A lot of strange things have been happening to me lately. Odd, unnatural, bizarre, curious, idiosyncratic, outlandish, peculiar, creepy, disturbing things (NOTE TO MY MOTHER: I received the thesaurus you sent. Thanks). Frightening events and occurrences that can't be sufficiently explained by modern science, such as:

Never having exact change.
Frowning a lot, especially at traffic lights and in the grocery store.
Noticing the fact that it takes the gas in my car six days to go from 100% full to 75% full, and then six minutes for it to drop from 75% full to completely empty.
12 year olds asking me if I'd like to "eat their chicken", and then chasing me to my car when I decline their generous offer. This actually happened today, and I wish I had a functioning video camera at the time of the attack. I would've beat the kid with it until he passed out.
The picture frame that hangs above my couch which is ALWAYS CROOKED. I straighten it at least 30 times each hour, yet it's always crooked at the end of the day. I'm incredibly anal about this picture frame, because having a crooked frame hanging on your wall just screams, "THIS APARTMENT WAS FEATURED ON THAT ONE EPISODE OF 'COPS' WHERE THE TWO SHIRTLESS GUYS WERE OPERATING A METH LAB AND THE POLICE BUSTED IN AND USED THEIR HEADS AS PUNCHING BAGS FOR A GOOD TWO HOURS."

I originally thought all those events were unrelated and independent. Yes, I was living a lie. Well, one of many lies, but it's much too late for me to start going into detail regarding the REAL reason I got a fishing license. However, all was revealed this weekend when Jim Bagleaducia came over to aid me in purchasing a new digital camera.

After wading through the various groups of Marilyn Manson groupies hanging around the Westminster mall, we picked up a Kodak DC 215 camera and brought it back to my apartment. We started taking random photos around my place, just to make sure it was working correctly and wouldn't spontaneously burst into flames like the various other defective products I've purchased in my lifetime (VCRs, toasters, wallets, toilet brushes, male hookers, etc.). After uploading the pics to my computer, Jim and I noticed something horribly frightening and spooky, something that will forever haunt me until the day I die (or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first). Take a look at these shocking photos and witness the unadulterated horror for yourself:

Click for a larger picture... if you DARE!!!

Now you're probably not scared to the point of "falling out of your seat and uncontrollably letting go of all your bowel functions while screaming like a crippled schoolgirl", and neither was I when originally looking at these photos. However, I recently came upon some remarkable information that has changed my entire outlook (and life).

While hunting through possible career options, I stumbled upon the high paying and lucrative position of "ghost hunting." Like many members of the general public and various psychiatric wards, I assumed the job of being a ghost hunter was one of wine and roses, a never-ending journey of fame and fortune. The homepage of "Shadowlands Ghosts and Hauntings" sure seemed to support this theory. I mean, the webpage had a template-generated logo with LENS FLARES! Do you know how much money it costs to generate computer simulated lens flares? I'm not sure, but I think probably well over $50! At least that's how much Jim Bagleaducia charged me to add some to the last Paintbrush drawing I made, so I can only imagine it costs significantly more than that. Also there's a comet cursor plugin on the site, and if that isn't a symbol of quality, I don't know what is.

Anyway, while poking through the site and examining past hauntings and ghost activity, I stumbled upon a photo gallery of those vile ghosts in action. I wasn't initially scared when I saw the link, because the mere thought of some fat Italian guy moaning under a bedsheet doesn't really frighten me. Actually, the thought of a fat Italian guy moaning under a bedsheet DOES scare me, but not when he's supposed to be a ghost. Yes, I was an ignorant fool and fell for the media-created lies of how a ghost is "supposed" to look. Forget everything you learned from "Ghostbusters", here's what real ghosts look like, folks:

Yes, that's right. According to a website run by somebody who has been "researching ghosts for about 15 years" and is the "client counselor for another paranormal investigation group", those white film defects are GHOSTS. Do you understand what this means? My apartment is haunted! Yes, as I write this, there are countless numbers of ghosts hanging around me, doing God knows what! They could be eating my food, going through my laundry, or looking at my secret stash of ultraviolent Japanese hentai tentacle rape porn! All the weird, inexplicable pieces of my life are starting to come together now. The reason women don't randomly show up on the front porch of my apartment demanding sex is because MY PLACE IS HAUNTED! The reason my electricity bill is so high can be attributed to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY! The explanation of why I can't fit into size 31 jeans anymore is due to the DAMN GHOSTS MAKING ME FATTER!

Although this sufficiently explained all the odd apartment-related mysteries, I couldn't help but wonder about the non-apartment related events. Like the time I was at the video store and the girl in front of me tried to rent 10 videos without having a driver's license, video card, or account at the store. After combing through my photos from Quakecon, I was shocked to learn the horrifying truth: the ghosts aren't haunting my apartment... THE GHOSTS ARE HAUNTING ME. Observe the chilling proof:

Look at that! Ghosts all over the damn place! I mean, I knew Quakecon was just crawling with the undead (because they were all trading Britney Spears porn in the competition room), but ghosts? Who would've expected it? Not me, that's for sure. Probably not Todd Hollenshed either, because I talked to Todd at Quakecon and he didn't mention ghosts at all.

So now I'm stuck with the knowledge that I'm being haunted by spirits of the damned wherever I go. EVEN IN THE BATHROOM. If anybody out there has similar ghost pictures or ingenious ways to dispel these foul spirits (that don't involve me taking my own life), please send me an email. I seriously haven't been this scared since I saw "Troll 2" and was convinced my next door neighbors were related to the goblin farm family. In the meantime, I'll continue to visit The Shadowlands Ghosts and Hauntings page so I can find out more valuable information like the following gem of "scientifically" proven research:

Solar Flare activity and Geomagnetic Field activity seems to affect the amount of ghost activity. Research has shown us that during periods of heightened solar flare activity and geomagnetic activity in space, the amount of spirit activity increases.

Research has shown me that excessive amounts of drinking leads to less worries about ghosts and solar flares. Let me partake in such research now.

Cliff Yablonski, the man, the miracle, the legend. The following is an email I just received from good ol' Cliff. I'm posting it to hopefully appease him and prevent a thorough thrashing (like the one he gave me last time):

From: cliff yablonski
Subject: cliff yablonski

dear failed webmaster,

Ive got 4 new pages of Appleton idiots I hate and want to see thrown into traffic. Especially those idiot "ravers" that wear pacifiers and candy and hippie shit. Im eventually going to make a necklace out of busted raver teeth.

PS: post my shit you bastard

Well, like he said, there's four new pages of people Cliff Yablonski hates. Be sure to check it out, or Cliff might find me and... well, I don't want to think of what might happen next.

Cranky Steve's Haunted Whorehouse has been updated for your pleasure. Another Quake 3: Arena map (Pindm2) goes through the ringer, and as always, everybody involved loses.

Another entry on the list of levels for players who don't like their Quake games encumbered by such petty concerns as terrain changes, architectural variation, doors, walls, hallways, rooms, open-air "outdoor" sections with bodies of liquids, imaginative item placement, creative use of lighting effects, traps or triggered items / effects, sensitivity to textures and appearance, concerns like "mood" and "atmosphere", the idea of setting or place, and insight into what a game engine is possible of. It may well be a minor masterpiece under those regards.

Enjoy the pain, gents. Oh yeah, if anybody has a nice server with some good bandwidth (no cable modems / DSL), I'd love it if you could contact me so we can set up a Cranky Steve map server. I'll promote / advertise your business in exchange, so it could be a win-win scenario. Well, for me at least. I just want to know that there's a server out there, provide refuge for the absolute most horrid maps ever created. Drop me a line.

Hosted site mayhem:

Wow That's Amazing! has a pretty damn funny article entitled "Good Party, Bad Party". This informative piece of literature describes how you can tell the difference between a... well... good party and bad party. Read all about it!

Taco the Wonder Dog has produced another wonderful comic entitled "The Soy Sauce Ninja." To top it off, he changed the color scheme / layout of his site, and I can actually RETAIN MY EYESIGHT WHILE VIEWING IT! That's an incredible feat in itself, so be sure to check it out.

– Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (@TwitterHasBannedAllMyAccountsEver)

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