Happy New Year, nerds!
It’s New Year’s Eve as I sit at work producing this latest missive. You might think I’m bummed about that and you’d be abso-fucking-lutely correct. But I am not as bummed as I might otherwise be because I had my own personal New Year’s Eve at the Clermont Lounge with the Casket Creatures, the Tone Deaf Pig-Dogs, Kill, Baby... Kill, and a few of the DCW Hooligans. It was great.
The event capped off seven days of awesome, by which I mean seven days of being with my family and not at work.
Christmas was about as perfect as it could be. We spent Christmas Eve with Mrs. Troublemaker’s family and then on Christmas morning got up to find that Santa had eaten all the cookies we left out and drained the glass of egg nog. This was plain, non-spiked nog since we don’t want Mr. Cringle flying that sleigh around wasted. Just because your reindeer comes equipped with a luminescent nose doesn’t mean you can trust him to drive.
This was the first year I got to experience Lil’ Troublemaker banging the bedroom door open and waking me up to tell me Santa had come and it was pretty much the best thing ever. It was even better realizing that he was just looking at the stockings upstairs and was perfectly happy. He didn’t even know yet that Santa had actually left everything under the downstairs tree. Once he we showed him the note Santa left on the door and he saw the haul under that tree it was crazy-go-nuts time.
We played for awhile, but I was struck down by some bad roast beef from the night before and couldn’t make it back over to the in-laws with the rest of the family.
The rest of the week was a good time, despite Mrs. Troublemaker suffering from a sinus infection that I’m starting to think might be permanent. She may well end up wearing a mask like Bane’s in the new movie if this keeps up. I just hope she’s more intelligible.
It’s hard to deal with sick Mrs. Troublemaker because you don’t realize she’s actually sick. When I am sick I know how to deal. I whine and lay in bed and post about it on Facebook. I let people know. And I don’t do anything. My wife just goes about business as usual, except she talks a little funny and maybe stops cleaning things for a few minutes here and there. I’ve tried to explain proper illness etiquette to her but she just won’t listen.
We spent my days off doing pointless shopping, driving around, and watching It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I now have only five Riddler trophies left to find in Arkham City. I’m hoping if I can just get those then maybe I’ll finally be able to devote some time to Skyrim again. Skyrim is great and all, but it just doesn’t drive me to play like the new Batman game. And I am a fairly monogamous gamer. I find it hard to keep multiple games happy at the same time.
So we basically wasted a bunch of time until Thursday, my last day off. It was a real vacation – no travel, no stress. Typically I get all mopey and sad the day before I go back to work, especially after a long break. But not this time. My Thursday was chock full of stuff to keep my mind of the impending return to the hell that I call a job.
First I was going to install a ceiling fan in the playroom.
This is a project that has been awaiting my attention for approximately seventy-three years and I think Mrs. Troublemaker was getting pretty close to just doing it herself. We don’t want that. When Mrs. Troublemaker does home improvement we end up with the sort of things that you have to call television shows with sassy hosts that have names like “Dex” or “Vaughn” to fix. They come to your house and laugh at the extra holes in the wall that you tried to cover up with wallpaper or the countertop that you never want to put anything round on top of or it will roll off onto the floor. Then they tell you that for the bargain price of 2.4 million dollars they can replace your cabinets.
I fucking hate the DIY network. It puts foolish notions in people’s heads.
I’m not trying to say I’m any better at home improvement than my wife. I’m worse. That’s why I don’t do these things. I am thoroughly incompetent. I can, however, install a ceiling fan. It’s something I’ve done many times and feel relatively comfortable doing. That’s not to say it’s easy; or even that it isn’t a huge pain in the ass. It’s just that the project is barely within my realm of abilities.
Which is, of course, why the family decided to make things interesting by staying in the room while I did it.
I do not curse in front of my son. I don’t even like cursing in front of our primary dog, Otis. I’m sure Otis doesn’t care either way, but Lil’ Troublemaker doesn’t need to hear that stuff. Since there are a few video games that we either play together or he likes to watch me play I have had to learn to use pirate cursing in place of regular cursing because I am not very good at video games and tend to use very foul language while playing them. Loud foul language. Back in the days when the guys would come over to play wrestling games once a week I think there were several times when they thought their lives were in danger. And I was really good at the wrestling games.
So now when I play something I have to be conscious of what I am saying and doing. When I get stuck in a combo animation and take damage as a result I can no longer scream, “Fucknuts!” at the top of my lungs. When I mis-time a jump and land in a deadly body of water I can’t stand up and yell, “Shitass!”. When I can’t figure out how to glide from one Riddler pressure plate to the next, I can’t punch the glass coffee table, light the controller on fire, and pee on the Playstation while yelling, “MOTHERSHITBITCH!”. Instead I have to say, “Aaar”, or “Rrrgh”, or “Gah” or some variation thereof. I make the titanic mental effort it requires to make these corrections because 1) I don’t want my son exposed to such language until he is older, and 2) Once he does start cursing I don’t want him to sound like an idiot like I do. He should be able to curse properly. Only the best for my boy.
Note: Yes, I know that the bad guys in Arkham City say “bitch” every twelve seconds, but I didn’t know that when I started letting Lil’ Troublemaker watch me play. And he thinks they’re saying “witch” anyway. It bothers him more that the bad guys are talking so much shit about Batman. Also, he’s better at the combat in that game than I am, but that’s neither here nor there.
So - I don’t know if you have ever installed a ceiling fan, but it is impossible to do it without cursing unless you’re Mary Poppins or Mother Teresa. And as far as I know neither of them ever installed a ceiling fan, so they can just butt out. Unlike video games, installing ceiling fans is for-real, life-and-death shit. Especially when you have a room with very little natural lighting and you can’t flip the circuit breaker without plunging the work area into total darkness, which makes the project much more challenging than the fear of electrocution does.
We already had this one fan that I was going to put up. I have no idea where it came from, but it had all of the parts and looked to be in pretty good shape. I’m fairly certain it came from one of the collections of junk our families like to unload on us. Both sides have at one time or another deposited large amounts of what could charitably be described as “debris” at our house. It’s weird, because our house looks nothing like a landfill.
Naturally, this fan was not going to work. It required a down rod that would have made it hang approximately six inches off of the floor. Since we were aiming for a cooler room and not a SAW-style deathtrap, we had to go out to buy another fan. This meant going to Home Depot, and I fucking hate Home Depot. It represents everything I am not – motivation and industriousness. And it’s also super-boring in there. They don’t even have a toy section.
But we did get a fan for the reasonable price of $834.97 that uses giant light bulbs with tiny bases that you can only buy from a specialty store hidden in the catacombs under Vatican City. I’m actually okay with that; it’s still better than those fucking government-mandated CFL bulbs. I mean, unless your goal is to poison your family. If you don’t know what I am talking about, check this out:
I did manage to install this ceiling fan with less trouble than normal and zero cursing. There were a couple of close calls – such as when Otis, who was also in the room, decided he wanted to help me off the ladder before I was actually ready to descend – but I got through it.
A project that involves reaching up over your head and holding things in place on the ceiling for extended lengths of time naturally leaves your upper body sore. And standing on a ladder reaching upward leaves your legs a bit worse for wear. Obviously this is why I chose to install the ceiling fan on the same day that I was helping Little Pond unload a moving truck. Because I am a motherbitching genius.
I don’t find it to be all that big of a deal to help a friend move. I used to do it a lot, but it’s been a while because most of the people we know are settled. I felt it was important to help a fellow Hooligan escape a non-Disney portion of Florida and come back home, so I had volunteered my help.
Folks, let me give you a bit of advice I learned from ol’ Stone Cold Steve Austin – DTA. As in, Don’t Trust Anybody. Especially the employees at a truck rental place. Especially especially if it’s Budget. I have never once had those fucking boneheads recommend the correct truck size. They will look you straight in the face and tell you that you can fit everything from a two-bedroom apartment into the back of one of their pickups. The problem is that they really don’t know any better. These people live in their parents’ basement and own three pairs of socks and a thirty-year-old Ms. Pac Man hat. Of course they believe that. Their worldly possessions could fit into a fucking duffle bag. They probably think it’s ridiculous that anybody ever gets one of the big twenty-five foot trucks. So what you have to do is tell them you are Alec Baldwin and you are moving your entire family to Hawaii. Then they will give you the right size truck.
And no, of course they’re not going to realize you can’t drive to Hawaii.
So anyway, Little Pond got totally boned by the cretins at Budget. She shows up to pick up the truck that is supposed to be able to hold all her stuff and all they have is basically a shoebox on wheels. And nothing else available in a thirty-mile radius. At that point I probably would have given up and just stayed in Florida, but no – our brave little heroine nutted up and decided if it was going to take two trips to get the fuck out of the Sunshine State then so be it.
So when I arrived I saw this tiny truck and thought my friend must have been exaggerating about the extent of her possessions. Little did I know all of her furniture was still in Florida.
The Grand Hoff and Inara were there helping too. Inara had been bitten in the face by one of those giant spiders from Skyrim, so she was limited to supervision and moral support. The remaining three of us managed to get everything unloaded in pretty short order and over the course of the unloading I heard the story of the tiny truck. I had been wondering if maybe Little Pond was just going to buy new furniture or something, because it was all just boxes. Also, there was this weird little mattress across the road from the place. All three of us offered it to Little Pond at different times because we are all clearly equally hilarious. I also attempted to cheer Inara up by suggesting that millions of baby spiders could burst out of her head at any moment. I think I helped.
Atlanta’s newest resident took us out for dinner after we finished and I got to experience a new type of cuisine.
I am not a food-smart person. I eat as well as I can, but most of what I eat is microwaveable junk with names like “chicken patty” and “veggie steamers”. Little Pond and Inara, however, know their way around food. Inara will often post things about food on Facebook and I will understand one out of every five words. Even Grand Hoff knew what they were talking about, so I kind of felt like I was sitting at the smart kids’ table or something.
But I always welcome new food experiences, so I was happy to leave it up to the smart kids to pick a place to eat. Especially since it wasn’t me paying. So we went to LaFonda, which is not actually named after Kip’s girlfriend from Napoleon Dynamite. Her name is spelled differently.
LaFonda is a Latin restaurant, which is quite different from a “Combo #6” Mexican restaurant. I mean, it’s not all fancy or anything, but you get the feeling like, “Oh, this is what Latino folks actually eat”, you know what I mean?
Things started off a little rough, as they brought me a Corona Light instead of the Miller Lite I had ordered. And to add insult to injury, they stuck a fucking lime in the top. I do not drink Corona. It has an unpleasant color and it makes your breath stink. And also the lime thing. Everybody just assumes you want that lime in it because they know Corona tastes like shit on its own and once it’s been shoved in there it’s too late. And don’t get me wrong – I love fruity beer. Wild Blue is one of my favorite beers ever, only topped by Pond’s Magic Pumpkin Pie Wrestling Party Brew and whatever that damn Brazilian beer is that I can’t remember the name of. I just need to know that the beer intends to be fruity, that the fruitiness has not been artificially imposed upon it.
But I was in a new place and didn’t want to rock the boat, so I extracted the lime from my nasty Mexican beer and drank it, knowing a follow-up nasty American beer would wash that taste right out of my mouth. I’d just have to enunciate when ordering beer #2. Loudly.
The meal itself was awesome. I ordered paella, which is a ton of rice with some shrimp, squid, peppers, and other stuff mixed in. But to me, the magic ingredient was chorizo (I think – I’m going off memory and spellcheck tells me that’s a word). It’s a Latin sausage and it was probably the best sausage I have ever had.
Rescue John called during dinner and said he was on his way downtown. He was meeting me to go to the Clermont. I always feel like a dumbass for not knowing my way around Downtown Atlanta. I lived down there back before the turn of the century (I love using that phrase) and used to be able to get around no problem. Not so much now. So I asked one of the LaFonda staffers what street we were on. He didn’t know either, which actually made me feel a whole lot better. I finally figured out we were on Ponce De Leon, which I should have known because it’s one of the few streets I can navigate on my own and also because we were right next to Fellini’s. Me am smartest.
Rescue John arrived just as we were leaving, so I caught a ride with him over to the Clermont. Inara was done for the night thanks to her arachnid-inflicted suffering, or as Rescue John put it – “A spider bite with all the trauma and none of the benefits”. The Grand Hoff and Little Pond took off to shower and change. I just took my stinky, sweaty self straight over to the Clermont because seriously – it’s the Clermont. You shower after you go there, not before.
So this was a very exciting night for Rescue John because it was his first time at the Clermont. He sort of knew what to expect, but I think you can maybe never really know what to expect.
The Casket Creatures were setting up when we got inside. I’ve seen them a couple of times before and I like them. Me and Rescue John hit the bar and got ourselves a couple of adult beverages, then headed over to talk to Mike of the Pig-Dogs.
I had totally failed in my duties as a Toy Expert. Mike had sent me a message with a question about some old Masters of the Universe 3-pack he had come across (for those of you who care it’s the Heroic Warriors 3-pack with Moss Man, Buzz-Off and Mekanek) and I read it and then forgot to do any research. I just now sent him a message letting him know I really couldn’t find much out. It’s rare and super-expensive, but apparently there are so few samples a median price is going to be hard to figure out.
Bear and the Queen of Crunk were already there when we arrived. They’re always a good addition to a party situation. Someday I’m going to broach the subject of putting a band together with Bear again. I think I could actually sing now. I’m much ballsier than I was when I was twenty. And I really miss the stage. I’m wasting my talents doing this bullshit every night (the actual job, not the writing). I know I’ll never have any kind of career writing or performing in any significant way, but I need some fucking cultural enrichment.
The Casket Creatures came on first and – as usual – rocked it pretty good. They obviously have a Misfits thing going on, which is great because I honestly think there should be more of that. The set was so good that I bought the CD afterward. Haven’t had time to listen yet, but I’ll let you know.
I wasn’t wearing my mask that night, but somehow Eddie Cadaver knew who I was. I mean, it’s not like I’m nondescript anyway, but for a basic stranger to recognize me without the mask on means my anonymity is not as secure as I think it is. I must be getting sloppy. I guess it’s finally time to learn the Mil Mascaras move where he pulls one mask on as he takes the other off, all in basically one motion. Anyway, it turns out Eddie Cadaver is roommates with the son of the guy that runs the best toy store I’ve ever been to. Billy’s Toys used to be on Buford Highway, then moved to somewhere in Suwanee (I think), then an outlet mall and now it’s in Flowery Branch (I think). Wacky. Small world, but wait – it gets smaller.
Next up were the Tone Deaf Pig-Dogs, who are the best Ramones tribute band ever despite the fact they do not play a single Ramones song. In the grand tradition of the New York punk legends, the Pig-Dogs play all of their songs a billion times faster live, so that set list at the top of the page actually only lasts about ten minutes.
But seriously, I have never seen the Pig-Dogs play and not been thoroughly entertained. They’re there to have fun and it shows. I did have to drop some knowledge on their asses in the middle of their set, which I’m sure they appreciated.
You’ll notice a few songs down on the list there is one called “Goobers”. This song, as you might assume, is about boiled peanuts. But I have recently learned something fascinating from some of the hill people I work with. Apparently “goober” is synonymous with “penis” in your more rural sectors of the country. Most of the people I was working with the night this came out were unaware of this, but a few were absolutely shocked that the rest of us did not take it as a given. And not only is it the preferred terminology for penis, it is also considered to be a pejorative term. So while you or I might call somebody a goober in a friendly, well-meaning fashion, these folk would take it as fightin’ words. God forbid you call them a “goober-smoocher”, which is hillbilly for cocksucker. Actually, “hillbilly” is a fairly offensive term too, I’ve found out.
So anyway, when the Pig-Dogs announced they were about to play “Goobers”, I naturally had to run up front and share my new knowledge with them. So Mike announced that the song was now about boiled penises. I did not realize it until I uploaded the video, but I have the whole obnoxious incident recorded. Go drunk me!:
Little Pond and The Grand Hoff had arrived right before the Pig-Dogs went on and joined us up front. It was some time after they arrived and before the goober thing that some very tall, very drunk girl started talking to me about her friend Blondie.
Blondie is the legendary feature act of the legendary Clermont Lounge. She is a… well-fed black lady with blonde hair who does all sorts of carnival-esque stripper tricks, like smashing beer cans with her gigantic titties.
This tall drunk girl singled me out for some reason and started to tell me about how she had known Blondie for a year and blah, blah, blah. I really wasn’t paying too much attention. But then she mentioned it was her boyfriend’s first time here and I was intrigued because I was trying to figure out why this – in the words of Eric Stoltz – fucked-up poop was even talking to me. I think she was trying to talk me into buying her boyfriend a lap dance from Blondie, which is the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my life. But I told her it just so happened that it was my boy John’s first time as well and if she’d go and get her friend Blondie I’d pay for a lap dance. I just let her assume what she wanted about who was paying for what.
It was a while before I saw her again. In the meantime, I hung out with the Hooligans, enjoyed the Pig-Dogs and recorded some video. Rescue John got my attention at one point and told me some guy said I owed him money. I turned around and lo and behold it was my old roommate Terry Boy. I am not necessarily a big hugger. I am more prone to hug when I am drunk, but it’s still a rare thing. But Terry Boy got a big hug. I love that guy. We caught up a bit and he told me he was there to see Kill, Baby... Kill. My interest was piqued.
The Main Event was a band that I was unfamiliar with. They hail from Alabama and go by the pretty solid name of Kill, Baby... Kill. I had no idea what they were all about until they started playing and I learned they were all about rocking faces off.
Kill, Baby... Kill play surf rock, but I don’t want to call it that because while I enjoy the occasional surf tune mixed into a playlist, there are not a lot of actual surf bands that can hold my attention for the length of an album or even a live set. I enjoy Man or Astroman? (you pretty much have to in order to establish your nerd cred), The Ghastly Ones, and Atlanta natives The Mystery Men?. And of course there’s Daikaiju, the best surf rock band I’ve seen since Fiend Without a Face (do vocals make them not surf rock, though?).
But it’s not often I can take the genre for more than a couple of songs at a time. Kill, Baby... Kill kept my full attention for the duration of their set and I think might have been the rest of the Hooligans’ favorite band of the night. They were high energy, entertaining, and creative. There are obvious Man or Astroman? comparisons to be made, but who cares? Much like the Misfits, I feel Man or Astroman? should be imitated often.
All four attending members of the band had a great energy, but the keyboardist was definitely the big showman, going so far as to leave the stage at one point and venture into the audience to generate some high-speed hand-clapping, which I participated in despite myself. Hand-clapping is right there with hugs on the list of things I don’t do. I also couldn’t help but feel like the guitarist was familiar, and not just because he vaguely resembled John Flansburgh from They Might Be Giants.
So the whole set was kickass and a great way to end the night. I’ll always feel like the Pig-Dogs should headline, but I really can’t argue with Kill, Baby... Kill doing the honors this time around.
I went to the legendary Clermont Lounge men’s room after the set and on the way saw tall drunk girl in a chair in a very weird position. I can’t quite describe it, but she was sitting in her boyfriend’s lap while he was sitting in hers. But she grabbed my arm and we had this conversation (for real):
Tall Drunk Girl – “Yabbl grabba doah… bler.”
Me – “What happened? I thought you were getting Blondie?”
Tall Drunk Girl – “Blerb flibl gurb! (points at boyfriend) Forby dolluh!”
Me – “Whatever. Fuck that guy. Go get Blondie now.”
And I walked off.
Much to my surprise, she showed up at our section a couple of minutes later. Not with Blondie, but with an old (very old) friend of mine – Porsche (I don’t know how you spell it when it’s a name, especially a fake stripper name). I didn’t bother pointing out that this was not Blondie, I just handed Porsche some money and sort of shoved her over at Rescue John, who was conveniently already seated.
Try to imagine a heavyset, 65-year-old white woman (I know she is 65 because she told us many, many times) doing a lap dance. What you are imagining right now is probably exactly like what happened, only more awesome because Porsche had names for her parts, such as her “Georgia Peaches”, her “Biscuits N’ Gravy”, and her “Ham Hock”. And she rubbed all of them all over Rescue John. Believe me when I say we got our money’s worth. The only drawback is that I now have to live in fear of Rescue John’s retribution.
After the dance was over, Porsche once again told us how old she was and then turned around and I swear to you I totally thought she was going to straight-up grab Little Pond’s left boob. I didn’t know what was getting ready to happen, I just knew it was going to be entertaining. But at the last second that hand veered upwards ever so slightly and just sort of caressed her chest. It was super weird. Then we all got hugs and Porsche melted away into the murky depths of Atlanta’s Oldest Strip Club.
Little Pond and The Grand Hoff had been working hard all day and decided it was time to go. I’m never ready for the party to end, but it was about that time. Bear and the Queen of Crunk had disappeared into the night, as is their wont. I had also lost track of Terry Boy. It seemed like it was time to call it a night, but then I saw that Rescue John was occupied. Actually he had been occupied with a young lady for about half an hour, I just noticed that he was still occupied.
I should note something here – never go anywhere with me. I am a terrible companion when I am drunk. I run all over the place taking pictures or talking to random strangers or just doing dumb shit. But there is not a very good chance that I will just hang in one spot. I am going to wander off and leave you. However, if you’re Rescue John there’s a good chance you’ll have a female or two draped over you by the time I get back.
So I felt like I had kind of neglected my pal a bit after running around the Clermont all night and didn’t want to disrupt whatever was going on. I may be neglectful and kind of an ass, but I am not a blocker of the cock. I sent a message out that I might possibly need a ride back to my car, but just as I got a response Rescue John stood, shook off his friend and asked if I was ready to hit the road.
I mentioned above that Kill, Baby... Kill’s guitarist looked familiar and I didn’t realize until I hit Facebook on Friday morning that it was Noah from Stuck At Zero. Stuck At Zero was Bear’s real band that he played in back in the day. They were really good. Like, I’d just as soon see them as most Lookout! bands good. I still listen to the songs from their 7” all the time. “I Hate Myself” is one of my punk rock favorites. I wish I had realized this at the Clermont. But it’s cool. I will definitely be seeing Kill, Baby... Kill again.