Friday, October 31, 2003

Boo

Some random thoughts on this lovely All Hallows Eve...

I'm not at all embarrassed to say that I greatly enjoy The View. And I have the utmost respect for Barbara Walters both as a serious journalist, and in her reinvention as a daytime personality. However her choice to not only dress as Marilyn Monroe this morning, but to spend the entire show doing the worst impression of her ever, was tragic. There's no way to say this without being mean, but she's just too old to pull it off. She gave drag queens everywhere a bad name.

...
I thought it would be nice to get some candy for trick-or-treaters on my way home, and there were so many children out on the streets that it took me ten minutes to get two blocks from the subway to the Rite Aid. Yes, children in costume are cute, but when there are hundreds of them between you and your goal, to say nothing of their idiot parents and gargantuan strollers...not so much.

Apparently, in this neighborhood, kids trick-or-treat in stores. I can't really explain how odd I find this. When I was growing up in Manhattan, we'd join whichever friend lived in the largest apartment building (in my case my very wealthy friend Josh, who lived in the gigantic Apthorp on Broadway and 79th) and go door-to-door in the building. We got something close to the suburban trick-or-treat experience, but we were indoors and safe and warm and our very happy parents usually didn't need to accompany us. The buildings aren't as big in Queens, but there are also lots of houses, and surely better places to dress up and get candy than the drug store!

It makes me kind of sad. It also makes it extremely difficult to shop. By the time I got to the candy aisle I was so irritated with the little fuckers that I briefly considered getting sugar free "mocklate," because "excessive consumption of malitol may have a laxative effect." That seemed like a fun trick to play on the children of Sunnyside. Then the first candy I saw was a bag of Christmas Hershey's Miniatures. That pissed me off on a whole different level, and I thought it might be a good way to fuck with the kids' heads. But in the end I got Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, because they're my favorite, and I can bring the leftovers to the party I'm going to tonight.

...
Because I know you were all terribly concerned, I thought you'd like to know that my Bill and Opus t-shirt now looks like this:


I didn't think the dye would take to the printing on the shirt, or I would have used a lighter color (it actually photographs better than it looks in real life, thanks to the magic of flash -- the design is a little too dark now), but I'm happy I can wear it in public now without looking like Pigpen. Hopefully I won't need it past 2004.

My vintage tee craft project also inspired me for tonight's Halloween party. I'm going to go as 1993. One of the t-shirts I unearthed at my mom's place (exact one to be determined), slightly too-tight jeans, flannel shirt, Doc Maartens, and a bandana. Okay, so really I'm going as myself in 1993 more than the year itself, but I think it'll read pretty well.

The irony (on a purely personal level) is that just a few months ago at my high school reunion, I did everything in my power to look as little like I did in 1993 as possible!


Old Comments:
The People Have Spoken




I love the creativity expressed in Halloween costumes this year.
This girl in my Bio class came to school on Friday dressed as 'Capitalism in a Prom Dress'.

Kudos to you for the '1993' idea. Sounds like you hit the nail right on the head.
Chelsea | Email | Homepage | 11.01.03 - 6:29 pm | #

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Keeping the Faith

Tru Calling doesn't suck! Go figure. It's actually fun. But is it really wise to give your main character the last name of "Davies," and then give her boss the first name of "Davis?" 'Cause that's just gonna get annoying.

And is anyone's attention span really so short that they need a recap of the first half-hour of the show after the second commercial break? Again, Fox panders to the lowest common -- oh look, squirrels!


Old Comments:
I was so excited to enjoy the show, too!!! I kept hearing that it sucks, but I liked it a lot! Yay Eliza!
Carrie | Email | Homepage | 10.31.03 - 5:13 pm | #

Welcome back to the O.C., bitch!

Aaaaaahhh, The O.C. How is it that what should be the worst thing on TV is turning out to be the best?

I think there's something to be said for a show that embraces its badness. Sure, The O.C. is trash, but it's quality trash. It tries to have a certain level of quality in the writing and acting, but at the same time doesn't pretend it's anything other than a cheesy guilty pleasure, revelling in the ridiculousness of the genre (Marissa had to be airlifted out of "T.J.??" What, they don't have hospitals in Mexico?).

Unlike, say, Skin, which is trying to be all high-brow with the Romeo and Juliet thing, or The West Wing, which seems like it won't be satisfied until every character is a miserable wreck, The O.C. is just good clean tawdry fun with the drama queeniest bunch of 25-year-old teenagers west of the Mississippi.



Old Comments:
I love The O.C.! Especially Seth!
Carrie | Email | Homepage | 10.30.03 - 6:02 pm | #

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

For those who wonder why I watch so much TV


From UComics.com.

I make my own fun

My new favorite thing on TV is the commercial with the little girl who was killed on an airplane, and now she haunts the airport, and her father goes to visit her and pretends he's talking on his cell phone when he talks to her so that people don't think he's crazy and take him away to a place where he'll never be able to see his dead daughter again.

Come on, isn't that version better than what AT&T intended?

Speaking of creepy and oddly-scented men...

I went out to dinner with my friend LK last night at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. About halfway through our meal, a man who I can only describe as "oafish" and "slovenly" (fun words, but I'm glad I don't often have occasion to use them) came in and was seated at the table next to ours. He looked around at the orange walls and sombrero lampshades and said to the waitress, "So this is an Irish restaurant, right?" The waitress looked a little baffled, clearly not one for sarcasm in foreign languages. "Ha ha, I'm just kidding," (yes, he actually said "Ha ha"), "you must get that all the time." No, I thought, I bet she doesn't.

He continued to make inane jokes to the waitress, who was either extremely patient or didn't understand his English, and LK and I continued to ignore him. So I barely noticed when he got up and left the table just before his food arrived. On his way back between our two tables to his seat (and it's worth pointing out that there was an empty table on the other side of him), his sizeable backside hit LK's half-full water glass, spilling it all over her lap, her coat, and her purse.

That he did this, I can forgive. (I have many attributes, but grace isn't one of them.) That he didn't notice he'd done this, I can forgive. (I have, in my time, had a larger-than-I-wished bum myself and sometimes you just don't feel it.) What I can't forgive, is when he sat down and looked over at us, realized what had happened, and said only the most obligitory, barely audible "Sorry," before digging into his food. No move to help, no "I can't believe I just did that," no offer of his still-unused napkin. Not even another glance in our direction. While the waitress scurried to get more napkins and LK blotted everything in sight, Oafish and Slovenly shoveled food into his mouth at an alarming rate. It's not like there was much he could do, but couldn't he have at least acknowledged that his fat ass had made a mess? This isn't normal, right?

My only real regret is that there was no way for me to "accidentally" spill anything on his table on my way out.

Six inches forward and five inches back...

No one shed any light on my paranoid Best Buy theories, but I've gone ahead and deleted the post with my not-quite-accusation -- not because I'm not still mad at Best Buy (I'm still skeptical about the CD's absence from their website), but because I'm now mad at everyone. (Not, lest those of you who read the old post get confused, that I think "everyone" is homophobic...read on...)

MAK called last night to tell me that he'd tried three different stores and not one of them had the new Hedwig and the Angry Inch album, Wig in a Box, although it was just released.

I'm working near J&R, so I went over there at lunch. A helpful-if-creepy-and-oddly-scented salesperson looked the CD up in the computer, and told me that they'd ordered two of them, which of course immediately sold out yesterday.

Now, I get that this is a charity project on a small label, and that recordings of off-Broadway musicals are harder to find at the Sam Goody in the mall, but this is music from a show that ran for over two years and attracted a HUGE cult following, has had several other productions around the world, and was made into a successful (though again, not terribly mainstream) film. The artists on the new disc include Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Ben Folds, Yoko Ono and They Might Be Giants -- not exactly unheard-of talent. Most importantly, this isn't the Sam Goody in the mall, it's New York fucking City! Of course all the rabid fans are going to try to buy this thing the moment it comes out (I guess I'm not quite rabid enough). Why the hell would any store buyer only order TWO???

Okay, rant over. I know it's only a CD but I was really looking forward to it. And the boneheadedness of either these stores or distributor is keeping money away from a really good cause too (not to mention the stores and distributor).

So it's Amazon to the rescue, as usual. Wish me luck with UPS. I'm using a friend's work address, and curiously, the order will ship earlier to Manhattan than to Queens. Not arrive earlier, but ship earlier. Baffling.




Old Comments:
U P S....

I don't turst them.

Yoko Ono? Walking on Thin Ice?
Wayne | Email | Homepage | 10.29.03 - 3:58 pm | #

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Fox...oh, Fox...

You know, I say "Fox...oh Fox," out of habit, really, as if it's still 1989 and all the other networks haven't sunk as low if not lower. Fox has actually had some quality stuff on the air since the Married With Children days, but I still think of it like it's...well, like it's UPN.

Anyway, I'm done with Joe Millionaire. It's not that the women are skanky without being entertaining or interesting, or that David is pretty and charming without being smart or interesting, that the only vaguely appealing women were voted off last night and tonight, or the terrifying cleavage on Hosty McUseless at the first elimination ceremony. No, it's the condescension of the producers that's driven me away. Do we need to see not only a recap of the entire premise of the show, but of last season at the top of every episode? Do they think anyone is still watching who doesn't know what the deal is? Except for all those women watching in Europe, I mean. Even more disturbing is the fact that Fox seems to think that the average American needs subtitles to understand a woman speaking with a slight accent. I mean, do they? I dare say that these women speak English, despite the occasional goof, far better than most people I know (myself included) speak any of their languages. And these don't all seem to be the brightest of women either. I'm pretty impressed, and the subtitles just baffle me. But let's face it, there's no moral high ground here, it's just dull as dirt.

So I'm done. Of course, when I say "I'm done," I mean I'm going to continue watching it but not tell anyone.

Then there was Skin, which I have to admit I'm enjoying, though I'm not sure why. I realize that Romeo and Juliet was an inspiration for the show, and no one ever intended to make R&J: The Series, but I would have liked them to stick with the idea for a little bit longer. This week was all about Jewel's housekeeper/nanny/whatever taking on the role of the nurse, but otherwise they've pretty much played it out. I mean, it's not like Shakespeare invented forbidden love and political enemies. Adam and Jewel had sex at the end of last week's episode (both awfully soon into their relationship and awfully prettily for two virgins, if you ask me), and by that point in Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt and Mercutio (who seem to have no parallels in Skin -- do these kids have any friends at all?) are already dead, and the next thing that happens is Romeo's banishment, followed shortly by some poison and a happy dagger.

I'm really enjoying the adult actors, though, especially the woman who plays Adam's mom. The adult storylines are far more interesting than the kids' (take that, Lady Montague!) and I'm interested to see where they go. Where can the kids go? If they break up, no more show. So we get to watch them sneak around behind their parents' backs until they (hopefully) die messy senseless deaths.

Meanwhile, over on SpikeTV (which is really worthy of an "Oh, SpikeTV"), the other Joe, He Who Shall Be Called Schmo, was a total let-down as well. Do I really need to spoiler-proof this? I guess I'd better play it safe for any crazy reality-TV fans out there... [spoiler]

I haven't watched 24 yet. And the way things are going I don't have much hope.



Old Comments:
I think most of the stuff out this season is absolute crap. I'm spending my nights working out, drawing, reading or sitting on the patio having a cocktail. Maybe it's a good thing now that I think about it.
Mark | Email | Homepage | 10.29.03 - 9:55 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here's what's disconcerting about Joe Schmo: I was channel surfing the other day and would, of course, have surfed right past "Two and a Half Men"... were it not for the fact that I suddenly thought, "Hey, that's Earl, guest starring on Two and a Half Men!" Similarly, recently saw a car commercial with Brian in it... "Hey, that's Brian, in a car commercial!" I fear these actors are going to haunt me forever....
mcm | Email | Homepage | 10.29.03 - 12:14 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Serves us all right for watching, mcm.

And that's ALL that you find disconcerting about it??
Adam875 | Email | Homepage | 10.29.03 - 1:22 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ok, that probably should have said, "Here's what I find disconcerting *today*"
mcm | Email | Homepage | 10.29.03 - 3:14 pm | #

Monday, October 27, 2003

Love Your Fellow Man...well, except that guy...and that one over there

I don't know how un-local this has become, but a constant presence on the NYC-area news for the past couple months has been an increasingly awful story about some high school students who were hazed at a football camp just before school began. Allegedly, at least three varsity players attacked younger boys, sodomizing them with whatever was handy, including broomsticks and pinecones. It's unclear how many victims there were, because most of them have been scared into silence, with threats to entire families allegedly coming from the parents of the accused boys, as well as the school. The school has taken a lot of heat for not supervising or disciplining the attackers, and for creating an environment where this kind of thing can happen. And on the other side of things, other members of the school community are angry about all the bad PR casting a negative light on the couple thousand students who have nothing to do with football or any of this ugliness.

The most absurd chapter in this drama so far came today, with this report about a group of eight people from a Kansas church group gathered outside the school to protest its allowance of a Gay-Straight Alliance, claiming this "leniency towards homosexuality" is the reason these attacks occurred.

Without even getting into a big discussion over the differences between rape and consensual sex, given the definition of the word hazing, I think it's pretty safe to assume that no one thought these boys would enjoy having things shoved up their butts! No one's talking about the big football camp orgy. That would be an entirely different story, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it already in an adult video. If anything, this was an extreme act of homophobia and repression, not a case of too much sexual freedom and education. But I don't think it was even that. I think it was simply about causing as much pain and humiliation as possible.

"This is what happens when you stray from the bible," said one of the protestors on my radio this morning. No, this is what happens when you stray from basic human kindness, when you decide abuse is an appropriate way to welcome new people into your community, and when you leave teenagers unsupervised and undisciplined because they happen to play football. You don't have to be Christian or straight to understand that. I can see how the argument against homosexuality can be made from the bible, and it's an argument I'm willing to have although (obviously) my mind will never be changed. So you can object to the diversity or gay rights curriculum if you want to, but I highly doubt that, for all its failings, the Mepham school board doesn't know that saying "homosexuality is okay" is not even remotely the same as saying "sodomizing your teammates with broomsticks is okay." I mean, I'd like to see that lesson plan. Boy and I talked about this this morning, and he speculated that "these people hear the word 'sodomy' and they're on a plane!"

I'm all for freedom of speech and freedom to assemble and freedom to have different religious beliefs from mine and say things I don't agree with. Is it too much to ask that your argument not be completely and totally stupid?? There can be a logical argument for almost anything. This isn't it.

I think I need to go to Ikea.

The as-happy-as-possible ending to this chapter is that the gay-straight alliance and its supporters arrived at the school in full force to protest the protesters, and outnumbered them by the hundreds.


Old Comments:
Did I hear IKEA?!
Jenn | Email | Homepage | 10.27.03 - 5:36 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think an even happier ending would be if everyone who showed up from the gay-straight alliance got to go to Ikea.
David | Email | Homepage | 10.27.03 - 6:51 pm | #

Oh, the humanity!

I'm temping today for the first time in a few weeks, at a company which blocks all webmail sites and instant messaging. This would be fine if I had any actual work to do, but so far, not so much. Fortunately, I can (clearly) still blog, but if I do that all day I might scare off some readers. (Boy has been working under similarly horrific conditions at his job for months, so I won't complain too much as I'm only here for two days.)

On the plus side, I have an electric stapler.

On an administrative note, my blog looks entirely different on this version of Explorer than anywhere else I've ever viewed it (Halloween motif aside). I fixed the worst problem (the sidebar was curled up in a little ball on the lower right corner), but if anyone has consistent design troubles please let me know so I can keep everyone happy! Thanks.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Oh...

...that's what Alias has been missing this season: Character development!

I hate to say it, but I actually like Wifey McShinyhair after that [spoiler].

I'm all a-tingle!

I'm very excited about the last round of fall TV premieres coming up this week now that that game with the stick is finally over and done with. We have 24, which looks promising based on the commercials (I was hooked yet disappointed last season); Tru Calling, in which I have little faith (sorry) but I must watch it because of my love for Eliza and the supernatural drama void in this season's overall lineup; Arrested Development, which looks brilliant and twisted and will therefore probably go the way of Andy Richter Controls the Universe; and the long-awaited returns of The Simpsons and The O.C. (bitch). Something that wasn't on anyone's fall previews, but that I'm drawn to like a car wreck based on the commercials: Average Joe. I'm intrigued, but I have a feeling I'll need to shower after watching it.

Hmm...seeing all that written out I'm no longer sure why I'm excited....

As one door opens, another closes. Tuesday brings the finale of The Joe Schmo Show. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all ends, and also looking forward to simply seeing it end. I'm smart enough to feel embarrassed and kinda dirty watching this stuff, but dumb enough to get hooked anyway. I guess that's the definition of a "guilty pleasure." You'd think by now I'd know not to even start watching. Not so much.

On another TV note, Boy and I watched this week's Coupling, and it didn't quite suck. Which is ironic because it was the last before NBC puts the show on hiatus until December. It was also the first not based on a BBC script, and not written by Steven Moffatt. And as much as I adore Moffatt and the original series, it was kind of better this way. Not better than the original, but better than watching this cast try to copy that one. The American writers managed to remain true to the characters while finding their own voice. And it worked. Still, a sit-com is a sit-com. I realized that one of the most irritating things about this Coupling is the laugh-track, which is one of the most prominent and annoying I've ever heard. Um, people, that doesn't actually make the show any better. In fact it kind of makes it worse, because instead of the titter I might have had naturally, I'm thinking, Wait, that wasn't that funny....

Y'know, kinda like this post.... [laughtrack]ha ha ha ha whoooo ha ha no he di'in't![/laughtrack]

Friday, October 24, 2003

When some people sell out, they go all the way

I wish I still had a land-line phone in my apartment, because I really think I have to own this. Click on the 120-second TV commercial for the full effect. (It's work-friendly but requires sound.)

On the same page of Entertainment Weekly that brought this marvellous invention to my attention was an announcement of some of the cast of the Surreal Life 2: Vanilla Ice, Tammy Faye (Baker), Ron Jeremy and Trishelle from The Real World Las Vegas. I can't believe I ever thought I wouldn't watch this.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

How much is that Fjällnoppa in the window?

In order to test the effectiveness of the Euro, a clever Swedish economist has created something called the Ikea Index. He compared prices at Ikea stores (or as I like to call it, Church) in different countries in and out of the EU, to see if the Euro is doing its job of equalizing prices across the continent.

Apparently, the Euro is not doing its job of equalizing prices, but what was far more interesting to me is that he included US branches of Ikea in the comparison, and it turns out we have the best prices.

Frankly, these days it's nice to have another reason to be proud to be an American.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Bah, Humbug

I just saw a commercial for Now That's What I Call Christmas.

It's not yet Halloween.

I am absolutely not ready for this. I don't want to be all Scroogey. I like the holidays, I really do, but lately I get sick of them long before they actually arrive. I mean, how can the holiday season be special if it lasts three months?

It's worse because I'm enjoying the fall so much. I'm not a big fan of the cold, so I tend to forget from year to year how much I love early autumn in New York. It's not really very cold yet, it's beautiful and crisp and the skyline looks fabulous at night. Best of all, we're in between the summer tourist season and the holiday tourist season, so the place feels positively empty.

It's just the calm before the Convention of Stupid People Who Block The Sidewalk arrives in town from Thanksgiving through New Year's, so if the holiday hoopla starts now, so will my dread of clogged streets and impossible lines. I love New York even when it drives me nuts, but I really really love it when it doesn't. Please, Consumer Gods, please let me enjoy this lull for just a little bit longer?

I'd blocked these out

I'm watching I Love the 80s Strikes Back and they're showing the original Chicken McNuggets commercial featuring little Chicken McNugget...I guess they must be finger puppets? Little squishy faces. They're in a locker room with a coach (also a McNugget, but with a moustache) giving them a pep talk about what special little chicken blobs they are. Then we actually see them all bouncing around happily in a box. McNuggets have always creeped me out a little and I think now I know why. I've been supressing the memory of the odd fuzzy McNugget puppets.

Elsewhere on VH1, Hal "I'm not really gay, I swear" Sparks just ate a Snausage. Ew ew ew.

I'm a little sad that Gedde Watanabe is whoring himself out as Long Duck Dong 20 years later to list the "Nerds of 1983." Fortunately I have no attention span this morning so I won't be sad for long.

Yay, Fraggles!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Where's Paula Abdul when I need her?

I didn't watch last season's American Idol past the first couple of audition episodes, but I really like Clay Aiken (especially in his first audition, before the stylists tried (and failed) to un-geek him).

Still, it never really occurred to me to buy his album, especially after I got sucked in and bought the first AI compilation album, and was shocked by how bad and bland even the people I liked sounded.

Then I heard him do his new single (which, as near as I can figure, is a sort of 80s throwback about stalking) on some talk show or other and I really really liked it.

So I went to the iTunes Music Store (since I would never ever download music illegally, of course), which up until now I've been very impressed with. I didn't give it much thought and figured I'd just click and buy the whole album. It's so easy, and lots of new releases only cost $10, so even if I only like half the songs it's a pretty good deal.

Only iTunes doesn't have the full album. They have the full album except for the first single. I assume this is to prevent people from only buying the one song. What does it say about the record company's faith in Clay that they assume no one actually wants his album? Kinda shitty if you ask me. Of course, they may be right. Since the only way to buy songs was individually, I listened to the previews of them all and didn't want to spend 99 cents on any of them. Oops!

I'm still bummed to be without a copy of "Invisible," but I'm glad they managed to screw themselves out of my impulse-purchase money, since now I refuse to buy any of it. And I like how I'm occasionally naïve enough to believe that a company like Bertelsmann gives a shit about my fifteen dollars....

Monday, October 20, 2003

Joe Millionaire by any other name would NOT smell as sweet

Well, The Next Joe Millionaire is certainly good eye-candy, and he seems a lot nicer than Evan (if not any smarter), but the whole redneck shtick is really bugging me. Nothing against rednecks as a rule, but everything about David's backstory and especially the Eliza Doolittle sequence just seemed laid on as thick as his abs. Can he really not manage to call Paul by his name? Is it at all possible that he really only makes $11,000 (especially after the mini-scandal with Evan's earnings last season)? And how much of a "good old-fashioned Southern boy" can you be if you're willing to go make an ass of yourself on television and deceive 14 women?

As for the women... There doesn't seem to be a Zora in the bunch, or a Mojo for that matter. They all seem dumb and shallow and trashy and spoiled, but in an extremely bland way, with nothing to set them apart but their accents. It was sort of fun watching a bunch of European women reacting to David being a "cowboy" (and, as Hosty McUseless called him, the son of "an oil tycoon who made a fortune in the oil business"), which one of them said is like saying he's Santa Claus. They all seem uniformly bitchy and snobby. But every time Paul or the Foxerific announcer says "We've found 14 women who've never heard of Joe Millionaire," I find myself adding, "living in caves with the Taliban." I mean, this is one aspect of American culture I'm glad hasn't spawned itself throughout the rest of the world (and there are many I wish hadn't), but at one point the drunken whores broke into a stirring rendition of the Dallas theme, so how out of it can they really be?

A lot of last season's enjoyment came from the sense that the girls (Zora aside) were so dumb and spoiled that they deserved to be deceived. But as trashy as the girls are this time, David seems to be the dumbest one there. He's definitely the prettiest (in some cases by a long shot). And I'll buy the premise that the women have never heard of the show and maybe never even seen any of the Bachelor clones, but David has no excuse to be crying (in the ads for later in the season) about how hard this all is after seeing Evan do the exact same thing.

So I hate them all. The magic is gone. I'm sure I'll watch it again, but probably on mute so that David remains attractive (most of the women get subtitles anyway, because the producers apparently think we're too dumb to understand their not-very-thick accents), and it's off my DVR's record list.

Then there's Skin, which seemed like it would be exactly the sort of trashy prime-time soap I would normally avoid. But I'm a sucker for a Romeo and Juliet rip-off, and I'm glad I am because I really liked the show. Good acting, good writing, very stylish design and photography. Like The OC, they're giving equal weight to the teen and adult stories, which is good because the politics of the DA vs. the porn industry is far more interesting than the limp teen romance. That said, I like the leads, and I'm curious to see how they keep the whole star-crossed lovers thing going for a full season or more. And like I said back in my fall preview, at series' end they'd better both die.

Well, that didn't take long!

NBC just announced that they've pulled Coupling until December. I'm still sort of mystefied about how they managed to screw this one up, but to those of you who haven't seen it (or who've only seen the NBC version), I say again: go rent the brilliant UK DVDs.

Someone else's take on customer service

Lest there be any doubt that this man is my hero.




Old Comments
good points, but who is this? i felt like i was missing some background.
me | Email | Homepage | 10.21.03 - 11:00 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm sorry, did you just ask me who BOY GEORGE is???
Adam807 | Email | Homepage | 10.21.03 - 12:43 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He lived on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific during some formative '80s years. It makes things very confusing for him sometimes.
mcm | Email | Homepage | 10.21.03 - 3:57 pm | #

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Random Thoughts

So I'm watching Talk Sex With Sue Johanson, and she's demonstrating (with her hand, thank god!), a dildo with a camera in the end of it, in order to see inside your orifice of choice. I have no joke, I'm just kind of speechless.

In other news, I've just learned of a Netflix-like site for video games. Since new Gamecube games cost about $50 and few are worth playing again after I've finished them, this seems like a really great plan. But I fear that if I sign up I'll never leave the house or get anything productive done again. If I stop blogging suddenly, you'll all know why.

I hope the real CIA isn't this dumb...

I've been very unhappy with Alias this season. It's still one of the best shows on television, but that just means I hold it to a higher standard. By now I'm used to the show surprising me by taking 180° turns in its mythology, so when last season ended with the cliffhanger that Sydney had lost two years of her life I wasn't the least bit surprised, and trusted JJ Abrams to make it all make sense.

But it just seems like everyone's become stupid during the two years that Sydney was away. I mean, we all know (and the characters do too) that Sloane and Sark and maybe Irina were responsible for the big fight that left Sydney unconscious at the end of last season. But now some other evil group we've never heard of is now believed to be responsible for Sydney's lost time. What, and they just happened to drop by to kidnap her and burn her house down right at the same moment that the other super-villains conveniently took her out of commission? Does no one at the CIA watch television?

As a loyal viewer, I got really invested in the Rimbaldi storyline, the one constant through the various twists and turns of Sloane and SD-6. To have it blown off with one line of exposition after the summer hiatus feels cheap. This is what Sloan has been obsessed over for his whole life, and what the show had supposedly building up to for 2 years, and there's no payoff at all?

Meanwhile, in the land of new characters, Mrs. Vaughn is so clearly evil it's painful. I'm not saying this because I'm all that upset about the whole Syd and Vaughn thing, but just because -- well, look at her, listen to her, how could she not be??! Of course, we all know that in the world of Alias, "obvious" rarely is, but I just really want her to be evil and die badly. Her hair is too shiny to be good. I think it's not the character, but the actress who bugs me.

But tonight things started to come together, and the show seemed to hit its old stride. I was extremely excited by [spoiler]

So things are looking up, and there's a crop of new premieres this week, so life is good. It's a good thing I don't have a job or anything to eat up my free time.




Old Comments:
I haven't watched last night's Alias yet, so I haven't read the spoiler section or know what you are excited about, but I still have faith. I haven't let go of the idea that Sloane and Co. are still at play in this some how. I mean, why keep Sark and Sloane around if they aren't still going to come into play? I could be way off, so we'll see. Oh, and also, I hate Mrs. Vaughn.
Carrie | Email | Homepage | 10.20.03 - 10:13 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oh, I have complete faith that Sloane is involved, I'm just baffled that the other characters don't as well.
Adam875 | Email | Homepage | 10.20.03 - 11:58 am | #

Get off the road, you glasses-wearing pony-tailed freak!

Last night (or rather, early this morning), Not Another Teen Movie was on HBO. I flipped to it to kill ten minutes, and Boy and I wound up watching the whole thing. Again. It's an embarrassing movie to like, but no more so than the movies it spoofs, almost all of which I've also seen.

And it spoofs them so entertainingly that it's sort of impossible not to enjoy. It's not brilliant stuff, but I love it for sheer randomness, in the form of albino folk singers, retarded football players, and cheerleaders with Tourette's. Not that I'm all about the medical malady humor. There's a running gag of people off-camera shouting incredibly odd things at the people on-screen. It's definitely a "you had to be there" kind of joke, but Boy and I laughed at it until 3 am. It's just an intensely silly movie, and I'm a big fan of intensely silly. It's also a little bit cruel, and we all know how I like my pop-culture cruel.

Then there's intensely violent, and less-fun cruelty. This afternoon, as if for balance (though we'd planned it days ago), Boy and I went to see Kill Bill. I'd never actually seen a Quentin Tarantino film before; I've just never really been interested. (This tends to surprise people, but trust me there are far more surprising things I've never seen in my Netflix queue, which has just topped 400 -- I'd like to be a proper film geek but I just don't have the time or money.) The hype around Kill Bill, plus my affection for Lucy Liu, Boy's desire to see it, and my local theater's $4.50 matinees made me interested in this one.

I never thought I wouldn't like it, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'd been warned that because of the way the film was never intended to be in two parts, "Volume 1" doesn't really have an ending, and I thought this would annoy me. But it's not really true. I thought the ending was just fine for a film you know has a sequel coming, a clear end of an act. At the same time, I can't think of anything that I would have wanted cut, even during the [spoiler #1], and yet if the film had been twice as long it would have been kind of relentless.

It's just a highly entertaining and beautifully shot film. I've never seen such inspired use of [spoiler #2]. Every shot was probably a reference to something I didn't get, but it didn't matter at all. I got totally wrapped up in the world of the film, and cared about the characters. I've never had any opinion about Uma Thurman one way or another, but she's kinda fabulous in this. And it's either some of the most impressive stunt work by regular actors I've ever seen, or some of the best editing of stuntpeople I've ever seen.

I'm a little afraid that I might actually become a Tarantino fan. I've always had the sense that he's incredibly vain and self-indulgent. Owen Gleiberman, whose reviews in Entertainment Weekly I usually enjoy, sounded like he'd been brainwashed by a cult in his review of Kill Bill. I hate to join that cult, but I suspect that's just my contrary nature coming out. So for now I'm going to rent Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and say that I can't wait for "Volume 2!"





Old Comments:
I've actually read that some "industry insiders" hypothesize that Tarantino secretly always intended for it to be two movies - given the length of script/amount of footage that was shot, and his apparent lack of concern that he seemed to be making a 4+ hour movie (b/c only Altman's allowed to do that!).

I think you'll like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, btw. Just my two cents.
mcm | Email | Homepage | 10.20.03 - 9:56 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

dude, your spoilercall links aren't working.

i saw it over the weekend too, and wow. i liked it, but i actually like tarantino's dialogue, which was, well, missing from 'kill bill'. there's lots more quentin to see, and personally i don't think this one even touched 'pulp fiction', which i really want to rewatch now.

go reorder your netflix list and enjoy.
me | Email | Homepage | 10.20.03 - 11:26 am | #

Talking Food

M&Ms has a fun thing on their website where you can vote for your favorite M&M commercials. I love M&M commercials, not just because they're usually funny and feature interesting guest stars, but because I have serious issues with talking food.

But Adam, I hear you thinking, the M&M commercials feature, um, talking M&Ms don't they?

Well yes, but I should be more specific: I have issues with talking food that wants to be eaten.

When I was a kid there was an ad with a claymation potato sitting on a couch and complaining to the camera that she wasn't "good enough" to be in a particular brand's frozen French fries. She seemed really hurt. Isn't this a good thing? I mean, I know actual potatoes don't have such feelings, but if you're going to be anthropomorphized, I should think you'd want to stay alive for a while and enjoy your TV and knitting.

The California Raisins were fun and all, but ultimately they were selling the public on eating their own kind.

The latest offender I've seen is this commercial for Warm and Chewy Chips Ahoy, in which claymation cookies sing, while they're in the microwave, about how they're about to die. Granted, this doesn't fall into the category of food that wants to be eaten, but it does fall into the category of things that creep me the fuck out! It makes me absolutely not want to go anywhere near those cookies. (Maybe the real enemy is claymation!)

Back in the day, the M&Ms themselves went to boot camp to become the best M&Ms they could so they'd be fit for consumption. (And they ran around naked, which never made sense to me.) But now the Ms have seen the error of their ways, and they address my bizarre issues and speak out for talking food everywhere. They don't want to be eaten, they actively resist capture and fear for their very chocolaty lives. These are some smart and sassy little candies.

Curiously, this only makes me want to eat them more. Well, the real ones. I feel very protective of the talking ones. But their tiny little bretheren are fair game.

I have so many issues.

(In case anyone is wondering, I voted for Hotel for best performance, Lick for best ensemble, Floor for best fall, Vending Machine for best action sequence, and Valentine for both best entrance, and best overall commercial. Yeah, along with issues, I have much too much free time right now.)





Old Comments:
Food that wants to be eaten has not entered the breakfast food commercial. I always thought that cereal commercials were out to create generations of paranoiacs. In every one, every time someone sits down to eat a bowl, all kinds of thieves and monsters pop up to swipe it. Lordy.
David | Email | Homepage | 10.19.03 - 6:01 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

True. And I've always been bothered by the Trix Rabbit, who seems to exist to teach children that sharing is bad and ridiculing those who are different than you is good.
Adam875 | Email | Homepage | 10.19.03 - 6:45 pm | #

Saturday, October 18, 2003

In the Cell Phone of Good and Evil

I was on a fairly empty 7 train today, and a young woman across from me was talking on a cell phone. An older (and by that I mean older than the phone user and I, but certainly not a senior citizen) woman sitting next to me suddenly screamed, "Put the phone away, please! You’re very rude!!"

Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks that pointing out bad etiquette is the height of bad etiquette; I shush people in movie theaters and stuff like that, and I am a master of the Evil Glare (tm). But I do think it's much more rude to yelp at someone else on the subway than to talk in a normal voice on a cell phone. And that was the really odd part of the outburst: While we've certainly all seen people shouting into their phones on the street or disturbing the peace in a restaurant this woman was talking in, if anything, a lower than normal "outside voice." I couldn’t really hear her at all over the sound of the train itself. Certainly not over the shrill shrieking of the woman to my right.

It's not considered rude to talk to your traveling companion on the subway, so when did the cell phone itself become such an object of scorn? One could argue that talker was actually making less noise than if she'd been having a live conversation, since there was only one of her! Was the angry woman maybe just annoyed because she couldn't eavesdrop on the one-sided conversation? I wonder if that's the key: It's not rude to converse in public, as long as those around you can listen in?

I wanted to ask the screamer these questions, or at least point out how quietly the phone user was talking and that she didn’t deserve to be yelped at by a total stranger, but of course fear of tipping a clearly unstable woman even more off-balance and the undeniable fact that it was none of my business kept my mouth shut. Then she said to Cell Girl, who had wisely ignored her as well, "Fucking peasant!" and I knew I had made the right choice.

In some weird twist of (bad) karma, when I changed trains I was trapped in a crowded car with a small child -- a boy of about two or three -- who was playing with what I assume was a parent's cell phone. And he knew how to play its ring. The "1812 Overture." Disco version. Over and over and over again. Buy the child a damn toy!!! If anyone else's head was going to explode along with mine they showed no signs of it, and I wondered how that was possible. I actually wished the mean lady had changed trains with me, just to see what she’d do. I gave the kid an Evil Glare (tm) (his parents' backs were to me so I couldn’t EG them), and he actually closed the phone and looked at me sort of sheepishly. Ah, yes, train them young! I smiled at him, 'cause he was admittedly adorable, and for a second felt bad about giving the EG to a toddler. Then he opened the phone and played the 1812 again and all remorse fled.

The kid didn’t even really look like he was enjoying himself. He wasn't dancing or singing or even smiling to the music. That would have been cute and melted even my heart of stone. No, he looked very serious. As if it was in fact his sole mission to drive me completely insane.

I wonder if that's how Screaming Lady got that way. Check back with me in ten years, okay?

Rise of the Machines, Part Two

I totally want one of these.

I know (as Boy pointed out) this flies in the face of everything I said yesterday about not wanting machines in the house that are smarter than I am, and unlike the Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server, the Roomba can actually move about under its own power. But it's just so cool!

Boy is convinced that when you leave the house, the Roomba will sprout knives and lasers and kill your pets. Or (and this one is much more frighteningly plausible) take readings on the layout of your apartment and beam them to criminals. In the annals of science fiction, from The Matrix to Planet of the Apes, isn't it always the "helpful" robots (or descendents of time-traveling monkeys) we bring into our homes that rise up and destroy us?

Does it say more about me or about our tech-dependent society and the power of advertising that my desire for cool new toys outweighs my perfectly reasonable fear of a machine takeover? And what does it say about my enslavement to pop culture that I think that a fear of a machine takeover is reasonable?

But it's just so cool! It cleans under the furniture! While you're not even home!

Really, I want it because I think it's cool, not because I'm lazy.

Well, okay, yeah, it's because I'm lazy. I'd be a clean-freak if I were less lazy, so really this seems like a good purchase. And that's worth bringing on the extinction of humankind, right?

(In all seriousness, this article about the unfulfilled promise of consumer robotics is pretty interesting. Yeah, I'm a nerd. A big consumer nerd. Shut up.)

Friday, October 17, 2003

Rise of the Machines

So it's been a little over a month now since I got my DVR. Or, more accurately, my Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server.

And I'm enjoying it, but I’m also kinda terrified of it. Doesn't that name sound like a joke from Futurama? I mean, I love tech toys, but there's also a point where I start to get a little creeped out in a Maximum Overdrive sort of way. The remote, for instance, controls everything in my house. Seriously, I can microwave popcorn from the couch. If I leave food out on the coffee table overnight, it's gone in the morning, and I don't have a pet. Well, I guess I do now!

It does not do the thing I was most afraid of, that I heard somewhere TiVo does do: recommending shows it thinks I might like. This is a relief, because if it's anything like the recommendations system on Amazon we'd have trouble. (You buy a perfectly innocent David Sedaris book and it's like some buzzer goes off that says "Oooh, we've got a gay!" and for the rest of eternity it recommends every crappy gay novel ever published. Just because I like reading people who are smart and funny and happen to be homosexual doesn't make me queer. And just because I am queer doesn't mean I want to read a "a story of teen love, steamy romance, friendship, loyalty, understanding, and an ancient prejudice that still has the power to kill. ...A tale that breaks the stereotypes of the ignorant and peers into the soul of two boys who want what we all want; to love and be loved. The story of...two sixteen-year-old high school athletes, a tale of love and happiness torn asunder by a world that understands too late." (I didn't make that up, but I'm not going to link to it because I don't want to give it that much validation.) And anyway, I'm sure that not everyone who buys The Object of My Affection, thinking it will have something to do with Jennifer Aniston, also wants The Joy of Hot Man-Sex. On the other side of the spectrum, lord help me now that I've clicked on the Olsen Twins' game.)

But I digress. Unfortunately, I don't seem to need a machine to fill the recommendations function, I'm quite capable of destroying all free time myself. I decided on the second day that it would be a good idea to record shows that I really enjoy but often miss and don't care about enough to spend time and space taping on actual tapes. This requires very little effort. The Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server will now record Family Guy, the UK Coupling, Graham Norton, The Daily Show, South Park and The Sunday Night Sex Show, and while they're rerunning the Ritter episodes, 8 Simple Rules whenever they're on. And if I run out of room on the drive and haven't watched them yet, they will delete themselves, so it's no big deal to over-tape.

What I didn't think through when I set this up, is that there's now no such thing as nothing on. There's an excellent chance that I will always have something stored away on my little DVR. I've barely left the couch all week. I know in theory I could cancel all the timers and go back to my old channel-flipping ways, but...well, I don't think I have the strength to fight the Explorer 8000. I think it was the brains behind Arnold's victory. [I'm gladly accepting submissions for a better joke, by the way!]

The machine seems to offer a friendly level of control, though if I'm not careful I'll wind up taping Queer Eye all seventeen times it's used as filler for Bravo's overall lack of programming, and I'm worried about what else it might do when I'm not looking. The brochure calls it "A machine that thinks," and I'm fairly certain that one of the things the display said while booting up was "HAL." I'm not kidding. "Dave? What are you doing, Dave? I think you do want to watch that 90210 rerun, Dave. Donna, Donna, give me your answer, do...."

I'm sure I'm being ridiculous, but I'm nervous about having any machine in the house that's smarter than me...or is not as smart as me but still thinks it knows what I want. I really feel like the remote could strangle me in my sleep if I'm not careful. It's all very Terminator 3.

"Sarah Connor? Watch TV if you want to live."





Old Comments:
Why is it that when I worry that the robotic vacuum cleaner might take over the house you laugh at me, but then you go all Maximum Overdrive about the DVR? ;P

And I also note you (for the sake of decency) refuse to link that awful teen gay romance novel (Right here!), but you include two (TWO!) links on your blog to the Mary Kate and Ashley Video game?

I think your judg(e)ment about what is REALLY dangerous is faulty.
boy | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 8:39 pm | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I was laughing because you're funny, not because the notion of the RoboVac taking over the world is funny. You just presented it in an amusing manner. There's a forthcoming post about the Roomba and how its coolness just taunts my robot fears.

As for Mary Kate and Ashley, I only link to the game once. The link in this post is to that other post, not to Amazon.
Adam875 | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 9:43 pm | #

TV Executives Are Stupid

MAK was kind enough to link to this article this morning, confirming that baseball is the reason for all the reruns this week. (Not that I didn't believe MCM when she said it, but CNN has quotes.)

And that's fine, and understandable. It's why we have to wait til the end of the month for 24 and The OC (bitch) because Fox is airing the actual baseball instead, as they do every year.

But what I don't get is why the World Series seems to have been a surprise to the NBC and CBS execs. I know when it is and I couldn't have any less interest in baseball. I also know that lots and lots of people watch the World Series (and playoffs), to the detrement of other shows' ratings, and I don't work in television either.

So why must they toy with our emotions by announcing new shows, only to slap us in the face with a Whoopi that was bad by even Whoopi's standards? So mean!

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Ludicrous!

Does anyone know what happened to NBC this week? They announced a full schedule of new stuff and instead they're showing all reruns. Reruns three weeks into the season? It's absurd! What a tease!

For god's sake, I was forced to watch Whoopi again!

Anyone know what the deal is?



Old Comments:
Baseball, dude. It's all about the baseball - last night was a pivotal (if ultimately DEPRESSING) game.
mcm | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 9:56 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yeah, but it's not like NBC didn't *know* there'd be a game. Yes, I know there might not have been a 7th or whatever, but they shouldn't have announced a week of new eps and then pulled them! Bastards!
Adam807 | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 11:12 am | #

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

very, very depressing.
me | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 3:43 pm | #

When Toys Attack

So September was not a good month for me and customer service. Yes, it's rant time!

I got a new Palm Pilot in December. It had more memory than my old one and was all shiny and happy.

Until mid-spring, when the digitizer started to fail. It started small, little drifts in the screen's calibration so I'd have to click a button a little off-center for it to take. Then Graffiti (the handwriting recognition program with which you enter data into a Palm) started to mess up. I went to their website for tech support and found a software patch that addressed the problem. I installed it and it helped for a little while, but the problem soon came back, and by May I was unable to write anything. I tried e-mailing them, but they must have the same people reading e-mails as Amazon because they said if I was having problems with Graffiti that there was a tutorial built right in to the Palm! Really? Thanks, 'cause I haven't been using one of these for three years now.

So I called tech support, and a very nice and helpful man told me that the only thing for me to do was to mail the Palm in to them for repair and have it mailed back to me. Now, the Palm of course is an organizer. It's pretty much designed to be indispensable. If you use the way it's meant to be used, you're not going to be real happy about being without it for a week.

I said to the tech support guy, "So, this patch on your website...that kinda implies that you guys knew something was wrong with these units."
"Um...yeah. There was a problem with the digitizer on some of those models. The patch works for a lot of people, but not for everyone. We need to fix it here."
"So basically what you're telling me is that Palm shipped and sold faulty merchandise, and now I have to be majorly inconvenienced for something that's Palm's fault."
"Well, I'm not exactly telling you that..."
"Right, well I understand that you're not allowed to say that, but I'm right, right?"
"Um...yeah."
"Okay, well I appreciate your honesty and your help. Now what do I do to get this thing back to you...?"

I pulled out my old DayRunner and printed out a month's worth of pages for it from Palm Desktop, hot-synced and backed everything up, and put the Palm in the mail. To their credit, I had it back in three or four days. They'd sent it to my theater (I was working at the time, so none of these crazy UPS issues) via Airborne Express apparently the same day they'd received it. It was all fixed and happy.

Only it wasn't. In August it started to break down again, exactly the same way it had before. Only faster. So I called tech support again. "Yeah, that's a problem with the m125s," they told me. I'd have to send it back again. Once again, the tech support person (this time a woman with a very charming accent) was very casual and nice and straight with me. She reiterated what the first guy had told me about the bug being Palm's fault, and she told me about an upgrade program I could use if I'd had the Palm for a year. Unfortunately, I hadn't had it for a year. "And besides," I asked her, "how do I know this won't happen on another model?" She assured me that the problem was only on the m125s and not even on all of them. "So if I went one model up, in the same series, you can assure me I won't have any problems?" Yes. I asked her to put me through to customer service.

Apparently, all the smart people at Palm work in tech support, and they'll put anyone who can operate a phone in customer service. After explaining my situation I was told that all I could do was a "return-and-repair order." I asked to speak to a supervisor.

After a long wait, during which I assume the man I'd been speaking to was telling my story to his boss and calling me all sorts of nasty names, a lovely-sounding woman came on the line and asked me to explain it all again. Okay, well, I have this Palm, I'm really happy with it except that it keeps not working, and I'm wondering what we can do to fix it since the problem was caused by a bug on your end in the first place. Yadda yadda.

"Okay, sir, no problem. We can just go ahead and start a return-and-repair order."
"But I've done that already."
"Yes."
"And it didn't work."
"I'm very sorry about that, sir."
"I appreciate that. So what can we do about it?"
"Well, I can initiate a return-and-repair order and you can mail it back to us."
"But I already did that and it didn't work."
"That's all I can do for you."
"Even though it doesn't work?"
"Sir, it works just fine, we'll have it back to you in a matter of days via Airborne Express."
"No, I don't mean the system doesn't work, I mean the Palm doesn't work after it's already been 'fixed.' And there's no way to guarantee that if I do this this time it won't break down again?"
"It's very unlikely, sir."
"Wasn't it very unlikely last time?"
"Well, yes."
"I don't mean to be difficult, it's just that...well, it's not like I dropped it or dunked it in water or something. This problem was caused on your end. Palm shipped faulty merchandise, and now I'm suffering for it, so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask if perhaps there is a better way to solve the problem."
"I'm sorry, sir, that's our policy."
"Can you send me a new unit before I send mine back? I know some companies do that with a credit card number so I can't screw you."
"We don't really do that, but hold on." She put me on hold and when she came back she told me that there were no m125s in stock to send me even if she could. Fishy.
"Okay, what about an upgrade? I'm not suggesting you send me a free m130, I'll pay the difference, I just don't trust the m125 anymore, I don't believe that it won't break down again."
"We do have an upgrade program..."
"But I have to have had my Palm for a year."
"That's right."
"And I haven't."
"Oh."
"I've had it for nine months and it's broken twice because of a bug in your software."
"Ah."
"So is there any way we can solve this?"
"Well, I can initiate a repair-and-return..."

Yeah, that would be when I hung up on her.

I repeated this conversation to the manager at my old box office job and she was appalled. The beauty of being in charge is that you sometimes get to bend the rules. Especially when the rules clearly don't work for a given situation, and you're faced with possibly losing a loyal customer. I've often spouted policy at people only to be overruled by my boss. In fact, I've often said to my boss, "I have a really nice person on the phone with a really shitty situation, is there anything I can do for her?" Granted, Palm is a much larger corporation than our little non-profit theater, but that also makes it all the more baffling that there were no other options available.

Since I was willing to spend some money at this point, I devised a plan. I would find a good deal on a new PDA, buy it, transfer all my information, then send back the old one for repair and sell it. The ideal version of this plan involved getting a Handspring or a Sony, but in the end they were too expensive and they had a great deal on a Palm m130 on Overstock.com. (For the record, Overstock's customer service is phenomenal -- of course, that doesn't make for a good story, but I want to give them props amid all my whining). Unlike the customer service people, the tech support folks at Palm had been pretty straight with me. After all, they had both admitted outright that the company had messed up by shipping a buggy product. So I trusted the woman who told me that the m130 was safe, and this way I could keep my case and other accessories since they were the same shape. (Later on, Boy had an experience with Sony's customer service that makes this all look like a walk in the park, so I guess it's for the best that I stuck with the devil I know...though it does often seem like he and I should move to a cabin in the woods without any machines.)

So I got the new model -- rechargeable, color, happy -- and sent the old one in to be fixed. It returned promptly. I can't be 100% sure, but I'm pretty positive that after all that, they sent me a new unit. You know, that they couldn't possibly send out without having my old one back because it wasn't in stock. Bastards.

Still, I suppose all's well that ends well. And if anyone is in the market for a freshly reconditioned Palm m125, you can buy mine here.


Old Comments:
I don't know what's more shameful...that I went so far to plug my Ebay item, or that I actually thought anyone would even consider buying it after reading that.

Well, it's sold now, presumably to someone who doesn't read my blog, so the story ends happily all around.
Adam807 | Email | Homepage | 10.16.03 - 3:06 pm | #

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I don't quite know what to say

Nine minutes into It's All Relative, and we already have an "anal" joke, and the term "fagaccino maker."

Ah, television is a wonderful thing.

Fashion Karma

Very gradually over the past couple of years I've been sorting through all the stuff I have stored at my mother's apartment. It's taken so long mostly because I'm lazy and don't go over there very often, but also because I'm an unimaginably obsessive pack-rat. I just have a hard time throwing things away. I'm not like one of those crazy old ladies with a kitchen full of take out containers, but I don't like parting with anything that "means something." Cleaning out my old room has been an interesting exercise, because seeing what I thought "meant something" in high school that's going straight into the trash now is actually making me less obsessive about my present pack-rating. So hopefully in ten years when I do all this again it will be a much smaller project.

A lot of stuff I had good reason to keep at the time but the reason is gone. For instance, I once thought I might teach, so it seemed useful to keep papers I'd written, complete with grades and comments. Now that I'm most definitely not planning on teaching at all (what with the realization that I hate children and all), I really don't need that essay on Hamlet from freshman year of college. If I'm dying to read it, I have it on disc, and I no longer care what Professor Sun thought. Well, actually, I never cared what he thought, as English wasn't his strongest language, but that's another story.

Then there are the multiples. Sure, I want to keep a programs from shows I did in college, and articles I wrote for the high school newspaper, but I really really don't need 20 copies of each. I'm not exaggerating, I had stacks of these things. So into the trash they go, with one copy saved.

But to be honest, the largest category is the "What the fuck was I thinking?" category. I don't have anything hugely embarrassing like leisure suits, it's just that I can't imagine why I kept this stuff. Newspaper clippings of minimal interest, McDonald's Happy Meal toys! Sure, a t-shirt may have sentimental value, but if you know you're never going to wear it again, what are you going to do with it? Frame it? Make a quilt?

Well...unless the t-shirt that was once tragic is now, through the magic of irony and nostalgia, tragically hip.

Last month I cleaned out the dresser. It was like time had stopped in 1995. I was a pretty big dork in high school and college. Not like a scary Revenge of the Nerds Anthony Edwards pocket-protector type, and certainly not as bad as someone who uses the word "meme" as often as possible just to hope it catches on, but definitely not a snappy dresser. Jeans that didn't quite fit and "clever" t-shirts that weren't actually clever at all. I'm still a big dork but my fashion sense has improved.

And so, it seems, has my fashion karma. Most of the stuff in the dresser went straight into bags for the homeless. But amid the high school play t-shirts and way-past-its-expiration-date underwear I found two gems: Twin Peaks Sheriff Department and Energizer Bunny t-shirts. Since the Peaks fad came and went so quickly, I had only worn the shirt a couple of times and it was in really good shape for a 13-year-old piece of cotton. I think my mom sent for the Energizer one with proofs of purchase, because she'll never pass up a freebie, and I never wore it at all. Now, of course, Twin Peaks is retro cool (it's like the second season never existed!) and the pink version of the Energizer Bunny ("Nothing lasts longer") is drenched in irony. Both shirts have been met with compliments when I've worn them recently.

There's something really pleasing about things for which I was mocked in high school now getting me praise. The meek shall inherit, indeed!

So yesterday I went looking for more, including one in particular I was desperate to find. The box in the closet was frozen a few years earlier than the dresser, because I obviously knew I'd never wear this stuff again, or I wouldn't have boxed it up. There were some souvenir/gift type tees in there I'd never worn in the first place, and stuff that was 5 years old and past its prime when I packed it in the first place. Why why why did I not just throw them away? I was also a little appalled by the Pigpen-like state of some of the older ones and couldn't believe I'd worn them in public in that state at all. Well, psychoanalysis and scary teen hygiene aside, I found some more good ones in there too: another Twin Peaks shirt, The Lost Boys (extra-ironic now that Kiefer Sutherland has made a comeback -- here's hoping he never forgets the days when he had a mullet), Ren and Stimpy from back when it was on Nickelodeon trying to pass itself off as a kids' show. And, at the very bottom of the box, what I'd set out to find:

That Bloom County was eerily prescient is hardly a surprise, but who knew I'd want to wear this shirt again even more than I did in 1988? I can even overlook the missing apostrophe.

The only problem is, in my memory this shirt was black. I think I may have had a black one at one time and outgrown it, and only been able to find it in white to replace it. Aside from the fact that I rarely wear white (self-conscious about my weight, but more importantly, prone to spilling things!), the photo doesn't really do justice to how dingy this thing is. I'd love to wear it out and about, as it's the perfect fusion of political angst, nostalgia, and retro geek-chic, but there's a fine line between "nostalgic" and "squalid."

So I have a new mission. if anyone knows where I can find a black "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bill 'N' Opus" t-shirt in large or extra-large (um, preferably one in relatively mint, un-gross condition), I will be eternally grateful.




Old Comments:
I'm going through the stuff at my mom's house, too. Found 5 or so Bloom County shirts. Plus all of my old Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, etc., Christian "rock" concert shirts.

It's a wonder I was getting laid at all back then.
Crash | Email | Homepage | 10.17.03 - 12:59 am | #

Squawkbox Sucks

In my ongoing mission to publicize (to all ten of my readers, at least) bad business practices and customer service trickery, allow me to rant about this blog's former comment provider.

I'd been warned by the always-helpful MAK when I started my blog that Squawkbox was only free for a year, and then they made you "upgrade" to keep using them.

But when I was looking for a comments client Squawkbox seemed to be the best one for my needs, so I read their terms of service very carefully (something I rarely do -- you know, click "Agree" and get on with my life) and found no mention whatsoever of the only-free-for-a-year policy. So I decided to go with them, and I figured I could throw a nicely-justified fit if they tried to make me pay them in a year. (It's not like it's very much money at all, and they are providing a service, but on principle I don't like being bait-and-switched!)

Sure enough, once you're all set up with them and they're happily embedded on your blog and people have left witty comments for you, you start getting this message when you log in: "Note - to continue using your SquawkBox account after the expiry date, you must upgrade or renew your subscription to Squawkbox Pro." Bastards! Tricky rat bastards! (And I'm usually a big Anglophile, but come on, "expiry??")

Since I'm still just a casual blogger, I held on to my wait-a-year-and-throw-a-fit plan. But recently, I've been noticing comments on my Squawkbox controls that I can't seem to find on the blog itself. And MCM just mentioned a comment to me that I couldn't find on the Squawkbox page, but was there when I clicked the link in the post...even though that link said I had no comments. (I think that last part may be a Safari issue and not really Squawkbox's fault, but I don't want to be using something that isn't compatible with my home browser -- and it's not like that's some little piece of shareware, even if it isn't Explorer. Anyway.)

Meanwhile, I've noticed Haloscan popping up on a lot of other blogs (including MAK's -- to whom I should have listened in the first place) so I decided to check them out. They seem to have no sneak-attack payment plans, and if I do decide to upgrade it costs less anyway. I may give them money now just to spite Squawkbox.

This is the very long explanation of why all the old comments have vanished. Next time I'm bored out of my skull on a temp gig I may try to transfer them over but you know, I also just may not. Please don't take it personally -- you're all fabulous people and I love hearing what you have to say, so enjoy the new system!

Monday, October 13, 2003

Pitying the Fool

I'm so glad this technology exists. The world truly is a better place.

I think I might be a bad person...

I was just in Best Buy and I noticed that there's a Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen videogame.

My immediate thought was, Oooh, do you get to shoot them?





Old Comments
I'm thinking Resident Evil but instead of zombies you get to smoke the Olsens. I'd buy that for a dollar!
Crash | Email | Homepage | 10.15.03 - 5:16 pm | #

Lawsuit...Lottery...close enough.

"He said to me, 'we won,' and I got so excited because I've never won anything before!"
-TV commercial for Jacoby & Meyers, a law firm


What the hell is wrong with this country???

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Wash your mouth out with soap...and then clean up that blood.

I got a new videogame last week, and, though it's one of my personal favorite words in the English language, I was a little bit shocked to hear the lead character say fuck. Frequently. Sometimes with a subtitle.

Mind you, said lead character is a scantily clad half-vampire, whose primary M.O. is to hack people to bits, quite graphically (limbs flying and twitching, blood spraying in slow motion...), with a pair of swords. When her health is low, she drinks someone's blood while (just for added effect) she wraps her legs around them and moans with pleasure. At one point, she winds up in a Nazi gas chamber.

But for some reason, I just feel like videogames shouldn't say fuck!

Friday, October 10, 2003

clapclapclapclap

Because I know some of you tape television and watch things later (as do I), and because I'm just a wee bit compulsive (as are some of you) I've created a sattelite blog for spoiler-proofing purposes so I can write about things a little more freely.

My first use of it is pretty inconsequential, but I just watched last night's Friends and... [spoiler]

Fascinating

My blog had more traffic today than on any other day since I started it.

Almost every single one of these hits was through a search for "Siegfried and Roy" (though apparently I misspelled Siegfried, but so did everyone who searched for it). Who knew?

The really odd thing is that about half the searches also included the words "gay" and "homosexual."

I wonder what else I can write about that will make me feel popular?

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Well no one told you life was gonna be this way...

Am I the only one who feels a pavlovian urge to drop whatever I'm doing and clap along with the Friends theme song?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Bartlet For America 2004

For the past four years, President Josiah Bartlet has led the United States with an intelligence and dignity certainly not seen in my lifetime, and I believe for quite some time longer than that as well.

President Bartlet is a liberal, to be sure, but he has always avoided partisan politics as much as possible, and has accomplished an astonishing amount in the face of staunch Republican opposition. He does what he believes is right, and what the people who elected him want, regardless of party platforms.

In his first year he may have been a little soft, not quite "presidential enough." But since then he has pulled the country out of a recession, enacted sweeping education reforms, passed a strong hate crimes bill, supported gay marriage, pushed for broader drug treatment programs, and fought for human rights abroad, to name but a few of his accomplishments. With his equally talented wife, Dr. Abigail Bartlet, he has made seeing adequate medical care for all Americans a top priority.

And with his fierce loyalty to his family and his religion, how can anyone say he doesn't also embody traditional values? You might call Bartlet a progressive traditionalist. He understands the Constitution exceptionally well, and both respects its power and limitations, and the fact that it was designed to evolve over time. He has strived to bring this country forward into a bright 21st Century without losing touch with the ideals of the Founding Fathers. I can't help but think that they would approve.

More recently, my heart goes out to President Bartlet after his recent time of personal and national crisis? Some have criticized him for temporarily resigning his office, but I think it takes great courage for a leader to say admit that he is flawed, and when faced with a situation in which he knows he cannot make objective decisions, to step aside. I may not approve of how the succession worked out, but Bartlet's refusal to put party politics above the good of the nation and his family, is honorable..

This is a man I want in charge of our country.

Plus, he has the classiest, sassiest, sexiest press secretary in US history.

This is why I say, without hesitation, Re-elect Bartlet in 2004!

What's that? What do you mean he's not real? Fictional...TV show...?

George who?? Arnold what????

Oh, crap.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Eye of the Tiger

I'm finding myself strangely moved by the plight of Roy Horn and I'm not sure why. I mean, not that I'm callous enough to not be moved at all by another person's pain, but come on, it's Sigfried and Roy! So easily and frequently mocked are Sigfried and Roy! (And the photo in that CNN article is proof of why.) But I can't deny that they're talented, even if I don't personally enjoy their particular brand of "magic" and cheese. And by all accounts Roy is a very nice man. Then there are all those people (over 200) the show employs.

I stand by my conviction that if you choose an exceptionally dangerous line of work, you have to expect this sort of thing (and after 30 years or so without an accident, you're tempting fate), but it still must just suck to get mauled by a tiger.

In a curious bit of timing, there's been a local story about a man who was keeping a tiger and a crocodile in his apartment. His Harlem project apartment. They discovered this when the tiger (I imagine quite understandably pissed off about the cramped quarters) took a chunk out of the man's leg and he (the man) had to go to the hospital. Apparently the downstairs neighbor had been complaining about the noise, and about the tiger urine leaking through the ceiling, but that didn't get the Housing Authority's attention. I imagine she didn't actually know what the source of the problem was, or she would have called the Animal Cops.

This time it's the tiger for whom I feel sorry, not the mauled man. He (the man again) has said that he kept wild animals inappropriately because he "wants to prove that we can all get along." The hell? It's not like you were keeping children of all races in your bedroom (though now that I write that I realize that's icky in whole new ways), you were keeping a freaking tiger and crocodile, two animals that were never meant to coexist with each other, let along with a human. He's said that the tiger was like a brother to him. Yeah, a brother who bites your leg down to the bone. The tiger seems more evolved than the human.

It's just a bad week for tigers and flamboyant German queens alike.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

After all my bitching about bad customer service this week, I want to share my favorite local news story from this week. It sheds some light on the other side of the argument. Not on good customer service, mind you, but on bad customers.

Apparently, Yankees playoff tickets are sold in books which you tear the tickets out of. I have no personal experience whatsoever with this, I'm just going with what I gathered from the news. At the first playoff game, a few hundred fans weren't allowed into the stadium because they showed up without complete tickets. It seems that rather than tearing the entire ticket out of the book, they had torn it at the stub the way the ushers do.

Everyone was issued new tickets, but it took time and most of these people missed about half of the game.

On the radio report I heard (which, curiously, I'm not finding on their website), one of the patrons interviewed said, "Someone came down from management came down and basically said it was our fault because we couldn't follow instructions."

Well...yeah.

Having not seen these ticket books, I can't say how clear (or not) the instructions were. But I'm gonna guess that they were pretty clear. And besides, have you been to a single major entertainment venue, be it a stadium or a movie theater, where your ticket doesn't come in two parts? It's not arbitrary. The venue needs a record of how many people are inside and where they're located. That's their half. The patron needs a record of having paid and been admitted (and nowadays, having been through security), where his seat is, and proof of all of the above so that he is free to move around. It's pretty straightforward, whether it's a $6 movie or a $100 baseball game.

For the next game of the playoffs the Yankees put on more box office staff and kept more windows open after the game started so that they could print duplicate tickets faster and get people inside. So they did their part. Once they knew there was a problem they addressed it.

But come on, how hard is it to tear a ticket out of a book? I just have no patience for stupid people. And I can only pray that the people at Amazon and UPS aren't saying the same thing about me right now.

Northeasterners Unite!

Eveyone who says "soda" instead of "pop" (ie, everyone normal) go here and vote, as we can't let pop win!! (Thanks to iBartz for the link, even though he's a pop-sayer.)

In all seriousness, I'd love to see a survey like this for sprinkles vs. jimmies (I say sprinkles and I don't want to hear a single argument) which doesn't seem to be as cleanly regionally broken up as soda/pop/coke is. I'd never heard jimmies until I got to college, and I honestly had no idea what was being talked about.

And if you call water fountains "bubblers," I just don't want to hear about it.

I hate everyone

One of the bits of useful information I got from the Amazon phone lady was that while they can't control which shipper their various warehouses use, if you have a PO Box, they will have to use US Mail, or another shipper that can deliver to a post office. In other words, not UPS.

There is a post office a half block from my house. Unfortunately, due to some quirk of ZIP code planning, it is not my post office. I live on the edge of a postal zone whose office is a mile away. So even when I do get a package delivered by regular mail, I have to get on a subway to go and get it.

What's worse, my mail carrier is not exactly reliable. I'm convinced that there are days when he just doesn't bother to show up, and my magazines are often missing.

So this morning I thought I'd just kill three birds with one stone and get a PO Box at the local office. Solve all my problems at once.

There's a freakin' waiting list.

I'm back on that gypsy curse theory.

Friday, October 03, 2003

"There are no homosexuals, only peoplesexuals."

The American coupling seems to be improving steadily. That doesn't make it any less pointless though.

UPS Saga, Part 4 (More frustration followed by a happy ending)

From the latest in the Amazon corresponence:

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com.

I am sorry to hear that we had difficulty delivering your package.

As stated in our previous e-mail, your package was returned to us on September 24, 2003 for the following reason: undeliverable for unspecified reason.

While we do not have any further information about your package, you can find some common reasons for undeliverable packages here...

Please note that refund for this shipment has been completed...


You're kidding me, right? If I can see in my account page that the order was sent in two shipments, surely customer service can too, right? I mean, how fucking hard is it?

I've worked customer service, and I know what a terrible and thankless job it can be. But also know that it's not really all that difficult to do it well. The customer is not always right. But he always deserves your full attention. I would have been frustrated, but not upset with, "We understand your situation, but need to wait for UPS to finish their investigation and get back to you," or some other very not instantly gratifying response to my complaint. But the mystery e-mailers at Amazon weren't even taking the time to look at my history and actually pay attention to the problem before reciting irrelevant policies or inaccurate information. This is inexcusable.

But there is a happy ending. This last e-mail, while perhaps the most frustrating of all, included a phone number. A phone number which I will now share with you all in case you ever need to contact Amazon customer service yourselves: 1-800-201-7575 .

Rather than fire off one of my bitchy e-mails (which was my first instinct), I called and spoke to a very nice woman who was very sympathetic. She offered to re-ship the item or issue a refund on the spot. I took the refund. I'm somewhat mystified as to why the e-mailers couldn't do this, but I was very happy to have it resolved. I lodged my complaints about my experience so far and felt like someone was actually listening to me. (This is a vital trick to good customer service: She may well have bitched about me and made fun of me and stolen my credit card number once she hung up the phone, but she made me feel like I was being listened to and she gave a shit.)

There's still the UPS end of things to be sorted out, but now that I have my money back I really don't care. I'm sort of hoping the now-unpaid-for package will make its way here and i can keep it, but I suppose that would be bad for my karma.

UPS Saga, Part 3

Excerpt from the e-mail I just received from Amazon.com:

I have reviewed our previous correspondence with you, and I offer my sincere apologies for any misunderstanding thus far.

Further, I am sorry that even the second shipment did not reach you because of a problem with the shipping address.

In such cases, the packages are typically returned to us by the carrier, and upon receipt of the return we will issue a full refund...Unfortunately, we are unable to re-ship orders that are returned to us as undeliverable....

If this is an outdated address, you can remove it from your account by clicking the "Your Account" link at the top of our home page...



And my response:

> I have reviewed our previous correspondence with you, and I offer my
> sincere apologies for any misunderstanding thus far.
>

Well, that's great, but you obviously still aren't paying attention. Please stop parroting policy at me ("We are unable to reship orders...") and read carefully.

There is no "problem with the shipping address." The shipping address is my home. I am not stupid. I would not have something sent to an "outdated address."

The problem is that UPS has delivered this package to SOMEONE ELSE. I understand that orders that are returned to you will be processed for a refund, and would wait patiently IF the package were on its way to you.

However, the package is NOT on its way to you, because it was delivered by UPS to SOMEONE I DON'T KNOW.

I have initiated a trace with UPS, and I understand that we may have to wait for them to figure out what went wrong in order to process my refund. However what I asked in my original e-mail to you, was if there was anything you could/should do on your end to expedite this process. The answer to this question may well be no, but the question has not actually be answered.

I do understand your policy on undeliverable packages and refunds, and I also understand that I may have to wait. However I would like YOU to understand that this particular situation is an unusual one, and it's not clear to me how it fits in with your normal policy.

As you can see from my account history, I am a loyal and long-time Amazon.com user, and I would like to continue to be one. But you have got to improve your customer service procedures. How about making it possible to find a phone number on your website? How about making it possible to reply directly to the representative who contacted me originally, instead of the generic "orders-reply" address?

I am perfectly capable of reading the Help section of your website. It is very clear. If I am writing to you it is because, as the link to do so states, I did not find what I was looking for. It is not the least bit helpful when you reply to my e-mails with a stock answer from the FAQ, apparently without even taking the time to read them all the way through.

Thank you,
Adam875


Clearly, I'm over this.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Strange Costume Choices

My post office apparently employs only 3 people. It doesn't matter what time I go there or how big a crowd could be reasonably expected, there's always at least a 20 minute wait.

So when I was there the other day I had lots of time to stare at the strangest drag queen I've ever seen.

I suppose I've actually seen stranger, but that's been part of their characters. It's all about context, and this was the Woodside post office, not Lucky Cheng's.

The tall, muscular African American man was wearing a small blue top with thin shoulder straps, matching hot pants, and blue high heels with white ruffled socks. On his wrists were a woman's gold watch and matching bracelet, and around his neck were 3 strands of pearls. This outfit would have been trashy and odd on anyone. It was like a bad costume designer's idea of a hooker from the 80s. On him it was simply odd.

I usually use female pronouns to describe drag queens/transvestites/transsexuals, as they are presenting themselves as women, but this guy couldn't have made less of an effort to disguise his masculinity. His most feminine feature (apart from his clothes) was his curly medium-length hair, which may or may not have been a wig. Otherwise, his body was extraordinarily visible: huge bare arms, clearly a man's torso under the tight shirt (he didn't have any kind of fake breasts), and the pants, well, they left little to the imagination. He wore no makeup. It seemed odd to me, but in a way I had to admire his guts in going out in this neighborhood like that...though he could probably beat up anyone who messed with him.

What really struck me, though, was that I seemed to be the only one staring. In this room full of mostly middle-aged, working-class immigrants, no one batted an eye at the man in inappropriate woman's clothes. But come on, pearls in the morning? At the post office??

I thought of this man again today when I got on the subway and saw a boy in full goth-parody drag. Like Marilyn Manson a few years ago. White face-paint with black lips and eyes, long dyed-black hair, a leather/pleather trench coat, safety pins in odd places, the whole nine. He was sitting next to a businessman in a three-piece suit who appeared utterly unfazed. As I settled on the train our eyes met, and I smiled. Almost laughed, really. I mean, he just looked so silly.

I don't think it was the reaction he was looking for.