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A bowl of corn, motherfuckers.

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Is that an erection I smell?

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

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   The State of My Fat Ass                                     October 2003

October 31, 2003

A few more things:

-- I can't explain what's triggered it, but I have a strong urge to dip my toe (with straight-growing nail still attached) back into the murky and choppy zine waters. I have an idea for a one-off booklet that I'm building enthusiasm for, day by day. But I want to do it right. I want a color cover and a barcode and the edges trimmed, and all that fancy stuff. I know it's not very ziney, but what can I say? I'm a forty year old office worker in Scranton: I'm not very ziney anymore. Anyway, I've done the cut 'n' paste thing; it was great fun back in the day, but I wanna try something new. I want this shit to be sold in actual stores, and maybe even get reviewed in publications other than Smells Like Hot Ass Zeen. Today I'm going to call the man I mentioned a few days ago, the guy who wants to do nothing but paint, and try to talk him into doing the cover for me. The conversation will start this way: "Hey man, we haven't spoken in, what, twenty years? I was wondering if you could do me a favor?" Wish me luck.

-- I'm currently under the influence of a powerful You Am I jag. This happens from time to time. They're a criminally obscure Australian band that reminds me of the Kinks for some reason. They don't really sound like the Kinks, they just possess the essence of them, if you can dig it. I think they have six albums, and I have four of 'em. All are amazing. And since nobody's ever heard of the poor bastards, you can pick up used copies for around the price of a Mountain Dew Severe. It's my opinion that all of you should buy one today. And you can thank me later, or not. Whatever. In any case, You Am I receive the prestigious West Virginia Surf Report Seal of Approval. And they can put that on the cover of their next album if they want. I don't care.

-- We were at Sam's a few days ago and they had a punching bag set up in one of the aisles. It was a free-standing kind of thing, and people were walking past it and letting loose with big roundhouse haymaker swings, and vicious uppercuts and shit. (Apparently there's a lot of pent-up anger in the general population.) I took it in a different direction, and attempted to imitate Banana Nostrils, working out. I stood way back, put my ass in the air, and began striking at the thing overhanded, with the heels of my hands. I was shouting, "Take that... and that... and that... !" I think I'd had a little too much coffee that morning, and was really getting into it. When I finished, and looked up, I saw that I had an audience of strangers. They all looked confused, and concerned. Toney was, of course, buckled over laughing, and I just mumbled "sorry" and walked away. Sometimes I forget I'm in public. I blame it on the beer.

-- The newest entry on my to-do list is Rush In Rehab -- The Musical. I'm thinking off-Broadway, for starters. Don't be stealing this shit from me, ya hear? I'm picturing Kevin Meaney rolling around on a gurney, amongst dancers, beneath a strobe light.

-- I got The Sopranos fourth season DVD this week, and as soon as the "guests" leave we're gonna dig into it. I can't wait to see Christopher's drug intervention again. That was one of the greatest things in the history of television. Paulie Walnuts attempting to be sensitive is a scene not to be missed.

-- A few days ago I was walking through an unknown part of the building where I work, and there was a guy there shouting at the top of his lungs about how he was going to be the first black president. An older black man shook his head and said, "Boy, you're setting your goals mighty high, aren't you?" An incredibly ugly woman spoke up and said she'd vote for him a heartbeat. Pleased by this, The Candidate promised to reward her by making her "Secretary of Office."

And that's all I have for today, I'm afraid. My Notebook of Comedy is completely sapped. But we're going to Philadelphia tomorrow with Sunshine & Mumbles, so there's nothing to worry about. The well will fill again, very quickly. See ya on Monday.


October 30, 2003

-- Under the circumstances, we were forced to open Bourbon Season a few days early this year. Generally, it begins on Halloween, but I don't think we ever actually make it that long. If you could hear the angry pontification that happens in our living room every night, you'd understand. I bought a big jug of Early Times last weekend, in anticipation of opening day (and in case of emergencies), and we've already been into it. Not much, but just enough to get the job done. I'm not a big liquor guy, but for some reason whiskey and fall go together. Leaves, chilly temperatures, fireplace smoke, and bourbon... they're forever linked in my brain. It's also very good for taking the edge off a twenty-minute diatribe about the victimization of Native Americans, and/or "the skinny bitches" on Friends.

-- Speaking of Sunshine & Mumbles, we're all apparently going to spend the day in Philadelphia on Saturday. They want to see South Street and visit the Italian Market, whatever that is. Sounds OK in the abstract, but in actuality it will be an eight-hour Festival of Bitch. She'll complain about the way I drive, the cost of meals, the crowds, the pretentious shopkeepers, the temperatures, northeastern attitudes, the fake Italians, the required walking, and all the "suffocating" trees. And that'll just be before we get out of Scranton. Jesus himself would be knocking back the lagers after such a day. Pour me another, Charlie. I've frickin' had it. I wonder if these folks offer overnight delivery?

-- One more thing, while I'm on the subject... A few nights ago I was screwing around on the computer and Sunshine was channel surfing in the next room. Suddenly she exploded: "Oh my God! I am so sick of hearing about this goddamn vegetable!!"

-- It's Halloween tomorrow, and once again I was unable to find a horse skeleton costume. Oh, there's no problem if you want to dress up as human remains, but you're shit out of luck if you want to go as decomposing livestock. It's just not right. I guess I'll just be an embittered middle-aged office worker again this year; the trick or treaters seem to love this, especially when I curse and rant about the unreliability of LTL carriers servicing the south Florida corridor. This is a hit, year after year. Sigh...

-- The sonofabitches better not throw eggs at our house. This is something else to worry about, and that's why we're giving out full-sized Reese's. We've already had our pumpkins stolen, and viciously assaulted in the middle of the street; it would be foolish to think the eggs won't be flying tomorrow night. Lord knows I did it, when I was a young hooligan. I knew all about the art of first shaking the egg to stop it from exploding in your hand, was involved in the famous and extremely dangerous Baker's Dozen Attack on the Chew Chat Inn in 1982, and participated in a series of logistically complicated eggings of moving cars, from moving cars, and the whole nine yards. Oh, it was great fun then, but it doesn't seem quite so hilarious from my current perspective. The little pricks. I work hard for what I have. What's happening to society?

-- I was talking to my Dad the other day, about the camper we bought but have still not seen. He was telling me about the electric hook-up on the hitch, the thing that powers the brake lights or whatever. He wanted me to look at the wiring on my truck and tell him if the plug is a "male or female." Pardon? I had no idea what he was talking about, because, as he puts it, "When I tried to teach you things when you were a boy, you just wanted to lay on your bed and listen to records." He went on to explain that a plug with prongs is a male, and a plug with a socket is a female. "You're shitting me?!" I said, "That's kinda graphic, isn't it?" Prongs and sockets as an electrician's metaphor for penises and vaginas? I was mildly shocked, and began wondering what women think about being associated with sockets. It doesn't seem quite right, if you ask me. Sockets?! And my Dad said, "Jeff, please try to stay focused on what we're talking about here..."

-- I got sucked into watching the Katie Couric "interview" with Elizabeth Smart last weekend, and I'm still irritated that I wasted a full hour of my life on it. The thing was fifty minutes of her father, sporting a gay man's vest, talking and making faces and grunting in agreement with his wife. Then, at the very end, they showed Elizabeth and Katie walking along a river, or some shit, chit-chatting. Apparently the girl was nervous, which is understandable. But it didn't exactly make for great television. She sounded like a, like, sixteen year old girl, or whatever. And she is, like, doing fine now. The end. Please support our sponsors.

Wotta rip-off. And I sat there, another hour older, and feeling like a giant douchebag.

-- Check this out. An extra-cool Smoking Fish sighting, in downtown Kansas City. I'm near tears here... Thanks to John Granger, for the extra effort.

-- And this is pretty great too. Another quote from yours truly, in today's edition of the syndicated comic, Shoecabbage! Bartlett's can't be too far behind, can they? Ahem.

-- Finally, here's a really strange offering from Buck. He claims to have given up drinking, years ago, but I wonder. As we used to say back home, the shit ain't right.

More tomorrow.

                            

October 29, 2003

The Mayor is dead. I can't believe I'm typing these words, but apparently it's true. Frank B. Leone has gone to that big City Council meeting in the sky. He was a legend, our Churchill. And, for once, I'm not being sarcastic.

Frank B., as we called him, was always mayor of Dunbar, as far as I'm concerned. He came into office when I was ten years old, and would serve another six or seven years after I left the state at twenty-three. I remember the name of the previous mayor, but I don't really remember him being mayor. No, it was only Frank B. The man is synonymous with my hometown, as woven into my memories as Wiffle Ball at dusk, and the throwing of railroad rocks at the massive Aerodyne awning -- then trying to run from the pissed-off workers while laughing hysterically. He was there, always.

And I liked him. I can't ever remember thinking bad thoughts about Mayor Leone. He seemed like a nice man, with the capacity to rip open a few new ones if the situation warranted it. He had that whole "gruff but lovable" thing going on, and was exactly the type of person you wanted in the mayor's office. If, say, the City of Belle had launched a surprise attack on Dunbar in the dead of night, Frank B. would've led us to swift victory, but would've refrained from dropping The Big One for humanitarian reasons.

He did a lot for the town, and seemed to genuinely love the place. He went after government grants like Ted Kennedy searches out the wet bar at wedding receptions. He built a swimming pool, a new library, bought shiny new fire trucks and police cars, and accomplished lots of other things most other mayors would've never even attempted.

And he founded the Critter Dinner!

Dunbar was great when he was in office. My childhood there was like something out of a book. People say that Mayberry never really existed, but I know that to be untrue. I lived there, and my "Pa" was fire chief. I guess The Mayor can't claim all of the credit for that, but he sure as hell helped. His enthusiasm was contagious, and he didn't tolerate any foolishness.

Damn.

I'm sorry today's update isn't very funny, but this is a sad week at the Compound. I feel like a door to my youth has been slammed shut. I can't even imagine a Frank B-less Dunbar, West Virginia; it just doesn't seem right. Even after he left office he lived there, and that made it OK. 

But now... it's like driving past the house you grew up in, and seeing some stranger sitting on the porch.

October 28, 2003

My apple-eating buddy at work told me a story last week that I just can't seem to get out of my head, and believe me, I've tried.

He said that since his early-20s he's been "prone to ingrown toenails." Apparently it was a huge problem, and weather conditions and sunspot activity would be enough to make his nails abruptly change direction and just start growing in. Or whatever. To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure what ingrown toenails even are. I'm envisioning them growing in a U-shape, out a little, then right back in. Is that correct? I guess I don't allow mine to get long enough to start doing tricks... Anyway, he reportedly had a lot of issues in this area, and lived in discomfort for decades.

Finally, he woke up one day last year, swung open his window and shouted, "I've had enough freakish U-shaped toenails, and I'm not going to take it anymore!!" And that's where this toe tale starts getting really weird.

"I just went to the doctor and asked him to remove them," he said.

"Your toes??" I shouted, above the noise of another violent apple stripping. I tried not to be too obvious about looking at his shoes, and wondering if the ends were stuffed with toilet paper. I imagined two flipper feet with no toes attached, and wondered if it affected his balance any.

"No, the nails," he answered. This was only slightly less disturbing.

Apparently he went in on a Friday and had all his toenails taken off, and some kind of nerve severed so they'd never grow back. I've heard a lot, but I've never heard such a thing as this. What's a toe look like without a nail? I'm thinking something along the line of Beanie-Weenies, with the big toes as Weenies and the little ones as Beanies.

He says that since he has no armor plating anymore, a stubbed toe or having his foot stepped on, can be a real bitch. And he said that when he took his first nailless shower, it felt really weird when water would hit the top of his toes. After that he would close the drain and fill the bottom of the stall with water, so he could shower with his feet submerged.

I'm not making any of this up.

I've gotta see 'em. I know that probably seems a little weird, but I can't sit six feet away from ten baked bean toes, day after day, and not know what they look like. Ya know? Maybe I can get him drunk sometime, and convince him to take his shoes off for me? That might work. Wonder if any of the bars around here serve apple daiquiris?

October 27, 2003

-- Sunshine and Mumbles are here again. They rolled into town Friday afternoon, and are staying until next Sunday, I think. As always, those plans are subject to change, and they could decide on a moment's notice to stay until Easter, or 2012.

Sunshine got things off to a rousing start when she launched into a ten-minute diatribe at dinner, about the new twenty dollar bills. Colored money, she calls it, and she's not exactly pleased. She says it looks like European currency, and it proves that there's a long-term plan in place for a one-world government. She says we're just being conditioned for that inevitable day when we have to start taking our orders from the "Red Chinese", or whatever. Bush is involved in this, she believes, when he should be busy working at getting her prescription medicine paid for. You think I'm making this up? Oh, you'd be mistaken.

This subject segued into a classic speech I've heard many times before, about the evils of grocery store advantage cards. They're tracking our every move, you see, and eventually we won't be able to buy food unless we're registered with some mysterious and shadowy government agency. It's an oldie but a goodie, but still highly entertaining. It's like having the Art Bell Show broadcast live from our living room.

-- I think I'd sorta forgotten about this, but Sunshine reminded me that Nancy has another baby due in mid-November. This is the kid I predicted they'd name Swiffer, since it was reportedly conceived on the kitchen floor. To Nancy's absolute horror and disgust the baby is another boy, another brutalizer of women being born into the world. It will now be her job to make sure her kids grow up to be, best case, militant gay men with an axe to grind, or, at the very least, sniveling pussy-boys in socks and sandals. It'll be interesting to see how this drama plays itself out. Why does the word Columbine keep popping into my head?

-- Speaking of mysterious government agencies, I'm thinking about requesting my FBI file through the Freedom of Information Act. Have any of you done this? I've read up on it, and there's certain wording you have to include in the request, and the whole thing needs to be notarized, etc. Oh, they've constructed plenty of hoops to jump through, so they can automatically shitcan 98% of the applications. But, just for fun, I'll do it all correctly. I know they have a file on me, because I was offered a job with them when I was nineteen or twenty.

I was working in a grocery store for $3.35 an hour, and answered an ad in the newspaper for a government job that wasn't really described very clearly. It turned out to be the FBI, and they gave me a bunch of tests, and finger-printed me, and called me back in, over and over again. They gave me an IQ test and asked a bunch of strange questions, and were absolutely humorless about it all. Eventually I started hearing word that men in black were going around asking questions about me. They knocked on the doors of neighbors, and talked to a couple of my high school teachers, and even pulled a friend aside, who was in the Army and stationed in Colorado(!?). It was all very bizarre.

Then they called, and ordered me to report to the J. Edgar Hoover Building in two weeks. I was hired, they said. Holy deep-dish fuck! Apparently I was going to live in FBI dorms, would be paid twelve grand per year, and they would put me through college. And after I'd earned my law degree I would be groomed to become an agent. I still can't believe it...

Obviously they weren't very happy when I called them back and told them I wouldn't be joining their team, after all. Hell, I thought I was applying to be a filing clerk at the Game Commission in Charleston, or something. I just filled out an application and suddenly my life was careening out of control. At nineteen years old I was the emotional equivalent of a sixth grader. I wasn't ready to ride a bus by myself; going into 007 training was simply out of the question.

It would be interesting to see what they have on me from that time, and if they've picked up anything since. I wonder if my association with Chris from North Carolina is noted? Wonder if they have a record of all the salted peanuts in the shell I've purchased from Price Chopper through the years? Stay tuned. I'll try to get the request in the mail this week. Within a year I should have an answer.

-- We went to our town's Halloween parade yesterday, and it was fairly uneventful. The only good part was when the parade went past the funeral home, while they were apparently having a viewing inside. Well-dressed people were coming out wiping away tears, as a casket on wheels rolled past with a man inside waving and smiling and throwing candy. And I wondered what the people who were preparing to bury their loved-one thought about the ten-foot tall grim reaper on stilts, hanging around in front of the funeral home, waving his scepter? Apparently somebody didn't get a memo.

-- This picture doesn't really tell the story, but Toney and I went to Don Pablo's yesterday evening for alcohol and a break from the conspiracy theories, and passed through a section of road where roughly a million birds were flying around. It was freaky as all hell. They were everywhere, and when we stopped at a light we could hear them all making their spooky bird sounds, and it felt like the devil was near. It was also rainy and dark, which only added to the scariness of it all. In the picture you can see them all lined up, shoulder to shoulder, on the wires. There were also great clouds of them swirling and swooping above our heads. I think Lucifer may have actually had chips 'n' salsa with us. And I have no doubt he double-dips.

-- We watched Night of the Living Dead last night. I'd only seen bits and pieces of it, never the whole thing at once. I remember attempting to watch it on Night Flight years ago, and lapsed into a mini-coma from boredom. Since then I've had a bad attitude towards the film -- but I was wrong. It's really good and atmospheric and creepy. After the semi-shocking ending I went to the Internet to read a little about it. Apparently George Romero worked for a TV station in Pittsburgh, and somehow talked some people into backing a film project. This was in 1968. He had no experience, and made the movie for $100,000 on weekends and days off. The resulting movie, of course, became a cult classic, and turned Romero into a multi-millionaire. It's one of those stories I can't get enough of. It's chicken soup for the desperate soul.

-- For the uninitiated, George Romero information is not the only thing you can find on the Internet, not by a long-shot.  For instance, here's "Baby Got Back" translated into Greek.

-- And I've got more, lots more, but I better hold a little back for later. I've gotta pace myself here, this ain't prom night. We'll wrap things up today, with the latest rant from our favorite white guy, Chris from North Carolina.

See ya tomorrow.

                              

October 24, 2003

I came under attack yesterday on a conference call at work, by a ball-busting "woman" in California, and I can't stop replaying the episode in my head. I try not to bring this bullshit home with me, but sometimes I just can't help it. It's eating at me, from the inside out.

The fact that this person jumped on me with both feet isn't really the issue. She's a well-known hardass; that's her identity. When she dies her headstone will read, simply: She Busted Balls. Almost every day somebody feels her wrath on these calls, yesterday just happened to be my turn. No, that's not the part that's bothering me, it's my response. I don't think I was strong enough... I believe I came across as a bit of a pussy, and it's eating away at my stomach lining.

When I was a kid in Little League I used to go to practice and line balls into the outfield, one after the other. But when game time arrived, and the stands were full of people staring directly at me, I couldn't hit Rosie O'Donnell's ass with a box of Sara Lee Apple Crumb Lesbian Cakes. The same goes on these conference calls, with twenty other people listening in. I clam up in a way I don't really understand, and it makes me look weak. And I am no delicate flower of a man. If the same thing had happened during a one-on-one call, I would've gone Joe Pesci on her. But I'm no good on stage. It's one of the many things I wish I could change about myself. I am a deeply flawed individual.

All day yesterday I was sitting at my desk muttering to myself, asking why I put up with all this horseshit. It was one of those days when you start asking yourself Big Questions. Like, is this really what you want to do with your life? And, how did it all go so wrong, fatty?

I know a guy in West Virginia who wants to do nothing but create art. He's an incredible painter, and seemingly wants nothing more from life than the time and opportunity to paint. He's been offered large-paying jobs as a graphic artist over the years, and has always turned them down. He wants nothing of the corporate world, he just wants to be left alone so he can paint. His world is so stripped-down and pure it makes me envious sometimes. Like yesterday.

But, dammit, I want things, like a family and a house and a TiVo and a car that will go in reverse if I need it to. Therefore, I allow my balls to get busted on national conference calls, and do little about it. And in the process it feels like both my professional life, and my private dreamworld, get compromised. I don't have enough energy for both, so both suffer. I refuse to give up on the dream part, like most people; I still have big ridiculous plans, and I think they keep me sane. But my equally-strong desire for a "normal" life has led me down a frustrating path lined with bullshit bushes and cunt maples, and I just can't seem to find my way out. It's all so complicated, and hard...

Deeply flawed.

October 23, 2003

-- Man, as impossible as it might seem, this simultaneously sucks and blows. I've been without Internet access. Apparently an Adelphia server ate the big shit grinder somewhere (this is how the help desk explained it to me, anyway), and Scranton was down -- all day yesterday and all last night. I was unable to update the site yesterday morning, and I'm way behind schedule today. They're killing me. Service came up sometime in the middle of the night, but today's update ain't gonna be worth a damn. Know that now.

You know the old sitcom plot cliche where all the TVs won't work, and everybody panics at first but in the end becomes reacquainted with life's simpler pleasures, like board games and human interaction? All bullshit. There were no board games played at the Compound last night, there was only cursing. No Internet, no email, no Drudge... I felt like I had a hole in my soul. I'm still a little shaky, if you want the truth. It was like 1985 again. Absolutely horrifying.

-- I'm hoping the Pope makes me a Cardinal this week, or a Saint or something. The guy's going out like Clinton. Every day I see an article about him handing out another shitload of Popey accolades, all willy-nilly. I'm not sure about this, but I believe there's now a Cardinal Eddie Money. Seriously, I think I read that somewhere. I could be next. Why not? I'm a nice guy. OK, I'm not Catholic, but I don't think that's an absolute requirement at this point. The man's sitting around in chairs, all snapped over like a picture phone; I believe I could slide by. Stay tuned for the big announcement. Today could be the day.

-- Toney and I are now the proud owners of a 12-foot Coleman pop-up camper. Someday soon we hope to see it. It's currently in the possession of my parents in West Virginia, and I couldn't be happier about it. My dad is going over that thing like a NASA engineer. He's washed and waxed it, and when I talked to him yesterday morning he was replacing the hinges on the cabinets. Claimed he didn't like the way they "hung." I don't even know what that means exactly, but this is a great situation for me. By the time I get down there to pick it up, he'll have it in showroom condition, and cleaner than an operating room. He thrives on this kind of stuff, and we're reaping the benefits. Excellent.

I'm pretty stressed out about having to pull the shit back up here to Pennsylvania, though; I have no experience along those lines whatsoever. But I guess by the time it's all over I'll be an expert, right? Trial by fire. I can just imagine I-81, with its wall-to-wall tractor trailers bouncing and careening from lane to lane. Just thinking about it makes my sphincter pulse. And check this out. I snapped this picture just five minutes ago -- on October 23. Frickin' snow! I'll probably end up dead in a ditch somewhere, with my head off my body and the Pursuit of Happiness cranking. I'm stressin'.

-- Elliott Smith killed himself a couple of days ago, by stabbing himself in the chest. I've seen no confirmation of this, but I'd be willing to bet he'd spent the day listening to his own recordings, and couldn't take it anymore. ...Is that mean?

-- Here's a Playboy interview with The Great One. Because of my computer problems I haven't even had a chance to read it yet, but I hear it's pretty good.

-- And you wanna see something surreal? Check this shit out. Rush is dyn-o-mite!

-- I'm excited to report that there's been another Smoking Fish sighting, this time in Hamburg, Germany. Awesome. I'm both surprised and humbled by all the pics that have come in. I figured this thing would meet the same pitiful fate as the Autograph Project, but somehow it's worked out. Thanks to everyone involved, and keep 'em coming. It's great to see the fish I drew on a drunken Atlanta evening, as a world traveler -- here from my bent metal chair in Scranton.

-- Toney and I watched the 1984 episode of I Love The 80's Strikes Back last night, and I almost swallowed my tongue laughing at one point. The guy who plays Phil Stubbs on Ed (Anthony Michael Hall or Philip Michael Thomas or something) was going on and on about the size of Ric Ocasek's adam's apple, and eventually began wondering if Ric's wife has ever made love to it. Then he added, "Because she could... That's how far it protrudes." It may have just been my state of mind, but I almost pooped myself laughing. That guy kills me. It's a great feeling to know there are nine whole episodes I haven't yet seen.

And that's going to have to do it for today, folks. I'm all out of time. Blame Adelphia, not me; I'm the victim. <sniff> I'll let Buck do all the heavy lifting from here with, in my opinion, one of his best efforts to date.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Sunshine and Mumbles are on their way here, as I type this. They're supposed to arrive tomorrow afternoon, for a brief little month-long visit or whatever. Thank God it's almost bourbon season, and that I own headphones and a portable DVD player.

See ya tomorrow.

                                     

October 21, 2003

I have a new respect for our dog Andy, in the wake of the Las Vegas incident where a tiger went wild and attacked its sequin-wearing German homosexual magician master. The same could easily happen to one of us, living here in this house with an animal roaming around day and night. God only knows when we'll step out of bed one morning and experience a terrifying episode of Border Collie, Unbound.

I seriously doubt it'll ever happen; Andy is a gentle beast. But I'm sure Roy said similar things, back when he had a throat through which to speak. Who knows what goes on in the minds of animals? Andy's brain is most likely the size of a walnut. It would be foolish to believe he has sophisticated reasoning powers. A certain pitch of voice or an unusual expression might be enough to unlock some ancient instinct in him, from the days when his great-grandparents ran wild in Scotland or whatever, and make him start ripping off face meat. He has the teeth of a wolf, after all.

He'd have a case, if he ever turned on us and ended up in front of a panel of dog judges. We call him a lot of bad names, because of his ability to be irritating as a motherfucker. Every night around seven he wants to play, and gets a wild look in his eyes. He does that puppy thing where he drops down in the front, and lays his chest on the floor, and he lopes around the house, turning circles and shit.

Most of the time I play with him, and wear him out, but occasionally I'm in no mood for such shenanigans. He can also burn holes in you with his laser-like stare, if there's food involved. All this can get on a person's nerves, and we often yell creative profanity at him -- usually the word shit, with another random word tacked on. We call him shitass, shithead, shitmonkey, shithook, shitfaggot, shitbox, and at least once, shitpharmacy. Don't ask me to explain it; he makes me crazy.

But he'd have a case for emotional cruelty, in an International Dog Court. No reason to be dishonest about it. He'd undoubtedly walk, like OJ. Especially if he could find a slick lawyer willing to play the breed card.

Another thing to worry about is the fact that he apparently is teetering on the edge of sanity. We've witnessed his emotional hair-trigger, and it can be disturbing. One of these days I need to videotape him when our hippy-dippy mailman arrives with the hippy-dippy mail, man. He goes absolutely apeshit crazy; it's like he's trying to shed his own skin. I wish I could upload it to the site somehow.

And a few weeks ago the people across the street were marrying off their daughter, and there was constant activity for several hours -- complete with limousines. This was almost too much for Andy to handle. Unnaturally elongated automobiles, umbrellas, people with flowers in their jackets... I thought he was going to have an aneurysm. He was turning back-flips, walking on his hind legs, walking on his front legs, and barking and snarling and snapping. He may be part dingo, now that I think about it.

But, like I say, I don't think he'll ever betray us. He's one of the good guys, despite his personality flaws. He snuggles against us while we're watching TV, and is a really good dog, overall. But I know better than to push it. As much as it pains me, I'm leaving my sequined jumpsuit and neon walking stick in the closet. My days of pageantry are over, for the good of the family.

October 20, 2003

-- It went against the instinct of every individual cell in my enormous body, but I finally sat down and risked an hour of my life on the viewing of a new television show this weekend. Well, it was new to me anyway; it may be in its tenth year of broadcast for all I know. Generally speaking, I will not take the risk of watching something unfamiliar, and I'm familiar with very little. See the trap I'm in? Anyway, I watched Law & Order LMNOP, or whatever, Friday night. It features Richard Belzer, the old HBO comedian, skulking around in the background in glasses that get darker in sunlight, and the now-paunchy original gangster, Ice-T. Yo, Ice, you might want to try some Sweet 'N Low in yer T next time... you could balance a Dairy Queen tray on that gut...

Even though I was preoccupied with trying to decide whether or not Belzer is indeed the ugliest man on network television (he's Joey Ramone ugly!), I liked the show -- until the very last scene. One of the main cops got gunned down, and died, and I thought that was some pretty gritty stuff. But then, as the program was about to end, you find out she didn't die at all. She's just going into the witness protection program, or some such bullshit. They only said she died, you see, to fool the bad guys. I was pissed. Wotta rip-off. Johnny Rotten's famous cackling taunt played inside my head: "Ever feel like you've been cheated??" Yes I do, Johnny. Thank you very much. I may just stick with what I know, from here on out.

-- And I just realized I somehow referenced TWO 1970s punk icons while discussing an NBC crime drama. You won't find this sort of thing anywhere else, folks. This is a special brand of, um, analysis.

-- We also watched Sleepy Hollow on Saturday night. It's one of those movies we've been meaning to check out, but four years passed before we finally got around to it. We should've waited another twenty or so. Pitiful. I'm not sure how you take Johnny Depp, a huge budget, and a script that calls for roughly one hundred heads to get lopped off, and make it drool-drippingly dull. But they pulled it off somehow. Holy shit. It was supposedly only 105 minutes long, but it felt like a car trip to Florida -- with no Stuckey's. Boring, artsy-fartsy bullshit. And the cackling continued inside my head...

-- Toney and I were eavesdropping on a conversation in a restaurant Saturday morning, and I felt compelled to provide a running commentary on the proceedings. It was two fortysomething couples sitting together, and one husband and wife had gone to the big Simon and Garfunkel show a few days earlier. The husband wanted to make it known that he's not generally a Simon & Garfunkel fan, but "he went with an open mind." The guy was making me crazy. Here's some of it:

"I've never been a big fan, but Mary really wanted to go..."

Bullshit, you love 'em.

"It was great that they chose to open their tour here."

It's because they wanted to work the bugs out of the show in front of an audience that didn't matter.

"I've never been a huge fan..."

OK, we get it, tough guy. You're more inclined to rock.

"I never really got into them when I was younger, but Paul Simon was delightful."

Oh, blow it out your ass you phony prick. Delightful is a word only old women use, or assholes being pretentious. And I don't see any support hose.

At this point I can barely function in society.

-- We were at the pumpkin patch yesterday (a full-blown celebration of all that is autumn!) and I saw a woman at the snack bar buy a tray of food that must've cost twenty-five dollars. She turned around to walk away from the window and a big gust of wind kicked up, and sent her nacho chips flying across a fence. One second they were piled high, the next there was only a plate. I laughed for five solid minutes.

-- Toney went to the grocery store yesterday, and she's one of the most optimistic people I know.

-- It hasn't really sunk in yet, but we apparently bought a pop-up camper this weekend, sight-unseen. Because it's almost impossible to find a good used model in our neck of the woods, with the required air conditioner, I had my parents on the lookout in West Virginia. Saturday morning my Dad called and said there was a Coleman advertised in the paper, in our price range and with all the bells and whistles. I asked him to call about it, and it sounded good. That afternoon they went to look at it, and came back with a glowing report. I called the guy and negotiated a fair price (he acted like every hundred dollars I talked him down was another finger being chopped off), and I finally agreed to buy it. We've never even seen the thing!

Today my Dad is going back to make sure everything works and, if so, I guess we'll be full-fledged members of the Kamping Kulture. Scary. But next summer we'll be able to travel on the cheap, and we have big plans. We already have springtime reservations for a beach-front spot in Myrtle Beach, at a five-star camping resort -- for forty-three bucks a night. You have to reserve them a year in advance, and we did. We made the reservations months before we even had a camper. And we want to go to Maine next summer as well, and possibly Cape Cod. I could be completely deluded, but I think it's going to be great. Stay tuned. At the very least it'll be a Chevy Chase movie come to life.

-- I received word of a new Smoking Fish sighting yesterday, this time at Yankee Stadium during a World Series game! Check it out. I want to be perfectly clear though, the Smoking Fish is NOT a Marlin. Please make a note of it. And thanks sincerely to the reader who sent in the photo. Cool as all hell.

-- I may have linked to this last year, but it's worth a second look: the world's worst Halloween costumes.

-- And this is pretty frickin' strange... These folks are into Photoshopping pictures of women, giving them huge Pinocchio noses, for apparent jack-off fuel. Good god, how would a person even know they had that particular fetish? The end is near.

-- I'm thinking about scrapping the old babyshit yellow Surf Report Forum, and replacing it with this new, improved model. I'm still tinkering with it, but you get the general idea. Let me know what you think, if you give a crap one way or the other. I think it's time for a change, but I'm often wrong. Let me know.

-- Tomorrow's a big day for us Paul Westerberg fans. A new Grandpaboy album is being released, the documentary about last year's tour (Come Feel Me Tremble) is coming out on DVD, along with the soundtrack CD. Three new Westerberg products on the same day! Best Buy is offering the DVD and the soundtrack for twenty bucks, if you buy them both at the same time. That's a great deal, and I'll be there with the proverbial bells on -- along with all the other pudgy old men who used to be cool.

And I think that'll do it for today. We'll finish up with the latest rant from Chris (aka The Word Processor), from North Carolina.

Have a great week, people.

October 17, 2003

It's been a weird week. There are big-shot California visitors hanging around my office, and they haven't invited me to dinner. This isn't a good sign. In the past I always got taken to dinner by these people, to intimidating restaurants where the food is served on massive plates but the entree is roughly the size of a deck of cards. Not this time. This time dinner is never mentioned. I assume they have a meal every night, just not in my company. It makes me worry. What did I do? Have I fallen from their good graces for some reason?? It's a dark cloud hanging over me, this lack of an invitation. I'm starting to doubt myself (even more than usual). I'm no fan of the forced corporate power meal, but it sure does suck to be excluded. I feel like the goober kid who plays Wiffle Ball in dress shoes.

Speaking of work, I believe there are only two people in my entire company who know the difference between their, there, and they're. Me and an Asian woman in Burbank, and that's it. Same goes for your and you're. Apparently words that are similar to each other throw most people into a black forest of confusion. I picture them in parking lots walking from car to car, frantically trying their keys on every vehicle -- because they all look so much alike. There's also an alarming number of people at my job who put apostrophes at the bottom, like this: Krispy Kremes at Mike,s desk! What the hell, man?

If I can only make it another nine hours or so, it'll be the weekend and I'll be far away from all the irritation and worry. I'll surround myself with allies and people who aren't painfully stupid. Sometimes I daydream about being a Howard Hughes character, wrapped up in a cocoon day and night, far away from the assholes. But I don't think I'd like that much either. I'm not a big fan of long fingernails and unkempt facial hair, for one thing. Plus, I like being out and about, living life. No, I believe the perfect situation for me is to have obscene amounts of money. And the power to become invisible. Yep, I think that would do the trick. If anyone has any suggestions, please drop me a note.

October 16, 2003

A few more things:

-- I wrote a while back about the young hooligans that live in our neighborhood. They were little kids last summer, playing tag and setting up lemonade stands and whatnot. Then over the winter they all grew up, and became teenagers -- or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. It's almost time for them to go into winter hibernation again, and next spring they'll likely emerge looking like Brit Hume or, I guess, Brit Hume in a sports bra.

The way they so quickly change freaks me out a bit. It's just a blatant reminder that time is marching on; as the neighborhood kids transform into adults, my sad shit is surely breaking down. It's only logical, right? They're rising up to take my place.

That's disturbing, of course, and it's also disturbing to see what's happening to the boys. The girls seem like your garden-variety teenage girls, but the boys are like miniature Republicans. It's kinda creepy. When I come home from work they're often on their front lawns in khaki pants and expensive polo shirts, practicing their golf swings. Their golf swings! They probably have stock portfolios and Mannheim Steamroller CDs as well.

It just ain't right. At this point they should be out raising hell and giving their parents bleeding ulcers (like I did), not daydreaming about the day they'll finally get to take the end chair in a corporate conference room somewhere. It's sick. I don't want to be insensitive (ahem), but I think I may be living near an Insufferable Prick Training Camp. In a few years I'll probably be begging one of these shitheads for some time off around the holidays. Fuck.

-- It's that time of year when social pressure begins building for everyone to go out and get their flu shots. I know it's the hip thing to do, but I'll be damned. Call me a radical, but I'm not having influenza injected into my bloodstream; it's just not my idea of fun. How did this become the cool thing, anyway? I've had the flu and it wasn't all that bad. It's unpleasant, sure, but it's not like I'm curled up in a corner, quivering and fearing its return. Ya know? Suddenly flu is the black plague. We sure are a pampered and spoiled group of pussy-people, aren't we?

Now employers offer the shots in their break rooms, you can get them at the mall right next to the Verizon kiosk, and TV commercials implore us to go get jabbed right away. And the sheep line up with their sleeves rolled to their armpits, and brag to each other the next day about their sheepiness. I have no doubt that, with an effective ad campaign and the endorsement of a few high-profile celebrities, a large portion of the population could be convinced to walk around with turds in their pockets.

-- I saw a nun yesterday driving a Ford Taurus. It never occurred to me that nuns drive cars. It was mildly unnerving. She was all kicked back and aloof, with one hand on the wheel, like Dirty Harry Callahan. I don't think I liked it much.

-- I'm not sure what's happening to me, but I can no longer eat brownies. Well, I should clarify... I can still physically eat brownies, I remember how, but they make me sick. Fifteen minutes or so after the ingestion of one of the chocolaty rectangles of delight, I find myself transported to the cusp of a vomit episode. I've never had this problem before, as evidenced by my powerful upper body. Should I start getting my personal matters in order? Should I file a Do Not Resuscitate order? It's all flying apart on me. This is the way it starts.

-- I watched Road to Perdition Tuesday night on HBO. Boy, there's an upbeat film. I was whistling and walking on a fucking cloud after that thing went off. Shit. It was well-made and well-written, and all that stuff, but it made me want to break a bottle and cut myself with glass before retiring for the evening. Hoosiers it ain't. Goddamn.

-- In case you haven't been keeping up with the news, here's a brief summary of what's going on in the world: yellow panties, semen, Caucasian pubic hair... siamese twins sharing one watermelon head with a ring of fur around the middle... feeding tubes and Mylar balloons... ferry deaths and amputations, and attempted suicide with a BB gun... one douchebag in Chicago hiding under his bed, waiting for his passport to arrive in the mail... And you're pretty much up to date.

-- Something that confuses me on that House Hunters show is when the people exclaim with unbridled excitement that the dining room is "right off the kitchen." Isn't that generally where dining rooms are located? I've been in a number of houses in my life, and I've never seen a dining room up the stairs, second door on the left. I've never witnessed people transporting steaming bowls of corn down long corridors. Not once. It's like someone saying, "Oh look honey, the bathroom comes equipped with a free-standing device designed to whisk away our waste!"

-- We were in Petco the other day, to buy Andy some more shit-making pellets, and they had a retarded man working the cash register. And it wasn't a mild case of retardation either. No, this was full-blown. The guy had something like 200 teeth in his mouth, and was flailing and grunting to beat the band. I pretended not to notice, as society dictates, until he started making announcements over the loudspeaker. Then I had to leave, and wait for Toney in the parking lot. It was just too much pressure.

-- My favorite commercial at the moment is for a bank, possibly Washington Mutual, that shows a man so upbeat nothing phases him. He gets hit in the nuts by a flying bowling ball, for instance, and just laughs it off. And my favorite scene shows him bent over tying his shoes at work, and a woman turns over an entire industrial sized coffee pot on his back. He just stands up laughing hysterically as smoke rolls off his torso. I love that. I laugh every time. I wish I had it on DVD.

And I think that'll do it for today. I'll let Buck take it from here, and I'll see you folks again tomorrow. Have yourself a great little Thursday.

October 15, 2003

A few nights ago I settled in for a long evening of Internet trolling and website maintenance (believe it or not this shit takes time), and I tuned into the Phil Hendrie Show to keep me company. Within seconds I was howling with laughter and jiggling like one of Rocky's daydreams.

I've written about him before, but Phil Hendrie has a radio show in LA, and it's like nothing else in this world. The man's a genius, and has created his own universe of delicious fucked-upness. Every night he has various "guests" on, each at least mildly crazy. And he interviews them and argues with them and provides a grounded voice of reason. The only thing is, Phil is both interviewer and interviewee. His guests aren't real, they're just him using a different voice.

I know it sounds retarded but, believe me, it works; it works better than just about anything you can imagine. When he takes calls from real and duped listeners, who are invariably incensed and beside themselves over the crackpot opinions of the guests, the show often becomes mind-bendingly insane and you're left just staring at the radio with your mouth hanging open. One of Toney's California buddies said she almost wrecked her car on the freeway while listening to Phil Hendrie, and literally had to pull off the side of the road to regain her composure. (I wonder how many deaths he's caused?)

The first time I remember hearing him was right after we moved to California. I was coming home from work late one night, and found his show somehow. I can't remember what he was talking about, but it finally degenerated into full-blown chaos, until it sounded like three or four people were talking at once, and somebody was scratching themselves noisily and complaining about a rash. I sat in the parking lot of our apartment, even after I arrived home, and listened, not fully believing my own ears. What in the honeybaked hell is this?!

After that I tuned in regularly, and soon figured out what he was doing. Then I just started enjoying the comedy. The man's hilarious, it's not just a goofy gimmick. He has the goods to back it all up.

On the show I heard Friday, he had a guy on who was insisting that Rush Limbaugh is the Timothy Leary of the Republican Party, using chemicals to unlock previously unexplored avenues of conservative thought, or something along those lines. And he had another guest who was suffering a personal crisis because of the Siegfried and Roy tiger attack; he couldn't come to terms with the fact that a gay man may be more brave than him. And they played part of a previous show when a man was complaining because the airlines won't let him wear his spurs onto airplanes. It was all incredibly funny, absurdist radio theater.

You can listen to his show for free through the KFI website, live every week night. He charges like seven bucks a month to access his archives, and I'm thinking about taking him up on that deal. I don't get to listen very often, because of the time of day his show is broadcast, so I'd love to be able to listen at work. That would be worth the price of a Wendy's lunch, for sure. If you've never heard Phil Hendrie, do yourself a favor and tune in once or twice. You'll love it. And you can trust me on this one.

October 14, 2003

Have you been to a Subway sandwich shop lately? It's like a hall of mirrors. Every time you successfully pass through a metaphorical door, three more are revealed to you. It's nearly endless, and is nothing short of maddening.

It starts with the bread. The choices used to be white or wheat, now they offer a full array of faggoty designer breads with fancy (and confusing) names. They have shit with rosemary in it, tomatoes incorporated into the mix, etc. I'm from West Virginia. I thought rosemary was Morey Amsterdam's sidekick on the Dick Van Dyke Show. And I sure as hell don't want Morey Amsterdam to have anything to do with my bread. I usually just bark "white" at the "sandwich artist" before he gets cranked up on his recitation of the bread menu. And they act as if they're baffled by this esoteric request. "Do you mean Sicilian Blond?" Yeah whatever. Just make sure there's no fruit buried in it, zitty.

They used to grab a big meat stack directly out of a UPS shipping container, and slap it on your bread. Today they lovingly place each individual slice on your poofter roll, as if they're clothing a new-born baby. And this comes, of course, only after you've successfully run the cheese gauntlet. They have more cheese than a Frenchman in August. Recently they added a new door to their hall of hoagie mirrors, and started asking if I'd like my cheese "stacked." What does this mean?? Extra cheese? Is that it? Why not just say that? I need a goddamn schematic.

The toppings include items that only a mental patient or a person who'd recently suffered a severe electrical shock would eat on a sandwich. Like olives, cucumbers, crushed coconut, mashed potatoes, green beans, carpet remnants, and various oils and personal care lotions. It's sick. And I'd recommend against ever saying the word "mustard" in one of those places, because it will unleash a flood of condiment sub-categories with the power to make your brain shut down. One of these days they're going to have to take me out of there on a gurney, because of manifest confusion.

And it never stops. When you get ready to pay they ask if you have any coupons, whether or not you collect "stamps", if you'd like to donate a dollar to breast cancer research, what's your zip code?, boxers or briefs?, ever participated in a threesome? By the time it's all over, I'm invariably spent and require a short nap. It's like buying a house. Actually, it's more difficult.

Just writing about it makes me tired. But before I lie down, I want to make you aware of the recent Smoking Fish sighting in Sydney, Australia! Cool as hell. Do they have Subways down under? I bet they don't. They're a no-nonsense people. Australians don't play that shit.

October 13, 2003

-- The weather this weekend was absolute perfection. It was two days prepared by the greatest chefs of Paris, or the finest tailors of Italy, or some shit. Warm (but not too warm), blue skies, trees of every color, and wall-to-wall sunshine. For once, Saturday and Sunday paid off on its promise to be a great reward for enduring five days of worker-bee drudgery. It doesn't happen often, just enough to keep hope alive. And this one will sustain us for months. It would've been a sin to stay inside.

We spent a lot of time in parks, and attempted to submerge ourselves in the community by attending a "fall festival." All good, except we were denied our chance to make a scarecrow at the annual scarecrow-making picnic, because they ran out of wooden crosses. Are you following me? The city provides the crosses and hay, and you do the rest. They use the results to decorate Main Street (aren't small towns kick-ass?!). We arrived just ten minutes after the thing started, and all the crosses were gone. The bastards. Last year we offered up one of the more pitiful entries, employing a plastic grocery store bag for a head, and I'm convinced they saw us coming and hid everything. Have these people never heard of a scarecrow-making learning curve?? Sheesh. We had big plans.

We did, however, ride around town on top of a fire truck. That was fun. The fire department had two trucks running continuously, giving people rides through the streets, sirens a-blaring. At first we thought it was just for kids, but everybody was doing it. So we did too. They had a big rolling staircase deal that we climbed to get up there, and everyone sat on rolled-up hoses, twelve of us, way up top.

When I plopped down I felt like my ass crack was out of my pants; I sensed a draft in the valley, and I wriggled and writhed in an attempt to get things in check. The whole trip I was paranoid I was giving the entire community a peak at my trouser-cleavage. Hey, isn't that Jeff Kay? Goddamn! I kept trying to pull my shirt down, but was afraid to release my death grip on the railing. Holy crap in a Bundt pan. The guy was flying through the streets, and I'm seriously surprised that somebody hasn't been thrown off by now, beneath the wheels of an oncoming sausage truck or something. When we made a screaming turn up a steeply-sloped side street, I nearly lost my mud. I thought the whole sombitch was going to tip over. By the time we got back to the park my nerves were shredded.

The classic moment on the fire truck was when a two-year old kid announced to everyone, "Hey, this is the way to the beer store!" Everybody busted out laughing at that one, and good ol' Dad turned several different colors in a couple of seconds. Hilarious. That kind of stuff is great, when it happens to other people. It warms my heart. Daddy's a high-functioning alcoholic!

We also did a lot of walking and just enjoying the weather. Here's a picture I snapped, beside a creek, looking straight up at the trees. Fall is simply the best time of year.

-- On the downside, there's an escaped mass murderer on the loose, but we try to put it out of our minds. At night, though, when I'm outside letting our dog Andy kill more of the front lawn with his Chernobyl piss, I'm convinced some shirtless and bloody maniac is going to leap out of the bushes and slash my throat. I'm not a big fan of the escaped mass murderer, if you want the absolute truth. They're fun on TV, but in real life I could do without.

-- Saturday night I watched, for the first time in my life, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Awesome. The DVD attempts to re-create the theater-going experience of 1948, with coming attractions, a newsreel, a Bugs Bunny cartoon, an incredibly retarded "comedy" short, then the feature. Lots of fun. The movie itself is, of course, great. You've got to admire a Hollywood film in which the star spends most of the picture filthy and despicable. And I finally know what people are talking about when they start screaming, "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" I've heard people say that all my life, and had no clue what they were talking about. For thirty years I've just smiled and nodded, attempting to create the illusion that I'm in on the joke. No more, Jack. I'm hip now.

-- I've received word of a couple more Smoking Fish sightings, this time in California and South Korea! Check it out. And keep 'em coming. I'm near tears here.

-- A reader sent me a link to this story, after I wrote about the geek in the grocery store last week. I think these folks have it pegged, so I thought I'd share.

-- Another reader sent in this sound file, which I know nothing about -- except that it made me laugh. Crank it up, and have fun.

-- And I believe we're going to have to change Chris from North Carolina's nickname from The Angry White Guy to The Word Processor. Sweet sainted mother of Sissy Spacek, the man cranks it out. Today's update is surely his Ulysses. Don't miss it.

And I believe I'll stop right there. It's time to go back to work and listen to a man eat more apples than a goddamn plow horse. See ya tomorrow.

                         

October 10, 2003

Last night I witnessed, in its natural habitat, the clumsy and embarrassing mating ritual of the North American Nerd. I still haven't fully recovered. I attempt to put the disturbing spectacle out of my mind, but it keeps sneaking back in. It was like seeing something horrible in the mirror.

Toney asked me to stop at the grocery store for (get this) bread and milk, on my way home from work. I was screaming along with an Everclear tape in my truck, and when I got to the entrance of the store I just kept on cruising. About a block past it, I thought, "Oh shit!" and decided to go to Plan B. I made my way to an over-priced Mom & Pop store on the other side of town, that we usually steer clear of. I didn't have the energy to turn around, and was willing to pay an extra fifty cents for the privilege of just continuing to drive straight.

I hate this frickin' store. Every time I go there, there's a line halfway to the meat case, because they apparently only have three cashiers on their payroll. Last night was even worse than usual, and I considered storming out in a dramatic huff, and going back to the original store. But, I figured, that would be mighty stupid, and I just got in line with the rest of the cattle. I did, however, sigh loudly, over and over again. I want that to be noted.

In front of me in line was a corpulent woman and her bowling pin-shaped teenage son. The kid had an unfortunate haircut and was wearing glasses, in addition to his massive bell-bottomed shirt. A thoroughbred geek, I quickly surmised. I have no doubt the guy knew his way around an X-Box, and a whole galaxy of role-playing games. Apparently he also had a sweet tooth and an inflamed crotch, because he was carrying a sack of sugar cookies and a can of Cruex jock-itch spray.

I was mesmerized by the geeks at play in front of me, and actually heard the kid say something to his mother in a fake British accent -- the unmistakable call of the wild nerd. As we finally approached the cashier (who could've been a contestant in the Miss Teen USA pageant... the Lord had been very good to her) I could sense a change in the bellboy; he was planning something. Something big.

"You rooting for the Yankees?" he spat at her, grinning like a retard. "Uh, I guess," she answered without looking at him. She began scanning their stuff, and he practically hollered, "I think they have a good chance if Clemens stays hot..." This was his big play, everything rode on this one. And she said nothing, and refused to even make eye contact with him. It was a difficult thing to watch.

I looked at the kid's zit-spangled mug, and saw his wispy moustache twitch with anxiety. He was going down in flames, and I recognized an old familiar pain there, that I managed to bury long ago. When I looked back at Miss Teen Pennsylvania, her face was distorted with disgust and she was waving the can of scrotal itch spray across the scanner with two extended fingers, attempting to keep it far away from herself.

The whole thing was horrifying, but I'm not feeling too sorry for the kid. Being shit on, repeatedly humiliated, and ground into the dirt is just part of growing up. The episode probably hurt me more than it hurt him. He's most likely conditioned to it, like I used to be. By now he's probably doused his sac in medicine and is running through the woods in a flowing gown screaming, "I'm a dragon!" and having the time of his life.  

Yeah, I'm sure he's fine, but I'm still a little shaken.  And it worries me that I'm letting my guard down. Nothing good can come from that. Nothing at all.


October 9, 2003

A few things:

-- I received an email yesterday, from some nice folks in Russia, offering to sell me counterfeit dollars and euros, kiddie porn, heroin (both liquid and crystal), and surface-to-air missiles. You know, Christmas is just around the corner. And my parents are very difficult to buy for... Hmmm. As for me, though, I'm not currently in the market for any of those things. Instead, I wish I could find just one company that sells a product to make my wiener the size of a table leg. That's what I really want right now, a wiener the size of a table leg. Does anyone have any leads on this? I'd really appreciate it.

-- The other day at work I locked my car keys inside my office, along with the key to open the office itself. This happened following an argument with a man in the warehouse, who was refusing to go along with my crazy-ass unreasonable end-of-day requests. The guy was pissing me off, and I stormed out of the place without retrieving my jacket -- and the keys inside the pocket. Grrrr. I took about three steps before I realized what I'd done, then had to walk roughly a half-mile (no shit) to the guard station, for help.

The guards had to call "headquarters" for direction on how to handle the situation, then, after a lengthy discussion via shortwave radio, decided they'd unlock my door for me. I think they called it a "47." It seemed to be a highly irregular action, and I got the feeling they weren't entirely comfortable with what they were doing. 47's were apparently risky business. But one of the older guys grabbed a key ring, and we started the half-mile trek back to my office.

Along the way we chit-chatted in an uncomfortable manner, and somehow he began telling me about how he loves to spend money. He said he's retired and only does this guard "bullshit" for extra spending money. If he takes home two hundred dollars in a week, he says, he spends two hundred. If he takes home four hundred, he spends four hundred. He's been this way all his life. He simply enjoys spending money, and if he doesn't have anything to spend it on, he'll come up with something. As proof of this, he told me he'd gone out the week before and bought a spider monkey for $3500. Wanted one all his life, he said.

I thought about this on my drive home... The man's around seventy years old, and he went out and purchased, essentially, a tiny shit-flinging retarded child. Because he enjoys spending money. Ya gotta love it. Every person in every traffic jam, and in every grave in every cemetery, is at least a novel and a half. Or a Chevy Chase movie.

-- Speaking of work, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this maneuver is most likely not OSHA-approved. Shit. They won't even let us keep a toaster in our office, to heat up our Pop-Tarts.

-- I received about ten emails yesterday from people telling me Arnold Schwarzenegger was not in the Die Hard movies. I apologize for the error. Of course, I meant to say Rush Hour.

-- It's time to start thinking about a Halloween costume. Last year I went as a disillusioned office worker sipping bourbon from of a Super Bowl cup, but I might do something different this year. I'd still like to find a horse skeleton costume. Can anyone help me with this? I see a lot of human skeleton costumes, but none from the animal kingdom. The skeletal remains of a horse would be best, of course, but I'd settle for a donkey or a mule. Please let me know.

-- You think your life sucks? Read a few entries on this site, and I predict you'll feel a little better.

--  And here's something that's heartwarmingly strange. It's a site celebrating the plastic surgery procedures of World War I-era Europe.  Be sure to check out the huge gallery of oil paintings of soldiers with facial scars!

-- This is great, a new Smoking Fish sighting -- this time in South Africa! A sincere thanks to the reader who sent it in. Cool as hell. You people be on the lookout for them smoking fishes, ya hear? We need photos.

-- I was flipping through the channels the other day, and briefly stopped on an old Sopranos episode. I only paused there for about ten seconds, and this is what I saw:

Uncle Junior: Flight risk?! Ha! I've been farting into the same couch cushion for the past eighteen months.

-- Mark Maynard sent me a special edition of one of the Iggy Pop shirts that he and his wife Linette designed. The special part is that it's a size XXL. They're selling these things in a hipster clothing store, in Ypsilanti -- birthplace of the Igster himself -- and they regularly only come in sizes that will fit Jennifer Aniston, or whatever. But Mark, being the friend he is, had a special one made for me, out of an entire bolt of fabric. Thanks, buddy. I'll use it proudly, to conceal my man-tits. Society thanks you.

And I think that'll do it for today. I'll now pass the torch to Buck, who has a few things to say about the smoking nazis and squirrel meat stir-fry. Take it away, Buck.

See ya tomorrow.

October 8, 2003

Apparently the circus in California is almost over. I'm fairly pleased with the way it turned out, even though I have serious doubts about Governor Arnie. It's true that even I (running on the Not Enough Energy To Be Angry ticket) could undoubtedly do a better job than Gray Davis, but I wonder how much Arnold will really be able to accomplish? He's about to be airlifted into the middle of a colossal cluster-fuck, and his chances for failure are mighty high. I fear he'll be about as effective as that rassler in Minnesota. But we'll see, won't we? It'll be interesting to watch, especially if he tries to touch Diane Feinstein's ass.

The best part of the whole deal is that Davis, aka The Mink (did you ever notice he looks like a human mink?), is getting his sorry butt yanked out of office by a bunch of pissed-off Californians. I love that. And between Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock, Republicans got about 60% of the vote -- in a liberal state, the home of Barbra Streisand and Berkeley. Great job, Mink! You da man. If he'd been in office another year, people would've started considering alternative life-forms for governor.

I like McClintock, but he has the personality of a side order of corn. And he has some strange thing going on with his eyes. One will be looking directly at the camera, while the other is perusing a menu for Chinese takeout. I don't agree with all his views, but he seemed to be the most qualified of the whole sad bunch of candidates. I probably would've cast the prestigious Surf Report vote for him, if I were still in Cali. Wandering eye and all.

Cruz Bustamante said in the debate that the reason California is in the mess it's in, is because they "spent too much." His solution? Spend more! You think I'm joking? Look it up. He also has the demeanor of Wilford Brimley in those diabetes commercials. Actually, Wilford is a little more fiery.

Ariola Huffington, or whatever her name is, is a shrill screeching nutcase who talks like Zsa Zsa Gabor. A few years back she apparently grew bored with being a right-wing wacko, and decided to become a left-wing wacko instead. She now spends her time riding in private jets and stretch limousines to give paid speeches about the evils of gas-guzzling SUVs. I believe she barely squeaked past Gary Coleman in the voting yesterday. Whew! It was down to the wire.

I like Arnold as an action movie star (especially in the Die Hard films), and it's hard not to admire what he's done with his life, but he comes across as a little shallow to me. I could be wrong, of course, but that's my impression. He seemed to have a small collection of canned answers that he whipped out, in response to every question. So Arnold, what are you going to do about the rising cost of worker's compensation insurance in the state? Hand me the broom, I'm about to clean house! Pardon?

But it's all over now. Or is it? Last night I saw Jesse Jackson on MSNBC laying the groundwork for a legal challenge to the election, because there weren't enough voting "boofs" open. Never mind that record numbers voted yesterday, his followers were disenfranchised again. Last time they were screwed because they couldn't figure out how to vote, this time they couldn't even find the polling places! They're getting dumber and dumber. Hey, don't blame me; this is all according to the Reverend. And they say Rush Limbaugh is insulting to minorities? Ha! I'd tell that man to kiss my ass.

And this is Jeff Kay, reporting on the California Recall Election from Sacramento... Back to you, Bryant.

October 7, 2003

It was a rough weekend for your humble correspondent.

On Thursday morning all was normal, I was at work saying fuck a lot under my breath and eating Caramello bars like they have the power to make you pretty, just like every day. Then in the afternoon things started going south. I was chilled and achy, and my stomach felt like it was full of some kind of low-grade acid. And it just kept getting worse and worse. By the end of the day I was full-blown sick, and I called my boss in California to tell him not to count on me the following day. I had a date with the couch.

That night I had a fever of 102, like some school kid, and sat huddled under a blanket until I could finally summon enough energy to drag my sorry ass upstairs to bed. Shit, that's what I felt like. Shit.

I decided not to update the site on Friday, my heart just wasn't in it, but I'd made a promise to Mark to get him an article by the weekend, for the new issue of his Crimewave USA. So, I spent most of the day sitting in front of my computer, wrapped up in blankets, tapping out ridiculousness and listening to the Nuggets box set. Several times during the day I attempted to get rid of the bad magic going on in my stomach, which I knew was the source of all my problems. Unfortunately nothing much happened. A single wedge of something horrible dropped out of me, as dense as cheddar, but that's all. The churning continued.

On Saturday I felt a lot better, and Toney and I winterized the house. I took the white trash air conditioners out of the windows, and traded out the screens for storm glass. We dusted, vacuumed, and whipped the place into shape, then had a few beers in the evening, in celebration of our accomplishment. I thought I was back, but I was sadly mistaken.

Sunday and Monday weren't as bad as Friday, but they were far from good. Queasy is a good word to describe it. Both days I was in some kind of cruel purgatory between well and seasick. For forty-eight hours I felt like I'd just stepped off an Oregon whale-watching boat. The fever was gone, but my stomach was betraying me. I went to work on Monday, but I would've much preferred watching Dr. Phil yell at fat people from the comfort of a couch.

But, last night, I'm proud to report, all the badness finally left me, in a spectacular bathroom event that I will not soon forget. It was nothing short of awe-inspiring. It was like I was riding an Apollo rocket. There were several stages to the flight, complete with thrusters and after-burners and drag-braking. Things would explode and take me off in a completely new direction, then quickly fall off. There was high propulsion, followed by long moments of rest. I felt as if my ass was designed by the Honeywell Corporation. When it was finally over I stumbled to bed, white and shaky, and slept for eight long hours.

Today I am the king of the world, in checkered pants.

October 6, 2003

The world has gone mad. Sometimes I feel like me and my invisible friend Chuck are the only sane people left. Arnold, Rush, the poofter tiger man in Vegas... The Atlanta Braves, stolen pumpkins, Spongebob cartoons during Girls Gone Wild... Chuck is not pleased.

Let's take them in order, shall we?

-- Mr. Schwarzenegger, on the eve of the election in which the polls show he will be elected governor of California, is being body-punched by one outrageous accusation after the other. I haven't been paying too close attention, but I thought I heard earlier in the weekend that he had once squeezed Hitler's tits! What's that about? I'm not a huge fan of Ahnold, but it doesn't take a genius to see what's going on here. This is eleventh hour dirty politics, of an especially vicious nature. I will not be surprised if we learn today that Arnold listens to Yanni.

I remember when a parade of women lined up to accuse then-President Clinton of all kinds of nasty shit, similar to what's going on now with Arnold. They were called whores, bitches, tramps, mental patients, etc. etc. by the same people who are now beside themselves with moral indignation. It's pure politics. Remember James Carville's famous quote? "You drag hundred dollar bills through trailer parks and there's no telling what you'll find." Progressive!

On the other hand, if the accusations are true... I wouldn't want to see him elected to an office as high as Governor of California. I mean, what kind of person just walks around grabbing breasts and reaching up dresses? I've never heard of such a thing. I'm forty years old, and have met a lot of stupid-ass people, but nothing in that league. I know that a person's private life has, ahem, no bearing on how they perform their job and all, but I don't think I could cast a vote for that big Austrian titty-honker. If I lived in California, I think I'd have to go with Linda Lavin.

-- Rush Limbaugh is freaking me the fuck out. I don't care too much about the ESPN stuff. Regardless of how retarded and ill-advised it was, the statement that got him into hot water on the football show was a personal opinion -- about the media. People want it to be racist, but I don't think it was. This guy seems to have it nailed.

Again there seems to be some hypocrisy at play here. When politicians and loud-mouth celebrities were railing against America and the President during a time of war, they said a "chill wind" was blowing through the nation if anyone dared denounce their statements. Or, they'd say, before wiping away a tear of patriotic emotion, "And isn't it great that we live in a country where we're free to express our opinions?"

That shit only goes one way, and Rush Limbaugh, of all people should know that. I mean, what the hell?! Why in God's name would he go down that particular road on a sports show? It's insanity.

Of course we now have a pretty good idea: he's all hepped up on goofballs. And that's the part that freaks me out. How could Rush Limbaugh, a fifty-something multi-millionaire playing-golf-with-presidents conservative icon, be strung out on illegal drugs, like some cheese-eating high school boy? It's one of those revelations that make you think you don't know shit about shit. And don't be acting like you knew it all along, either. I've heard Limbaugh called a fat bag of crap, a liar, and many other highly inventive things, but I've never heard anyone say he's a pill-popping OxyContin freak, funky on the junk.

I picked up the National Enquirer with the Limbaugh story in it. They have emails that he supposedly sent to his supplier, and he uses all kinds drug-culture lingo, like he's a twenty-three year old skate rat rebelling against society. "Keep a sharp eye out for small blue babies." Creepy.

-- The Siegfried and Roy story is pretty disturbing as well. I've seen those white tigers in their cage in the lobby of the Mirage, and they paced back and forth continuously, wound tighter than Joe Pesci. I'm surprised something like this didn't happen earlier. One of the stories going around now is that Roy sacrificed himself so the crazed beast didn't go into the audience. Man, oh man. Can you imagine that?? A large mountain cat ripping out throats inside a luxury hotel, and slicing open the torsos of tourists like a Subway roll, then spitting out their fanny packs?! That would be one memorable vacation.

How does a person become a German homosexual magician, who works with exotic tigers? My high school guidance counselor recommended that I pursue a career in business administration. I clearly wasn't presented with all the options.

-- My Atlanta Braves ate the big shit sandwich last night, thus ending their season in humiliating defeat. Again. Every year they tear up the National League, usually racking up the best record in baseball, then getting the crap kicked out of them in short order during the post-season. It's amazing. Kerry Wood, who won something like twelve games this year, suddenly becomes frickin' Sandy Koufax in the playoffs, and the Braves start gobbling down their fecal hoagie. Makes me sick.

But, if they had to be beaten by somebody, the Cubs aren't a bad pick. That took some of the sting out of it for me. At the end of the day, it's hard to hate the Cubs. At least I've still got a team to root for.

-- We bought two pumpkins at the pumpkin patch last weekend, and sat them on our front porch as part of a festive seasonal display. Sunday morning they were gone, and later we saw them smashed in the street, their seeds strewn for half a block by passing cars. Undoubtedly a group of greasy-haired zit farmers are on the loose. I know, because twenty-five years ago it was me and my friends doing stuff like that. Next time maybe I'll tape pictures of girls on the side, so they'll be afraid to come near them.

-- A reader alerted me to a new episode of Spongebob making its debut on Nickelodeon Saturday night, and I actually remembered to tune in. What's with that channel now? It's like MTV. I turned it on an hour or so early, because they were supposedly running a Spongebob marathon, and I was shocked at what I saw. It was some kind of beach party deal, with teenage hardbodies grinding their bikini'd pelvises at the camera, a DJ in an elevated booth mixing the hits, and a rapper onstage grunting like Bob Dole passing a stone, over a phat beat. Isn't Nickelodeon a children's network?! The shit was like Sodom and Gomorrah. I couldn't believe my eyes. And in the middle of all this pubescent orgy of debauchery they periodically dropped in a Spongebob Squarepants cartoon, including the much-anticipated new episode, which wasn't very good. Chuck, especially, was not pleased.

And that's all for today, boys and girls. I have a bunch more stuff, but it'll have to wait. We'll end today's festivities with a frightening new rant from our favorite white guy, Chris from, um, North Carolina. Let 'er rip, Chris...

See ya tomorrow.

            

October 2, 2003

I don't have much this morning, just a few odds and ends, as they say. I still don't know what ends are, but that's neither here nor there...

-- At this very moment I'm listening to the Cypress/afoot CD by Let's Active. You might not think that this is such a big deal, but on that count you would be mistaken. For years and years the thing stood at the very top of my CD want list, and now it's mine, all mine. I believe that when the original disc was released, way back when, it sold roughly 74 copies, and was promptly discontinued. For a decade it was almost impossible to find one, except in eBay auctions that usually ended at around $150. If John and George came back to life for an afternoon, and the Beatles reunited to write and record "Jeff Kay, He's The Man," I wouldn't pay $150 for the disc. It's just too much money.

So I waited. I'm a very impatient man, but I waited. Finally, some outfit called Collector's Choice reissued all three Let's Active albums -- including the Holy Grail. And now it's mine, all mine. And I'm listening to it right now, bucko.

Next up on my High Fidelity record geek list of All Time Great Albums Reissued For The First Time On CD: Holly and the Italians, The Right To Be Italian. Good God, it's a great time to be alive.

-- In just the past few days I've heard at least five different people use the term "anyhoo." Can I make a small request? Please stop it. Just cut it out, OK? Thank you.

-- I read somewhere recently that Adolph Hitler's book Mein Kampf is still a big seller. Thousands of copies are apparently sold each year. Wonder who gets the royalties on that deal? Does Hitler have a next of kin? I know he never had any kids, what with his one ball and fear of female genitalia, or whatever. But did he have cousins, and extended family? If so, are they cashing the royalty checks on his feel-good hit every month? I'm imagining some guy at Kroger yelling through a Plexiglass hole, "Hey, will you people cash my Hitler check, if I get 20% in groceries?" Now that I think about it, I've never come across anyone named Hitler in my life. Nobody has ever come up to me and said, "Hi, I'm Corky Hitler, damn glad to meet you." I've never heard an announcement at Cracker Barrel that Hitler, party of four, your table is ready. I've never seen a Hitler Hardware. Are there any of those people still around? I'm interested in knowing. Did they all change their names? Holy crap. And I thought I had a hard time, being called Jeff Gay throughout my entire school career? At least I'm not Jim "Catfish" Hitler, or something.

-- Speaking of unfortunate names, check this one out. And this one. Maybe they should hook up?

-- And here's the douchebag falling off a ladder on QVC. I finally was able to get at my email attachments last night, thanks to several gracious readers who just couldn't bear to watch the big retarded boy suffer any longer. Thanks for the help, folks!

-- Yesterday Rush Limbaugh was a racist, and today he's a drug addict. He's also deaf, has the largest radio audience in the history of the world, and is seemingly an absolute obsession of the ten Democrats running for president. It's like something from the Coen Brothers. And here I am in Scranton, scratching my ass with a pen. I need to live more!

-- What exactly are "energy drinks"? Are they like Jolt Cola, or are they loaded with herbs and shit? I seriously don't know, and am a little frightened of them. A voice in the back of my head tells me to steer clear. It seems like one of those deals where in five years we'll start seeing aortas flying off hearts and stuff. I have a feeling it's like that Phen-fen stuff. Wonder if John Ritter drank them? I don't know, but whenever I see someone chugging from those freaky little cans, I feel a little worried for their health. It's like medicine, I think. Call me crazy, but I believe I'll just stick with my Mountain Dew Severe, for the time being. The bodies are going to start piling up, just wait and see.

-- When Atlanta's Mark DeRosa doubled last night in the eighth inning of the Braves/Cubs game, I jumped out of my chair and began screaming like a mental patient, sending peanut shells a-flying. Our dog Andy was asleep on the couch when this occurred and he apparently thought I had flown into an instantaneous rage, and was about to start beating him with my fists. He jumped up, eyes wide, and slinked out of the room, flattened out and low to the ground. There was a little trail of pee left behind. Andy, like a fat woman I work with, thinks it's all about him.

-- And, finally, here's the latest from Buck, straight from the holler, boyee.

And that's going to do it, until tomorrow. Have yourself a great day, folks.

October 1, 2003

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

OK, worst might be a strong word, but I've got some problems. Nothing like leukemia, or anything like that. (That would really be the worst.) I'm talking about the fact that all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, my fuckingprinter won't work anymore. And the same goes for my fuckingscanner. I changed nothing. One day they were working, and the next they weren't. The little squirrels that work inside the main tower say they don't even recognize the existence of said fuckingprinter and fuckingscanner which, I think, is pretty snobby and elitist on their part. Must be French.

And every time I turn on my computer now I get an error message that says I'm missing something called xmlparse (?!?). I have no idea. I tracked it down on the internet, and downloaded it, but it didn't change the situation. And, even though I downloaded the file, my computer keeps telling me I'm missing it. Am I on Candid Camera?! It's making me crazy.

Also, I downloaded a bunch of "Windows updates" at the encouragement of the apple-eater in my office, and now Outlook strips away every email attachment. Every single one! I can't have this. I'm constantly receiving important documents from readers, and vital photographs of obese women covered in Cheetos and the like. Today I wanted to share with you folks a short clip of a douchebag falling off a ladder on QVC, but when I went to retrieve the file from the email, it was gone. I watched it at work yesterday, but this home computer is like the Israeli Army, when it comes to attachments.

I think I'm going to have to call my egg-shaped friend at the computer fix-it shop here in town. I wonder if he does house calls? ...I'd be glad to provide the bear claws and coffee. I'm near tears here. I need some high-priced egg help, and quick. I'm ecrippled.

On the other hand, it's fall. Oh, it's full-blown fall, and it's nearly impossible to be in a bad mood during this time of year. Check out this pic from our deck this morning. The high temperature today is supposed to be 52. I love it. Jacket weather is the best weather of all. I've been sporting my nerdy Wally Cleaver zip-up this week, complete with vintage 1952 I Like Ike button. (I swear I'm straight.) And it's almost bourbon season. Some people call October 31 "Halloween," but here at the Compound it's the opening day of bourbon season. It's hard to be in a bad mood during the fall bourbon season. Ya just gotta love it.

But then I try to use my fuckingprinter...

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Copyright 2003 by Jeffrey S. Kay.  All rights reserved.