The State Of My       Fat Ass
DECEMBER 2001   

December 31, 2001

-- New Year's Eve. Call me a freak, but I'm a little worried about Times Square tonight. I'm worried some second-string lunatic will set off an explosive of some sort, possibly even one of those Russian nuclear suitcases that are floating around out there. Can you imagine if something like that happened? Tens of thousands dead, just like that, and radioactive contamination that would lead to God knows what. Could people even go there anymore? I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure it would be tainted for hundreds of years. It's too horrible to even think why am I thinking about it? It just seems like such a big fat juicy target, with all those "arrogant Americans" packed together in one place, and dozens of TV cameras recording everything from many different angles. It's like that Far Side cartoon where the daycare center is located next door to the dingo farm. I hope I'm just being paranoid, but I'm feeling a little apprehensive about it all. I guess that's why they call it terrorism.

-- I probably shouldn't joke about this, but if they do have nuclear winter at Times Square tonight, does anyone doubt that Dick Clark will be the only thing to survive? Yeah, suddenly I'm the Buddy Hackett of tastelessness...

-- My parents gave me and Toney a new dishwasher for Christmas. It's cool, and it's appreciated, but it's not nearly as exciting as the days when I used to get a mound of toys. I remember coming down the steps on Christmas morning, literally shaking with excitement, and laying my eyes on all the cool stuff that Santa had brought. It was the moment the previous twelve months had been leading up to. Now I get a dishwasher, to replace the old dishwasher, installed days before Christmas. Santa hasn't brought me shit for years. I don't want to seem like an ingrate, because I'm not, I guess I'm just bitching some more about getting old. Couldn't somebody just throw me a bone and slide me an Ants In The Pants game or something? That's all it would take to make me happy. Five bucks, tops. A few evenings of flicking plastic ants into a large pair of free-standing blue jeans with suspenders is all I want. Is that too much to ask?

-- Speaking of our old dishwasher, it was high time that it was put out of its misery. The thing was loud and didn't really work. It sounded like a blender full of spoons when it was running, and big chunks of macaroni and cheese would be practically welded to the silverware when it was done. I don't even know where the mac and cheese came from, it certainly wasn't there when we loaded it. I think we were picking up food residue from the previous owners -- or perhaps the next-door neighbors! Anyway, it's pretty cool to have a quiet and efficient appliance to clean up our disgusting messes. This bitch puts out plates so clean you could practically eat off them!

-- Yesterday we went to Target to get a refund on the fucked-up coffee maker we bought a few weeks ago, that takes faggy little cone filters and turns itself off and on at random. I was afraid the stupid thing would burn our house down, so we packed it up and took it back. As we were walking across the parking lot, the wind was blowing so hard I felt like I might actually become airborne. The shit was whipping, and I went up on my tip-toes a couple of times. Thankfully I'm anchored down by a thick flesh parka, or who knows what might've happened? When we finally made it to the front door I said, "Damn, I almost lost my hairpiece!" Obviously it was a joke, but a guy in front of us turned around and looked me straight in the eyes. He was pissed, and apparently didn't take too kindly to wig comedy. Wonder why?

-- As I was flipping through the channels this weekend I stopped on something that showed kids running through the streets with one of those big round yellow flashing lights that you see at construction sites on the interstate. You know, they're always attached to those metal black and white workhorse things? I have no idea what the show was about but it made me remember how my friends and I used to steal street signs when we were teenagers. We'd usually take the ones that made some sort of rock reference, like Hendrix Ave. or E Street. Actually it was the thrill of stealing the things that I liked. I don't even remember what we did with them after we stole them -- probably hurled them in the river or something. Anyway, my friend Mike wasn't satisfied with simple street signs, they were just a gateway drug and his addiction quickly escalated to the point where he took one of those flashing lights. I remember it had a heavy-ass battery attached to it, and he somehow smuggled it into his bedroom without his parents noticing. And the thing was bright! I remember being outside and seeing the windows of his room illuminated brilliant yellow, then dark, then brilliant yellow... It was hilarious. Mike was frantic after he got it into the house. It was inevitable that he was going to be caught, because it was pretty damn hard to conceal something that emits a retina-searing blast of light every few seconds. Where do you hide such an item? He put it under the covers of his bed and it still lit up the entire back-end of the house. He put it in the closet and you could see light on all four sides of the door. I was convulsing with laughter. Being the good friend that I was, I eventually said, "See ya!" and left. He got caught later that night, but his folks didn't make too big of a deal out of it. I think they just made him take it back to where he found it. My parents would've cornered me for hours in my room, repeatedly asking, "Why? Why'd you do it?" Shit, I would've preferred a good beating to that brand of punishment, but that's a discussion for another day...

-- I ordered a CD of Nick Lowe rarities from a week or so ago, and I felt in my bones that it would be delivered this past Saturday. I have an uncanny sixth sense when it comes to predicting the mail. So I was psyched, waiting for the package to arrive that day -- but it never came. I think I've mentioned our hippy-dippy mailman before. He's surly and has the personality of a loaf of bread; I'm pretty sure he's still fighting the Vietnam War. He also makes up his own rules when it comes to delivering the mail. Some days he only delivers to one side of the street, and other days he only delivers packages -- no envelopes. I'm not kidding. And when he takes a day off nobody covers for him; the mail simply doesn't get delivered. I wonder if the post office even knows he's taking the days off? I picture him with big bags of mail piled up in his apartment, like Newman on Seinfeld. Anyway, we got no mail at all on Saturday, which is pretty much impossible considering how much shit we receive. I was pissed all afternoon, grumbling that I was going to call the postmaster, and all that stuff. But there's no point. The guy would just claim he had nothing for us, and that would be the end of it. I'd end up looking like the crazy one. When we first moved here Toney complained about this guy's antics, and he came to our door after-hours, acting all freaky and menacing, wanting to know our beef. He's pretty scary, so I did nothing. Today we received a giant pile of mail, including my CD. It looked like approximately two-days worth of mail.

-- I've watched a few movies the past couple of weeks, which is pretty unusual for me. Here are my but-reviews:

Monsters, Inc.: A lot of fun but not as good as Shrek.

Hearts Of Atlantis: Enjoyable and nostalgic but pretty pointless.

Dirty Harry: Solid crime flick but it's hard to get past the fact that Clint Eastwood used to look exactly like Huey Lewis.

61*: Surprisingly good movie about Maris and Mantle's pursuit of Babe Ruth's single season homer record in 1961 but it's a little off-putting to hear Mickey Mantle bragging about all the "pussy" he gets.

That'll do it for today. I hope everyone has a great New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. Hopefully it'll all go off without a hitch. I always imagine the worst in every situation, so it'll probably be OK. But be safe, my friends. Barring the instantaneous eradication of my skin and bones, I'll be back in a couple of days. See ya soon.  I hope.

December 27, 2001

Some odds and ends:

-- Last week Toney and I were walking around a mall, and wandered into a toy store to try to find something to buy “Nancy’s” brood of translucent vegans for Christmas. (I’m not sure why an atheist celebrates Christmas, but who am I to judge?) Pretty much 99% of the store is automatically off-limits, because of Nancy’s many radical views and stances, so it’s not an easy task. Tonka trucks? No, that would be perpetuating traditional gender roles. An action figure? No, too masculine and too violent. A ball? Are you kidding? No jocks allowed at Nancy’s house. How about this thing? No, it’s made of synthetic materials. This? No, it’s from Disney, and they’re unfriendly to homosexuals. Blah, blah, blah. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. There’s very little that she and her so-called husband, Dr. Banana Nostrils, PhD, will accept in the way of toys for their kids. Pretty much anything more refined than a big hunk of tree bark is suspect, and even that could get touchy, depending on how the bark was obtained, etc. We actually have a picture somewhere of one of their kids snuggling up to a surge protector. That's the thing that radiates the most love in their house, I suppose. Anyway, I started thinking that maybe Mattel should come out with a special Barbie for the Nancys of the world: Empowered Barbie. Obviously it would be constructed entirely of recycled post-consumer waste, so you might see an occasional milk jug lid embedded in their backs, or an old cigarette butt peaking out of a thigh here and there, but that would only add to the uniqueness of the product. And it would also come with a miniature 1981 Volkswagen Jetta with 320,000 miles on it, and the back completely covered in bumper stickers that say things like “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History,” and “Adam Was A Rough Draft.” Of course you’d be able to buy lots of accessories for your doll too, including a pack of cats and a seven-dollar organic onion. Empowered Barbie: As seen on Public Television! Armpit hair non-toxic and machine-washable. Colleagues sold separately. From a friendly green branch of the Mattel Corporation. Also watch for Compassionate Ken, wherever surge protectors are sold!!

-- So Geraldo is in hot water for allegedly making shit up in his reports from “Afghanistan”? I hope you’ll remember who predicted this first. I’m still convinced he’s actually in the desert near Valencia, CA and has dinner every night at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with his makeup artist and hair stylist. Ha! This man has no integrity. He makes the boys from Milli Vanilli look like Colin Powell. Wotta shitsack.

-- There’s been further fallout from the Armpit of America article I wrote about a few weeks ago. If you’ll remember, the citizens of my latest hometown of Scranton were worked into a lather because their city was mentioned in the piece as a finalist for the unwanted title. Well, as late as yesterday angry letters to the editor were still appearing in the papers here. People just can’t let it go. And now I read that a newspaper editor in the "winning" town has been fired for agreeing with the writer of the article! You can read about it here. Man, I wish I could stir up this much shit with something I wrote. Just once I’d like to have old ladies praying for the salvation of my black black soul, like the ones who send letters to The Scranton Times.  It would be a dream come true.

-- So Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t make it into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame again?! This is the fourth year in a row they’ve been passed over. Oh, but Billy Joel is in. I see. I’m sorry but Billy Joel isn’t qualified to scrub the skidmarks out of Ronnie Van Zant’s Confederate flag draw’s. Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band whose reputation has been hurt by its own fans. People associate them with the drunken inbred snaggle-toothed pig-fuckers who scream for “Free Bird!!” - even if they’re at the drugstore. It’s unfortunate, because Van Zant was a great songwriter. I defy you to show me one Billy Joel song that’s as strong as “The Needle and the Spoon.” Or “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe.” Or “Saturday Night Special.” Just one.

-- I worry about myself sometimes. Every once in a while I get a mild urge to be mean to complete strangers. Oh nothing sinister, just the sporadic desire to trip somebody, or to body-check a motherfucker into a random grocery store dairy case. And usually nothing even provokes these feelings, they just occur out of thin air. The other day in Wendy's a guy walked past my table after getting a refill of his drink, and I wanted to stand up and slap it out of his hand -- for no reason. Then I started fantasizing about walking all around the restaurant, just smacking shit out of people's hands: a tray of food, a hamburger as it's being lifted to a mouth, Happy Meal toys. What the hell's wrong with me? Someday I fear I won't be able to suppress these urges, and I'll get my fat ass kicked and/or arrested. Am I nuts?

-- Our dog Andy is going to start obedience classes next week. Toney is going to take him, and it lasts for eight long weeks. It was either that, or a one-way car trip to Philadelphia’s Koreatown. He better do his homework too, goddammit.

-- And here’s the fourth installment of Jason Headley’s no-hair-washing odyssey. Godspeed, my man!

-- Sometimes I listen to an Internet radio station at work called Altern80’s. They play lots of new wave stuff, as well as The Replacements and The Pixies and X, and the like. It’s pretty cool but they have a little promo that comes on from time to time that says, in a deep mechanized voice: “You’re living in the past.” Gee, thanks. That's very flattering. Why not just throw in, “You’re unattractive to the opposite sex,” and “You have an unusually abbreviated sex organ”? That'll keep us coming back!

-- Some good news: the latest issue of Men's Journal Magazine, a Rolling Stone-owned Esquire ripoff, has named their fifty best bars in America -- and one of my old haunts made the list. A great bar has to have a history, and must be popular with the locals. It can't be a tourist attraction or a trendy place, it has to be an established cog in the community in which it resides. It also has to have an interesting mix of customers, and no (or very little) "live band" foolishness to divert your attention from the main attraction -- drinking. At least that's the way I see it. I've been in plenty of bars in my day, but only four felt absolutely perfect. They are:

College Hill Sundries, Greensboro, NC

Manuel's Tavern, Atlanta, GA

Moe's and Joe's, Atlanta, GA

Vesuvio's, San Francisco, CA

College Hill made the Men's Journal Top 50, and as soon as I have the opportunity I'll hoist a longneck Rolling Rock in their honor.

And that'll do it for today. If I don't make it back before January 1, have yourself an enjoyable and safe New Year's Eve. Heck, even if I do make it back before January 1, have yourself an enjoyable and safe New Year's Eve.  Cheers, everyone!

Oh, one more thing...  Check back tomorrow for the world premiere of the "lost" issue of The West Virginia Surf Report zine (Issue Nine) in The Archives.  It was written in 1989, but never published.  Four short short stories, and a "new" View From Down Here.  Check it out if you're interested.  It's one of my favorite issues from the early years.  

See ya.


December 26, 2001

Christmas, and my visiting parents, pretty much kept me away from the Internet for the past four or five days. It wasn’t easy, but I soldiered through. I’ve been wearing a Yahoo! patch, so I suppose that helped. I hope everyone is having a happy and safe holiday season, regardless of the holidays you’re celebrating. I’m typing this at the dining room table as the rest of the house sleeps, so I’m going to have to keep it brief. But here’s a couple of things I’ve had on my mind…

-- Toney and my parents pitched in and bought me a new stereo a few weeks ago, for my birthday. My old one just decided to throw in the towel and stop playing CDs three or four months back. I’d been forced to play shit through my computer, and that just doesn’t cut it - there’s not a lot of oomph in a speaker the size of a flip-flop. I barely even bothered. But now I’m back in the saddle, and I’ve been in a minor frenzy getting reacquainted with all my old faves. Robyn Hitchcock sounds especially tasty through my new phat-ass speakers, as do The Buzzcocks and The Kinks. I even went out and bought a copy of The Strokes Is This It a few days ago, in a limp-wristed attempt at staying current. Hell, at least I still try. It would be really easy at this point to just throw on Steely Dan, have a cup of hazelnut, and say fuck it - but for now I refuse to die.

-- During my recent CD frenzy, I popped in a disc of the so-called best moments from an Atlanta morning radio host I used to be addicted to. He calls himself Christopher Rude and I think he still racks up big ratings there, justifiably. The fact that I actually plunked down money for this recording is testament to…something. Anyway, back in the day I listened to his show every morning and I thought he was hysterical. I even remember Toney saying to me, “You’ve been ruined by Beavis and Butthead, The Jerky Boys, and Christopher Rude!” How’s that for an endorsement? Well, the stuff on this CD sounds pretty dated today, but a good part of it’s still funny. “Who Cut the Cheese?” still holds up, as does “As Turds Go By,” but all the anti-Dave Justice material is pretty embarrassing (he had a long-running feud with the ex-Braves outfielder, and constantly played a clip of him saying, "I've got nothing to say to 96 Rock...y'all dogged me, man!"), and the Jeffrey Dahmer stuff is pretty tired. It was great radio in its day though, regardless of what Toney might tell you. I remember Rude telling a story that went on for five solid minutes, about going out to a martini bar with some people at the radio station. At the end of the night he dropped off the traffic-copter guy and he didn't seem to be doing too well in his progress to the front door, so he drove around the block to check on him. When he got back there was a puddle of puke in the street "from curb to curb" and his car fish-tailed when he drove through it. That killed me. I'm a sucker for people who can milk comedy out of everday life. I also remember a game they used to play called Mind Melt. People would call up and be asked to name four examples of something in less than thirty seconds, for a Busch Lite party-pack or some such valuable prize. One of the questions was, “Name four famous places that don’t really exist,” and the hick on the line said, “…uhhh, Bumfuck?” I nearly flipped my car laughing. I know it sounds low-brow and dumbass, but it really wasn’t. Christopher Rude made fun of the dumbasses, and they usually didn’t even know it. When the station was bought-out by a giant corporation, they fired Rude and replaced him with a couple of syndicated shit-kickers from Charlotte. The uproar was so loud and sustained they actually hired him back -- and it was no publicity stunt. How often does that happen?

I know this is a weak and strange update, but I'm gonna have to cut it short. We had a pleasant Christmas here at The Compound, if unremarkable. My parents are pretty sane, sometimes a little too sane for my tastes, and don't provide an abundance of mesmerizing tales. It's the polar opposite of a visit from Sunshine and Mumbles, or "Nancy" and her so-called husband Banana Nostrils. I'll try to crank out a proper entry for tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Bye, for now. I've gotta make coffee; I hear some stirring.

December 17, 2001

-- Remember how I bragged about how good our dog Andy is? Remember how I said he was remarkably well-behaved for a puppy, and caused us few problems? Well, I take it all back. The little shithead chewed up a leg on one our dining room chairs last week. A leg of a fucking chair! Not a shoe or a glove or something, but a goddamn piece of furniture! I get pissed just thinking about it. He's lucky I didn't boot his ass through the front window.

Apparently not one to rest on past achievements, he also had a few additional tricks up his fur sleeve last week. Toney bought a postcard off eBay of an old, defunct casino in Reno called The Mapes, that her grandfather managed for a while, and planned to have it framed for her mother for Christmas. Well, that postcard survived for fifty years, but only about a half-hour once it made it to our house. Andy somehow managed to get it off the dining room table, just minutes after the envelope was opened, and chewed it up. We'll probably find bits of Toney's grandfather's casino sticking out of a pile in our front yard, a touching tribute.

He also got up on my chair one night, while I was in the kitchen, and finished off my dinner. Meat loaf, scalloped potatoes, and peas. What kind of dog eats scalloped potatoes? I was out of the room for the length of time it takes to pour a glass of water, and my plate looked like it had just came out of the dishwasher when I got back. All I could do was stand there. It's like a situation comedy at our house.

He's treading on thin ice. I'm not putting up with much more of his bullshit, and that's no joke. Everybody says, "Well, that's just the pup in him," but I'm not real interested in excuses. This ain't Oprah. I'm thinking about taking him for a little drive, back to the Humane Society from where he came, and show him the big black smokestacks sticking out of the roof. Maybe that'll do the trick. If he realizes he could end up as a thin layer of Border Collie ash on an awning across town he might get his shit together.

-- I've heard plenty of canine horror stories through the years, and I always huffed arrogantly that I wouldn't stand for such shenanigans -- and yet here I am. My friend Steve's dog ate an entire section of drywall in their house, while they were at work one day, and they just laughed it off as part of the deal of owning a dog. Talk about having the patience of saints! And my aunt's cocker spaniel once launched into a wild frenzy of fucked-upness and ate a ten pound bag of raw potatoes (again with the potatoes!) and a couple of apple pies, which he eventually blew out both ends like a shit and puke sprinkler in the middle of their family room. And my parent's old dog used to shoot spontaneous high-pressure oily-black jets of diarreah from one end of the room to the other, and down hallways, and across fences -- because of a digestive problem brought on by an all-hotdog diet, or some shit. Maybe a couple of three-legged chairs ain't so bad, huh?

-- Like an idiot, I spilled a tray of food at Wendy's Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure why, but I tried to pick it up with one hand and misjudged the weight of the drinks. Everything dumped straight into the floor, and Coke splashed high up some stranger's pants leg. I felt like a fool, and apologized like mad as I made a frantic attempt to clean up the mess. Everybody was nice about it though, and told me not to worry, but I think they were talking a little slower and a little louder to make sure I could understand them. Shit. I've always had low tolerance for dumbasses who stumble around restaurants and spike their meals and drinks like they just scored a touchdown, and here I was doing the spiking. "JUST -- HAVE -- A -- SEAT -- SIR. WE'LL -- CLEAN -- THIS -- UP. NO -- PROBLEM. IT'S -- JUST -- GREAT -- THAT -- YOU'RE -- ABLE -- TO -- GET -- OUT." Fuck.

-- Here's part three of Jason Headley's excellent adventure into a world of no shampoo. Somebody wrote me recently and asked if I'd also publish reports from a person who stopped wiping their ass, and the answer to that question is, obviously, yes. Any volunteers? Rocky? Lucas?

That's all I have time for today. I hope you'll take a second to check out the new main feature I've linked from the homepage, called The Mountain. It's basically just a big pile of links I've featured as Further Evidence in the past. It's not really a mountain yet, more like a hill, but it's a work in progress. Check it from time to time and I think you'll find at least a few items of interest. The Mountain replaces Places I've Fucked, which never really fit into the vibe of TheWVSR, and was voted by readers as the least-liked feature. That page is still active, just not as prominent. Also, the eighth issue of my shitty zine is now up in the archives, so check that out too if you're so inclined.

Until next time...

December 13, 2001

A few things:

-- I was listening to the stone-cold genius that is Phil Hendrie over the Internet the other night and he mentioned that he had wasted twenty years of his life, and it got me to thinking again about something I've thought about many times before. Even though I met a lot of great people during my twenties, and had loads of fun, I pretty much wasted that decade of my life. I worked bullshit jobs, dropped out of two colleges, drank too much, and generally underachieved as my school counselors predicted I would. I don't think I became an adult until I was about thirty, and even then the term was relative. I have friends who cruised through high school, right on into college, graduated and went on to normal grown-up lives, seemingly with little effort -- while I worked in a record store for $225 a week and counted the days until Scruffy the Cat came back to town. Regrets? You bet your sweet pantied ass I have regrets. I was an immature dumbass for a super-sized chunk of my life. What's not to regret? ...Do Camaros come in silver?

-- A reader tipped me to a book called The Inman Diary, that he said reminded him a little of my ramblings here. I'm not sure if it was a compliment or an insult, but the thing sounded intriguing enough that I felt compelled to buy myself a copy. Here's an article about it from Time magazine, if you're interested. Sounds right up my alley; I'm surprised I didn't know about it already. I must be slipping.

-- Yesterday at work I was checking out Rolling Stone's 200 Essential Recordings, thinking they pretty much nailed it, when I realized there's nothing by The Clash listed. Nothing by The Only Band That Matters?! They've got to be kidding. This very same magazine named London Calling the best album of the 80's, and now it's trumped by Bonnie Raitt and frickin' Don Henley? Please. They're just trying to be provocative. London Calling is the best album ever.

See how grown up I am?

-- Should I get involved in this? I like their style.

-- A sign of the times: I gave our dog Andy a peanut butter cracker the other day, and as he gobbled it down it suddenly occurred to me that he might be allergic to peanuts. I panicked for a second, then felt foolish. Peanut allergies. Ha! How come they weren't carting dead bodies out of elementary schools when I was a kid? How come people weren't puffing up like blowfish on airplanes until the last few years? Just another bullshit trendy ailment thought up by people with too much time on their hands. This is what happens when times are good.

-- This is one of the coolest things I've seen all week.

-- Toney went for a tour of a health club with one of her Pennsylvania buddies the other day, and it reminded me of my brief membership in such a club back in the Atlanta days. It was actually around the time I met Toney, and I think I only went along with it to impress her (see above). We joined up together, even though my heart wasn't in it, and "worked out" after work a few days each week. I told myself to just give it a chance and I might end up liking it, but it never happened. For one thing, there were a lot of sweaty people there. When you walked through the doors you could smell people, and I'm just not down with that. It wasn't really sweat that you could smell, but a swirling cocktail of various commercial products created to stop sweat from stinking. Fuckin' disgusting. The machines were sweaty, the people were sweaty, the lines of sweaty people waiting to use the sweaty machines were long, and I had to, you know, work up a sweat while I was there. Not exactly my idea of a good time. I also felt like a fool sitting on those ridiculous contraptions in the middle of a floor, rowing and pumping and flexing. Who the hell did I think I was? I felt like a fraud the entire time, and prayed none of my friends in West Virginia would ever hear about it. And don't even get me started on the locker room! I've never felt so uncomfortable in my entire life -- it was like Cocks R Us! The first time I walked in there I just couldn't believe it. Hairy dicks as far as the eye could see, and everyone apparently just perfectly OK with it all. Fa-la-la, I'm so cool and professional I don't even notice your balls hanging there. I remember groups of men standing around, just shooting the shit about their stock options or whatever, with their junk on full display. And I remember a bunch of guys huddled around a TV cheering something on Monday Night Football...with their dicks jumping up and down right along with them. And I remember a black dude talking on a payphone to his girlfriend or wife about picking up some steaks on his way home, as his myth-affirming unit swayed majestically to and fro. I could live to be 200 and never achieve that level of maturity. Holy shit in a handbasket.

Have a great weekend folks.

December 10, 2001

Lots of stuff:

-- It snowed here this weekend, our first real snow of the season. Even though we'll be thoroughly sick of it soon enough, the first snowfall is pretty darn exciting. I grabbed my camera and ran out on the deck to snap a photo for you folks, and almost busted my ass. It was slicker than owl shit out there, and my feet nearly betrayed me. I got your damn picture, but returned a little shaken. If I'd gone down I have little doubt the deck would've separated from the house and I would've ended up wallowing in the backyard with a redwood plank plunged into my back. I hope you people appreciate all the risks I take for you.

Saturday night, with the blanket of snow still fresh and undisturbed, Toney and I went out for a walk. She got a little annoyed because I had my pockets packed full of Yuenglings, but it was a really nice time. Nobody was out, and it was incredibly quiet (except for the occasional sound of a can opening) and beautiful. Like I say, we'll be cursing the stuff in a month or so, but right now it's welcome.

-- Speaking of risk-taking, have you seen Geraldo reporting from the "front line"? Oh man, it's highly entertaining. His hair is all messed up, he acts nervous and jittery, and continuously looks over his shoulder and up in the air as he speaks. Of course it's all theatrics, but it's great fun. The other day he was giving a report and suddenly did a forward roll for no apparent reason. Afterwards he claimed that a sniper was firing at him. Hilarious! What a goofball. It wouldn't surprise me if we eventually learn he's really in the desert near Valencia, surrounded by Middle-Eastern extras from 20th Century Fox, and has dinner every night at Friday's in the mall. Here's an article about his "close call." Note that he hopes to kill bin Laden himself.

-- I need some help with a few things, if I may be so bold. I've owned the domain for a few years now, but haven't done anything with it. I certainly don't have time to generate additional content, but I'd like to somehow tie it into this site, creatively. Any suggestions? Also, can somebody please deface the eBay logo and make it read eKay for me? I would be much obliged. I want to use it on the site, but have no idea how to create it. I'm a dumbass when it comes to that kind of thing, as well as many other kinds of things. And finally, every day when I check my stats, appears as a referring site. I can't find a single mention of anywhere on it, and don't really understand why a sashaying Hollywood makeup artist would link to me anyway(?!?). Do you see it anywhere? Am I nuts?

-- As I was doing some cleaning over the weekend I came across a snapshot that made me laugh out loud. Before I show it to ya, a little background...

When we lived in California I became friends with Mark Maynard, co-editor of Crimewave USA, and we cooked up many a kooky scheme while sitting by his pool, smoking cigars and drinking beer. We both wanted to be big-time Hollywood comedy writers, but didn't have the patience for paying dues or learning the craft, or any of that bullshit. We figured we'd just bypass all that with cheap publicity stunts and blatant gimmickry.

We made huge sandwich boards on which we painted sayings like, "Will Create Gen-X Drama For Inordinate Amounts of Money" and "Repair Work: We Can Make Suddenly Susan Watchable" then marched up and down the sidewalk outside NBC, past hundreds of people waiting to get into The Tonight Show. That earned us nothing, except a brief conversation with NBC security.

We spent a lot of money by flying a professional filmmaker out to California to shoot a documentary of the two of us creating our sitcom, The Lords of Clairmont. We drove up to San Francisco, holed up in a semi-seedy hotel in North Beach, and hammered out the details of the show as the cameras rolled. The idea was to make a quirky little underground film that would be passed from person to person, and hopefully generate enough street buzz to cause some adventurous soul at one of the networks to actually give us a shot at producing the show. The UNEDITED master tapes are here in the bunker, up on a shelf. We never did anything with them, which is pretty damn sad -- but fairly typical.

We also read an article in Entertainment Weekly where Seinfeld honcho Peter Mehlman was quoted as saying something along the lines of, "If you're funny, come to Hollywood. We need you here. There's a real shortage of genuinely funny people in this town, and we could use you. Come by car, by plane, by train...just come." That's not a direct quote, but pretty close. So we started calling Mehlman's office and saying, "We're here!" Mark talked to Mehlman's assistant six or seven times, and their conversations were absolutely hysterical. Mark has a genuine talent for delivering the most off-the-wall shit in complete deadpan, and the other person doesn't know what the hell's going on. He told her we'd walked all the way from Kentucky because of the EW article, and were short of money so we really needed to get to work on a situation comedy or a film project soon. When she started to stammer in confusion he reminded her that Peter had invited us to California...indirectly, through a magazine article. It was classic stuff -- also captured on film. But, predictably, she quickly grew tired of us and started making threats. So we stopped calling.

But we weren't quite finished. We made up a fake article from our "hometown paper", about two local boys who had been offered hot-shot Hollywood jobs by Seinfeld producer Peter Mehlman, and sent it by messenger to his office. The article was accompanied by a photo of Mark carrying me on his back down an old country road. He had told Mehlman's assistant that when one of us slept the other would carry him, so we could get to Hollywood faster and get down to work. That got no response, so we tried something else.

We decided to go around LA and take pictures of homeless people holding up signs we had made from scraps of cardboard, which we planned to also send to Mehlman, one after another. We took a few pics, but finally lost interest in the "project." I'm sure we moved onto some other ridiculous scheme that I can't now remember, but here's the picture I found this weekend.

-- I saw myself in a full-length mirror over the weekend, while wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and I now resemble a fat, titless woman. Something's got to be done...after the holidays.

-- Here's part of an interview from the new issue of Spin Magazine:

Do you like Bill Murray?

Hell, yeah. Ghostbusters. Yeah, I watch a lot of shit, yo.

-- And here's the second dispatch from the Surf Report reader who's stopped washing his hair!

-- I read that there's a sizable group of men around the country who get off by watching Deborah put lotion on her hands on Everybody Loves Raymond. I'd never noticed, but apparently she's often shown sitting in bed and applying lotion to her hands. People are fucking sick.

-- I love looking at the ads in the Sunday paper. I usually just pull them out and toss the rest of the paper in the trash. Who cares about current events when Target might be selling something really cheap? Yeah, I get really jacked up by a fresh pile of unread ads and, coupled with a powerful coffee buzz, I often drive Toney to the brink of insanity with my running commentary on the things I read. Here are some highlights from yesterday's batch.

-- We put up our Christmas tree yesterday afternoon, strung the lights, decorated it, and watched helplessly as the bastard fell down in the middle of the living room floor. It was a nice day, with snow on the ground and the Elvis Christmas Album blasting. The Elvis Christmas Album is the absolute best Christmas album ever. We used to listen to it when I was a kid, and it still sounds great today. There are several Elvis Christmas Albums available, but the real-deal is the one with "Mama Liked The Roses" on it. That's the one that came out in the late 50's, and rocks the house. Toney's less enthusiastic about it, but I think she's coming around. She prefers the first edition of A Very Special Christmas. That's a good one too, especially the Run-DMC tune: "It's Christmas Eve in Hollis, Queens/Mama's in the kitchen cooking collard greens." Great stuff -- except for Stevie Nicks doing "Silent Night," and that's one of the most godawful thing I've ever heard. It sounds like somebody's carving a ham with an electric knife. She sucks. Anyway, we were in great spirits. We'd just placed our favorite ornament, the glass pickle, on the tree, and had taken a breather to admire our handiwork, when out of nowhere everything started moving in slow motion, and it all came down with a loud crash at our feet. Quite a few things were broken, as you might expect, including a purple Santa ornament that Toney really liked. And the dog was slinking around like we were under attack. I didn't know a dog could still walk while that low to the ground. Yes, it pretty much cast a gloom over things for a while, but thank goodness for the Yuengling Brewing Company. Everything returned to normal fairly quickly. 

Ho, ho, ho.

December 7, 2001

Some more stuff:

-- Scranton was mentioned in a recent article in the Washington Post by a columnist claiming to be in search of the “Armpit of America.” My hometown du jour didn’t take the top honor (that went to Battle Mountain, Nevada), but boy were people around here ticked off to even be in the running! “This is a great place to raise a family!…We have the best schools, and no crime!!…Our people are nicer than your people!!!…yakata yakata yakata. The whining was shrill and sustained -- and the claim about all the nice people was nothing short of a bold-faced lie. I mean, really. But folks absolutely lost their shit over this goofy article, and the press reported the “news” of it as if it were on an equal plane of importance as America Strikes Back With Its Latest War On Terror So As To Achieve Enduring Freedom, or whatever it's called. The hubbub was really fun to watch, but I think a few people really need to check their ass-sticks at the door. I honestly don't understand 

how anyone could be so grim and humorless as to take something like this seriously; it's completely foreign to me. When I was a kid in West Virginia there was a Secretary of State who was really touchy (or perhaps just a showboating blow-hard?), and raised a big stink whenever the state was portrayed negatively in any national media. I remember him making a limp-wristed "march" on ABC headquarters in New York because a Love Boat episode featured Donny Osmond playing a barefooted, straw-chewing, overalls-wearing hillbilly from West Virginia. I can still see the news coverage of him and his small band of supporters outside the network with handmade signs on floppy Rite-Aid poster board, acting all awkward and stupid. Even at that young age I felt humiliated. It was the fucking Love Boat, fer chrissakes! It had Donny Osmond on it. Nobody who's opinion mattered was going to mistake it for a documentary, something told me. Was I wrong?  Am I wrong?

-- Speaking of hillbillies, have you seen the artificial Christmas trees they have now that are "pre-lit", with the lights hotwired directly into the branches? I don't know why, but these things make me laugh. Bad taste is inherently funny, I think. I've also been seeing ads for special motorized tree stands that you can plug in, then sit back with a nice beverage and watch your Christmas tree rotate. Is that not hilarious? I have a feeling these things are marketed to the same people who have lots of motion-activated novelty figurines that jerk to life and break into "wacky" earsplitting song parodies whenever you scratch your neck, or cross your friggin' leg. Just a hunch.

-- We were talking about memorable holiday parties we've attended the other day, and two are worth noting here. Both were company-sponsored events, and both involved co-workers making fools of themselves after having "a few too many."

Years ago in Atlanta we were at a party in one of the conference rooms (they spared no expense), and we saw one of the secretaries hitting the sauce pretty hard. She was usually reserved and fairly conservative, a stereotypical housewife type, but we noticed her getting flirty and acting more and more out of character with each additional beverage consumed. We laughed it off and went about our business of draining corporate beers and making fun of everyone in attendance. It's the bond that's kept our relationship strong throughout the years. Anyway, a little while later somebody suddenly let out a big, "WHOOHOO!!!" and we whipped our heads around just in time to see this woman spin into the middle of the floor, as if launched from a cannon, with her hands above her head, thrusting and grinding her vulva like a Soul Train dancer. She had one of the managers in tow, and he was trying to keep up, but the music was clearly in her. She was making faces like she was suffering great pain, rubbing her hands all over herself, and pushing her reproductive organs to the fore. I almost swallowed my tongue. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. She left the company shortly afterwards.

The second party was at a mansion near Malibu, the CEO's house. Every year this guy opens up his residence to the great unwashed, and invites in all the employees at Home Office for a big-ass holiday bash. The place is simply unbelievable, a mansion by any definition. It sits on top of a hill, and is many, many square feet of tastefully furnished luxury. The spread of food is like something out of the movies, and there are always magicians wandering around, and fortune tellers telling fortunes. These are like no parties I've ever attended before or since, that's for damn sure. Some of my co-workers always refused to go, because of petty piss-ant class envy, but I was completely fascinated. Toney and I explored that house from top to bottom, and were amazed every time we turned another corner. I especially remember the giant bubbling fountain in the main foyer that would've been at home in the lobby of a Sheraton. And I remember a billiards room that was done in plum, everything was plum-colored including the felt on the table. Cool as hell. We snuck into the master bedroom once, and was amazed at their private bathroom. Not only was there a B. Dalton-sized magazine rack, but it also had two toilets facing each other! I had no idea rich folks shit together. Who knew? Interesting, I guess, but you can count me the fuck out! Their TV room was done up like a movie theater, complete with concession stand and popcorn machine and old theater seats. On one wall was a mural that showed the entire family waiting in line to buy tickets at an old-time movie house. It was probably painted by some famous artist they flew in from France or something. It was difficult to even take it all in.

But anyway, a person from Toney's department was there one year and spent several hours knocking back company-issued White Russians, and eating up as much food as she could hold. She was/is an excessively brash and cynical chick from Chicago, a little rough around the edges if you know what I mean. After her sixth or seventh drink she decided she wanted a cigarette, so she started stumbling from patio table to patio table asking for a light. This being southern California she didn't have much luck, and began to get frustrated. Finally she walked up to a table where three older women were sitting, and they told her they didn't have a light either, and preferred it if she wouldn't smoke around them. She instantly shot back, "Yeah, thanks for nothing, bitch!" And, as you can probably guess, she was talking to the CEO's wife! She also left the company shortly afterwards, under mysterious circumstances.

I have a metric shitload more to write about, but the constraints of time are upon me. I'll be back Monday, if not sooner. Have a great weekend!

December 3, 2001

A few odds and ends:

-- I've never much liked Sundays. I think they're highly overrated. Too slow-moving for my tastes. No mail, people lazing around on couches, businesses closed, the specter of another work week casting its insidious shadow over everything you do... So, by the time Sunday rolls around the weekend's pretty much spent in my mind. I think that's why they go by so quickly; there's only one good day in a weekend. It's almost impossible to work up a good Saturday feeling on Sunday. Saturdays are the perfect day. It's a day of possibilities and freedom. Spongebob, a little extra sleep, the knowledge that you've got two whole days in front of you that will allow you to be yourself. There's magic in a Saturday. I sure wish there were more of them.

-- We spent Saturday afternoon doing Christmas shopping, and forked over an amount of money that, whenever I think about it, makes me twitch like Janet Reno. Every year I'm convinced the celebration of the birth of the Savior will lead us directly into financial ruin -- but we always seem to get through it somehow. This year, at least, it also feels like we're doing our patriotic duty with every purchase. Mock turtlenecks for democracy, if you will. Hey, whatever. Pass the fuckin' beer nuts.

-- As we were walking through the mall, a girl, maybe twenty years old, yelled in my direction, "Hey you, can you come over here for a second?" The hell? I looked behind me in a sort of Jack Tripper double-take, and realized she was talking to me. She was standing at the counter of one of those booths out in the middle of the mall, and I hesitantly walked over. She said I looked like I was about the same size as her boyfriend (?!?) and wondered if I would mind trying on some gold chains. Why me, Lord? Toney was lurking in the shadows laughing at my discomfort, but I stood there and allowed a fast-talking Puerto Rican to hang gaudy jewelry around my neck, feeling like the big dumbass I am. Finally, the payoff came as someone said I should be a male model, and there was uproarious laughter all around. Thank you. Thank you very much.

-- I watched a little of the George Harrison death coverage over the weekend, and was mildly surprised that such a big deal was being made of it. I know he was a Beatle but, you know, he was Beatle George. I heard the BBC refer to him as "one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century." I don't know about that. I certainly don't want to be disrespectful, but I think people are getting a little carried away. I liked George Harrison, and I'm sad that he died so young, but he wasn't Frank Sinatra or John Lennon. He just wasn't. You can send comments to

-- Dick Cavett appeared on one of the shows about Harrison, and that man is completely out of his tree. I can't hardly watch him; he makes me want to look away. His stories are like something you might hear at a Saturday night hoedown at the Alzheimer's House. He goes on with a bunch of crazy shit, then looks into the camera and cocks his eyebrow as if he's just scored big points with his devastating high-brow wit. The only problem is, nobody in the place knows what the fuck he's talking about. He waits for the avalanche of laughter, and there's nothing but crickets and the sound of people looking at their shoes. It's excruciating. I used to think Dick Cavett was funny, in a snobby Frasier-like way, but he's lost it. The man shouldn't be allowed out of the house.

-- Possibly inspired by this Further Evidence link, Rocky has weighed in with his views on deer hunting in West Virginia. You can read it here. Thanks, Rock!

-- Toney told me a great story about the boyfriend of one of her Pennsylvania buddies. The guy is apparently a stock broker or something financial, and wears the suits and drives the cars and all that hot-shit stuff. He cuts quite the impressive figure, I guess, but he's nuts. He supposedly only eats with a plastic fork -- a metal spoon, and a plastic fork. When he goes out to restaurants he takes his own if he thinks there won't be plastic utensils available. He also enjoys cola that's gone flat. She said he's very precise about the level of flatness, and keeps three two-liters going at all times in his apartment -- each opened twenty-four hours apart. He rotates them out, day by day, in order to maintain that perfect level of flatness he so desires. How would you like to have this guy as your financial planner? Let me know if you're interested, and I can probably get his card.

-- Now a couple of things I actually like:

Pink Flamingos on DVD. I'm sure you've seen it by now, the Citizen Kane of tasteless cinema directed and written by John Waters. Classic scenes abound: shit-eating, chicken-fucking, assholes singing, shrimping, egg-obsessing, "do my balls, mama"...oh, this one has it all. The DVD includes a perfect, unedited, print of the low-budget film, which alone would make the purchase beyond question. But there's also a handful of outtakes and the original theatrical trailer, as well as a few other odds and ends -- and a full-length commentary by Waters that is almost as fun as the film itself. If you don't have a DVD player yet, here's your incentive.

Toney gave me the latest R.E.M. CD, Reveal, for my birthday, and it's also really really good. They're not the hipster flavor of the month anymore, but that hasn't stopped them from releasing great records. I swear this one is as good as anything they've done since they were on IRS. If you don't have a CD player yet...

-- And finally, a Surf Report reader has stopped washing his hair! Click here to read the first of his weekly reports on the progress (and an explanation) of his little experiment, and check back every Monday for updates. If you decide to stop washing something, please let us know!

That's all for today, kiddies. Be good.

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