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Area Man Brutalized By Pop Tart

The relief map of Hawaii you see on my hand in this photo comes courtesy of a Family Dollar brand frosted toaster pastry (a.k.a. a fake Pop Tart). During this morning’s toasting procedure, the pastry cracked, allowing a few globs of s’more-flavored filling to leak out. Said globs came in contact with my palm as I attempted to remove the pastry from my non-industrial toasting device, searing me like a branding iron.

Coincidentally, just yesterday I was joking on Twitter about the possible radioactivity of Family Dollar brand frosted toaster pastries. Oh, how carefree I was in my mirth, unaware of the shocking and dangerous truths at hand.

I’ve been toasting edibles for over thirty years and nothing like this has ever happened before. Family Dollar, why do you put lava in your frosted toaster pastries? More importantly, why don’t you list the lava in the ingredients? I would have never purchased your off-brand Pop Tarts had I known they contain molten rock.

Yes, I’ve already picked myself up a nice pair of toaster-friendly wooden tongs. Thank you for your concern.

Unsolicited Musings On “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun

- Mandatory Fun’s cover is funny, but not as funny as the fact we could go to war with North Korea over that James Franco movie

- my issues with late period Yank: he doesn’t scream as much as he used to, and rarely do any songs break mid-tempo (even the polka medley here speeds too safely); in Al’s defense, he’s creeping up on 55, and he went plenty nutso on his older albums

- I want to say the Lorde parody “Foil” should be longer to milk more out of the subject twist, but laborious college fight send-up “Sports Song” proves brevity is the soul of wit

- “Word Crimes” is disappointing because Al spends more time just shitting on the grammatically ignorant instead of trying to educate them; it’s very “get off my lawn,” but at least his heart’s in the right place

- Mandatory Fun’s polka medley may be caught in second gear but it’s also plenty fun, as most of his medleys prove to be

- while I appreciate Al taking the piss out of Frank Black on his Pixies style parody “First World Problems,” the song itself is nowhere near as clever as the first world problem rap that mush-mouthed teen posted to YouTube a few years ago; this could be because mush-mouthed teen legit feels the struggle and Al is (generationally?) removed from that kinda thing

- a few of Mandatory Fun’s originals lean alt country, which makes one wonder what a non-weird Yank album would be like at this point; maybe like Wilco, with more references to boogers and socket wrenches?

- “Weird Al” has some major cajones calling out other people for being tacky (“Tacky”) when you consider the fact he’s worn nothing but Hawaiian shirts for his entire career

- overall, Mandatory Fun is limp; not one song is on par with classic Yank, and the album’s closing ballad “Jackson Park Express” (a tale of love and miscommunication on public transit) could be the least engaging song Al’s ever done; of course, it’s all lightyears better than whatever Dr. Elmo’s doing right now, and what do you want from a guy twenty-six years after “Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White?”

- this would be a great place to post a link to the interview I did with “Weird Al” in 2011 where he clears up that rumor about getting punched by Billy Joel’s wife; alas, evil forces have taken it offline

- yes, I am bragging that I interviewed “Weird Al”; career lulls aside, he’s still “Weird Al,” American comedy god, hero of my youth, the Gozer of parody

4th Of July Gluttony Report

- General Tso’s serving large enough to stun Dikembe Mutombo

- equally large fried rice hill of the pork variety

- cup of froyo dusted w/ so much graham cracker I now have Wonka Lung

- several “gluten-free” cream sodas (like that makes a difference)

- three tiny pieces of broccoli

- two coffees

- two pieces of toast w/ Nutella just before bed

Needless to say, I do not feel like participating in a Tough Mudder today. This is where I make a defensive joke about how my shitty eating reflects the true values of America. Blah blah blah it’s my constitutional right [fart noise] Jefferson died so I could be an angry marshmallow man are you gonna finish that spiral ham?

¡Viva Gorditas!

Found this gem at my parents’ house a couple weeks ago, failed to unload it on eBay for ninety-nine cents. I guess the revolution is over.

Is this the same lonely aching “ALF” fans felt when they discontinued selling his puppets at Burger King? Now that was a promotion. I remember my mom driving me clear across Connecticut to obtain Heavy Metal ALF!

2001: A Ranch Odyssey

The following transcript is real. It is a real conversation that happened.

ME: Do you like any silent movies?

JB: [horrified] What did you just ask me?

ME: [enunciating] DO YOU LIKE ANY SILENT MOVIES.

JB: Oh, I thought you asked if I liked any salad movies.

ME: What would a salad movie be?

JB: I don’t know, something perverted.

Q: What’s The Worst Job You’ve Ever Had?

A: There was an academic snafu in my junior or senior year of college that kept me out of class for a semester, so I took a job in a call center. It was customer service for a cable company, troubleshooting and helping people with billing issues. Pure misery always just sorta hangs over places like that. This was no different. Management treated everyone like they were serving detention. The break room was the size of a broom closet. The computer system we were working with had been constructed some time during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

And, of course, every other call that came in was some idiot who hadn’t paid his/her cable bill in fifteen months but was still apoplectic that their service was being (or had been) disconnected. Once I had to mediate a physical altercation between a customer and a field technician who was attempting to shut off her cable. Obscenities, punches, and handheld items were being thrown. Meanwhile, my “team lead” was more concerned with my tone or how long I was taking to resolve the issue.

The whole endeavor was just a smoldering wasteland of negative energy. The paychecks barely qualified as justification. On the other hand, when I was a bus boy at Perkins they made me dig unused jelly packets out of the trash, rinse off the gunk, and put them back on the tables, and I suppose that’s a more finite version of complete fucking hell. I got free soda at Perkins, though. Nothing was free at the call center except pain.

Unsolicited Southern Fried Notes & Musings On Athens

- this past weekend marked my first excursion to Athens, Georgia, home of R.E.M. and the B-52s and Jeff Daniels for the first six weeks of his life; it’s not the type of town I expected to have multiple Zaxby’s, but in fact they do (Zaxby’s was actually founded in nearby Statesboro, which helps to explain the proliferation)

- Athens is also not the type of town I expected to lack gazebos, and as you can see from the photo above at least one was very easy to find in the four-to-six block radius I traversed

- I visited the homeland of Stipe for a wedding; ’twas a lovely affair on all counts (yes, they played some R.E.M. during the reception per some local statute I’m sure)

- the day after the wedding a couple friends and I attempted to visit the grave of B-52s guitarist Ricky Wilson, but the Oconee Hill Cemetery office was closed and there were no maps tucked away by the door so we didn’t find jack; this is just further evidence all graveyards should be alphabetized or arranged by birth/death year

- the Last Resort serves up a pretty good cup of joe, and I hear the black bean soup is awesome

- in general Athens offers pretty hilly terrain, so keep that in mind when you look at a map and decide, “Oh, the Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t too far away from this hotel, I’ll just walk there for a treat in long pants and what feels like a thin sweatshirt in this eighty degree weather”

- the guy at Weaver D’s really does say “automatic!” all the time

A Messed Up Guacamole Story

I have a friend who hates guacamole. I asked him why and he tells me: one summer when he was a child growing up in Pennsylvania he begged his mom to take him to Florida for vacation. The mom said they couldn’t afford it or didn’t have the time or whatever, but my friend just kept on bugging her. Eventually the mom says, “If you can find a way to get to Florida this summer, you can go.” This was meant as a bluff, but my friend took it at face value. He asked every teacher he knew at school if they were planning a trip to Florida for that summer. When he finally found one who was, a twenty-something female driving down for a college reunion, he asked for a ride.

Amazingly, she said yes.

So they go in this station wagon, and along the way the woman picks up a friend. They drop off my buddy with his family for a week or two and then they reconvene to head back to Pennsylvania. Well, at some point teacher and her friend had gone avocado picking (I know, right? Who does that?) and they had filled the entire car with avocados. I mean that in the literal sense—these avocados weren’t in boxes, they were just piled into the car like munitions. There was no room for my friend to sit, so they carved out a body-sized space in the rear bed of the wagon amongst the largest amount of loose avocados and he had to just lay there like this was a completely normal occurrence.

A side trip to Chattanooga (again, what?) provided enough time for all the avocados to go bad. At some point during the return to Pennsylvania, the teacher driving took a really hard turn, and my friend who was lying next to all these rotten avocados was thrown into them face-first. In the blink of an eye he found himself covered in rotten avocado junk. What’s even more messed up is the two so-called adults in charge did not take him to a hotel or a YMCA to shower off. He had to wipe himself down with a towel.

I know this sounds like the subplot from an episode of “Leave It To Beaver” but my friend swears it to be true, an honest tale of horror from our modern era. I guess I’d be scarred too.

Somehow no lawsuits were filed in the wake of this incident.

An Annotated History Of Never Realized Book Projects (2002-10)

This Music Leaves Stains is the first book I’ve had published but it is far from the first book I’ve tried to get published, or thought about trying to get published. Here now, an annotated history of never realized JG2 works.

Untitled Dead Kennedys Biography (2002) – Stalled during the research period thanks to several factors (college course load, punk rock politics, my debilitating lack of experience). I covered the nuts and bolts of this failure for Crawdaddy! in a feature called “Give Me Convenience, Give Me Death, Just Tell Me Your Real Damn Name.” The most interesting aspect may be that I put a letter in the mail addressed “East Bay Ray, San Francisco” and it actually reached the correct guy. Your tax dollars at work.

Star Wars Ruined My Life (2005) – Ten chapter essay collection covering the weirder aspects of Star Wars fandom, including my own struggles with George Lucas’s intergalactic money printing machine (#firstworldproblems). Hired a literary agent but no publisher on Earth was interested. I didn’t have a “built-in audience,” which meant my blog statistics were not impressive enough to warrant anything. This era was the beginning of “co-opt every popular thing from the Internet to stave print’s death!” I’m sure my medium talent was also an issue (I know the manuscript lacked punch/direction). I absolutely cannot remember why but for some reason I e-mailed Jay Mohr about this book; he sent a very encouraging reply peppered with some of his theories on Boba Fett, which justified my struggle.

Untitled Oral History Of My Middle School Experience (2005) – An interesting twist on the adolescent memoir (I think): interview a bunch of people I grew up with to see how their worldview around that time differed from mine, turning the whole thing into an oral history with several narrative tracks. My lit agent loved this idea and really ramped me up about it, but then Star Wars Ruined My Life didn’t go anywhere. Representation cut me loose and without a cheerleader I cooled on the concept. Compiled about a chapter and a half, though, and several people I hadn’t spoken to since 1994 taught me a lot about where we grew up and life in general.

Untitled Field Guide To Discontinued Soft Drinks (2007-08) – New Coke, Pepsi AM, OK, DnL…I thought the world needed a comprehensive encyclopedia of every soda that’s ever fallen off the figurative/literal map. Unfortunately, the stories behind these drinks are all more or less the same (they failed because they were bad and nobody bought them), and when it came down to pitching this book few people understood what exactly what I was talking about. “Oh, like a coffee table book with pictures of the sodas?” No, a field guide. Like for birds. Maybe this idea is terminally flawed.

Untitled “Gong Show” Episode Guide (2006) – An excuse to track down average weirdos and hear about their experiences on the greatest televised competition of all-time. I think I concluded too many former “Gong Show” contestants/employees would be dead, and I also worried about the book’s marketability. Chuck Barris was hot in ’06, but how long would that last?

Untitled “Simpsons” History (2009) – At the time a lot of rumors were swirling about “The Simpsons” finally coming to an end. That didn’t happen, but I abandoned this idea mainly because I heard Morgan Spurlock was making a “Simpsons” documentary. Had I known his end product would be some gimmicky forty-five minute nonsense instead of the in-depth feature length “Simpsons” doc we deserve maybe I wouldn’t have jumped ship.

My Life Is A Screenplay! (2010) – The high school teacher who semi-successfully sued 20th Century Fox for plagiarizing his Christmas comedy script read my post about Jingle All The Way being a cursed property and e-mailed me with an offer to co-write a book about his life. I had just started work on This Music Leaves Stains so I had to turn him down. There also didn’t seem to be much else in his life aside from “I sued a movie studio and won but then they took the money back.” Also, that title. Woof.

Naturally I reserve the right to resurrect any of these properties at a future juncture. You never know when Chuck Barris might be hot again.

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