Previous Notes

A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.



Is that an erection I smell?



I'm loaded with tumors darling, and I don't even know it.



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   The State of My Fat Ass
                                     October 2002

October 28, 2002

It was a fairly uneventful weekend. I'm still not firing on all cylinders, so we laid low for a change. I can't seem to shake this cold. A woman in my office (Typhoid Julie, I call her) recently had the same thing I have now, and it took forever for her to get over it. It disgusts me to think about the science of it all, how I was unwittingly sitting at my desk breathing her disease-laden exhale, and how her sick-spores were apparently launched from her body, and finally ended up in mine, where they didn't waste any time in establishing a new colony. Damn. We may as well come to work, hang up our jackets, pour some coffee, turn on our computers -- then get busy tonguing each other for the next hour or so.

I just experienced a full body shiver. But it's true. I share a tiny office with two other people, and we could just swap chewing gum every day, for all the shit we pass amongst ourselves. It's disgusting. It's like one of those cross-country redeye flights, if you've ever had the pleasure. You know, people on all sides sleeping with their mouths hanging open, hot breath on your neck, sock feet wherever you turn, various body gases erupting at irregular intervals all around... It's almost like that every day for me, and it's frickin' repulsive.

So, we didn't do much this weekend, which means I don't have a lot to write about today. I'll do the best with what I've got though. Bear with me. I'm convinced I'm going to make it through this thing, after all. Tell the funeral director to stand the fuck down.

-- I promised I'd pass along my views on the DC sniper situation, so I guess I'll do that now. I hesitate because my thoughts are contradictory and at least a little unfocused, but -- what the hell? -- it never stopped me before.

First, I'm getting really really tired of all the cynicism. Yes, laugh if you will, but it's true. These events were barely underway before people began bitching about the case being mishandled, and proclaiming Charles Moose incompetent. They were basing this assessment, apparently, on the man's public speaking abilities. If he'd been slick and engaging and wore an expression of deep concern, it probably would've been much different. It's as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning, all this bitterness. It seems like the entire population of the world translates every situation into the worst possible scenario. Corruption, incompetence, conspiracy, blah, blah, blah. It gets old.

I long for a time, before Nixon and Clinton, when people were willing to give the benefit of the doubt in such matters. Maybe we were naive then, but I can't help but think it was a hell of a lot more healthy than walking around with these jet-black souls we all possess now. I know I'm cynical as well, but I also have the capacity to get excited, almost to the point of peeing myself, over the beauty of a fall day, or the greatness of a CD, or whatever. If you make a comment about the fall trees being pretty to someone today, there's a good chance they'll laugh in your face, and/or discuss your "creepiness" with their friends after you leave. Or else they'll say something like, "Yeah, but just think how pretty they'd be without the acid rain." People are now at-home with 24/7 bitching, comfortable and expectant of it. It's sick.

So everybody was ripping this Moose character a new one, just like they insinuated that George Bush either allowed 9/11 to happen, didn't do enough to protect us from 9/11, or actually planned it to benefit his oil buddies or some such horseshit. And the same people who bitched about him not doing enough to protect us are now bitching that he's doing too much. Bitch, bitch, bitch. We actually have members of the U.S. Congress telling us daily that we should trust Saddam Hussein, and distrust the President of the United States. It's mind-boggling. I'm surprised people haven't started talking about the possibility of Bush and Ashcroft being responsible for Senator Wellstone's plane going down last week. I can hear it now: "It's funny how only Democrats die in these crashes..." Just give it a few days, it'll happen.

And I'm also sick of all the political correctness; I'm constantly on high-alert for it. You might say I'm a little cynical when it comes to the "news" we're being fed. (I told you this was unfocused and contradictory...) This sniper guy Muhammad is a member of the Nation of Islam, and reportedly changed his name after 9/11 to express solidarity with the terrorists. He's also a black dude, and his Boy Wonder sidekick is an illegal alien. Since these are uncomfortable facts that might reflect poorly on segments of society we're never supposed to criticize, they're not widely reported. Instead, we're told over and over again about how this lunatic was trained by the U.S. military (to kill), and it's implied that that might be the root of his problem. You see, at the end of the day, we're to blame, not him. I guarantee, before it's all over, a significant segment of the population will be heard starting sentences with, "While I don't condone what the sniper did..." It makes me crazy.

But enough of my crackpot rantings. Let's move on to the goofy stuff...

-- I was talking to my Mom over the weekend and it somehow came up about how she and my Dad were planning to name me Lisa, if I'd been a girl. This is not new information, but it got me to thinking. Wonder what I would look like if I were a chick? I thought about it all day yesterday, and I think I've finally figured it out.

-- Break out the tissues, boys and girls, because Rocky has weighed in with another of his sensitive and tender Op-Ed pieces, this one about growing older.

-- I got gas in my truck on Saturday and there was a big fat guy there, pumping explosive liquids into his vehicle, while smoking a big-ass Winston Churchill cigar and cursing into a cell phone. I don't think you're supposed to use your phone around gas pumps, and I know for a fact you're not supposed to smoke cigars. I kept looking at him and the fiery stump in the corner of his mouth, half expecting him to pull out three flaming torches, and begin juggling as his tank filled. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I just knew I was going to be chased down the street by a rolling ball of fire, like in all the Schwarzenegger flicks. People are so goddamn stupid.

-- Toney and I bumped into Stinky Ukraine and his family on Saturday, and we were invited to their Christmas party. Toney's buddy-buddy with Stinky's wife and I think they have visions of me and Stinky being tight, which is a prospect that makes me buckle over in laughter. First of all, I have all the friends I need. The quota was filled somewhere around 1990, thank you very much. And secondly, he's loud and belligerent, and yells at his wife like she's the hired help. On Saturday she said something benign to him, like, "You remember Jeff, right?" And he immediately got all red in the face and began screaming, "I know who he is, woman!! You think I'm stupid?!?" It's like something out of the movies. He's also obsessed with sports, which means we wouldn't have a thing to talk about. And then there's the matter of his atomic pit funk. It's with him wherever he goes. I caught a big whiff of his nastiness this weekend, and almost hurled. I mean, what the fuck?! He's Ukrainian, I know, but he's in America now. The streets are paved with deodorants and soaps here. Get with the underarm maintenance program, Vladimir! Goddamn. But I guess we're going to their party again this year. What choice do we have? It's gonna be another old-fashioned body odor Christmas.

-- And finally, here are a few interesting links to explore on company time:

Read about the British video store clerk with the painful turd wedge!

Wonder if any of these guys are related to Stinky Ukraine?

I'm not sure what this is all about, but I like it.

My pee smells like ham!!

Have a great week, folks.

October 24, 2002

-- Iím home sick today. I don't feel so hot. I knew I was teetering on the edge for a week or so, and Iíve finally taken the plunge into full-blown illness. Itís just a cold with an extra-nasty bite I guess, but you never know. I could be dying. A lot of things start out with ďflu-like symptoms,Ē before you find out you've got tuberculosis or hoof and mouth disease or something. I just don't know.

One thingís for certain though, I canít taste anything. I bought some Combos at work yesterday, and I may as well have been eating packing material. I'd pop one in my mouth, wait for the big hunks of rock salt to start working their magic, and -- nothing. It was bizarre. Somebody could probably come in here right now, blindfold me, feed me one of Andy's yard biscuits, and convince me it's salisbury steak in heavy gravy. It sucks. Toney said I sounded like some kind of steam-powered machine in my sleep. She apparently spent most of the night on the couch, because of all the hissing and puffing. And, I don't want to get too graphic, but when I woke up this morning it took me a full five minutes to tend to my nasal passages. It was like digging raisins out of a box.

It may shock some of you, but I hate to call in sick to my job. It feels like a betrayal. I think it's that pesky WV working-class background I'm saddled with. I have no doubt my Dad would've found some way to report to work with an arrow sticking out of his back, if necessary. Obligations, he always muttered. So, I'm sick and feeling wracked with guilt. Don't expect much, 'cause you ain't gonna get it. And you've been warned.

-- Remember the terrible haircut I told you about a week or so ago? Well, the damndest thing has happened: it's starting to look kinda good. As it begins to grow back, and the deep grooves are filling in, I'm starting to think it may turn out to be one of my best haircuts. Earlier this week I would've said just the opposite. It's gone from worst to first, like my beloved Atlanta Braves. It's crazy. I've never had a time-released haircut before. I think it may be a case of having to live through the pain, for the greater good. It's like when the doctor has to break a bone to correct some more serious problem. Or when they inject you with smallpox, to protect you from smallpox. I think I owe the full-figured gal with the giant heat-generating ass who administered this incredible cut an apology. She's obviously a virtuoso, misunderstood in her own time. Years from now people will undoubtedly comprehend the innovations she introduced to the field of haircare artistry -- mark my words. But, of course, I'll never go back to her as long as I live. She has her problems, I have mine. What am I, an asshole?

-- I received this email yesterday from my good buddy Mark, who's currently on vacation:

italy is great... I don't have much time. I just wanted to rub it in a little. Life is good...

You and Toney will never get to Europe.


It's important to have a strong support network. Friends are what make it all worthwhile.

-- I heard somebody on the radio doing a pitiful and embarrassing imitation of Johnny Carson's Carnac character the other day, and it made me remember a moment in my life when I thought I was literally going to die from laughter. Now keep in mind that I was a youngster, maybe twelve or so, when this happened. Please take that into consideration; I'm not a complete retard. Carson was doing Carnac one night, with the crown and the cape and everything, and he pressed an envelope to his forehead and announced, "A stick of dynamite." Ed repeated: "A stick of dynamite," and Johnny shot him the traditional dirty look. After Carnac ceremoniously opened the envelope and removed the card he read, "What does Orson Welles use as a laxative?" I thought my lungs would collapse. Carson was (is?) a genius, and I saw lots of funny stuff on his show, but I'll remember that particular moment until the day I die.

Make of that what you will.

-- Back when I was heavily into zines (you don't know how much it pains me to write that in the past tense) a guy named Doug Holland was publishing an incredible handmade publication called Pathetic Life. It was an hilarious diary sort of thing, written with wit, intelligence, and devastating honesty. There's a pretty clear consensus among underground snobs (and that's not as much of a contradiction as you might expect) that it was one of the best zines ever. I was thinking about Doug the other day at work, for a reason I can't now recall; my mind bounces around like a goddamn pinball. The guy sorta disappeared a few years back, and few people know where he is today. And the ones who do know ain't talking. Supposedly he's working on a Pathetic Life book, but nobody seems to know for sure. Anyway, I went back and read this excerpt from his zine, and found it just as great as I remembered. Where have you gone, Douglas Holland? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Ooo ooo ooo.

-- Surf Report regular, and once and future drinking partner of yours truly, Rocky from the Insane Asylum turned forty earlier this week. I asked him to write one of his heart-tugging Op-Ed pieces about the experience, but he said the tears kept fucking up his keyboard. Drop the poor man a message of encouragement. These are tough times for my non-globetrotting friends.

-- Speaking of being old, I'm completely under the power of the new They Might Be Giants compilation. Well, it may not be new, but it's new to me. Give me a break, why don't ya? Anyway, it's fifty-two songs on two discs. Fifty-two!! And since it's from Rhino, you know it's the right fifty-two. It's physically impossible to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, your mind starts mis-firing and shit, but it's great in sensible-sized servings. Use only as directed. Any band that can get your toe to tapping to facts and stats relating to the life of James K. Polk, is not to be ignored. Without hesitation, it earns the prestigious TheWVSR Seal of Approval.

And I think that'll do it for the time being. I was going to write about the DC sniper, and how we've become a nation of cynical, burned-out, black-souled motherfuckers, but I'll let that one gestate for a few more days. Lord knows I wouldn't want to come across as shallow.

See ya next week.


October 21, 2002

-- I miss pie month. When we lived in California all the Marie Callender's restaurants around town celebrated pie month twice a year, in February and October, and it was something to look forward to. During the celebration you could pick up one of their kick-ass concoctions for a measly five bucks (plus a small tin deposit, which you'd get back next time). It was awesome. I'd walk in and check out their ever-changing roster, with shaking hands, and stand in reverence at the foot of their massive wall of pie. It was the portly lad's Disneyland. It was Six Flags Over Fat. We probably tried a dozen different varieties during our stay there, and that was only a scratch on the surface of the tip of the iceberg. I remember Toney and one of her friends showing up at my office with a German chocolate pie one day, and one of us frantically cutting that baby into thirds. Without apology, we then polished it off in minutes -- and wished for more. My boss walked by and I just waved a dirty fork at him. He understood as well as anyone. Everybody understood pie month. And I miss it.

-- It was a nice weekend. Fall is kicking up here, and that always puts me in a good mood. On Saturday afternoon everything ground to a momentary halt at the Compound (I can't sit still, and it drives Toney insane... but what can I do?), so I grabbed my camera and drove around town for an hour or so. Here are a few pics I snapped, in case you should give a damn.

-- I talked to my brother on Sunday and he told me a great story. He works in a dairy in North Carolina and claims that one of his co-workers, an older black lady, practices voodoo. He said he had never spoken to her, in fact he'd steered clear for fear of her whipping a monkey claw out of a velvet pouch or something, but one day she stopped him and addressed him by name. That freaked him out a little, but she then proceeded to discuss intimate details of a health issue that his wife was having at the time. He'd never talked to this woman in his life! Freaky. So anyway, another co-worker, a man in his early forties, got into a heated argument with Miss Cleo, or whatever her name is, and she apparently rendered him impotent. All of a sudden, right after the argument, his shit stopped working for no apparent reason. Doctors were baffled, there'd been no accident or illness or anything, and he was still a relatively young man. He has no doubt he's been locked down by voodoo, his man-junk fallen victim to black magic. Word quickly spread around the plant that Cleo (or whatever) had "hung a root" on this poor bastard. Yes, hung a root. I have no idea what that means, but I don't like the sound of it. The latest update is that his longtime girlfriend has left him and he's experimenting with Viagra. Scary.

-- And speaking of workplace rumors, the word going around my office is that the Chinese buffet a lot of us frequent, "re-uses" food. In other words, if a person leaves a shrimp on his plate, they'll take it over to the buffet and flick the little crustacean back into the bin before proceeding to the dishwasher. This sounds like a load of bullshit to me, but a lot of people believe it. And, to be honest, it puts a little doubt in your mind. The idea of Chinese food in Scranton is disturbing enough, you don't need something else to worry about. Holy crap.

-- I read Mark and Linette's dispatches from Italy yesterday. Makes me sick. We can't afford to go to an Italian restaurant. Morrissey was right, we hate it when our friends become successful. Bastards.

-- It doesn't quite compare, but we did go to "The Switzerland of America" yesterday -- a place called Jim Thorpe, PA. I'm not real clear on it, but apparently this place used to be one of the premier vacation spots in the country, in the late 1800's. It's in the Pocono Mountains, and has a charming little downtown with lots of shops and restaurants and the like. Millionaires and aristocrats supposedly flocked there back in the day, and it earned the Switzerland tag then. Hey, your guess is as good as mine. And to add to the confusion, the town used to be called Mauch Chunk, but somewhere along the line they renamed it Jim Thorpe, in tribute to the famous athlete -- even though he has nothing to do with it, and probably never set foot in the place. Yeah, I don't get it either, but it was a good time nonetheless. I love places where you get a glimpse of a previous era, and you get that big-time in Jim Thorpe. All the building are really old, but well-maintained. There's a working railroad and an ancient, scary-ass, prison. It was a blast, really. Forgive me, but here are a few more pics...

-- A classic moment, in Jim Thorpe: We were in a novelty shop, one of those places that sells a metric ton of "humorous" and ironic hipster gadgets, like Lost In Space lunchboxes and crap like that. I was looking at a pair of Catholic School salt and pepper shakers (?!), wondering who in their right mind would purchase such an item, when a loud siren went off in the general direction of Toney on the other side of the store. The stupid thing was blasting, "Woop woop woop!! Fart alert! Fart alert! A fart has been detected!! Woop woop woop woop!!" It just kept going, on and on and on, and every other person in the place whipped around and stared at Toney, who ducked out with a face as red as a Macintosh apple. Of course I laughed my ass off, for roughly ten minutes. Good stuff. It was almost as good as the time I was trying to sneak a peak at a Penthouse in an airport newsstand, and the entire shelf collapsed and fell to the floor at my feet. Every person within a 50-yard radius spun on their heel to see me standing there amongst a mound of pornography. Occasionally I relive that moment in nightmares, and I wake up screaming.

-- There was electricity in the air at our house last night.

-- And finally, you may have noticed a tacky banner ad on the homepage today, for I think. Please allow me to explain... A few weeks ago I got a quote from a local web designer to overhaul this site. I'm fully aware that looks like it was designed by a monkey with the palsy, and I'd like to make it better, I really would. But when he gave me his price it confirmed that nothing is going to happen anytime soon. Toney would never allocate those kinds of funds for this project (she's Congress in our house). So I told the guy I'd have to say no for the time being, and he asked me how much traffic my site generates. I estimated, only rounding up slightly, and he suggested I sign up for a certain affiliate program. I looked at their website and it looked pretty painless and easy. He seemed to think I could make enough to pay for the overhaul. I'm a little skeptical but, hey, it's worth a try.  If it doesn't work I'll just take it down; it's no skin off my scrotum. So, if you're planning to make a purchase from any of these e-tailers, I'd sure appreciate it if you could go to their site through my links. It won't cost ya anything extra, and I'll get a couple of nickels for every purchase. Thanks for the consideration.

And I think that'll do it for today, folks. Have a great week, and try not to let anyone hang a root on y'ass.

Bye, for now.


October 17, 2002

A few quick things:

-- During the past couple of days I've seen some crusty old fart being interviewed on TV about the Washington, DC sniper, and he keeps repeating something that cracks me up. He's supposedly an "expert" on training military snipers, and in both interviews he's been asked if he thinks the DC guy is a terrorist. Both times he's shaken his head no, and announced, with authority, that you can't train people from that part of the world to shoot guns very well. "Arabs can't shoot straight," he says, and for some reason I think thatís simply hilarious.

-- I'm currently sporting the worst haircut of my life. I went to my normal place a couple of nights ago, and there was a 45 minute wait, so I stormed out in a huff. I went to my back-up location, but it would be "at least" a half-hour, they said. Goddammit. I was hungry and tired and didn't feel like sitting in some hair salon all evening, so I turned my back on them as well.

The hell with it, I thought, I'll just have to look like a member of The Guess Who for another day. I pointed my truck in the direction of Subway, with the intention of procuring one of their footlong death sandwiches, also known as the Italian BMT.

When I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a haircut joint next door to Subway. Hmmm, interesting. I walked in, on a whim, and was immediately assaulted by a weapons-grade chemical funk, the likes of which I haven't experienced since my days growing up at the foot of a Union Carbide plant in West Virginia. Fluids leapt from my tear ducts.

There was a little Korean-looking guy sitting there, with a bizarre Hanna-Barbera voice, doing something to a woman's fingernails. Apparently his many bowls of acid, or whatever, were the source of the brain-melting stench. A large brassy broad looked at me suspiciously and asked what I wanted. Very friendly. I told her I'd like a haircut, and she reluctantly removed her big ass from the chair and motioned for me to sit down. I tried not to think about the alarming warmth of the seat, as she tied an apron around my neck.

She asked how I wanted it cut, and I told her to just use the clippers. The two and four guards, thank you very much. To my amazement, she said she didn't agree with that, and proceeded to do it her way! I mean, what the hell?! And her way was to make me look like I recently plunged my head into a wood chipper.

Yesterday I stood in front of the mirror for ten solid minutes, trying to mold my shit into something presentable, and nothing worked. It's all out of balance, and there's a jagged groove that runs the circumference of my head. I look like a retard. I wonder if that woman even worked there? She was probably the Secret Squirrelís girlfriend or something. Shit.

I wouldíve been better off letting the guy at Subway do it.

-- As you probably know, I try not to be judgmental, but that new Green Acres Old Navy commercial is over-the-top gay. The guy riding the tractor is a character straight out of one of Andy Warholís underground films. He looks like heís eager to climb off his piece of antique heavy machinery, and onto some hot man-ass. While, in the abstract, I donít have a problem with over-the-top gayness, it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable when itís presented in a Green Acres setting. I watched that show when I was a kid, for godís sake. Whatís next, Unholstered: Andy and Barneyís Key West Adventure? Some things should remain off-limits.

-- I found this interesting site that allows you to type in a phrase, and itíll translate it back and forth between various languages, and finally back into English. Hereís how the intro paragraph on TheWVSR homepage fared.

-- For what itís worth, this site is now two years old. The first update was on October 16, 2000. So, happy birthday to us, I guess. Also, on Friday we passed the million-hit mark for the year. Last year we only racked up 600,000 for the entire twelve months, so the traffic has doubled, at least. I know a million hits ainít huge numbers, The Onion probably gets that while I take my morning dook, but it seems pretty amazing to me. I bullshit a lot, but I sincerely appreciate all of you who make a habit of visiting Thank you, from the bottom of my sluggish, fat-packed heart.

And I think Iíll end it right there. Have a great weekend, folks. Iím sorta on the wagon again, so Iíll probably watch seventeen movies. See ya on Monday.

October 14, 2002

-- I think there's dog vomit in our house. I can't find it, but dammit, I know it's there somewhere. Remember last time when I mentioned that our psychotic hound Andy had eaten a tennis shoe, almost in its entirety, and was moping around? Well, when I came home from work that day he was his old self again, running from room to room like his balls were afire, barking, and generally sowing the seeds of irritation, just like he always does. Hmm, I thought, he sure is feeling better. Then I went upstairs to close the blinds, and when I walked into the junk room I was punched in the face by The Red Fist of Regurgitation. Holy shit!! I think I know why he's feeling better!

I started looking around, moving stuff and looking behind things, and hollered for Toney to come up and help me find the source of the funk. She appeared in the doorway looking annoyed, and wanted to know what I was screaming about. "Can't you smell that?" I said. And, to my utter amazement, she said, "Smell what?" It was if we were standing inside a dog stomach, and she was claiming not to notice the stench. What the hell?

Toney, along with a lot of other people, has a tendency to mold and shape the truth to fit the current situation. For instance, if a place is fifteen miles away, and she wants to go there, she might say, "It's no big deal, it's only a five mile drive." But if it's some place she doesn't want to go it's suddenly, "Are you crazy? I'm not driving twenty-five miles..." I think it's the same with the dog vomit. I think she suspects there might be some present but she's not 100% sure, so she's trying to will away its possible existence by not acknowledging it. She's refusing to give the vomit power, or something, and hoping it'll cease to exist as a result. It blows my damaged mind.

I looked everywhere, and couldn't find a thing. After a while I started to suspect that Toney might actually be right. Maybe I'm the crazy one here? There's a first time for everything, right? Ahem... I mean, generally speaking, when an animal upchucks on the floor you don't have to go hunting for it. Dogs aren't known for their discretion and decorum, what with all their nutsack "cleaning", and the like. Maybe I'm just imagining the horrible, heart-stopping funk? Maybe something's misfiring in my mind, making me smell a stench that's not really there? Toney claims not to smell it, and I can't find it... Hey, anything's possible, I guess.

Bullshit. We're sharing a house with dog vomit, and I don't like it. (How could I?) Do they make upchuck detectors, like Geiger counters, or anything like that? Maybe he managed to puke behind the drywall, or underneath the carpet? Can dogs open boxes, puke inside, then replace the lid? Is that possible? Should I take a leave of absence from my job because of this? It's making me crazy.

-- Speaking of Andy, I gave him a bath over the weekend and, once again, he began shaking violently in a fit of sheer fright. I swear, that dog is the most neurotic animal I've ever known. He's had plenty of baths in his life, but every time it happens he acts as if he has no idea what's in store for him, like we're entering uncharted territory. He shakes and shudders, quivers and trembles. I've never seen anything quite like it. And as I was scrubbing him down it occurred to me that we might be able to save a little money on water if we threw our laundry into the tub with Andy when we give him a bath. He'd make a dandy agitator. We could just fill the tub halfway up with water and clothes, sprinkle in some detergent, then plop Andy down in the middle of it. Everything would be perfectly clean within a half-hour. And just think of the brownie points we'd earn with "Nancy" and Banana Nostrils! I need to remember to talk to Toney about this...

-- I performed my patriotic duty this weekend, and did my part to stimulate the U.S. economy. I bought the Cabin Boy DVD, a brand-spanking-new Webster's dictionary for the bunker (the thing has $23.95 listed on the inner flap, but cost ten bucks at Sam's Club -- with a $3 mail-in rebate!), and a goddamn leather bomber jacket. Yes, you read that correctly, a goddamn leather bomber jacket. I still can't believe it, I get nervous just thinking about it. I've never spent that much money on an article of clothing in my life. For me an impulse buy is usually a sack of Skittles, but on Saturday it turned out to be a big expensive hunk of cow skin. (So much for winning points with Nancy...) I've got the receipt sealed inside a freezer bag just in case I lose my nerve and want to take the bitch back. Holy crap. It's really sharp, and smells incredible, but I don't have the constitution for such a purchase. I wore it to the store last night to buy clam chowder (a fat man has his cravings) and I felt a little phony. Holden Caulfield would've almost certainly sneered at me. I'm not sure I'm really the leather type. But it's so damn nice. I don't know, it could go either way...

-- When we were at Sam's I noticed they now have big self-serve bins where they file packs of pictures that people have had developed there. You just flip through the envelopes until you find the one with your name, and take it to the register to pay. There's no other human involved in the process. It was the same setup in California at Costco and I used to love checking out other people's snapshots, and sometimes mixing up the photos, taking a few from this envelope and sticking them in that one. It always made Toney nervous, but it was great fun. I could just imagine people getting home and saying, "Honey, why do we have a picture of a large black woman eating oats?" I scoped out the Sam's situation and I don't think I'm going to be able to pursue such endeavors there. Too much supervision; there's people everywhere! Damn you, Sam Walton. Damn you.

-- Besides all the reckless spending, vomit hunting, and mischief nostalgia, we didn't do much this weekend. We "winterized" our house, which means I took the air conditioner out of the bedroom window, replaced the screens in all the doors with glass, and put flannel sheets on the bed. Pretty exciting stuff. And we attended the grand opening of a new Target store. It's the first one in the Scranton area, so the place was frickin' packed. It was like Christmas eve in there. People were hollering into cell phones, "You've gotta check this place out!!" I was near tears. You could barely walk in that madhouse. I started looking at people with disgust for getting all excited about a new place to spend money, then realized we were no different. I mean, what were we doing there? Pitiful. Then we took a long walk around the park near our house, enjoying all the fall colors and the crisp temperature. The town was sponsoring a scarecrow-building contest, and there were tons of people at the park packing pants full of straw and hanging them on crosses. That was fun to watch... for about one minute. Then we walked along the creek, across a covered bridge, and into the woods, and all my Target stress was washed away. Afterwards we went to Krispy Kreme for coffee and donuts, and I actually experienced a brief glimmer of optimism. It was the damndest thing, and I wondered why I didn't feel like that more often, which only made me feel sad, and brought me back to square one.

And that pretty much brings you up to date on my kick-ass life. Have a great week, folks.

October 11, 2002

I'm not feeling too hot today, so I'm gonna keep this thing brief. I'm not sure what's going on but I think my mucus membrane is slowly turning into jalapeno jelly. My throat and sinuses are on fire, and I'm more tired than I have a right to be. Run-down is the accurate term, I believe. So, it looks like I'm gonna be sick this weekend; the storm clouds of illness are gathering. Excellent.

A relative of mine wasn't feeling too hot a couple of weeks ago, went to the doctor, and was dead within hours. She was my mother's cousin, but was around my age. (Hey, it's West Virginia.) Apparently she was feeling run-down as well, and was having mild chest pains, so her husband convinced her to get it checked it out. They did some tests and found out she had an aneurysm of the aorta! She was rushed into surgery, and never woke up. Just like that, her life was over. Horrifying. Most of us assume we're going to be here tomorrow, but how do we know? She probably watched Friends earlier in the week, and was looking forward to seeing how the whole Ross/Rachel thing turns out. She might've had plans for the holidays. Hell, she probably just purchased one of those gigantic 24 packs of toilet paper. Scary.

Hopefully I'm just getting a cold.

-- Not to trivialize the matter, but I've always felt that those huge Huckleberry Finn rafts of toilet paper are a little too optimistic. Toney buys them and it makes me nervous. Why tempt fate by going so far out on a limb? It's a little arrogant to assume we're going to be around long enough to do that much wiping, isn't it? It's like taunting God or something. We've had dozens of conversations about it. ...Do I think too much?

-- Our dog Andy ate nearly an entire tennis shoe yesterday. Toney caught him in the process of shredding and ingesting the tread off of one of my old sneakers, if you can believe it. So, he's feeling a tad under the weather today as well. He's just lying around the house with a look of sadness on his face, his intestines packed full of rubber. Why are dogs such dumbasses? We'll probably find a pile in the backyard with a Converse logo on it.

-- A friend sent me this link yesterday about a new calendar that's available, featuring the "Ladies of the Libertarian Party." I thought that was pretty funny. I didn't even know there were ladies in the Libertarian Party. I thought it was just full of people like Ol' Blue here. I have a feeling this thing will do pretty well. I'm sure it'll sell a lot better than this similar product, anyway.

-- When I go out into the warehouse at work people often call me sir. The workers out there think I'm a bigshot or something, and I can actually see them get a little nervous when I'm around. It used to make me feel strange, I'm no better than anyone else, but now I'm starting to like it. I go out there all the time, just to make 'em sweat. I may start wearing a crown.

-- You gotta bookmark Rock and Roll Confidential, if you haven't already. Hell, even if you have, bookmark it again! I was clicking through their Hall of Douchebags again yesterday, and was laughing my fool ass off. The pictures are great, but the captions are even better. Genuinely funny stuff!

-- And since we're on the subject of quality, I'm listening to the new Rhett Miller CD as I type this, and it's pure pop heaven. I suggest that you purchase it, at your earliest convenience. It's almost Nick Lowe-like in its greatness.

And that's all I've got in me today, folks. I'll try to do better next time but, as always, I make no promises. Now I'm going to go count the number of toilet paper rolls we have in the house, and ask for forgiveness.

See ya.

October 9, 2002

Well, baseball season is over. For me anyway. The Braves once again kicked massive ass all year, winning more games than any other team in the Majors, then quickly making everyone forget it by playing in the post-season like they all grew up in France riding around on bicycles with big loaves of bread under their arms. Sweet Maria. Theyíre one of the greatest teams in the history of sports, but theyíll only be remembered for their inability to close the deal. Theyíve somehow managed to win their division eleven years in a row (eleven!) and will still be considered underachievers. Thatís not an easy thing to do, but my team has done it, thank you very much.

And to add insult to injury (or whatever), two of the guys who make up the nucleus of the team are now free agents, and probably wonít be returning. If Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz arenít there, itís not the same team. If you remove one youíre screwing around with the basic DNA, and it becomes a whole different breed of cat. Itís all very distressing. They should obviously keep those three guys around even after they canít play anymore -- and possibly bring in a taxidermist once they die.

They could prop up their sawdust-packed bodies (in full uniform, of course) at the end of the bench, for the comfort and support of future players. Maybe by the time they kick off, technology will have even progressed to the point where their facial features can be manipulated based on the situation at hand? Hell, maybe they could be rigged to do the Tomahawk Chop! I can see them now, moving in unison like the three guitarists in Molly Hatchet, big ol' smiles on their lifeless faces. Is that so crazy? I submit that it is not. But, as usual, nobody asked me, and apparently the dynasty of underachievement has come to a sad, but inevitable end. Itís just so damn discouraging.

So, Iím done with sports until spring training cranks up again in February. Football is about as exciting to me as a trip to the carpet store, and basketball is even worse. I couldnít care less. In fact, I donít like any sport with a clock, a rectangular playing field, goals on each end, and one team trying to stop the other from moving towards the short sides of the rectangle and ďscoring.Ē Football, basketball, hockey, and soccer are all the same sport, and they all suck. Fuck Ďem.

-- My brother and his family were in town for a few days but thereís not much to report really. We met their newborn son, Alex, which was nice, but it was a short visit and we didnít really have enough time to get into any real trouble. Of course, considering the fact that my brother doesnít even drink anymore, nothing crazy was likely to happen even if weíd had a month. Gone are the days when we shared an apartment in Greensboro and lived on Funyuns and Busch Ice. We got into a lot of trouble back then, but one of us had to go and ruin everything by growing up. Mr. Fancy Pants is apparently too mature to vomit into an oscillating fan these days. Itís sad, really.

On Sunday we all went out to lunch, some stores and the pumpkin patch. Everywhere we went was painfully crowded, and people kept getting in my way. I was on high-alert for a pub, a place where I might be able take the edge off, but it never happened. We were in Party City and it was an absolute madhouse, people everywhere, kids squealing, motion activated boxes of chattering fucked-upness going off on hair-triggers, fools sporting novelty hats and shit-eating grins... It was too much to handle. And, as if it werenít insane enough in there, the loudspeakers were blasting some godawful high-energy gerbil music that was threatening to make me hurl myself through a plate-glass window. I finally hunted my brother down and told him I was going outside to wait.

ďThis music is about to set off a grand-mal seizure,Ē I said.

ďKinda loud, isnít it?Ē


ďItís kinda loud!Ē

ďIím about to break out into a goddamn Pop and Lock. Iíll be outside.Ē

At lunch I was sitting there looking around and it occurred to me that if the aliens ever attack the Earth, theyíll undoubtedly come to Scranton first. Pretty much the entire population, me included, is plumped to shininess, and ready for the Big Dutch Oven. It was a sea of deliberately chewing mouths, smeared with mayonnaise, and glistening with grease. It reminded me of the herd of mechanical dinosaurs lazily eating grass at Disneyland. I had to look away. Why in the hell doesn't Friendly's have a lounge?

At the pumpkin patch the wind was whipping and a fistful of dirt found its way underneath both of my contact lenses. I was standing there blinking like a mental patient, with tears running down my face, amidst a passel of sugar-jacked kids doing figure-eights through my legs. Pure heaven.

When we finally got home I mixed myself a stern bourbon and Coke, and signed onto the Internet. Ahh, sweet relief...

Iím a lot of fun to go places with.

-- Saturday night Toney and I were watching Trading Spaces and that country-fried poofter Frank was doing his best to ruin somebodyís life by transforming their bedroom into a den of hideousness. I donít know why I watch that show, I always feel guilty afterwards, but it sucks you in and thereís literally no way to free yourself from the grip of its evil powers. It's the Bermuda Triangle of interior design. But anyway, Frank was busy inexplicably attaching three charcoal grill covers to some poor bastard's wall, and he mentioned something about his wife. I screamed in protest, and Toney told me, as if it were common knowledge, that Frank is married! Now, if this is true, I donít know anything about anything. I may as well just throw in the towel. If that man is straight it shakes the very foundation on which my entire life is built. Black is white, up is down; I don't know shit. Can anyone shed some light on this, please? My very existence may depend on it.

--  And then there's this.

-- I saw the other day that the government is going to allow Leno and Letterman to make jokes about candidates all the way up to election day. Pretty nice of 'em, huh? If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what would do it. The fact that it was even a question is frightening beyond words. It's all part of that wonderful campaign finance reform, designed to get "the dirty money out of politics." I'll bet a filthy five dollar bill, here and now, that there will be serious talk about putting limitations on what people like Rush Limbaugh can say, before the 2004 presidential elections. If you think I'm crazy, you can send your money to PO Box 4, Olyphant, PA 18447, in September 2004, after the political foot soldiers start appearing on Sunday morning talk shows and expressing "concern" over the fairness of such "partisan lobbying." If you're in a position of influence, you better not express an opinion, bucko. The police will haul your sorry ass to jail. ...Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave, like an egg beater in a powdered wig.

-- Rule of Thumb: In this country martial arts are for children. A black satin jacket with a dragon and Korean letters on a person over the age of eight is a sure sign of mental illness.

-- A few nights ago Toney had something to do in the evening, so she left me with one of those Marie Callendar's frozen meals. It was beef stew and cornbread, which looked mighty appetizing on the front of the box. I was licking my lips like Andy on spaghetti day. I followed the complicated directions the best I could (put one pouch in the microwave for four minutes, turn it towards the east, place the other pouch on a paper towel, whistle the theme to Mission Impossible, put your left foot in, put your left foot out...) and stood back awaiting stew. After about two minutes it started smelling really good in there, and I was in a full-on frenzy.

When the final buzzer sounded I eagerly cut open the pouch and emptied its contents into a big soup bowl. Then I stood there in shock, as my smile slowly faded. The shit barely covered the bottom of the bowl! There were five or six nodules of potato, three or four hunks of carrot, and two pitiful cubes of beef, in a half-cup of brown gravy. I felt like I was on Candid Camera. Is this really a standard serving of food? Do people actually eat portions of this size, and feel satisfied?! Is Toney shopping at that Russian market again? Man, what a let-down.

-- Big TV night at the Compound coming up, folks. I'm completely psyched. We missed The Sopranos on Sunday, because we were entertaining, so we're gonna catch it tonight. That means: Ed, The Sopranos, and Curb Your Enthusiasm -- all in a row! It doesn't get much better than that. It makes everything else seem almost bearable. Plus, the weather is frickin' awesome. We had to break down and turn the heat on last night, and I'm gonna need to wear a jacket today! I am fully engorged.

And that'll do it, my friends. I better get to work. My phone is probably ringing there already: "Jeff, can you help me?" "Jeff, I need a favor" "Jeff, I can't wipe my own ass, can you lend a hand?"

See ya on Friday, I hope.

October 5, 2002

-- This is an ultra-rare Saturday update, because my brother and his family are right now somewhere between High Point, NC, and the resort community of Scranton, and will be joining us at The Kay Kompound for a few days. Since the last update was Wednesday, and there's a good chance I won't be able to write again until Tuesday, I figured I'd better get my swaddled ass off the couch and upload something -- if for no other reason than to remove that embarrassing Boomtown Rats piece from the home page. So, here it is. My heart's not really in it, but here it is, goddammit.

-- I had a scare last week when the British talk radio station that I listen to every day at work suddenly disappeared from the Internet. Well, it didn't technically disappear, but their website was suddenly replaced by a cryptic announcement that the station had been sold, and an invitation to watch the space for their "exciting, new" website, coming soon. Gone was the live streaming audio that I looked forward to on a daily basis, and my access to the Clive Bull Show that is now a part of my life. I panicked. Change scares me, because it almost always leads to everything getting all screwed up. Would the new owners decide, for instance, that they wanted to take the station in a new direction, and get rid of Clive? Oh, I've seen it happen before. New owners are often eager to come in with a dramatic flourish, to show everyone who's boss, and it sometimes involves firing the seemingly unfirable. Just ask Christopher Rude in Atlanta. And what if they have some kind of stick up their ass about the programming being available on the Internet? That's not unusual either, that particular ass-stick. Change is one scary animal, as are "enhancements" and "improvements." 

After a few days of no exciting, new website I started having withdrawals and fired off a desperate email to Clive himself, whining about the situation. Within an hour he wrote back and told me not to worry, everything would be back to normal in a few days. And the very next morning the streaming audio had returned, and I was back in business! What a relief to hear about the tube strike again, the latest hare-brained scheme from Ian Duncan-Smith, and the never-ending complaints of Black Cab drivers. I've never been to London, but I feel like it's my second home. I certainly know more about it than what's going on in Scranton... it's not even close. I love the Internet, and how it allows me to escape into a fantasy world.  It's a hell of a lot more dignified than an imaginary friend.

-- Next month I'll be forty. On November 30th to be exact. Already I've noticed strange wiry hairs starting to grow out of my eyebrows, and I occasionally have to shave my ears. It won't be long before I look like a goddamn Russian Prime Minister or something. It's sick. I seriously don't understand how I could be forty years old. Yesterday afternoon I was twenty-eight. I'm so depressed. It's only a matter of time before stuff inside me starts shutting down, and the people at Rite-Aid know me by name (Here Comes A Regular will take on a whole new meaning...), and begin talking to me like a retard. "WOULD YOU LIKE A CHAIR TO SIT IN MR. KAY?" "OH, IS THAT A PRETTY NEW CARDIGAN?" "WELL, I THINK SOMEBODY JUST VENTED THEIR SACK!"   Fuck. Twenty-five more years, if I'm lucky, before it all stars shutting down on me. I've got a lot of catching up to do.  

-- Another birthday is looming, but this one's a little more satisfying: October 16th will mark the second anniversary of the launching of! Who could've predicted I would stick with anything this long? It's already surpassed my college career, by a long shot. Amazing. It's a pain in the ass sometimes, and Toney and I argue about it a little, but I love doing this site, and don't have any plans on stopping. The traffic continues to increase, to my utter amazement, and the amount of intelligent and funny email I receive every day makes me almost giddy. I can't imagine not doing it now. I'd thank all of you, and offer my eternal gratitude, but I'd probably sound like a pussy, so forget it.

-- Speaking of funny email, here's an especially good' un in response to my recent tirade about Wal-Mart, and their penchant for hiring the differently-abled. The writer asked me to exclude his last name, in fear of Sam Walton's secret police. I don't think he was joking.

-- As far as I can remember I've never posted a photograph of men in their underwear before, for obvious reasons. But this is too cool to ignore. The King can make anything cool, even a roomful of unsightly men in baggy briefs. Now, that's charisma!

-- And I don't believe I've ever mentioned that I'm related to Red Sovine before either. It's true. I'm a blood relative of the man who recorded the CB Radio anthem "Teddy Bear." He was my grandmother's first cousin, and they grew up together in WV. For some reason I've been thinking about him a lot lately, and spent some time exploring this cool-ass website. For the record, I saw Red perform once, when I was a kid, on the back of a flatbed truck at some kind of agricultural fair, or some shit. He was incredibly drunk. We got to go on his tour bus before the show, and he was drinking liquor out of a Dixie Cup, and was slurring his words badly. During the show he played "Phanton 309," another song, then "Phantom 309" again -- introducing the song exactly the same way both times. He didn't know where he was at. When I was younger (like a month ago, and all times previous) I couldn't imagine a less-cool semi-celebrity to be related to. He sang about truck drivers, and CB's, and told sappy tales about dying children on 8-track tapes available at Jimbo's Truck Wash in Dog Balls, Alabama. He's not exactly Joe Strummer, ya know? But I'm starting to change my mind. He had an amazing life, and there's a bizarreness and creepiness to some of his songs that really appeals to me now. I think it may have something to do with the mid-life crisis, but I'm not sure. Red, if you're reading this from on high, please reveal yourself to me, and show me the way. I'm even willing to purchase a citizen's band radio, if necessary.

-- Toney and I saw a commercial the other night for toilet paper, that showed a bunch of people thrusting their asses into the camera over a heavy drum beat. As best as I can tell, they're attempting to demonstrate how well their brand of paper cleans the shit out of ass cracks, of varying depths and lengths, and how no fecal residue can be seen seeping through clothing, because of the quality of the product. That's what I got from it, anyway.

-- Finally, I stumbled across this political quiz earlier in the week, and I took it again. I'd seen it before, a year or so ago. Supposedly it's incredibly accurate and by answering just ten questions you know whether you're a liberal, a conservative, or whatever. Both times I've taken it it's said I'm a Libertarian. And right after taking the quiz for the second time, I stumbled across this article about a Libertarian candidate for Congress. You can draw your own conclusions.

See ya on Tuesday or Wednesday, folks.

October 2, 2002

I came across this Rolling Stone article a few days ago, about former Boomtown Rats leader Bob Geldof, and it got me to thinking.

One of the standard claims of the pretentious hipster is to say that some semi-obscure work -- an album, a film, whatever -- changed their life. You know what I'm talking about, you've heard the horseshit: "The day I first heard White Light/White Heat was my second birth day. Not birthday, birth day... I celebrate twice a year now, the day I came into this world, and the day I became emotionally and artistically aware..." I actually heard somebody say something like that once, in Atlanta, and I nearly laughed in his face. The fucker probably had the entire Night Ranger catalog at home. But that's another story, for another time...

People make shit up all the time, for effect, but something very similar to Mr. Pantload's story above actually happened to me. It was an epiphany right out of the movies, except in the movies it would've been much cooler. It would've involved The Stooges, or A Clockwork Orange, or Kerouac. Characters in Hollywood films rarely make statements like "The Boomtown Rats changed my life," but I can say in all sincerity that they had a profound effect on mine.

Yes, yes, please take a few moments to allow the laughter to subside, it's to be expected...

But here's how it happened:

When I first started getting into music I took the well-beaten path trampled by John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and rarely ventured too far from the main road. I didn't have any older siblings to school me in the ways of the world, and my parents listened to The Statler Brothers, so I was completely on my own in that regard. After I moved on from 45's of novelty songs like "The Streak" and "Hot Rod Lincoln" I became a Beatles freak, almost by default, and quickly came to know in my soul that there was nothing better. And why should I bother investigating anything else? Nothing was as good as The Beatles, so why waste my time? It was a safe and easy route to take. I remember arguing with Kiss fans, and Aerosmith freaks, and walking away shaking my head in frustration at their inability to see The Light. Without even realizing it, I became a music snob, and a Montana-sized pain in the ass.

Fast forward to 1979.

I was sixteen, about six feet tall and weighing in at a hefty one hundred forty pounds. I was probably sporting some kind of skin-tight polyester shirt with a full color photo of a bicycle racer on the front, and severely blue jeans with a giant comb sticking out of the back pocket. I'd undoubtedly just jumped out of my 1971 Chevy Nova, tricked out with shiny chrome wheels and an expensive metallic paint-job that sparkled in the sun. The former owner had turned it into a holler-running hick-wagon, but I liked it and drove it with pride. The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl 8-track was probably hanging out of the stereo. My hair was undoubtedly like something off the back cover of an ELO album, and I probably didn't smell too good.

I was at Budget Tapes and Records, in Cross Lanes, WV, to pick up the new George Harrison album. This one, in fact. It was probably the day the thing was released. As was the custom, I walked around the store for a while before making my purchase, moving between the McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, Starr, and Beatles sections, and maybe perusing the magazine rack for some Beatles-related reading material.

Something strange was playing over the stereo, fucking blasting. It wasn't the Beatles, so it was mysterious and exotic, and probably made me a little nervous. I flipped through the same records I'd flipped through during my previous hundred visits, and kept listening. What in the honeybaked hell is this? It was really fast and sloppy, and had songs about Howard Hughes and Hitler's girlfriend. After about ten minutes I realized, with horror, that I was getting into it!

I walked up to the counter and asked the guy what was playing, and he handed me the jacket to A Tonic For The Troops. On the back was a bunch of hooligans who looked like they'd jumped out of bed and headed straight to the studio, stopping only long enough to engage in a bar fight or two along the way -- one was even still wearing his pajamas! Holy fuck, I thought, wotta bunch of freaks. The guy told me they were a new band from England, and he liked them a lot. I didn't want to admit it, but I liked them too. In a rush of insanity I decided to buy a copy, and left feeling like I'd just cheated on my girlfriend, or kissed a man, or something.

The shit was unbelievably good, like nothing I'd ever heard. And the fact that everybody I knew would undoubtedly be appalled (1979 West Virginia wasn't exactly a hot bed of progressiveness), made it that much better. I felt like I was getting away with something, I had a dirty little secret. I listened to the album every day, over and over again. The guys on the cover became my friends. They energized me, and caused me to start thinking crazy thoughts. Like, maybe Charleston, WV wasn't the center of the universe?! (Was it even possible?) And even more shocking: maybe I could do something creative too? Apparently you didn't have to be a genius like John Lennon, as I'd previously believed, you just needed the attitude, the balls, and the passion. If the guys on the back of that album could do it, I could do it too!

Not to be overly dramatic, but it changed everything. A Tonic For The Troops was a gateway drug. It led me to The Buzzcocks and The Clash, Creem and Trouser Press, Hunter Thompson and Lester Bangs, and piles of other craziness that I would've never even considered before. It blew a hole in the side of my world, and offered an escape route. I'm no Sir Bob, but his record made me believe it was possible -- and that was some heavy shit.

I just wish it had been Fun House. Man, that would've been so much cooler.

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Copyright © 2002 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.