fast food chains I've forgotten? Dairy Queen doesn't really qualify, does it? Shit. And the words Westerberg, Krispy Kreme, and Sopranos make my skin crawl at this point... Oh wait, here's a promising entry: "misc" How could I have forgotten to write about misc?! And "a classic son of a bitch" could prove to be an interesting subject to tackle. I could probably attack it from several different angles. I think I need to start being a little more descriptive in my notes. Goddamn, what a mess.

There are a few little random items (dregs) I might be able to rub together today, but don't expect too many sparks. If you only have time to read this, or do a few more Google searches for "olsen twins in there underware," I'd opt for the Google. Seriously. I urge you to read no further.

You've been warned, foo.

-- As I flipped frantically through my emaciated spiral-bound Book of Comedy, I remembered a story I read years ago about Lewis Grizzard. In case you don't know, Grizzard was a popular newspaper columnist in Atlanta. He was so big he could charge something like fifty bucks a head for the privilege of hearing him read his columns on stage, and sell out the frickin' Fox Theater on Peachtree Street. That's where I saw Prince and REM!! The man was a rock star. And when he died a few years ago the headline on the front page of the Journal-Constitution simply read, LEWIS IS DEAD, in the size type that's usually reserved for declarations of war and Survivor news. Anyway, I read this story about him, possibly in one of his many celebrity-penned obituaries, and it's stuck in my mind ever since.

He and a bunch of his buddies were in Mexico, drinking and carousing and doing the things you do in Mexico, when they happened upon a group of prostitutes. One came up to Lewis and began rubbing herself against him in a seductive manner, and whispered in his ear that she'd do anything he wanted, for a hundred dollars. He thought about this for a second, took out a hundred dollar bill, handed it to her and said, "Write my Sunday column."

Why do I think that's so funny?

...I'm not kidding, there's still time to cut your losses and move on. The Olsens could decide to start posing in their undergarments at any minute. Time is of the essence!

-- A few days ago Toney and I were in a department store in Scranton and I jumped up on one of those Tony Little exercise machines, something called a Gazelle or some shit. I was clowning around and had the thing whipping back and forth to the point where my feet were flying up to frightening levels; it felt like they were going above my head! One of the greatest joys in my life is to embarrass my wife in public, by acting like a gigantic douchebag. I accomplished my mission, but paid a heavy price. For several hours after I dismounted that ridiculous contraption I was unable to walk correctly. I wasn't in pain or anything, it just threw off my rhythm. I forgot how to walk right. I was taking unnaturally high steps, like I was climbing up on an invisible curb, and was holding my ass too low to the ground. I looked like a palsy patient walking through the mall, but I couldn't help it. I had to concentrate to be able to walk like a normal human being again. Those things should be outlawed.

-- Yesterday at work I received an email from The Home Office, asking me to read an attached company policy and code of conduct manual, then acknowledge that I understood everything in it. Oh shit, I thought. What does this mean? What do they know?! I started scrolling through the thing and passed over the sexual harassment and drugs in the workplace sections, since I'm too old for that shit anymore, and stopped at the part on Internet usage. I read every word of that section. Twice. I figured it would be loaded with doomsday declarations, and promises of instant dismissal for sending a single private email -- but I was wrong. The best I can tell is that they don't really care what you do, as long as it's not illegal, interferes with your work, or embarrasses the company in some way. It basically said, knock yourself out, babe. Have a ball! I couldn't believe it. Why do I feel like I'm being set up?

-- I saw that so-called psychic John Edward on Fox News the other day. He was taking calls from people, and hooking them up with their dead relatives, and yelling and bullying everyone. If he has such uncanny vision, and can see into the next realm and everything, how come he doesn't realize he needs to visit an orthodontist in this one?

-- Here's our dog Andy eating spaghetti last night. This is a portrait of an animal in a state of absolute ecstasy.

-- For some unknown reason, I sometimes listen to the Bill O'Reilly radio show on my way home from work. I think it's that whole "can't look away from a car wreck" thing. Holy shit, has there been a worse show in the history of modern civilization? He's one grating son of a bitch. What's he thinking? Doesn't he have advisors or producers?? I'm no expert but I don't think humorlessness, a massively inflated sense of self-worth, and a sustained air of outrage are the things that a successful radio show are made of. Nearly every day he's on about some news item that has him frothing at the mouth, and threatening to unleash his army of followers to protest. It makes me crazy. I think he sincerely believes he holds this huge amount of influence, that causes politicians and public officials to quake in their boots. He's on cable, for god's sake! He acts like he's Carson and the rest of the world is populated by wannabe stand-up comedians. And the thing is, I agree with some (not all) of the things he says. It's just the way he says it that makes me want to join the Green Party just to spite him. He's gonna turn me into Alan Alda, before it's all over. I'm wringing my hands already... Everybody's just so cruel to each other.

-- On a normal day I look at a lot of websites (ahem), but I still think this is my favorite. It's was one of the original links on The Mountain, and it's still one of the best. Good god, it's the complete package!

And that'll do it, folks. I warned you, so don't blame me, goddammit. Over the weekend I'm going to launch a new page, linked off the homepage, that showcases the "best" of TheWVSR. I want new visitors to be able to have convenient access to the features that have somehow managed to cause a few Internet ripples, like this and this and this and this. We're committed to making your Surf Report experience as good as it can possibly be, or whatever.

Have a great weekend.

September 23, 2002

You know, you work all week looking towards the weekend, the frickin' carrot on the stick, then it's over in minutes, and it all feels like one big waste of time. We didn't do much of anything, and I feel pretty guilty about it -- especially staring in the eye of another ball-and-chain five-day work week. We didn't take advantage of the time off to go sightseeing, or breathe the fresh air, or complete some unfinished project, or anything positive like that. No, we basically just laid around the house and watched a bunch of TV and bitched at each other. This is what I dreamed about all week? I'm completely disgusted with myself.

On Saturday we did manage to hoist our asses off the couch and get out amongst the living for a while. We went to a few stores and got to hear a woman scream at her kid across several aisles, over and over again. "CHRIS! ...CHRIS!! ...CHRISTOPHER!!!" she hollered repeatedly, apparently unaware that there were other people present. I was actually shocked. Why she couldn't just walk over to where the kid was standing, I do not know. She was trying to get him to stop being a pain in the ass, by being a bigger pain in the ass. People are so goddamn stupid.

And we went to a grand-opening of a nice, shiny new health club near our house. They had a rock band playing in there (prestigious gig!), one of those six-foot submarine sandwiches, and a half-dozen fatties walking in place on thousand-dollar walking-in-place machines. I didn't want to go, but Toney dragged me. The smell in those places always makes me want to hurl. Generally speaking, I don't want to smell people, or their bodily protectants. Some beefed-up jerk-off gave us a half-assed tour -- "There are showers in there... here's the room where the aerobics classes are taught... did you get some of our sandwich?" -- boy, I was ready to sign any paper put before me after that enthusiastic presentation! Whew!! He's a regular P.T. Barnum, that guy.

On our way out of the gym we bumped into some of our neighbors, and Toney started engaging in small-talk with them, as I hung back praying for it to be over. Everybody talked about the weather, then the teacher's strike (don't get me started), and finally the new health club. After those subjects were exhausted, it all started over again: the weather, the teacher's strike, and the health club. It was like a tape loop. I was near tears.

After that exhilarating experience we decided to go check out the Pumpkin Patch that just opened on the edge of town. It's a really cool place, linked in our minds forever with the fall season, but it's still a little too warm to get the full effect. We walked around and checked out their pumpkins, and jellies and jams, and all the crafty bullshit, but our hearts weren't really in it. It needs to be about twenty degrees cooler. I did, however, buy a sack of green apples there, for $1.75. They're awesome! When I was a kid we used to steal apples just like these off our neighbor's trees, and when I took a bite of one in the parking lot, I was transported back in time, to Dunbar, WV circa 1973. I felt like jumping on my 5-speed and riding down to Cliff's Market for an Icy Ike and some zots.

I watched True Romance Saturday night, and it was a blast. I'd seen it, of course, years ago, but I didn't remember enough to ruin anything. I didn't realize that Tony Soprano was in it, for instance. He gets his ass kicked by Patricia Arquette! That movie is great. I know Tarantino is an easy person to hate, but he writes some incredible dialogue. "If I had to fuck a man. You know, if my life depended on it? I'd fuck Elvis." That shit's gold.

Sunday we watched Tony Soprano for real, and it was a great episode, complete with a projectile vomiting scene. Everything seems to be falling apart for T. Even that scrotum-faced Silvio is playing games behind his back. I can't wait to see how it all turns out. I love that show.

After The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm, we switched over and caught the end of the The Grammys. I'm completely out of the loop on all of that stuff. I didn't know half the people nominated, or the shows they appear on. The best actor was some bald guy named Jimmy Chicklets or something, and he stars in a show called The Shield. What the hell is that?! I mean, I sometimes feel like I passed through a portal somewhere around 1990, and lost ten or twelve years of my life. Jimmy Chicklets?!

And that pretty much brings you up to date. Exciting, huh?

Since there's not much to report, I thought I'd take this opportunity to expand on something I mentioned last time. I was telling Toney about my strange conversation with the guy in Burbank last week, when he inexplicably began grilling me for my thoughts on fast food restaurants. She thinks he was trying to derail my meeting with Big Shot A, but I wonder. Anyway, I was telling her what he was saying about In 'N' Out Burger, and before we knew it we were reviewing the restaurants as well. (It's contagious!) So, I thought I'd write it all down for you lucky folks.

Strap yourself in, and get ready for an exciting ride!

Burger King -- In truth I don't really mind their food that much, but their restaurants have a seedy feel about them. I steer clear because I feel like it's only a matter of time before I find a big clump of dick hair in my Whopper, or get stabbed in the back during a drug deal gone bad in the next booth. (Ever notice that whenever one of those stories pop up in the news about employees spitting in food, it's usually at a Burger King?) If they were brighter, and didn't rely on various hues of brown as their color scheme, and if the employees and clientele didn't look like they need to kill something, I'd probably stop in every once in a while. At this point it's only a last resort. Nasty. C

McDonald's -- Conversely, their food is not fit for pigs, but their dining rooms are usually clean, and their employees don't look like they're wearing a house arrest ankle bracelet under their petroleum-based uniforms. Consequently, I find myself eating there more often than I should. (I always leave muttering, "Never again...") All the kids running around make it seem a little more wholesome than it really is, I suspect, and it is a pretty good place to expel urine during a long car trip -- I wonder if they've ever done any studies to find out how much of their sales are piss-driven? One step up from a last resort, but still McNasty. The "plus" is for their awesome fries... and their janitorial staff. C+

Wendy's -- Easily the best of the Big Three. Their burgers are fresh and made on the spot, and feature actual produce if you so desire. Also, they have kick-ass chili, taco salads, various garden salads, and interesting chicken sandwiches. Through my job I've had the opportunity to eat many a fancy-pants meal in stuffy restaurants, and expensive catered dinners at meetings and such. Very few could compare with the Wendy's #1 combo with cheese, no pickles, and a Coke. Call me low-class if you'd like, but that's a goddamn fact. A

Arby's -- I have a fast-food theory that no meals should ever cost more than a five-dollar bill. Yes, that's right, I have fast-food theories, what of it? I think it's a reasonable expectation, and Arby's breaks it. The food is pretty good, but it's too expensive. Whenever I see their sign my brain cancels it out, and it goes directly to the kill file. Years ago we used to get their five-for-five deal and that was pretty good, but I think they've discontinued it. Plus, have you ever seen that big shiny-ass beef ball they're constantly shaving in the back? Horrifying. B

Hardee's -- I haven't been to any of these joints in years, partly because I haven't seen one since I left Atlanta in '96. My general impression though, based on past experience, is that it's the worst place on Earth. Granted, my memory may be a little foggy, but that's what I remember. Frightening, sassy cashiers with an affinity for shiny gold teeth caps, parking lots with weeds growing up through the cracks, dirty tables and sticky floors, cardboard taped to the windows to cover up the bullet holes... it's a dream come true. And I also remember that they were constantly in search of an identity. One year they'd be a roast beef restaurant, the next they'd be selling fried chicken. I mean, what the hell?! I think they're somehow affiliated with Carl's Jr. now. Who knows, and who cares? As close as most of us will ever get to eating out of a dumpster. D

Taco Bell -- Good for a quick lunch, or after a night of bar-hopping, but it doesn't really cut it as a dinner spot. More a snack than a meal, really. The food is OK, except they like to load things down with those grotesque refried beans, that are nothing more than diarrhea fuel. Apparently that gray sludge is really cheap to produce, so they try to sneak it into everything they serve. I think I was once served a hunk of it over the lip of my iced tea, but I could be mistaken. When I bite into a vein of that crap, my gag reflexes kick in and my lower jaw retracts in an involuntary effort to stop my stomach from overflowing into my lap. But, to be fair, they have some good stuff -- especially when a manager is working the production line. A conscientiously prepared Burrito Supreme is one of the world's most perfect foods. B+

Chick-fil-A Also guilty of breaking the five dollar rule, but their restaurants are so rare, outside the South, you can't help but get a little excited when you happen upon one. Hands-down the best chicken sandwiches in all of fast food-dom. Mmmm... I wish I had one right now. Pretty much everything they serve, including their just-squeezed lemonade, is really fresh and good. It ain't cheap though. I complained to a manager in Atlanta about it once and he looked at me like I was wearing a hat of turds. I don't think he fully grasped the thrust of my argument; he seemed to say to me, with his eyes, "Dude, this is a Chick-fil-A. What are you getting so worked up about?" Whatever. Their food is good and apparently they breed their own race of workers, because they're all incredibly well-mannered, clean-cut, and look exactly alike. I like that. A-

Carl's Jr. A west coast chain that's a lot like Burger King, without the nastiness. Their burgers are grilled, and really good, but for some reason I was never able to eat there very often. I'd stop in on a whim and leave thinking I'd just had the best meal of my life, and the next time I could barely choke it down. I don't think it was an inconsistency in their food, I just think there's something about it that doesn't lend itself well to the fast-food long-haul. I haven't really figured it out yet, but rest assured you'll be the first to know when I do. A big thumbs up for their advertising campaign which consists mostly of big black letters that spell, simply, "EAT MEAT." I applaud their attitude. B

KFC If there's anything more disgusting than biting into a piece of "fried" chicken and having half a quart of hot water (or something) roll down your chin, I don't know what it is. KFC is fuckin' grotesque. Hard, deep-fried grease shells, "water," snapping veins, people sucking marrow out of shiny bones, great sheets of animal skin hanging from the corner of glistening mouths... it's like something out of a Dean Koontz novel. This is a place for people not fully evolved to exercise their basic animal instincts, and indulge in a bloody feeding frenzy. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it. Oh sure, I'm a proud carnivore and everything, but I'm not a fucking dingo! I just experienced a full-body shiver. Shit! D

Long John Silver's Another place that likes to conceal everything on their menu in a hard grease shell, but they're somehow able to pull it off. Despite the fact that every meal there will remove twelve hours from the back-end of your life, it's worth it. I like the way you can jump back and forth between the hot fish (or chicken) and the cold cole slaw. Hot, cold, hot, cold. Very satisfying, indeed. Plus, all the grease will keep you regular and make your coat shiny. The one near my house is a LJS/A&W hybrid, so you can wash everything down with a big frosty mug of self-serve root beer! Their fries are limp though, and those "crispies" are a little unsettling -- especially when I see people ordering extras. But overall, a good place to block your colon. B+

Krystal A Southern version of White Castle. I only ate there a couple of times, and I didn't like it. They sell those little square hamburgers that they cook right by the cash register, with the bun and everything on the grill, and loaded down with a ton of onions. People buy the things by the sack-full, but I could never build up much enthusiasm for them. For one thing I'm not completely sure the meat they use is beef. It's a little gray. I heard rumors of it being ground-up goose livers, but you hear a lot of bullshit down south. I think the main reason why I didn't like it is because you'd practically have to throw your clothes away after a brief visit to one of their restaurants. I can't go for that (no can do). You'd walk out smelling like grease, onions, and mustard, and that's simply unacceptable. When you find yourself seriously considering taking a bath in tomato juice after a meal, to get the funk out of your skin, there's a big problem. C-

Jack In The Box I never set foot in one of these places, because I remember the news reports about people dropping dead all up and down the West Coast after eating there. I like fast food, but I'm not prepared to die for it. I like their spokesman, Jack, though. He's pretty cool. He puts a comical face on food-borne illness. Unrated

In 'N' Out Finally, the place that started this whole discussion... A legendary Southern California institution, they have a menu with something like four items on it. They sell a burger called a Double Double that has roughly 700 fat grams. Predictably, it's their most popular item. Their burgers are pretty awesome, and come wrapped in old-fashioned wax paper. Their fries though, leave a lot to be desired. My friend Bill said they taste like chalk sticks, and that pretty much sums it up. They cut up potatoes right before your eyes and cook them in some kind of pussified California health oil (I'm not sure why they bother, considering those heart-halting Double Doubles they push), and have no taste whatsoever. Also, the places are always packed and you sometimes have to wait fifteen or twenty minutes for your food. But the workers all look like extras from Beverly Hills 90210, so it's not so bad. I guess they know that if you're gonna have to stand around waiting, you're not going to want to look at any ugly fuckers. You've got to admire their wisdom. B+

And that'll do it for today, folks. Maybe next time I'll Rate The Toilet Papers! Have a great week. I think I'm going to turn in a vacation request form today. I need some time off, goddammit. I need a second-chance. I live a couple of hours from Cooperstown, NY.  There's no excuse to be laying around on my ass discussing Hardee's at length.

See you in a few days.

September 20, 2002

-- Earlier in the week we had to take our dog Andy in for some shots, one for rabies and another for distemper, whatever the hell that is. Being the Woody Allen of dogs, as Toney calls him, this predictably sent him spiraling into a sustained neurotic state. He slid around the house, all low to the ground, looking nervously over his doggie shoulders, for roughly twenty-four hours following the doctor visit. It was an amazing thing to watch. The slightest deviation from his daily routine knocks him ass-over-tits; he's an absolute mess.

Toney and I were talking about this, and were sorta making fun of how hyper-sensitive he is, when something happened that will surely haunt me to my grave.

I was putting on my shoes in the living room, getting ready for work, and Andy was lying a few feet away. He had his head on the floor, but his eyes were moving back and forth between me and Toney as we had our laughs at his expense. Then he suddenly stood up and began acting like he was going to puke. The hell?! He started doing that full-body pump that dogs do, when they're about to blow. I jumped up with one shoe on and flung the front door open so he could get far away from our carpeting. He went out in the grass and continued his rhythmic pumping for several minutes, and there were a few hocks and spits here and there, but it looked like nothing dramatic was going to happen.

I stood out there with him and he was pacing back and forth with his head down, and the contractions eventually started coming farther and farther apart. False alarm, I thought. I moved to go back inside, to finish getting ready for work. Then, without warning, he stopped moving, opened his mouth wide, and what appeared to be a wet handbag constructed of heavy rubber emerged from our house pet, and was deposited onto our lawn. What in the honeybaked hell?!! I was frozen in my tracks. I have NEVER seen anything like that before, and I've seen a lot. It was bright yellow, the color of lemons, and it appeared to weigh around four pounds. It looked almost luxurious.

I was finally able to start screaming in horror right around the time Andy began eating the massive pile of jiggly grossness, and that nearly caused me to launch into some pumping of my own. He gobbled it all down as I shrieked like a woman, he licked his lips with deep satisfaction, and trotted back into the house.

Ho-ly fuck. An animal had practically turned inside-out, right before my eyes! My knees went all wobbly and I had to hold onto the wall. I swear, I think he knew we were laughing at him, and it upset him so much that one of his lungs momentarily traveled to a place that no lung had traveled before. Is that even a possibility?? Damn. The poor guy. His organs were coming out!

We cooked him up some spaghetti for dinner that night, and now he's back to normal -- making it clear to the neighborhood kids, in no uncertain terms, that our yard is off-limits, and licking his ass with great enthusiasm.

-- I received this email yesterday, under the subject line "english improve you make."

Hallo, I wanting to meet man from West Europe/North America/Asian? Men in mine Country not so well.

One of these days I'm going to answer all the spam mail I receive within a 24-hour period, and I'll have my house re-financed, my cock enlarged, be pulling down the big-bucks from my work-at-home business, and getting waited on, hand and foot, by my Russian mail-order bride.  Ah, how great life will be when I start answering my spam...

-- Check it out, I have the 650,919th most popular website on the internet! 

And here's one that's ranked higher.

-- I saw a creepy Three Stooges episode a couple of nights ago. It was with Shemp, filmed after Curly had had his first stroke and was unable to perform anymore. I guess it was their 100th short, so they decided to bring Curly back in a cameo role, for old time's sake. He played a sleeping passenger on a train who snored loudly, and eventually began barking. It was funny, but the circumstances surrounding it were pretty sad. He was probably partially paralyzed, and that's why he had to remain seated. I can't really explain it, but it freaked me out a little. I know the guy died in his forties, after suffering a series of strokes, and it was disturbing to get a glimpse of him in an incapacitated state. You look to the Stooges for escapism, to get away from real life. The harsh realities of the world, and the Three Stooges, should never meet. It would be like turning on The Flintstones and watching Fred undergo radiation treatments for his pancreatic cancer. It's just not right. I know it probably seems crazy, but I can't stop thinking about that thirty seconds of film. It shook my emotional foundation. I hope I don't upchuck a rubber handbag.

-- I had a close call at work a few days ago. For a few minutes I thought I was going to have to break my vow to never take a crap at the office, and shatter a twenty-plus year streak of being the master of my own colon. I sat at my desk, staring straight ahead, with beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead. "Concentrate, concentrate..." But I'm proud to report that I was able to ride out the storm, and emerge on the other side a stronger man. Soon I will be able to bend spoons with my mind.

I've got some more crap scribbled in my notebook, but I'll hold it until Monday. (I'm good at that sort of thing.) I've had enough for one day, if you want the truth. Have yourselves a great weekend, folks. I just got my copy of the new two-disc True Romance DVD, so my Friday night is planned. If I can just make it through one more day of work without punching somebody in the mouth... 

See ya soon.

                            

September 16, 2002

-- Fall is in the air in northeastern PA; the air is crisp and clear, the first leaf casualties are starting to spiral to their colorful deaths, and smoky fireplace smells arrive with each sunset. I love it. There's no season more satisfying than fall, and considering how miserably hot it's been this year, this one is actually a little sweeter than usual. Even for a man as bitter as I, it's hard to stay pissed in the fall. You take one step outside the door, and you're instantly in a good mood, regardless of what may have just happened in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

One little complaint though: why am I now sneezing like a freak? Aren't allergies supposed to be triggered in the spring, when flowers and trees are ejaculating down the backs of our shirts and all over our cars? I can't remember sneezing and snotting like this, so late in the year. Seriously, I've been going off on these frightening sneezing jags where I begin to fear I won't be able to come out of it. I imagine myself surrounded by news crews in late November, eager to get some footage of "the man who can't stop sneezing." And visions of me seated beside a cyclops in a turban at the Myrtle Beach Ripley's Believe It or Not -- the only job I can hold -- flash through my brain. It's scary.

And what's the deal with all the gnats?! Great Christ almighty, where did they all come from? They weren't here a month ago. Buzzing in my ears, going up my nose, crawling on my eyeballs -- I hate the little fuckers. Do great numbers of gnat eggs hatch in unison when everything else begins to die? Is that the way it works? Damn. They should make a horror film about them: Gnats! starring Jan Michael Vincent. "You can't swat away evil." I'm hoping the first good freeze kills them off, along with all the sneeze spores. I'm dreaming of a snotless/gnatless existence. I have a dream!

In the meantime, I wonder if I can buy an astronaut suit on eBay?

-- I have some lofty plans for the fall and winter, my friends. I'm going to try to write a novel. Yes, you read that correctly; please feel free to begin laughing your asses off. It's something I've been turning over in my mind for a few years now, and I've put it off as long as I can. I need to finally start putting it down on paper. I've taken a couple of fiction writing courses, and worked on character sketches and outlines, and I've now exhausted all my stalling techniques. (Fiction classes are a great way to convince yourself you're working on your project without actually doing anything.) It's time to put up or shut up.

In case you're wondering, I'm not going to attempt to write Moby Dick or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. No, I can barely read those books. What I have in mind is a lot less ambitious. I'm thinking more along the lines of a 120-page road novel narrated by a smart-ass. I think I might be able to pull that one off. But I'm a little nervous, to be perfectly honest. Years ago I was arrogant and foolish, and mistook an ability to generate ideas as writing talent. Now I know that ideas are as common as insufferable pricks at a staff meeting -- it's all about the presentation of the ideas. And that's the part that worries me. Oh, I can come up with some funny lines, and a few amusing situations, but can I make it hang together and hold the reader's attention? Can I force the characters to come alive, and create Conflict! Conflict! Conflict!, like all my teachers have told me I must? Can I avoid cliches, and the common mistakes of the amateur? We'll see. I want it to be done by spring, at least the first draft. If I allow it to drag out much longer than that, it will surely drive me insane.

Wish me luck. And please bust my balls if I only have half a chapter done by April. I'm serious, drive up here to Scranton and shoe me in the nuts. It's what I'll deserve if I waste the winter.

-- There's been a lot of talk about the woman in Georgia who called the police on a group of Middle Eastern men she allegedly overheard discussing terrorist plots in a Shoney's restaurant. It turns out the men are apparently in the clear, and were finally let go after hours of interrogation. Almost immediately the criticism kicked in. The woman is obviously just another Southern racist... this is a clear case of racial profiling gone awry... in Calhoun, GA, if you see an Arab man drinking a cup of coffee, you apparently call the FBI... blah blah blah. Basically what they're saying is, hicks down in that part of the country are prejudiced and ignorant, and quick to jump to conclusions -- too blind to comprehend the irony of their own words.

It's mildly amusing, the predictability of it all, but it could ultimately turn out to be very dangerous. For instance, the next time somebody overhears one of Muhammed Atta's many roommates (how many roommates did that man have anyway??) discussing the plans for his next Jihad party, what are the chances they'll keep it to themselves, for fear of being called a racist? Pretty good, I'd say. Who wants to be called a racist? Then we'll all be wringing our hands after the Golden Gate Bridge plunges into the Bay, along with hundreds of mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons, and wondering how it could've possibly happened. And we'll all light candles and stand on our lawns, and watch very special television events about it later in the week.

Unless this Georgia woman turns out to be a crank (always a possibility), I think she should be commended. She did the right thing, as far as I can tell. But if she does turn out to be a crazy old lady, she should be forced to eat regularly from the Shoney's shellfish buffet. That'll teach her.

-- Toney and I had Chinese food for lunch yesterday, and my fortune cookie said something along the lines of "It's not always kind to be nice." What the hell?! That's not a fortune, it's advice or something -- and not very good advice either, since I don't know what the hell it means. It certainly isn't a fortune, it doesn't tell me what's going to happen to me; in fact, it comes very close to nagging, I think. And who wants to crack open a nagging cookie at the end of a satisfying meal? Not me. I want my Chinese dessert to predict the future, goddammit. What's wrong with a little novelty predicting? I've got enough people trying to tell me how to think, thank you very much. I don't need my orange chicken lunch to try to make me a more well-rounded person. Sheesh.

-- Rule of Thumb: If you have a bumper sticker on your car about abortion, for or against, you're a pain in the ass, and people go to great lengths to avoid talking to you.

-- The Sopranos season premiere last night was pretty darn good. It wasn't one of those episodes that causes your mind to melt from the sheer power of its greatness, but it was far from a letdown. I loved the scene where the cash-strapped Tony beats the living shit out of the bartender at his strip-club for wasting ice. "Conserve!" he screams at him, after bashing him repeatedly over the skull with a metal ice bucket. T's a tad on-edge these days... Ya gotta love it.

Supposedly you can make bets in Vegas on who will get whacked this season, and here are the current odds. I might have to put a twenty down on Paulie Walnuts; I'm afraid he's venturing down a very dangerous road.

-- I know I'm a jaded bastard, but I come across very few so-called humor sites that I find to be, you know, funny. Here's an exception. This thing reminds me of the old National Lampoon. Be sure to see the picture at the bottom of the page. I laugh every time I think about it.

-- A reader sent me this Warholized version of my meeting with Spongebob. Very cool indeed. Now can somebody Picassoize it for me?

-- These guys are trying to avoid war with Iraq the same way Al Gore would've probably gone about it.

-- And finally, here are a few media recommendations, fresh from the beanbag-chaired rumpus room at The Surf Report Compound:

Book. Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America, And All The Ships At Sea, by Richard Bausch. If my stupid little novel can be one-tenth as successful as this quiet gem of a book, I'll be one happy fat man.

DVD. The Salton Sea. You may feel like you need a shower after watching this thing, but certain scenes will stay with you for days. Kinda like Pulp Fiction, but not quite that good. The character called Pooh Bear is one of the freakiest villains ever, and the JFK/pigeon segment is not to be missed.

CD. Southern Rock Opera by The Drive-By Truckers. A reader recommended this, and a friend sent it to me. I love it! A concept album about growing up in the South, rejecting it, then re-embracing it -- and the career of Lynyrd Skynyrd. It sounds pretty weird, I know, but it works. Believe me, it works. The spoken-word parts had me screaming "yes!" the first time I heard them. Ya gotta have this. Thanks to everyone who turned me onto it. Obviously, I need all the help I can get.

Now I need to go to work. I have to attend one of those dreaded dinner parties tonight, for a visiting big-shot from California. I'll tell you all about it in a couple of days. Have a great week everyone.

September 13, 2002

I’m a dumbass.

I threw a temper-tantrum the other day, and set off a series of events that led to me not being able to access the Internet from my house for almost a week. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy, but a person can only take so much…

The adventure began when I called my credit card company to complain about all the miscellaneous fees they tack onto every one of my bills. I’m not kidding, I could leave the card in a drawer all year, never use it, and probably rack up a thousand dollars in charges. It’s insane. They usually have ambiguous descriptions like “processing fee” or “membership fee.” It makes me crazy. Sometimes there are even charges on there for crap I didn’t buy - like a subscription to Spin Magazine. Who subscribes to Spin Magazine, for god’s sake? Not me, that’s for sure. But the magazine suddenly started showing up at my door, and a couple of months later a charge for a one-year subscription appeared on my statement! I mean, what the fuck?! Every time I get a bill from these people I literally don’t have any idea what I’ll find inside; it’s like a grab bag at the county fair. I'm being forced to play scam goalie!

So anyway, I called them up and was bitching about a mysterious fifteen-dollar charge and could immediately sense a hint of condescension in the woman’s voice. Oh how difficult it was going to be for her to suffer through yet another call from an ignorant hick who has no idea how the world of high finance works. Grrr… Nothing sets me off faster than a person talking down to me. Nothing. It causes two chemicals in my brain, that are supposed to remain apart, to slosh together and turns me into a raving maniac. I told her she can take her mother-humpin' credit card and stick it deep into her zit-spangled ass, and one thing led to another, ending with my account being closed in a flurry of hostility.

When I got off the phone I felt really good for a second, then realized what I’d done. We only have one credit card, because we can’t trust ourselves to be responsible (a long story), and a lot of things are tied to it - including all of my Internet stuff. Oh shit! I called Earthlink, who hosts this site, and they told me not to worry about it (dude), just call when I have my new card number. They said they wouldn’t cut me off until they’d contacted me, and received an explanation. Cool. I have a new appreciation for hippies. So I applied for a new card, through my credit union, and was told I’d have it by Friday. I lazily decided not to call Compuserve and get bogged down in their quagmire of customer service hell; I’d just sit back and wait for my new stress-free card to arrive.

Big mistake.

Compuserve cut me off like a Utah bartender. I tried to sign on Tuesday morning and when it got to the point where it checks my password a big rude error box popped up, ordering me to call an 800 number. Some other chemicals mixed together, and I spent the next fifteen minutes running around the house screaming, and taking the Lord’s name in vain. I couldn’t believe it! The bastards!! No warning, no opportunity to make it right, just WHAP! You’re done, pal. Go get yourself one of those K-Mart discs, and have a third of your screen taken up by flickering underwear ads. I called Compuserve and they wouldn’t budge, not even a supervisor. I had to give them a new credit card number before they’d reactivate my account, and I wouldn't have that for days! I tried to remain calm, but it wasn’t easy, I'm telling ya.

The new card finally arrived this morning, so I’m back in business. There’s no way of knowing whether this one will be any better than the last, but I’m going to try not to think about it. Life is much easier when you’re ignorant. I know, because I spent the first thirty-five or so years of my life that way, and it fuckin’ rocked. Now that I know what's going on in the world, and pay attention to things around me, I'm pretty miserable most of the time. It's sad but true. You’re not going to win anyway, so why wear yourself out trying? When the random charges for Cadillac transmissions and evenings at the Billings, Montana Chuck E. Cheese start rolling in, I'm just going to write 'em a check. Screw it. I'll be better off in the long run.

-- It's amazing to me that almost 3000 people died on 9/11, and not a single one of them were assholes. How come I bump into bags of shit everywhere I go, but both towers of that building were filled with selfless saints? No adulterers, no alcoholics, no wife-beaters, no thieves... it's freaky. There were no sons-of-bitches in the World Trade Center! I guess they had a pretty good screening process.

-- Toney saw somebody reading little descriptions about all the people who died that day, and one said something along the lines of "she was known for her devotion to singer Julio Iglesias..." How sad is that? This woman's entire time on Earth was defined by her appreciation for somebody else's accomplishments? Depressing. I wonder what my one-line summation will be? A self-described fat ass, Jeff was known for his appreciation of children's television programming and the mockery of elderly polka enthusiasts. He will be missed.

-- And speaking of being missed, I was saddened to read about Warren Zevon's impending death. I'm a long-time fan of the excitable boy, and this is terrible news. The man is the complete package: smart, crazy, funny, cool, and supremely talented. Fifty-five years isn't nearly long enough for him to be around. Of course his entire existence will be boiled down to the sentence "Zevon was best known for the 1978 hit single Werewolves of London," which will piss me off every time I read it. Damn. All he did was release about twenty albums full of excellent songs. What more can a man do?

-- I could've never predicted it, but an act of God caused us to have dinner at Applebee's Wednesday night. High winds, downed trees and power lines, and no electricity for hours, led us to an unplanned evening in the company of all-you-can eat "riblets." Thank you God!

-- On a completely unrelated subject, they're starting to install "waterless urinals" at my office. Very disturbing. There's no flushing, no water involved whatsoever. You just piss and walk away. I don't like it. Flushing is part of the process, like urination punctuation. These things leave you with a mild feeling of unfinished business nagging in the back of your mind. I'll probably get used to them, but right now I'm not a big fan. Three thumbs down.

-- This is the kind of thing that makes the Internet so great: an entire day's programming from a Washington DC radio station -- in 1939! It's cool as hell. All the commercials are there (including one describing Dr. Pepper as "nourishing"), a Senators game called by Walter "Big Train" Johnson, war news, some great music, and a thousand other little nuggets of coolness. I'm near tears.

I was going to tell you about my lofty plans for the fall and winter, but I think it can wait. I've embarrassed myself enough for one day. Have a great weekend folks. (Sopranos season premiere weekend!) I'll try not to insult the phone company and knock myself off-line again, but anything's possible. As Mr. Zevon says:

And if California slides into the ocean, like the mystics and statistics say it will/I predict this motel will be standing, until I pay my bill.

I'm right there with ya, brother.


September 9, 2002

-- Toney and I were watching some 24-hour news station infotainment garbage a few days ago and a former supermodel (whom neither of us had ever heard of) was being interviewed about her new book. Apparently this chick can't get work anymore, because she's over the hill or whatever, and is now trying to exploit the depravity of her earlier life. Obviously, I don't have a problem with people telling their story, but few things get on my nerves more than whiney armchair psychologists who want to adopt the role of victim, and blame all their problems on other people.

This woman droned on at length about her abusive father, and how he caused her to later ingest U-Haul trailers full of drugs, and fuck Warren Beatty. That might be an over-simplification of her message but, believe me, there's not much more to it than that. The whole time she was talking I was shouting at the TV and waving my arms around like a maniac, mocking her, and throwing Cheez-Its at her image.

She was making me crazy, with every inane new sentence fragment that escaped her surgically-enhanced lips. Toney said, "What is this, the Phil Hendrie Show?" and that pretty much captures the tone of the interview. It was maddening, but she did introduce us to a phrase that added to the quality of our weekend, and for that I am appreciative.

Near the end of the piece she looked into the camera, with a tortured expression on her face, and sobbed, "I couldn't stop drinking alcohol in the evenings!" Both of us erupted in howls of laughter. Who talks that way?! Too good. All weekend, for no reason and at random times, I screamed, "Toney, please help me! My mother was mean to me in a grocery store in 1971 and I can't stop drinking alcohol in the evenings!! ...The afternoons don't seem to be a problem, it's the evenings that get me!!!"

Yes, it's great fun around The Compound these days, thanks to America's First Supermodel (whom neither of us had ever heard of).

-- We went to dinner a few nights ago at the Italian joint that was mocking Krispy Kreme's Hot Doughnuts Now sign. We didn't go for that reason, I just thought I'd mention it... No, the reason we went is because their food is, to quote a friend in Atlanta, "like an orgasm in the mouth." I don't think he thought that phrase all the way through, but I'm sure you get the point. You can say what you want about Scranton, but if it's kick-ass Italian food you're looking for, you can't do much better. There's an incredible little Mom and Pop eaterie on almost every corner. I often wonder how places like Pizza Hut and Dominoe's stay afloat here, but I guess when you build dumbasses into your business model, you're going to do well anywhere.

Anyway, I'm getting off track here... We were having dinner and there were two older couples sitting across from us. When we first sat down I was certain the men were having a heated argument. They were yelling, and pointing their fingers at each other. I was mildly alarmed, but saw that their wives didn't seem to notice; they just continued chatting to each other. Very strange. I started eavesdropping, and apparently this was just the manner in which these guys communicate. They were having a simple conversation, but were hollering and had an edge of hostility to their voices. "HOW'S THAT MANICOTTI??" "GREAT! JUST GREAT!! I SUPPOSE YOURS IS GOOD TOO??" If you weren't listening to the words you'd be sure the two old goats were about to throw down. I watched people's expressions as they were seated nearby, and almost everyone looked up with a look of concern over the fistfight getting ready to break out. Crazy.

-- I saw a guy blow an impressive snot-rocket at the park on Saturday. He was on a riding mower, cutting the grass on the soccer field, and suddenly placed his thumb over one nostril and shot a powerful jet of mucus out the other side. It was a thing of beauty. I've never been able to master the art of the snot-rocket. I've tried it a few times when I'm alone, and it never worked out for me. Maybe I'm not using the proper amount of pressure or something, but it usually just goes around the corner and sticks to my cheek. Then I'm walking down the street with half my face covered in snot, like some West Virginia version of the Phantom of the Opera. It's just not worth it.

-- One of Toney's Pennsylvania buddy's husband ran off with a nineteen year-old cashier at the store he manages, and left her with a couple of young kids to take care of, etc. etc. I've never met the guy, but I had him pictured. The son of a bitch. I figured he'd be into physical fitness, have a comb-over, and wear ironed jeans. I assumed it was your classic mid-life crisis, since he's about my age. (Ahem) Also, we'd heard that he's now taken to incorporating "street" lingo into his vocabulary, which further confirmed my suspicions. Wotta douche. Well, we saw him on Saturday and he was nothing like I'd imagined. He was bald, had a severe underbite, walked with some kind of limp, and had a physique that makes me look like the cover of Six-Pack Abs. "Holy shit," I shouted, "he's the guy that's screwing around with the teenager?!" Toney immediately threw me an elbow, but he didn't hear me. I just stood there and watched him hobble past, a sick understanding creeping into my subconscious. I'd never, ever stoop to that kind of nuclear-winter betrayal, but when you look into the eyes of a creature that hideous, you can't help but think he had no real chance. The poor son of a bitch was doomed from the start.

-- I know you're not supposed to say this, but I'm getting a little tired of all this 9/11 coverage. I'm sorry, but I know what happened. I was fully versed in the facts around 9/13/01, no need to keep repeating it. It seems like every time I turn on the TV now there's people running through dust clouds. It's getting to the point where I'm developing a bad attitude about it, and I really don't want to. I find myself rolling my eyes and diving for the remote whenever I hear the words World Trade Center, and it makes me feel kinda bad. But come on, enough's enough. At some point it stops being "remembrance," and becomes "wallowing in misery." I don't think any of the victims are being served by this continuous beating of the emotional drum. I think they'd be better served by the mass kicking of some radical Islamic ass... but that's just my opinion.

-- Apparently some of my brethren don't agree.

-- On a related note, how come they never show footage of the planes actually flying into the towers anymore? And how come they don't show the people jumping from the windows? Is there a reason? Do they think we can't take it? I'm sure there's some PC reason behind it that would make my blood pressure shoot up to Ted Kennedy levels. I'm probably better off not knowing.

-- On Sunday we stopped by Krispy Kreme in the morning and grooved to their incredibly hip in-store music, and had a couple of mounds of deep-fried and sugar-smothered dough. Mmmm... I'm not kidding, whoever does their music is a very talented individual. While we were there on Sunday we heard The Commodores' "Brick House," the Old 97's, a few Big Band numbers, some wild-ass jazz, and They Might Be Giants! I simply couldn't believe my ears. I'm thinking about checking to see if we can have it piped into our place. I'd love to have donut music playing in the background, 'round the clock. Yo yo yo, MC Glaze in da mu'fuckin' house!

After the donuts we went to a few stores, including two of the more surreal retail outlets I've come across. First we stopped by Best Buy and was near tears within minutes over all the cool shit we can't afford. That place is like a torture chamber. After that excruciating experience we ventured down the way towards Staples, and stopped at a weird-ass store called Gander Mountain. It caters to hunters and gun enthusiasts, and is chock-full of taxidermy. Everywhere you turn is another scene of blood-curdling gore, captured by dead-animal professionals to be enjoyed for eternity. They also sell strange decoys and targets (including some with pictures of groundhogs on them... are groundhogs considered prize game these days?!), and jugs of moose urine, and stuff like that. Oh, and I saw a jacket that had a sticker on the front proclaiming it a piece of "scent eradicating clothing." What the fuck?! It's a very strange place, and I enjoy every visit.

After we left Norman Bates's favorite hangout, we went to Party City. If you haven't visited one of these stores during Halloween season, do yourself a favor and do it ASAP. We saw many a mind-boggling sight there on Sunday, including a Rudy Guiliani mask(!?), a grim-reaper costume that includes a 70's era telephone(???), swords that become covered in fake blood when you swing them at someone, Jell-O molds shaped like human brains, chest wigs, and thousands of other bizarre-as-fuck items. But there was nothing more strange than the line of costumes based on the founding fathers! I shit you not. They had Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington, and a bunch of others as well. I can just imagine a soccer mom in that place asking her little booger machine what he wants to be for Halloween: "Do you want to be SpongeBob this year, honey?" "No... I think I'll go with the Aaron Burr." Too damn weird.

-- Lastly, I'm working on a new Surf Report promotional device, and you can test out the beta version here, if you're interested. I have high hopes for it, so let me know what you think.

And that'll do it for today, boys and girls. Until we meet again...

September 6, 2002

-- I've been seeing a commercial for Viagra where a well-dressed man is walking through his office and heads are turning, all around. Everyone has a question: "Have you been working out?" "Did you shave your moustache?" "Is that a new suit?" He answers no to each and continues on, with a knowing smirk on his face. What's the story with this guy? I'd like a little more information, please. Like what happened to his hydraulics at such a young age? Did he have a bicycle accident or something? And why does he apparently wear the state of his genitalia on his sleeve? What's that all about? What was he like before, when everything was locked in the down position? Did he walk differently, maybe a listless sexless shuffle? Did he go around frowning all the time? Did he stop ironing his clothes? It would be nice to compare. I don't know, the commercial is pretty frustrating. Nothing is resolved and nothing is explained. I want him to spin around on his heel, spread his hands and pronounce, "I'm fucking again! That's right folks, I'm taking a prescription drug that makes my penis erect! As you know, there was an unfortunate handball incident several months ago which pretty much decimated my sex organ, but modern medicine has made it possible for me to get it up again!!" Now that would be a satisfactory ending. But no, this guy just walks around with his superior attitude, making us hate him. By the time he does his smug little chuckle at the end, I find myself rooting against his penis. How sick is that?

-- Which reminds me... The first time I had sex, I was convinced, like Mr. Big Shot above, that people knew. I was paranoid as hell. Everything suddenly seemed different. I remember having dinner with my family that night, and feeling like I was wearing a sign around my neck that said I JUST HAD SEX WITH MY GIRLFRIEND IN HER BROTHER'S BED! HOLY SHIT!! I also remember thinking, "this is my first taste of non-virgin mashed potatoes" and "this is the best-tasting corn in the history of the world!"

Hey, I never claimed to be mentally stable.

-- I was screwing around at work the other day and came across this ancient review of TheWVSR paper zine, from about ten years ago, on some ultra-obscure website. Check it out:

West Virginia Surf Report is six pages of closely-spaced type, most of which seems to involve a small-town barber in a long-winded joke about lesbians and fish. Truly a waste of paper. Price: the usual. Address: WVSR, POB 43662, Atlanta GA 30336. Reviewed: 11 (?)

Is that excellent, or what?

-- Late last night I vaguely remember receiving an instant message from my brother that contained a sentence fragment which seemed to indicate he'd seen a TV commercial featuring children with Downs Syndrome, and the music of Nick Drake. Is this possible? Did I dream this? Should I make an appointment with a doctor? 

-- Hard as I've fought against it, I'm finding myself starting to enjoy HBO. I wanted to hate it, because I'm a cheap bastard, but my wishes are being denied. I've watched, and loved, two more episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Toney and I watched "Meet The Parents" earlier this week, which was pretty good too. It's only been a couple of weeks and I'm hooked. Why can't they just leave me alone? Damn you HBO, and your quality programming! Damn you!!

I know this is the lamest journal update in the history of the Internet, but I'm all out of time. Sorry. I'll try to do better on Monday. If you want a refund, I'll understand. But there are a few forms you'll need to fill out...

                        

September 3, 2002

A few things:

-- I got a new laptop computer at work last week, and the company sprang for an outside technician to come in and make sure all the programs are working, everything vital is copied over from the old computer, etc. etc. He was a nice guy, but he kept wanting to quit on me. Whenever there'd be the slightest hint of a problem he'd just throw up his sausage fingers and say, "Well, there's nothing I can do about that. You'll have to have one of your local IT guys look at it..." He was starting to piss me off. I had to battle him every step of the way, and finally told him straight-up that I wouldn't let him leave until it was done. I wouldn't sign his invoice. He didn't seem to like that much, but I noticed he got down to work after that.

I hate dealing with computer support people. I always feel like they don't fully grasp the urgency of the situation, or simply don't care. They always want to "write up a ticket" and have somebody get back to me. And I always say, no, I need this fixed right goddamn now, that's why I called you (you sexless fuck). That never seems to help much, but it makes me feel better. Also, they're often condescending, but that wasn't the case with this guy. He was just lazy, and wasn't willing to go the extra mile. He would've been all too happy to leave there with half my shit not working. But, unfortunately for him, I was a problem customer.

After he realized he wouldn't be able to half-ass it, he got down to trying to solve my problems, and at one point had three or four guys from the in-house support staff in my office. Good god, it looked like the bar scene from Star Wars in there. There was a guy with two or three rows of teeth, like a shark, a doughy fat-ass or two, and a skinny dude with dandruff and questionable fashion sense, and the habit of periodically launching into a fake British accent for no apparent reason. They were all chattering at each other and telling jokes that I didn't understand, about Novell servers and stuff. I just stood back and took it all in. It was an amazing thing to watch, nerds frolicking in their natural habitat.

After about five hours they finally got 95% of everything working, and I signed the guy's invoice and sent him on his way. When I was walking him out of the building I asked how long he'd been allotted for my little project. I wondered if my assholism had put him behind schedule, but he told me not to worry, he had eight hours set aside for me. The fucker was given the entire day to get my laptop up and running, and he wanted to quit after about thirty minutes?! Grrrr... It shouldn't have to be this hard.

-- Part II of this whole ordeal is that I have to now send the old laptop back to my company in California. They have a two-year lease on the thing, and time's almost up. This concerns me a little. There's no porn or anything on it, but I do look at some pretty unusual stuff during the course of an average work week. I can just imagine my boss calling and saying, "Jeff, do you think we're paying you to research horse masturbation?" I deleted everything I could, but I'm told that it doesn't really matter. If they really want to know what you've been doing, they can find out. I asked a friend with some computer knowledge about possibly grinding the hard drive down into powder, and he said, "No, that wouldn't help. You're toast, Kay." My sphincter will be a little tighter for the next few weeks, until I know I'm out of the woods.

-- On a related note, somebody has finally offered some sensible advice on the Iraq situation. Check it out.

-- Toney and I were watching TV this weekend and saw a commercial that started out: "If you were born between 1917 and 1962, you're eligible for the Silver Care Plan..." I nearly shat myself. I was born in 1962! The Silver Care Plan?! What in the honeybaked hell? I'm now in the same group as people born in 1917? My grandmother, Bob Barker and I are in one box, and Toney and most of my friends are in another? I'm now being marketed stuff with "silver" in the title?? Holy crap.

-- We also saw the first hour or so of the rebroadcast of the MTV Music Awards on Saturday (Grandpa likes to keep current), and a couple of things struck me...

First, what kind of fairytale life does Little Steven have, anyway? The show opened with Springsteen, and there was the man singing harmonies with The Boss, sporting his cool-ass bandana. It's enough to make a person bitter. The guy must've went down to the crossroads and made some sort of deal. He plays guitar in the greatest band in the world, then in his spare time stars in the greatest television show in the world?! How is it possible? And I spend my days yelling at fat computer technicians, in the suburbs of Scranton? The bastard.

Also, if you haven't seen the part of the show with Michael Jackson, I beg of you to seek it out. It's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. It's like something off SCTV. Britney Spears introduced him, and I'm almost certain they were just wishing him a happy birthday. They had a cake with candles and everything, and she said something in the intro about how she considers him to be the artist of the millennium. Well, he apparently mistook that and was under the impression he was receiving the Artist of the Millennium Award! Of course, there is no such award, and if there were they wouldn't be giving it out in 2002. He came out sporting a velour jumpsuit or some shit, with a pair of sequined shin-guards. He walked over and plucked the decoration off the top of the cake, as if it were a trophy, clutched it to his chest in a loving manner, and launched into a long-winded acceptance speech. He talked about how he could've never predicted, as a young kid growing up in Indiana, that he would some day be given the Artist of the Millennium Award, as the hall was overcome by nervous silence until it was mercifully over. Freak.

-- We really enjoyed the three-day weekend. A couple of weeks ago it was hotter than the devil's crock pot, but now it's suddenly fall. I love it. Overcast days, jackets, and the smell of fireplaces make me happy. Fall is easily the best time of year, in my opinion. It puts me in a perpetual good mood.

We fired up the grill on Saturday, probably for the last time of the year, and possibly for the last time ever. We received the thing as a wedding gift nine years ago, and I think it's run its course. A couple of months ago the starter stopped working, so I now have to turn on the gas and throw in a flaming napkin to get it going. Usually it doesn't work the first few times, then it kicks in and there's a mushroom cloud, and a rolling ball of fire that shoots up higher than the roof of our house. It's scary. Also, the thing doesn't cook evenly anymore. Stuff on the left side gets burnt to a goddamn cinder, while everything on the right has blood dripping out of it. And for some reason flames have started shooting up at unpredictable intervals and locations. I opened the lid on it Saturday and both ears of corn were fully consumed by fire! I think it's time to invest in a new grill.

Speaking of nine years ago, today is our ninth wedding anniversary. Toney and I were married on 9/3/93 in Atlanta. We saved up a few thousand bucks and put a hundred of it towards the wedding itself, and the rest on the party afterwards. It was excellent. We went to a judge's office in the afternoon, and he married us in his chambers, with just a few of our relatives on-hand. I slipped him a hundred dollar bill, and that was that. Afterwards we found out that he was the host of a weekend radio show called Legal Action With Gary Jackson, which made it all that much better. That night we had a big-ass throwdown at Swissotel, then spent a week in San Francisco. It couldn't have been better. Everybody had fun, there was no excruciating wedding to get all trussed up in a suit for, and the booze was flowing! Ah, the memories... For the record, asking Toney to marry me was the best decision I ever made, but don't get nervous, that's all I'm going to say about it.  This ain't Oprah, goddammit.

Have a great week, folks.

                      

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