The State of My Fat Ass
May 31, 2002
-- We're going to Cape May next weekend, that's why I'm risking the catastrophic collapse of our building. We've never been to the Jersey Shore (and God knows I need a vacation), so it should be fun. Toney rented us a cabin, or something along those lines. Hey, maybe I'll be able to color in a new state?! Stay tuned.
-- I was listening to AC/DC on my way to work the other day, and I was nearly moved to tears by a song with the chorus:
She's got the jack.
This is what it's come to.
-- Rocky from the Insane Asylum is on a roll. Here's his latest heart-tugging op-ed piece, for your Friday enjoyment. You may want to keep some tissues nearby.
-- And don't miss the latest polka review, from Marc Parker, aka Azmacourt. It's an absolute classic. Yes, it's only a matter of time before I get my ass kicked for this. One of these days there's gonna be a group of middle-aged men in matching sequined jackets waiting for me by my car when I get off from work. I'm gonna get squeezed by the Accordion Mafia, just watch.
-- Check this out. I think we've uncovered a full-blown scandal here, folks. I can't believe they're denying it... don't they know it's the cover-up that always bites you in the ass? Obviously I'm not accepting this lame explanation, and will continue the investigation. They're not dealing with a fool here, I read books. This is Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Black Wendy. America deserves to know the truth, and know we shall!
-- When I was at the post office a few days ago a sweaty man in a size M t-shirt stretched tight across an XL gut came up to me and whispered, "Have you heard about the secret of Olyphant?" The fuck? I told him no, I didn't know the secret, and began to move away. Mental patient, was the report that immediately came back from my central intelligence center. "Everybody's talking about it," he continued, and thrust this scrap of paper into my hand. A secret that everybody's talking about? Does that even make sense? "It's really spooky. It makes the X-Files seem tame," he continued. Then he urged me to check out the website, and to read about the "greatest story in world history." Here it is, you be the judge. I'll keep my batshits to myself.
-- I'm very upset about this, as well as shocked, but apparently Toney bought salt last week. The container that I purchased on my way home from work on August 1, 2001 has been depleted! It lasted for just ten short months. How could that be? The worst part: she didn't even tell me! I don't even know what day it ran out. She knows I'm keeping track. Why am I subjected to such disrespect?!
-- Now let's wrap this bitch up with some links, shall we?
If you're at work, be sure to turn your speakers way up before visiting the farting doughboy! And no, this site wasn't inspired by me, but that was a good one.
I don't know why I think this is funny, but I do.
Check out the Ass-O-Tron!
This is really hideous, but also mind-boggling. It's photos from a tummy-tuck operation. I'm thinking about making #3 my new desktop wallpaper.
Finally, here are some keywords that people punched into search engines in May that ultimately led them to this site. People are fucking sick.
And that'll do it for today. Have a great weekend, everyone. I got my Fast Times at Ridgemont High DVD so I'm gonna get reacquainted with Phoebe Cates' breasts. It's been too long and we have some catching up to do. See ya on Monday.
Swingers Real good.
Waiting for Guffman Real good.
Being There Real good.
The Coen Brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There is in the on-deck circle, and I hear it's real good as well. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that one.
-- I tried to watch Magnolia but baled out early. Thirty minutes or so into it I had absolutely no idea what was going on. People were fucking in front of television sets, an old man was lying in a hospital bed, Tom Cruise was hollering, a black woman was handcuffed to a couch... It made no sense whatsoever. What am I, an asshole here? I mean, really; I've got a life to lead.
-- I saw a bunch of kids around town wearing Little League uniforms on Saturday, and it gave me an idea. I think I'm going to find out how much it costs to sponsor a team! It could be the next best thing to my boyhood dream of owning the Cincinnati Reds. I can see it now, cute little kids proudly taking the field in their snazzy red West Virginia Surf Report jerseys, the map glistening in the midday sun on their backs. I'm getting a little emotional just thinking about it... Of course the little shits better be halfway decent, or there will be hell to pay. I'm not sponsoring a bunch of losers.
-- If I needed anymore evidence that the end is near, Toney and I are going to buy some additional life insurance this week. We already have a decent policy through my job, or at least it used to seem that way back when I made $22,000 a year. You're supposed to be covered for roughly six times your annual salary, and I'm nowhere near that now. So I'm taking steps to make my death something for Toney to look forward to, to make every strip of bacon an investment in a secure future. Anyway, they're sending a nurse to our house to take blood, urine, blood pressure, and to check our height and weight. I fully expect an unknown doctor in a lab somewhere in Jersey to call me in a couple of weeks to inform me that my liver is barely functioning, I have Lou Gehrig's disease, I'll be blind soon, and I should expect my skin to begin sliding off within the month. I hate medical stuff, because I always fear the worst. I can imagine my friends saying to each other, "He just went in for an insurance exam...that's how he found out..." Fuck.
-- On a related note, I think I might be developing hemorrhoids. I'm not sure about it, but there's definitely something going on out back, something new and different. Toney and I went for a walk around the neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I was in absolute misery. I was trying to figure out a way to discretely back up to a car mirror or something. I'm not kidding, when we got home I thought about taking the wire brush we use on Andy and wandering off by myself for a while. Shit. What's happening to me?! Just a few years ago I was hanging out at Pixies shows, and now I'm apparently on the verge of having a bunch of concord grapes emerge from my ass.
-- I mowed the grass on Saturday, and this happened. The bolt was completely stripped out and I wasn't able to immediately fix the problem, so I had to mow most of our backyard on three wheels, attempting to hold up one corner of the roaring machine as I walked. My life really is a sitcom.
-- I can't really remember doing anything on Sunday, except cooking up some burgers on the grill, and taking this week's donut shop photo. Those were the highlights. Oh, and I rode my bike in the afternoon. I'm still amazed at how much fun that is. I probably hadn't been on a bike in twenty years (except for an ill-fated experiment in California several years ago) and it's really cool how the ancient instincts come back. It's a blast, just like it was when I was twelve.
-- On Monday we went to the Poconos to check out a place called Splitrock Resort. They'd contacted Toney about us sitting through a time-share presentation, sweetening the deal with the promise of Red Lobster gift certificates and gas money, and she'd accepted on our behalf. I wasn't exactly thrilled about it, since we have no self control and I could imagine us getting caught up in it all and signing any goddamn thing they might thrust in front of us. It's a full-time job just trying to protect us against ourselves.
It only took about forty minutes to get to the place, and it's pretty dazzling from the moment you pass through the gates. It's obviously really nice, which worried me even more. We proceeded to the building where we would undoubtedly set our impending bankruptcy into motion, and there were dozens of other couples already there, hanging out in a waiting room, mumbling nervously. The fact that we were not alone made me feel a little better.
I had it pictured that we'd all go to a conference room and some fast-talking slickmeister in a suit would spin tall tales about what a great opportunity this was, but it wasn't that way at all. Each couple had their own guide who drove you around the grounds and showed you everything. Ours seemed refreshingly low-key and casual. We saw both golf courses, the old lodge, the lake (complete with kick-ass manmade beach), the ski slopes, the picnic areas and various other odds and ends.
Then she took us to the hotel, where our time-share would be located if we took the bait, and it was simply incredible. The rooms were really nice, there were several restaurants and bars, a bowling alley, a full-blown movie theater, indoor tennis courts, indoor pool, hot tubs, a health club, an ice cream parlor, a barber shop, etc. etc. I mean the shit was nice. After attempting to take all that in, she hustled us back in her car and we returned to where we started. And that's where the fun began.
After explaining a few details about the way their time-shares work, and the benefits of same, she led us up some steps to a large open room filled with little round tables. At every table were other couples, and an animated and boisterous salesperson. I think this is known to insiders as the Boiler Room. It was incredibly loud in there, with all the exaggerated talking and waving of hands, and I started getting anxious. As soon as we sat down a voice came over the loudspeaker asking everyone to welcome new "owners", Mr. and Mrs. Whatever, to the club, at which point all of the salespeople sprang to their feet and began applauding like mental patients. Holy shit.
She whipped out her little charts and began by showing us what other resorts charge. One was $28,000! I was ready to grab Toney and make a run for it. But we stayed put and she eventually got around to telling us their price: $11,995. No fucking way; I'm not even tempted, I thought. She excused herself right after she laid that on us, and Toney and I just looked at each other with desperate expressions. Then a huge scary man with lots of gold jewelry came over and plopped down where the nice girl had been. He looked like he should be a casino owner or something, he was wearing a suit with a black t-shirt underneath. I swear I think his name was Louie, and if it wasn't it should've been. He was all business, not a hint of humor anywhere, and he made us one "final" offer of $7795, which I promptly turned down as well. He said, "Well, if you can't afford the resort then I suggest we say our goodbyes." I think that was supposed to be an insult, but all I heard was the goodbye part and I was elated.
The girl came back and led us out of the deafening room, down some stairs to another waiting area. We sat there like assholes for five minutes or so, and a woman finally came and got us. She took us to an office and asked us why we'd decided not to become owners. I said it was too much money at this particular point in our lives, and she nodded and took out a piece of paper and began scribbling on it. Then she slid it across the desk at us and said in a conspiratorial tone, "Here's your price. What do you say to that?" It said $4795 -- over six thousand dollars less than the original amount! What in the honeybaked hell?! I began to feel like we'd never get out of there. Plus, I was starting to get tempted. Less than five grand for full access to the place, and a week's lodging every year for twenty-four years. It wasn't a bad deal, really. But after a moment's hesitation I finally told her no, at which point she got rid of us. We were ejected out of that building like shit out of a circus animal.
On our way home we stopped at Red Lobster (or Ret Lopster, as some of our co-workers in Atlanta called it) for a nice lunch. We noticed on the gift certificate that you had to use it within fifteen months or it became invalid. Hell, we would've been OK if it had said fifteen minutes. We don't mess around when it comes to free seafood.
And that brings you up to date. Have a great week everyone! No reason for us all to suffer.
May 23, 2002
-- Toney says I'm suffering from Star Wars dyslexia. We got into an argument the other day about the two robots (I guess that's what they are??) from the first movie, and I swear I would've bet our house on the fact that the little trashcan thing is C3PO, and the gay metal man is R2-D2. But it turns out I'm wrong. How could that possibly be?! How could I be mixed up on such a fundamental detail of late 20th century popular culture? I mean, I like to think I'm fairly with-it here; I'm no Bob Dole, right? This is huge! It shakes the very foundation of what I'm supposed to be about. None of it makes sense. Even now it doesn't seem natural to think of that rolling Q-Tip repository as R2-D2. He should be C3P0, and that's all there is to it. I wonder if I've had it wrong since 1977, or if things have gotten damaged and battered over the years because of the sustained and prolonged tsunami of alcoholic beverages? I think I may have always had it wrong! Very distressing. Maybe I really am a dumbass, just like my parents, friends, pastors, teachers, and bosses have been saying? Crap.
-- Obviously I'm not a big Star Wars fan. I think I saw the first movie when I was, what?, thirteen or whatever, but I couldn't care less about it really. Generally speaking, science fiction ranks just above the latest innovations in the manufacture and installation of drywall on my list of life passions, but that's just me. I understand how important those old movies are to people, and I'm not going to laugh at anyone for getting into them. At least not today. But I was thinking about the one movie that changed my life like that, and it was, of course, The Hollywood Knights. When Newbomb Turk snatched away the microphone at that high school assembly and began farting "Volare" over the PA system, my existence here on Earth was permanently altered. I was simply never the same after that. That was my Star Wars, and I think it's a crime that it doesn't receive the same amount of attention and respect. I think it's high time that someone starts work on a three-part prequel to The Hollywood Knights, exploring the lives of Newbomb's great grandparents back in the old country, their courageous immigration to this country, their triumphs and hardships, that eventually brings us up to the point where the gang is pissing into the punch outside the big dance. Now that's an epic I could get behind!
-- Toney keeps putting a brown pear in my lunch, and I keep bringing it home uneaten. It's like a regular pear, but it looks to be covered in brown felt. It probably came from some fucked-up South American country where lots and lots of gold jewelry on men is the norm, and people drive around in Packards. The damn thing's furry, for god's sake! I think she believes my defenses are down because of the whole R2-D2 thing, but she's wrong. I ain't eating no brown pear.
-- Eugene, AKA Max Demeaner, The Pride of Greensboro Radio has submitted his polka review, and you can read it here. Whatever you do, don't miss the picture he included. I've probably got a reservation on the Hell Express, but I almost lost consciousness laughing at that thing.
-- I finally finished reading the long-ass Johnny Carson article in this month's Esquire. If you're a fan, like I am, you've gotta get this. It's the holy grail of comedy. Ten or twelve fat pages of current quotes from the reclusive master. Go get it!
-- Finally, here are a few links for your web-trolling enjoyment...
Maybe you read about the school kid who was assigned to write a story about someone whose body betrays them, and caused a big brouhaha by turning in an essay about a guy who gets a boner in class? Well, here it is, in its entirety! Sometimes the internet lives up to all the hype.
These people are trying to drum up support for a plan to turn France into a parking lot. Where do I sign?
Maybe these folks should think about a possible name change for their business?
Want to learn how to play chess from Screech? Now's your chance, bucko.
And here's an auction I wish I'd seen in time for Mother's Day. Dammit, it would've been perfect!
Have a great weekend everyone. Three big days off for me! I think Monday's Labor Day or some shit. Cool.
See ya soon.
May 20, 2002
-- We had to flee our house Sunday afternoon, because of telemarketers. Some shitsack from an outfit known as Colorado Prime called last week and fast-talked Toney into allowing one of their "representatives" to visit our home, to introduce us to their quality products -- with absolutely no obligation to buy. "What?!!" I hollered, when she told me, following an actual spit take. Like everyone, we've been down this bumpy road many times before, and it's my goal to never go again.
In California we once had a contractor at our house for hours. He was showing slides, breaking out thick-ass photo albums, flipping flip-charts, mixing shit in test tubes, etc. etc. It was an excruciating experience. He was an Arab of some sort, and could barely speak English. He kept telling us about "Mr. Sakurachi," for whom he had installed a traditional Japanese bath. I was fading in and out but it had something to do with a special tile on the floor and the walls, and a drain in the middle of the room. He said Mr. Sakurachi would roll up in a ball in there and completely submerge himself in a high-sided tub of water from the Dead Sea, or some shit. I mean, whatever. I was just sitting there trying to calculate how long I'd spend in prison if I drove a fucking steak knife through this bastard's liver. But I guess the point of his Sakurachi story was that the guy had been so impressed with the quality of his work, he'd allowed him to add a second floor to his house! I had no doubt that the old man hadn't known what hit him, once this pushy-ass Arab entered his world. One minute he's having his bathroom tile replaced, and the next a crane is lifting the roof off his house! I could see how it could happen; we couldn't get rid of the guy either. I seriously thought we were going to have to call the police, assuming he hadn't already cut our phone lines while we weren't looking. When I finally got it across to him that he was doing no overpriced contracting work at our house, he became semi-enraged, like we'd inconvenienced him! Shit.
Anyway, I went on the internet Saturday afternoon and did a little research on this Colorado Prime deal. They'd told Toney they sell high-quality meat and seafood, like Omaha Steaks I suppose. They also asked her several times if we have a garage or a basement. What in the hell? I had no intention on being home when these guys arrived with their flip-charts, but I was curious about their angle. It turns out they try to sell you a $300 freezer for $1200, which also earns you the right to purchase all your meat from them! Sounds great, huh? According to several newsgroup accounts, their presentation lasts for up to three hours, and is ultra-high pressure. Fuck dat. We went out for the day. If you hear about me flying off a cliff because my brakes failed, or something fishy like that, please keep all this in mind. And I thank you for you concern.
-- Speaking of telemarketers, a guy from Columbia House DVD Club called me Saturday morning. He asked if I'd be interested in getting five DVDs for the price of one, plus a free one right now just for joining. I told him that I'd be mighty interested in a deal like that, and asked if he could fire me off a copy of Fast Times At Ridgemont High Collector's Edition in the afternoon mail. There was a pause on his end, then he said apprehensively that he could. By the end of the call I was getting the feeling that he was ready to back out on the deal. I'm sure he's been around long enough to know how this is all going to play itself out.
-- A goddamn fox ran through our yard Saturday while we were having lunch, crossed the street and disappeared between two of our neighbors' houses. A fox! I don't think I'd ever seen one of those things in my life, certainly not running free in a residential area. When we first moved here Toney screamed at me one day to look out the back window, and when I did there was a huge deer standing in our backyard, with a full-blown coat rack growing out of its head. It looked liked an insurance logo hanging out on our lawn! It stood still for a few beats then loped off, barely touching the ground as it ran. And Saturday evening I overheard two women talking at the pizza joint near our house about one of their neighbors getting sprayed in the face by a skunk, in her backyard! It's really bizarre. It's not like we live out in the country here. Something seems to be spooking the critters.
-- After we saw the fox I was a little shaken, so I consulted my 2001 Southern Superstitions book to see what the sighting might mean. I scoured the book thoroughly and couldn't find anything about foxes, but I did learn that "if you kill a turtle-dove, you will have a boil, carbuncle, or other skin eruption," so it wasn't a complete loss.
-- On Saturday morning -- May 18th!! -- it snowed here. I swear it's true. And it wasn't just a few stray flurries either, I'm talking real snow. Yep, there's some serious-ass foreshadowing going on up here in Scranton these days. I wish I was smart enough to figure it all out.
-- Another strange turn of events: our dog Andy is apparently not shitting anymore! When we tied him up in the front of the house (before he nearly caused the suicide of our mail carrier) he'd serve up pipin' hot yard biscuits a-plenty, but now that he's being tied up behind the house, there's not a pile to be found! How could that be?? Toney says she goes out occasionally to clean up the yard, but there's never anything to clean up. I walked around out there too, to see if he'd maybe found himself a special out-of-the-way spot, but I came up empty as well. I mean, what the hell? Foxes, snow in May, dogs that never expel waste... It's been nice knowing you folks.
-- Rocky sent me a little summary of his current job situation, and after reading it I fired back a note saying, "Do you really want me to run this?!" It's funny and pleasingly mean-spirited, but it also seems a bit dangerous. But, as has always been the case with Rock, he doesn't seem to give a shit one way or the other, so here goes. Dude, if you want some polka tapes to watch while you're out of work, just let me know.
-- And speaking of that, our first Pennsylvania Polka review has found its way back to the bunker! Thank you MsDenise; well-done, as always. This week's episode is going out to another lucky WVSR reader today, so stay tuned for more high-energy accordion fun.
-- Here's how the donut shop's coming along, in case you were wondering.
-- I feel like I haven't been following the baseball season like I should, so I've made a point of watching SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight on ESPN the past few days. Now, it's well-established that I'm a heterosexual male, but those two shows really get under my skin. The wall-to-wall smugness and smirking and overuse of too-cool sports geek lingo gets my sphincter to snapping in short order. There's just no excuse for a grown man to speak the phrase, "Giambi goes yard with the bags juiced!" There's simply no justification for it. Call me a poofter if you will.
-- During the self-inflicted exile from our house Sunday afternoon we merged into the slow-moving foot traffic at the mall and walked with glazed eyes from store to store for an hour or so. Must... find... something... to... buy... Then we went to Borders and fingered forty dollar books and twenty dollar CDs for a while, followed by the most entertaining part of the day: Toys R Us!
Yeah, toys are always fun, but the real reason I like going there is to experience the strangeness of the place. Toys R Us is downright trippy. Besides the usual African Tribal and/or palsy Barbies, we also saw Reservoir Dogs action figures there, hanging right alongside Power Rangers and shit. I mean really, isn't that one of the most violent movies in the history of cinema? Doesn't a guy get his ear cut off while "Stuck in the Middle With You" plays? Do kids actually watch this flick?! And do the children of today really want to play with tiny plastic facsimiles of Steve Buscemi?? Am I this far out of touch with the culture? Shit. We also saw some really freaky GI Joe-type army dolls that were about three feet tall and had frighteningly realistic facial features. They looked like ventriloquist dolls that have been trained to kill, with speed and efficiency. I wouldn't be able to sleep a wink if one of those things were in my house! And there were Spiderman dolls where he's dressed up as an NBA basketball player, a ninja, and an NYC firefighter! I mean, who thinks up this shit?? We also saw an extremely realistic cardinal perched atop a plastic tree limb, that occasionally launches into a medley of old Motown hits. Why?! But my favorite find of the day was an oversized giftbox of a dozen or so pink Siamese cats, of varying sizes and postures. What in the honeybaked hell?! I wonder if the buyers at Toys R Us enjoy the occasional bottle of recreational cough syrup? It's like Eraserhead in that place!
-- After the mind-bending experience at the toy store we decided to go to Sam's for some of their kick-ass (albeit emasculating) hotdogs and, predictably, that turned out to be a fiasco fit for the Seinfeld gang as well. We waited in a long line and watched person after person walking away with their steaming Ron Jeremy lunches in-hand, but when it was our turn to order they told us they were all out of hotdogs. Incredulously, I asked the woman how long it would be before she had more, and she said five minutes. So we got our drinks and took a seat to wait. After about ten minutes I went back up and tried to order again, and again the woman said it would be another five minutes or so. I was starting to get a little irritated by this point, but was able to maintain my composure with little effort. We waited quietly another ten or fifteen minutes, and then I asked Toney to go up. I felt stupid, like I appeared desperate for hotdogs. (I was, but nobody needed to know.) So she went back to the counter, passing a guy carrying a freshly-purchased dog, and the woman told her it would be another five minutes or so. What?! Toney told her she'd just seen someone else buy a hotdog, and the woman said it was actually a Polish sausage. Are we on Candid Camera here?? Fuck. Toney was ready to throw in the hotdog towel at this point, but I wanted to give it one last shot. I mean, those things are good! So we walked all around the store, checked out their 36-inch TVs and a thousand other miscellaneous items, killing at least thirty minutes in the process. We finally made it back to the food counter and I walked up and asked for three hotdogs, with renewed enthusiasm. The woman looked at me with a straight face and said, "It's going to be another five minutes or so on the hotdogs, sir."
We never got them.
May 17, 2002
-- It was a close call but we've decided to shelve our camper idea, at least for now. We almost took the bait this week, but after having a chance to think about it we decided the timing wasn't right. (That's why car dealers won't let you take a break for lunch or anything, they don't want you to have time to think.) I feel kinda stupid for almost abandoning the plan we had for not buying one of those ridiculous contraptions until next summer. That was the deal, we'd try to get my truck paid off this year and maybe buy a camper next summer. Hell, we'd just talked about it last week (again), and had made that vow. But we got all caught up in a travel trailer frenzy last Saturday, when we came across the pristine Coleman, and very nearly violated our own freshly-minted Camper Doctrine. When we're not complete bastards, we're absolute weaklings; there doesn't seem to be much middle ground. Dumbasses, that's what we are.
Oh well, it probably wouldn't be the way I had it pictured anyway.
I had visions of this thing being the magical key that opened up an unknown universe of dirt-cheap travel. I saw us eating lobster in Maine by night, lighthouses twinkling in the distance, and leisurely sight-seeing and whale-watching by day. (There are actually men in peacoats with hooks for hands in these visions.) I imagined us hanging out in Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard with Kelsey Grammer, for around twenty bucks a night. I thought we could go to the Poconos when it got too hot at home, and maybe try to visit every ballpark on the east coast, all for pennies. Canada and Niagara Falls and Boston and Washington DC and Cape May and on and on and on. Oh, I'm an expert daydreamer, but I have a tendency to only imagine the positives -- especially when I'm faced with a buying decision. To me it almost always seems like a good idea to buy something else.
But there are certainly some downsides to my little plan. For instance, the bathroom situation. We'd have to use public bath houses, and that frightens me on many levels. I know I'm in the minority here, but I have a big problem with communal shitting. I'm just not a big fan of casual bowel-movement chit-chat. And taking a shower in an open room with six or eight nozzles sticking out of the wall horrifies me. I don't think I could do it. I seriously don't think I could strip off my clothes and soap up my balls and ass crack in a public setting. Conversely, the idea of seeing Mike from Raleigh's dick hair before breakfast doesn't hold much appeal for me either. And, if my childhood memory serves, those places are always crawling with granddaddy longlegs, or whatever the fuck they're called. I can't deal with that creepiness. Plus, who knows if George Michael or one of his buddies is going to jump out from behind a partition with his Wham! shorts around his ankles, stroking his Andrew Ridgley? Yeah, the bathroom situation is a huge consideration.
Plus, it all seems like a hell of a lot of work. Setting up, tearing down... wotta hassle. You don't have that at a Red Roof Inn. You just have to throw that sperm-laden bedspread in the corner, and you're all set.
But it's not something I'm gonna have to deal with anytime soon. Unless, of course, we go looking at campers again and find one "too good to pass up."
-- It's been really windy here. A Hi-C bottle passed me on the right while driving to work yesterday. And... It Reminded Me of a Story(tm). When we lived in California there was a couple who lived a few doors down from us, named Andy and Candy (I shit you not). He worked in aerospace and made a lot of money, and I'm not sure what she did. But they were in their late 40s, with no kids, and had a seemingly unquenchable taste for the sauce. I'd see Andy working out in his yard on weekends with a beer in his hand, at nine or ten o'clock in the morning! They drank constantly. You could hear them sitting in their hot tub at night, laughing maniacally and slurring at each other at top volume. At Halloween they passed out candy with cocktails sloshing all over the back of their hands, and they were always smashed at the block parties. One of the other neighbors saw them at Costco once and they had a shopping cart filled to the top with liquor and beer, so she asked if they were having a party. They acted confused, blinked and said, "No, why?" Anyway, we often had high winds out in that godforsaken desert, like we're having here now, and on trash day it was not uncommon for everyone's garbage to be blowing all around the neighborhood. And on one memorable day there was a whirlwind of plastic liquor bottles swirling round and round in the middle of our cul de sac! Andy and Candy's recycling bin had been swept up in the Santa Ana winds and there was a goddamn vortex of vodka jugs in front of our house!! Neighborhood kids were out there looking on in amazement. It was incredible. Sometimes they'd fly ten feet in the air!
I really liked living close to Andy and Candy, because no matter how much I boozed it up, I looked like Billy Graham in comparison. I wonder if they're still alive?
-- The results of my little t-shirt poll are in, and "Panning for gold in an open sewer..." is the clear winner. I'm waiting on a price quote from some punk slackers in State College, and hopefully I'll have cool WVSR merchandise available here soon. I'm excited. The smoking fish will be this season's status symbol, on college campuses and demolition derbies everywhere.
-- I bought the new Weezer CD this week and it rawks. Yes, I'm thirty-nine, what of it?
-- I received this from two different people yesterday. Ridiculous? Of course it is.
-- This is pretty funny. People are really fucked up, and I find that amusing.
-- I'm seriously thinking about checking into this. These people will host your website, after you die! Excellent. A legacy like Clinton's!
-- And have you seen this strange pic of Rush Limbaugh, from back in the day?
-- And finally, I want to go on record as saying I frickin' hate those UPS commercials where they refer to themselves as "brown." Few things irritate me more than when a company tries to invent its own hip little nickname. Nobody calls UPS "brown." I mean, what the hell is that?! It's like when Michael Jackson required everyone to begin referring to him as The King of Pop. Bullshit. Nick Lowe is the King of Pop, Michael Jackson is scary little man who yelps over a drum beat and fondles pre-pubescent wieners as a monkey and a llama look on in disapproval. And I simply won't buy that Sunny Delite swill, because of those commercials where they call themselves Sunny D. It pisses me off just thinking about it. It really does.
And that'll do it. Have a fabulous weekend, folks, and don't get any on ya.
May 14, 2002
-- On Sunday I made breakfast. Pretty much every time I've attempted to cook a meal in my life that didn't involve a microwave and/or a powdered flavor packet it's turned out as hog slop, but, for some reason, I can cook up a mean breakfast. We had eggs and cheese, my world-famous potatoes with green onions and lots of pepper, bacon, biscuits and orange juice. Yum. Well, I didn't actually do the bacon. I brought Toney in for that, since it's been well-established that the preparation of meat is pushing the envelope of my culinary expertise. I guess I don't cook it long enough or something, but it always turns out limp and wet and feels like you could blow bubbles with it. Pork bubbles. So I called in my stunt double, and moved to the dining room to wave a Lowe's ad at the smoke detector, which has a big problem with fried foods. (Maybe it's really a cholesterol detector?) That's my role when there's frying going on, standing in the dining room and waving a newspaper at the smoke detector -- or simply ripping the bitch down, depending on my mood. I don't know what dumbass mounted that thing so close to the kitchen, but they should be beaten. Oh wait, that was me... Never mind.
-- After breakfast we had some coffee and read the newspaper. It was Mother's Day, so they had section after section of pictures, showing women with their kids. I guess you have to pay to get your photo included, so it's a big cash-cow for the paper. At least that's what I gather. I've lived in a few different places in my life, but I've never seen anything quite like this spectacle. There's six or seven fat sections of the paper that contain nothing but little pictures of tired looking women with perms, posed alongside uncomfortable-looking children in dress clothes. There doesn't seem to be a lot of joy radiating from those pages, ya know what I'm saying? And many of the pictures are downright hideous. I'm sorry, but there are some ugly-ass people in this world, and there seems to be an unusually high concentration of them right up here in Scranton. I mean, I'm no Leonardo DiCaprio, but goddamn; I don't think I make people recoil in horror. And if I did I wouldn't lay down cash to place my picture in the Sunday paper. Besides being ugly as fuck, a few of the families attempt to incorporate some gimmick into their photo, so as to set them apart from the crowd. In one everybody is clutching frighteningly large gingerbread men, taller than the kids. Who could possibly think that's a good idea?! And there were a few where the whole gang's wearing Dale Earnhardt shirts, which is a clear-case of child abuse in my opinion. And there were several where everybody's holding American flags, sitting in front of an American flag background, while wearing American flag sweaters. Subtlety is a concept lost on many people, I've learned. I mean, that shit would make Ben Franklin puke. Yes, it was highly entertaining. I thought about scanning a few of the photos, but that felt a little too cruel, even for me. Also, I'm generally not a big fan of savage beatings, so you'll just have to use your imagination. But let it wander... let it run free. Sweet Jesus!
-- The rest of the paper had some interesting stuff in it as well.
-- We went to a few stores in the afternoon, then to dinner. Target was our first stop, and I was excited to be able to buy jeans there that were one size smaller than usual. Instead of them being in the bin all the way down on the floor, they were a space higher on the wall! I know I'll never be able to shop at chest level again, but I'm making a little progress. At least I didn't have to lay on the ground this time.
As I was perusing the clearance racks for cheap fat-boy shirts I heard someone yelling some belligerence near the changing rooms, then somebody else was screaming back, so I walked over to check things out. A man's voice was hollering, "Come with me! Now!!" I assumed it was a shoplifting situation, but it was two employees! A man and a woman -- and the guy was a making a complete fool of himself. He was trying to be authoritative and stern, but he just came across as a bully asshole. Apparently he'd called the changing room and it took the girl twenty rings or so to answer, which sent Mr. Important off the deep end. He was screaming at her and the customers were about ready to jump to her defense. He came very close to being beaten down in the men's department of Target by an angry mob. Unbelievable. The guy probably got promoted last week from stock boy to "key person" and now believes he's the goddamn Secretary of State. Wotta douche.
As we were heading toward the checkout, a girl in front of us stopped short, whirled around and announced, "I need deodorant!!" Apparently it was an emergency because she almost ran us over trying to get past. I really hope she made it. I know now I should've offered to help, especially in light of 9/11. I wonder how long I'll live with this guilt?
-- After Target we went to Pet Smart to buy Andy a 35 lb bag of shit-making pellets. We saw some weird lizards there that looked exactly like chicken fingers with eyes, an aquarium with roughly 10 million crickets in it(?!?), and a dog sweater that said something about Hannukah on the front. I told Toney that twenty years ago I would've almost certainly removed the lid on that cricket box, then calmly walked out the front door.
After dropping nearly twenty bucks on our trouble-making dog, we decided to go to the Old Country Buffet for dinner, on a whim. We drove there, but the place was an absolute zoo. There was a line out the frickin' door. Screw that. One of us suggested Golden Corral -- the poor man's Old Country Buffet -- so we went there instead. It was packed too, but not as insane as the other place. As we were sitting there eating our buffet pot roast I realized we were surrounded by the people from the morning paper! It was ugly all around, and fat. Fat and ugly as far as the eye could see!! I wondered if they could sense I'd made fun of them all earlier in the day. I felt a little uneasy. At the table beside us sat a family of rosy-cheeked Humpty Dumptys, and they were loading it in. I mean, they were conducting an eating clinic! I couldn't stop watching their son, ten or twelve years old and looking like a Campbell's Soup kid, holding his fork like a tennis racket and throwing up sparks in his zeal to keep his mouth full. They all just sat there, hunched down so they were closer to the food, their right arms working in a continuous loading motion, and not saying a word. It was unbelievable. I also saw a guy sporting a ZZ Top beard with an ice cream scoop or so of butter buried deep inside it. And I'm almost certain one freak was putting hot fudge on a slice of meat loaf! It was an absolute cluster-fuck. I said it last time, but this time I mean it: never again. That place is a grossness emporium.
And that's it. You're up to date. Nothing much happened on Monday I can exploit for cheap laughs, so I guess we're done.
More in a day or two...
May 13, 2002
I overslept this morning, and don't have much time to write. Sorry. But just a few short minutes ago I was lying in bed, all stressed out because I was late catching a boat. I was sprinting down long airport-like corridors as a voice screamed over the loudspeaker: "Thirty seconds to departure... twenty seconds to departure..." etc. As I ran crowds of ugly rednecks laughed and pointed their nicotine fingers in my direction. When I was fifty yards or so from the dock the loudspeaker announced final call, and I saw the boat slowly pulling away as I finally bounded onto the dock. It had the Disney logo on it and was fitted out to look like an early '70s station wagon, complete with woodgrain on the sides and a couple of bumper stickers. I started yelling for them to please come back but the people I could see in the rear window were laughing and waving at me, mockingly, as they continued to move farther and farther away. Then I realized I had to piss like Secretariat, and woke up to find I had no time to write my update. Damn. What a way to start a new week. If any of you armchair psychologists out there have an idea what any of this might mean, I'd be mighty interested in knowing. I'm sure it has something to do with penis size.
So, because of that damn station wagon Disney penis boat, I'm gonna have to keep this brief. But here's a half-assed Weekend Update for ya anyway.
Fuck, I'm exhausted...
-- Saturday morning we went to a place in Wilkes-Barre to check out some of their used tent trailers, because it's spring and we're starting to think about such things again. A put-out woman with an ass like a nightstand unlocked the four that we'd specified, with little to no enthusiasm, then waddled away, presumably back to her cream cheese danish. The first two were pretty beaten up, used in every sense of the word. But then we went into a '98 Coleman, and it was nearly perfect. Whoever owned it before had either taken great care of it, or simply hadn't used it. It looked brand new. When we saw that it also had a screen room and an air conditioner, we started having dangerous thoughts. I think one of us actually uttered the phrase, "too good to pass up." A bear-like man with a shitload of crap hanging around his neck, like he was goddamn Bill Graham or something, ambled out and asked if we had any questions. When he sensed we were interested in the Coleman he launched into salesman mode, and we officially got off to A Bad Start. He said, right off the bat, that the price is locked, there would be no negotiating. He was getting way ahead of himself, the fucker. Neither of us had mentioned actually buying anything from him. Grrr... I hate salesmen. But he answered the few questions we had, and went back inside to let us stew on it. We immediately jumped in our car and left, in an act of defiance. But we couldn't stop talking about it, and finally conceded defeat by calling back in the afternoon to ask a few more questions. I'm not sure, but I think the thing's actually on hold for us, right now. We have a goddamn travel trailer on hold! What's happening to us? Ten years ago we were actually somewhat cool.
I guess today could be the day. Will somebody please hold me?
-- After we left the trailer place we saw a sign for a Wendy's and went in search of it. It was before noon, but I was starving. It turned out to be a truckstop -- with a Wendy's inside. What the hell, we thought, it's still the same restaurant. It smelled like gasoline and there were lots of guys with chains on their wallets sitting around, staring straight ahead and eating hamburgers. We noticed that every table had a telephone on it(?!). I went to the counter and waited for the cashier to finish commenting to one of her co-workers about the hotness of a guy out in the parking lot, complete with remarks about the size of his "package." Finally she turned her attention to me, and I was allowed to place my order. I gave her a ten dollar bill, and she continued talking to her horny hamburger-making friend, and commenced to counting me out eighteen dollars in change! It didn't even make sense!! I briefly thought about telling her, but she was already off scoping out some more hot long-haul ass, so I just pocketed it.
-- I set a new record Saturday afternoon by falling down three times while mowing the lawn. The previous record was two, set on many occasions. I really need to buy a pair of cleats; maybe I can use all that Wendy's money? Anyway, I was having a hard time of it, and was bitching up a storm. And in the backyard Toney had started some kind of project earlier in the week, but had apparently gotten tired of it and just walked away. She left several trash bags full of weeds, and a shovel and rake lying right out in the middle of the yard. So I had to stop the mower and move everything, which almost sent me on over the edge. I utilized every curse word in my arsenal as I dragged those sacks of briers to the garage. But when I got to the front yard Toney was standing there with a bloody rag pressed to her temple. The hell? She said a branch had fallen and hit her in the head! She showed me the branch and it was huge! I couldn't even drag it, it was so heavy. It could've easily killed her! Suddenly the mess in the backyard didn't seem like such a big deal. She's OK, but it was scary. Our yard is a goddamn death trap. We thought it was great to have some land, after living on a postage stamp-sized lot in California, but it's gonna be the death of us eventually. I mean, how do branches just fall off trees?! I've never heard of such a thing. Aren't they generally, like, attached in some way?
After everything was over it occurred to me that the neighbors probably witnessed my tirade, and will see the gash on her face and think I punched her for leaving a shovel in the backyard. You think I'm joking? Hell, that's what I'd think.
There's plenty more, but I have to go to work. I'll try to finish it up tomorrow. Sorry to be so lame, but that's the way it goes.
Oh, I almost forgot, here's this week's donut shop photo -- also disappointing. I guess that's the theme for the day?
Bye, for now.
-- Last night, at the dinner table, Toney took a drink of water and immediately made a face like a man wearing a suit of turds had just passed through the room. "Taste it! Taste it!!" she said, after spitting loudly into her glass. The hell? I sniffed it, and it smelled like a Dow Chemical plant just like it always did. I took a tentative little sip, and saw what she meant. It was sort of a mixture of sea water and a human ass. It coated the inside of my mouth like oil, and had a kicking aftertaste. It was also a little fizzy. Shit. We poured it out, needless to say, and popped open a couple of Diet Cokes with Lemon. After dinner Toney called the water company, and the woman wanted to know the color of the water we were getting out of our tap. The color! Toney told her it looked OK, which seemed to relieve her, and she went on to inform us that our town was under a 48-hour boil. What in the hell?! A boil? Is that water company shop-talk or something? She went on to explain that there was a water-main break somewhere around here, and it was affecting people's drinking water, so they'd issued the recommendation to boil your water before use. We never heard anything about this, and we don't exactly have our heads buried in the sand. Shouldn't they maybe go to greater lengths in getting the word out, when people's taps might be putting out poison? Well, that's just excellent. Wonder what kind of parasites and bacteria we ingested with our spaghetti last night? Hell, we cooked our pasta in that nasty African Queen water!! My intestines are probably lined with leeches.
-- I was at a Friendly's restaurant the other day, and I couldn't get the ketchup to come out of the bottle, which reminded me of a story. (Everything reminds me of a story...) When my brother and I shared an apartment years ago in Greensboro he had a little trouble getting ketchup out of a bottle as well. He was shaking it and pounding on it, but it wouldn't yield even the tiniest of dollops. Suddenly he stood up and told me to watch, he said he'd seen someone do this and it works great. He moved out into the middle of the living room floor, grabbed the bottle by the bottom, and began windmilling his arm around. Apparently he was attempting to utilize centrifugal force to drive the ketchup into the neck of the bottle, but I don't have to tell you what happened next. That's right, the lid flew off. When I saw the ketchup start to fly my mind seized up, and I couldn't say anything for a second or two. And his arm just kept going round and round, maybe two or three more full rotations with the lid off! Finally I began to yell, and he got his little machine stopped. There was ketchup across the carpet, the couch, a chair, up one wall and down another, and completely striping the ceiling. I immediately thought about our security deposit and got pissed, but then we both started laughing and couldn't stop for a long time. Fuck. The oily stains were still on the ceiling when we moved out. I bet they had a hard time figuring that one out.
-- Somebody stole the Yuengling license plate off the front of my truck! They took the plate, then thoughtfully put the bolts back! I'm irritated, but also a little touched. I bought that thing at the brewery and I'd never seen anyone else with one, but the fact that they took the time to screw the bolts back in displays a sense of decency you can't help but admire.
-- Pennsylvania Polka update: I've sent out two tapes so far, and am anxiously awaiting the reviews. The show hasn't been on the past two Saturdays, because of an auction or some crap, but is returning tomorrow. This week's episode goes to MsDeniseWight, and there are four or five others on the waiting list after her. By God, we will have our Polka Page! The founding fathers wouldn't have it any other way.
-- Now, as is required by Blog Union, Local 237, here are a few links you might enjoy:
The Tabasco Challenge. This is classic; I wish I'd thought of it.
Steve from Blue's Clues is recording an album with the Flaming Lips?! Sweet mother of Jesus, the end is near.
I found this on the web somewhere, with no explanation. It's probably better that way.
Check out the Crazy Drunk Guy.
-- Finally, here's a letter I sent to Wendy's Corporate offices in Ohio. If/when I receive a reply, I'll post it here, of course.
Dear Wendy's Corporation,
I've been told, by more than one reputable person, that at some of your restaurants in The Deep South the little pigtailed girl in your logo has been "adjusted" to appear African-American. While I suspect that this is an urban legend, I've heard far crazier things in my time. For instance, did you hear about the guy with brain cancer who tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, only to accidentally cure himself by shooting the tumor right off the surface of his brain? Is that wild or what? Supposedly he's completely cured now. Kinda makes you think, doesn't it? But anyway, can you verify that this racially customized Wendy is fact, or fiction? Mind you, I don't really care one way or the other, I just find it fascinating. Really, I don't care if you're black, white, blue, green, silver, red, gray, yellow, green, blue, red or sienna; that type of thing is just not important to me. Heck, some of my best friends are negroes. But if you could provide a sample of this logo, as well as any others employing non-white Wendys, butch Wendys, Jew Wendys, cripple Wendys, etc., I'd be much obliged. And I'd also be interested in knowing other ways Wendy's tailors its restaurants to various regions and neighborhoods. The McDonald's near where I live once test-marketed a kielbasa sandwich, if you can believe it, that tasted like a rolled up carpet remnant with spice on it. I don't think they did much to get on the good side of the folks up here, with that fiasco. I mean it was like they took a big sausage link and slapped us all in the face with it, ya know? You've got to be careful about that sort of thing. You don't want to be offensive.
Please respond, as soon as possible, and thank you very much for your time.
Sincerely, Jeff Kay
PS -- I'm a big fan of your taco salads, but I can no longer eat them because they make my ass fat. I'm certainly not implying it's your company's fault or anything, but you should see me from behind these days. Cowabunga! It's like I'm carrying around my own personal bucket seat.
PPS -- Love your mustard! Keep up the good work with that!! Your condiments rock the frickin' house!!!
And that'll do it for today. Have a great weekend folks. I'm gonna mow the grass, go look at pop-up campers, watch a half-dozen movies, and eat low-fat foods. It's like the glory days of Motley Crue around here!
May 7, 2002
-- The pollen is kicking in northeastern PA right now. Flowers and trees are shooting their wads all around. The resultant hay fever symptoms always hit me pretty hard, and for the past few days I've felt like my mucous membranes have been replaced with jalapeno jelly. I've also been sneezing like a maniac, and seemingly everyone else is as well. We went to Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, to Barnes & Noble and a few other temples of Ugly American Consumerism <shudder>, and people everywhere were hollering and screaming, in the grips of powerful clustered sneezing jags. Despite the knowledge that germs and the vaporized spittle of strangers was undoubtedly swirling around my face, I found it to be kinda funny. You could just stand in a store and listen to a non-stop chorus of sneezes. Also, I enjoy irritating Toney by being the loudest sneezer in the bunch; I can rattle glass with my sneezes! Yeah, it was all very amusing until I put my hand in a big wad of snot stuck to a refrigerator door in Best Buy. That kind of thing has the power to instantly change the tone of a day. Fuck.
-- Before the mystery snot webbed my fingers, we'd been looking around Best Buy, and I'd whipped myself into a state of sexual arousal over consumer electronics. Every time I go there I'm drawn, against my will, to a Sony Vaio desktop computer with a big-ass flat-screen monitor. It costs something like four thousand bucks, which may as well be four million, but a guy can dream, can't he? Then I walk like a zombie to the wide-screen digital TV (six grand!) that's always playing a Springsteen concert, and just stand in front of it with my mouth hanging open. Man, I could watch some Meat Loaf movies on that bitch. It's always the same path around that store, and I always leave feeling sad.
On Sunday we noticed they were running a promotion where you get a "free" stand with the purchase of any 32 or 36-inch TV, which sounded pretty good. We'd talked about upgrading one of our TVs, so I thought I'd investigate this deal a little further. I looked around for a store employee, and before I knew it a black dwarf in a Best Buy shirt was standing before me. He looked like Flip Wilson, with the top half of his legs removed. I asked him about the TV stand, and it was like I'd activated some pre-recorded message. He started going on and on, in that slightly condescending tone of salesmen, about the virtues of TV stands and how not all stands are created equal. He said that the one I was asking about is perfect for up to a 36-inch TV, but that it probably couldn't accommodate anything larger than that... blah, blah, blah. I couldn't get a word in for a solid sixty seconds. Then I finally blurted, "Where are they?" He looked at me for a beat, then just waved his hand in a general direction and waddled off in a huff.
At least I know it wasn't his snot I met up with minutes later, since it was stuck pretty high up on the refrigerator. Anyone else could've been the source though. I scrubbed my hand in the Barnes & Noble bathroom like a mental patient trying to deal with rejection.
-- After our little outing, we headed to Don Pablo's for lunch, and it turned out to be a slightly painful experience. It was Cinco de Mayo and people were in there boozing it up and having fun. Toney and I have traditionally used this undefined Mexican holiday as an excuse to drink to excess, and it wasn't easy sitting on the sidelines just watching the action. I felt like the kid with one lung who can't play with the other children. We didn't realize what day it was until we got there; we would've steered clear of the place if we'd known. This responsible living bullshit sucks a great big dick.
-- I don't know what's wrong with me, but I found myself laughing last night while watching Becker. Do you think I have a tumor?
-- I'm considering having some t-shirts printed up, and need your help. I'm thinking about putting the smoking fish and THE WEST VIRGINIA SURF REPORT! on the front, and some saying on the back. If you could take a second to cast your vote for your favorite tagline to go on the back of the shirt, I'd be much obliged. I don't know what I'll do with these things after they're printed, but I'm sure I can come up with something. Maybe I'll sell what I can at cost, then give the rest to a homeless shelter. I've always considered urban outdoorsmen to be a great untapped advertising opportunity.
-- Finally, here's the latest entry in our Birth of a Donut Shop photo essay. As always, please exercise extreme caution while viewing these photographs. They are not intended for the faint of heart.
And that's it. Pretty lame today, huh? Yeah well, quit your bitching, it's free.
May 4, 2002
I recently asked my friend Rocky, via email, if he remembers the time we nearly burned down a Chi Chi's restaurant in Charleston, WV, back in the day. He claims to not recall much from that era, so I expected to get a message back saying, "Pardon?" I'm not clear on whether he really can't remember this stuff, or simply chooses not to. He blames his memory lapses on alcohol, but I wonder. The things he can remember, and the things he can't seem pretty damn convenient. Luckily though, he has friends like me to remind him of stuff whenever he "forgets."
He remembered the Chi Chi's incident just fine, probably because I was the dumbass in that one, and his version of the story was hilarious. I'd forgotten one part of the tale, and was laughing out loud when he reminded me. It was but one night that our girlfriends pretended not to know who we were. There were more.
When I was deciding what to write about today, I realized that my well had not only run dry, but also had collapsed in on itself. I flipped through my notebook and saw an entry that read, "Spots on Carpet," and just tossed it aside with a huff. Scraping the bottom of the barrel is what I believe it's called. This is my third update this week, and I don't really lead a three-update life anymore. I'm more of a two-update guy these days, and I'm spreading myself pretty thin here. I stewed about it for a few minutes, then a cartoon light bulb began levitating above my head: I'd just tell a bunch of Rocky Stories!
So that's what I'm going to do. In case you're wondering, I asked Rocky if he has a problem with any of this, and he says he doesn't. He even gave me the thumbs up on running a couple of unusual photos I have of him. More on that later...
A little background info, before we get started: I've known Rocky since, hell, I guess forever. He lived next door to my grandmother, so I'm sure I knew him even before elementary school. We knew each other, but didn't really become friends until later. Sometime in high school we started tooling around the valley in his beleaguered Brut-scented Datsun, cranking his favorite album at top volume, and hanging out in his Farah Fawcett/Cheryl Tiegs shrine of a basement. There was a group of us... think That '70s Show, without the hot babes. I had my first beer with Rock, Miller High Life in bottles, purchased at Wagner's Market when we were sixteen. I can still see the desperate look on his face as he gave me his little pep talk before I entered the store. Holy shit, talk about your slippery slopes!
Now, with no further delay, here's the first edition of …Rocky Stories(tm).
The Chi Chi's Incident I know this happened fairly late in our debauchery careers, because females were present. We took our girlfriends to the wildly exotic Mexican(!?!) restaurant in Charleston, and had several drinks in the cantina while we waited for a table. Once we were seated we continued to drink, and at some point somebody (possibly your humble correspondent) put a tortilla chip in the candle in the middle of our table. Yes, I was quite the jokester in those days. It sparked and spit for a few seconds, which brought a few laughs, then everything died down and we moved on. We continued to keep the waitress busy traveling between our table and the bar, and started working on our strange meals from a faraway land.
Eventually one of us noticed that something wasn't quite right with the candle. It was sizzling and whistling, and putting off a mind-boggling amount of heat. The hell?! We messed around with it, and were surprised to find that all of the wax, all of it, was now liquid! It was four or five inches deep, in a sizable round glass container, and it had all gone from solid to boiling liquid! It was impossibly hot, like burning jet fuel or something... flat-out amazing. Then it started to crackle. Oh shit, the glass is going to bust, we realized with great alarm. I started to panic. I could just see molten hot wax rolling into our laps, and an evening spent wearing gauze and medicated creams in the burn unit of a local hospital -- the perfect end to a perfect evening.
I'm not real clear on who poured the glass of water on it, but it may have been your humble correspondent again. Instead of the episode being over, it suddenly got much much worse. A roaring five-foot flame shot out, blue in color, nearly singeing the Mexican artifacts hanging from the ceiling. It sounded like a gas grill firing up. I've never seen anything quite like it. Somebody across the room screamed, "They're freebasing! They're freebasing!!" and an army of restaurant employees instantly ganged our table. Other diners were now on their feet, ready to flee the building, and our girlfriends looked like they were ready to throw themselves in front of a bus. A member of the staff flung a plate onto the candle, and the chip-fueled flame was finally extinguished.
We then received a stern talking-to from management, but were allowed to finish our meals -- with every eye in the house boring holes in our backs. It was a long drive home.
A Globe of Puke Rocky was playing quarters with a bunch of guys at a party once, and they were using a clear glass coffee mug, which was etched to look like a globe. I was never a fan of drinking games, so I was just standing there watching the competition. Things were already pretty much out of control; I think my friend Bill swallowed eighty-five or ninety cents during the game -- some total not divisible by twenty-five. And at one point Rocky downed the entire warm contents of the globe, then sat there silently, staring straight ahead for an extended period. You could tell he was working hard to stop something bad from happening. Then, without warning, he refilled the globe with almost the exact same amount of liquid he’d taken in. Only it didn't look like beer anymore, it was more like barbecue sauce. It was friggin' brown! Again, people were on their feet ready to run. Incredibly, the players of the game were in such a state they just took the globe into the kitchen, washed it out and continued playing! Like I say, I never much cared for drinking games.
The Filmmaking Class When we were in college (I use the term very, very loosely - it was West Virginia State) Rocky and I took a filmmaking class together. The guy who taught this thing was a complete freak who once flopped and flailed in the floor, imitating a handicapped person, in front of an entire classroom of stunned students. For some reason I really liked him. Anyway, his first assignment was for us each to produce a three-minute “chase film.” Each of us had to do our own film, I think so he could see what natural talents, if any, we possessed. So, Rocky starred in mine, and I starred in his.
For my film I had Bill playing a bully who terrorized the blind street beggar Rocky. Bill not only stole his money but afterwards stuffed the collection cup into Rocky’s mouth. Bill laughed arrogantly and was shown walking into a bowling alley, as Rocky struggled to get to his feet. The rest of the film was of the blind Rocky “chasing” the evil bully. I had Rocky running down the middle of I-64, eighteen wheelers whipping past and blasting their horns, and then I’d cut back to Bill inside the bowling alley playing pinball and leisurely drinking a beer. Then back to Rocky, running down a country road, and falling ass-first in a mud hole. Then Bill playing pinball again, and back to Rocky tumbling down a steep hill... You get the idea. The part where he fell down the hill was one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed in my forty years on Earth. He started out sorta rolling on his side, then he began picking up steam and was eventually going end over end, occasionally bouncing high in the air. I could barely hold the camera steady I was laughing so hard. It’s a wonder he didn’t break his neck. I mean, it was simply unbelievable.
For his film, possibly as revenge for what I’d put him through, he made me play a flaming homosexual. I remember skipping through an open field wearing a trench coat, my limp wrists waving about, and also getting carried away while eating a hotdog, eventually removing the wiener from the bun and fellating it. I also remember sitting bolt upright in my bed the day he was going to show that thing to the class, beads of sweat popping out on my forehead.
About halfway through the semester the professor did some skipping of his own, and left the state with thousands of dollars worth of school-owned cameras and equipment. The class just dissolved into chaos after that. The guy left a big box of vintage TV Guides from the 1960’s in one of his closets, for God knows what reason, and Rocky helped me put it in the trunk of my car. I still have it in my basement.
The Whitewater Rafting Trip The same players from the Chi Chi’s incident went on an overnight rafting trip down the New River in WV, sometime during the early ‘80s. It cost a hundred bucks each, and Rocky apparently thought that was going to buy him his own personal manservant for the trip. He bitched and bitched because he had to row the boat, and lift heavy things. He kept mentioning the hundred bucks every time the guide would ask us to do something.
The whole thing got off to a bad start when we saw them loading one measly twelve-pack of beer on the raft. Oh, that shit simply wouldn’t do. So Rocky and I held everyone up as we high-tailed it to a grocery store to buy 24 more beers. Our girlfriends were not amused.
Despite everything I’ve mentioned, the trip was a blast. We didn’t see another human being the whole time we were gone, and it felt like we were visiting prehistoric times. It’s incredibly beautiful and rugged up in those mountains, and the rapids were pretty awesome as well. Rocky kept trying to convince the guide to let us break into the beer while we were still on the river, but he wouldn’t go for it. He was one of those by-the-book dullards.
That night, at the camp we’d built for ourselves (despite paying a hundred bucks each), Rocky and I started in on the hops and barley, and by the time the sun went down we were pretty roasted. The guide cooked an entire meal, including dessert, on the campfire. I think we had spaghetti!? Can that possibly be right?? Anyway, Rocky wandered off at some point to use the “bathroom”, and when he came stumbling back in the dark, he tripped and knocked over a table containing various noisy articles, as well as the cake -- or whatever it was we were supposed to have for dessert. The whole thing just dumped into the dirt, face down. The guide was visibly pissed.
Another thing I remember from that trip was a wooden box, sitting right out in the open, with a toilet seat attached to the top. There was no way in hell I was using that ridiculous contraption, I’d hold it for days on end before I’d crawl up on a shit box. But when we woke up the next morning, and came out of our tents, the guide was seated atop the thing reading a magazine! He was just sitting there, straight-backed, like he didn’t have a care in the world. I think he even gave us a friendly little wave! We tried not to look, but it was a pretty hard thing to ignore.
Vodka and Five Alive Rocky and I skipped class a few times when we were in “college,” opting for the consumption of alcoholic beverages instead of algebraic equations and the like. One day we were drinking vodka and Five Alive at his house, and things got a little out of hand. I remember him trying to open a sliding glass door and snapping the handle off, then somehow getting the thing off its track and hopelessly jammed at a precarious angle. Everything was tilted to the left, and wouldn't move in either direction. Then, as an encore, he backed into a huge shelf of plants and toppled the whole deal into the middle of the floor. There was potting soil all over the living room, four inches deep in some spots. Shit. I was ready to abandon him -- he was acting like a maniac! -- but I felt a little guilty, so I hung around some more. And the next thing I know he has his mother’s vacuum cleaner out and is plugging the thing in! “Rocky, are you nuts?!,” I screamed, “We’ve got to clean up some of this dirt first!” He just acted like he didn’t hear me and began running the vacuum over these great piles of soil. It only took a few seconds for the grinding noise to begin, and only a few more before the smoke started rolling. Then there was a loud wrenching sound, and a big metal plate came off the bottom of the vacuum. It smelled like an electrical fire in there, and Rocky looked like he was about to pass out. His eyes were going crossed, so I left. Later that night, around 8 o’clock, my phone rang. It was Rocky, and he wanted to know why I was late picking him up for class. I said, dude, it’s 8 o’clock at night! And then I had to spend the next fifteen minutes trying to convince him. He was extremely skeptical.
National Lampoon Scouts I can't remember why this happened, but Rocky and I found ourselves in a bar in a neighboring town one night, drinking Long Island Iced Teas and beer. I don't recall us ever drinking in that town before, and we almost never drank liquor, so it's all a mystery to me now. But we got ourselves pretty oiled in those unfamiliar surroundings that night, and at some point began telling everyone we were writers for The National Lampoon -- and buying drinks all around. We said we were scouts, out searching for material (apparently attempting to tap that rich reservoir of comedy that is St. Albans, WV), or some such nonsensical bullshit. The details are still sketchy, because I was blasted, but I can remember a bunch of people sitting at our table, telling us jokes.
After leaving we stopped at an elementary school to take a whiz and something got vandalized there. A tiny bit of glass may have been broken, but I'm not real clear on it. I seem to remember a small angry crowd, including an old lady waving a broom, chasing us off the property.
We went back to Dunbar, and there was a carnival in town. We somehow hooked up with Tim, another friend, and we were all at that carnival when the puking began. Tim was able to fill in the blanks on what happened, because there was no way in hell I was retaining much of it. I can remember sitting in the passenger seat of a car (my car?) with the door open, vomiting into the grass. I guess I passed out after that, because Rocky became convinced I was dying. Tim said he was screaming, "You're not dying on us, Jeff! Goddammit, you're not going to die!!" then attempted to begin CPR! Tim said he tried to pound on my chest, but missed and slugged me in the crotch. This brought me briefly back to consciousness, and I supposedly said, "Help me find my glasses Rocky, so I can kick your ass." It's one of my best lines, and I can't even remember saying it!
After Tim got Rocky calmed down, they dumped me at Bill's house and went home. Bill took me into the den and just let me drop in a pile on the floor. He said he checked on me an hour or so later and there were two or three cats sleeping on my back. Shit, what a horrible night. Bill eventually called my girlfriend and she came and retrieved my sorry ass. She gave me shit, my parents gave me shit, and I felt pretty shitty on my own.
And the next morning I found ten or twelve napkins stuffed in the pockets of my vomit-encrusted jeans with jokes scribbled all over them.
The No-Alcohol Party Despite my protests Rocky once dragged me to a no-alcohol party at some girl's house in Dunbar. He knew her, I didn't, and I didn't like the sound of that no-alcohol descriptor one tiny bit. But we went, and it turned out to be a very memorable night indeed.
When we walked in people were playing fucking backgammon, sipping Coca-Cola, and listening to a novelty 45 that spoofed the "Who Shot J.R.?" craze. I felt like we'd passed through a portal into the Land of Nerds. "What in the hell?", I whispered to Rocky, "You must be pretty damn horny..." We started mingling and it was incredibly dull. People were talking about chemistry and shit. I can't really remember who was there, but they were all a little too civilized for my tastes. After a few minutes Rocky came up to me and said, "Lets go get some beer." He didn't have to twist my arm, and we made a beeline for Wagner's, where we purchased two twelve packs. "I thought this is a no-alcohol party?" I said. And Rocky just shrugged his shoulders. Why sweat the details?
We got back to the house and people were almost literally throwing themselves on the beer, apparently needing some relief as well. The host seemed a little nervous, but didn't object too much. I started making some calls, inviting a few of our rowdy friends to somebody else's party -- a party being thrown by people I barely knew.
Before long it was rocking in there. Bill arrived with some real records (I'd begged him) and some more beer. He walked over to the stereo and ripped the needle off the 45 that was still droning "Jayyyy Arrrrr..." and tossed it like a Frisbee into a nearby chair.
An hour or so later I remember walking through the living room and people were laying everywhere, some were making out, and Molly Hatchet was rattling the windows. And Bill was standing in the middle of the floor tipping up a comically oversized jug of beer, a gallon or something. Then somebody yelled, "Jeff, can you come here please? Rocky's locked himself in a closet and won't come out!" I tended to that crisis and when I returned Bill was busy hiding empty beer cans all over the house. This was supposed to be a no-alcohol party, as mandated by the host's parents, and Bill was going around hiding beer cans in boots, and down inside plants, and behind the Rice-A-Roni in the pantry! Things were quickly spinning out of control. I found Rocky a little while later in a bedroom rifling through somebody's underwear drawer, flinging bras and panties all over the room. Fuck.
Eventually the parents came home, and walked into a scene straight out of Animal House, transferred to their own residence. I remember some guy coming down the steps as the parents entered the house, and he smiled and raised his beer in a salute like he was goddamn Hugh Hefner welcoming them to the mansion. Holy crap in a hand basket. I prepared for the worst, but they didn't say a word. In fact, they disappeared into their bedroom and let the fun continue.
It turned out to be a mistake.
Later that night Rocky wound up and hurled a slice of pizza across the room, without warning or provocation, and it momentarily stuck to a wall, then slid down in a wide greasy streak. And a little later he took a great arcing piss off the balcony, very nearly hitting a group of geeks standing in the backyard. He also locked himself in a few more closets(?). Bill successfully hid twenty or thirty beer cans all around the house, and the J.R. record somehow got busted all to shit.
Yeah, we all got into major trouble for that little night on the town. For reasons I still don't understand, it was the balcony pissing that seemed to tip the scales. I would've guessed the Italian fastball. In any case, parental phone calls were made, and I think Rocky was grounded for a month, while I got off relatively easy with just a week.
I bet they're still finding those cans.
As I was typing all this stuff, it occurred to me that we may have been assholes. That thought had never really crossed my mind before, but some of these stories are undeniably obnoxious. It doesn't bother me though. We had fun, lots and lots of fun, and nobody got too hurt. I sometimes marvel that we made it to this advanced age, considering some of the shit we pulled (wait till you read the Bill Stories!), but we're all pretty much intact. And nobody can accuse us of not living our lives. They can accuse us of a lot of stuff, but not that.
Anyway, we've all mellowed through the years. We're not nearly as crazy now. Check out this picture of Rocky from the old days (he wanted me to mention that it was very cold that day), and this more recent one, if you need the evidence.
See ya on Tuesday.
May 1, 2002
A quick one:
-- The postmaster is apparently going to do nothing about our erratic, unbalanced mail man, and didn't even offer an explanation (or apology) for his crazy-ass performance on Saturday. He just mumbled that our complaint had been noted, and then tried to get off the phone. I get the feeling he's been down this bumpy road before, and is growing a little weary of the journey. Oh well, I don't want the fucker fired or anything, but I'd sure like for him to sweat a little, and maybe lie awake a few nights worrying. Is that mean-spirited?
It's gonna be interesting to see what happens the next time we lock eyes with Ol' Strawberry Alarm Clock in our front yard. I don't think it's even a possibility that he'll just let it drop; there's gonna be further ugliness. And it sure would suck if I got my ass kicked by a sixty year old hippie tofu-muncher.
And I think that's more than enough on that particular subject. This whole thing reminds me of the little party they had for me when I left Peaches, and was planning my big move to Atlanta. We were at Spring Garden Bar & Grill in Greensboro and a gigantic black guy named Lawrence, who also worked at the record store, returned from the bathroom and proclaimed, "Yeah, you can tell this is a white man's bar... motherfucker over there talking about his mail man."
Let's move on, shall we?
-- I was greeting our little troublemaker, the ferocious border collie Andy, yesterday after work and felt something in his fur. "What's all these dingleberries on Andy's neck?" I said, and knelt down to investigate. It was a big wad of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese(?!). Who the hell knows?
-- I returned to Wendy's this week, for the first time since I started my ass-reduction campaign, and it was a little emotional. I'm not ashamed to admit I wiped away a tiny tear as I waited to place my order. I thought I'd try one of their salads, and opted for the one with big hunks of chicken on top. I chose honey mustard dressing, since they no longer offer Thousand Island (the conspiracy continues!!) and flopped down in my old booth in the back. I stupidly sat on the wrong side, and was looking straight across at an old woman with a large canister of oxygen sitting beside her, and clear tubes hanging out of her nose. Fuck. I noticed she also had a police scanner, which was squawking loudly. What in the hell? Dear God, why don't I pay attention to what I'm doing? I thought to myself that I'd probably end up like her, sharing my lunch with a silver drum from the medical supply house and monitoring local police activity in a fast food restaurant. I took the lid off my salad, and started to pour the dressing when I stopped to check the fat content. Twenty-nine grams!! Ho-ly fuck!!! It's like a stick of butter! Or an entire cow melted down and put into a pouch! You may as well just sit down with a spoon and eat a five pound bucket of lard! Disgusting. I took it back and traded it for "lite" ranch, which only had nine grams of fat. Shit, no wonder we're a nation of sows.
I'm now the dullest man alive, aren't I?
-- More Westerberg frustrations: I set up the VCR to tape his appearance on Letterman (the show, not the man) Monday night, and when I got up Tuesday there was nothing. Something went horribly wrong in the night; it was like a goddamn head cleaner! I missed the whole thing. Then yesterday morning I was grumbling and irritated that I was going to miss the in-store in Philly last night as well. So, on a whim, I called the store to see if they had any passes left. I'd read that they handed out over 200 the first day they were available, so I'd assumed all 400 were gone by now. But the guy said they had "plenty," and I wouldn't have any trouble getting in if I decided to come! I got excited, and ran it by Toney, who had no objections. I was actually going to get to go! So I fired off a quick note to my boss and told him I was going to sneak out a little early, if he didn't mind. Yeah, you can guess the rest... He's never minded before, but he minded yesterday. It probably had something to do with that conference call last week. He started asking a bunch of questions, and obviously didn't like the idea of me leaving two measly hours early. I couldn't believe it! I thought the top of my head was going to blow off, as I sat there doing nothing during those final two hours -- watching my Westerberg dreams go up in smoke. Grrr.. The whole thing was doomed from the start. I get the feeling that if Westerberg decided to stage a Replacements reunion show in my living room, something would happen making it imperative that I be in the garage. Toney said that maybe somebody's watching out for me, that I would've been in a car wreck or something if I'd gone. I guess that's one way of looking at it, if you're wired differently than I am.
On a more positive note, his new album is incredible. It takes a few listens, but it eventually pays big dividends. Get it. Get it today. I beg of you.
-- On an almost related note... If you're a Tom Waits fan (or even if you're not), you can listen to his two(!) new upcoming albums in their entirety here. How cool is that?
-- One of Toney's friends is bugging the crap out of her, trying to convince her to start selling Mary Kay products(!?). She calls the house and spews forth torrents of propaganda, in a tone that's not her own. And she simply will not take no for an answer. It's pretty creepy, she's like a pod person now. She'd invited Toney to a Mary Kay party at her house a couple of weeks ago, and Toney felt obligated to accept. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished, and Toney's now paying the price. This woman dropped off a pink CD for her to listen to several days ago, which I'm sure employs the same brainwashing techniques the Japanese used during World War II, and has been calling two or three times per day to see if she's listened to it yet. It's a nightmare. I heard Toney slam down the phone yesterday and scream, "I'm not joining your cosmetic cult, lady!" We may have to get a restraining order. Wonder if you can request them in bulk?
-- Finally, I was talking to a guy at work the other day about all the bootleg DVDs I saw being hawked on the streets of NY when we were there recently. This guy knows a few things about the video business, and started telling me about the huge bootlegging problem in China. He said it's completely out of control, far worse than it is here, and studios have to go to great lengths to try to keep advance copies of films from falling into the wrong hands. I guess it's just a massive problem. But then, almost as an afterthought, he got to the good part... He said that for some reason Karl Malden and George C. Scott are the hottest actors going in China right now, and they put their names on everything -- regardless of whether they were involved in the movie or not. He says he has a copy of the Travolta flick Swordfish, which is only a year or so old, that says in big letters on the front: Starring Karl Malden and George C. Scott! Is that not friggin' hilarious?
I love this world, I swear I do.
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