29 April 2009

It's that time again ...

Time for a few things that have been bothering me lately. Yay!

-This whole swine flu thing. Let’s stop blaming our porcine friends, okay? I’ve heard about human cases and fatalities but I haven’t heard of a single sick pig. And I think I would. News stations seem to enjoy using stock footage of farm animals.
-Every time I hear “Love Train” by the O’Jays, a song I used to like, I think of Coors Light, thanks to that stupid commercial where people are playing in the snow. It seems to me that inebriation and extreme temperatures are a poor mix on account of the risk of accident and injury.
-Something hasn’t really been said that really needs to be said some time, by someone, and soon, so I’m going to say it: “The Office” just isn’t funny anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. Period.
-Fringe is rated TV-14 for language, violence, etc. But they need to add another letter to the TV rating system so I’ll know if I shouldn’t be eating while watching. Like a G for gore, so I don’t spit out half my ice-cream sandwich upon seeing a dead animal’s exposed spinal cord.
-Fox needs to stop advertising their new show “Glee.” Quickly. It hasn’t aired yet and I’m already sick of it, mostly because I’ve had “Don’t Stop Believin’” stuck in my head for two weeks now.
-I don't know who is responsible for the proliferation of so-called "skinny jeans" on men these days - Pete Wentz? The Jonas Brothers? - but this person needs a sound beating. Men do not look good in skinny jeans. Women do not look good in skinny jeans. No one looks good in skinny jeans. Skinny jeans are evil. Pass it on.
-I watched a lot of dumb shows when I was a kid - hey most kids' shows are dumb. But it's always disheartening to see exactly how stupid they were when you're an adult and time has clouded your memory. Case in point: I caught "The Snorks" on Boomerang a few months ago and I had to turn it off after five minutes. That show made "The Smurfs" look like "CSI: Miami."
-You know those Sonic commercials, the ones with two idiots sitting in a car and talking? I hate those commercials. I hate them!
-Also, pretty much every Wendy's commercial ever made is stupid. I've never seen a commercial for Wendy's that ever made me want to eat there.
-I can sort of understand people's outrage at the Fox network's refusal to air the president's speech and show "Lie to Me" instead. But at the same time, his speech is going to be on every other channel at that time, so it's not like if you want to watch it you can't. Just don't watch Fox. I don't think that every single channel that airs needs to have the president's speech. It's sort of annoying when they do, because I'm the sort of person who would rather read his speech the next day, where I can digest it at my own pace, and I'd rather watch regular TV in prime time. I'm going to be one of those people watching "Lie to Me." Sorry, America.
-Bea Arthur died. She was my favorite Golden Girl. I've always thought that I'd like to be like Dorothy Zbornak when I get older. Only, you know, happy.
-I still can't seem to write worth crap lately.
-I'm never tired at 1am.

24 April 2009

Can you hear me now, Chad?

I've been with Alltel for almost six years. Yes, the company with that annoying guy with Ryan Seacrest's hair. In my defense, he wasn't part of their ad campaign in 2003.

Verizon, the company with that annoying guy who used to ask if we could hear him now, recently bought Alltel. I spent about fifteen minutes on-line trying to figure out if that meant I was going to be a Verizon customer or if I'd still be one of Chad's people. It became obvious that neither company wanted me to know. I don’t know why. Maybe they weren’t sure, themselves.

So the other day, when I went into an Alltel store (still said Alltel all over the place, but it had Verizon posters on the walls) for help with a problem with my 2-year-old LG (they were no help at all), I picked up a Verizon brochure and looked at Alltel phones. Once the first guy I talked to (whose job was to direct store traffic, according to another, more helpful employee named Steve) proved useless, a second man (the aforementioned Steve) asked if I'd thought about upgrading my phone. I told him I wasn’t sure if I could yet, because I got my last phone at the end of May – the 25th, to be exact, and here’s the picture to prove it:

Although I guess it would help you to know that the file is named “052507_1357” wouldn’t it?

I digress. Steve looked it up in the computer and apparently I’ve been eligible for a new phone since January. And the store had a deal going where if I bought a Blackberry, I could get a second phone (of equal or lesser value) for free. Oh, and would I be sticking with Alltel or did I want to switch to Verizon?

Apparently it’s my choice. The phones are cooler on Verizon but Alltel is cheaper (and though the commercials do feature Chad, they are blessedly tuba-free). Part of my problem in deciding is I have no idea what the bleep I’m signed up for with Alltel. For all I know, my Alltel contract has a clause where the CEO gets one of my kidneys if his fail, and I’m paying three bucks a month for it. I know I have unlimited text-messaging, but beyond that, it’s a mystery to me. Mobile phone bills were one of those things, like motor oil changes and mowing the lawn, that my dad took care of. Any emotions aside, his being dead is a major inconvenience in that I now have to figure these things out on my own, and I find myself unable to make head or tail of a single mobile phone plan offered by either Verizon or Alltel.

Normally in this situation I’d ask my brother Scott (my own personal Geek Squad) for his opinion. But I know what his opinion is – he thinks I should switch to T-Mobile or AT&T and buy a used iPhone on Craigslist so he can hack it and play with it for a while. That’s what he did and he likes it so much that at one point his wife referred to his iPhone as his girlfriend. But I don’t want to switch to T-Mobile or AT&T. I’m happy with Alltel, kidney clause or no.

Of course, I could be just as happy with Verizon, too. And I might be no matter what. Steve made it sound like my Alltel bill would eventually be a Verizon bill. He was a bit hazy on the details. I’m not sure he understood it himself. He sure as heck wasn’t going to get any help from the company websites. But he did seem knowledgeable on the pricing for the Verizon plans. I’m thinking I’ll just go back and see Steve and let him figure it out for me. He might end up talking me into giving my bone marrow as well, but he was able to solve the problem I came into the store with, and that’s more than I can say for anyone else. And he had nice hair.

19 April 2009

Idle Hands

I’m a day early here, but I’m trying to keep to a schedule of an update every 5 days or so despite having nothing useful to say, and no ideas beyond how best to build certain animals out of Legos (which doesn't help my blog much).

A day early for what? you might ask. Which would be too bad, because I can’t hear you. But let’s pretend I can. A day early for my mother’s birthday, certainly. Monday the 20th is her 52nd birthday. Happy birthday, Mum!

Isn’t my mommy pretty?

But that wasn’t what I was referring to. In addition to April 20th being the birthday of my mother, Adolf Hitler and Luther Vandross, and the ten-year anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, and the 107th anniversary of the isolation of Radium by the Curies, it marks eight months since I was fired.

It was a Wednesday night, that August 20th. My manager – let’s call her “Bonia” – accused me of about fifty things I never did and then told me I was fired. The paperwork I had to sign was dated more than two weeks earlier, which says to me that one of the reasons she had for firing me – an incident about five days earlier – was just a smokescreen.

It’s just as well they fired me. They were real arses about me missing work while my father was having brain surgery. After he died they’d probably have told me, hey, it’s not like you can see him anymore, so get your duff into work. They weren’t very understanding about his having brain cancer. They seemed to feel that my concern over his illness should take a backseat to things such as sanitizing combs and sweeping floors. I guess my priorities were messed up. Clean floors are important, after all.

I’d never been fired before. I was rather proud of that fact. When I get a job, I keep it. I work hard, I do my job, and when it’s time to move on, I write a neat little letter of resignation and two weeks later I’m gone. But my employer – let’s call the salon “Bool Cuts 4 Kids” – decided, to hell with hard-working, honest people. Let’s fire the most reliable employee we have because she refuses to turn into a bootlicking kiss-arse.

Do I sound bitter? Oh, I’m bitter. I’m beyond bitter. The very thought of Sonia – er, Bonia – makes my blood pressure rise and my fists clench. She said (after accusing me of a lot of bad things, mind you) that I shouldn’t hesitate to list her as a reference, that she’d put in a good word for me. Well, I don’t know if she’s a liar or simply won’t talk on the phone, but I haven’t been able to get a job since then. Anywhere.

So, I’ve been unemployed for eight months. I’ve been a busy girl since I was thirteen years old, when I started washing dishes and clearing tables at my aunt’s restaurant. This is the longest I’ve gone aimless in twelve years. If I wasn’t working, I was going to school full-time, and there were many semesters that I did both. I’ve never enjoyed work. I like slacking off, watching TV, reading. I always thought that unemployment would suit me.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me state now emphatically just how wrong I was. Unemployment does NOT suit me. Unemployment is a rotten thing.

It worked well for me at first. Nine days after I was fired, my dad fell asleep on the couch and he never woke up. Eleven days later he died – a combination of a blood clot, an infection, and massive brain damage from a stroke (caused by the clot). Having a job would have been a complication I didn’t need at that time. I never thought that, at the age of 25, I’d have to plan my father’s funeral and write his obituary. I relished the time I had to grieve and … well, grieve, mostly.

But long about January, I started to get restless again. Bored. The quiet time I used to enjoy had become a burden. I’d wake up in the morning (afternoon, if I’m honest), have sugared cereal for breakfast, spend three hours playing video games, eat dinner, and watch TV and mess around on-line until I couldn’t stay awake any more. If the TV shows didn’t change, I’d never know what day it was. It was excruciating.

Desperate for a change and tired of 24-hour celebrity gossip, I started working on little projects to occupy my time. I started sewing again. I made five dresses and a hat, as well as curtains for my mother’s office. Sewing was fun because it meant I could go shopping (never mind the fact that I had to dip into my pathetic savings to do so). It was something to do, and it was easy to find progress. At the end of the day, I could hold up a dress and say, hey, I made this.

But I somehow lost the manual for my HuskyStar and the buttonholer wasn’t working, so, crabby and bored, I turned to cross-stitching. Again, I could easily see my progress. I went through one, two, three projects. I did more shopping. And again I tired of it. My embroidery floss kept getting tangled up. I lost count of stitches. I couldn’t find patterns I liked.

So I switched to scrapbooking. More shopping. But now the scrapbook I started is, essentially, finished, and I’m bored again. I’m even getting tired of my video games. I find myself longing for the repetitive days of up-at-eight, work-at-nine, off-at-six. While I don’t miss being covered in other people’s hair, I do miss being gainfully employed and feeling like I was contributing something to society. And the boredom is taking its toll on me.

I can’t focus on books – I haven’t read anything in months. I can’t write any more – it feels forced, and the snark that used to come so easily to me is an effort. I can’t focus on TV – only “Lost” and “24” hold my attention. I have no attention span and nothing to do – a deadly combination. I’d go back to school, but who the heck can afford ASU these days? Especially with no job and no income in the foreseeable future.

On the upside, I’ve got plenty of time to learn fascinating things about history. For instance, Tuesday is the 1,256th anniversary of the founding of Rome. People always say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. I think I could do it. It would give me something to do. Maybe I’ll start with Legos.

14 April 2009

And now, your feature presentation

I love going to the movies. I really do. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing a movie in the theater, no matter how crappy or stupid the movie. But there are a few things about the whole movie-going experience that I cannot stand, and as is my SOP, I’m going to share them with you, my loyal blog readers (all two of you).

Part of it is my fault, I know that. I have a sort of large personal bubble. I don’t want anyone sitting next to me at the theater. I’d be happy if I could keep people from sitting directly behind and in front of me, too. And I am particular about where I sit. I like to be four or so rows from the middle aisle, dead center.

In order to facilitate this quirk of mine, I have to get to the theater and buy my ticket about an hour before the movie is scheduled to begin. The upside is that I can get exactly the seat I want and, through a little clever maneuvering, keep the seat next to me vacant.

There are a number of downsides. The first is that an hour before a movie starts, there’s nothing on the screen and you have to listen to the theater’s sound system play the same bad arrangement of a Mozart song six times in a row. There’s nothing really to do. I like to get to my seat and stay there, so I’ve usually got my popcorn and soda already. After an hour, before the movie’s begun, my soda’s gone and I’m out of popcorn … and because I’ve chugged 20 oz of Sprite, I have to pee badly. And look, it’s movie time!

Once something does appear on the screen, it’s painful to watch. At Harkins theaters (I go for the $1 soda loyalty cup) they begin with about ten bits of trivia, shown over and over again. The world’s largest snowflake. The oldest ice skates in the world. The Mills Brothers. The Beatles outselling the Rolling Stones. How tall the bodies of the Mount Rushmore heads would be.

Over and over. For a good twenty minutes. Then the advertising starts. It used to just be static ads but lately they’ve been showing TV commercials as well, for mobile phones and car insurance. A few of the static ads are inevitably for weight-loss clinics and heart doctors. Because after eating all that buttered popcorn, you are going to be fat and have heart problems. Then there’s the propaganda – I mean, the music video - for the National Guard featuring 3 Doors Down, a bunch of guys who are under the mistaken impression that they are much more hip and relevant than they really are.

Then we get to see some Seacrest-wannabe introducing “hot new” bands that no one has ever heard of and we’ll hear 90-second clips of their songs. Finally, after an hour of folderol, the coming attractions start. They’ll roll at the time the movie is scheduled to start, and this is usually when groups of seven or eight people will come into the theater, looking for adjoining seats. Look, you jerks, if you want to get good seats together, try getting to the theater more than two minutes before the freaking movie starts. These are the idiots that’ll make you move to the end of the freaking row so they can sit together, even though you got to the theater on time specifically so you could sit where you did. Personally, I won’t move for these people. Y’all want seats together? Front row’s open. Check it out. Don’t like it? Try being punctual for a change.

Teenagers, here's a hint for you. When the theater is dark and the movie is showing, keep your bloody BlackBerry in your pocket. That screen is mighty bright, your texting is loud, and what the bleep does a 15-year-old need a BlackBerry for, anyway? What important business are they conducting? I've had the same crappy little LG for two years now and I'm a bloody adult. I should be the one with a BlackBerry. Bitterness aside, seriously. I don't want to see or hear text-messaging when the earth is being burnt to a crisp. Sort of ruins the mood, kids.

And here’s a pointer for you older folks. Parking your walker and/or oxygen tank somewhere for the duration? Make sure it’s set down carefully, not leaning precariously against a handrail. Otherwise during a movie, the stupid thing will fall and make an absolutely unholy racket so loud that Brendan Fraser’s lines are unintelligible over the sounds of metal hitting concrete.

Also, folks, the back of my chair is not a footrest. It is the back of my chair, and I will defend it, violently if necessary. If you have a wet, hacking cough, please stay home. I came to hear the sounds of the movie, not the sounds of you yakking up a lung. And if you are clever enough to predict the movie's ending halfway through, kindly keep it to yourself, you jerk.

After all, I paid ten bucks to get into the stinking theater, and that's money I could be saving to buy a BlackBerry, or a trip to Mount Rushmore.

09 April 2009

Fail Whale

I have nothing interesting or useful to say, but I have watched this about ten times already and it's still funny.

Go here: http://current.com/items/89891774/supernews_twouble_with_twitters.htm

It's funny because it's true. Also, it makes me feel guilty about the crap I've tweeted before. Oh well.

04 April 2009

A Few Things That Have Been Bothering Me Lately

-Quote-unquote tagless t-shirts. The bane of my existence.
-People who are incapable of checking their spelling and/or grammar before posting something on Twitter or Facebook. If a word or phrase is underlined in red, folks, you've screwed something up. Fix it.
-Prescription drug side effects that are worse than the condition for which you're taking them. If taking a medication puts me at risk for liver failure, asthma-related death, and certain kinds of cancers, I'm going to have to pass. Drug commercials remind me of something Dave Barry said years ago about the two main ideas in a prescription drug ad: you need this drug, and this drug will kill you.
-People who do other things when they are driving - eating, putting on eye makeup, folding laundry, text-messaging, talking on a phone ... When I learned to drive, I was given the impression that you don't do anything else at the wheel, because you are driving. That's what you're doing. You're already doing something, so you don't do anything else until you're done with it.
-Those Geico commercials with the googly eyes on top of the money stack. Also, the accompanying re-make of Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me."
-The widespread use of the phrase "pluck your eyebrows." You pluck a chicken. You *tweeze* eyebrows. I will shout it from the rooftops.
-Movies in 3D.
-That, no matter how much medical research says otherwise, people will continue to look for a quick fix for weight loss.
-How crappy the ShamWow is in real life. The commercials make it look like the coolest product ever. I say "Wow" every time ... because I can't believe how poorly it absorbs liquids.
-April Fool's Day jokes.
-The way that no one seems to say "excuse me" anymore.
-How hard it is to get a decent apple at the grocery store.
-That I can't seem to write a decent blog any more.