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   The State of My Fat Ass
                                   February 2002

February 27, 2002

Let's give this another try, shall we?

-- Itís been really warm here, so we harnessed up the dog and went for a walk on Sunday. We strolled around the neighborhood, whispering sarcastic remarks about the neighbors, and finally stopped at the elementary school to let our crazed mongrel run free on the baseball fields.

I like to watch Andy run, he barely even touches the ground; itís just a black and white blur gliding a few inches above the grass. After he took his traditional steaming hot dump in the first base coaches box (hey, we pay taxes), we threw a ball for him. We'd fling it into the outfield and he'd blast off like a rocket and practically catch up to it before it hit the ground, then have it back to us within seconds, looking pleased as all hell with himself. And this happened roughly 10,000 times.

That hound would still be over there chasing that ball, barring the explosion of internal organs, if we'd be willing to stand there and throw it for him. But a little of that bullshit goes a long way (what am I, an idiot?), and I put the slobber ball away well before he was ready to stop.

And as we were making our way towards home, crossing the jogging track and breaking more rules by not having Andy on a leash, he almost knocked an elderly power-walker to the ground.

She came sashaying around the bend with a large stereophonic apparatus clamped to her head and waving hand-weights all around, and Andy hit her at full speed high on her right side. She staggered for a second, went up on two wheels, then regained her balance. We were yelling like a couple of escapees from the state hospital, and he immediately backed off. We knew he was just playing, in the grip of an intense ball frenzy, but how was Betty White to know? We prepared ourselves for a well-deserved chewing out, but to our surprise she didn't even look our way. She just kept on chugging, and nothing was said. Very strange. Did this happen all the time? Do high-flying border collies simply go with the power-walking territory? Is it something to be expected? Weird.

As we were passing through the gate I looked back and saw a large oily-black stain on her expensive sweat suit jacket as she entered the back stretch. Shit. It was like the Clampetts came to town, the day we moved in.

I wish she'd just hollered at us.

-- After the dog assault we went to Target, and a few other stores, just to have something to do. Yes, this is what it's come to.  What of it?

In Target I saw a man in a jaunty black beret milling around the men's department, and thought he seemed a little light on his feet, but didn't really pay him much attention. Then a while later I noticed him removing an entire metal rod-load of fancy little flyless briefs that come in a square box with a black & white photo of a male model with his t-shirt tucked into his pretty undies on the front. I had my suspicions about the people who purchased those things, and I'll take this as confirmation. I mean, they're panties. That's what they are, they're panties marketed to men -- men who apparently spend a lot of time at the gym, wear berets, and stand around drinking coffee with their shirts tucked into their underwear. Not really my scene, the homosexual life.

Then I saw Vice President Dick Cheney looking at vacuum cleaners, which seemed a bit odd. Maybe he was in one his "undisclosed locations"? I didn't approach him because I didn't want to blow his cover, plus I knew he must have a lot on his mind with the war and all.

And I heard a black woman in curlers scream at her kid, "You better knock it off, or I'll knock you out!" Excellent.

We purchased a water hose caddy (somebody please kill me), and went next door to TJ Maxx. I guess it's an OK store, if you're in the market for orange pants or a pair of jeans with a three foot portrait of Muhammed Ali screenprinted on the ass. The fuck?

While we were driving home I told Toney about the guy buying ten pounds of panties, and that reminded her of something one of her friends told her. I don't know where she meets these people, but she's buddy-buddy with a girl who's a senior in college. This chick doesn't have a washer in her apartment and apparently hates going to the laundromat, so she rarely washes her clothes. And she admits this! She said she has sixty or seventy pairs of underwear, and sometimes runs out between washings. On those occasions she just goes and buys more underwear!  She just keeps wearing the same dirty clothes over and over. She told Toney she didn't understand why pants needed to be washed all the time anyway. She said, "It's not like I crap in 'em." Pitiful.

-- Friday night I watched The Summer of '42, which I later regretted. I can remember adults talking about this movie when I was a kid, about how scandalous it was and everything, so I thought it might be worth a look. It wasn't. It was sappy, poorly acted, predictable, and about as scandalous as an episode of Dawson's Creek. In fact, it's like an episode of Dawson's Creek with me and a couple of my friends in the starring roles. That's how bad it is.

It's about three horny fifteen year old boys summering with their rich-ass families on an island off the coast of New England, and obsessing about sex. One of the boys, the wiser and more reflective member of the gang (there's always one), becomes infatuated with an older married woman, and eventually loses his virginity to her after her husband is killed in WWII. Of course it ends with his heart being broken, and many life lessons learned. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever.

It's a bad movie, but it's also pretty strange. For instance, there's a lot of fast walking. There's scene after scene of people walking at a high rate of speed. What's the deal with that? I was exhausted an hour into it. It was like something David Lynch would do, but I have a feeling it wasn't planned. And the dialog was often batshit crazy:

"She can throw her breasts at me anytime."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, she can throw them and I'll be right there to catch them."

"You think you'd be there to catch them?"

"You bet your ass I'd be there to catch them. She could throw her breasts at me today, and I'd be there to catch them today."

"You really think you could catch them if she threw them at you today?"

That's not a direct quote, but it's pretty close. It's insanity. Throw her breasts? I don't even know what that means. Holy crap. This flick's almost as terrible as Love Story, and that's saying something.

On second thought, maybe I don't regret watching it...

-- Yesterday I was forwarded one of those goofy emails that contains an exercise that supposedly tells you something about yourself, as well as grants you a wish if you'll just forward it to ten or twenty people. I usually trash these things without a second look, but it came from somebody who generally has a good eye for interesting shit so I went through the exercise. One of the secrets it reveals is the song that says the most about your mind. And I'm not making this up, mine was Devo's "Mongoloid."

Very nice.


February 25, 2002

-- I am the dullest man alive. I do nothing now. I may as well live in one of those "high-rise" (usually four stories) senior centers and cook soup beans all day. I disgust myself. The highlights of our weekend consisted of a trip to Target, a Trading Spaces marathon, and a sappy old movie, The Summer of '42. I'm in a rut so deep I can't see out. I fear that if I stay on this course social workers will be called in and I'll be forced to visit outlets by bus. I worry that sympathetic do-gooders will whisper to each other about me, "At least he's getting out," as if that's the most that can be expected. Fuck. I'm headed straight for a world of word-search puzzles and a jigsaw table with folding legs that never get folded. And the day I break the seal on a goddamn jigsaw puzzle is the day I begin a seven-day waiting period, as dictated by the Brady Bill. I ain't spending my days snapping together 10,000 pieces of a covered bridge; that's not why I'm here. I have to figure out a way to satisfy this restlessness, instead of just trying to kill it. It's my life's challenge. I'm pushing forty and I still haven't found what I'm looking for -- and unlike Bono it's not a stick of deodorant. Is the Maharishi still alive? Maybe I should give Scientology a try? Or NASCAR. Christ, I'm teetering.

-- I was kicked out of a webring this weekend. Webrings, in case you're not familiar, are groups of like-minded websites that link together in a sort of chain. You can see a few listed at the bottom of this page. Anyway, one of the moderators didn't like my potty-mouth and booted me. Somebody supposedly filed a complaint. And I think I'm a loser. At least I'm not a delicate flower of a person, afraid of words. Pussies.

-- Also, over the weekend Plastic linked to my Rules of Thumb, which has triggered an interesting discussion. Check it out.

-- On a related note, I've received quite a bit of negative email about my Rule that states "If the outside of the CD has the word Zappa on it, you're going to be disappointed by the music inside." I stand by this statement. I don't believe anyone really enjoys listening to Frank Zappa; I think a lot of people believe they should like him and fool themselves into thinking they do. I could be wrong, of course, but I don't think so. Whenever I've been subjected to Zappa I want to scream, "focus!!" at the speakers. The shit drives me crazy. It's as if he didn't have the attention span necessary to finish any of his songs, he just grafted a bunch of half-assed scraps together and went home. It's Epileptic Seizure - The Musical. Twenty-seven time-changes per song isn't genius, it's laziness. Hall & Oates were better than Frank Zappa. 

Seemed like a cool guy though. I liked him better in interviews than on record. Maybe he should've been a politician?

-- To celebrate our 2000th post in The Forum, a reader, Chris, took the time to compile a list of everyone who's posted, and the number of posts by each person, since day one. Pretty interesting. Thanks, Chris!

-- I haven't had much feedback from our Critter Dinner correspondents. Rocky sent me a cryptic note yesterday letting me know he's still alive, but it sounded like he was hurting a bit. Nothing from Bill yet. Apparently they started drinking at 10AM, so there's a good chance they won't remember actually eating the ball-kabobs. Hopefully they took some pictures though. Stay tuned.

That's all for today. For some reason I'm having trouble focusing (I'm a genius!), so I'll try it again next time.

See ya soon.

                

February 21, 2002

-- Christ almighty, how long are the Olympics going to go on?! I thought it was a two-week deal? That's how long they gave Atlanta when I lived there in '96. Maybe it could be argued that fourteen days isn't a lot of time to make a mockery of an historical international event and embarrass a nation, but Atlanta was able to pull it off with ease. I don't think it's right that Salt Lake City is apparently being given months. Plus I'm getting friggin' tired of it. I was all settled in last night with my outsized Jethro Bodine bowl of salted peanuts in the shell, ready to watch Ed, and there was Bob Costas's big tambourine face again. Dammit! Enough already! All ass-ugly foreigners in body suits, out of my living room! All sixteen year old Americans overcoming a sad past, out! All scary cold-war coaches with Teddy Roosevelt facial hair, git! You've all overstayed your welcome. I want my Ed TV back. Fuckers.

-- I've been listening to the latest Bob Dylan CD a lot lately, since it's supposed to be the best album of the year and all, and I just don't know. Maybe it'll grow on me, but it's not really buttering my toast at the moment. It's hard to get past that voice. The man is in severe need of a lozenge; I'm constantly clearing my throat as I listen. Yeah, I know he's always sounded like a weed-eater, but it's out of control now. He's become Jack Klugman. I love Dylan, he's a genius and one of my heroes, but I can't even make out the lyrics anymore. He makes Keith Richards sound like James Earl Jones. And I don't like his new Mexican bellhop look either.

-- I've also been reading The Corrections. It's a great book, but damn dense. There's more going on in any random paragraph than in entire chapters in most books. And it's big. It'll liberate your arm from its socket if you're not careful. I started it a couple of weeks ago, almost immediately became intimidated and retreated to another Travis McGee novel, but now I'm getting the rhythm of the thing and really digging it. It's a little discouraging though; I harbor secret dreams of someday writing a novel or two of my own, but I could live a thousand years and never accomplish anything like this. Hell, I can barely read it. I feel like Carrot Top watching a 1978 tape of Richard Pryor.

-- Here's another pic I can't figure out:

-- I came across this article yesterday about a couple suing everyone in sight because they weren't informed that the house they'd just purchased was recently the scene of a grisly murder. I honestly can't understand this way of thinking. What does something that happened in the past, to somebody else, have to do with your future? That's what I'd like to ask them.

We were in California when that group of Nike-enthusiasts offed themselves in order to get window seats aboard the mothership that was tailgating the Hale-Bop comet. After authorities collected all the "earthly containers" that were left strewn everywhere, they couldn't give that house away. It was a beautiful mansion, but nobody wanted any part of it. I couldn't understand it. I even thought about making an offer on it, but it was way down south near San Diego, plus I didn't think our partially collapsed futon would look quite right sitting beside a two-story indoor fountain.

Also, when we first moved to Scranton a girl was murdered at a local Wendy's, and people vowed they'd never set foot in the place again. Indeed, many wanted the place closed and the building ripped down. For weeks I had my taco salads while sitting in an empty dining room. Tumbleweeds were blowing around that place. People at work thought I was Uncle Fester for eating lunch at Wendy's. Baffling.

Am I really the one who's out of step here?

-- As you probably know, I'm very concerned that I'm perceived as an intellectual hipster here, just slightly smarter and with-it than everyone around me. I've found that the easiest way of achieving this is to go against popular opinion whenever possible. If you constantly go against the grain people will usually think you're more informed and savvy than they are, and many will even be a little intimidated. And intimidation is sexy as all hell. So, in the future you can expect me to express understanding and sympathy for that pile of shit in Texas who drowned her kids, and justifications for the actions of that American Taliban pig-fucker, as well as concern about the accommodations of the human cockroaches we're holding in Cuba. I also plan to blame every bad thing that ever happens in the world on a repressive US foreign policy. I will answer all questions with a question and offer no real solutions. I will talk and talk so that differing opinions cannot be heard, but when I get into trouble I'll simply begin screaming "hate monger!" and "racist!" Prepare to be dazzled.

And that'll do it for today. Have a great weekend, folks. It's the long-awaited Critter Dinner weekend back home in Dunbar, and my old partners in crime, Rocky from the Insane Asylum and Bill, will be covering the event for us here. They're even planning to wear WVSR press passes! I'm looking forward to your report guys. Have a hot-buttered hog ball for us.

See ya on Monday.

                    

February 18, 2002

-- We're at the ass-end of a three-day weekend, friends. Presidents Day, I think. I'm not real clear on which presidents, but whoever they are I'd like to hoist a big mug of Eight O'Clock bean coffee in their honor. Cheers, gents -- shit that's hot! How great would it be that an entire nation, a couple hundred years down the line, gets to take a day off from work (and still get paid, by order of The State!) in celebration of the day your mother squeezed you into the world? Pretty cool, huh? Well, I was thinking about that while squeezing something of my own into the world (not really holiday-worthy, in case you were wondering), and I have a feeling those guys wouldn't be too happy that the country comes to a grinding halt in their honor. Just a guess. They were presumably disciplined and hard-working, and were obviously high achievers. Sleeping in, hanging out, and watching The View doesn't seem like a fitting tribute. It would be more appropriate if the country had to work on a Saturday, without pay, to honor these men. Ya know? Getting paid for doing nothing is more along the lines of, um, Jeff Kay Day. And, believe me, that's going to lead us nowhere.

-- Have you seen the commercials for those ridiculous vibrating belts they're trying to convince us to buy and strap onto our wide jiggly American torsos? Apparently modern science has made it possible for us to just hang around the house and twitch and jerk our way to health. I have little sense of dignity left, but I'll still eventually draw the line. And I'll be damned if I'm going to walk around sporting one of those contraptions. Not only are they degrading and tacky, but they also look cheap and dangerous. I wonder if they're even UL approved? I bet not. You put one of those things to work on my love handles and the house would probably burn to the ground. I can see the footage now of them pulling a chubby hunk of my charred remains from the rubble, the belt of disgrace still attached, humming and shooting out sparks. I think I'll pass. People I went to high school with might see it.

-- Speaking of pathetic, I very nearly fell off the wagon on Saturday. Out of nowhere a warm, spring-like day appeared and I found myself getting absolutely giddy because of the momentary change of seasons. I was energetic and in a good mood all day. I busted ass while Toney was out in the morning, and cleaned the house from top to bottom. I was dusting and vacuuming and whistling and singing. It was a ridiculous display. And by the afternoon I had decided to get back in the hops and barley business. Hell, I felt like driving down to WV and picking up my friend Bill, getting a few eight packs of Falls City, and blasting Hatchet while careening down a thousand miles of country backroads. Or just sitting in the family room and draining several Yuenglings, at the very least. But then I started feeling mildly guilty about it, and Toney shot me a dirty look when I mentioned my impending beer purchase, so I reluctantly gave up on the plan. The fact that a change in the temperature triggers in me a desire to drink to excess is part of the reason I can't do it anymore. It's sad.

-- I called my parents' house yesterday and you could hear a NASCAR race blaring in the background, and both of them clearly didn't want to talk to me. My mom and dad were engrossed in auto racing! This is a new, highly confusing development. Damn. Sometimes I feel like I've passed through a portal of some sort, and everything I thought I knew about this world has turned out to be false.

-- I watched Training Day Saturday night. Good flick until the very end. Why do so many Hollywood movies have to go out with ten or fifteen minutes of non-stop gunfire and explosions? Is that what the marketing research shows the masses want? Probably. Walk around any Wal-Mart if you doubt it. People who wear retina-searing leather jackets with a four-foot Oxydol logo on the back aren't known for their sense of subtlety and nuance. At least not here in the bunker.

-- Toney and I went to a few open houses yesterday. It's something we like to do every once in a while; it's fun and free. You get to see how the rich folks live, and look in people's closets and medicine cabinets. It's great entertainment. We went to one place that was listed at $379,000. The place was huge, and had a home office that nearly had me whipped into a state of sexual arousal. There were big built-in bookshelves, French doors that led to the living room, and a bay window that overlooked a well-manicured lawn. Man, I could write some semen comedy in that bitch! But then I remembered the price... We also checked out an old house in town, built in 1922, and I liked it even more. It was only $247,000; they were practically giving it away. The place was cool as hell, loaded with character and in great shape. It was also massive and you got the sense there were secret rooms hidden behind bookcases and stuff. Awesome. We vowed to play our cards right and to someday own such a house. As we were driving home I was thinking about that, and wondered how Toney had been raised by her crazy mother and was still able to think in such a way. The thought of setting a goal and working towards it is completely foreign to that woman. If she had been with us yesterday she would've been shouting about the "goddamn rich bitches" flaunting their wealth, and how "they're not any better than me, goddammit!" and screaming about how they probably made their money on the backs of the little people, blah blah blah. The words "Jew bastards" would've probably been uttered as well. No goals would've been set; we very likely would've been arrested instead.

I'm gonna cut this one a little short, folks. It's a holiday, after all. I'm going to go lie on a couch in celebration of achievement. See ya in a day or two.

February 15, 2002

Wow, the third update this week. How's that for discipline? I'm on fire, boy and girls! The only problem is, I don't really have a three-update life anymore. I don't do anything. Literally, I don't do anything. I go to work, take calls from assholes all day ("Jeff, I need your help...Jeff, I'm hoping you can pull my nuts out of the fire...Jeff, you always sound so sad..."), come home, eat and sleep. That's my life. There's not a lot of bed-shit caliber comedy to milk out of that routine, ya know? I fear I'm overextending myself a bit; I don't want this to become Larry King's USA Today column ("When it's all said and done, can you really beat a big box of Chiclets?") But I have a few unchecked items left in my notebook, so what the hell?...

-- As I was flipping through the channels a few days ago I stopped on Bravo(?!?), because a man was being interviewed there who looked vaguely familiar. Who is this, I thought, Senator Robert Byrd?  I stared in mild confusion for a few seconds until I figured it out: Lou Reed! Or what's left of Lou Reed. Sweet sainted mother of Sissy Spacek, what happened to that man? It looked like the real Lou had shed his skin and they'd propped the husk up in a chair and were asking it questions. He looked eighty years old! I'm not lying, he had a turkey neck that would make Mary Tyler Moore envious. I tried not to look at it swinging back and forth when he talked, for fear I would become hypnotized. Holy crap. When he walked over to the little stage to perform a song, he seemed all frail and unsure of himself. Damn. People have told me I look a little like Lou Reed, which never bothered me -- in fact I kinda liked it. But now... The only thing I can hope is that his hard living fossilized his head like that. I've never injected heroin into my eyelids, so at least there's a scrap of hope to cling to.

-- I bought Toney a dozen roses for Valentine's Day. Aren't I a romantic fuck? I wanted to have them delivered because I think it adds to the experience. The cash and carry deal is a little low-rent, ya know? There's something about a van pulling into the driveway, and a zitty teenage boy stumbling down the sidewalk with a big bunch of flowers in front of his face that makes it more fun. I called to check prices and it turns out the delivery price is about three times higher than the pick-up price. So, I was in the shop picking them up... The place was packed with guys desperate to do the right thing, but not really sure how. We men are a pathetic group of people; I just looked around and shook my head. There was no denying it, I was one of them.

-- As I was waiting in line to get my cash 'n' carry roses with a fraternity of retards, one of my brothers said, "Does anyone have change for a hundred?" Everyone chuckled, like yeah right. But an Arab man standing off to the side silently reached into the pocket of his suit jacket, removed a fat wallet and took five twenties off the top of the stack. Shit. When it was his turn to be helped, he asked the woman for fifteen roses. She told him a dozen costs twenty-five bucks, but single stems are five dollars each. The guy very nearly flew off the handle and practically shouted, "I do not care about the price! I desire fifteen roses!! Please begin boxing them for me!! I am a very busy man!!" Whoa. He wasn't a member of the fraternity.

-- One of the albums listed on this year's Pazz & Jop survey is by The Avalanches. I'd never heard of them, and had absolutely no idea what they're all about. But yesterday I was in a big-shot's office at work, casually perusing his bookshelf of promotional CDs, and saw the disc there. "Do you mind if I take this off your hands?" I asked. He has about as much interest in popular culture as Bob Dole so I figured he wouldn't give two shits, and he didn't. As I was driving home I popped it into my CD player, and it wasn't what I'd hoped. It's that kind of crap they play at raves, seizure-triggering hampster "music." It was excruciating, but I stuck with it in hope that I'd be able to figure out why so many critics liked it. But by the time I reached my exit I was thinking about fucking a man, so I took it out. Won't be listening to that one again.

-- Have you seen the news footage of the gigantic anti-America demonstrations going on in Iran? They keep showing somebody holding up a big sign that says "Bush Is Dracula." The hell?! Boy, that'll show us. Those people are crazier than a bag of bugs. They're the same ones who sprinted through the streets with the Ayatollah's casket raised above their heads, his legs and lower torso occasionally jumping out from under the lid, until they finally dumped the entire contents in the dirt. Highly entertaining.

-- Speaking of cable news, I've caught a few minutes here and there of the new Alan Keyes show on MSNBC and it couldn't be any worse. He's a smart guy, but he's obsessed with abortion. Every conversation eventually gets around to that subject:

"Alan, it looks like this Enron mess is going to play a part in the next election cycle..."

"Yes, but considering how many babies are being murdered each year, how important is it, really?"

"Boy, it's been pretty cold here, hasn't it Alan?"

"You think you're uncomfortable? How do you think all those dead babies feel?"

"Well, it looks like the Dodgers have really strengthened their bullpen in the off-season, Alan..."

"Dead babies can't throw balls."

Dude, we get it.

I think that'll do it for today. My phone's probably already started ringing at work. I better grab a few manly CDs and hit the road. Have a great weekend, folks.

            

February 13, 2002

-- So, I was watching Spongebob over the weekend, like I do every weekend, and on Saturday they showed two new episodes. Well, they were new to me anyway, but I think I'm pretty hip when it comes to that square little undersea pineapple-dwelling dude. So I was pretty excited, and settled back in my chair for genius.

The first episode was about Spongebob deciding to try a little jellyfish jelly on his Krabby Patty, and unwittingly touching off a taste sensation that sweeps Bikini Bottom. Of course Mr. Krabs is beside himself with excitement over all the new business to the Krusty Krab, and sets out to milk the fad for all it's worth. He dispatches Spongebob to Jellyfish Field to capture jellyfish, so that their jelly can be extracted and turned into wheelbarrows of cash for Ol' Mr. Krabs. You can guess the rest: more and more jellyfish are needed to keep up with demand until they're all gone, and Jellyfish Field is nothing but a barren wasteland that makes Spongebob sad.

Fine, no problem. But there was one scene that really irritated me. It's when Spongebob discovers the menacing, black, smoke-billowing (underwater, remember) factory that has been erected to extract jelly. "Something stinks," he says, "It smells like the stench of Big Business."

The hell? What is this?! Did "Nancy" (or the Red Chinese) consult for this episode? I don't watch Spongebob for political commentary; it's not friggin' Doonesbury. The stench of Big Business?! Perhaps I'm overreacting a little, but Spongebob is goofy innocent fun that I look forward to every week as a brief respite from my frustrating, excruciating everyday life. I don't tune in to get Ralph Nader's talking points. Shit. I was irritated for the rest of the day.

And if that weren't enough, the next episode was gay as hell and ended with Spongebob and Patrick wearing each other's underwear or some fucked-up shit. Sweet Maria!

I sound like a mental patient, don't I?

-- I watched two good flicks over the weekend: Ghost World and The Anniversary Party. Well, Ghost World is better than just good, it's great. I loved it. It's about a wise and alienated young woman trying to gain her emotional footing in the world after graduating from high school, and it's funny and smart and hip, and a bunch of other complimentary adjectives as well. It gets an unqualified Surf Report endorsement. Steve Buscemi should've been nominated for best supporting actor for this flick; he's great. The Anniversary Party is a low-budget film about a Hollywood party that flies off the tracks after everyone takes ecstasy and their phony facades come down and they start telling each other the truth -- as they see it. It's one of those ensemble deals, like The Player, and features Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Parker Posey, and a bunch of other people, basically playing themselves. It's fun to watch, but almost every character is somebody I wouldn't want to know in real life. It certainly doesn't paint a very flattering picture of "the business", which was probably the point. Well-done -- and shot entirely on digital video. And the shit looks good! It inspires dangerous thoughts in my mind about someday doing my own low-budget film. I hope Toney's not reading this...  Thousands of our dollars have already disappeared down the deep, deep rat holes of my various "projects."

-- Yesterday I was checking out the latest posts on a lame-ass internet bulletin board designed for people who went to the high school where I failed live up to my potential. One was from the brother of a guy I graduated with (at least I think he graduated), and it reminded me of a story. Yes, everything reminds me of a story...

When we were in fourth grade our drunken teacher assigned us each a different animal to research, and to write a report about. She told us over and over that she wanted the reports to be in our own words, and not just copied from an encyclopedia, and we would be expected to read them aloud to the class when they were finished. Well, this guy I'm talking about wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the brightest bulb on the marquee, or whatever euphemism you prefer for dumb. When the day arrived for him to read his report he walked confidently up to the front of the class, looked down at his paper, and said, "The beaver, pictured at left..."

I'm not making this shit up.

-- The Village Voice released the results of their 2001 Pazz & Jop survey yesterday. Check it out. Back in the day, before I got old and sad, I would pore over this issue for days, reading every ballot and circling things and disagreeing and agreeing and all that fun stuff. Now I don't know who half the artists are, and don't have many strong opinions on the ones I do know. But it's still pretty interesting; I'll undoubtedly waste some time with it today at work. And I'll say this much: Radiohead is a bunch of pretentious overrated wanker fags that have somehow convinced a lot of people that it is their hipster duty to worship them. Damn, that felt good.

-- As I troll the internet for filth, in a daily pursuit to make myself whole, I occasionally come across things that baffle me. Here are three pics that fall into that category. Can someone please explain them to me?

-- Finally, in observance of Valentine's Day, here's a nifty little candy heart maker you can screw around with. Pretty cool. And here are a few I banged out this morning before work. Have a good one, folks.

February 11, 2002

A couple more things:

-- Over the weekend I opened the refrigerator and there was a nearly depleted gallon of milk sitting in there beside a pitiful container of yogurt, and that was about it. It was a sad thing to behold -- a little disgraceful, in fact. I went over and opened the pantry door and my shouts of "What in the honeybaked hell?!?" echoed off the barren expanse within. Shit. I didn't remember losing my job, but by the looks of things I was no longer receiving a paycheck. How could I forget something like that? I would've thought a firing after twelve years would be a little more traumatic. Perhaps it was so painful I was blocking it out? I went in search of Toney, to find out what had happened. Was it the web surfing that finally did me in?! The long distance phone calls?

It turns out I'm still employed, and she wasn't too amused at my little attempt at improvisational comedy. But I told her I wanted to go with her to the grocery store, to look out for our best interests. We're Americans dammit, and we need snacks.

Fine, she said. And I thought I detected an almost imperceptible smirk.

We went to Wegman's, the biggest balls-out grocery store I've ever seen. When you pass through the doors you can see the curvature of the Earth. By the time you walk up and down every aisle and visit the deli and the meat counter and all the rest, you've walked the equivalent of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It's incredible. But I wanted to take it slow, and not forget anything. We needed to stock our shelves; it was our patriotic duty. It was for our men and women in uniform.

Despite its massive size, the store was packed with people. You could barely move. It was like India. At one point we were discussing hotdogs (she can barely even look at the things), and I was explaining my old methods for buying them. You must stick with the brands you know, like Kahn's or Oscar Mayer, and you have to buy all-beef franks, not "wieners." Wieners, I said, is a code-word for spiced buttholes and scrotums. When I said that, an old woman spun around with a look of disgust on her face. Oh lighten up, sister. Get that paint stirrer out of your ass. That's what I told her with my eyes.

Toney almost got into it with a busy-body in the produce section. The old bag told her it wasn't necessary to weigh celery, since it was sold by the stalk and not the pound. Toney told her she wanted to know how much it weighed, if she didn't mind, but the woman wouldn't back off. It kept going and going, until Toney finally said, "Look lady, I'll weigh whatever I want to weigh." The old woman turned and stormed off in a huff. Highly entertaining.

And as were almost finished shopping a man with a tortured expression came sprinting down our aisle with two gigantic bottles of syrup in his hands. Apparently there was some kind of French Toast emergency across town or something, because he nearly knocked us both to the ground trying to get past. Goddamn!

Our cart, by this time, was piled high. We almost needed sideboards on the thing. I'd been tossing tons of crap in there like a mental patient, and it was now difficult to maneuver. The wheels wouldn't roll in a straight line anymore. As we made our way to the checkout I started getting nervous.

One hundred sixty dollars, the price of a good car stereo, or a satellite TV system! Holy shit. The receipt was six feet long! It had to be folded six or eight times! What was I thinking? Did I really need a five pound bag of salted peanuts in the shell? Was it absolutely necessary to purchase an entire flat of clam chowder? Fuck. What a dumbass. I always thought buyer's remorse is something that happens after the purchase of a car or a house, but I had it over Toaster Strudel. I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach, every time I thought of the strudel. A hundred sixty frickin' bucks!

I didn't look at Toney all the way home, because I knew I'd see the smirk again. I just looked straight ahead.

-- After we put the groceries away, I sat down and read the Sunday paper.

I've got more to write about, lots more -- including some disturbing Spongebob trends -- but no time. See ya in a day or two, folks.


February 7, 2002

A few things:

-- I've got a frickin' cold. Snot is being manufactured at an alarming rate in a tiny snot factory behind my eyes; I sound like Robert on Everybody Loves Raymond. At work people are using their hands as makeshift illness filters when talking to me. I want to lie on a couch until, say, the spring of 2004. I wonder if it has anything to do with the 8MM film my friends and I watched on the back of my bedroom door in high school, entitled Two Guys and Two Girls Fucking and Sucking? I knew I'd live to regret that decision. Dammit!

-- I forgot to post this pic last time. I took it at a convenience store somewhere out in buttfuck country in rural Pennsylvania. It may be a joke, but somehow I don't think so. Some of the locals undoubtedly made it necessary to put it in writing.

-- I've been using my printer for roughly three months since I got the first message informing me the cartridge was out of ink. Still making beautiful printouts, baby! I'm printing this out right now, just as an act of defiance.

-- So Greta Van Susteren had a facelift? Good. I applaud her decision; you could've swiped a credit card through those deep forehead grooves. She still talks like she recently suffered a severe electrical shock though. What's the deal with that?

-- I just passed my anniversary date at work -- twelve large years with the same employer! Yeah, I moved from one division to another when I came to Scranton, but I'm still receiving my paychecks from the same Massive American Corporation. Twelve years is amazing to me. Apparently I have a career(?!). But it was almost over before it started. Back in 1990, soon after I'd landed my first gig with The Company in Atlanta, a bunch of guys were standing around telling jokes. All were of a sexual nature and most were satisfyingly crude. I remember one had to do with some dude coming home from a bar late at night and, in an attempt to diffuse any anger that his wife might have harbored, crawled into bed and performed oral sex for a half hour. Afterwards he was headed to the bathroom and his wife(!) suddenly popped out of the guest bedroom and said, "Shhh, you'll wake your mother!" Good stuff, huh? Well, wanting to fit in, I tried to think of the funniest joke I'd heard lately, and let fly. And as you can probably imagine, it didn't go over very well. In fact, I think it damaged my reputation, and I was passed over for promotions later by the same people. Indeed, my new boss acted like he wanted me gone immediately -- and he was the one who'd told the joke about the guy eating his mother! I'm older and wiser now, but it was all very confusing to me back then. Here's the joke:

Q: Why couldn't Jesus get into law school?

A: He got hung up on his boards.

Hey, I've never made the claim that I'm not a dumbass.

-- While talking to my Dad this past weekend I was somehow reminded of a story a guy had told me when we lived in California. This may be an urban legend, but it's funny nonetheless. He said one of his co-workers had gone to a bakery in her neighborhood to order a birthday cake for her daughter. The bakery was owned and operated by Asians, and she had trouble getting across to them what she was looking for. Finally it was all cleared up, they had her write on the ticket exactly what she wanted the cake to say, and she paid for it in advance because her sister would be picking it up. The sister appeared with the cake the evening of the little girl's birthday, and when they opened the box it said: Happy Birthday Ashley Paid.

-- I watched an old Jane Fonda flick the other night called Klute. It was smart, dark, and well-acted but a little boring.

-- Since I'm constantly telling you folks about the things I've done, I thought it might be fun to go the other way for a change. Here are twenty things I've never done:

Gone skiing

Ice-skated

Smoked dope

Read a William Faulkner novel

Been to a foreign country, except Canada which doesn't count

Enjoyed the music of Frank Zappa

Inserted, or allowed the insertion of, anything in my ass

Eaten sushi

Taken a shit at work

Been tattooed

Even began to grasp advanced mathematics

Had sex in a shower

Been involved in a serious accident

Spent the night in a hospital as a patient

Warmed to the idea of boxer shorts

Had anything pierced

Been arrested

Visited a whore

Experienced erectile dysfunction

Eaten Lucky Charms

That's just a few things off the top of my head. Pretty shocking, huh?

If I don't update tomorrow, have yourself a great weekend. Hell, even if I do update tomorrow, have yourself a great weekend.

See ya soon.

February 5, 2002

Mom's doing well. I'd say she's 90% back to normal. There are a few small new quirks to her personality (like wandering off by herself a lot, and a sense of humor reminiscent of, say, the Lincoln Memorial), but I'm certain she'll be back to kicking asses soon. Hell, just two weeks ago she was still in intensive care, hooked up to sighing and wheezing machinery. She's coming along nicely. It was good to see her at home, and arguing with my Dad again. The universe is starting to return to its accepted form.

It was a quick visit. Guerrilla visitation often works best: get in, get out, don't hang around long enough for anyone to get on anyone's nerves. I think both Mom and Dad are tired all the way down to their skeletons, and don't really need a slacker son hanging around eating all their food and dominating the TV remote. I drove roughly eighteen hours round-trip to visit for roughly eighteen hours. Consequently, there's not a lot to report. Of course that's never stopped me before, so here are a few notes.

-- Saturday is a terrible day for radio. I like to listen to random talk hosts when I'm driving long distances, they keep me company with their bitterness. On this WV trip you can usually pick up stations from NYC, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and other smaller towns here and there. But on Saturdays they're mostly playing "paid programming" in the morning, which means infomercials disguised as radio shows. I heard one about a doctor with a German accent (always a German accent!) who has invented a system to detoxify your colon and eliminate the pounds and pounds of impacted feces caked on the walls of your intestines, and is responsible for everything from sluggishness to bucked teeth. This website immediately jumped to mind. I started wondering who would purchase this crap? And what would happen if you actually ingested the stuff in the mysterious four large bottles they constantly mentioned? Somebody call 911!! Dear God, we've got to stop the bleeding!!

-- After the infomercials (following the colon buster show, I heard another about a speed reading course, I'm sorry photo-reading, that teaches you to read 25,000 words a minute -- I guess you could buy both programs, purge your poop shoot while ripping through the entire contents of the second floor of the Library of Congress!) sports radio came on. It was the day before the Super Bowl, so every so-called expert was pontificating at length about The Game. The fact that they were ALL wrong, brings me some satisfaction. There's nothing worse than sports talk radio. I swear to God there isn't. The cliches, the loud boisterous hosts who think volume is an adequate substitute for wit, and the cliches! I'd rather listen to the Yoko Ono box set than fifteen minutes of ESPN radio. Sweet Maria!

-- I saw several hand-made signs along the highway that said simply, "Drive Carefully." They looked like they were constructed at somebody's kitchen table. The hell?! I'm almost forty years old and it's never occurred to me to erect such a sign. Obviously mental patients are responsible.

-- I also saw quite a few of those freaky little roadside shrines, apparently designed to commemorate a loved-one that died near that particular spot on the highway. I hoped like hell I wouldn't nod off listening to some rambunctious asshole yelling about the importance of the "punt play" and end up with a pile of tinsel and a wooden cross marking the location of my decapitation. I also pictured footage of Toney on the 6 o'clock news standing silently on the front lawn with a gigantic framed photograph of me, but I think only Mexicans and Blacks do that. After a while, you see, you develop white line fever and need to pull off the highway for a few minutes.

-- I passed a truck stop that advertised showers and haircuts. One of these days I'm going to take them up on it. I'll walk around in a bathrobe and everything. I wonder if any of them offer pedicures or mudpacks? How about a nice trucker aromatherapy session? It's only a matter of time.

-- The actual visit was fairly dull, but I wasn't there to be entertained. We watched Antiques Roadshow, the real estate channel, Bob Vila replacing a storm window while wearing a fashionable turtleneck, and a six-hour (more or less) dog show. After a while little voices in my head started whispering, "We need beer, lots of beer. Goddamn!" But I fought off their evil suggestions and stayed on the wagon. It was the first time I'd had a real craving for the magic elixir since I made the decision to take a break from the stuff more than a month ago, lest I develop a Mickey Mantle liver. But I struggled for a few minutes, I have to admit. At one point my Dad said, "I've got a case of beer in there, Jeff. Help yourself." I looked over and half expected him to have horns and a big red tail, but it was just Dad trying to be nice. "Yes!! Do it!!!" the voices screamed, but I remained seated and watched the seventh round of the schnauzer competition.

-- My parents have taken to talking to each other from different rooms, and it's mildly annoying. My mother's voice is weak and raspy, so you have to concentrate to understand her sometimes, and they have a humidifier the size of a loveseat in the living room that makes a godawful racket, so the conversations usually go this way:

"That crazy woman is working out in her yard in this weather."

"What?!"

"That crazy woman, she's working out in her yard in the snow."

"She's crazier than a loon."

"What?!"

"She's crazy."

"Well, I could've told you that."

"What?!"

And the little voices screamed, "Do it! You've got to do it!! Sweet Jesus."

-- I went to visit my grandmother Sunday morning with my Dad. She's in a "home" and doesn't have any idea what time it is. It's pretty sad, and I have a hard time handling it sometimes. She lived across the street from us when I was growing up and was practically a second mother to me. She was the best cook ever, and ran a tight ship in her prime. On Sunday she looked at me with a weird expression and asked my Dad who his "friend" was, as some old woman moaned in apparent pain from a bedroom down the hall. Very uplifting. I was practically walking on air when I left there.

-- Sunday afternoon my parents and I went out for a drive. It was good to get out, and we drove around Dunbar, our old hometown. That place was the perfect town to grow up in when I was a kid, but now it seems to be collapsing into the ground. I don't want to diss it too much, but everything looks the same as when I left there, only worse. Seemingly nothing has been done to most of the houses for years and years. It's pretty rough around the edges, and reportedly has some crime and drug problems. It was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting twenty-five years ago. It depresses me, but I guess I'm part of the problem for leaving.

-- I didn't make it to Crum, but I will next time. I'm almost finished with the novel, it's pretty short and full of shit and semen humor so it's right up my alley. I will visit the locale of this charming little tale soon, mark my words.

-- I had a long conversation with my Dad about his grandmother, who I remember visiting when I was a kid. I swear to God this is true, you would have to drive way out a dirt road somewhere, through creeks and shit, then park your car and walk another two miles or so. There were no roads that went all the way to her house. You'd have to climb fences and run from bulls, and all kinds of freaky things. It was incredible. Their house had no electricity or indoor plumbing, and my great-grandmother rubbed powerful black snuff. She kept a pouch of it nearby at all times, and her cheek constantly packed out with the stuff. And her husband suffered from some ailment that he called "the mentals," which means he was completely apeshit crazy. He would be sitting on the porch and suddenly perk up like he'd heard something, then take off running way off into the middle of a field and have a conversation with God. He also went around in circles when he walked down a hill, which nobody could explain. And it was rumored that he was so dumb he couldn't figure out how to get into a car. He supposedly didn't know enough to bend over and would just walk into the side of the vehicle over and over again, but Dad was skeptical of this particular story. Hilarious. These are my roots.

-- I left early Monday morning in the middle of a raging snowstorm. The shit was coming down hard, and traffic was like the 405 freeway in LA. My parents were urging me to wait it out, but I wanted to get back before dark. I immediately started searching for talk radio as I sat in the massive Charleston traffic jam.

-- I passed over the whispering liberals on NPR, promising a Yanni fanny pack if you donated at the $175 level (yeah, right), and settled on a typical morning show that included approximately twelve people laughing uproariously at any dumbass thing that was said, and pointed my truck northward.

-- Somewhere in Northern West Virginia I heard a fading female voice reading a list of announcements that included a plea to help find a lost dog, "last seen around Grady Anderson's place." Then she read today's menu at the Senior Center: Chicken and potato casserole, glazed carrots, rolls, butter, and milk. Then there was a commercial for a funeral home.

-- I heard another commercial that featured a man practically in tears because he'd considered trying to beat a train. "It's just not worth it," he sobbed as his wife tried to console him. Sounds like Banana Nostrils, I thought.

-- I drove through some hellacious snowstorms and could feel myself getting a little tense at times. Holy crap, I couldn't see beyond my hood at one point. But I didn't have any real trouble, it was smooth sailing. I stopped in Maryland somewhere to expel excess fluids into a state-provided porcelain fixture, then went in search of food. I found a strip of fast-food restaurants and instinctively pulled into a McDonald's. As I pulled up to the drive-through I spotted something down the road that excited me. The tinny voice said, "Welcome to McDonald's. Can I take your order?" And I said, "No, I just saw a Chick-fil-A sign so I won't be eating here today," and sped off. Chick-fil-A rocks the goddamn house. I almost removed my shirt and rubbed a chicken sandwich all over my chest, but was able to control myself.

And that's about it. I got home in the dark, and it was snowing and cold and the wind was blowing so hard I almost lost my hairpiece. Now it's back to work, and my little life I've carved out for myself here.

"Do it, dammit! Do it!!"

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