A Fast Saturday Mash-Up
You know what’s hard to deal with? Making plans to have a late breakfast at Waffle House, then getting overruled and ending up at a Chinese restaurant. My central nervous system has a difficult time reconciling ham & cheese omelette-anticipation with the harsh reality of chicken and broccoli. Ya know?
Last night I had a few beers (ahem) and loaded a few more complete catalogs to the Big iPod. I added the Smiths, Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel (what of it?), Paul Simon (through Graceland only), AC/DC (through Back in Black only), and the Reivers.
Next up: Paul Westerberg and REM. I have a dilemma with REM because I really like their new album, but thought the previous two (three?) were zzzzzzz. My inner-completist won’t allow me to skip two or three albums in the catalog, and just jump ahead all willy-nilly. That would be both cavalier and irresponsible. Yet I know I’ll never listen to those two (three?) dogs…
What to do?
In case you were wondering, I’m learning to really love the shuffle-play feature of the iPod. Being an album kinda guy, I’d previously scoffed at the mere suggestion of such a thing. But I impulsively engaged it a few days ago, and am now hooked. Jumping from the Buzzcocks to Paul Simon to the Boomtown Rats to Van Halen to the Jam… It’s like the world’s greatest college radio station.
And speaking of St. Paul, a few days ago I mentioned the bizarre new “album” he released as a 44 minute mp3 download, for the enormous price of 49 cents. It was one big file with no separate songs, or even names of songs listed. It was just a data-dump, with little advance warning or accompanying information.
I was highly skeptical; the first few times I played it I thought it was just something he’d cobbled together in his basement while drunk. There was noise between songs, sometimes several tracks were playing at once, and it just sounded like an unfocused artsy-fartsy mess.
But boy was I wrong… The actual tunes on that thing (the ones that play all the way through, and don’t get lopped off by racket), are among the best he’s released since the Replacements broke up. In fact, there’s a feel to it that Westerberg hasn’t been able to recreate since Pleased to Meet Me.
I absolutely love it; it’s one of the best albums of the year. And that’s the good news… The bad news is it’s no longer available; downloads were abruptly halted a few days ago, and nobody really knows why. I have a feeling it has something to do with the Partridge Family cover (“I Think I Love You”) at the end. Somebody somewhere is probably insisting Paul pay fees for downloads of that tune.
And based on past behavior, I doubt Westerberg will ever agree to edit the song from the album. So, it’s probably gone forever, and will become one of those legendary lost records.
In its place is a song called “5:05” which sounds like a pissed-off response to the whole situation.
Never a dull moment.
Forbes magazine recently released a list of America’s ten fastest-dying cities, and I’m proud to announce I’ve lived in two of them. Plus, nearly every company I’ve ever worked for is now defunct! Yes, it’s a proud legacy…
Several people wrote me this morning saying our Ads vs. Reality page was featured on the CBS Early Show. I didn’t see it, and can’t yet find video evidence. If you have anything on it, please let me know. ‘Cause I need closure.
Now I’m going to mow the grass, make a fart-themed video with the Secrets (a long story), go out for a cuppa two tree beers with Toney, prepare one of my world-famous salads, and watch The Wire.
I’ll leave you with a photo that may or may not give you the heebie-jeebies. You can probably guess which camp I fall into…
Surf Reporter Knucklehead recently had cervical spine surgery, and asked her sister to snap a pic of the Smoking Fish alongside the scar – which was repaired with some kind of glue instead of stitches. And while I applaud the action, it gives me a full-body shiver. Sweet sainted mother of Lancelot Link!
Take a look here, if you’re so inclined. It’s fairly dark, and that might not be a bad thing.
I’m glad you’re doing well, Knucklehead. We all hope you make a quick and complete recovery. I hoist a golden elixir in your honor.
And I’ll see you guys on Monday.
I drove home Wednesday morning in a Biblical downpour. I got off work at 2:30, and there was a menacing feel in the air; everything was dead still, and it smelled like ocean.
And almost as soon as I merged onto the interstate, to begin my 35 mile journey home, it started raining dogs and UPS drivers. I mean, this was like Georgia rain, or Mississippi rain, or something along those lines. And it just wouldn’t stop. Usually you can drive out of it, but this storm was either extra-large, or following me up I-81 – just to be a smart-ass.
There wasn’t much traffic at that time of the morning, but the few unfortunates on the road were moving cautiously, at no faster than 50 mph. I had my wipers on the highest setting, possibly for the first time ever, and was afraid they were going to fly off and go sailing into the woods.
That shit was whippin’.
A few people lost their nerve and pulled off the road with their emergency flashers going. I imagined them inside their vehicles having a good cry, then calling their wives to bring them fresh underwear and ointment.
But I soldiered on. Like in snowstorms I fell in behind a tractor trailer, and used it as a guide. If there’s nobody in front of me, I’m always concerned I’ll drive straight off the highway in such situations. I figure those guys know what they’re doing, and are fully awake on coffee and goofballs.
The rain was hammering the top of my car, and running like a thousand creeks across the roadway. A couple of times I hydroplaned, and I’m not really a fan of it. When all four of your wheels are pointed in a certain direction, yet the car is moving in a different direction, it’s not good. It’s not good at all.
If I don’t stop at McDonald’s (which I do half the time), I always pull into our driveway at 3:07, 3:08, or 3:09. It’s amazingly consistent. But on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, it was 3:27 as I exited the interstate. Driving with your sphincter all cinched-up apparently requires a little extra time.
I decided to pay our all-night McDonald’s a visit, and the cashier and I did our standard dance.
“Can I take your order?”
“Yeah, I’ll have a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit.”
“Sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit!”
“We’re not accepting credit cards.”
WTF? “That’s OK, I’ve got cash.” (And who buys a single biscuit on time?)
“So, that’s one sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit?”
“Yeah!” …just to confirm it once again.
“Drive forward to the second window.”
And when I get up there she always says, “Oh, it’s only you.” That really makes a person feel good, ya know? For one thing, I’m a recognized middle-of-the-night regular at a McDonald’s in northeastern Pennsylvania (how did it happen??). And what does she mean, only you?
I scarfed down my cannonball of fat, while driving through the rain to our house.
I usually let Andy out when I get home, but he was having none of it. I guess it had been thundering, and our hound was staying low to the ground, like a bear rug. I held the front door open, as an offer of good will, but he just turned his back to it. Funk dat, I thought I heard him say.
I went downstairs and plugged in my cell phone and my iPod, popped open a Yuengling lager (then another), and monkeyed around on the internet for forty-five minutes with George Noory playing in the background.
After I’d had enough of that excitement, I made my way up to the dormancy chamber, and noticed it wasn’t raining anymore. I climbed atop the platform, Toney rolled over irritably, and I heard birds chirping outside the window.
And that’s one of the weirdest things about working my freaky hours: going to sleep as the birds are waking up.
Let’s Talk About Celebrity Rudeness
Thanks again for all the great feedback yesterday. To tell you the truth, I was braced for an avalanche of complaint. Whenever I made big changes in the past, it always seemed to go that way. But maybe those changes were shit, and the new one isn’t? Perhaps I earned all former avalanches, as well as yesterday’s lack of one? It’s a possibility worth considering.
A couple of quick things about our new layout…
The RSS feed on this WordPress site is completely new. The old one has been stuffed inside a metaphorical potato sack, and hurled into the proverbial river. So, if you’re interested in such things, you’ll need to subscribe all over again. Yeah, I know it’ll cost you three additional seconds of your life, but I’ll try to make it worth the price. Like full updates, instead of summaries, for instance.
My original plan (up until two or three days ago) was to move the FrontPage archives into WordPress, a little here and a little there. But I think I’m just going to leave them as they are. When I began thinking about the logistics of such a project, my brain started changing shape.
Keeping all the URLs the same… dealing with Google’s dislike of duplicate content… trying to import the Haloscan comments… It was giving me scrotal hives just thinking about it.
So, I think I’m going to have pre and post-August 2008 website designs. It’s not perfect, and I could still change my mind about it, but that’s the way I’m leaning at the moment.
Even so, there’s still much work to be done; the bunker cam isn’t yet operational, for instance, and I haven’t found a home for Charley West. Give me a few weeks though, and we’ll be back in business. Heck, I consider it a miracle we’ve made it this far.
But enough of that crapola, let’s talk about celebrity rudeness.
Have you ever encountered it? Without putting too much thought into it (heaven forbid), I can come up with four stories right off the top of my head. Three were personal experiences, and one happened to Toney and the oldest Secret…
When I was a kid there was a Triple-A minor league baseball team in our town, and a lot of former stars would make appearances at the park. It broke my baseball-loving heart, but most of them weren’t very friendly. I could almost read their minds: “Please God, make it end. Just give me my check, and let me get away from all these rind-eating rindbillies.”
There were exceptions, of course, like Bob Feller and Satchel Paige (both very nice). But most of the folk heroes who appeared at Watt Powell Park were what’s commonly known as “surly.”
Sparky Anderson was surly, and so was Pete Rose. I was always a little suspicious of Pete, you never really knew what was going on there, but Sparky’s attitude was like a punch to my gut. Why Sparky, why??
Nothing, however, can compare to a couple of home run-hitting Hall of Famers, both enormously famous and larger than life.
I remember Willie Mays being surrounded by kids (in the stands on the first base side), and just being openly hostile. The man was spewing venom, rolling his eyes, and giving everyone sarcastic answers. It was like something off the Bernie Mac Show.
I mean, what the hell?? Cynically fulfilling a contractual obligation for booze & abortion money is one thing, but Willie took it to another level. I stood and watched from a distance, and it made me sad. Why couldn’t they just be the way we thought they’d be? I simply wasn’t prepared for the Say Hey Fuck You Kid.
Similarly, Hank Aaron was a magnificent asshole. Steve and I tried to get his autograph (the home run king!), and he said no. No!? The team promoted his appearance, but he wouldn’t sign anything while he was there. Or even treat his fans with civility.
We hung around, lurking in the background, as Hank sat in a box seat watching the game. Occasionally someone would timidly approach, he’d lash out in anger, and they’d go scurrying up the stairs with their tails between their legs, a wounded expression on their faces.
At one point a woman shoved a wheelchair-bound girl to the top of the stairs, and engaged the brake. The girl was sitting there with her head all ratcheted to one side and making grunting noises, as her handler went down to talk to Hank Aaron. The woman was holding a crude painting of him, in his home run swing, probably created by the girl in the chair. …Somehow.
Aaron got mad again, and said he was trying to watch the game. She pointed to the girl, and he rolled his eyes in exasperation. As if to say: not another one! He reluctantly snatched the painting away and signed it, then stormed out of the box without saying a word to the girl, whose head was now whipping around like a Tilt-O-Whirl.
Next thing we know he’s on top of the press box, sitting in a lawn chair, and smoking cigarettes. And another small part of me died…
When I worked at Peaches Records in Greensboro, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth was supposed to stop by the store one night, just to thank us for our “support.” It was nothing formal, the general public wasn’t even allowed to know, but the employees were given a heads-up.
About an hour after his scheduled arrival, a limousine pulled into the parking lot and a couple of people emerged from it. One was Mustaine, wearing a long black overcoat, his red hair going in every direction.
He walked into the middle of the store, stopped, and said something like, “OK, we were here.” Then they all turned around and left. He never said a word to any of us, and was in the store for roughly thirty seconds. Possibly twenty.
Wotta spectacular douche.
And finally… Toney and the oldest Secret were in a restaurant in Atlanta years ago, having breakfast. It was a place in Little Five Points, called Baker’s Café, and our youngling was less than six months old.
As Toney was eating (I think Nancy was there, as well), she noticed Martha Stewart seated nearby! And during the entire meal the Secret made little cooing baby noises, and Martha shot Toney dirty looks and sighed theatrically.
He wasn’t crying, or screaming, or anything. But she reportedly put on a big performance of exasperation, for everyone in attendance. Then she ripped the waiter a new one for some transgression, and left the place angry. Apparently she leaves a lot of places angry… At least that’s what the waiters said, once she was gone.
And those are my encounters with celebrity rudeness.
What about you? Tell us your stories in the comments.
And I’ll see you guys next time.
Everyone, please remain calm!
Longtime readers know of my deep, deep dissatisfaction with the Surf Report delivery system. I’ve been using, since day one, a program called Microsoft FrontPage, which wasn’t very good in the beginning and is almost hilarious at this point. You know, in a tragicomedy kind of way.
All updates had to originate from a specific computer, which meant the site went dark whenever I was out of town, experienced problems with my PC, or had interlopers piled-up like cordwood near the machine. It was a very limiting situation.
Also, each individual page had to be created by hand, and it took at least ninety minutes per day just to get the site ready for the next update. Ninety minutes before I could even think about writing something.
The RSS feed never really worked (I was using a quarter-assed “solution”), we were at Haloscan’s unstable mercy when it came to comments, and the whole thing was just kinda stoopid and outdated.
Yeah, I know, there’s some charm in that… But it was like an antique chair that seems kinda cool from across the room, but wasn’t really designed to accommodate a big 2008 American ass. If you know what I mean.
So, I’ve been toying with the idea of moving everything over to WordPress. It’s one of the reasons I started the Suggestaholic site, so I could get used to the program before taking The Big Leap. That, and it’s a place where I can write about music whenever I want…
I did some snooping around, and found a designer in Philadelphia who does great work, but doesn’t charge an outrageous amount of money. And together we attempted to build a custom theme that tries to retain some of the old site’s feel.
I could’ve just downloaded a free template, like I did with Suggestaholic, or purchased a so-called premium theme. But I wanted the Surf Report to be unique and not look exactly like a thousand (or even a hundred) other sites.
It took a couple of months of back-and-forth, and the theme is now ready to go. So I had a decision to make… I considered running the new WordPress site parallel to FrontPage, until I figured out what in the everlovin’ crap I was doing. And that seemed like a prudent course of action.
But I know how I am, and would’ve never felt ready. Heck, if it wasn’t for Toney we’d still be childless and living in an apartment somewhere. My instincts tell me to be absolutely prepared before taking any Big Steps, and that often leads to inaction. Having kids and/or buying a house? Man, that’ll require at least a ten-year preparation period…
So screw it. I’m starting August off on an almost-ready WordPress theme. It’s still very much a work on process (WIP), but I think it has good bones. And as I figure out what I’m doing, everything will start coming into focus.
Kevin, the designer, did a great job, and I’m absolutely happy with his efforts. But I’m a very picky pain-in-the-ass (just ask him!), and am still not all-the-way satisfied with the aesthetics, especially as it pertains to the two sidebars and the footer. The fundamentals are solid, but a little tweaking is in order.
But it’ll soon be better than the old situation, much better. Trust me.
Today I’m just going to let you guys give me your opinions, complaints, and doomsday prophecies. The comments are set so your first post will go into a moderation queue, but once you have one comment approved, it’ll be like old times.
Toney has agreed to moderate comments while I’m at work this evening, at least until she goes to bed… So, let’s hear it. Tell me how I’ve messed up a good thing.
Also, if any of you are designers and would be interested in helping me fine-tune the new site, send me an email. It won’t require much, but I’m fairly helpless here; I feel like an armless man sitting in a porn theater.
As mentioned, the RSS feed will now work(!), so subscribe to that bitch. If you use Google Reader, or whatever, the updates will drop right in there – like it’s 2003!!
Next time I’ll post a real update, and we’ll get back to the whining, the ranting, and the cruel mockery.
I thank you for your continued support.
And I’ll see ya tomorrow.