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   The State of My Fat Ass                                          May 2003


May 29, 2003

-- It's the last week of May and it's still like autumn up here. Everybody's bitching about it (go figure), but I love it. It's overcast, gray, slightly chilly... Perfect! The alternative is sweltering heat -- there doesn't seem to be any middle ground -- and I believe that every day without swelter is a good day. That's just who I am. It could stay this way until winter and I'd be happy. I'm not one of those people who lose their shit if they don't see the sun for a few days. I'm not a lizard on a rock. I have no need for sun-simulation lamps, or an emergency trip to Florida. I'm not going to fling myself into a wood chipper because the calendar says it should be suffocatingly hot by now, and it's not. I'm just fine in this gray city, under these gray skies, eating novelty chips and scratching my ass. That's just who I am.

-- I saw a video on TV last night, of some jackass emulating Jackass by videotaping himself throwing a cup of boiling water on some fat kid's back as he slept on a couch. Now that's comedy. I've never seen the show, but hardly a day goes by that I don't notice an article on the internet about another douchebag setting himself afire, or getting his skull crushed in while paying tribute to that hallowed institution that is Jackass. What's the deal? I was stupid as a kid, but not that stupid. My idiocy was a fishing pond, not the goddamn Atlantic Ocean. Generally all this self-inflicted crushing in and flame engulfment doesn't bother me too much; it seems to be nothing more than natural selection at work. As my brother said years ago, after I told him that a bully from our high school had been killed in a car crash: well, that's just God's way of weeding out the shitty. But that fat kid was bothering no one; he was kicked back on a couch. Now he's probably in a burn unit wearing gauze and having his ass skin moved around -- because of the influence of a cable television show. We're very near the end, you know. The Four Horsemen are saddling up now.

-- Sunshine told me that she talked to Nancy recently, and apparently their shit-drizzling dog-like mongrel with the "Please kill me" eyes can no longer move its legs. Nancy and Nostrils don't believe in medical intervention, if it can be avoided. They claim that stupid Americans have been conditioned to run to the doctor "whenever they have a sniffle" by a corrupt medical industry and the Jews (or something like that). This all sounds mighty impressive, but I think they're just cheap as all hell and would rather spend their money on designer coffees and a sweet.

The poor animal should've been put down a couple of years ago. It's nothing but skin and bones and tumors at this point, and semi-soft shit continuously rolls out of its ass. I've hated it for years, but can't help but feel sorry for it now. Nancy and Nostrils say that Nature will take its course, and the dog will die when it's supposed to die. And in the meantime they'll have another snifter of brandy, and a sweet.

But I'm getting off track here... The thing can't move its legs anymore, so they're looking for a kid's wagon at yard sales and flea markets. I'm not lying. They're planning to drag the poor suffering animal around town on a rolling platform of some sort, like a Macy's float of misery. I asked Sunshine if it would have a sidecar to hold its huge quivering neck cyst, but she didn't know. Shit. I know they won't even buy it a respectable wagon either, it'll probably have one mismatched tiny wheel or something. No, they'll save their money for seven-dollar cappuccinos and a sweet instead.

Pitiful.

-- A friend in West Virginia sent me this note yesterday:

You’ll be happy to know that your name was invoked at our house this morning.

The kids have magnetic letters that stick on the refrigerator. While passing by, I noticed that the random array of letters spelled “K TEX”. Of course, I couldn’t just walk by without sliding an “O” between the K and T. When [my wife] saw it, she huffed, “you’re hanging around Jeff Kay too much.”

When the wives of my friends stop using my name as a means of insult, that's when I'll start worrying. As of today, all is still right with the world.

-- Toney became highly irritated in a store a few days ago when she saw a woman pushing a stroller containing two tiny babies attached to oxygen tanks. That wasn't the part that made her mad, it was the hand-written sign that was attached. It said something like, "Hi there. We're preemies and can pick up germs very easily. For our benefit, please stay away." Toney said she felt like telling the woman that it's her responsibility, not ours, to protect her kids. Don't put it on us, bitch. Keep your kids at home until it's safe to go out. ...This is what twelve years of living with me has done to her. But, of course, she's absolutely right. The woman was shopping for shoes, and her husband was eating cashews -- and shifting all the responsibility for their kids' welfare on the general public. It takes a village to be really really self-centered.

-- Have you seen a commercial urging people to turn in their friends, who steal cable television? It shows some blow-hard in an office setting, acting all cocky and superior because he's getting cable for free, and insulting a fat bald guy? He invites everyone over to his house to watch cable (wow!), then calls the schlub "Shiny." The insulted fatty, of course, goes directly to a website and anonymously turns the guy into the authorities. Its one of the best things on television at the moment. I wish I had it on DVD -- along with the Singer electric scissors commercial that tries to convince us that regular scissors are just too inconvenient and dangerous to use with a clear conscious. It shows people nearly decapitating each other. Good stuff.

-- Here's part two of Buck's Chronicles of an Educated Hillbilly. Prom night and fish!  Coincidentally, I ended up in a fishing cabin alongside the Coal River after my prom, but that's another story for another day.  Or not.

-- And since this thing is so short today, here are a couple of other sites you might be interested in. Just remember to come back, goddammit.

This seems to be making fun of Trading Spaces, which I certainly approve of. I'm not real clear on it, but I think they're redecorating mobile homes.

Here are some hilarious beer reviews. Be sure to read the second batch, through the link at the bottom of the page -- especially the Coors Light review. Excellent.

And that'll do it for today. I need to get to work. I'm sure somebody's itching to yell at me by now. See ya on Monday.


May 26, 2003

-- I think I had a mini-breakdown Saturday afternoon. Sunshine and Mumbles were over, and it was pouring down rain outside. Mumbles had some kind of low-rent football game on the television (the kind they play in May), and it was turned up so loud the windows were rattling in their frames. Toney was sitting on the couch silently flipping through a magazine, and Sunshine was asleep in a chair with her mouth hanging open. Toney had lectured me on my rudeness a few days earlier, so I was making an effort to be sociable.

After about a half-hour of this balls-out excitement, the phone rang and it was one of Toney's old California buddys, calling to complain about her latest collection of boyfriend troubles. And I could tell by the tone of Toney's voice that she was settling in for a marathon session. Oh, this is just great. I looked over at Sunshine and the ringing phone had caused her to change the position of her head, but she was still out cold and hanging wide open.

I started pacing, fighting off the sense of panic I was experiencing while contemplating the expenditure of even one more fucking minute of my life to this scene. I wanted to go to a bar but, of course, that was out. That would be the sort of thing that could be used against me in a court of law. I know this might seem overly dramatic, but I actually started feeling claustrophobic and mildly hysterical. I had to get out of there; I was suffocating in dullness. Finally, I interrupted the long-distance conversation and told Toney that I needed to go to Wal-Mart to buy a light bulb. She had a puzzled look on her face, and said, "OK."

I tore ass out of there, feeling like I'd barely made it out of a Friday the 13th movie alive. I got in my truck and turned up the first Cracker album, and went to Wal-Mart to buy that light bulb that I had to have at that very moment. My life depended on that light bulb. I can't remember for sure, but I may have purchased some alcoholic beverages while I was out, as well. But let's just keep that between us, OK?

-- I saw Rob Lowe in some terrible old movie on television the other day, and it reminded me of yet another Atlanta story. I'm sorry, but these things happen...

Remember when Mr. Brat Pack attended the Democrat National Convention in Atlanta, and got into big-time trouble for videotaping himself and a couple of sixteen-year old girls having sex in his hotel room? Well, he picked up those girls at a famous nightspot in the city called Club Rio. When my ex-girlfriend Sharon and I first moved from Greensboro to Atlanta we decided, on a whim, to check out that historic spot late one night, and it led to a bit of fun.

We weren't exactly dance club kinds of people, it's worth noting; our record collections leaned more toward Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies. But we were given to various spontaneous adventures in those days, especially after large quantities of hops and barley were introduced to the mix. And we were soon hurtling through the streets of Atlanta in search of high energy dance music and the lingering vibes of Hollywood perversion.

The club was on its last leg by the time we got there, and it wasn't exactly teeming with people. We poked around and checked out the strange "art" displays they had in the lobby, and walked through the bar upstairs, eyeing the famous VIP rooms, before finding our way to the main dance floor. Sharon mentioned that the horrible house music blaring over the speakers sounded like something you'd hear in an aerobics class.

After a few high-priced beers we ventured onto the dance floor and started throwing down. I have no idea how to dance, but I can fuck around with the best of them. We were flailing our arms and making grimacing faces, mocking the other dancers, and just generally being obnoxious as hell. After a few minutes I looked over at Sharon and she had backed off a few feet and was doing full-blown jumping jacks amongst the other dancers. This, of course, led to us both touching our toes, a vigorous session of squat 'n' thrusts, and eventually, a round of knees-bent sit-ups right on the filthy floor.

We were both laughing hysterically, in a drunken state, and the other partiers just seemed to go about their own dance club business. It was extremely frustrating; we wanted to insult people.

Finally, just as the strobe lights kicked in, I unzipped my pants and pulled out my tiny dancer. I was standing in the middle of the dance floor, under high-intensity flashing lights, thrusting and gyrating and flopping and flipping. I think it's safe to say I'd allowed myself to get a little carried away. The sad thing was, nobody seemed to notice. That was the sad part. It would've been much more satisfying if people had shrieked and ran for the exits, in an out of control Great White panic scene. But the bastards just kept on dancing. My strobe-lit genitalia couldn't stop the boogie.

And that's what I think about when I see Rob Lowe.

-- I haven't talked to Mark about this yet, but I'd like his help in filming a short video in which I go into a Victoria's Secret store and apply for a job. I plan to be wearing jeans and a size Medium t-shirt, hopefully with sweat stains. (If the stains cannot be achieved naturally, we'll use a squirt bottle.) And while I'm talking to the manager, I'll make it a point to ask, repeatedly, "So, you probably get a lot of teenage girls in here, don't you?" I also plan to absent-mindedly rub silky underthings against my cheek as I interview for the position. 

Mark, if you're reading this, give me a call.

-- Toney and I went to a couple of high-dollar open houses on Sunday. The first was listed at $350,000, and the second was $425,000. Unbelievable. I'm not jealous, I just wonder what possible path these people took to such castles? As far as I can tell the owners are roughly my age. Goddamn college educations.

In the first house there was a huge formal portrait of man and wife, and the guy is sporting a fancy suit -- with a beeper the size of a pack of cigarettes attached to his belt. Apparently he's so important he couldn't be out of touch for the length of time it takes a photographer to snap a frickin' picture. It pains me to admit this, but I'm not nearly that important. My beeper only goes off when Toney wants me to pick up a jar of pickles on my way home from work.

In the second house I had the opportunity to peruse the owners' CD collection. Pitiful. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Tony Bennett, Indigo Girls... Here's a Rule of Thumb for ya: higher the salary, shittier the musical taste. People who own Wreckless Eric and Velvet Underground CDs can't afford $425,000 houses. I believe that's universal.

-- Speaking of great low-salary music, Fountains of Wayne finally have a new album coming out on June 10. They're one of the half-dozen or so artists who can actually lure my sorry ass to the record store on street date. When I hit the lottery they're gonna play the party, and you'll all be invited -- along with Dick Yuengling himself.

-- At dinner on Saturday Toney's mother brought up George Bush's tax cut, and I instinctively gripped my fork a little tighter. You never know which radical she's going to be when she starts talking politics. It might be Newt or Noam, you just never know where the giant wheel of ideology might stop spinning. Unfortunately it landed on Karl Marx Saturday night. She began bitching about the fact that she isn't going to benefit at all from the plan, and won't be receiving one of the refund checks they're supposedly going to send out this summer.

Mumbles chuckled and reminded her that since she doesn't pay taxes it would be kind of hard to get a refund. This enraged her. "I don't care!" she screamed, "We're the ones who need it, not those rich bastards! They already have too much!!"

All this is a little hard to take since she lives entirely off government checks, and regularly lounges in government subsidized apartments for forty or fifty bucks per month. I think she's getting more than her fair share. At the same time we're paying Sweden-like taxes here, and I often feel like my balls are in the proverbial vise. It seems like the rewards and penalties of life are all out of whack. But I kept my mouth shut. If you use logic in a political argument you're a Nazi.

And Sunday morning I was looking at the newspaper and noticed that Circuit City is offering $200 mail-in rebates on Compaq computers. I started thinking that it's not really fair that those rebate checks are only going to the people who buy Compaq computers. If you have enough money to buy a computer, goddammit, you don't need a rebate check. I think I should get $200 from Circuit City. Why are those rich computer-buying bastards any better than me? I'm infuriated by these blatant, cold-blooded Compaq refund checks for the wealthy! Where's my high horse?!

-- We were in Barnes & Noble this weekend and I saw two deaf guys getting all excited over Gene Simmons' autobiography. They were grinning and signing in a full-on frenzy. The obvious question is, how do deaf men become fans of a rock star? I thought about asking them, but my hands were full.

-- Every once in a while I stumble across something that makes me angry that I didn't think of it first. This is one of those things. It's both brilliant and maddening.

-- I have a friend in North Carolina who works for a newspaper, and he sent me these two AP photos taken after the recent bombings in Morocco. For some reason I don't think they were widely used. If you ate recently, you might want to hold off on clicking the link. Just a bit of friendly advice.

-- And finally, here's Chris's latest Florida adventure. Is it my imagination, or are these dispatches getting better and better? The man is in a groove. If I weren't so completely secure in who I am, I might begin to feel a bit threatened. Ahem.

And that's that. Believe it or not, I have tons of stuff left over. But don't get too excited, it'll all show up here on Thursday. Have a great holiday, folks. It's raining like a bastard here, and Sunshine and Mumbles are on their way to our house. And I just noticed that I'm almost out of roofing nails. Dammit!

May 22, 2003

This isn't going to be very good; I can feel it in my bones. Prepare yourself now. The comedy synapses don't seem to be firing in the correct order this morning, and my notebook isn't exactly bubbling over with subjects destined to make a grown man shit a pair of pants. I feel like Chipper Jones without the good looks and athletic ability. There's just not much there to work with. It worries me. I might be losing my grip on mediocrity, and what would I do then?? But, I'm just going to go out there today and play hard, put the ball between the lines, and hopefully things will work out in our favor. Or whatever.

Please kill me.

-- I got my new office at work this week. I think it's a room where they formerly stored overstocked dust and mold spores. I'm not sure. It's been locked up since I've worked there, and now it's my office. And I share it with a man who sucks his teeth like an Alzheimer's patient and eats roughly a peck of apples per day.

And it's right outside the bathroom doors, so I hear echoey sounds of people blowing their noses and practicing the clarinet and trying to get a little more mustard out of the squeeze bottle. At least that's what it sounds like. And did I mention that it's really really hot in there? The rest of the building is cold, and people are walking around in hooded sweatshirts and shit. Walk into our office and every pore swings open. I hate hot.

The desks they gave us are full of dust and the drawers don't work correctly. They just sort of stack on top of each other inside the housing. The carpet is a sight, and there's one electrical outlet. We have it loaded with power strips and it's only a matter of time before we're baked alive at our moldy desks.

A couple of days ago we asked one of the janitors to vacuum the carpet, in hopes that it would remove some of the dust funk that hangs in the air. After we broke through the language barrier he figured out what we wanted, and came back with a vacuum that may or may not have spent some time at the bottom of a lake. He had a 200 ft extension cord balled up in an incredible cluster-fuck, that practically covered the entire floor. 

When he plugged it in the vacuum began putting out additional dust. He ran it over the carpet and left a wide swath of imported filth. I began coughing and tearing up, and abandoned ship. When I returned I saw that he had managed to work hard and get the carpets almost back to the way they were before he'd arrived.

It's a good feeling to know you're appreciated by your employer.

-- A few weeks ago I filled out an internet form from a company that promised free magazine subscriptions. Since they didn't ask for anything other than a mailing address and a working email address, I took a chance on it. I gave them my PO Box, and an anonymous Hotmail address that I have for such risky schemes. According to them the new trend in magazine publishing is to offer free no-strings subscriptions, apparently to jack up advertising revenues. Hey whatever. I didn't expect much, but a few days later I received a message asking if I'd like a two-year subscription to Maxim. I'd never read it, but what the hell? Then I got one for something called Stuff. I told them to send it on. The only one I've declined is for a periodical called Black Enterprise, because I'm neither black nor enterprising. Yesterday I actually received my first issue of Maxim. It looks mighty trashy, but I can't get over the fact that they're just sending it to me. Free stuff rocks. (Plus, it introduced me to this product.) Here's the original form I filled out. Give it a shot, if you're so inclined.

-- I was talking to my friend Bill the other day and we were reminiscing about our days working at a shitty grocery store in West Virginia, when we were youngsters. I actually wrote an equally shitty article about that place, for the latest issue of Crimewave USA, in case you're interested. Anyway, we started talking about an old pervert who worked there, named Art. He was a maintenance man or something, and had a perpetual deep tan and lots of gold jewelry. He also wore a lot of cologne -- you know the type. I'd guess he was in his early sixties when we worked there, and he was always ogling the teenage girls that came into the store, as well as the cashiers. He was both horny and creepy, but was a constant source of amusement for us semi-innocent bag boys. One time he uttered a phrase that has gone down in history, at least between me and Bill. It's one of those things we'll be talking about when we're seventy. I can't remember the details, but it seems that Art was helping us carry something heavy, and we passed one of the high school cashiers who was dusting the shelves with a feather duster. As soon as we got far enough away that she couldn't hear, Art said, "Boy, I'd like to lay that wide open." I'm not even sure I know what that means, but it's taken up permanent residency in my mental gallery of Fucked-Up Things.

-- I'm excited that the new lineup of Lay's designer chips are now on the market. Periodically they release some unusual flavors of potato chips, supposedly chosen by chip fans in an online poll. I bought a sack of Chicago Steakhouse Loaded Baked Potato chips last night, and they're damn good. Kinda sour cream and bacony flavored. There are others that I will try soon. I can't remember what they are, possibly seafood gumbo? I don't know. But I do know that the idea of designer potato chips excites me to my core. America is the greatest place on Earth.

-- Toney's moping around, and I can't get to the bottom of it. She seems to be in a general funk, and it worries me. It's been going on for days. I can't say this out loud, but I think it's her mother. That crazy old woman has a talent for tainting everything she comes in contact with. It's like being poisoned slowly, a little at a time. One day's worth won't kill you, but it builds up. I really wish that she and Mumbles would pull up stakes and get their asses out of here. They're bringing nothing to the table, except bitterness and anger. Everything pisses off Sunshine, and everybody's out to get her. It's incredibly tiresome. And contagious.

-- If you want one of the beautiful Surf Report t-shirts, you better order soon, bucko. They're almost gone, and I probably won't get any more. I get bored easily, and I'm over the t-shirt distribution racket. I might dabble in coffee mugs next, but I've exorcised my shirt demons for the time being. Once they're gone, they're gone, as they say.

-- Here's a chart that reportedly tells you a person's penis length, by knowing a shoe size. All I know is, I sometimes wear a 9 1/2, and sometimes a 10. I will be buying only 10's from now on. Hopefully something positive will happen.

-- And here's a list of the worst traffic offenders in Chicago. It's not as dull as it sounds. Check it out, it's pretty amazing. Why aren't these people in prison?

-- I received an email a few days ago from a well-known broadcaster in West Virginia, and he offered to write a Chris-like series for the site, called Chronicles of an Educated Hillbilly. I thought it over for roughly one second, and said, "OK!" He won't allow me to reveal his real name, so I won't. Don't bother asking, because I'm sworn to secrecy. I will tell you, however, that it's not Jule Huffman/Mr. Cartoon, or Super Duper Charlie Cooper. But that's all I'm saying. He'll be known only as Buck here. This is his intro. Enjoy.

And I think I'll end it right there. I need to get back to the dust box and the apples. See ya on Monday.

May 19, 2003

A few things:

-- The plumber charged us $109.00 to fix our downstairs toilet. Something about a wax ring. Who the hell knows? He could've said it needed new brake pads and I wouldn't be in any position to challenge him on it. All I know is that the water is now staying inside the bowl, and that's a good thing. Please don't send me emails telling me that the replacement of a wax ring should've cost no more than fifty bucks. I don't want to know. Ignorance is the sword I use to do battle with the horrors of the real world. It's a time-tested strategy that has many benefits.

-- We went to a town called Dallas, Pennsylvania on Saturday, to look at tent trailers. As is the ritual, we found the perfect one for us, at the right price, and are now in the mode of obsessing about it and talking it to death. Should we? Can we afford it? How much should we offer? Tent trailers? What the fuck happened to us?? We used to be cool. It's all perfectly predictable. The one we have our eye on is a 1999 Coleman twelve-footer, with A/C and two king sized beds. Really clean and well-maintained, for $6500. A new one, similarly outfitted, would cost around twelve grand. I know this may be hard to believe, but the thing is huge on the inside. It has a real refrigerator (not a glorified cooler), hot water, a heater, an expensive bike rack on the roof, etc. etc. And it all folds down to something you could practically carry in your shirt pocket. Oh, we could do some traveling with that baby. But I don't know... I'm not sure I'm ready to take the leap into becoming a full-blown suburban drone. Ten years ago I hated the people I'm becoming, and it's not an easy thing to come to terms with. Can a Member's Only jacket be too far behind?

-- After our trailer shopping odyssey we went to Don Pablo's for lunch. Toney had a coupon. (Dear God, take me now.) And this coupon locked us into the fajita section of the menu only. I don't generally like to order fajitas, because they're a little too showy for my tastes. I'm not comfortable with every head in the house turning, as the waitress brings the dramatically sizzling and smoking conglomerate to our table. I've always thought that people who order meals that sizzle or shoot flames or are accompanied by a galvanized steel tub, have some deep-seated issues and feel the need to prove something. I prefer silent, less ostentatious foods; I have no desire for my lunch to become a floor show. But we had a coupon -- our hands were tied.

We both opted for the chicken and steak fajitas, and they were really good. I kinda have a philosophical problem with a restaurant just bringing you a bunch of ingredients, and expecting you to put your own meal together at the table, but it was satisfying nonetheless. I considered breaking out my old "My eyes! Dear God, my eyes!!" joke when the waitress sat the popping and splattering dishes in front of us, but I wasn't really in the mood. I felt more like going around, table to table, and apologizing.

-- When we were at the trailer place we saw an old man in a lemon yellow sweater with four quarter-sized holes in his left cheek. They were arranged in the shape of a diamond, and seemed to be wet. What the hell, man? What could be the possible source of something like that? I tried not to be too obvious about it, but I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Right before we left the old guy took a handkerchief out of his pocket and put it over his mouth and nose, then sneezed three or four times. I'm not making this up, I'm almost certain I saw something SHOOT OUT of one of those holes when he sneezed. It was absolutely horrifying.

-- I watched the Shane MacGowan documentary on Friday night, and it was pretty sad. The guy's a mess. I couldn't understand what he was saying most of the time, and he looks all puffy and terrible. I think the brain damage has finally come home to roost, as well. Everyone around him seemed nice and normal, and there was Shane in the middle of it all, stumbling and mumbling like a street person. Apparently he's had a bottle of gin surgically attached to his right hand, and walks with a pronounced limp -- probably drink-related in some way. I think Shane is a genius (he apparently thinks highly of me as well), and I'm also a fan of adult beverages, but the man has taken things a bit too far. He comes across as a pathetic lush now, in need of medical intervention. Indeed, parts of the film are so painful I had to look away. The fact that his father speaks about him in the past tense pretty much says it all, doesn't it? There is a funny part near the end when Shane is reading a review of one his concerts in the newspaper, and the writer mentions Shane's "deceptively simple" songs. "Simple?!" he spits, "You try to play them, ya cunt!" Then he takes another big swig of gin, and doesn't say anything nearly as coherent for the rest of the movie.

-- I fasted for twelve hours on Thursday/Friday, then went to the blood extracting lab to have some blood extracted. I didn't like the sounds of that fasting business, but it was no big deal really. The only discomfort was not being allowed to drink coffee in the morning, until after they'd lanced one of my veins. When I got to the little lab the lone employee was standing in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette the length of an unsharpened pencil. She looked a little trailer-parkish, but was nice enough. She said she could tell I was nervous, and she proved to be quite perceptive on that front. I don't like anything medical, and the plunging of metal spikes into my bloodstream is no exception to that rule. She had me sit in a special bloodletting chair, and gathered up three sizable vials, in which to capture my newly-liberated life force. I'm proud to announce that I made it through the whole procedure with no incidents. I didn't collapse, cry, or shit my pants. I'm making real progress. Afterwards I went to my truck and began guzzling the outsized travel mug of steaming coffee I had there, and called Toney to brag about my success. Now if they don't find some rare, aggressive disease floating around in that stuff, I'll be home free. This adult crap is nerve-wracking. They're taking away my sword!

-- Toney and I enjoyed a few icy Yuenglings on Saturday night, and watched both episodes of Trading Spaces, then some cruel new show where a couple of uppity bitches rip apart an innocent young woman's fashion sense on national television. The girl was just minding her own business, going to work and hanging out with her "friends," not knowing that she was being videotaped and ridiculed by Cruella Deville and a sashaying, mincing poofter who is apparently trying to cultivate a 1977 Doobie Brothers look. He's a catty gay man who at least injects a little humor into his avalanche of insults, but the woman just seems mean. They even interviewed the girl's parents, about how awful she looks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Supposedly her so-called friends turned her into this Hitler and Himmler of Fashion, and she quickly forgave them. If somebody pulled some shit like that with me, there would be no forgiving. Ever. I'd wear that grudge like a wedding ring, and it would never come off. Our founding fathers are spinning in their graves, like egg beaters in powdered wigs. The end is clearly near.

-- I don't have the energy to go into any great detail, and it's not really that interesting anyway, but Sunshine is starting to control our lives. Especially on the weekends. She's calling the shots, telling us how we're going to spend our days. At least that's the way I see it; Toney thinks I'm exaggerating. The longer I say nothing, and allow this manipulation to continue, the more I feel like this guy. I don't want another nasty-ass confrontation with the woman, but just how much shit am I required to eat? She browbeat us into seeing Daddy Daycare yesterday, for God's sake. At some point a line has to be drawn. Low-rent Pow Wows, toothless comedies... She's out of control.

-- Speaking of movies, the new issue of Entertainment Weekly lists the Top 50 Cult Films of all time. Number one is This Is Spinal Tap, which you can't really argue with. But, the list does NOT include The Hollywood Knights, Cabin Boy, or The Waltons' Homecoming. Therefore, I have no choice but to dismiss it entirely.

-- Finally, a man who would've already sent Sunshine a-packin'... here's Chris from Boone's latest Florida adventure.

Have a great week, folks.

                          

May 15, 2003

-- I woke Toney up last night, laughing in bed. Once you get my heft to jiggling, it can cause quite a disturbance and I wish had a picture of the look on her face. She said nothing, but her eyes were screaming: What the hell is wrong with you? You're going to collapse the bed. Idiot.

I'm reading A Confederacy of Dunces again, and it's killing me. I read it once before, twenty or so years ago, but the beauty of drinking large quantities of alcohol is that you forget a lot of shit. Then you can enjoy the same things over and over again. I remember very little about the book, except that it concerns a gigantic momma's boy who fancies himself the intellectual, and that I really liked it. I'm only about a hundred pages into it on the second go 'round, and I'm in comedic awe. It's just one brilliant sequence after another, written perfectly. Ignatius, the main character, is one of the more original literary creations I've encountered in my entire trans fat spangled career. His dialog is flawless and hilarious.

The tragedy is that the author, John Kennedy Toole, killed himself after not being able to get the book published. Following his death, his mother began peddling the manuscript and refusing to take no for an answer. Eventually, of course, it won the Pulitzer Prize and became an enduring literary classic. The dude should've hung around, if not for his own benefit, then certainly for ours. He was a hell of a writer. I guess he never fully grasped the fact that most people are pricks, especially those in power. Once you understand that, it's smooth sailing, I've learned.

-- Speaking of tragedy, have you seen the new AFLAC commercials featuring Chevy Chase? Sweet mother of all that's good. The man looks like a wax figure, and is tragically unfunny. He appears to have been embalmed, or perhaps frozen then reanimated. His face is the color of an uncooked orange roughy filet, and he spends the whole commercial tripping and reacting like a clown. Chevy Chase used to be the king of the world, now he's doing terrible television commercials for an insurance company, looking like deep-dish hell? Maybe Toole had the right idea, after all? Sad.

-- I read somewhere that Dionne Farris has a new single out. I think it's from a movie soundtrack, and it might not even be all that new, for all I know. I'm glad to see she's still plugging along though. She was my neighbor in Atlanta, you know. She lived right across the hall. Yep, ol' Dionne and I go way back... Ahem.

I had an apartment on Bonaventure, near Little Five Points in Atlanta, in a big old house that had been busted up into three rental units. The bottom half of the house was one apartment, and was inhabited by three or four young girls barely out of their teens. They seemingly sat around all the time drinking daiquiris and smoking cigarettes. If I'd been Chris from Boone I would've undoubtedly been down there every day swinging from the ceiling on a Love Trapeze, while wearing a full leather face mask, or something. But, alas, I am but Jeff Kay. I didn't have much interaction with those girls, and I feel a little embarrassed about that now. It was a Penthouse Forum situation waiting to happen.

I had the upstairs apartment on the front of the house, and a woman who worked at the Macy's perfume counter had the one on the back. She only lasted for a few weeks after I moved in, then the landlord started advertising the place. Eventually he told me he'd rented it to some musicians. Oh great, I thought, frickin' Pantera is moving in across the hall. But it turned out to be a young couple, and they seemed pretty nice and normal. I introduced myself, and there wasn't anything there to be alarmed about. I was relieved.

Dionne didn't get along with the girls downstairs very well, and began stopping me in the hall to vent. They'd made the mistake of sliding a note under her door, asking her to park her car in a different place, and this set the tone for a touchy relationship from that point on. "If you have a problem with me," she ranted, "you tell me to my face. You don't write me a goddamn note!" Her boyfriend, Don, once saw the giant Miles Davis poster I had hanging in my apartment, and was always trying to talk me out of it. They were nice folks. We weren't buddies, but we co-existed pleasantly enough.

One morning I passed Dionne in the hall and she told me her band's album was about to come out. She was really excited, and went back into her apartment to get me a tape. It was a cassette single, this one, and it was on a major label. Holy crap. I'd assumed they were just another local group that played clubs and struggled and were a dime a dozen in cities like Atlanta. I had no idea they were signed. I listened to it on my way to work, and it sounded damn good.

I didn't see much of them after that. I guess they were out promoting the record. I eventually moved out of the house, and Arrested Development exploded and sold millions of records and won Grammys and were on the cover of the Rolling Stone and shit. Then Dionne put out a solo album, and it was a huge hit as well. Remember this song? Yep, that's my neighbor from across the hall. We go way back.

-- And speaking of neighbors, I think the guy beside me at work has an overactive saliva gland. I can hear him eating sandwiches in his cubicle, and there's a large amount of liquid sloshing around in his mouth. It sounds like a washing machine over there. It makes me crazy. I don't understand how somebody could make so much noise, eating ham and bread. Those are not loud foods. I just learned a few days ago that they're going to give me and this guy an office to share. No more cube for us, buddy. But I'm going to be in a small room with him all day, every day, with his sloshing and smacking and teeth-sucking. And the office is located right outside the bathroom doors, so I'll also get to enjoy the pleasant aroma of the frequent cheesesteak explosions that occur in our building.

I should've stayed in college...

-- On the subject of bathrooms... it's a real sign of class when you see people at work unbuckling and unzipping their pants ten feet before they reach the bathroom doors. I don't really need to know the style and color of my co-workers' undergarments, thank you very much. Especially Scranton co-workers. If I were still in LA, maybe.

-- And that leads me to this important question: is Matt Drudge losing his focus?

-- Is it just me or is spam mail starting to get a little edge to it? I received a message yesterday with the subject: She wouldn't have left if it was big. Is that sort of thing really necessary?

-- I received a nice little CARE package yesterday, from my friend Brad in Greensboro. He sent me tapes of the Shane MacGowan documentary that aired on the Sundance Channel, another documentary about Sonic Youth, the episode of Letterman where Warren Zevon was the lone guest, and a copy of the new Wilco EP. How cool is that? Thanks Bradley. It's gonna be a bittersweet, videotape Jeff Tweedy weekend here at the Compound.

-- One of our neighbors may turn me in to the animal cruelty people, so if I don't update on Monday you'll know why. I was out in the backyard this week trying to get our dog Andy untangled from a bush. He had his rope wrapped around that thing so tight I though I was going to have to cut it off. I got mud all over my shoes and was just generally pissed about the situation -- because it's repeated four or five times per week. I began yelling, "Andy, you piece of shit! I'm going to have you made into a winter hat!!" And I looked up and the neighbor was standing there with a shocked look on her face. She's a bit of a Nancy-type, and I wouldn't be surprised if she made a few calls. I told her I was only joking about the hat, but I don't think she believed me. She just went in the house and closed the door.

--  For the record, I've started the pill/banana regimen that my doctor suggested. I feel kinda pathetic taking daily pills though, if you want the truth. It won't be long before I have to go out and purchase one of these, then word-search puzzles can't be too far behind... It's a slippery slope of decay.  I'm so depressed.

And I really need to stop right there. Have a great weekend, boys and girls. Hopefully I'll be back on Monday.

May 12, 2003

-- Scranton was issued a tornado warning last night. Not a tornado watch, but a full-blown warning. We were actually being urged to seek shelter. I'm not a big fan. When I was a kid I was really scared of tornados, and I think a little of that has bled over into adulthood. I remember a small town in Ohio (called Xenia) being completely wiped out, and hearing stories about that storm, about how single blades of grass were blown through telephone poles and shit. That freaked me the hell out.

We were watching the local weather radar on television last night, and could see the blood-red storm heading straight towards Scranton, as the announcers told us to go to a basement or bathroom, and strap on a biking helmet if we owned one. I sat there and made jokes, but my palms were getting sweaty. The skies were turning black, and everything was still and hushed -- just the way people describe it on news reports, the day after, standing in front of the pile of garbage that used to be their home. My eyes were nervously darting from the TV screen, to the menacing skies on the other side of the windows. If I'd heard a freight train sound my heart would've probably just flown apart on the spot.

Nothing much happened. The storm split in two and both halves went past us. We didn't even get any rain. There were no tornados on the ground around here, that I know of, and nothing was damaged. When big snowstorms are bearing down on us I secretly hope we'll get the brunt of it (it's fun!), but not a tornado. That's a different breed of cat. Last night I tried to will it into somebody else's neighborhood. Go south, you fucker, go south! When it comes to twenty-story whirling death funnels, I'm looking out for number one, Jack. Is that wrong?

-- My doctor's appointment on Thursday wasn't nearly as bad as I'd imagined. I had it built up in my mind to the point where I was laying naked (except socks), on my stomach, across a table attached to one of those hydraulic lifts they use at Sears Automotive, and a flashlight with an electric cable attached embedded deep in my ass. It was nothing like that.

The office is in a converted house, and the room where I was to be examined was the kitchen. They had one of those exam tables in there, with the paper on it, several other miscellaneous pieces of medical equipment -- and kitchen cabinets and a sink. After I filled out a thousand forms, I sat in that kitchen by myself for what seemed like hours. I was stressing over all the horrible things they would surely find, and staring at a poster on the wall about spinal cord health. Then I started getting hungry, and considered going through the cabinets in search of Pop-Tarts. But a doctor's assistant finally came into the room, and the fun began.

She took my blood pressure and said it was slightly high. Surprise, surprise. I'm shitting the proverbial brick here, sister. Then she looked into every orifice on my body that wasn't concealed by pants, with a flashlight. She told me I have some earwax built up on both sides, and asked if I could hear OK. She said it was black, and was probably really old. I told her I clean my ears every day, and she said, "Never use Q-Tips!" I asked her what I should use, and she didn't answer me. What are the alternatives?? A straightened paper clip?

My pulse was around 100, and she said that was a little high too. I considered telling her about the hydraulic lift, but said nothing. I didn't want to put any ideas in her head. She then had me lay on my back, and lift my shirt up to my ample man-tits. This was the worst part. She pressed down on my stomach in various places, so hard I think her fingertips could probably feel the table through my organs. They're the experts, not me, but I was worried something might explode in there. I don't think you're supposed to mash your shit like that.

After that highly-enjoyable session, I was left by myself in the kitchen again. The doctor will be in shortly, I was told. I read more about the spine, and was feeling a little better about things. Nobody had yet gasped over the discovery of a soccer ball sized tumor or anything, and that's always a positive.

Finally the doctor came in, and she was really nice and gentle with the big Baby Huey pussy sitting on her paper table. She lectured me about salt, and told me I need to get more exercise. She said I also need to get more sleep, and added that Americans work too hard. I wished Nancy were there to hear that one -- from an empowered Indian woman no less. Nancy thinks we're all lazy slobs in brightly-colored t-shirts in this country. Americans work too hard. That would be enough to turn her armpit hair prematurely gray.

The doctor also told me that I only get one body, and it's my duty to take care of it. This felt like a stock speech that she'd delivered thousands of times before, but I guess it's true enough. Finally she said I should start taking a multi-vitamin, a baby aspirin, and eat a banana or two every day. And, she assured me, I seem to be generally healthy.

I'm not out of the woods yet, though. I have to visit a lab this week for blood work, and go back to see the doctor in a month to discuss the results. She wants to check cholesterol and all that stuff, as well as something that indicates prostate problems. So, you see, the lift is still fully operational in the corners of my mind. And what else will they find floating around in that blood? Sweet Maria. If I get past all this I might start going to church or something. That's how stressed I am.

-- Our downstairs toilet overflowed on Saturday. The weird thing is that a bunch of toilet paper came up, but we hadn't flushed toilet paper down it for days. It wasn't acting particularly strong lately, and nobody trusted it to do any heavy lifting. Mumbles was baffled, and I started wondering aloud if we were somehow picking up the neighbors' shitter contents? He said that would be impossible, but I'm not so sure. The stuff that came out of that toilet didn't look locally made. Mumbles turned off the water, and we're going to call a plumber today. I can't have somebody else's backwash coming up in our home. I lived in an apartment in Greensboro once where soggy Tater Tots would occasionally come up in my sink, even though I never ate Tater Tots. Why couldn't the same thing happen with already-eaten Tater Tots? This shit can't stand.

-- Another sign that I'm getting really fucking old: last night on American Movie Classics they were showing "Movies For Mom," and guess what one of them was? Pretty In Pink! Movies for Mom?? Shouldn't that be The Sound of Music, and stuff like that? My generation is now fodder for nostalgia television. My youth is now viewed in the same way I look at those Old Time Radio tapes they sell at Sam's. Simply excellent.

-- We also watched the Beverly Hills 90210 reunion show last night, but it wasn't very good. I can't really explain it (or justify it), but Toney and I watched that show for years and years and years. The reunion show was lame, with the cast sitting around on couches teasing each other, mixed in with a ton of familiar clips from the show. I think Jason Priestley may have sustained some brain damage in that car crash he was involved in a year or so ago. He seemed a little fucked-up. Sometimes he would only react to a question by grunting like a caveman. Most of the time he just sat there and smiled like a retard. It made me uneasy, sorta like the post-brain surgery Gene Siskel. But maybe that's just me?

--  I know this is old news by now, but I just can't get past the President strutting around that aircraft carrier in a flight jacket, crassly using the instruments of war for a photo opportunity.  This is a man who did everything he could to see that he didn't have to serve in Vietnam, now this?  Absolutely tasteless. 

-- Here's a portion of an interesting email I received this weekend:

I discovered your site by searching on the phrase "appalachian underbite". Here's why: I lived in Wytheville, VA for about 4-1/2 years. During that time, I noticed that several people from VA and WV have a rather severe underbite. I grew up in the Midwest, and I had never really noticed this "condition" until I moved to Virginia (???). I think it's great how your SMOKING FISH has the same feature!

Appalachian underbite? I'm near tears.

-- Finally, Chris from Boone has started writing the follow-up to his highly successful Bob Evans series, and will now be documenting his years living in Florida. Here's the first entry. Enjoy.

And that'll do it for today. I overslept this morning, so I have a bunch of stuff here that'll have to wait til Thursday. Have an excellent tornado-free week, everyone.


May 8, 2003

I've apparently picked up a virus of some sort, probably off somebody's filthy exhale at work, and I'm not up to spec today. I'm gonna keep this brief. I'm dizzy and chilled and can't take deep breaths. And contrary to popular belief, this sort of thing isn't really conducive to the art of amateur comedy. I think my lungs are bubbling over with parasites. I'm worried that I might have a "brother" growing in my gut, and crowding my heart. Good God, has SARS made it to Scranton? Sweet sainted mother of Sissy Spacek. I want to sit in a chair, and not much else. Right now I'd like to know what time it is, but I don't really have the energy to turn my head to the left, to look at the clock. I'm a sad specimen of a man.

-- Ironically, I have my doctor's appointment today. A couple of months ago I decided I need to start living semi-responsibly (Toney shamed me into it), and I'm going to the doctor for a physical. I haven't done this since my mother forced me to go, back in the day. (The more things change, the more they stay the same.) I think the last time I went to a doctor for a check-up was when Jimmy Carter was president. I'm not kidding. Maybe Reagan, but you get the idea. That doctor is long dead, and I'm still here, so you've got to question whether he knew what the hell he was even talking about. Right? Anyway, in a few hours I predict an Indian woman in a lab coat will be saying to me: "Look at you. You're forty and you have the body of a sixty-five year old bartender. You disgust me, Jeff Kay. In my country you'd be put to death." And I have no idea what to expect, as it pertains to my ass. Does the probing years begin at forty? I'm so tense, the woman might lose a digit. How did I get myself into this?!

-- On a related note, I went into the bathroom yesterday at work, to make use of the waterless urinal, and there was a guy already standing at the one to the right. He was an old man that I didn't know. I took my place beside him, even though I'm not a big fan of communal waste elimination. As the American culture dictates, I stared straight ahead and said nothing. Suddenly there was violent movement in my peripheral vision. The guy was wagging his unit, and it seemed to be the size of a large cucumber. How could such a thing be possible?? Were my contacts playing tricks with my vision? I wasn't peeking, mind you, but when there's something so large whipping up and down in your general vicinity, your eyes instinctually lock on it. It's an ancient defense mechanism. I think I could actually hear a whooshing sound, as he went to town with it, and could detect a minor disturbance of the air, but that may have just been my imagination. It's just not right. Some people have so much, and others have so little. (Sunshine was right!) I was depressed for the rest of the day.

-- The phone rang at 2AM the other night. It took a ring and a half before we realized it wasn't just a dream, and Toney lunged for the receiver on her nightstand. As soon as she picked it up the answering machine kicked in, and Toney was saying, "Hello? Hello??" But there was nobody there. I then laid awake for the next hour imagining all the horrible scenarios that would lead to a 2AM phone call. My parents are probably dead, I thought. Their house undoubtedly burned to the ground, and they didn't make it out. Or maybe it was just my Dad? Massive heart attack while walking the dogs. Maybe my brother was trying to take the pickles off a McDonalds hamburger, lost control of his car and ended up in the river? The scenes of familial carnage and death kept getting more and more elaborate as the minutes passed. I couldn't stop it. Finally I went back to sleep, and attended several funerals in an uncomfortable suit.

-- This is reportedly Kiefer Sutherland, getting carried away after a few too many adult beverages, at a bar in Burbank called Dimples. I've been to that bar, but I never allowed shit to escalate to such a level. Not at Dimples, anyway.

-- I'm very disappointed that President Bush hasn't done more to stop the killer tornadoes that have been tormenting the South for the past few days. I think a Congressional investigation should be launched, to see just who got hurt. I'd be willing to bet it was mostly poor people, and minorities. Would anyone be surprised to learn that no rich oil executives were killed? It's just one thing after another with this administration.

-- I finally bought a DVD copy of The Hollywood Knights this week. I plan to watch both the movie and the director's commentary this weekend. Obviously, it's even better than Citizen Kane, and deserves serious consideration. If anyone who lives locally would be interested in forming a discussion group, please drop me a note.

-- This is the 300th update of this journal, if you can believe it. I've never stuck to anything this long in my life. If I'd been this committed to college, I'd be, uh, Banana Nostrils today.

-- Check this out. A reader sent it to me, and it's pretty cool. It's a Honda commercial, and supposedly required 607 takes to finally get it right.

-- Somebody has come up with a device that makes your car call the police, if you get behind the wheel after a night of taking off your pants at Dimples. I'm not a big fan. Nobody likes a tattler. This is like an electronic version of the kid we all used to beat up in grade school. If this had been around in the early '80s I'd be in prison today, and what possible good would come from that? Ahem.

-- These guys are indignant because Wal-Mart objected to their website that allowed people to create bogus UPC symbols. It seems that folks were using these computer-generated barcodes to lower the prices on Wal-Mart merchandise. Just another instance of Big Business crushing the little guy. I feel like throwing a rock through the front window of a Starbucks. The blood-suckers.

-- And here's a clearing house for all sorts of restaurant workers' horror stories. I may never eat out again. ...Yeah right.

I think that'll do it for today. I need to drag myself upstairs and rifle through my underwear. If I'm going to be bent over a table later, I don't want to offend with a raggedy pair of drawers. Ya know? Luckily I don't think I have any nickel-sized ass zits at the moment. Let me check... Nope. All clear. Christ, I feel like I'm going on a date.

How did I get myself into this?!

                        

May 5, 2003

-- We went to an Indian Pow Wow on Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly. Sunshine is supposedly in-tune with the Native Americans (I told her that I too am a native of America, but she didn't seem too impressed), and dragged us to this thing. It took place in an open field in the woods outside of Dog Balls, Pennsylvania, or somewhere similar. I tried not to think of the Blair Witch Project, but it wasn't easy.

Ten dollars?! That's what I was hollering as I rolled up the window, and after giving the "Indian" in the parking lot the required ten dollar bill. This is already pissing me off, I shouted. The guy was dressed in a Native American get-up, but he looked like somebody I went to high school with, named Jerry Hill. As white as they come. Wotta rip-off.

Then I saw a Navajo warrior (or whatever), in full tribal dress, drive past in a Nissan minivan.

I was bitching up a storm before we'd even turned off the engine (I'm a lot of fun to go places with). I could feel a powerful magnetic pull on the thirty or forty dollars that remained in my pocket. I had a suspicion there wouldn't be much left after a couple of hours at this Awakening of Mother Earth Celebration, as it was called. And what the hell was I doing at such an event, anyway? Awakening of Mother Earth?? I didn't like the sound of that, not one bit.

"I think I just saw Adam Ant," I said as we made our way through the gauntlet of feather vendors, and sellers of t-shirts with wolves on them. We finally arrived at a large circle in the middle of it all, that was fenced off by twigs tied end-to-end. In the center of the big circle was a small campfire, and there was an old man milling about in traditional garb, mumbling something unintelligible into a microphone. Spectators were seated in the grass, all around the circle, watching and looking transfixed.

"We do not kidnap children," the old man said, "We love children." The fuck? It was hard to make out what he was saying, because the PA system was probably purchased at Radio Shack for $69.00, but we could hear the kidnap statement loud and clear. Toney and I exchanged nervous glances. What in the honeybaked hell is this?! We looked around and everybody else was nodding their heads, as if they'd just been revealed a powerful truth.

After the wise old man got finished with his, um, interesting presentation, he called on a couple of "his" performers to come to the stage. A gigantic woman, decked out in feathers and beads and streamers took the mic, and a very old woman (one of the few who actually looked like an Indian) went out to the middle of the circle. A few seconds later somebody cued up a tape that had apparently been left out in the sun too long. It was warped-sounding, and was crackling and fading in and out. After a few seconds I recognized it as a highly-orchestrated version of "Amazing Grace."

The woman who looked like a Rose Bowl float began singing into the microphone, in some unrecognizable language. And the old Indian woman began walking around the circle making hand gestures like a third-base coach. She was tugging at her earlobes, waving her hands in the air, and chopping her forearm as if she were David Byrne. This went on for an eternity, and all the other spectators were seemingly spellbound. I saw a guy about my age with tears streaming down his face.

When it finally ended, the wise old man said, "Well, if that doesn't warm your heart, nothing will." The crowd erupted in wild applause, and I haven't been so freaked out since I attended my first Catholic wedding.

Then came the ceremonial "parade." There were loud drums and communal moaning, and almost everyone at the event got in line to participate in what appeared to be a Native American version of the bunny-hop. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The middle of the big circle became filled with white people dressed in Indian outfits, twitching and having fits in time with the beat. More than half were clinically obese, and just as many apparently thought that a fringe vest instantly transforms a person into an authentic recreation of Chief Running Bull.

Somebody made an announcement that there were no restrictions -- please dance clockwise or counter-clockwise, as your nation dictates. And two fatties broke off and started twitching against the tide. A guy who looked like a loan officer down at the bank (except for the four-foot wide feather headdress) walked over to the firewood pile and made a big show of thanking the firewood gods before picking up a length of timber.

I had to fight myself, not to simply break out in open-face mockery. Now, far be it for me to make fun of the traditional Native American way of life, but this event just felt fake and contrived. There wasn't much real tradition on display, in my estimation. I think it was a combination money-making venture and an opportunity for people who are one-sixteenth Cherokee, or whatever, to act like dumbasses for a day. They're the same people who use their one-sixteenth Irish heritage to talk with an accent on St. Patrick's Day, as if they're from Dublin not Steubenville, Ohio. Toney said the guy who thanked the firewood gods was probably named Larry "Yellow Feather" Sokolski.

Before we left I had to try a buffalo burger. The big smoky grills were calling me, and it was damn good. They also had buffalo hotdogs, buffalo chili, buffalo sausage and peppers, etc. etc. Toney and I just stuck with the cheeseburgers, and I was surprised at how good they were. I've tried exotic meats before, like alligator and snake and shit like that, and it was all pretty nasty. Generally speaking, I don't like food that gets bigger the longer you chew. But this was like high-quality beef. I wanted another, but Toney snapped me back to reality. Wonder if meat from the hump is better than the flank?

As we were leaving the grounds, twenty-eight dollars lighter, I could hear the old man reminding everyone to please clean up after your "four-legged brothers and sisters." He mumbled something about children slipping and getting hurt on excrement, and just generally taking things too far. And I saw the old Indian woman who had made people cry with her hand motions, ripping a teenage girl a new one over by the incense tent. I'm not sure what was going on, but I wouldn't have wanted to be that girl. That was one pissed-off Indian.

-- After the Pow Wow we went to a little town called Tunkhannock, because Sunshine thought Toney and I would like it. They'd discovered it one day while out scouting the area for things to criticize, and they guessed it would be right up our alley. They were right. The place is cool as hell. It's like Mayberry. It's an old fashioned town with a real Main Street lined with hipster shops and a few genuine businesses that looked to have been there since the thirties or forties. There's an old movie theater too, that's probably incredible on the inside. We made a vow to see something there, asap. The neighborhoods surrounding downtown are full of refurbished Victorian homes, and it just generally felt like we were walking around in a different era. I may be one-sixteenth homosexual, but I love that sort of thing.

We stopped at an old store, called The Old Store, and couldn't believe how cheap everything was. It was packed to the rafters with antique trinkets and doodads, but everything was really low-priced. They had tons of framed magazine ads from the forties and fifties, and campaign buttons, and postcards, and beer signs... you get the idea. I could've spent a couple of hours in there, but Sunshine was out on the sidewalk tapping her foot, so I had to settle on buying a 1950's bar glass for $1.25, and leaving all the other treasures behind. They actually had a framed Dogs Playing Poker print in there, for seven bucks! I'll be back.

We were all going to walk around some more, but Sunshine and/or Mumbles developed a case of "the shits" (probably the buffalo meat) and they tore ass out of there and left me and Toney to explore on our own. Luckily we'd met at the Pow Wow and had separate vehicles. We went straight to a place called The Filling Station and ordered up some Yuenglings, and a basket of onion rings. I kept telling Toney that I love it up here in pie country, an obscure Seinfeld reference, but she said the people were kinda giving her the creeps. She felt like the little bar/restaurant was full of locals, and everybody was looking us over. Just then a retarded man appeared at our booth waving wildly, with a big smile on his face, and said, "Hi there, mister!" And I told Toney, see, people are nice here.

The bill came for the beer and onion rings and it was $4.72. It would've been thirteen bucks in Atlanta. I love pie country.

That night we met Sunshine and Mumbles for dinner at a place called the Bluebird Diner. I shit you not. The food was incredible, and dirt cheap. We really need to get out more, and do some exploring. We're pretty bad about that. We lived in California for four years and saw little more than a ten mile radius of our house. I'm sure these little towns around here are full of great stuff, if we'd just take the time to root them out. I hate to admit this, but I felt inspired by Sunshine and Mumbles this weekend. Scary.

-- On Sunday I mowed the grass. Well, most of it anyway. I was about halfway finished with the backyard when my mower flew apart. The bracket that attaches the handle to the main mower broke loose and I was left holding the handle as the lawnmower continued on down the hill. I just said fuck it, and dragged it into the garage and closed the door. I'll take it to a repair shop this week. I'm not getting out tools and stuff. I've got a life to lead here.

-- When I get to work today I have to deal with that xupiter bullshit on my computer. I picked it up again last week while trolling for filth. I had it once before, and it sucked. It re-sets your default start page to their sleazy website, and also whisks you there at unpredictable times. And once you're there it's hard to get out. Everything you click launches a new pop-up ad, until the computer freezes up, or you put your fist through the screen. I found directions on how to uninstall the thing on some guy's personal site, but it seems mighty complicated. And he even admitted that it's nearly impossible to completely rid your computer of it. It apparently lies in wait for a period of time, then re-launches! The only way to be sure that it's gone is to set your computer on fire, or destroy your hard drive with a grinding wheel. Whoever comes up with these things should be executed. That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

And I think that'll do it for today. You're pretty much up to date. Have a great week. And don't forget, Surf Report t-shirts are now available for purchase -- just in time for Mother's Day. Pick up an XXL for Mom, and you'll score big points. 

More on Thursday.

May 1, 2003

-- Ah, the sounds of spring. A few days ago Toney had all the windows open in the house, enjoying the warm temperatures and trying to flush out the stale disease-laden winter air trapped inside, when she heard a familiar old sound. It started with every dog in the neighborhood suddenly going ass-over-tits wild, barking and snarling, then: "Shut up! Shut up!! You should all be shot!! Somebody should take a gun and shoot you all in the head!!"

Yes, it was our hippy-dippy mailman, kicking off a new season of fun. As you may already know, he's a mean and nasty old burned-out longhair, probably still fighting the Viet Cong inside his head. I've been tempted to take a swing at him on several occasions, because of the disrespectful way he's spoken to my wife, but I'm afraid he'll booby trap my lawn using techniques he learned in the bush.

He's absolutely terrified of dogs, and has a seething hatred for them (hence the logical career choice). And the dogs know it, and would like nothing more than to get a piece of him. I can walk down the street and all is quiet, but when ol' Wavy Gravy comes around the corner a cacophony the likes of which you've never heard is triggered. It's insane. Poodles and sissy lapdogs are suddenly transformed into wild dingoes, and it's only a matter of time before one of them comes crashing through a picture window to get at him. They're apparently driven by some strong and ancient need to rip a large hole in his flesh. He must be a type that has been around since the beginning of time. I bet the dinosaurs wouldn't like him either.

But it just wouldn't be the same without the familiar sounds. Ah, spring...

-- Speaking of spring, I'm going to have to mow the grass this weekend for the first time this year. It's getting a little shaggy. I know I shouldn't complain, since it's now May and in most areas of the country they start mowing in March, but I'm going to anyway. I hate it, sincerely. The second I can afford it I'm going to get a new attachment for my mower: a Mexican who works by the hour. I'm not kidding. Most people dream of hitting the lottery and buying Porsches and shit. I dream of a truckload of Mexicans with lawncare equipment. That is the ultimate luxury in my book.

-- Sunshine is backing off of her plan to stay with us. She seems to have some kind of problem with me. I don't know what it could be (ahem), but there's some real tension there. Toney said last night, after they left, "Whew! I don't know what you've done, but you're now in the Banana Nostrils category." That's a low blow because Banana Nostrils is Sunshine's arch enemy. They're like the mailman and the neighborhood dogs together. I'm certainly glad she and Mumbles apparently won't be staying here, but I can't help but wonder what I did to offend her so much.

I know that when I came home from work yesterday the TV was absolutely rocking the house, I could actually feel Alex Trebek's voice in my sternum, and I turned it off before we started dinner. She doesn't like that; she thinks the TV should be on at all times, and anything else is just putting on airs.

And I've had the audacity to disagree with her on her idea that we should sell our house and move into an apartment. This is an oldie but a goodie that she's resurrected for the new year. She says she disagrees with being "tied to a building," whatever that means. She thinks people should be ready to "leave town" on a moment's notice, as if she's a beat poet or something. This is the kind of batshit stuff I have to endure.

Oh, and I wouldn't let her KEEP a bunch of my DVDs. I'm just a selfish bastard, you see. After all, I have so many DVDs, and she has so few.

We haven't had any real blowups though, certainly nothing to send me spiraling into the depths of the Banana Nostrils Category. It's a mystery, but I'm sure it'll all come into focus soon. She won't be able to keep quiet about it for long. And you can take that to the A-1 Check-Cashing and Truck Wash.

-- Can someone suggest a good concise baseball website? All I really want to know is the standings, yesterday's scores, and who's playing and pitching today. I don't need to know how every team is doing on Tuesdays when there's a full-moon, the shortstop is wearing briefs, and "We Will Rock You" has been played at the stadium, in conjunction with Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." Every baseball site I know has so much information I can't even process it. When I was a young Surf Reporter we just got the barebones info, in the good ol' Charleston Daily Mail, and it was enough. Goddamn. I'm not the Rain Man here.

-- My doctor's appointment is next week. It'll be my first physical exam since I lived at home, and that's been a long time. I really hope I don't pass out. When I was a kid I used to get so stressed out at doctor's offices I'd just fall over like a tree. Sorta like Tony Soprano, but with less dignity. If I had to get a tetanus shot or something, they'd have to send in a spotter. Hopefully I've outgrown that, but I'm not absolutely convinced of it. Maybe I should wear a helmet?

-- This is pretty funny. I'm not sure it it's real or not, but it's a group of busy-body protestors bitching about the fact that women can't play in the Master's Golf Tournament, or some such horseshit. Check out the guy in the back, with the orange sign.

-- On a similar note, check out this letter to the editor of the Purdue student newspaper.

-- Whoa, don't hurt yourself there, Jimmy!

-- I opened the dishwasher the other day and a mushroom cloud of funk rolled out, and swallowed up my entire being. Pesto! Toney made pesto again. I gasped for air and crawled to safety, tears streaming down my face. When I first met Toney she was a vegetarian and weighed roughly seven pounds. I have since brought her back from the edge of the abyss, and reunited her with her carnivorous roots. But every once in a while she backslides and the results are not pretty. Holy shit. Saddam should've used that stuff.

-- I don't know what made me think of this, but do you remember the "soft cookie" craze of the 1980s? All the major cookie makers were falling all over themselves to get their version of soft cookies on the market, and they were all uniformly nasty. They tasted like chemical biscuits. I have no doubt Dow and Union Carbide were involved in the manufacture of those things. I think they were forced to use some powerful laboratory-created substances to achieve the desired "softness." I wonder if there have been any studies on how much pancreatic cancer popped up in fans of soft cookies? I'd be interested to know. Just something that's been on my mind...

I have more, lots more, but no time. I guess I'll end it right there, as clumsy as it feels. Have a great weekend folks. Lord knows I will. See ya on Monday.

                             

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