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   The State of My Fat Ass                                 September 2005

September 30, 2005

It's Friday, and here's what's left in my notebook:

-- I used to work with a guy in California who never laughed at his own jokes. His office was two doors down from mine, and we'd go to lunch together regularly. He was a funny guy. In fact, he's the one who walked around grumbling all the time, proclaiming the place "deader than Kelsey's nuts." 

Obviously, I enjoyed that one. In fact, he made me laugh on a regular basis. And he'd laugh at stuff I said -- but never his own lines. I thought this was a little strange. Ya know? Instead of laughing, he'd say, "Is that funny? Is that funny?!" Everybody'd be roaring and wiping away tears, and he'd be over there with a smile on his face, repeating the phrase, "Is that funny?" What's that all about? Any ideas? 'Cause I've never been able to figure it out.

-- I was flipping through a book about Benjamin Franklin last night. I was looking for something I'd read in there about The Stamp Act (I lead an extremely exciting life), and noticed a section in the back called Cast of Characters. It listed every significant person from Franklin's life, a brief bio, and the years they were born and died. And immediately, without even thinking about it, I started looking for people who were born in the early 1760's, and the year they died.

Because, you know, I was born in the early 1960's, and wanted some clue as to how much time I might have left. Of course, I told myself, they didn't live quite so long back then. (Except for Franklin himself. He was still hitting on the babes, and inventing bifocals and shit, well into his seventies.) So the whole exercise was fairly pointless.

But do you ever do stuff like this? Is it just a byproduct of being a 42 year-old burnout? It kinda disturbs me, if you want the truth. How much longer before I start scouring the obituary section of the newspaper, like my grandmother used to do? Hell, she used to cut them out and mail them to people! Sweet sainted mother of Sissy Spacek.

Anyway.... did you know that Benjamin Franklin had an illegitimate son, who had an illegitimate son, who had an illegitimate son? Apparently it's true. They were the NBA players of their day.

-- Yesterday I read on Metafilter that the band Harvey Danger is offering up their new album as a free, no-strings-attached download on their website. So last night I took them up on their offer, and now have a pristine, store-quality copy of their latest CD. They give you the artwork, and everything! What do you think about this strategy? How could it possibly work in their favor?? You can buy the thing at Amazon for $11.99 plus shipping, or download it here for free. 

Maybe it's just the old record weasel in me talking, but this seems like a tragically flawed plan to me. Giving away your product is not the road to riches, as far as I can tell. Sure, it might make people admire you a little more. But let's be serious... admiration never fed a hungry child <sniff>. Am I missing some vital component to all this? Harvey Danger is an established band, on a real label. How is this going to benefit them? Set me straight, hipsters.

-- When I sign onto my computer every morning at work, I go straight to the Phil Hendrie site and start his show from the previous night to playing. Then I scroll through my work emails to see if there's anything earth-shattering in there. After that I check my personal email, take a look at your comments on TheWVSR, and then see what's happening at Happy Wash in France. I don't know what it is about that webcam, but it's a part of my life now. I peer into that laundromat several times per day, every day. I watch people fold towels and eat apples and scratch their asses.... It's strangely addictive. 

I also like this cafe in Poland, with all the latticework and bright lighting and whatnot. But I think their business is way down, because it's almost always empty. Earlier in the year it was bustling, but not anymore. I'm not sure what happened. Someday I'd love to have a beer there, though. And maybe do a load of whites at Happy Wash too. 

It never hurts to dream, right? What other cams should I be checking out?

-- I hate when people use the word "phone" as a verb. Know what I mean? I was talking to someone in Burbank the other day, and he said, "Shall I phone you back later?" I was immediately thrown into a full-body clinch. A phone is a physical object, it is not an action. I don't greet visitors to our house with, "Oh hi! Please come in and chair yourself." And when you combine it with the word "shall"... I mean, c'mon. It's simply too much.

-- I got a surprising amount of positive feedback about the new quotes page that Will and his "associates" put together for us. I hesitated for a minute or two before I added it to the site, because it felt like I was patting myself on the back, or something. But apparently it's a hit. So I'm going to put it on the Best Of list over the weekend, and just start whoring myself with abandon. Screw it. According to that Ben Franklin book I won't be around much long anyway.... Once again, thanks for the effort, guys. I really appreciate it.

-- And finally, I'm pleased to say these words again: here's the latest from Metten. You were starting to make me nervous, dude. Welcome back!

And that'll do it for today, kiddies. Have a great weekend. And I'll see ya Monday.

September 29, 2005

-- I just dragged our trashcans and all our recycling crap (baa) to the curb, because it's Thursday and another trash day is upon us. Yes, there's electricity in the air, here in suburbia; our garbage will soon be collected! And mister, I want in on that deal.

It's really windy out there, and the sky looks weird. There's sort of a greenish tint to everything. It looks like an old fading photograph, from 1965 or something. I have a feeling that some shit's about to happen. I don't know what brand of shit, but some shit nonetheless. I suspect that by the time I leave for work there will be Tide bottles skipping off my windshield, and cardboard pizza discs whizzing through the air.

And every time this happens, it makes me think of Andy & Candy.

I've told this story before, but it's a good one and I'm going to repeat it.... I hold all the passwords to this site and reserve the right to repeat myself on occasion. And reserve the right to repeat myself on occasion.

Anyway. When we were in California we lived on a cul de sac out in the desert, where house prices are a little lower. It was mostly young families on our street, complete with the requisite number of little boogery hooligans running around all the time, squealing and doing whatever little boogery hooligans do. But down on the corner was a couple without kids, named Andy & Candy. I ain't kidding, those were their names.

Andy was in aerospace, and made good money. He was really into cars and had an immaculate garage. In fact, his garage almost looked better than our living room. The walls were finished and painted, and there were framed pictures of vintage cars everywhere. Framed pictures in the garage. The floor was also painted, and he had four little squares of carpet, where the tires of his car would rest. That always blew my mind, the squares of carpet. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

I'm not sure what Candy did, but she went to work every day. And when the two of them got home in the evening, they'd start drinking. Heavily. They drank all the time and, judging by their recycling bin, incredible amounts.

One of our neighbors ran into them at Costco once, and their shopping cart was overflowing with liquor bottles and cases of beer. The neighbor, new to the street, asked if they were planning a party. And they answered, with puzzled looks on their faces, "No. Why?"

On Halloween they'd pass out expensive full-size candy bars to the kids, and cans of beer to the parents. It's true. They'd have a big bowl for the candy, and an ice chest for the adult beverages. Everybody's a winner at Andy & Candy's house! Some folks would hit it both coming and going.

They had a hot tub on their back patio, and would get into it on weekends and partake of a few cocktails. You know, just to take the edge off the work week. Their house was two doors down from ours, but we could usually hear their conversations clearly from our backyard. Sometimes Toney and I would sit out there and enjoy some beverages of our own, and listen to them talk. It was a lot more entertaining than it sounds, and got even more so as the evenings wore on. By the time ten o'clock rolled around, they both usually sounded like Foster Brooks. 

Sometimes we'd hear strange snorting and grunting sounds over there, and that's usually when we'd call it an evening.

One day there was a hot wind blowing, and it was trash day. I never got used to that hot wind business. It's supposed to be a cool breeze, right? That's the way it works in West Virginia, anyway. Well, sometimes the breeze in southern California is actually hotter than the still air. And that's freaky.

Anyway, crap was flying all around because everybody's trashcans were pushed out to the curb, and garbage was going airborne in that bizarre wind. It was literally a hazard to walk to your car, because there was a good chance a Hi-C jug, or whatever, might come hurtling through the air and shatter your skull.

And out in the middle of the cul de sac, I swear it's true, a swirling vortex of plastic liquor bottles formed. It was a miniature tornado filled with Andy & Candy's vodka bottles, going round and round and round. Neighbors literally stopped what they were doing to watch, because it was an amazing sight to behold. The empty booze containers were lifted high in the air, and swirled for at least a solid minute. 

It was one of the damnedest things I've ever seen, and nearly brought a tear to my eye. For it was the rarest of combinations: nature's awesome power and cheap rot gut liquor. Right before my very eyes.

Toney remains in contact with a few of the neighbors there, and Andy and Candy are reportedly still trucking right along, to this very day. God bless America.

See ya tomorrow.

September 28, 2005

-- Our kids are obsessed with Halloween. Always have been. It's more exciting to them than Christmas and their birthdays combined, I think. I don't really understand it, but those are the facts. They usually start talking about Halloween, and planning for it, in early August, and it's a big part of our daily lives until Bourbon Season kicks off on October 31.

In fact, it's probably a big part of the reason that we never quite make it to October 31, before we break into our stockpile of Kentucky goodness. Enough is enough is the phrase that repeatedly jumps to mind. But, they're kids, right? Let 'em have their fun. There will be plenty enough time for bitterness and anger in the future. Ample time, indeed.

But mix me a stiff one, dammit. And use a tumbler, if you don't mind. Then we'll all sit down and discuss the attributes of the new four-horned vampire mask they just got in at Party City.

That's the Secrets' unofficial base of operations during this time of year, Party City. We (Toney) have to take them there at least three times per week. They don't usually get to buy anything on these visits; just being there is enough. The place is packed out with all manner of Halloween ridiculousness, and I think our kids know the prices (and UPC numbers) of every item they sell. It's crazy.

But this year there's a new kid on the block, a Halloween interloper trying to horn in (so to speak) on Party City's traditional Halloween domination. It's one of those temporary seasonal stores that pop up in strip malls, suck as much money as possible, then disappear. Something along the lines of the tents that appear in parking lots a few weeks before July 4, where a person can buy-up a whole armload of crappy Grade C fireworks from tattooed out-of-staters. Or the makeshift flower stands that cater to terrified and confused men on the black, black evening of February 13 every year. You know what I'm talking about, right?

To be fair, this one does seem a little more legit than most. They have a real website, and advertise in the newspaper, at least. Check it out. As soon as word got out, via the Halloween Underground (AKA the elementary school), it was imperative that the Secrets visit this new store, and pronto. Their teeth were practically chattering in anticipation.

And the first two words that escaped my lips upon entering this fine establishment were "holy" and "shit." In that order. 

Oh, these people have taken things to the next level. This is not just your standard-issue werewolf masks, and cardboard headstones. No, this looks more like the site of some huge and horrible accident, perhaps involving a chemical leak or a massive explosion of some sort.

Human bodies are littered throughout the place, many charred and with the skin sliding off. In the middle of the floor was the burned-up remnants of a man, with his legs missing and using his arms to drag himself forward. Festive! Might even make a good Mother's Day present.

Heads are sitting here and there, with the tops sawed off and rats feeding on the brains. There are severed limbs all around, dripping blood and with bones exposed. On a hanger I saw a vest that was supposed to be constructed of human skin. There was an ear over the left breast, and a patch of pubic hair or something up near the collar. I don't even know...

We made a quick tour of the joint, and hustled the kids back to the car. And both of them left in complete silence and with their eyes popping out of their heads. I was certain that they were mentally scarred at this point, and was silently beating myself up for not doing a little advance research. Stupid!

But by the time I had the Blazer in reverse, and was backing away from this so-called store, both of them had hollered, "COOL! Just soooo incredibly cool!!" And we later learned that the Halloween Underground is completely abuzz. Rubber pitchforks and crawling Frankenstein hands have now officially been replaced by heads on meat hooks and diseased, rotting corpses.

Too bad the Secrets won't be returning there. Ever. Yeah, I'm sure they'll feel a little out-of-it with their friends, but that's too bad. I just don't feel, deep in my deep, deep gut, that Dahmer-Mart, with their new Union Carbide Bhopal Fall Collection is exactly appropriate at this point, or at any point in the future. Ya know?

Holy shit on a handtruck!

-- A reader named Will, in Brooklyn, sent me a nice collection of quotes yesterday, that he and a few of his "associates" have been collecting from TheWVSR for the past few months. This feels a little self-congratulatory to me, but they went to so much trouble and everything.... So here it is. I took the liberty of copying and pasting it into a standard web page, and you can make of it what you will. Thanks guys!

-- And finally, something new from our good friend Buck. Take 'er away.

And I'll see you folks tomorrow.

September 27, 2005

-- I was going into Long John Silverís the other day, with visions of grease splattering in my head, and out of the corner of my eye caught sight of a Civil War veteran in the parking lot. He was leaning against some sort of extravagant walker, complete with wheels, black lacquer inlays, and handbrakes. At a glacierís pace he was inching his way toward the restaurant.

ďHold that door!Ē he barked, mean as hell. Huh, I thought. Pretty cocky for a man who has to surround himself in scaffolding in order to purchase chicken planks. But what the hell? He might've fought bravely at Antietam. Plus, I'm a nice guy, deep down. Don't let that get out, but it's true. I most likely would've held the door even if I hadn't been ordered to do so.

As he neared I saw that he closely resembled a human embryo in Harry Caray glasses, and I smiled as he tottered past me into the building. He didn't so much as grunt a half-assed thanks or anything; he just rolled right past, and disappeared into the crowd. Wotta crusty old bastard, I mumbled.

This is one of those Long John Silver's/A&W Root Beer hybrids, and it's always high-chaos in there. It's decorated as sort of a fish shack, and sort of a 1950's diner. There are life preservers and lengths of heavy rope hanging from the ceiling, and a big jukebox in the corner that plays Fats Domino and Buddy Holly at an inappropriate volume. It's perpetually crowded, and the counter help is almost certainly bussed in from a rehabilitation center somewhere. By the time we receive our order, I'm usually spent.

And that's the way it was this day. I plopped down with my Fish 'n' More and four-pound mug of root beer, and was at my wits end. The noise, the people, the claustrophobic feeling of the place... But, I finally had my "food" in front of me, and could now begin the satisfying ritual of switching back and forth between hot (fish and fries) and cold (cole slaw) -- the reason I continue going there. Oh, it's all about the hot to cold, hot to cold.

As I performed the switch, and began to decompress a bit, I started to sense that someone was looking at me. I stopped chewing for a second and surveyed the house of seafood anarchy, and there he was! All the way across the restaurant was the old man, the embryo in glasses, sitting by himself and staring straight at me. What in the pan-fried crap?? It was like that Hitchcock movie where they're at a tennis match and the entire crowd is moving their heads from side to side, following the ball, except for one guy right in the middle who is staring straight ahead. Creepy.

I tried to ignore him, but it wasn't easy. Every few seconds I'd sneak a glance in his direction, and he'd still be looking right at me. The hell, man?!

There's nothing more to tell. Yet. But I've seen enough TV shows and movies to know that the story isn't over. Someday soon I will be involved in something horrible, and afterwards will spot the old man and his scaffolding rolling off into the sunset. And I'll point at him and scream, "You!" Mark my words. I've seen it happen over and over again, in black and white movies.

It's been nice knowing you.

-- Yesterday there was a medical emergency at work. They were hollering all the "secret" codes over the loudspeakers, and the resident volunteer firemen were scrambling into action, and everything. I figured it was another heart attack. There are a lot of heart attacks at that plant, probably because most of the employees live on cheesesteaks and beer. (Ahem.) 

But sometimes people are run over by forklifts, or get their arms hung up in a piece of machinery, or whatever. So I asked a woman what happened. She told me that a man in the warehouse "took a seizure," and hit his head on a table. But, she added, he was going to be OK. 

Took a seizure? Never heard that phrase before. For some reason it struck me as funny, and I had to struggle not to bust out laughing. She looked at me like she'd just caught a whiff of fresh-cut turds, but I'm sorry. I'm only flesh and blood here.

-- I'm proud to announce that I've replaced the tire gauge that recently flew apart in my hand, and am now tending to my air pressure obsession again. I've filled up the gas tank of my Blazer at least twice over the past couple of weeks, and was unable to check the tires. Needless to say, I was walking around feeling a tad off. So, on Sunday I went to Advance Auto Parts and got a new gauge.

Somebody said I should invest in a digital model, and that was the plan. But they were, like, fifteen bucks. What am I, Cornelius Vanderbilt? I just bought another of the old-school versions, for $2.48, and went right out and did a reading. The front passenger tire was all the way down to 28 pounds! I think I audibly shrieked, and immediately acted to remedy the situation.

Whew! A close call. It felt great to be back in "control."

One thing, though... Why do auto parts stores always sell cashews? Have you ever noticed this? You can go in there and buy wiper blades, floor mats, a fuel filter, and nuts. What's that all about? I remember this from when I was a kid too; those places always sell big tubs of salted cashews. And I still don't get it. Why not just go all-out and put in a full-blown produce section, over by the transmission fluid?

-- I'll leave you now with an item from the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk: What, in your opinion, are the best and worst movies based on television shows? I can think of plenty of bad ones, but not too many good ones. What do you think? Any opinions?

And that'll do it for today, folks. Buck sent me another column this morning (the man's on a roll!), but I don't have time to get it ready today. So, I'll have that for you tomorrow, and some more of the usual ridiculousness.

See ya then.

September 26, 2005

-- I've almost reached a state of absolute tele-paralysis. The television is now bogging down my life, and causing me significant anxiety and feelings of guilt. It's getting to the point where it's not entertainment anymore, it's just another obligation. And that ain't right.

The new TV season has knocked my Netflix routine completely ass-over-tits, and as of Saturday night all three of my allowed discs were at the Compound at the same time. Any Netflix veteran knows that this is a shocking state of affairs. 

The discs have to be constantly moving through the system, always in motion. To have all three in my booger-hooks at once is a complete breakdown, a case of full-on cinematic gridlock. And, as a result, I'm walking around running my hands through my hair like a mental patient.

Then there's the DVR... It's packed-out to the point where I'm afraid it might someday burst into flames, and turn our house into nothing but a smoldering hole and a chimney. Some of the movies saved have been there for months and months. I have no idea when I might finally get to them.

Here's what's currently residing inside the beleaguered hunk of electronics: 

Kill Bill 2, The Hustler, The Sting, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, A Bronx Tale, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Goodfellas, Stuck on You, The Big Sleep, Steamboat Bill Jr., Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Anchorman, Larceny Inc., The Lonely Guy, Serial Mom, The Odd Couple, The Elephant Man, The Terminal, Call Northside 777, The Nutty Professor (the original), The Man With Two Brains, and The Boston Strangler.

Crazy, huh? And whenever I watch one, two more takes its place. It's maddening. My headstone will probably read: He Never Got Around To The Sting.

Plus there's all the new TV shows, which they're apparently going to crank out every single week... Not to mention my family, this website, my job, and an ever-growing mountain of books upstairs. 

I was somehow managing it all, until the new TV season kicked in. Now everything's crashing down around me.

I've got to figure out a way to keep getting paid, without all the pressure and aggravation of, you know, actually showing up for work. It's my only option, as far as I can tell. It's the only way I'm going to be able to keep up with all the movies and television shows, and still accumulate adequate sleep and family time. I might talk to my boss today, and explain the situation to him. I'm sure he'll understand. Right?

Hey, wonder if tele-paralysis is covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act?! ...Hello?

-- The highlight of the weekend was a pig race. That's right, a pig race. I'd never been to one before, but have now, dammit. Here's your proof. As you can see, Magnum P.I.G. has a small lead coming around the final turn, and eventually nosed-out (snouted-out?) Ally McSqueal for first place. I don't think I'd ever hollered so loud! Extremely exciting.

This all took place on Saturday at the pumpkin patch, a local fall tradition and money-sucking operation. We got ourselves whipped into a frenzy because of the crisp temperatures that morning, and decided to spend the afternoon there. But we were fooling ourselves, because it turned out to be just another sweaty day in Pennsylvania. We were trying to conjure autumn, with body english and sheer will, and it didn't work out. The kids had a good time, but it sure as shit wasn't Bourbon Season.

The youngest Secret had a soccer game (match?) early in the morning, and we nearly needed a jacket out there. I was ecstatic. All the "traditional" dads, with their ironed jeans, crisply tucked polo shirts, and meticulously-trimmed moustaches, talking to each other about their golf swings and whatever, couldn't even crush my good mood. Sure, I had an urge to start going all Chris From North Carolina on a few of those assholes, but the feeling of fall in the air trumped everything.

"Hey, let's go to the pumpkin patch this afternoon!" I said. And everybody agreed it was a great idea.

Fifty bucks later, and with sweat collecting in my underwear, we called it a day. I've got to learn to control myself. We didn't even go through the corn maze, always a highlight, because it was just too damn hot. It was a classic case of premature autumnulation.

I need to pace myself in such situations, and focus my mind on the Big Red Machine, or whatever.

Oh well. Here are a few more pics I snapped during the day, for what it's worth.

And I've got lots more to bitch about, but am all out of time here. There's always tomorrow, right?

I'll see ya then.

Oh, and by the way, I'm  currently in the grips of an extra-powerful Supergrass jag. Just thought you should know.

See ya tomorrow.

September 23, 2005

-- I'm shocked, simply shocked, that George Bush has created yet another powerful hurricane (AKA "Little Georgie's colored killer"), and is guiding it at this very moment to make landfall in a location best suited to further his terrifying social-engineering plans. And nobody seems to care! What's the matter with you people?? Are you too drunk on capitalism, hair removal, and fossil fuels to see the truth?! Are you so influenced by the Jewish-controlled conservative media as to not even recognize reality anymore? This is fanaticism, pure and simple, and someday you'll all know it! I just pray to the Goddess that it doesn't happen too late.

-- Anyway. The razzle dazzle was moved successfully the other day, and I'm now up and running in my new office at work. My own private space, complete with a big heavy door that I can
slam shut in a huff whenever I feel like it. A place where I can listen to Phil Hendrie without a running commentary by people who "just don't understand." Nobody eating a daily peck of apples like a goddamn buzzsaw, or hollering into a walkie-talkie cell phone as if the Hindenberg is going down. Right now it's a disgraceful mess, but I'll get it set up in short order, and all will be right with the world. If I play my cards right, I might be able to go through entire days now without actually talking to another human face to face. And, of course, that's the ultimate goal.

-- Speaking of the office, I was talking to someone on the phone the other day, and a name from the distant past came up. He worked in the same building as I did, in Atlanta. To say that I worked with him would be a stretch, because he was a big-shot record label guy, and I was but a lowly cubicle ferret. But he was there, and he was creepy. He gave me the willies and made me uncomfortable -- even before I heard The Rumor, a rumor that I believe to this day.

His job required him to travel a lot, and whenever he'd roll into another town, and check into his expense-account hotel, he supposedly had a little ritual that he'd perform. He would reportedly go out and hire a hooker, bring her back to his room, have her strip naked and get into the bathtub. And then he'd pee on her.

The reason I believe this, is because I don't think it would be something someone would just make up out of thin air; people don't usually put that much energy and creativity into gossip. Plus, he just seemed like the kind of guy who would be into such a thing.

There are always rumors flying around offices, and usually you can figure out their origin. Like when people start whispering that a person is gay, because he walks a little lightly to the coffee machine, or wears blue suede shoes, or whatever. Or that a middle-aged woman is a virgin, because she's never been married and lives with dozens and dozens of cats. Those are easy.

But some rumors are really detailed and abstract, and are more difficult to dismiss.

In California there was a guy at my office who was supposedly fired from a previous job because he was caught by security cameras having sex with one of his employees -- right on top of her desk with hi-liters and post-its flying everywhere, the time-stamp printed right across his naked gyrating ass. 

See, now that's gotta be true. Because it's not based on the way he talks, or the way he dresses, or anything like that. False rumors usually stem from observation, followed by speculation. Am I wrong? And there's no way to logically trace this story back to any of that. Therefore, I tend to believe it.

What are some of the office rumors you've heard over the years? I'd be interested in knowing, especially the ones that felt authentic. Post 'em in the comments section below. Because gossip is fun.

-- Here's how the new TV season is going for me so far:

Earl -- a keeper, straight to the starting lineup
The Office -- ditto (or "diddo" as a person at work spells it)
Invasion -- I'm skeptical, but willing to give it another look
Reunion -- life is too short for bullshit
Bones -- kinda disgusting, and not in a fun way
House -- diddo

LOST was awesome, as usual. And SVU was satisfying, if a bit weird.

And you're up to date. Wotta relief, huh?

-- Now I'm going to provide you with a few more links, so the union goons don't descend on the Compound and start slapping me around with mouse pads or whatever. I'm way behind on my quota this month, and there's only one week left! Let's get right to it....

This is a stage hypnotist, who reportedly possesses the power to make a large group of people hump a kitchen chair, all at the same time. Heh.

Here's an examination of one of Steve Miller's favorite phrases.

And these are a couple of TV ads for the Utah State Fair. Their spokesmen this year? Napoleon and Pedro. Do you see any flippin' Sasquatches?

-- And I think that'll do it for today, kiddies. I'm gonna turn over the reigns to Buck now, and go slam my new door in a huff, over and over again.

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

September 21, 2005

-- I need to get into work early today, because I'm finally moving to my new fancy-pants office. It was supposed to happen early last week, but the guy who's in there now pissed off the movers and they've been dragging their feet to punish him.

Apparently they busted in one day without warning, and said, "OK, let's get you moved." He was in the middle of either a Chinese fire drill or a Mongolian cluster-fuck, I can't remember which, and told them it wasn't a good time. And I guess movers are like waitresses; you tell them you're not quite ready, and they're only too happy to help you out. "Oh, you want more time? You got it pal, all the time you could ever need." So a week and a half passed before they came back. But it's happening this morning, finally.

I'm concerned about my network connection. I just know, deep in my heart, that my computer will be nothing but a prop today. I have no confidence whatsoever that everything will work correctly from day one. No, it'll be a long drawn-out frustration of phone-tag and blame-shifting. I spoke to the IT guys yesterday, as sort of a preemptive strike, and they were talking about "moving the razzle dazzle." What in the hell is that?? I thought razzle dazzle was something the Harlem Globetrotters did? And these guys sure as shit ain't the Harlem Globetrotters.

Whatever. I'm preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, as they say. But I have a feeling I've got a full day of muttering and running my hands through my hair ahead of me.

Hey, at least I'll be far away from the Hall of Splattering Bowel Movements. At least I'll have that.

-- Speaking of computers, thanks for the advice yesterday on my proposed wireless set-up here at the Compound. From what I gather, it's not too complicated or expensive a venture, but you've got to pay special attention to the security settings? I appreciate that and will, of course, keep you updated. I'm not sure when it'll happen, but soon, I hope. I absolutely have to have everything in place before the holidays, when our house will once again be transformed into a bed & breakfast inn. Email from the crapper must be a reality, preferably before Bourbon Season even gets here on Halloween night. Stay tuned.-- A little while ago the Secrets were upstairs, right above me here, BLASTING Green Day. And I was sitting in the bunker playing a Benny Goodman CD and cursing under my breath about all the racket. It's all inevitable isn't it? There's no point in fighting any of it, is there? Slowly but surely I'm turning into my Dad. ...Without, of course, all the integrity and know-how. It's a sad state of affairs.

-- I watched Bones and House last night, in a continuing attempt to broaden my television horizons. Both were entertaining enough, but kinda disgusting. Bones is about a forensic anthropologist who sifts through decomposing bodies, and piles of charred flesh and whatnot, and tries to solve crimes. Pretty nasty stuff. And House was about a little kid with cancer, which is something I don't really want to see. Depictions of terminal childhood cancer is not what I normally seek out at the end of a long work day. Ya know? I like the doc's attitude, and his rant about "cancer kids" always being put on a pedestal was straight out of the Surf Report Rules of Thumb. ("A disabled person is courageous. There is no such thing as a crippled coward.") But I've gotta be honest... I'm very close to abandoning ship. All the horrifying medical procedures and chronic diseases makes me queasy.

-- And I'll leave you now with a couple of links I found amusing. As you know, the blogger's union requires a certain amount of links every month to "wacky websites or news articles that exhibit a pronounced wackiness" and I'm constantly struggling to meet the quota. Because I can't afford for my health coverage to lapse, I need to pay special attention to this. So here you go:

This is, as best as I can tell, a tribute album to Phil Collins, made up entirely of hip-hop and rap artists. Does that seem a bit odd to you? Because it does to me. Ol' Dirty Bastard covering "Sussudio" is not something I could've ever predicted. And I think I have a pretty good imagination. Phil Collins?? The heck?

Finally, here's an article about one bad-ass New Zealand badminton team -- complete with standard nudge-nudge wink-wink headline. Simply excellent.

And that'll do it for today, children. I need to get into the office now to oversee the moving of the razzle dazzle. 

See ya tomorrow.

September 20, 2005

-- I was instant messaging with my brother a couple of nights ago, having one of our deep conversations, and he mentioned that he'd someday like to stay at a hotel during a midget convention. It's not something I'd ever thought about, and I'm not sure I possess his level of passion for such a thing, but it does sound pretty good. A four-star hotel overrun, just overrun, by the little people would be an interesting experience, I think.

It reminds me of a trip Toney and I took with another couple, back in the Atlanta era. The four of us would occasionally drive down to Jekyll Island, and stay at this kick-ass old hotel for a couple of days. We'd walk around with our highballs and act all sophisticated, pretending there was far more than $57 in our checking accounts. It was always great fun and, of course, featured excessive amounts of alcohol. By the end of the first day we'd usually become good friends with the bartender, and had all vowed to stay in touch even after the long weekend was over. Ha!

One time we were there and started to notice an inordinate number of people around us who were missing limbs. In the halls, at the bar... I remember sitting on a patio and watching a man drink a glass of beer with a hand that looked to have been carved from a solid block of mahogany. What in the honeybaked hell??

And as the day wore on, their numbers increased. All around us were now people with plastic legs, clip-on arms, and thighs comprised of a complicated network of lines and pullies.

By Friday night I felt like a black man in 1957 Alabama, because I still had my arms and legs. I found myself self-consciously trying to hide a hand, or pulling a foot up underneath myself. Because the hotel was crawling with amputees! So to speak. In the lobby was now a big glass box, which we were almost certain wasn't there when we'd checked in, that contained an impressive display of cutting-edge prosthetic devices.

(Paging David Lynch. David Lynch, please pick up the blue courtesy phone!)

Of course it was some kind of convention, or gathering, or whatever, and once we figured that out, it was no big deal. In fact, on Saturday night they took over the hotel pub and we were right in the middle of their party. A rubber hand sliding a tip across the bar, a man swirling a snifter of brandy with a metal hook.... You get used to it.

And everyone seemed really nice and happy, and not limbist in the least. Oh, there's nothing like Southern amputee hospitality; nothing like it anywhere.

-- I want to set up a wireless network here at the Compound and, of course, know nothing about it. I'll list my objectives, and will appreciate any advice you can offer.

I'd like the main cable to still run directly into my computer. I don't want my shit flying all around the neighborhood, thank you very much. Poppa Half-Shirt has the air of a pirate about him.

I'd like Toney's PC to be able to tap into this expensive-ass service, and also be able to take advantage of the speed. Right now she's using a free-for-life dial-up service I procured through my vast network of liars and backstabbers. And it's crushingly slow.  BUT... I don't want to have to take the cover off the tower. I've tried that before, and it led to tears and cursing.

Plus, I want to be able to send emails from the crapper with my laptop. 

Is there a way I can achieve all this, without too much trouble and expense? What parts do I need? How do I go about it? Help me out people, 'cause I'm dumm. 

-- And now here's our old friend Buck to take up my slack again.

See ya tomorrow.

September 19, 2005

-- Last night I slipped into my blue suede shoes and watched the Emmy Awards with Toney. And it wasn't very good. I'm starting to learn that awards shows are pretty bleak affairs, unless Steve Martin is the host. And it's only good then because he ridicules and mocks everyone involved. If I hadn't been pulling for Al Swear-Engine to win best actor (he lost), and Lost to win best drama series (it won), I would've thrown in the towel during the first twenty minutes or so.

The Joan Rivers pre-show thing wasn't even very entertaining. It appeared that she was only slightly drunk this year, and that ruined the whole vibe. At one point she did holler to someone off-camera that her "Depends are on yellow alert," but that was more confusing (and horrifying) than funny, really.

She allowed celeb after celeb to come to the mic and pontificate in earnest tones about world events, and pretend to be highly concerned. Wotta grand passel of douches. Call me cynical, but I just don't believe a word of it. I think they're all showboating, every last one of 'em, with their big-ass magnolias and whatnot. 'Cause, that's what they were pinning to their lapels this year, y'know: magnolias. Apparently they're all out of ribbon colors, and have been forced to switch to flowers.

And speaking of ribbons, I didn't see any this year. Does that mean that the Hollywood community doesn't care about AIDS and breast cancer anymore? And the poor little kids sitting in mud holes in Africa sporting a beard of flies? Are those causes five-minutes-ago, at this point? I'd like to know, I really would. Usually you can, uh, depend on the drunken marionette to ask these types of questions. But not this year.

One of the funniest Joan Rivers moments came when she was talking to Halle Berry, and I don't think either one of them even realized it. Halle, the great artiste, was talking about the way she chooses scripts, and was droning on about how she always looks for something different, something challenging. Because, you see, as a great artiste, she must constantly be pushing the creative envelope. Then Joan asked her what she's currently working on, and Halle answered, with a straight face, "X-Men 3." Is that excellent, or what?

The show itself was a dreadful affair. Donald Trump "singing" the Green Acres theme was one of the few highlights. And Letterman's tribute to Johnny Carson was nice, as were Jon Stewart's touching comments about Letterman himself afterwards. But beyond that, not much to sink yer teeth into; not much at all.

The death reel was pretty sad. In a single year we lost Scrote, Gilligan, and Oliver Wendell Douglas. Poor dead Scrote... Now there's something to get worked up about. If I'd been at the Emmys I would've had this screen-printed on both shoulders of my tuxedo. And it would've been a sincere gesture, thank you very much.

-- But enough about the entertainment community, let's talk about belching. This isn't a Clive Bull topic, it's a home-grown Jeff Kay original: What are some of your favorite burp-fuels? Over the weekend I had a salad with Bac-O's on it, and damned if those little aquarium rocks o' pork don't taste better the second day than the first. They're the gift that keeps on giving! What are some others? What's better during the repeat than the original broadcast? I think hotdogs fall into that category, but I'm not 100% sure. Those babies are mighty tasty both coming and going. Help me out with this one, folks. Maybe we can come up with an entire meal that's one big boomerang of flavor? Hell, maybe a full-blown restaurant chain?

-- What's the deal with the President's weekly radio address? Have you ever actually heard it? I haven't, not once in my entire life. I've only heard people on the news reporting about something that was said during one of 'em; never have I heard one in real life. What stations carry it? When is it on?? I'm starting to believe it's all some kind of pointless charade. Oh, I've heard public service announcements that feature a man sobbing uncontrollably because he'd considered trying to beat a train to the crossing. And I've heard a preacher with a speech impediment implore us all to "get wight with Chwist." But never the President's weekly radio address. What in the hot and cold running heck is it all about, anyway?

-- And here's something I think I'm going to buy for my new office at work. I still haven't moved, but it's gonna happen this week (dammit). And I'm going to celebrate, my friends. I'm pulling out all the stops this time.

More tomorrow. And remember, you folks are the ones who told me to post whatever I could cobble together on these painful Monday mornings. I will not take responsibility.

See ya.

September 16, 2005

-- There's something in the air. Spores or some shit. For the past few days I've been sneezing like a maniac, and a large volume of fluid is being manufactured inside my head, then forced out. Why is that? All my life spring has been rough-sailing for me on the hay fever front, but I can't remember it ever getting to me in late summer before. I mean, what's happening in late summer that wasn't happening in mid-summer? Ya know? It's September 16 and I'm all messed up here, and it just doesn't seem right.

The other day I was in the grips of one of those powerful sneezing jags, and was pretty sure something flew out. I try to keep it all contained, but things can get pretty wild. After I was able to start breathing regularly again, I went in search of it; I didn't want Toney to come walking through with a boiling hot cup of coffee, slip on a slick spot on the floor, and end up in the burn unit wearing a vest of gauze.

I looked all around and couldn't find it. Huh. Maybe I'd imagined it? Maybe it was just a phantom snot-rocket? I finally gave up the recovery mission, but was uneasy about it. This will surely come back to haunt me, I thought. Then about ten minutes later I scratched my leg, above my right knee, and the mystery was solved. I secretly changed my pants, and all was right with the world again.

-- Do you remember this video game? We used to play it at the Dunbar Bowling Alley back in the day, and it was great fun. The objective was to jump behind the wheel of a virtual automobile, and run over as many pedestrians as possible in a given amount of time. The cool part was that the victims would scream out in pain as they were being wasted, then a little cross would pop up where the "accident" took place. Cool! So cool, in fact, there was a big national controversy about it, and the game didn't stick around our hometown for very long. The meddling do-gooder pricks.

-- I'm thinking about buying one of these, so Andy will have a playmate during the day. Now that Toney is working a little, I'm afraid he'll get lonely. A big dog with a giraffe neck, I think, is just the ticket.

-- A sitcom, in which Phil Hendrie plays a burned-out teacher at a middle school, was picked up this week by NBC, as a mid-season replacement. That's good news for him, I guess, but it makes me nervous. For selfish reasons, I don't want him to become a big-time TV star. His wack-ass radio show is the only thing that keeps me going, from week to week. If he turns into Kramer, or whatever, everything will come crashing down. And you know it's true. Highly concerning.

-- Part One of 49 Up was broadcast in England last night. I'm not sure when it'll make it to DVD, and the American shores, but I'm ready for it. In fact, how come we can't see it right now?? There are, like, five hundred cable channels, and not much worth watching on any of 'em. Would it kill someone to slide that deal in somewhere? I mean, seriously. Last night I watched a show on the Food Network about cheese-based snacks. Cheese-based snacks! You tell me there's no room for 49 Up? Ha!

-- The other day I was telling the Secrets about my brief career as a journalist. And when I say career, I'm talking, of course, about the high school newspaper. 

Mostly I wrote record reviews and music-related crapola for that fine publication, but every once in a while I'd be sent out on actual news-gathering assignments. The teacher who ran the show wanted us to be involved in all aspects of the paper, and wouldn't let us just settle into a comfortable niche. Again with the meddling...

One day I walked in and she told me I needed to interview the football coach about the upcoming season. And my stomach sank. I'm not the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to football, for one thing. Plus, the guy was kinda scary. He was the stereotypical coach out of every Hollywood movie, a crusty old disagreeable bastard of the highest order. And I was going to interview him for the big annual football preview. Simply excellent.

Mustering as much courage as I could, I went to him and asked if I could set up a time for a meeting. He looked me up and down with a disgusted look on his face, and finally said I could come by later that day, after practice. I thanked him and walked away with my rear portal sealed off tighter than a nuclear submarine.

I returned at the agreed-upon time, with my pen and professional notepad, and entered the locker room. All the players were showering and getting dressed and walking around with their junk all out in the open air. And as I passed through somebody said, "Hey, who's the faggot?" 

I eventually found the coach and had to remind him that we had an appointment, and he didn't seem too happy about it. In fact, he never seemed too happy about anything.

Then, and I swear it's true, he said, "OK, fine. But I've got to take a shit. We can talk while I'm on the can."

So, I sat in a metal chair and asked him a bunch of stupid questions, as he took a dump. All I could see were his knees and feet sticking out from behind a cinderblock wall, but it was still horrifying. And, of course, the football players all thought it was just a fucking riot.

His answers would go something like this: "Well, you know, we've got a really good group of boys this year (bloop!). Ahhh... And I think it's going to come down to motivation, and motivation alone. (zzzzzzzzzp ker-splash!)"

Why couldn't I just write my friggin' Adam and the Ants reviews, and be left alone? Why was that such a huge problem? I'd still like to know the answer to that one. Damn.

And that'll do it for today, kiddies. Have yourselves a great little weekend, and I'll see ya on Monday. ...If all goes well.

September 15, 2005

-- Last night I heard an authoritative voice come booming out of our television, and say, "It's ten o'clock. Do you know where your children are?" What is that?? For years I've heard people on TV make jokes about it, but didn't really know what they were talking about. Now this cryptic deep-voiced question is being asked in my own home. What's the story, morning glory?! I have a feeling it's church-based in some way, but that's just a hunch. Does anyone know?? Who is this person and why is he getting all up in my business during prime time? 'Cause it's a little creepy; a tad 1984ish, or USSR-like, or something. Shit. It was like the yankee hotel foxtrot tape all over again.

-- Speaking of television, there's a commercial running right now that almost makes me physically ill. It's for Sure deodorant, I think, and shows some guy with his hairy-ass armpit thrust right into my life, and he's just rubbing and rubbing and rubbing that stuff on there. (Is he attempting to create a solid physical barrier?!) I'm not exaggerating, I have to look away. There are some things I just don't want to see, thank you very much, and that's one of them. Oh, I can watch a man get his head sawed off on the internet, or a person rocket fresh produce from their vagina, but that commercial is over the line. Just writing about it has triggered several full-body shivers.

Years ago I lived with a roommate in Greensboro, and he was a redneck of the highest order. I didn't even know the guy, we were just sharing an apartment for financial reasons. One morning I got out of bed and found him standing in the middle of the kitchen floor, wearing nothing but a pair of tighty-whities, with his massive distended pot-belly hanging down. And he was putting on deodorant. In the kitchen, In his underwear. Near the food.

Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night, scream and sit straight up, and Toney has to calm me down. "The underwear deodorant man again?" she asks. And I say yes, and accept her soothing hugs.

-- Yesterday during the conference call I heard a roaring sound off in the distance, and it kept getting louder and louder. Then, suddenly, this dude was in my office, running some kind of ludicrous vacuum cleaner that was strapped to his back. I'd bitched about this before, but here he was again, during business hours, making one hell of a racket. I quickly snapped his picture with my cell phone camera, and gave him the international signal for "Git!"

For what it's worth, the building manager now has the photo, and a fresh complaint. Not that anything will be done about it... but still. 

Aren't most offices cleaned at night?? That's the general way it's done, correct? Oh, not where I work. These people just strap on their Space 1999 gear and go at it right in the middle of the day. Infuriating.

-- Now let's play a little game I made up, called Guess the White Guy. Wanna?

When I was a senior in high school our basketball team came within just a few points of winning the state championship. They were one kick-ass team, and really exciting to watch. All the other schools were gunning for them, and emotions were constantly high. As they racked up win after win, the whole town whipped itself into a full-on frenzy. Good times.

Below I've listed the first names of the five starting players on that team. Can you Guess the White Guy?


You have thirty seconds.... Good luck! And no cheating!!

-- From the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk: what products have you seen in grocery stores that are supposedly made from the recipes of celebrities? Like Paul Newman's stuff, but less famous. I remember seeing a line of Tommy Lasorda spaghetti sauces in California, competing head-to-head with the Frank Sinatra brand. But beyond that I'm drawing a blank. Jimmy Dean sausage doesn't really count anymore, does it? He's more famous for his sausage at this point, than his singing. Right? Most people probably don't even know he was a singer, prior to becoming the czar of spicy pig scrotums, or whatever. So help me out with this. I have a feeling I'm forgetting quite a bit.

-- And now I'm going to turn it over to our old friend Buck, and drag my sorry ass into work.

Have a great day, folks. I'll see ya tomorrow.

September 14, 2005

A few quick things:

-- I was in the cafeteria at work yesterday, and couldn't think of the word "broccoli." I was standing in front of the country fried steak section of the hot bar, and wanted steak, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. But I couldn't conjure up the word for the green stuff. Eventually I just pointed at the vat and said, "and some of that." Not a very good sign, is it? I'm gonna end up in one of those homes my grandmother was in, where old ladies sit slumped over in wheelchairs all day, hollering, "Carl! Carl!! Put another log on the fire, Carl!"

-- It occurred to me this morning that I haven't owned or used a comb or a hairbrush in probably twenty years. I have this Jiffy Pop/Bert Convy kind of hair, and after a shower I simply shape it by hand to look the way I want it. It's a method that's served me well, and I see no reason to adjust it at this point. No, it'll be business as usual, as it pertains to Duke head maintenance from here on out. Big Comb will never get its hooks in me, dammit!

-- Our dog Andy is celebrating a victory this morning. He, and his neighborhood partners-in-dog have apparently banished the hippie-dippie mailman (here with the hippie-dippie mail, man) for good. Yesterday a substitute brought our packet of bills, and told Toney that we'd "lost" our carrier. Said he's deathly afraid of dogs, and was being pushed to the brink. He was finally assigned a business route, and soon we'll have someone new on a permanent basis. "Lost" is not exactly the phrase I'd use. "Rid of" is more appropriate, I think. The man is a mental patient with a canvas bag. Let him be a ticking time bomb somewhere else, thank you very much.

-- And since we're on the subject, how come there are no mailboxes anymore? When I was a kid it seemed that there was a box on every other corner. Now I have to drive all the way to the post office to send my Netflix movies back. There's not a mailbox anywhere around here, that I know about. What's the hot and cold running deal with that?? And don't bother telling me to just leave it for the mailman to pick up, 'cause that ain't going to happen. Not even with the new guy. Because that shit has to be in the system asap, it can't wait until the carrier gets finished with his day. All that walking around he does after leaving our house would be valuable processing time just lost forever. Oh, you've got to keep those Netflix DVDs moving, constantly moving. ...Am I getting carried away with this stuff?

-- I watched House last night, as you folks suggested, and really enjoyed it. I was a little nervous at first, because I thought the guy was going to be nothing but a non-stop wisecrack machine. Like Scrote on crank. But he eventually showed that there's more to the character than meets the eye. A welcome relief. Of course, he really is funny. I especially liked his exchange with the "male secretary." So, thanks for suggesting it to me. It's going straight into the Surf Report starting lineup.

-- This is a picture that accompanied an obituary in the Sunday newspaper in Charleston, WV. What do you think is going on here? Does a family member have some sort of axe to grind with the poor guy? Or is this just the picture they think best represents the "real" him? Huh. That's one tall-ass baseball cap isn't it? I've never even seen such a thing offered on the open market. So many unanswered questions....

-- Finally, here's an update on some earlier news. Apparently things have taken a turn for the worse, down at the rug mart.

And this is the kind of update you're likely to be seeing for the next few months. It wasn't too painful, was it? Did you even notice a difference? Is it obvious that it was written in, like, thirty minutes? I hope not. I'm still in transition mode here, and it's a bit of a struggle. But it'll sort itself out. Please stay tuned.

Oh wait! I almost forgot. I was on a radio show yesterday. A producer called my cell phone in the morning, and asked if I'd be willing to come on the air later in the day to discuss the Wal-Mart Game. Immediately I started sweating profusely, but told him I would. 

It's a syndicated National Lampoon(!!) show, and is recorded live. He told me to be ready between five and six eastern, and they'd call me. Around 5:30 the phone rang, and I was on for about ten minutes. And I think it went pretty well. I got a little tongue-tied near the end, which, of course, is what I'm focusing on as I replay the episode in my head. But overall I think it was pretty good. They even had a guy in a Wal-Mart, playing the game live! 

If/when I get broadcast information, I'll pass it on. Crazy, man. It's just one crazy thing after another....

See ya tomorrow.

September 13, 2005

-- Sorry about yesterday. I believe the Surf Report procedures manual may need to be revised, because it looks like writing in the mornings is going to be a problem.

For one thing, Toney is starting to work again. Not full-time or anything, but I have a feeling itíll eventually lead to that. For all intents and purposes, sheís been home since the Secrets came on the scene almost ten years ago. But now that theyíre both in school all day, sheís tentatively reentered the rat race. And the responsibility of getting the kids to class on time, and with their proper gear and all, is often going to be mine. God bless Ďem.

Plus, things are starting to heat up at my job, the much-feared fourth quarter is almost upon us, and I need to be there bright and early every morning for the a.m. ball-walloping sessions.

So, itís becoming a bit difficult. I might have to start writing at night, and that concerns me. Iím much better in the mornings with caffeine rampaging through my veins, than at night when Scrote is on, and thereís a big fluffy couch calling my name.

And I worry that it might actually change the feel of the site. Ya sound me, daddy-o? Writing at night is more conducive to cool jazz and Chesterfields; won't you pour me a Cuban breeze, Gretchen? and all that. I'm more accustomed to the Buzzcocks and a tanker truck of Eight O'Clock Bean Coffee. Who knows what might happen if I start messing around with the formula??

But I'll figure it out. Somehow we'll adapt, and soldier on. Because mockery and ridiculousness is simply too important a cause to abandon.

-- And since we're talking about behind-the-scenes stuff.... A few days ago I was fed up (again) with my spam situation, and called my good friends at Hostito to see if there was anything they might suggest.

The guy was really nice and helpful. He looked over my settings, and told me I should probably limit the number of specific email addresses that are forwarded to me. I had it set so that anything addressed to gets dumped straight into my Adelphia box. Probably idiotic, but what do I know about it? He suggested I limit it to only five or six specific addresses, and set up everything else to fail.

So that's what I did, and it changed my life. When I turned on my computer this morning I had two legit emails in my inbox, and three measly spam messages in my Norton folder. Five emails overnight? Unheard of. I'm not joking, before I made these adjustments it wouldn't be unusual to wake up to five hundred messages, almost all crap. Norton caught maybe 75% of those, and the rest would be in my inbox. It was a daily spamalanche! And by the time I'd get home from work, there'd be five or six hundred more. If I went out of town for a few days, the whole thing would bog down and eventually shit the proverbial bed.

So I'm excited. I feel like I can breathe again. And I promise to be better about answering your notes from here on out. Man, I've really sucked when it comes to email, and I apologize for that. But please don't take it personally, I just had a Mongolian cluster-fuck on my hands. I appreciate every note received, even the ones that call me very, very hurtful names.

-- So far I've only sampled one new TV show this fall, and didn't much care for it. Reunion is what it's called, and if I were thinking about moving to Hollywood to pursue an acting career, it would probably be my favorite program. 'Cause if those people are working, anyone can! Seriously. I'm a better actor than half the cast, and I'm an operations manager in Scranton. Plus, the script was incredibly predictable. Toney and I were hollering out what would happen next, and got it right every time. I'll give it one more week, and then I'm pulling the plug on that crap. After all, I'm a very busy man.

-- Speaking of bad entertainment, the Secrets asked me to rent one of the Star Wars movies from Netflix, the one with "Clones" in the title, and they watched it all weekend long. I only saw bits and pieces of it, but one phrase kept jumping to mind: crushingly dull. Oh man, that thing is nothing short of brutal. It reminded me of the granddaddy of all dullness, the movie against which all dull films must be measured.

Back in our Atlanta record weasel days, Toney and I used to get passes to movie screenings. Usually they'd take place on Wednesday nights, before it opened in theaters on Friday. It was a great little perk for the budding hipster, and we enjoyed the hell out of it.

Then came Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The producers, or whatever, wouldn't allow it to be shown before the opening day (a bad sign), so the industry screening took place at 12:01 a.m., late Thursday night. It was a much-anticipated event. David Lynch... Twin Peaks... Oh, it had one hell of a pedigree.

So Toney and I went, and within twenty minutes I was contemplating suicide. I don't know if it was just my mood or what, because I've since met reasonable people who claim to actually like that smoldering turd bouquet. But I hated it with every cell in my sizable body.

Pretentious beyond belief, boring and nonsensical, it just flat-out sucked. Parts of it felt like there'd been an accident in the dark room, and we were seeing a double-exposure. Faces were overlapped on top of each other... A white horse kept fading in and out... What the hell, man?? I looked around the theater in a panic, and all the other people were just stroking their goatees and nodding thoughtfully. I didn't know whether to cry or start throwing punches.

Am I wrong about this movie? 'Cause I sure as shit will never watch it again. Let me know what you think, and which other "accomplished" films belong into the Fire Walk Hall of Dullness.

Holy crap.

-- And I'll leave you now with a fresh Smoking Fish sighting. At least I think it's our fish.... Hmmm.  And a bunch of amazing t-shirt pics, taken in countries I probably couldn't find on a map, if you put a frickin' gun to my head. Thanks for sending them in, folks! I appreciate it.

More of this stuff tomorrow. Have a great day.

September 9, 2005

-- It's already been a crazy day, and it hasn't even started yet.

When I was getting out of the shower I noticed that Andy was acting strange, waving his head about in an unusual manner. Then I saw that his dish was empty, and realized he was gesturing to me to fill the thing. He was literally using his head to flag me down, like a person with car trouble on the side of the highway. And when I tried to answer his request, I saw that we had no dog food left. Grrrr...

But the poor guy was obviously starving, what with all the flagging and whatnot, so I got dressed and went to the store. And while I was driving my fuel light started to flash off and on, in that stage where it's getting pretty low, but not yet low enough for it to stay on. So I pulled into a Sheetz station and pumped fifteen dollars worth into the tank, in just under three seconds. That shit sure gets to fifteen lickety-split nowadays, doesn't it? Damn.

It must be the fact that I'm turning into an old man, but I've become obsessed, obsessed I tell ya, about the air pressure in my tires. Almost every time I put gas in my truck, I also check the tires. And that's what I did today. I pulled over to the air pump, jumped out and in the process of screwing off the little cap on the air nozzle, managed to get black crap all over my hands. And when I tried to rub it away, it only spread and got bigger. Highly irritating.

Then when I put the tire gauge on the nozzle, the thing flew apart. The top and bottom shot off, a spring rocketed out, and the part that tells you your air pressure slid all the way out of the tube, and bounced on the cement. The hell, man?? It was like something off cartoons. I gathered up all the parts and threw them on the console, guessed at the amount of air going into the tires, and drove away with my wrists, trying not to get that black crap everywhere.

At the store I washed my hands (with straight water, not the whorehouse soap), picked up some Little Debbie Medallions o' Lard, an obscenely over-priced bag of Kibbles 'n' Bits, and went to the check-out. "Do you mind if I put your oatmeal cookies and dog food in the same bag?" the woman asked. I told her it didn't matter, I was going to eat it all in the car anyway.

And when I got home Toney had raised the garage door, which translates to: it's trash day and you need to drag the cans to the curb, ya lazy basta'd. So I did it, and got some sort of drizzling yellowish liquid on my right shoe. A big wide stripe, right across the laces. Jesus J. McChrist! I was only trying to buy a little dog food, and here I was stuck in some sort of Buster Keaton movie. All before 7:30 am. 

But, I'm pleased to report, the story has a happy ending. Andy went medieval on those kibbles, and wasn't much easier on the bits. And now he's lying on the couch with a smile on his snout, gathering his energy for the mailman's arrival around 10:30. Life is good.

-- Speaking of shoes, tell me what you think of these things. I ordered them off the Lands' End website, from their overstock store. Supposedly they're highly durable, and the world's most comfortable shoe, and all that stuff. But I don't know... They seem kinda sweet to me. Toney says I'm crazy, but I feel like David Bowie walking around in these things. (Bubba Bowie?) I think it would be a lot better if they were gray, and not blue. Ya know? Anyway, I'd be interested in your opinion. 'Cause I'm highly skeptical.

-- I'm getting a new office at work next week. An actual office of my own, with no apple-eaters or loud-talkers, and far away from the bathrooms and all their related sounds and smells. Theoretically, today could be my last in the former broom closet that is my workplace. I'm excited. I haven't had a private office since California, and they're a luxury I'll never again take for granted.

In Cali I had really nice digs that overlooked a movie lot, complete with stereo, refrigerator, and fashionable furniture. And when I moved here I was given a desk inside a rickety wood and glass hut on the floor of a massive warehouse. No joke, it was a hut, previously used as the manager's watchtower, or some shit. And I had a kitchen chair that had collapsed (before I got there, thank you very much), on one corner of the seat, and a metal bar ate into my ass all day long.

Eventually they bulldozed that crap, and I was moved upstairs to a real office setting. It was a cubicle, but I didn't care. At least I wasn't dodging surly turban-wearing forklift operators on the way to the fax machine anymore.

After a year of so of that, Apples and I were given the old broom closet across from the shithouse. Then he was eventually replaced by the Hollerer. And so it goes.

On Monday we're all getting our own spaces, and I couldn't be happier about it. Pass the beer nuts.

-- Here's another Surf Reporter sporting her Surf Report shirt, this time in Charleston, WV. Not exactly sure what's going on there, but that pretty much goes with the territory.

-- Now I'm gonna leave you with Clive Bull's topics from yesterday's show. Remember, I'm only the thief here... But he was asking people if they prefer blinds or curtains, and, surprisingly, it stirred up quite a discussion. We're a blind house, for the record.

Also, he was asking for information about "sister cities." You've seen the signs in little towns, proclaiming it a sister city to some place in Sweden or Russia, or whatever. What's that about?? Nobody seemed to know for sure.

And finally, do you have anything unusual in your bathroom? One caller claimed to have a refrigerator in hers, but Clive didn't really seem to believe her.

Feel free to discuss in the comments section, if you want. Or not. Whatever.

And I'll see you guys on Monday. Have a great weekend!

September 8, 2005

A few quick things:

-- I forgot to mention that Toney and I celebrated our twelfth (why is there in ďfĒ in that word?) wedding anniversary over the weekend. I was too distracted by all the pants shopping, and whatnot, to bring it up. But was that some mesmerizing clothes reporting, or what?! I fully expect a call from the Pulitzer nominating committee any day now. Heck, any minute. ÖHello?

Anyway, Toney and I were married in Atlanta on 9/3/93, by a judge with a radio show. Then we had a nice lunch with family members at Mickís, followed by a great drunken party at Swissotel, where I purportedly disco-danced with Sunshine to a Kool and the Gang song(!?). The next morning we flew to San Francisco, and I remember it as one of the happiest weeks of my life.

Now itís twelve years later, and several novels-worth of stuff has happened. But weíre still chugging along somehow, and Iím really glad about that. Iíd be dead and buried, or playing with a slice of baloney in a nuthouse, if it wasnít for Toney. And thatís the truth.

She wouldnít help with the shirts and pants, though. Wouldnít even help me. Said Iíd drive her insane before it was over. Whatís that about??

-- Speaking of Toney, we were in Target a few days ago and she ran up to me, all breathless and everything, and asked if Iíd seen the tiny hopping dwarf-woman, um, hop by. Pardon? A woman, about three feet high, she said, who apparently moves about by hopping. I looked at her with concern, but she swore it was true. The hell? I needed to see this. So we launched a formal search. We looked all over the store, and never found her. I asked Toney if this was like Kramerís ďpig man,Ē but she said that, dammit, she really saw a hopping dwarf-girl, over by the dollar bins. Can any of the local readers help me out with this one? Should I be concerned, or have you seen this person she speaks of ...well, hopping around? Damn.

-- You know what I like? Those lists that people submit to Amazon of their favorite movies or books, or whatever. I like the way they always put something on there to tell us they're serious students of the culture, not just your average shitkicker kickin' shit around. Know what I mean? It'll be a list of desert island discs, and might include a couple of Night Ranger albums, something by Eddie Money, the Footloose soundtrack -- and "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis. I love that.

-- Check this out. Where do you think they got this idea? It seems like I should know, but just can't put my finger on it....  Fucks per minute. Hmmm.

-- By now we've all had a good laugh about the mix-up that resulted in a bunch of evacuees from New Orleans being sent to the wrong Charleston. Here's the story, in case you haven't seen it. Hardy-har-har. But did you know that we have an actual FEMA worker in our midst? That's right, Mr. Greg Beck, a longtime friend of TheWVSR has been with the organization for years, and yesterday posted, I think, an illuminating response to the criticism they've received of late. Check it out here.

-- Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I'd received an email that caused me to blast a powerful jet of crystal-clear ice water? Well, I still don't want to say too much about it, but it looks like something exciting might be happening. If all goes well, I may be spending the winter co-writing a book for an outfit that we all know and love. The whole thing is just so surreal... I'll fill you in on the details as soon as I can, of course, but I don't want to hex myself by yammering on about it too soon. Stay tuned.

-- And I know this isn't much of an update today but, luckily, we've got our old friend Buck to take up the slack. So I'll turn it over to him now, and wish you folks a fine fine Thursday. ...Or whatever day it is.

See ya tomorrow.

September 7, 2005

-- So, I started my shirt-search at the mall, JC Penney to be exact. Couldn't find a damn thing that met my needs. And by "needs" I mean something that is both inexpensive and non-hideous. I found plenty of one or the other, but both criteria at the same time proved to be a problem. In fact, it was easier to find examples that met neither requirement, now that I think about it. If I'd been in the market for, say, a fifty dollar shirt with jagged lines going sideways, like a TV tuned to a channel where nothing's on, I would've been in bidness. But I don't much care for that.

I was only minutes into it, and was already feeling depressed. "What are you doing with your life?," I asked myself while passing the Orange Julius, "Look at you, forty-two, bloated, and shopping for tops in a mall." That's what they call them, you know. Tops. Read the ads if you don't believe me. I just knew my grandfathers were doing squat 'n' thrusts in their graves. Both of them at the same time, in perfect sync.

I shuffled down the way to Old Navy, but I don't really trust them. I've bought stuff from that store before that looked cool while on display, but turned into a dishrag after one washing. I'm not kidding. I witnessed, with my own two eyes, a washer and dryer transform a previously respectable Old Navy hipster garment into a giant dried-up pork rind. No iron in the world could've conquered that shit; it looked like a sculpture in a grade school art show. It wasn't even suitable for buffing the car anymore; I was afraid it might scratch the paint. So I only made a half-assed look around in there, before stumbling off to another horrible place.

Toney had given me a coupon for 15% off any clothing purchase at Kaufman's, and I decided I'd check it out. I mean, what the hell? And as I browsed I kept having to look around to make sure I hadn't wandered into the ladies department by mistake. These weren't shirts, they were full-on blouses. When did that particular fad take hold?! It felt like I was looking around a dusty old costume trailer for Rhoda, on some Hollywood backlot.

My grandfathers began a brisk round of military push-ups.

Before I gave up on Kaufman's I did see a rack of shirts that looked pretty good, so I turned over the price tag: $85. I think I audibly shrieked. I mean, who? Who, in God's name would buy such a thing? I know they do stuff like that on TV, but in real life? Ha! If I were a millionaire with a million dollars in his pocket, I wouldn't buy an $85 shirt. I got out of there, and went to The Gap.

And I guess they're the clothing equivalent of In 'N' Out burger? They have, like, four things to choose from, and the racks are all really far apart. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were going out of business. But that's cool, to have a store with nothing in it. Right?

A painfully skinny man wearing a Burger King headset sashayed past, looked me up and down, made a face like somebody had just vented their colostomy bag, and kept moving. They were playing something terrible and loud over the speakers, and I was worried it might trigger a grand-mal seizure. Within seconds I was a nervous wreck. Way too hip for a clodhopper like me. Fuck dat.

I finally bought two shirts at Sears, a place I usually associate with librarians and city clerks in Ohio, or whatever. But they surprised me, and I made my first purchase of the day there.

And after that, I don't even know. I bought two more shirts at some other places, one of which is going back today because it hugs my torso. I hate that. You buy four of the same style, same size, and one feels completely different than all the rest. I guess Bangladesh does it differently than Cambodia? I just don't know.

The whole clothes-buying exercise proved to be quite unsatisfying. It sure ain't like shopping for CDs or books, and that's a fact. For one thing it's a lot of money, for crap I have no passion for. Try as I might, I just can't work up a lather over, you know, pants. I knew that Circuit City was having a CD sale for $9.99, and every time I bought another item I'd do the math and think, well, there goes two (or three) more discs straight down the shitter. It's a sad state of affairs.

My mother-in-law has a full-blown shopping addiction, and I sincerely don't understand it. I get drug addiction and alcoholism; those pay short-term dividends. But shopping for clothes?! That's just crazy talk. 

...Oh well, to each lunatic their own.

-- Apparently the new TV season is starting soon? I think I read something about it in Entertainment Weekly while lounging in the little room. Any suggestions for a man of roughly my height and weight? I'm always eager to add new shows to the mix; our current lineup is pretty thin. Last year Lost paid big dividends, and I'm ready for more of that sort of thing. What are you planning to check out this year? I need some guidance here, 'cause I've been drinking a lot of water and eating my vegetables, and it's cutting into my "research" time. I find that I know far more about popular culture when I go on one my beef and cheese benders. So help me out, people.

-- Yesterday Clive was asking if anyone had ever spotted a celebrity in a grocery store. Specifically a grocery store. I don't know where he gets these topics, but there ya go. For the record, I have no stories to tell on this subject. But I did see David Justice at Victoria's Secret once, back when he was married to Halle Berry. (And when I was a playa.) He was buying an armload of nighties and panties and stuff, and every dumbass guy in the house just looked on in awe. You could've heard a freakin' pin drop in that place. Halle Berry.... panties.... baseball.... It was almost too much.

I'll see ya tomorrow.

September 6, 2005

-- We didn't go to New York. The youngest secret was feeling a little under the weather on Saturday, and was obviously dragging at the Italian Fest. So we decided to postpone NYC. The tickets for that double-decker bus of shame cost something like a million dollars, and we didn't want to risk forking over the cash and having him explode vomit over the side, and onto a herd of German tourists or whatever. Plus, we wanted everyone to enjoy it; that was pretty much the whole idea. So we stayed home.

-- As I mentioned, we did make it to the Italian Festival on Saturday, and I thought it was a lot of fun. The whole thing is centered around food, of course. It's just booth after booth of really good food. We ate and walked, and ate and walked. Yum. On top of that, it was a full-blown people-watcher's paradise; I was doing marina-smeared double-takes all afternoon. Oh, that shit was right up my alley.

It wasn't cheap though. I went with forty-some dollars in my pocket and left with three sad and lonely ones. It was four bucks here, three bucks there.... Next thing I know, I'm checking the available balance and saying holy crapballs! But it was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and I didn't do too much bitching. Not too much.

Here are some pics I took during the day.

-- Since we canceled our planned Sunday outing, we decided we'd throw together another of our world-renowned deck feasts. We'd have a ton of food, mix up some margaritas, and enjoy the kick-ass fallish weather we're experiencing. Sounded like one hell of an idea to me.

Toney insisted I come with her to the grocery store, so she couldn't be blamed if the steaks sucked. (Not sure where that comes from.) We went to Wegman's, a store roughly the size of my hometown, and the place was absolute pandemonium. Sweet sainted mother of Jason Jay Delmonico! I took one look around and the backdoor slammed shut.

As soon as we entered we found ourselves trapped behind a large group of people from India, I think, who were acting like they'd just been transported to a strange and magical world. They were looking all around and seemed utterly amazed. It was as if they'd been casually walking the streets of downtown Bangalore, then suddenly found themselves inside a grocery store in Scranton. And blocking my frickin' way.

People were everywhere we needed to be, and suspending all rules of personal space. Too insane. Back near the meat cases we encountered a man and woman who caused me to fantasize about violence. They were yuppie assholes, sashaying about with their coffee-as-fashion accessory, and smiling like retards. There was lots of humming, and pretending to be just as happy as fuck. I wanted to wait until Mr. Scrubbed and Contented lifted his sophisticated beverage to his lips, let loose with a haymaker, and slug him right in the bottom of the cup. Wotta couple of douches.

But we eventually made it without law enforcement being summoned, and the deck feast proved to be a success. No pain no gain, they say. Whatever.

-- And during the hours between the purchase of the steaks, and the eating of them, I started my clothes-shopping extravaganza. I tried to get the family to go along, but they weren't interested. Sometimes I get the feeling I irritate them a little.... 

So I went it alone. Shopping. At clothing stores. Yeah, I was a little nervous, I must admit. I mean, what do I know about it? I needed Toney to guide me, but she wasn't having any of it.

So I stopped and had lunch. I mean, why rush into it? There was plenty of time to be confused and frantic. And a man can't be expected to make wise decisions on an empty stomach, right? We'd had breakfast earlier that morning at Waffle House (check out what I stole from them), but I was starving. It was time for my four-hour feeding.

I decided to check out a place called Five Guys. Apparently it's a legendary Washington DC burger joint, but they're new to Scranton and new to me. I needed to get to the bottom of that deal, and I did. 

My consensus: really good food, but way too expensive. I got a cheeseburger, fries, and a root beer, and it cost almost nine bucks. Shit!

Five Guys completely blows the lid off the five dollar rule, as described here. Too bad, 'cause the burgers are excellent. And they have a sign in there telling you where today's potatoes are from, and everything. On Sunday they were from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Pretty cool. It puts a friendly, localized face on the taters. 

It's a shame I won't be eating there very often. I mean, what am I, Jay Rockefeller?

After my high-dollar lunch I went to Circuit City, thus delaying the task at hand a few more minutes. All of their CDs were on sale for $9.99, and I picked up Exile on Main St. The cashier asked if I wanted to buy "scratch protection" for an additional 99 cents, and I told him to just give me my disc and my four foot receipt, and save the scamulation for the suckers. Scratch protection. Ha!

Then I went to Target and bought a pair of jeans and some socks. Then, some New Balance shoes at Dick's Sporting Goods for a really good price. And then I went home. I just couldn't stomach the thought of making shirt decisions at that point, and I cut bait. Hell, there was margaritas and beef waiting for me back at the compound. Why ruin it all with this unpleasantness?

And Toney couldn't believe it. I'd been gone for hours and had very little to show for it. I mixed us a couple of drinks, in an attempt to change the subject, and eventually it worked.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about my Monday shirt adventures. Heh.

See ya then.

September 2, 2005

-- Iím kinda worried about myself, because Iíve started eating wraps. For years Iíve resisted these dubious and pretentious variations on the original sandwich concept. But I had one at work recently on a whim, and am now in a low-grade frenzy.

The ham club wrap is what did it for me. Itís ham, lettuce, tomato, the cheese of your choice, and bacon, all rolled up in a big olí tortilla. I eat them inside my office, where nobody will see me, and secretly enjoy the heck out of them.

I canít really explain it, but if there was Mexican stuff packed in there, it would be OK. But a wrap? Yeah, something tells me they lean slightly poofter. Yet they're so darn good.

A few nights ago it escalated, and I actually ordered one in a restaurant. Out in public. Where people could see me. It was at Benniganís, and since their burgers now taste like ass, I went searching for something else. I saw an item called the country chicken wrap, or some such thing, and decided to throw caution to the wind. And once again: yum.

Itís all sorta concerning. Can pitas and sprouts be far behind?

Somebody please help me.

-- Can a person, if they wanted, still take in a rock n roll laser show these days? Do they still do those things? 'Cause I never went to one, and always regretted it. I'm aware (fully aware) that I'm an old man now, but I'm still interested in plugging cultural holes whenever possible. Of course, I ain't going if it has anything to do with Led Zeppelin, or (God help us) Pink Floyd. A man has to draw the line somewhere. No, I'd much prefer, maybe, a Tom Waits Laser Spectacular, or something like that. Let me know what you know about this.

-- From the Stealing Clive Bull's Topics desk.... Yesterday Clive was asking his listeners to guess what Britney Spears might name her baby. People were coming up with stuff like Broccoli Spears, and William Shake Spears(?). And I guess there's a rumor that she's going to name the kid London, because it was supposedly conceived there. Some folks seemed to think that London is too broad a term, and wanted her to be more specific. One guy went in the opposite direction and said she should name it Britain Spears. My entry was A Lifetime Of Psychotherapy Spears, but I never heard him read it on the air. Any thoughts on this? It's kinda lame, I know, but don't blame me. I'm just the thief here.

-- Of course, Nancy and Nostrils started out naming their kids after the places they were conceived, and it worked reasonably well as long as they were dealing with exotic locales. But the youngest one was reportedly conceived on the kitchen floor. I was certain they'd name him Swiffer, but they abandoned the tradition completely and went with something nobody can pronounce. Too bad. I think Swiffer is an excellent name.

-- I recently purchased 929 episodes(!) of the old time radio show Suspense. It's a metric shitload of mp3 files on CDs, and cost me fifteen bucks. Can you believe it? They broadcast about 940 episodes during their twenty year run, and I now have 929 of them. For less than twenty dollars. It seems like it should almost be illegal, but it's not. (Or so I'm told.)

And the show is nothing short of great; better than most stuff on TV, that's for certain.

I listened to an episode a few nights ago about a guy who owns a diner. Business is good until a horribly scarred man starts eating there. He comes in every day with his nasty burned-up Freddy Krueger face, for both lunch and dinner, and eventually drives away all the other customers. Nobody wants to look at that over a plate of eggs. So the owner starts devising a plan to "take care of the situation." Heh. How's that for politically correct?

I love it. Every episode is like a miniature Hitchcock movie. Here's my source if you should give a hand-dipped crap. I've bought lots of stuff from these guys, and it always feels like I'm getting away with something. Shop with confidence. It's all perfectly legal. (Or so I'm told.)

-- I watched about thirty minutes of New Orleans footage last night, and it's all I could take. It's like one of those old Charlton Heston apocalypse movies come to life. I think they're now passing out Soylent Yellow to the folks down there. Sweet Maria.

And now people are shooting guns and raping and murdering.... It's all breaking down. And, of course, the reporters are contorting themselves into pretzels, trying to justify all the looting and whatnot. "These are just desperate people trying to survive," they tell us, over and over. Then we're shown footage of an Ike Turner lookalike stumbling out of a Circuit City with his arms full of computer scanners. Yeah, I hear those are great with a cold glass of milk....

Here's how one business owner is dealing with the situation. How much you want to bet his shit hasn't been touched?

I don't know. It's almost too much to comprehend. I wish them all the best down there, but it looks pretty bleak from my perspective. I hate to be a doom and gloomer, but I don't see how it'll ever be fixed. I hope I'm wrong about that.

And I think that'll do it for today, kiddies.

We've got a big weekend in front of us: Italian Festival on Saturday, NYC on Sunday, and my own personal What Not To Wear shopping orgy on Monday (maybe with a fabulous wrap for lunch!). Yowza.

And since we're on the subject... where's the best place in Central Park for us to set up our camper? I'd like to have it there, in case we want to take a break and maybe have a sandwich or something. We probably won't sleep there or anything, but it would be a convenient base of operations for us, where we could take a load off and maybe wash out a few things, or whatever. Let me know.

And I'll
see ya on Tuesday.

September 1, 2005

A few quick things:

-- Last night I watched a movie called American Beer. It's a low-budget documentary about five guys (beer snobs?) from NYC, who rent a mini-van and set out to tour 38 breweries in 40 days. And, of course, to sample the products along the way. I thought it was very good indeed, and was a little sad when the journey came to an end. I was shouting, inside my head, "Do ten more! Just ten more!!"

But they hit the birthplaces of many of my favorite microbrews: Rogue, Full Sail, Red Hook, Anchor. And, yes, they toured Yuengling, including the underground tunnels, and interviewed Dick Yuengling himself over a few sweaty lagers in the brewery bar. ...As it should be.

Check it out if you're so inclined. Some of the people who run those places are genuine eccentrics, and are quite hilarious. And thanks to one I now know about the theory of forward conversion, which seems to provide comfort to them all. It's possible, they say, to convert a percentage of Bud and Coors drinkers into admirers of fine craft brews. That's forward conversion. And once they're in the fold, they're there forever; loyalty is assured. Because there's no such thing as backwards conversion.

It's also fun to see the five guys (beer snobs?) slowly but surely run out of steam, as the non-stop party starts to take its toll. Dragging ass is the term that seems to describe the situation by the end.

This movie is like one of the million or so projects that Mark and I vowed to undertake back in the day, with one big difference: these guys actually followed through. Huh, it's funny how a little thing like that can make all the difference....

American Beer receives the coveted West Virginia Surf Report seal of approval.

-- I put $45 worth of gas in my truck last night, and was a nervous wreck by the time it was over. Forty-five bucks! It makes my sphincter dance just to think about it. Heck, when I worked at a grocery store in West Virginia not too many years ago, my weekly take-home pay was $102. Now I'm forking over half that, for gas?? It's obscene.

And as I was transferring the liquid gold into my vehicle, with rivulets of sweat rolling down my face, a man roughly my age, in a Lincoln Town Car, pulled up to the FULL SERVICE island and told the guy to fill it up for him. An extra quarter per gallon so he didn't have to get his pussy-hands all smelly! I briefly considered getting in my Blazer, going around the block to build up speed, then ramming him. But I didn't want to waste the fuel.

What an ass-smoker.

-- Our dog Andy has been walking around making weird noises for a couple of days. It's like he's sneezing or something, over and over again. But it's not really a sneeze, it's more of a snort. (It's kind of hard to describe....) Any idea what might be the problem here? He seems perfectly fine except for the constant hocking and snorkeling. Do you think he has tuberculosis? Are we going to have to order a special border collie iron lung for him? What the hell?? The shit is starting to get on my nerves.

-- I clipped my toenails last night, and as I tossed the handful of corn chip nastiness into the trash I remembered about the devil worshipers. I read somewhere, years ago, that you're supposed to burn your nail clippings, so Satanists won't dig them out of your trash and use them in bizarre rituals. Same goes for the hair your barber cuts off. According to the piece you should request that it be bagged up for you, so you can take it home. Next time I get a haircut I'm going to ask about that.... Wonder if anyone really does it? I'd like to know. But in the meantime, if any of you want to make a Jeff Kay voodoo doll, or a gang of fat clones or something, now's your chance. Because there's enough material in the trashcan at the end of our driveway to go around. My big toes were like fucking bayonets.

-- As I was driving home from work last night I realized that, to my knowledge, I've never seen a person wipe their ass in a movie. Ya know? I've seen 'em do all sorts of other nasty things (thanks in part to Metten), but never that. Wonder why? How come there are no great cinematic ass-wipings? Somebody get me Leonard Maltin on the phone, stat! 

And I can sense this thing starting to spiral downward, so I'd better just stop right there. I've got more, but I'm sure it'll keep.

You guys have a great day, y'hear?

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