The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

TidBits: New Year’s Edition

Comcast, again:

Honestly, their website sucks.  I’m actually finding this more often than not:  Companies will hand the reigns over to some third-party website people who take all the stress of maintaining a reliable website off the hands of the company, and in turn, make things absolutely hellish on customers.

To wit:  I’m trying to pay all my bills (online of course, …I haven’t bought a book of stamps since like, 1996) and when I get to Comcast’s site from clicking the link in the email, it brings me to the log-on screen I’m familiar with.  I pump in my info, and then I’m brought to another log-on on screen.

This log-on screen tells me that I’m logging into ‘My Sign-In’ which will keep me logged into “all of Comcasts other great sites!”, what these are I have no clue, but apparently my log-in information is still the same, so I pump it in AGAIN, and am brought to a screen that tells me “account cannot be access because user has failed to make account secure.”

Ooohkay…. what?

I’ve been an unfortunate subscriber to Comcast for over two years now, and I think they’re giving me a heart attack on purpose.  It seems that any time I alter my service just a little bit, all sorts of wild shit gets fucked up days or even weeks later.  You’d think a company as big as Comcast (they just BOUGHT NBC from General Electric for chrissakes,) would have their shit together enough so where a customer like myself logs in, all their information would be right there in front of them, and not be led about the nose through a maze of log-in screens only to find out that for some reason they don’t have your account information.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to GIVE money to some one or service, and not be able to do so.  I wish I could just not pay it, and be like “fuck you and your website,” but then they’d just shut our shit down.

By the way, from all the button clicking and navigating around that site, there appears to be no way to confirm or “secure” the account, resulting in my having to call them eventually later today.  Great, now I get to spend half an hour later today dealing with some prick on the phone just to give them 150 bucks.

I still don’t understand why I don’t just cancel my account and live without all this bullshit.

Other Movie-Goers:

Last night, in celebration of our one year anniversary, Ang and I went out to the local theatre to see “Sherlock Holmes.”  We never go to the movies, which was puzzling to me until last night.

I forgot about how when you go out to the movies, usually there’s going to be other people there, and these people are usually not very considerate of other movie goers.

I’m one of those types of people who like to get to the theatre a little early, get soda and popcorn, get good seats, and have the conversation while the stupid movie trivia is playing on the screen.  If you haven’t figured out by now from reading all my blogs, I’m sort’ve anal-retentive about shit.  I like to be comfortable long before the movie or even the previews start.

So imagine the bullshit rage I flip into when people show up late, stumbling through the dark after the house lights have dropped and there’s shit on the screen.  Imagine me going for my pistol when those asshole make a a bee-line for the seats directly behind us, and then engage in some stupid conversation.

It started off brilliantly: we arrived ten minutes early, got our snacks out, settled in.  There were only two or three other couples and everyone was spread out.  We had seats on the left hand side, back-middle, where we’d be able to take in the whole screen without being overwhelmed.

Then this family of five came in, two adults three children, all of them yapping.  Nothing had started yet, so it wasn’t a big deal, but they sat directly across the aisle from us.  Aggravation level is at about a 3.

The lights drop, more people shuffle in under the wire, aggravation level rising to 5, like, come on people, get it together.

Then, at the start of the “Iron Man 2” trailer, these three girls show up, late teens, early 20s, and sit DIRECTLY BEHIND US, put their feet up, and start fucking talking about whatever conversation they had started in the parking lot outside.  Aggravation level now around an 8.

We get up and move, making a big deal about it.  I’m wearing a mohawk and skinny jeans, and want to say some shit to these people like a skanky punk would, but I don’t, I just show them my ass as we shuffle out of the seats.  We take seats further down and on the right hand side of the aisle, slightly too close to the screen, so I’m craning my neck up, being bombarded by all the wild shit going on on the screen.  Aggravation level at critical.

In my heart of hearts I wish I had a plank of wood with nails in the end of it to brandish at idiots.  Maybe a cricket bat or something.

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December 31, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Snowed In Edition

On Friend Requests:

I have this guy I used to be best friends with growing up.  In high school we sadly parted ways.  He went with one crowd and I another – that shit is real elementary, it happens to everyone.

I literally hadn’t heard jackshit from this kid in close to almost ten years, and suddenly, as soon as I turned my Facebook account back on, I get a friend request from him.

I know what you’re thinking, or perhaps even saying to yourself:  “Who cares?”  I care.  That shit fucked me up a few different ways because one, I like to keep my “friends” on Facebook to a minimum; it keeps the News Feed clear of unneccesary crap as well as limits the amount of information about me that gets out there.  The other reason why the friend request was bothersome was because it was nothing more than just the request.  No attached note or message saying “hey what’s up, I’d love to reconnect, we had good times” or anything.  Nothing asking me about what I’m doing now-a-days, just a blank “add me” button to stare at.

I was friends with this guy for like… five or six years.  And by “friends” I mean basically sleeping over at each other’s houses every other night.  We were inseparable, we did everything and went everywhere together.  When he slipped on a patch of ice and broke his ankle as a kid, it was I who ran and got help.  And he couldn’t take two seconds to pound out one sentence to go with his request?

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I have a high expectation for people, or maybe I’m just a prick, but either way he should’ve/could’ve asked how I was doing in the very least.  No, what he was doing was just trying to inflate his Facebook “Friends” numbers and turn around and shit all over my News Feed.  And I ain’t havin’ that.

So I took the intiative and sent him a message telling him how I felt (by now I had received two of the same request, I had ignored the first one a few days ago) about his seemingly ambivalent approach towards me.  I was a real ball breaker, with the hopes that he won’t bother sending me another request.

Does it make me an asshole, yes.  But at the same time it saves me from two days of awkward conversations that peter out into me inevitably deleting him.  I’m just trying to save myself time and aggravation.

On Televised Violence:

I’ve been keeping half an eye turned towards Mtv’s Jersey Shore (read my review at the IRdC here), and was recently informed by my wife that a female character nicknamed (presumably by her pimp) ‘Snookie’ was physically assaulted at a bar after running her mouth – and it was caught on tape.

Of course I had to watch the footage.

If you haven’t seen the web-only footage (Mtv won’t air it, more on that in a sec), basically the diminutive skank with a love of trucker hats is standing on a bar stool and calling out some asshole who keeps stealing her and her friend’s pre-paid shots of booze.  She goes on a five minute long, insult-laden tirade on this guy, putting her hands in his face and coming within inches of assaulting him first.  The guy has enough and cracks her in the face with a straight punch.  He then (kinda) hustles out of the bar while a small army of guidos (kinda) chase him outside, where he’s met by the local constabulary.

Do I condone what happened to Snookie?  No.  Do I think she kinda asked for it?  …Maybe.

Either way, Mtv had decided that on it’s televised episode, they wouldn’t show the actual punch.  Instead, they black out the screen but give you the audio.  The audio consists of shit-talking abruptly silenced by the sound of a handclap, followed by a chorus of “ooooh”s, followed by a bunch of bleeped out cursing.  The shot comes back in with the assailant in retreat and Snookie on her side, crumpled up like a bumper after a head-on collision.

My beef is this:  Mtv won’t show a random stranger, who happens to be a dude, striking a female he didn’t know, in a public place that served alcohol.  They will however, show a promo for their other ultra-trashy reality television program “Teen Mom” where one of the teen mothers backs her baby’s daddy into a corner and slaps the shit out of him in anger.

And I’m not talking about like, one slap here.  I’m talking about taking this dude (who’s admittedly bigger than her) by the throat, slamming him into a corner, striking his chest multiple times, and then cracking him across his jowls.  Mtv has no problem airing this, let alone using it in the commercial for the next episode.

It’s a double standard.

I think it’s far worse to show domestic violence than just regular, standard violence.  I think it’s also a bad idea to show violence of any kind that’s centered around rearing a child, on a show that’s decidedly marketed towards teenage women, oppose to “Jersey Shore”‘s demographic which is conceivably slightly older in age.

Hey Mtv:  Just because it’s chick-on-dude violence doesn’t mean it’s ok to show it.  Just because the guy’s bigger than the girl doesn’t make it ok either.  That young woman on the show (Amber is her name, I watched a few eps this morning…) is psychologically unbalanced and dangerous.  You have untold amounts of footage of her crying in her car, on the phone, and in public places.  What makes you think it’s ok to air footage of her acting out in violence towards the father of her child?

It’s bad enough that there’s a stigma out there that men can’t be abused by their partners, but please don’t add to it and make it seem like it’s “normal” because it’s not.  Hundreds, maybe thousands of men take physical abuse from their spouses or girl/boyfriends in silence, because they’re afraid no one will understand them.  It’s a real problem.

So next time, how about you run that same stupid PSA text from that episode of “Jersey Shore” over the next episode of “Teen Mom” ?  It’d make up for running those Kid Rock videos back in 2002.

On The Holidays:

I wish Xmas was over with already.  I have all the gifts wrapped, trees up, lights are plugged in and I’m broke.  I’m really broke.

After paying all the bills and getting the last minute items shipped out, my bank account is tapped and it’s still like, ten days before my next paycheck.  I’m thankful that I’m on vacation for the next few weeks, because I’m not even certain that I’d be able to afford to put gas in my truck right now to make the commute.

I’m exaggerating obviously, but money’s tight, and that’s no joke.  The Holidays are rough on people for different reasons; maybe you’re broke, so broke you can’t afford gifts for Xmas, maybe you’re away from family, maybe you’ve lost people this time of year?  For all the joy the tv says that this time of year is supposed to bring, there’s a lot of long faces in the crowd.

It seems too, that The Holidays get longer and longer every year.  And I’m not talking like, they start decorating the stores earlier, I’m talking about how I seem to be ready for them earlier and earlier each year.  This lends itself to me sitting in front of the tv, watching the days tick by.  When I was a kid, this would be because I couldn’t wait for Xmas to get there, because the tree would be surrounded in a wall of wrapped boxes.  As I’m an adult, it’s because I’m just ready for all this shit to be over with – I’m waiting for the day AFTER Xmas, where I can wipe my brow, look at my bank account and sigh in a little relief.

Thank god Google’s been kicking ass in the stock market, that’s all I’m gonna say.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

TidBits: Media Over-Hype Edition

Gate Crashers:

By now you’ve heard the story about The Salahis, the eager-to-be-famous gate crashers that seemingly waltzed into President Obama’s first “State Dinner” (quotes are for the fact it wasn’t ‘really’ a State Dinner.  State Dinner’s are characterized as being with other heads of state, and this dinner was attended by India’s Prime Minister, who is the head of India’s Government, but not the head of the country) uninvited.

The obvious twist in the panties comes from the (lack of) security that was breached by two witless faux-celebrity wannabes.  Pictures of the couple appeared shortly after the ceremony on their Facebook page, which begs to ask the question: What is a couple roughly my boss’s age doing with a Facebook page?  Do they stalk their high school-aged kids?

But the real head scratcher in all of this is why people, the media and politicians especially, are getting mad at the Salahis’ and not that government entity called THE SECRET SERVICE?

Since writing this, three Secret Service agents have been placed on administrative leave until findings in the lapse in security can be properly investigated, but law makers, who love a good sturdy soap box to stand on and yell into the hills from, want to place blame on both The Salahis and the president’s Social Events Secretary.

That’s like blaming the bank teller for a robbery when the security guard is fast asleep on his stool.

Hey Washington DC, yeah it’s fucked up that these two spray tanners were able to get inside the holy of holies with little more than a clever anecdote and cleavage, but don’t blame them, and don’t call for the head of some la-di-da department secretary whose sole purpose is to plan meet and greets for Mrs. Obama and the kids.  Blame the people responsible, the guys with the ear pieces, guns and black suits, whose job is to ensure fame seeking whack jobs don’t get pictures with the President and post them all over the goddamn Facebook.

Tiger Woods:

Please leave this poor multi-national bastard alone.

I don’t condone what he’s apparently done; I would never cheat on my super model wife.  Men do stupid things and though I could come up with many reasons on why he probably did what he did, I won’t.  It’s just bad voodoo and an inevitable argument with my wife when she reads this.

But let’s not forget that Tiger is a person.  Up until now he was a very private person who wasn’t the type of celebrity athlete that shows up in the pages of People or US magazine.  He’s a winner and he’s human, fucking A.

He did break the boundaries of privacy when he crashed his SUV into a tree in front of their house, obviously fleeing a psychotic wife wielding one of his golf clubs that probably costs more than my yearly salary.  He brought that shit on himself, but damn, can’t you give him a break?

Stop demonizing him, I ask.  Plenty of celebrity athletes have done dumber shit and we’ve all gone on to pretty much forget about it, unless of course you’re Pete Rose (better luck next year, coach!).  Stop playing it up like Tiger will never be the same guy ever again, or his career will suffer.  Gatorade and fucking Nike have both stated they were going to stick by Tiger no matter what, and AT&T (whom I wasn’t aware sponsored him…) has released a ‘no comment’ comment.

I can see GM pulling out under obvious reasons, though.

Adam Lambert:

If you were like the rest of America, you missed the American Music Awards, the also-ran of musical award shows that places somewhere distant behind the VMAs, Grammys, and Country Music Awards.

Though, if you had passed by while flipping from reruns of ‘The Office’ and that shitty sitcom with that guy from ‘Everyone Loves Raymond’ … you know, the guy, the tall guy?  I think he was a cop?  That guy.  Anyway, if you were like most Americans, you had no idea who Adam Lambert was until the morning after the AMAs.

Adam Lambert was a RUNNER UP in American Idol like, last year.  He’s also come out and said he’s real gay, which is not surprising in the least.  He recently released an album which could easily be confused with a Sheila Eastan LP from 1991.

The controversy started when during the AMA’s, Lambert mocked fellatio with a fellow band mate, who happened to be of the same sex (a dude), while making out with another band mate of the same sex (…also a dude) while tromping around the stage like an awesomely flamboyant peacock.  This got him tossed from the next morning’s Good Morning America appearance, where he was scheduled to sing to school kids on an outside stage, while no one wondered why these kids weren’t in school.

Mr. Lambert likes to claim that he’s being ostracized because he’s gay, and as a gay guy he’s not entitled to performing the same lewd semi-sexual acts that straight musicians are afforded while performing.  He’s quick to point out that many famous acts have been allowed to simulate straight (see also: chick-on-dude) fellatio, but as soon as a gay dude does it, it’s ‘disgusting.’

Elton John is rolling over in his still warm grave….

Adam Lambert, you miss the point: People aren’t outraged that you thrust your crotch into another dude’s face in front of a live audience which was broadcasted into dozens of homes, no, that’s not the controversy.  If you want to flaunt how gay you are, and make it seem like it’s cooler than the next Harold and Kumar movie, that’s fine, because gay people have been doing that shit since the early 1980s.

What we’re really pissed about is your lack of talent.  Dude, you suck.  Your voice sucks, your music sucks, your production sucks, you suck, suck, suck.  The irony that you think people are upset at you for ‘sucking’ is enough to make me pop a stitch.

The next time you tour, please bring along that monotone celestial that sings the Ricky Martin songs.  You know the guy, he’s released two more albums than you?

December 7, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, Why Am I Watching This?, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reviewed: Modern Warfare 2

Kazakhstan: a hellish frozen tundra that would easily be confused with some other planet rather than a former communist bloc satellite country of the Soviet Union.

But alas, being a member of the super secret and elite Task Force 141, you don’t exactly get to pick and choose which locales “they” send you to.  You might be freezing your ass off in the Permafrost today, sweating it on in the narrow funnels of death that make up the shantytowns of Rio.

Infinity Ward’s beyond-anticipated “Modern Warfare 2” dropped this week, and I finally got my hands on it, though not my own copy.  No, for my own, I’m apparently going to have to wait for Xmas.

“Ang, I need to know, are you going to get me Modern Warfare for Xmas?  Cuz if you’re not, I’m just going to go and buy it – right now” I said with half a foot out the door, pointed in the general direction of the mall.  At 28 years old, I don’t get excited for new games like I used to when I was a seldom-bathing college kid eight years ago, but when a massive game, one you’ve been dying for since this time LAST YEAR finally hits the streets, it’s like a crack fiend finding a lonely rock in the bottom of his pocket after going dry for a few hours.

“Yeah, I am going to get it for you,” my wife says from next to a cutting board where she’s working some cucumbers into the evening’s meal.

“Ok, well, would you be interested in getting it for me NOW… and you know, it can be an early Xmas gift?”

“No,” she chops into the cuke hard with finality.  “I imagine it’s going to be such a pain in the ass to get that game for you around the holidays that I refuse to have you go and get it for yourself, no.”

I frown.

“Or, ok, you can get it, or I can get it right now … but you can’t play it til Xmas.”

Ah, the bitch!

Though, procuring the game will be easier than she knows.  After a month and a half after any major game’s release there’s going to be plenty of used copies in circulation, thanks to the numerous fanboys who consume a hot game like “Modern Warfare 2” in its entirety a few short hours after purchase and move on like a pack of locusts.  Hell, I would imagine now, even after a few short days since its release there’s bound to be a used copy at the local GameStop.

However, I don’t know if I can last that long – “til Xmas”, ugh.

But fortunately for me, a guy I work with has a cooler wife than I, who let him go and get it, and he brought it into work so at lunch we could all crowd around the giant tv in our lounge and watch the Suburbs of Washington DC get pulverized by Russian regular army.

As you can tell, MW2 takes its queues from mostly war fantasy, oppose to the earlier incarnations of the “Call of Duty” franchise which were mostly settled in and around historically-accurate World War 2.  The trend to break away from the oversaturated WW2 shooter market started in 2007 with Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” where the franchise went for a more current events-type look and feel.  Between the two games, MW and MW2, there was “COD5: World at War” which borrowed heavily from MW’s graphic’s engine to bring players familiar with the franchise back to WW2 with an updated look.

And that brings us to the technical aspects of MW2:  It doesn’t look much different from MW in the aspect that the surroundings and people all share the same rendering.  Sure, character outfits have changed and you’re engaging Brazilians oppose to Arabs in some respects, but the character movements and interactions don’t fall far from the original MW tree.

However, along with the storyline what does get an improvement is the arsenal of weaponry that’s available to the player, along with the ability to double fist small arms (an ability that was grossly missing from the first MW, but can be found in just about every other shooter available).  The old standby’s like the M4 and Kalashnikov are present, but sniper rifles with attached thermal imaging scopes to old clunky side-by-side shotguns are at the player’s disposal as well.

The storyline is a lot darker and slightly more convoluted as well.  Early on, like in all “Call of Duty” games (the Modern Warfare titles still apply, even though the COD has been largely dropped) you’re introduced to your playable character, and brought to a shoot house, or tactical assault mock-up, where pop-up targets present themselves for engagement.  Your sure-footedness in this section will allow the game CPU to suggest a level in which to start the campaign.

An interesting twist that Infinity Ward brings with the latest chapter of Modern Warfare is the addition of civilians.  In previous shooters the player is encouraged to shoot at just about anything that moves with little in the way of consequence.  Hell, hit one of your own guys and he stumbles, but picks himself up and carries on with the mission.  Maybe says something smart about your aim (or lack there of), or in the very least identifies himself as a friendly.

But no more, as I found out after laying down an entire magazine of digitized 5.56mm from my tricked out M4 in the shoot house; in the earliest of stages of the game you can fail by blasting a steel cut out of a little booger-picker holding an ice cream cone.  This game-play element introduces us more hardened virtual trigger pullers to the real-life aspect of Rules of Engagement.

But in the actual mission game-play of the campaign, whacking a civilian has little to do with you failing.  I mean, don’t go targeting them, but if one or two civvies get in the way, well… didn’t they know there was a gun fight outside?

One of the more disturbing and darkest parts of the game happens earlier on as well.  As a member of Task Force 141, you infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring and stage a massacre at a local Russian airport.  Infinity Ward gives you the option of skipping out of this early mission with a disclaimer that says something to the effect of “hey, this is going to get real nasty” but I wonder who among us is going to skip?  And doesn’t that disclaimer only entice the gamer into seeing what all the fuss is all about anyway?

I consider myself to be an avid gamer where nothing really upsets me as long as it’s pixilated- many  video game hookers from Liberty City  have fallen to my sociopathic tendencies.  However, selecting the “play thru” option and being forced to march ankle deep through politically-inspired civilian carnage blackened my soul.  You have the option of not firing a single round into the crowds of people scurrying for their lives, but just to watch the event unfold made me want to put the controller down and walk away for a bit.

Parents with kids who have, up until this point managed to convince you that Rated ‘M’ games are ok for them to play after school, be cautioned.

The question that seems to get asked more and more frequently regarding violent video games is “how far can they go, and are they willing to go that far?”  I’d hope to think that Infinity Ward has reached the wall.

But it is all just fantasy, as are the missions with the Army Rangers that center on the aforementioned attack on DC.  The intensity of the house-to-house fighting was truly the most thrilling game-play experience I’ve had in a long while.  As implausible as an attack launched by the Federated States of Russia seems, the plot device does ring of certain truisms; stolen technological hardware allows the Russians to jam our NORAD satellites and cloak their advance towards our seaboards.

But then there’s a fair share of military fantasy as well:  Super Secret Special Forces globetrotting in denim jeans and load-bearing vests, shooting their way through civilian-lined neighborhoods.

The game is challenging and goes beyond the mindless trigger pulling.  Whole missions hinge sometimes on just one shot, while others are a frantic and deadly cat-and-mouse chase over shantytown roof tops as a militia of Brazilian Irregulars advance on you – and you’re unarmed.

Unfortunately we don’t have an Xbox Live account here at the office, so I can’t personally comment on the online play.  When I interviewed a few co-workers who have already purchased and played the game online, the general consensus orbited between ‘dope’ and ‘fucking awesome.’

While “Modern Warfare 2” doesn’t break any new grounds visually, it’s an inspired and above average offering for a genre that’s easy to write off as spent.  What MW2 manages to do is up the ante for shooters further, at the same time toeing the line of what is considered acceptable for battle-hardened gamers (and good taste), while featuring content that goes well above and beyond my long awaited expectations.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Getting Older, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

The Collapse

My unrealized greatest fear of humanity’s demise came to me while I was sitting on the toilet, taking a shit and reading this past month’s Esquire.

I don’t recall the article, but it basically suggested that the End of The World, The Apocalypse, etc, wouldn’t be in the form of a giant fast-moving meteor falling from the heavens like the fist of God to smite us, or the eventual albeit inevitable collapsing of our own life-giving star, but rather a slow a monotonous plod towards cultural and intellectual rock bottom.

As I squeezed my anal muscles, I accepted this fate for mankind as its likeliest.

Even the satirical online newspaper The Onion ran a recent article about the Nadir of Human Civ, citing that since the Renaissance – humanity’s climax according to the piece – we’ve been on a steady downgrade since, culminating last Friday afternoon when apparently some tourist in Chicago mistook the MOCA as a shopping mall.

And what song is the piper piping that’s leading us all down the path to collective boorishness?  Texting.distracted-driving-texting

More and more I’m hearing stories of people literally killing themselves over typing out short messages on  a tiny keyboard while driving.  Hell, I was listening to a program this morning on my way to work that discussed the topic of Teens Texting While Driving that reported that in a recent AAA survey, some 54% of teens state that their biggest distraction while behind the wheel was …. Wait for it….

Driving.

What’s that sound?  That strange, loud whirring sound?  …Oh, it’s Charles Fucking Darwin spinning in his grave.

But we can’t solely blame teenagers as being the only ones who text and drive, as largely anyone with a cell phone and a text messaging plan does it, yours truly included.

But the point I’m trying to make out of all of this is that culturally, collectively, we’re all slaves to tiny machines.  I, for one, will reach into my pocket every time my phone buzzes, even if it’s to glance down at one of my wife’s many texts and put my phone back on lock.  We, all of us, have been conditioned to respond immediately to stimuli such as a text, email, phone call, etc, the same way Pavlov’s dog responded to the sounds of a can opener.

Remember back when if someone was trying to reach you, and you weren’t home, people would either A) leave a message, or B) call back?  Remember what an answering machine was?  It was that bulky, crème colored box with a little tape in it, long before the days of voice mail.
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I long for the days that would allow me to be as inaccessible as possible.  One of the few joys I take out of life right now involves me running 6 miles twice a week with nothing except an iPod and digital diver’s watch attached to me.  For that 50-sum odd minutes I am truly inaccessible unless you track me down in a car, and even then you’d have to know which route I run on which days.

That was, until one of my bosses request I take my cell phone with me on my runs “just in case.”

I bristled at the idea, two fold:  One: no, because unless there’s an emergency the size and shape of 9/11, this office can get by without me for just under an hour.  I don’t need to run with my phone because I’m not about to break my stride to stop and answer incoming calls.  Secondly, I have an iPhone and I’m not about to take something that expensive strapped to my arm on a run through a town where it’s driving inhabitants seldom glance right when pulling out of a side street.

Text messaging has also gotten me into more trouble than what it’s worth with my wife.  We communicate almost completely by text when I’m at the office.  As all things text-related, emotions are rarely conveyed as genuine, and misinterpretations abound when trying to get an idea across to another.  The wrong response or the slightest hint of sarcasm in an emotionally volatile situation can spell disaster.  Yet neither one of us will simply key the phone icon and call the other.  It all has to be done with typing.

I’m also a perpetrator of texting and driving, but less so now that I own an iPhone oppose to a Blackberry.  With the Blackberry and its textile keyboard, I seldom had to actually look as I typed, similar to typing on an actual keyboard.  With the iPhone, it’s a completely different ballgame, akin to going from a major league hitter with a batting average of .350 lifetime, to playing in India’s Premiere League Cricket Tournament overnight.

The iPhone’s keypad is nearly impossible to navigate even while looking at it, lest trying to drive, keep my truck from careening into oncoming traffic, and tell my wife that yes, I’ll pick up snap peas from the grocer on the way home.  Even in Landscape Mode, where you flip the phone on it’s side and alter the appearance of the keypad to a more traditional keyboard, it’s still difficult to type what you want to say.357161915_388509248a

For the last few years I used to be warily cautious around other motorists when I would see them driving with a phone stuck to their ear, and I still am.  However now, that wariness has been replaced with adjunct terror as I see someone, anyone, clumsily mashing the buttons on their phone as it rests atop their steering wheels.

As a race of people we’re intellectually crumbling.  We’re slaves to glowing boxes, big and small.  In an age where we digitally record television programs to skip the commercials, the largest recorded show is about The Golden Age of Advertising.  We’re constantly contradicting ourselves, killing ourselves, becoming increasingly complacent on technology to the point where we drive cars that do the parallel parking for us.

Our great-grandparents knew how many feet were in a hectare of land, could tell you what time of day it was based on the position of the sun in the sky, could recite by rote the works of Shakespeare, Thoreau, or Plath.  Our great grandparents, as children, bared more responsibility on a day to day basis than we do as adults today.  Hell, half of us can’t even balance our check books.

We’re over weight and lethargic, we couldn’t tell you who the last ten presidents were, but we can rattle off every Wayans brother.  We can’t quote more than a handful of words out of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence or even the Gettysburg Address, however we know all the funny Ralph Wiggum quotes.
Ralph_Wiggum
I’m not advocating for neo-Luddites to wrestle back control from the brain-sucked hordes of mouth-breathing, Wal Mart-shopping, fast food consuming, tiny keyboard-typing masses, I’m simply trying to warn the few of you still out there that give a damn that we’re slipping down the side of the food chain, and at this rate, we’ll long be at the bottom before Earth’s Quick and Messy End comes hurtling through space like the hail of bullets that took down William McKinley.

Look it up.  In a book, not Wikipedia, asshole.

October 4, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

When Recycling, At Least As Far As Ideas, Is A Bad Idea

Pretty soon all my readers, both of you, will think I’ve gone anti-green.

This isn’t true.  I’m very green.  Well not very, but I like to think I am, because it’s trendy.  And I’m a slut for trends.

Speaking of sluts, the cable channel Vh1 has been recycling the same fucking show for at least the better part of this decade.  It’s suddenly become apparent to me that the suits over at Viacom need to pull the plug on this feeble, wheezing genre of reality dating slop.

Typically, something so mind-numbingly abysmal hardly makes it on to my radar at all.  But “Megan Wants a Millionaire”, Vh1’s latest offering on it’s spin off of a spin off of a spin off of reality television which debuted two weeks ago, has to be the craggiest of the rockiest of bottoms for the music channel that still features music (some where?) within it’s programming.

For those of you new to the game, Vh1 started rolling out with these types of shows where skinny stripper chicks and off-season MMA fighter guys compete for the affections of a “celebrity” (quotes because it’s often that the celebrity in question is some washed up has been.  I’m sure that Vh1 will likely start looking to Pittsburgh Pirates junk ball middle relievers from the late 1990s for it’s next go around of shows) and are slowly whittled away through a process of elimination where those cast aside are “sent home” either for poor performance during the days events or some sort of social faux pas made on a date or something or other.

It’s all very trite, indeed.

Regardless, Megan, of “Megan Wants a Millionare” is a conventionally shameless whore, poured into a tight dress and fed lines off screen by her handlers.  She was a runner up on another Vh1 reality dating programme, as well as a runner up on two other Vh1 programmes, “Charm School” and the truth-in-advertising and aptly named “I Love Money”.  Her biggest claim to fame before landing her own show was being pulled about by her hair and beaten by a coke-and-champagne-fueled Sharon Osborne on a reunion episode of “Charm School.”

Like all of Vh1’s programming as of late, there’s very little mystery of what’s going to happen from one minute to the next, as pretty much everything has been laid out before hand by carefully staging events, and then going back and editing them a certain way.  Guy/Girl A doesn’t like Guy/Girl B, fight ensues, someone bleeds, someone’s sent home.  Or Guy/Girl A gets too drunk on all the free booze just left out on tables all over the property, passes out face down on lawn, shits self, wears shit-stained garment to elimination, is eliminated in shit stained garment.

The only real redeeming aspect of this show, if any at all, is the host of fresh meat allowed to trot on screen for their obligatory five minutes of fame before being cast asunder by a 20-something woman with the thought capacity of this jug of protein powder on my desk next to me.

These guys are losers.

But that’s again, something that Vh1 has carefully planned out for all of it’s shows.  At it’s very foundation the show has to cast losers with the ulterior motive that appearing on this show, or any of Vh1’s shows, will some how lead to fame and fortune.  But as history has taught us over the years, no one really gains anything from appearing on these shows, except maybe a shot at getting their own show, where the process begets itself all over again (A quick aside:  One of the contestants from “I Love NY” ended up dating and I think proposing to singer Jennifer Hudson.  But other than that, not one of them, even the white girl who spat on the black girl, has landed their own sitcom yet.).

But the male suitors of “Megan Wants a Millionare” are the very epitome of loserdom.  Set aside the fact that each of these twenty guys are absolutely cool with the primary reason that Bret Michael’s thrown away cum dumpster is only interested in them for their money, they are the high school nerd-who-grew-up-and-invented-something-simple-but-genius-and-made-billions-from-it stereotype.  Each of the contestants is in fact a millionaire to some degree, whether it’s self made (there’s a plumber with his own business) to inherited (two trust fund kids, one of which doesn’t even have his inheritance yet).  As each contestant is paraded in front of the screen to give some awkward commentary on the happenings in the house, their name flashes along with their net worth.

These guys are millionaires, yes, but only just barely, which allows the show to lose the tiny bit of credibility it was holding on to.  Most of the contestants are hovering around 1-2 million dollars, net worth, which is likely non-liquid.  It’s investments, or assets such as property or shares in businesses.

Hell, looking at my Charles Schwab account online, technically I could’ve applied to be on this show….

Also, there’s been a trend lately with Vh1 where with the non-celebrity main characters, they tend to bring in “help” in the form of some adviser who helps guide the object of everyone’s affection along their path to finding “true love” or a record deal or media exposure, whatever.  This worked rather well with “Daisy of Love” where former Mtv VJ Rikki Rachtman acted somewhat as a coach for Daisy (full disclosure:  I dig Rachtman’s style).  However on “Megan” not only do they have some upper crust tuxedo wearing butler who larks about doing voice overs on all the action like it were play-by-play for a cricket match, but Megan’s brought in two other blonde strippers to give her emotional guidance and support.

“Blonde Leading The Blonde” was the best joke I could come up with before we went to press, sorry.

Seriously, these two “best friends” stand dumbly to the side as Megan goes about her business in a squeaky falsetto of feigned excitement.  They usually have a bored expression on their faces which only mimics that of the audience as we sit and watch Megan make nerds and mamas boys bend to her will like some high school jock.

Again, I don’t know why I, or anyone would watch this or any other show like it.  There’s nothing redeeming about the programme.  Not one thing.  I literally get dumber for watching it.  And to be honest, I haven’t even been able to watch a full episode of the season premiere for this article and I forgot the square root of 144.  I get about half way through and my brain starts to poke me behind my eyeballs.  It says:  “Hey buddy, seriously, turn it to something else, or I’m packing my shit and leaving.”  He says this with a little hat on, holding a suit case, with an unlit stump of a cigar pushed into the corner of his brain mouth.

So I turn it over to ESPN 2 and watch billiard trick shots until the bleeding from my nose stops.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Hate, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , | 2 Comments

Ever Wanted To Know What Goes On Inside My Head?

This is exactly what goes on inside my head every time I look in the mirror naked.

July 26, 2009 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, Shameless Self Promotion, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Independence Day Debrief

For the second year in a row I had to work over Independence Day, and the irony doesn’t escape me.  Working over Labor Day makes sense for two reasons:  The name and the fact that seldom have I worked in a field where it was afforded to employees to take that day off.

But Independence Day, the day that we celebrate our independence as a Nation, or from an alien scourge if you’re Will Smith, Jeff Goldbloom or what’s-his-face, Bill Pullman?  Bill Paxton? -has eluded me twice now.

As you’ve previously read, I view most modern celebrations of Independence Day as Ebenezer Scrooge views Xmas; with carefully placed disdain and contempt for those celebrating.  I’m not going to get back into it, I’ve exhausted the subject, but to me there’s more focus on Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest than there is Thomas Jefferson drafting the Declaration of Independence on July the 4th.

So what’d I do all day as my friends partied, drank, went to parades, etc?  I worked.  I worked at my office, because it was my turn to pull the weekend duty.  I had been off for two weeks, and I had somewhat planned (after the fact) that coming back on a holiday weekend wouldn’t be a bad way to calmly enter the waters around my job.  Little in the way were supervisors and bosses and company presidents to ask me how the move went, how my little trip to Connecticut went, etc etc.

So come Saturday the 4th, I was up early and in my office, sitting in front of a screen banging out five or six pages of the fiction I’ve been slowly working on over the last few months.  A phone call here, a buzz at the front door there, and the overwhelming sense that a huge party was going on around me and not only was I not invited, but politely asked not to attend.

What made matters worse, my wife Ang was spending her second Independence Day in a row alone as well, although she was able to escape up the road from our new house to the pond-side cottage and, as she put it “inject some cancer under her skin.”

Christ, even as I write this, I can smell someone’s grill going… Jesus, that smells awesome.

About noon time I broke out of my office, complete with a view of the harbor, and made myself a turkey sandwich and went to my little room and watched like four hours of The History Channel’s run of “The Revolution” a marathon of hour-long shows detailing the fight of colonists against the British Regular Army.  For a channel that’s been dropping the ball lately (attention History Channel execs, no one gives a shit about Ice Road Truckers, or loggers, or fucking whiney professor-types running across Africa) they were the only ones to get it right today.

By five-ish, I decided to go out for a run.  Because I’m at work, I can’t drink, play with explosives, fire any of my guns off into the air, gamble…- I can’t do anything fun.  It’s like I’m on a Fun-Diet when I’m here over a holiday.  But nothing says I can’t go for a run through town, right?

So I gear up: an UnderArmour long sleeve pull over and running shorts, my iPod and my Nikes, and take off.

Now, my office is located in a gay neighborhood.  That is to say, it’s not a bad neighborhood, it’s just gay.  As in, homosexual.  As in, two shirtless gym-buffed dudes holding hands and whispering to each other about their favorite style of nipple rings.  Being that I’m not gay, but easily confused as one because I keep a short head of hair and I’m in good shape, I tend to get a lot of cat calls and whistles as I pound the pavement during this time of year.

I don’t care.  I’ve never had a problem with the gays; do whatever it is you need to do to get off, that’s been my mantra.  If sex with another guy or kissing another girl or sitting on a cake and farting into it get you off, than by-golly, do your thing.  It’s what our Founding Father’s fought for in a round about way, and what better way to celebrate that than on Independence Day?

But when I’m crossing over to my fourth mile under a hot sun with little shade, and I’ve been listening to nothing less than angry thrash metal, I can be a bit temperamental.  Add into the fact that I’m weaving in and out of a circus of colorful people who have no idea how to move in a crowd because they’re collectively tourist bovine, all while pushing up a 25% incline.

So this guy, a gay guy, a fabulously-gay gay in a pedicab sees me working up this hill, drenched in sweat, shining, grunting, let your imagination run wild, starts staring at me, to the point where I actually notice I’m being raped with his eyes, I get a little pissed.  Just because you have an exuberant style and are surrounded by others like you, and it’s a holiday weekend, does not give you the excuse to be rude to others.  I’m not meat for you to fantasize about while you lube up, asshole.

So as I get closer and he’s staring me down from behind giant faux-Prada sunglasses (and I know the difference, ask Ang), breathlessly (which added to his fantasy, I’m sure) I say “take a picture, it’ll last longer,” to which he gasps in a stereotypical way, then produces a tiny silver digital camera and snaps a picture of me as I’m running ahead of him.

What a fucking asshole.

I pull in through the gated lot of my work and take a long walk to cool off.

Later in the evening, after a lackluster dinner of ribs and salad, I head back into the office.  Ang doesn’t feel like making the twenty minute drive out to my work to watch fireworks with me, and I don’t blame her.  To drive twenty minutes out, only to have to sit through two hours of traffic to get back home, is hardly worth it.  So, alone, I sit in this office looking out the window at a fireworks display that barely holds my interest for more than ten minutes.

I conclude that fireworks have hardly been improved upon in the last twenty-five years.  The firework displays I watched as a kid, ooh’d and ahh’d about back then are the same boring displays I see now as a jaded adult.  Slow, painfully slow explosions and bright lights over a dark sky make the throngs of people below my window in captured astonishment seem like a group of cavemen who have just discovered fire.

I don’t want to sound like the Grinch Who Shit on Your 4th of July Picnic, but people, it’s just colored phosphorus.  Its lame, I’m sorry.  I’m sure there are things I take pleasure in that you will find equally lame.  But really, you clap like a retard at loud noises and bright lights.  Think about that.

I turned away from the fireworks out of my window and started writing this article, in a bad mood because everyone I cared about was not with me and they probably had easy access to alcohol and/or grilled meats.  I, on the other hand, am kicking myself for not extending my vacation by three measly days.

Now, someone bring me ice cream, lest I perish.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gamer Wife

“Gamer Girls” don’t really exist.  That is, they exist the same way hot lesbians exist; in some sort of false reality brought to us by television, the internet or just in the male fantasy psyche.  Girls and video games go together like sharks and kittens:  two things that naturally don’t go together, but when brought together are adversarial to their very cores.

That’s not to say girls don’t play video games, they do, but the gaming industry doesn’t exactly cater to them the same way they cater to the other gender, because the industry isn’t seeing the same amount of dollars spent.  True, when all a game publisher puts out is military-style shooters and games gratifyingly glorifying high crimes, you’re not going to see the female demographic bother to waste their money, at least, the majority.

But publisher and the industry make half-assed at best attempts to reach the female market at an earlier stage, with titles like “Barbie’s Day Out at The Mall” and other such suckage.  Ok, let’s say that a young girl is remotely interested in the above shallow attempt to get them involved in gaming.  So what happenens when she matures and is looking for another game to break into?  No self respecting 16 year old is going to drive Barbie around in her pink convertable without giving serious consideration to driving that bitch off an overpass.

This is the state of gaming for young women.

***

I don’t remember how it happened exactly, but lately my wife uses my Xbox 360 more than I do.

Actually, I do remember what happened and how it happened:  About two months ago, on a whim I bought “Fable 2” because I was bored and had a bunch of games I didn’t play anymore, and wanted new games.  So I went down to the local GameStop with this handful of lime green cases and handed them over, and with the resulting store credit bought “Far Cry 2” and “Fable 2.”

Sequels starting with the letter F aside, one night while button mashing in Fable, my wife Ang, who typically looked at me playing video games in the least as a huge waste of time and at the most out right ignoring her, spoke softly from over my shoulder:

“Do you think you could show me how to play that?”

I don’t know what hooked her, whether it was the bright game animation, the colorful magic, the story itself or the fact that you had a loyal puppy following you around throughout the game, but within 15 minutes of showing her what to do, and another hour or so of Co-Op play, she pretty much had the game down cold.

She was hooked, like many of us gamers tend to get when we come across a really good game we can fall in love with.  I’d come home from being away at work and she’d still be plugging away in Albion from her spot on her upholstered chair, the ferret gnawing on a piece of velcro at her feet, her eyes glazed over reflecting the flickers of light from the screen as she sent fireball after fireball after trolls, banshees and balverines.  When she wasn’t glued to the game play she was researching tips, cheats and walkthrus on Fable-Wiki and other sites she discovered.

What happened to my wife?  How did she become a gamer?

I thought she was fully engulfed, but it was becoming apparent that Fable was getting stale, even as she diddled with the downloadble content.  She tried halfheartedly to go into other games, but nothing held her interest.  This is where I step in.

I don’t want to use this article to toot my own horn or anything, but Ang isn’t a pro-level gamer – yet.  She still asks me for help with difficult finger-gymnastic-like movements or platformer puzzles.  Often as she’s playing I’m sitting at my desk in front of my computer, half contemptuous/half envious that she’s hogging the damn Xbox, but I let it slide, giving her advice and pointing out things she might’ve missed, whether they’re doors or treasure, etc.

I went back to GameStop the other day with the idea I wanted a new shooter and to get Ang a new button masher (this genre seems to be her favorite, as she has shown very little interest in FSPs, Sandboxes, or any other style of games.).  For myself I got Battlefield: Bad Company because I hear there’s going to be a sequel soon and after doing some research I found that the first Bad Company got decent reviews, and for Ang I got her Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy.

LSW2TOT is a combination of things my wife loves: button mashing action, immense replay value, cutesy characters and the first three Star Wars.  I’m surprised it took my this long to turn her on to the game series.

The game has just about everything she likes and from my standpoint, it’s a fun easy going game with clever cut scenes that stay true to the films but ad lib their own little touches which makes it just different enough for a veteran Star Wars geek to get something new out of the game.

So as we speak, my wife right now is probably planted in front of the television, clutching her white controller, using a cartoonish Lego Wookie to rip the arms off of an equally silly looking Stormtrooper.  How long will it be before she has her own gamertag and we have to get another 360 and systemlink them?

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , | 1 Comment

American Terrorist

I try to keep things light around here on this ol’ blog of mine; I never harp at you about my personal political or religious beliefs because that shit is personal and you don’t need to know that being a dependably lovable reader.  But some shit went down over the weekend that I’m gonna kinda have to be forced to discuss with you.  So get ready for the long haul, find a comfy patch of rug, get a juice box and a cheese stick, and open up your listening holes for once.

This past weekend, a doctor known to perform abortions was shot and murdered in broad daylight, while he was entering his place of holy worship.  The story alone is enough to shock just about any sensible person regardless on how you feel about the issue of abortion whether your pro-choice or -life, but what really got under my skin was the extreme right wing response that certain members of the media had.  Just short of “the guy had it coming to him” the response from pro-life leaders and conservatives was cold and albeit contradictory to their core belief system.

And if you think for one second this isn’t on the same scale as a Palestinian donning a bomb vest and getting on board a bus full of Jews to blow himself up, you need to try seeing the world with open eyes.

The attack wasn’t violently explosive and there wasn’t a high body count, but the psychological impact is just the same:  fear created through public violence at the hand of a religious extremist.  Whoever this guy was based his assassination on the simple fact that the whole world would see this abortion doctor getting his brains blown out in front of his family and community; he was striving for impact, to make a statement.  If he simply wanted the good doctor dead, why not kill him in his own home while he slept or something?  Why not do what that other guy did a few years ago and shoot him through the window of his kitchen with a hi-powered rifle from a perch in a tree?  No, he wanted to send a message, the same type of message that Islamic Extremists try to send when they bomb a convoy full of soldiers or a bus full of school kids, or an Iraqi Police station.  They want to scare the average person from going out and living a normal life, for fear that the same thing that happened to the victim will happen to them.

And that, at it’s very heart, is terrorism.

Right now there’s a woman out there making the so-very-hard decision to get an abortion and now she won’t, because she’s afraid that if she does, she’ll get shot in the back of the head on a sidewalk.  When you strip away someone’s right, a right that has been fought in the Supreme Court, a right that caters to the individual’s ownership of their own body, by using fear tactics and brute violence, you’re a terrorist, you’re no worse than the same guys who hijacked those planes on the morning of September 11th.

And to top it all off, why, if you believe that murdering an unborn fetus is MURDER, why would you go out and shoot and kill the guy who performs the procedure?  Does that make sense that you’re going to take the life of a so-called “life taker”?  Doesn’t that make you as bad as they are?  Doesn’t it crush your whole argument or any chance you might of had for legitamacy?

Yes.  Yes it does, terrorist.

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment