The State Of My       Fat Ass

SEPTEMBER 2001

   

September 26, 2001

A short, easy one:

-- A ranking official in my vast underground network of spies and back-stabbers mentioned casually in an email a few days ago that he had secured access to a video tape of the season premier of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, set for broadcast October 2. He told me it was a special two-hour episode in which Buffy is brought back from the dead, and the tape is a rough unfinished edit. "So, you're telling me you've watched it, and you know everything that happens?" "Yeah, I watched it and..." "Write about it for the website! Write about it for the website!!" I interrupted, with the "request" my friends have learned to dread. Indeed, I get the feeling they've started watching what they say around me, for fear of such writing assignments.

He didn't fight too much though, and quickly agreed to summarize the episode in writing. He watched it a second time, then penned this excellent account of what you'll see next week. Another Surf Report world exclusive, acquired through mildly unethical channels.  I love it. Now the work begins, as I attempt to get the word out to Buffyheads worldwide, and maybe provide a few revelations that haven't already been beaten to death in their scary, obsessive newsgroups. If I'm lucky, they'll rise up and threaten me with bodily harm, like the Mike Piazza fans did. One can only dream.

-- By the way, I like Buffy but I don't really watch it anymore. I appreciate the humor, the acting, the writing, and all that, but for some reason I don't feel compelled to tune in every week. I watched it faithfully for about two seasons, then strayed from the flock. Truthfully, I didn't even know she'd been killed at the end of last season. And I have no idea who Anya is. Hey, sue me. I'm a busy man; I've got bowls of pig flesh to photograph.

-- Speaking of that, I've mailed my last remaining package of microwave pork rinds to Surf Report faithful, Rocky From The Insane Asylum, and am anxiously awaiting his reaction. Sadly, I don't have anymore to send out, but I did find these online instructions, in case you'd like to make your own. Let me know how they turn out.

-- I linked to this in my latest 'Dispatches From The Bunker' newsletter, but I think it's worth highlighting here as well. It's one of the funniest things I've read in my entire fun-filled life. Yes, his parents must be proud.

-- On a related note, I've received some interesting email about my recent admission that I've never, not even once, taken a crap at work. Yes, friends, that means the '70s, the 80s, the 90s, and the new millennium. I could bend a spoon with the power I have over my own colon ...or something. Anyway, here's the best of the lot, by far:

To describe my feelings (read "envy") of your ability to schedule crapping as desired, you might want to watch the movie "Unbreakable". Its about a guy (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who has been sickly and fragile his whole life. His only desire is to be super human. He knew that somewhere in the world there had to be a man that was an exact opposite of him, who never got sick, who never got hurt (Bruce Willis).

You are my Bruce Willis. My passion for avoiding work-place craps is just as powerful and just as passionate as yours. Yet, I cannot avoid it. My entire life I knew there had to be someone who was just the opposite, who could pencil in crap times on a calendar weeks ahead of time, and never suffer the humiliation of the work-place crap. You are that man Jeff Kay, and I am torn between envy and hatred (sort of like my feelings for John Holmes).

What makes it even more frustrating is you probably take this ability for granted, feeling no sense of appreciation for this power for which you have been blessed. Walk a mile in my wingtips bucko, and you would never look at colon control the same again.

We have a dinner table game we play every night at my house (this is no joke) called "Guess How Many Craps Daddy Had At Work Today". My only consolation is knowing you don't get to experience moments like this with your family.

In my eyes, you are the combination of Bruce Willis and John Holmes....I hate you....yet I cannot look away.

Thanks, Tim. Very nice, indeed. 

If you haven't participated in our poll on this subject, please take a second to do so now.  It's very important that this data be collected.

-- And finally, some pictures a friend sent of a snake that ate an entire human. In his words, "that's some shit right there...pure D shit."

I'd like to encourage all of you to send in stuff you stumble across, and find interesting -- especially the borderline illegal stuff. You see, if you provide me with material, I don't have to write as much. I've found that it's far easier for me, if you do all the work. What do you say? Be a bud?

Big weekend coming up, boys and girls: Spongebob at the mall! Stay tuned right here, for complete coverage.

Until we meet again...


September 24, 2001

-- I mentioned a while back that when I step up on the bathroom scales you can see sparks inside the little window, as the wheel is forced into a violent spin and is ultimately wrenched off it axis by the sheer power of the centrifugal pull. It whirs and whirs and whirs, and always comes to a stop at 230 pounds. 230! When I worked at Peaches in Greensboro years ago, I briefly ballooned to 200 (I remember, because I was horrified), and the store director said, "Damn Jeff, you're getting a fat ass; you look like a woman from behind." Yes, the love I felt in those days was immense, but I often wonder what he'd say today, about the state of my fat ass, after the equivalent of an extra two or three newborn babies have been added to the mix? Most of the time I don't really care one way or the other, but every once in a while a little self-respect bubbles to the surface and makes me want to try and reduce the payload a little. Three weeks or so ago I decided to make another conscious effort to watch what I eat, and only drink beer on weekends, and walk a couple of miles around the track after dinner. I did pretty well at sticking to all the rules, and felt good about my progress. My pants felt looser, and I was energized. I was drinking water instead of soda, eating skimpy little turkey sandwiches instead of big ol' greasy burgers, and consuming pussified quantities of Yuengling. Before dark every evening I'd walk over to the school by our house, and hoof it around the track for forty-five minutes with all the other neighborhood fatties. And now the results are in! 230.

-- Speaking of watching what I eat, I fired up the second sack of cracklins Saturday night so I could take a picture of them for you folks. Here it is. Notice the shininess. I could only eat two this time, before flinging them into the trash, because the second one provided me with one of the most godawful tastes my mouth has ever known. It wasn't like the rest of them; it was gamier. I have little doubt that it was a pig ball, or something equally horrifying. I'm gagging just thinking about it, I swear. Anyway, there's still another package left, and I ain't eating it. If one of you'd like to try it out, I'll be glad to send it to you. I'm serious. All I ask in return is a short written account of the experience, to share with your fellow Surf Reporters. Email me your address, if you dare, and I'll get it in the mail to you. Hell, if more than one of you respond, I'll go get another box. I'd like to read your reactions to these microwaveable strips of hell.

-- Last week a friend forwarded me one of those gag emails about all the different types of shits people take at work. You know, like the Stealth Shit, and the Hit and Run, and the Bombadier -- I'm sure you're familiar with the concept. It was mildly amusing, but the conversation we had afterwards was the best part. I casually mentioned that I've never taken a crap at work. Not once. To my surprise, this seemed to shock him. He was absolutely incredulous. Am I the freak here? I can't even imagine taking a dump amongst other members of the human race, especially co-workers. I see those guys who proudly tuck a newspaper under their arm, and march into the bathroom as if their off to defend our freedoms, and I think they're the freaks. I go into the men's room to wash my hands, and there's sounds coming out of the corner stall like somebody's practicing the clarinet, and I just shake my head. Like George Castanza, I require an adequate buffer zone, and I guess I've trained my system not to even put in that particular request between the hours of nine and six. It never occurred to me that I may be in the minority here. My friend thinks I must be some kind of otherworld cyborg, or something. "How do you hold it!?" he screamed across long-distance phone lines, "Not once?! I'm in the hundreds here!!" Please devote a few seconds to take my mini-poll; I'm intrigued by this.

-- Saturday afternoon I decided to walk over to the now-open State Street Bar and Grill, which rose from the ashes of the late, great John K's Pub -- which was shut down a few months back by those pussies down at the Department of Public Health. It's been open now for a few weeks but I haven't really had a burning desire to go in, judging from all the renovations and upgrades they've done to the outside. Most of the squalor that was the essence of John K's has been replaced by nice landscaping and outdoor seating and blonde wood and tasteful light fixtures. It's a sad thing to behold. Where the overflowing dumpster once sat is now a flower garden. It's not a corner bar anymore, it's a hangout for the young and upwardly mobile. But I attempted to set aside my deep-seated prejudices, and check things out with an open mind. Here's a picture of the front of the place that I snapped before entering. I couldn't get a better shot, because of all the people sitting out there. You don't just start snapping photos of drunken jocks, ya know? When I went in I was floored by all the changes. Where there was once filthy, rancid carpeting was now beautiful hardwood floors. The old bar was gone, and in its place was a giant, curved thing with fancy inlays and designs on its surface. There was track lighting, and framed black & white photographs that were more matte than photos. There were fucking plants sitting around. And the clientele was well-dressed -- most of the men in ties, and the women in dresses. I felt a little shabby in my shorts and tennis shoes, which would've been unthinkable in the old days. You could've gone in there wearing a turban of your own solid waste, and nobody would've blinked an eye. I was horrified. The place was crawling with goddamn yuppies. Fucking packed with goddamn yuppies. I took a seat at the bar, the only one that was vacant, and ordered a pint of Yuengling. The bartender was friendly, and stood there and shot the shit for a few seconds, then left me alone with my beverage. I watched all the activity with amazement. Well-scrubbed cute-girls scurried about delivering plates of complex entrees to tables, and delivered orders to the bartenders for martinis and shit. What had happened here? Where were the hotdogs and pitchers of beer? I sat and drank another lager, then another, and started to soften a little. It wasn't that bad, in fact it was pretty nice. Everyone seemed friendly, which is something to make note of in northeastern Pennsylvania. And they still serve Yuengling in the same sized glasses, in the same building as before. Why be such a snob? Then I offered to settle my tab, and found out the beers were only a buck seventy-five each! Hell, they were two twenty-five under the old regime. Screw John K's, a new era is upon us!

-- Yesterday Toney and I went to a couple of open houses in our town, to see how the rich folks live. One of the places we went into had a shitload of taxidermy in it, including a big-ass moose head that practically filled a bedroom. It was frozen in time, forever looking to its right -- undoubtedly at the hunter (the owner of the house?) who would end his life in the next couple of seconds. It gave me the creeps. I mean, what the fuck? Why would anyone want a collection of traumatized animal heads in their house?

We also checked out a really nice place that had an awesome home-office in a loft overlooking the family room. It was cool as hell, but the place was listed at about a hundred grand more than what we paid for our house. And the depressing thing: the owners were younger than us. Bastards. Mr. and Mrs. Fancy-Pants probably stayed in college and took their careers seriously. Assholes.

Then we went to Target and heard a page over the loud speaker for "Edna Frogbutter" to please report to the dressing rooms. I swear to god. And I heard a woman come out of the bathrooms and tell her friend, "Damn, it sounded like a fountain in there." We checked out the Spongebob section, but it was just stuff for kids, which is blatant ageism in my opinion. They had a cool t-shirt that showed Spongebob "taking it around the town" which I would've gladly bought if they'd offered it in a husky-long. Their loss, I say. Afterwards we went to the grocery store, and I did my old trick of putting about twenty-seven eggplants in our cart while Toney wasn't looking. Some things are funny year after year after year.

And now it's time to go back to work... Why can't I just do this for a living?

September 21, 2001

A couple more things:

-- Several days ago Toney told me she saw something “really gross” at Wal-Mart. I asked her if it was a customer or an employee, but it turned out she was talking about an item on their shelves… specifically, microwave pork rinds. “Can you think of anything more disgusting?” she asked. Well, sure I can: maggots, mayonnaise, wet briefs contests, Hillary Clinton, gumbo day at the hare-lip camp… But I got her point. Microwave pork rinds (or, as they call them down south, “cracklins”), hmm… that is pretty disgusting. A big bag of piping hot strips of rendered out pork fat packaged for convenience and speed?! Oh, I had to have some.

The next day I made a special trip to Wal-Mart, and purchased a three pack box. They were in the microwave popcorn section, and the packaging promised “a hot new snack that’s convenient, crispy, and cracklin’.” Yep, just what the doctor ordered. But they sat around unopened on our kitchen counter for a week or so as rescue workers in NYC pulled charred bodies out of a mountain of rubble, and my interest in a steaming bowl of crispy fat waned dramatically. Last night I took a deep breath though, and stepped up to the plate. The day of pork reckoning had arrived.

They come in a bag, like microwave popcorn, and the directions say to nuke them until the bag stops expanding. Right away my stomach started gurgling at the thought of the bag’s contents expanding. Shit! And when I ripped the plastic off, I was smacked in the face by a wave of funk like evening feet and livestock semen. I tossed the bag inside the microwave, and hit the “popcorn” button. The bag leapt to life and immediately began jerking and puffing up. There was a pronounced sizzling sound coming from inside, and the stink grew progressively worse as the sizzling got louder. At this point Toney was yelling because of the horrible horrible smell, and waving her hands at the air and distorting her face. It was like a goddamn crematorium in there.

When I opened the microwave I very nearly vomited, and I’m not just being dramatic. I’ve never smelled anything quite like what rushed out from behind that door, and my gag reflex kicked in. I stepped back to regain my composure, and to let things settle down a bit -- the greasy pork pouch was smoking and sizzling like a bitch. What the hell was I doing, anyway?! Toney had fled the scene by this time, and I was all alone with my foul-smelling sack of cracklins. After a while I transferred them to a bowl, and went downstairs to try to summon up enough courage to eat one of the scary-ass things.

They were popping and whistling and carrying on in the bowl, and I was afraid to look directly at them for fear I might be blinded by splattering fat. The whistling concerned me too. Eventually I picked one up, eyed it, and bit off a corner. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. Sort of a bacon/Rice Krispies deal, pleasantly salty. Interesting, I thought. I ended up eating five or six, and tossed the rest in the trash. They taste a lot better than they smell, but afterwards it felt like the inside of my mouth was treated with an underbody rust inhibitor; there's a hell of a lot of grease. I won't be buying the horrifying things again, but truthfully they weren't as bad as I'd expected -- once you get past the smells of the Nazi death camps. Plus, you just know they're made from skin and snouts and scrotums and buttholes, and various other slaughter house scraps. Call me common if you'd like, but I think I'll just stick with potato chips.

-- A couple of recent events have nudged me ever closer to my coming mid-life crisis.

A few days ago I was bitching about a poorly-designed spreadsheet at work, and blurted, "Goddamn, you've got to be Mannix to figure this thing out!" When I looked up everyone was staring at me like I'd just lapsed into the language of the silver-tipped barn owl. "Who or what is a Mannix?," they were thinking. I was sickened to realize I was the oldest person in the room, and making obscure old-fart references that have no meaning to anyone born after the Johnson administration. I may as well put on a raccoon coat, honk a big brass horn, and shout, "23-Skidoo!" Fuck me.

When I was picking up a pizza earlier in the week, there was a group of teenagers taking up three or four booths just inside the door of the restaurant. They were being pretty loud, like you'd expect, and most of the guys were wearing giant pants that wouldn't even be tight on me, with about a yard of underwear sticking out of the top. There was a lot of earrings and dyed hair and attitude: all very typical and familiar. On my way out, I accidentally bumped the foot of one of the big-pants enthusiasts with my free 2-liter bottle of root beer. I thought, oh shit, here comes trouble. But there was no trouble. He looked at me with a nervous expression and said, "Excuse me, sir." And I was horrified as they all regarded me with respect, like I was their goddamn principal or something. Sir. Ha!

I'm leaning more towards a Camaro, instead of a Corvette. I've always felt that Camaros have more balls. And I'm seriously considering taking up the guitar; chicks dig the guitar. Hell, yeah. I'm not done living yet, baby! It's gonna be the cat's meow.

Have a great weekend! Keep saving your bacon grease, and don't forget to buy war bonds to help out our men and women in uniform.  See ya on Monday.

September 18, 2001

A few more things:

-- I'm going to try to ease back on the terrorist bombing stuff from here on out. Everybody's talking about it, probably even dead people at seances and dogs at the park, so there's little need for my cockeyed analysis and opinions on the subject. I certainly won't be ignoring what's going on -- I'm a news junkie -- but I'd like this site to be fun, and a little different from what you find elsewhere. So I'll leave the political and sociological commentary to the experts, and get back to whining about my personal life. Like Carrot Top says, you've got to find the thing you're best at, and stick with it.

-- I mentioned in the forum that Spongebob Squarepants will be appearing at a mall in Scranton on Saturday, 9/29. Obviously I'm  jacked up about it. I know it won't be the "real" Spongebob (cartoon characters are notorious hermits), but it'll be an officially sanctioned Spongebob, and that's good enough for me. I don't really know what to expect, but you can bet I’ll be there to find out. I hope I get the chance to sit on his lap and tell him what I want for Leif Erickson day. <obscure Spongebob reference> It’s gonna be great! If I'd known about this US tour in advance, and had a little more ambition, I would've recruited a couple of my more adventurous (some might say fucked-up) friends to hit the road with me to film a documentary about it. I imagine footage of him standing at a urinal, or sitting on a barstool chain-smoking cigarettes, or going up an escalator sideways because of his oversized yellow smiling box-suit. Oh yeah, I’m building this thing up so much in my head that it can’t help but be anticlimactic, but I'll have plenty of pictures to share anyway. I just hope a bunch of kids don’t show up and ruin everything.

-- Johnny Bench made his way to the “hot seat” last night on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? He eventually made it to the $250,000 level, before walking. The question that stumped him was "what was Scarlett O’Hara’s name in early drafts of Gone With The Wind?" And he didn’t know the answer! Case closed; Johnny Bench is straight. The correct answer was Pansy, I shit you not, so I don’t want to hear any more about it.

-- An excerpt from an IM conversation I had with my brother a few days ago:

Him: Remember how you used to eat Funyuns, then blow your breath on me?

Me: No.

Him: It used to piss me off.

-- The puppy experiment is going well. He seems to be extraordinarily smart, and about three-fourths house-broken already. On the rare occasion that he has shit on the rug, he’s been considerate enough to make it a collection of dry mini-logs for easy clean-up. It’s like picking up stones. Now that’s a good dog! He’s a three month old puppy and hasn’t chewed up a thing. We don’t even have to lock him up at night; he sleeps on a blanket beside our bed. I was telling my dad about how well he’s doing, and we started talking about a dog we had when I was a kid, named Scooby. “I believe that dog was retarded,” he said. The dog couldn’t be trusted to roam the house without supervision, so my parents would put him in the utility room while everyone slept. The next morning they’d open the door over a big pile, causing a large circular smear of terrier waste. Every day before school my mom or dad would be in there mumbling curses under their breath as they scrubbed a fresh shit-arc and sopped up various lakes of pee that eventually rusted out the bottom of our washing machine. He also had wicked gas that could cause varnish to abandon a door, and suffered from severe skin problems and epilepsy. But we loved him, and it was a sad day when he went to shit behind that big door in the sky. I still have his collar somewhere.

-- When we were at the Humane Society picking up our new pup, I tried not to look at the blackened smokestack sticking out of the roof. Horrifying. I wonder if the people who live around there have to wipe dog ash off their cars?

-- And finally… the news out of North Carolina is that a fellow former Peaches Records and Tapes employee found herself in an altercation with security at a recent Dwight Yoakam concert, and Dwight himself came into the audience to help her out of the jam. You can read about it here, and also see a rare photo of a grown man in sequined pants climbing down a ladder.

And that’s all for now. Until next time…

September 17, 2001

-- During times of trouble, when things are darkest, we naturally turn to the wisest among us for guidance and counsel. We seek their wisdom and support, to help make sense of the insanity around us, and to provide a clear-headed course for the future. Considering this, I can't tell you how glad I was to read the words below. It was as if the black clouds of despair instantly parted, and the sun was finally able to shine through...

NEW Yorker Whoopi Goldberg has called for restraint in the wake of the disaster until authorities are certain who is behind the attack. She says: "We have no choice but to wait and make sure because of the magnitude of the response. We're pretty much talking about taking out a country."

I think it's safe to say I haven't enjoyed this level of social clarity since before we lost Ted Knight.

-- Many of you have asked for "Nancy's" reaction (OK, none of you), and I'm pleased to be able to pass that bit of news on now. Toney spoke with her Sunday morning, and here are a few paraphrased "Nancy" quotes, for your enjoyment:

"Typical war-mongering Americans!"

"Every other country has to live with terrorism, but Americans think they're special."

"I certainly don't believe we should retaliate. Just because they killed thousands of our people, doesn't give us the right to kill thousands of theirs."

"I'm getting really sick of all this God Bless America stuff. Even the funky coffee houses we go to have those signs up. It's disgusting."

"I guess Arabs are the people this country has chosen to hate in the new century."

She's a college professor, with a doctorate. She molds young minds. God Bless America.

-- I spoke briefly with Toney's mother Sunday morning, and she said, "I keep expecting to see Chandra Levy's mother run out of the crowd, with that crying husband hanging off her shirt tail, waving a picture and screaming, "Don't forget about Chandra! Don't forget about Chandra!!" I have to admit I laughed. All day.

-- I read that it took America fifty-five days to respond to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fifty-five days before that war mongering FDR launched his racist attacks on the misunderstood Japanese and Germans. And you can just imagine the disgusting level of patriotism, I mean nationalism, that must've been going on back then. How crass and insensitive we were to go out and win World War II! I'm so ashamed.

-- Here's an email I received last week:

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm mad. Mad at our American Psychics. I mean, I've been paying these people good money for my entire life in order for them to tell me my future and not once did they mention this 'terrorist attack' thing. And I know they had to know about it because it's just the biggest event in AMERICAN HISTORY! Why were they holding back? That's the question I'd like to ask that Fat Jamaican tarot card reader on TV. Hell, why didn't Dionne Warwick warn us for fuck's sake? It's inexcusable, and I, for one, want answers. I swear, if this happens again, I may begin to think that these skeptics are right. C'mon guys, get with it. We know you have the power. Tell us next time. Thank you.

Yours truly, Psychic spending fool.

-- Here's an interesting piece, by a Canadian newspaper columnist.

-- Have you seen this album cover by an Oakland rap group I've never heard of? It was created months ago, but it'll never see the light of day. Now the record company is asking that the image not be distributed on the Internet. Yeah, right.

-- A woman from the town where we now live was killed in Tuesday's attack in NYC, and one of her friends appeared on the local news proclaiming that she was always full of vim and vinegar. I'm not sure what her hygiene regimen has to do with anything, but whatever.

-- The whole Piazza brouhaha seems pretty inconsequential right about now, huh? How was that ever important?

-- A business in Florida will not allow their employees to display American flag in their offices or cubicles, for fear that somebody's feelings might get hurt. They actually suspended a woman who refused to go along with the ban. You can read about it here. And here's the CEO's email address: bill_schrempf@ncci.com If you'd like to send him a quick note, there's nothing I can do to stop you.

-- To get away from the news on TV, Toney and I went out for a drive (must be the West Virginian in me) on Sunday afternoon. We came across a cool old gas station way out on a country road, and we stopped to look around. Here are some photos I took. Not to be too Oprah about it, but this is what the terrorists attacked on Tuesday. Looking at these shots now is almost enough to make me want to enlist. If they need a 38 year old mildly-alcoholic fat man, I'm here to serve baby.

See ya in a day or two.

                  

September 13, 2001

A lot is being made about a growing sense of suspicion and anger in this country being directed towards people of Middle Eastern heritage. Because this is happening in America, it's called racism. I’m no sociologist, but I believe I may know the reason for these sentiments. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that Arab terrorists killed thousands of our citizens in a recent murderous attack. That kind of thing tends to piss people off. We’re expected to accept and be respectful (some say understanding!) of the blind hatred of our country by certain radical foreign groups, but even when one of those groups comes onto our soil and causes unthinkable mayhem, and kills thousands of innocents, our anger is looked on as shameful. Hating America is fine and dandy, but when Americans get pissed they’re branded as racists. I’m sorry, but it’s not racism, it’s human nature. It may not be fair and it may not be pretty, but it’s reality.  Any group that deigns to pull a stunt like this is not going to do much to advance the acceptance of their fellow countrymen. Nationality has little to do with it, anyway. If a group of mechanics got together and executed something of this nature, innocent mechanics everywhere would suffer. It's simply not fair or accurate to label the resulting anger as racism. When an American soldier was accused of raping a schoolgirl in Japan recently, and that country was gripped in a temporary anti-American frenzy, I don't recall the Political Correctness Police writing them any citations. No, that kind of thing only goes one way. Indeed, when that was happening, I was pissed at the bag o' shit who cast our country in such a bad light, not the Japanese for being angry about it. My fragile sensibilities weren't bruised. I didn't feel victimized by hostile racism. And I'm almost certain my self-esteem wasn't permanently damaged. Their reaction was a natural one, and it never occurred to me to think less of them for it. Hell, there are plenty of people in this country who seem to have no problem in making the giant leap to justifying and defending the actions of a mother who drowned her five kids, but who seem baffled and aghast that some people might be feeling a little resentful towards people of Middle Eastern descent right now. I wish it weren't so, but that's the way it goes. People get emotional when something like this happens, and they want somebody to blame. It's incredibly unfair, to be sure, but not any more so than hating all Christians because a handful of them blow up abortion clinics. Or all Southerners because some of them are dumbass pig fuckers. 

A few other things that are pissing me off:

-- Furry-pitted sandal-wearing Volkswagen drivers who say things like, "In no way do I condone what they did, but..." and "Maybe we should think about why they hate us so much," and "We bomb people too." Kiss my ass.

-- People who keep saying "...but we don't know where bin Laden is!" Kindly shut the hell up with that crap, please. So what if we don't know where he is? We can find him. The CIA can find him, if they're allowed to. And anyway, the guy's done interviews with CNN, the BBC, and 60 Minutes recently. I'm not sure about this, but I think he was at the MTV Music Awards this year. He can be found in short order, if they really want to find him.

-- The constant description of the president by news people as "inarticulate," "young," and "untested." He may be inarticulate, but if their beloved Bill Clinton had done something, anything, after these same bastards bombed the World Trade Center the first time around, or when they blew up a bunch of our embassies in Africa, or when they blasted a hole in the side of one of our battleships, maybe he wouldn't be in this situation to begin with. I have a suspicion that this young and untested president is going to do a little more than just give a few well-scripted speeches, bite his bottom lip, and wipe away a fake tear.

-- George Bush Sr. for not taking out Saddam Hussien when he had the chance. That freak probably had something to do with this too. He's obviously happy about it, and his people are dancing in the streets. Now's the time to finish the job...you know, since we're going to be over there anyway.

-- France. If they give us any problems, we should invade Paris. Just take it over, and move the Eiffel Tower to Cincinnati.

I'm tired and upset and angry. This shit sucks. How is any of it even possible? I keep listening to this Randy Newman song. I know the lyrics are supposed to be ironic, but it makes me feel better anyway.

Here's part of an email I received from a friend who was in NYC the day of the attack:

Michele and I were in New York City this past weekend for a film festival promoting our documentary (for more info on that: www.liveandletgo.com). We were scheduled to fly out of LaGuardia on Monday evening but due to an intensely active thunderstorm, our flight was canceled and a subsequent later flight was also canceled. We were forced to get a room at a hotel in Queens for the night. Bored, we went to a local bar where many who were also delayed had gathered. Most of the crowd was made up of flight attendants also waiting out the storm. We shared a beer with a talkative local who turned out to be a 20 year FDNY vet who had the night off. The next morning we got up at 5:00am to rush to the airport.

It was a beautiful cool morning as the storm the night before cleared out the hot and humid airmass we had been dealing with all weekend. Our flight took off at 6:55am and as we banked around lower Manhattan, I had an excellent view of the skyline and remarked to Michele what a nice, unexpected view it was as we usually get exit row seats over the wing and rarely get a clear view of the city (Michele, who gets nervous on take-offs, did not respond and kept her eyes tightly shut).

The rest of the flight was smooth and uneventful and we arrived at RDU early. My father picked us up at the airport at 8:45am. We traveled home with the radio off so we could talk about the trip. We arrived home with the phone ringing. My mother was frantically telling us to turn on the TV.

The rest everyone knows.

Three friends that I had traveled to New York with were not scheduled to leave until later that day. They are safe, but still in NYC. Jay and Gretchen Niver (brother and sister) were enjoying their first-ever trip to NYC and staying in a friend's apartment in Greenwich Village, now part of the cordoned off area of the city below 14th street. The one thing they told me they wanted to do above anything else while they were in the city was to visit the World Trade Center observatory...they were either going to do it on Monday or Tuesday. They chose Monday pretty much at the last minute so it wouldn't interfere with their travel plans on Tuesday evening. They kept their ticket stubs.

The events of the past two days have been hard to comprehend, but as I am looking over this story it is the irony and close-calls of the days and hours leading up to this life-changing moment that strike me the most right now. It appears that the next weeks, months and years will be radically different than the ones that came before it.

I'll try to be funny next time, I promise.

September 11, 2001

Awesome exclusive photo from NYC.

Like most people, I'm pretty much desensitized to tragedy, and generally don't hesitate to make light of even the worst happenings. And I also have a deep dislike for the faux hyper-compassion of the Oprah Nation ("Won't somebody please think of the children?!"), but I feel sick to my stomach about what happened in New York and Washington today. A few things that have struck me, especially:

-- Reports of helpless faces looking out windows of the World Trade Center, just seconds before the huge towers came down like curtains, presumably killing thousands. Absolutely horrifying.

-- The fact that they have Bush in the air and in underground bunkers, which says that the President of the United States isn't safe on the soil of the United States. How is that even possible?

-- I heard on the radio that a man was barricaded inside a bathroom of the airliner that crashed near Pittsburgh, on his cell phone reporting the hijacking when it went down. Can you even imagine being in that situation? The guy was probably on a business trip. He could've been looking at USA Today and sipping a cup of Starbucks just minutes before.

-- Mayor Guiliani saying in a press conference that kids are being kept at school and, if their parents don't show up at the end of the day, will be sent to a centralized shelter.

-- Reports that the terrorists hijacked planes headed to California because they carried the most fuel, and would cause a more deadly explosion.

--  The World Trade Center was there this morning, but now it's fucking gone.

-- Footage of Palestinians celebrating in the streets because of the good news coming out of America today.

I've also heard people begin with the crackpot theories already, that the government was involved (to somehow stimulate the economy, if you can believe that load of utter bullshit), as well as the usual blame heaped on the president by people who oppose his politics. So tiresome.

I feel like a family member is gravely ill: really sad and also nervous in my gut about what's around the corner. For some reason you're now supposed to feel guilty about desiring revenge, but I hope they flatten whoever is responsible. Somebody has to pay, big time.  And I don't feel guilty at all.

And now we're just watching the news networks report the same things over and over again, and we'll undoubtedly be here until bedtime. What else is there to do, really?


September 9, 2001

A few things:

-- A lot has happened on the Piazza front during the last 36 hours. Some of it I'm not going to talk about right now, but let's just say I've had some very interesting conversations with people I never could've imagined I'd be talking to. This thing is becoming a mini-phenomenon. Morning DJ's around the country are talking about it, and it's buzzing like a mother around the Internet. There's a sizable discussion about it on the official Mets website, and I've heard rumors of a newspaper article in New Jersey (although I've been unable to confirm). The moment I took the check down, other (very) well-known sites started contacting me about possibly acquiring it. (Ha!)  Obviously they want it for their own sites, which tells me they have no qualms, legally speaking, about putting it up. In addition, other sites have lifted it from me already, and are soaking up the extra traffic this stupid slip of paper continues to generate -- beyond comprehension. This kind of thing doesn't happen too often, at least not to me. And that's why I decided to put the check back up. If I go to prison, I go to prison. ("What're you in for?" "Posting Mike Piazza's paycheck on the Internet." "Spread 'em, bitch.") I know I probably seem a little crazy right now, but I've never dealt with anything like this. It goes way beyond trying to decide on the four-roll pack of toilet paper, and the eight-roll, which is the normal caliber of decision I'm forced to make from day to day. Of course, at this point that wouldn't be difficult at all: the more the better is what I need. Sweet Maria!

-- Speaking of illegal...I've found a suitable replacement for the sorely missed Napster, in KaZaA. I downloaded a few Weezer tunes last night, and another by Red Planet. It's almost as good as the original music-stealing machine, and thus receives the prestigious Surf Report seal of approval. Of course, it's still despicable for people other than myself to download music for free. You're thieving bastards, one and all, and should be ashamed of yourselves.

-- There's disturbing news today that Toney's mother may be coming for an extended visit in October/ November. She's going to take a friggin' bus from Reno, because she's afraid to fly. I'd be more afraid of what might flop down beside me on one of those elongated trollies of despair, but that's just me. Anyway, she's planning on staying for about a month. Yes, a month. Thirty or so days of hearing her crackpot opinions on every subject, and interfering with our lives. Thirty or so days of moodiness and attitude. Thirty or so days of behind-my-back criticism to my wife. It's going to be grand.

-- When we were in West Virginia a few weeks ago we went looking at tent trailers again, at a big-ass RV place near Huntington. Just for kicks we went into some of those giant tour-bus deals, and the kind of trailers you have to pull with a military vehicle or something along those lines. Absolutely amazing. One we saw costs $149,000! They're like rolling luxury apartments, I'm not kidding. Big-screen TVs, satellite dishes, recliners, upstairs bedrooms... Incredible. My Mom told me that some even have fireplaces! That blows my crispy little beer-addled mind. What was particularly cool (to me, anyway) was the seatbelts on the recliners and couches, and the little TV that shows the driver what's going on behind the trailer while on the road. That's my kind of roughing it, baby.

-- Johnny Bench is going to be on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? next week. He was my boyhood idol, and is still my favorite baseball player ever. The Big Red Machine was my religion when I was a kid, and Bench was far and away my hero. A baseball he signed sits on my desk as I type this, and a team picture of the '76 Reds hangs on my wall. Several years ago, when I lived in Atlanta, my boss at the time told me Bench is gay. Risking suspension, I told him he was fucking nuts, and was surprised to notice fists involuntarily balling up at my sides. He just shrugged and said, "It's well-known," and walked away. I wasn't right for days, and I'm not sure I ever fully recovered. It's well-known. Those words have reverberated inside my head, tormenting me for years. But he was obviously just screwing with me, right? He had a reputation for that sort of thing, after all. On the other hand, Bench was married once for like six months in the early '70s, and never again. What's that all about? In any case, I'm going to be watching him next week for tell-tale signs, and if his friend in the audience is a thin, well-dressed man named Charles, I'm going to need therapy. This could be bad. I sincerely have no problem with gays in general, but I don't really need to find out my boyhood hero has a sweet-tooth for dick. That would send me right on over the edge, I have little doubt.

-- Toney and I are considering buying a dog. We have one on-hold at the humane society right now, awaiting approval of our application(?!). It's a Jack Russell terrier/border collie combo package, and it's a three month old male -- black and white. I have mixed feelings about all this, but it could be cool, I guess. I like dogs, I just don't like all the maintenance they require. We're still teetering back and forth, so there's a good chance we'll just say forget it. But we'll see. In the meantime, we went to PetSmart yesterday, and it was complete mayhem. Friggin' dogs were walking around that store, barking and spraying urine everywhere. One, the size of a full-grown deer, was wearing a sun-visor (I shit you not) and pulling his frightened-looking "master" around the joint. Goddamn birds were flying around. It was insane. And I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a silly-ass contraption on the shelf that's supposed to serve as a doggie car seat. It was sorta like a child's car seat, modified, you know, for a dog. The picture on the front of a German Shepherd sitting up in one of those ridiculous things made me bust out laughing. I'm not sure I want to become indoctrinated into that particular culture. Ya know?

Stay tuned...

Late update:  meet Andy.

September 7, 2001

You can go ahead and start calling me a pussy now, 'cause I took the Piazza check down last night. When this thing started, and my friends voiced their disbelief in unison at my mammoth stupidity for posting it in the first place, I told myself I’d leave it up until someone asked me to take it down. And that has happened. A “friend” of Piazza’s wrote and asked me semi-politely (with a distinct whiff of threat), to remove the check, citing privacy issues. After a few emails back and forth, I became reasonably convinced she was the genuine article, and not just Mark Maynard fucking with me again. So I took it down. It was giving me an ulcer anyway. Too many people accessing the site through shady scrambling filters, and via unknown ISP’s with grim and imposing names -- and for all the wrong reasons. Oh, I’m obviously not above a cheap stunt here and there, but when the public speaks, and they say “we prefer looking at a baseball player’s banking papers to your writing at a ratio of roughly 45,000 to 1,” it can get you down if you’re not careful. Plus it just made me nervous, and didn’t serve any real purpose. This is supposed to be a humor site after all, not the poor man’s Smoking Gun. So screw it. I took it down, and that's enough on that subject. Shit, I'm starting to feel like Lenny Bruce in those old grainy films they used to show on Night Flight, where he went on stage and just read transcripts from his court appearances. Completely batshit and obsessive. Fuck it...I need to get back to my roots. I need to spend the weekend writing shit jokes. Lots of shit and dick jokes to get the taste back in my mouth.

I apologize for the manifest shittiness of this "update" but I have a cold (how could one human head produce so much snot in such a short period of time?!) and I'm generally disgusted with the world and all the people in it. I'll try to write a proper update today, and post it tonight, but I'm making no promises. Mr. Chamberlain may be right, this could be the end.  Screw it.

September 4, 2001

Two or three things:

-- Friday was completely insane. The Mike Piazza paycheck that I posted here was picked up and linked by a couple of high-traffic weblogs, and the resulting flood of visitors to my humble little village of filth was an exciting and scary thing to witness. As I clicked REFRESH on my stats page, and watched the numbers pile up faster than ass zits on a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast I started getting nervous. Could I get in trouble for this shit? Would Piazza or the Mets unleash a team of ball-busting lawyers on my ass? Would my butthole become a tourist attraction behind prison walls? (It always comes down to that in the end...society's great deterrent.)  

I fired off several emails to people I trust, asking for an opinion, and their feelings were almost unanimous: take it down! One friend works in a law office, and he asked an attorney about it. Take it down, was the word that came back. Another friend works in another law office in another state, and he did some research and felt I better take it down as well. A third said I was "fucking with some federal shit," and seemed disgusted that I was stupid enough to put it up in the first place. Holy shit, what had I done? The number of visitors just kept getting higher and higher and higher. I was sweating like a bull moose and was checking my email constantly, fully expecting someone from the Mets legal department to order me to cease and desist.

But nothing happened, at least not yet. In the heat of the moment I decided to pull the damn thing off the site, then almost immediately changed my mind. Everything incriminating is X'd out, after all, and anyone with a calculator could figure out how much Mike Piazza's two-week bring-home pay would be. His salary is public knowledge, right? I decided to take my chances, but continued to be nervous.

Friday night Toney and I were sitting on the couch watching TV when a car pulled into our driveway, with authority, and turned off its headlights. I started whimpering like a schoolgirl: "They're here! Sweet Jesus, they've come for me!!" I looked around for someplace to hide, but my wife abandoned me in my hour of need and I was left to deal with the Secret Service by myself. "Hi, I'm Andrew's Daddy!" the man said cheerfully as he made his way to our door. "Um, I think you have the wrong house," I mumbled, then collapsed in a chair. Fuck.

The following day the number of visitors fell off dramatically, then even more dramatically on Sunday. By yesterday things were back to normal, and I'm not nearly as nervous anymore. I guess it could still happen, but I think the moment has passed. But check this out; here are the number of hits TheWVSR.com received last week:

Monday 1312

Tuesday 1319

Wednesday 1046

Thursday 949

Friday 29,580

Also, here's a discussion board about The Paycheck on Fark.com, if you can believe it.

What a trip.

-- As the number of visitors continues to level off after the madness of Friday it occurs to me that far more people would rather look at a professional baseball player's banking than read my observations and opinions. As it should be, I suppose.

-- I painted the bunker on Sunday. I had a couple of margaritas Saturday and went to Home Depot to pick out the color. I chose a dark green, almost an army green. I'd been cocky and proclaimed that I could knock it out in a couple of hours. It took me a hell of a lot longer than that though, enough time to play all of these albums from start to finish:

Madness, One Step Beyond

Wilco, A.M.

The Beautiful South, Choke

Lemonheads, It's A Shame About Ray

Shane MacGowan, The Snake

Uncle Tupelo, Anodyne

Kiss, Double Platinum

It looks great; I can't stop admiring my handiwork as I type this. Yesterday morning I joked that all I needed was a string of white Christmas lights and it would be like a San Francisco coffee house. So I went out and bought a string of lights. If "Nancy" were here to pontificate at length in the background about the struggle of women to compete in a patriarchal society, it would be uncanny.

-- Yesterday Toney and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary, by not celebrating. I think eight is the no-acknowledgment-to-speak-of anniversary, and we're nothing if not traditionalists. We've been together for more than ten years now, and I feel in my bones that I'm with the right person. And that's a good feeling to have.

-- Of course nothing's perfect and over the weekend she accused me of becoming obsessed with this website, and of spending too much time online. She said it's starting to take over my life. (To be fair, I was sitting in the floor covered in paint and sending a fraudulent message from Brenda Colley's mother to a high school message board when she said these things.) I told her I didn't feel like talking about it, that she could read my thoughts on the subject in my Tuesday update. She doesn't think I'm as funny as she once did, but other than that things are cool.

-- I stumbled across a website that allows you to punch in six lottery numbers, and the computer simulates drawings over and over and over, and displays the results for you. I started it up when I began writing all this crap today, and here are the results:

In 42,159 drawings, 405 years worth, I hit 3 of 6 690 times, and 4 of 6 27 times, and that's it. No 5 of 6, and certainly not the big money. Pretty daunting, huh? Maybe that's why they call it the Idiot Tax. Sure, that may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that "you can't win if you're not in." An old black man told me that years ago in an Atlanta convenience store, and you can't argue with his logic.

And that's all I have time for today, kiddies. Unless I'm arrested, I'll be back on Wednesday or Thursday. Have fun.

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