Alright, this one’s been simmering for a little while. Prepare to go to full rolling boil.
(Incidentally, you have my S.O. to thank for this one, who regularly sends me links to Go Fug Yourself.)
Lady Gaga. She’s this generation’s Madonna. I will even admit, some of her music is pretty catchy. (And some of her music that isn’t even completely her music is also pretty catchy: let me direct you to DJ Tripp’s mashup of Just Dance and Don’t Stop Believin’.)
(An aside: What the fark with this whole "mashup" business? What the hell was wrong with calling it a "remix"? Where’s my onion? Get off my goddamn lawn.)
Anyhoo: Gaga’s gimmick seems to be to do her thing (and "her thing" seems to range from "performing in concert" to "going to the store for oatmeal") wearing the most unwieldy, whacked-out outfits imaginable. (Yes, that second one isn’t a ‘Shop. Platform hooves.) Some suggest this is some kind of real-time performance art on her part, an ironic commentary on the tragic state of celebrity in the public eye or some silly nonsense like that. Others suggest she’s just an attention whore. I figure, hey, she’s not hurting anybody, if she wants to go out dressed like she’s hoping to hell Monty Hall will walk up to her out of the blue and offer her $500 or whatever is behind Curtain Number Two and call it a social statement, more power to her.
In the last week, though, I think we’re starting to see the Implosion of Gaga. Which brings us to the grand revival of our 7-Eleven Golden Slurpee Award.
Let’s start here:
"Another whacked-out outfit, so what?" you say. This is how she showed up a couple of days ago…to HER SISTER’S HIGH-SCHOOL GRADUATION. Nope, couldn’t just go and be normal JUST ONCE and let her sister enjoy her special day, she has to show up looking like a sexually-confused Raiden. Klassy-with-a-Kapital-K.
But this one is the kicker: Just yesterday, she decides she wants to go take in a baseball game. Wonderful, nothing wrong there. Apparently nobody told her that she was seeing the Mets and not the Dodgers, since she rolled in during the fifth inning. Fine, she’s a busy girl, probably at the podiatrist getting her arches checked out or something. Let’s look in on her, shall we?
Yep, that’s what ol’ Gaga wears to the yard.
And, as you would expect, photographers at the game immediately turned their attention to her. Time for today’s quickie quiz: How do you suppose she reacted? Did she:
a) Ignore them
b) Smile demurely, showing off her oh-my-god-I-am-so-outrageous outfit, or
c) Get pissy, retreat to a luxury box, and spend the rest of the evening flipping off anyone with a camera
Well, with apologies to Peter Sagal, one of the erstwhile photographers in attendance provides us with the answer to that question:
Sorry, sweetie, no. If you want to sit in Row B of Citi Field, right behind the plate, dressed like you’re about to attend the annual Hell’s Angels Beach Getaway, you do not get to complain when people want to take a picture of you. This has nothing to do with you being famous, and everything to do with you looking like a goddamn freak at the ballpark.
At least pick up a Mets hat at the concession stand first.
Lady Gaga, You Just Suck. Enjoy your Golden Slurpee.
This morning, I had to make a couple of phone calls loosely related to medical insurance. So, in what should really become a regular feature here at Chez Fred, it’s time for today’s Automated Phone System Customer Service Tip:
(We should find a sponsor for this thing. Suggestions welcome. I’m leaning towards Comcast, who I was going to rant about a few months ago, but then the old site died and the topicality of the rantworthy incident wore off. Fortunately in the next month or so it might become topical again, so stand by. At any rate, their recent Worst Company in America win makes them the obvious choice.)
But I digress. Back to our new feature:
Hold times are a fact of life. I get this. But if you’re going to put your callers through ten-plus-minute hold times, then DO NOT:
- Tell me you’re going to have someone on the line "in just a moment…"
- …every twenty seconds.
Really, folks, you’re not stringing your callers along into sticking it out, you’re just calling attention to the fact that you’re making them wait. Honestly, I appreciate hold updates that tell it like it is: we know you’re there, we’re busy now, and we’ll get to you in the order your call came in. Boom. Simple.
(The irony here is that Comcast’s actually gets this part of it right: they say "hey, you’re gonna be on hold a while, would you like us to call you back?" And if you say yes, you type in your phone number and they call you back when it is your turn. (I’ve tried it; it works as advertised.) Comcast’s incompetence doesn’t kick in until AFTER you are speaking to a CSR.)
We’re in the fifth go-round of Hell’s Kitchen, right? It seems to me that the show’s been around long enough now to be established.
So why is it that none of these people can, you know, cook? And I’m not talking about highfalutin’ complicated dishes, I’m talking basic staples.
If I’m going to throw myself at the mercy of Chef Ramsay, there are three things I’m damn well going to make sure I know how to do flawlessly before I even fill out the application:
- Cook perfect scallops
- Make a risotto
- Prepare Beef Wellington
Five years in, Chef has those three items on EVERY menu he’s EVER had on the show, and we still have jackbags who can’t pan-fry a freakin’ scallop. Come ON.
Look. If I’m going to be on Survivor, I’m damned well going to make sure I know how to make fire. I’m not going to go on The Amazing Race if I’m agoraphobic, because I know at least one task is going to involve being up really really high. And I’m not going to be on Big Brother unless I know how to jump into a giant salad dressed like a cucumber. (Wait, what?)
(Aside: could that BE a more frightening picture of Julie Chen? And Les Moonves has to hit that. Yikes.)
Here’s a little free advice, should you ever find yourself working in an outsourced, overseas call center:
If you are going to insist on pronouncing the word “content” (as in “downloaded content”) with the accent on the second syllable, don’t bother claiming that your name is “Steve.”
I picked up Rock Band 2 today. We “B” Toyz had two copies left when I called them, and I hurried down and got one. Yay!
I came home this evening after a great day out with some friends, dropped it into Ye Olde Xboxe, and set about starting a tour. One of the nice things about RB2 is that there is no longer a differentiation between “solo tours” and “band tours.” It all seems to be lumped into one single game mode. I approve of this.
And this means my band needs a name. Awesome. The band name I used in RB1 was “Distinct Kicking Motion,” after a phrase used no less than eight times in the NHL Rulebook to describe one of the criteria for disallowing a goal, a rule change the NHL instituted in 1996, presumably to increase scoring, since that seems to be the intent behind most rule changes in sports. (Before then, if the puck went in off of a teammate’s skate, the goal didn’t count. Period.)
So. Tap-tappity-tap (or, in this case, a fair amount of tedious cursoring around with the D-pad on the guitar, since that’s where I was logged in and so couldn’t use my Chatpad), and I hit Start to lock it in. And I get this:
“Your intended band name is not what most would describe as “classy.” You can continue to use this name locally, but it will not be visible on Xbox LIVE unless you change it in the Band Profile.”
I just went back and experimented for a moment (because I wanted to get the exact wording of the admonishment above), and I isolated the issue: “Kicking Motion”? No go. “Distinct Motion”? Nuh-uh. “Distinct Kicking”? Totally fine.
The word “motion” apparently triggers the RB2 obscenity filters.
Again, I say: the hell?
I’ve got an e-mail in to Electronics Arts demanding an explanation as to how I developed this whore mouth all of a sudden. I’ll let The Four Of You know when I hear back.
So, first off, I would like to thank the religious right for their vigilance, watching over the English language for my own safety and bitching and moaning enough that censorship like this has become part of the national discussion, so that I am protected from filthy, disgusting words like “motion.” Well done!
And then, a message for all of those 12-year-old kids who think band names like “The Bung Felchers” and “Cöckgöbbler” are the pinnacle of hilarity, such that EA is pressured to add the filter in the first place: Fark every single one of you. Go back to Halo 3 and leave the rocking to responsible adults, huh?
The Four Of You who have been around for a few years know that I’m not terribly fond of my given name, and that I’ve never gone through with officially changing it because I didn’t trust the government not to muck it up, and I thought replacing all of my identification would be too much of a hassle.
(It doesn’t happen as often anymore…when I was in school I was constantly correcting teachers and such, especially those asshats who thought that the simple courtesy of remembering a student’s name was beneath them. These days, it happens just enough to be annoying…when I have to flash my ID when I buy something with my credit card, I twinge when I see the name. The record-keeping software at my doctor’s office doesn’t have a convenient or obvious field to record a preferred name, so I get to correct them when they call to confirm an appointment. That sort of thing.)
Anyhow, you also know that back in May I lost my wallet and had to replace all of the identification anyhow. And in so doing, I discovered that it really wouldn’t take that much doing to replace the ID, that my Social Security number would remain unchanged (I was always under the impression for some reason that they had to issue you a new number), and that once those two were knocked out, everything else (and “everything else” really just means my medical and dental insurance cards, since my debit and credit cards and such are already under my preferred name) would really fall into place.
Then, as I am wont to do, I forgot about it for a while.
Well, I’m on my 100-day contractor break from Microsoft right now, which has given me some time to re-think-about things that I have forgotten in the hustle and bustle of normal life. So I’m sitting at home on Sunday, surfing around, and just on a whim I decide to see what it would entail. And I found that it basically comes down to three forms (two of which I could fill out online via Adobe Reader before printing ’em out, yay for not having to deal with my crappy handwriting!), about $140 spread between three agencies, and a quick drive over to the district court just up the road from me a little in Shoreline. Since I’m between contracts, this would be a REALLY good time to do it, if I’m ever gonna do it at all.
This Tuesday comes, and for various reasons I happen to be up and actually prepared to run errands and such much earlier than I ordinarily would be, so I take a deep breath and decide to do it. Quickie thing, right? Go to the courthouse, drop off the papers, write ’em a check, and in a few weeks I get a letter with a stamp on it that says I’m Christopher John Lemon now.
As it happens, not so much.
I go in, find the appropriate window, and the nice lady behind said window processes some paperwork and accepts my check and what-not. After a while, she says “Okay, you’re all set up, you just need to walk down to Courtroom 1 and wait for the judge to call your name.”
(Please enjoy this picture of the O RLY? owl. I’d put him inline, but it breaks up the flow. And I’m all abouts da flow.)
Well, okay then. I had nowhere urgent to be, so no big deal. I walk into a very full courtroom, and since there is nowhere to sit, I stand near the back, and watch two or three cases where people convicted of DUI are trying to plead down their sentences with the usual excuses you would expect: “Oh, I’ve gone through the program, I’m a changed (wo)man, I need to be able to work so I can pay off the rest of the fine.” The first lady was in on her third DUI. The judge did not execute her there and then. I was disappointed.
Finally someone gets called, and it leaves an empty seat in the gallery, so I sit down. He’s yet another DUI case, and part of his excuse for not wanting to serve jail time was that he had “hepatitis and an chronic upper-respiratory infection.”
And here I am, sitting in the airspace he just vacated. Great.
Anyhow, they muddle through these (and let me tell you, the wheels of justice could definitely use a little oiling, at least in Shoreline) and the judge calls for “Jon Lemon.” And I cringe and step forward, but in the back of my head I’m feeling kinda smug in the knowledge that this is the LAST time that will happen.
And the wheels of justice whirr into overdrive: I raise my right hand and solemnly swear that I’m not changing my name to dodge creditors or arrest warrants (Shh! Don’t tell them!), Hizzoner congratulates me and sends me back to the window to pick up my copy of the court order form I submitted, and Jon Christopher Lemon walks out of the King County District Court (East Division, Shoreline Courthouse) as Christopher John Lemon. Felt a little weird, mainly because of the immediacy…’member, I was expecting it to happen in a couple weeks through the mail, but here it is, boom, done, final answer, Regis, thanks for playing, and don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.
On the way home I decide to swing by the Social Security office, figuring that whatever birds I can kill with this stone would be worthwhile. Surprisingly, pretty painless…confirmed my number and address, showed ’em the court order and ID, and I was out the door in about fifteen minutes, most of that wait-time.
Today, feeling a little less ambitious than yesterday, but ambitious nonetheless, I decide to go to the DOL (what you folks in other states know as the DMV…I think it’s different here because they’re privatized the vehicle registration side of the equation) and get the Holy Grail of this whole thing, the new driver’s license. Photo ID, baybee.
I go to the one in Greenwood, just down the road from me, because I figure it’s close by, and how long could it take, right?
The Greenwood office is FULL. Standing room only. There are easily 100 people waiting their turns, and during the entire ten minutes I was there I think I saw three new numbers called. I am quite sure I would still be there now if I decided to stick it out. I quickly concluded that it would actually be faster to drive over to the likely-less-busy Bothell office (Yes, Bothell, home of the most intimidating city slogan I have ever seen: “For a day…or a LIFETIME.“) and do it there. And I’ve got an iPod full of podcasts and a full tank of gas, so what the hell.
So I get over there…pretty quickly, considering that it’s now going on 3:00P and the commuting traffic is gonna start kicking in pretty soon. And I take a number…134. Checking the little readouts above the windows indicates that Number 124 is currently being served in those lines. Golden. I sit down.
Immediately, three of the four windows close. I look up to see a sign reminding me that attacking or intimidating a public servant is a felony offense. I now understand why it’s there.
I plug into the iPod and finish listening to This Week In Tech. It takes, I shit you not, a full hour and change to get from 124 to 134. As I approach the window, it dawns on me why driver’s license pictures always suck: by the time your turn finally comes, your spirit has been completely purged from your being and you are nothing more than a hollow shell.
And, of course, I get the trainee, who has no idea how to process a name change. (You married people, you get a new ID when you get married and change your last name, right? This can’t be THAT uncommon.) So he has to wait for someone to help him, and after she does, he does something out of order and erases it all, so she gets to help him again. Whee.
Didja know that when you change your name, your vision changes along with it, and therefore they make you retake the eye exam? Me neither.
Didja know that despite the entire known universe having gone to digital photography, and despite getting a new license in May when I lost my wallet, you have to (wait some more to) retake the picture AGAIN? Me neither. (Attention, DOL administration: have you heard of this wonderful technical advancement called a FRIGGIN’ HARD DRIVE?)
Anyhow. Started this whole adventure a little before two, and did not leave with a temp license in my wallet until right around 4:30P.
Which means it took longer to get the new license than it did to change my goddamn name in the first place.
There’s just something very wrong with that.
I’ve been meaning to comment on the current situation with the iPhone, but hadn’t had time to get around to it. Finally, today, I came across a piece that was so mind-bendingly STUPID that I have been inspired to action. In the past, you’ve seen me rail on technology writers. Now, I realize that suggesting there is a lot of bad writing online is a little like suggesting that water is wet, and I further realize that a lot of said bad writing comes from amateurs just looking to plug their website or make a couple of freelance bucks on the side writing a piece for Gamespot or something. That’s one thing. When a full-blown professional adult working for CNET screws the pooch, that’s something else again.
Enter Don Reisinger.
I first came across Mr. Reisinger as a guest on Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech podcast from this past weekend, where he was brought on to discuss an article he wrote last week about how Microsoft just needs to throw in the towel on Windows Vista. Which would have been great if my experience and that of my collegues even came CLOSE to his talking points; I’ve been running it since February, and the LONE problem I have had with it traced back to a shareware application that doesn’t play nice with the Desktop. (And that the author can’t be bothered to update, but that’s another rant.) I personally know of NOBODY who has had the kind of experience with it that Reisinger claimed: that it crashes a lot, that it’s a resource hog, and that User Account Control is a nuisance. (Hint: if you’re using the OS the way you’re SUPPOSED to use the OS, the way 99% of users use the OS, instead of mucking around in Program Files and the Windows folder and whatnot, you barely know it’s there.)
So he jumped behind the wheel of the Microsoft Sucks bandwagon, and Leo, being the Mac apologist that he is, hopped right into the shotgun seat. Truly O’Reillyesque, it was. If it were a hockey podcast, he would have been Al Strachan. John Dvorak was out this week, so I’m guessing Reisinger was called in to fill the position of Blowhard Who Talks Out Of His Ass To Drive Website Traffic.
thought hoped I was done with this guy. Then, today, I come across this little ditty, where he puts the blame on AT&T for the recent firmware update that has bricked hax0red iPhones. Apparently Apple is 0% responsible, since big bad AT&T has “forced” them to release this firmware, which renders phones that have been hacked to use on carriers outside of AT&T (temporarily) inoperable, and disables third-party apps that weren’t supposed to work anyhow.
What a crock of SHITE.
Never mind the obvious: when you hack ANY device, you’re taking your life into your hands; PSP owners can tell you a thing or two about that. But, Don: You do know, I hope, being the business expert that you are, that AT&T wrote Apple a BIG FAT CHECK for the right to be the iPhone’s exclusive U.S. carrier, right? And that Apple did not say “No, we don’t want to be beholden to you to keep hackers locked out of this device,” no, sir, they ran right down to their bank and CASHED IT. And while the world was finding out that freeing themselves from the shackles of AT&T was as easy as running a couple of apps on it, they were over in Europe accepting similar checks from O2, T-Mobile, and Orange!
Do I think the iPhone should be carrier-agnostic and that people should be able to run whatever apps they want to on it? God, yes. But the Apple fanboiz need to get it through their heads that Apple isn’t nearly the paragon of goodness and virtue that they think.
As for Don Reisinger: sir, please feel free to come up on stage and accept your Golden Slurpee, compliments of our good friends at 7-Eleven. Because….audience?
That’s right! Check us out next year as our broadcast comes to you from the armpit of America: Oxnard, California! Until then, good night!
(The following is a Chez Fred Public Service Announcement.)
Don’t ever get your wallet stolen.
(The preceding was a Chez Fred Public Service Announcement.)
I’ll give you the short version since this post isn’t really about that: I was at Fred Meyer, I had the fanny pack I keep my wallet in up in the top section where you put a little kid, I got up to the front and loaded my groceries onto the conveyor belt, I go into my pack to get my wallet out to pay, gone. Yes, I’ve looked in my car. Yes, I’ve scoured my apartment. It’s gone. And it sucks. Among Things That Suck, I must say that getting your wallet stolen is way up there on the list.
So, what else to do but move on. I’ve spent a goodly bit of this week contacting various and sundry agencies to get my ID’s and credit cards and whatever replaced, and in researching how to go about getting a replacement Social Security card (yes, I know you’re not supposed to carry it in your wallet anymore; I grew up during a time when you did and didn’t worry about it, and never took it out), I discovered that the credit agencies are a little more cooperative when it comes to putting a long-term fraud alert on your credit reports if you file a police report. I initially wasn’t going to bother, because I’m of reasonable mind and I know there isn’t a hope in hell of seeing the thing again. But now, I figure, what the hell.
Which brings us to today’s story: It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m in the Seattle Police Department, North Precinct Office. I stride up to the counter, and the officer on duty asks me how he can help me.
“Yes, Officer, I need to file a report for a wallet I lost last Sunday.”
“Last Sunday? Well, why didn’t you call us THEN?”
“Well, I didn’t realize the wallet had actually been stolen yet, and I haven’t had time to come down and do this until today.”
“You should have called us immediately! We would have put an alert on all of your credit cards, and when someone tried to get credit, it would notify us, and we’re off and running and we get ’em!”
Right, because the Seattle Police Department is going to tear themselves away from beating down WTO protestors to mobilize all of their forces in the interest of locating one guy’s wallet.
I admit at this point that I’m a little flustered, partially because I’ve spent the last several days dealing with every pain-in-the-ass agency you can think of, from the Visa to the credit reporting agencies and down to Blockbuster Video, and partially because, as the victim of a crime, I’ve also spent the last few days beating myself up over the same thing, and the LAST thing I was expecting was for the friggin’ POLICE to pile onto the guilt trip I’ve already done a great job of launching on my own.
Sadly, this isn’t the end.
“You should make sure that you call your bank and credit card people and such to make sure all of these cards get cancelled.”
“Yes, I did that the second I realize the wallet was gone, and I’ve been watching my accounts online to make sure that nothing unauthorized gets through.”
“Oh, you had time to do that, but you didn’t have time to call us?”
It is at this point that I steal a glance at the officer’s nametag, fully expecting to see either “Barbrady,” “Wiggum,” or “Farva,” but, surprisingly, it was none of those.
Sadly, local police aren’t under any obligation to file theft reports, so I have no choice but to stand there and absorb all of this. Finally, after he repeats the above bullet points several more times, I interject:
“Look, I’m here now, alright? What’s done is done, I’m here now.”
Officer Winchell just stares at me. Finally, he reaches for a pad of forms, and in the most magnanimous way possible, favors me with:
“Well, since you’re here now, I guess I’ll take the report for you.”
Gee, thanks for that.
He then asks me when it happened (“Sometime between 4:30P and 5:30P on Sunday, Officer”), where I was (“The Fred Meyer on Lake City Way”), and what was in my wallet, interrupting me to inform me that certain items that would be completely reasonable to be concerned about for identity theft purposes, like my medical and dental benefit cards, “didn’t matter.” Well, jackbag, if they don’t matter, DON’T ASK ME TO TELL YOU WHAT’S IN MY WALLET.
Turn. Sigh. Tappity-tap-tap into a computer. (Next to that computer, one with a photograph open of what I can only assume is a young relative of some kind, apparently what I pulled this guy away from with my invasive official business. I say I assume this was a young relative, but if somehow I found out that it was in fact the kid this guy was cornholing, I have to say it wouldn’t surprise me.) And he hands me a business-sized card with my report number on it, just as magnanimously as he did when he graciously agreed to do his friggin’ job in the first place. Here you go, get out of here, I’ve got a picture to wank to.
And I’ve got nothing left in the tank, and I know that it wouldn’t do a single bit of good anyhow, so I give him a “Thank you very much, Officer,” and go on my way.
So, yeah, there’s the story. I didn’t have a particularly positive opinion of our local law enforcement to start with, and all this guy did was reinforce that with a fine network of titanium steel.
I bet if I sent this card out to the lab, I’d find traces of powdered sugar on it, too.
Bear with me on this one, folks, I want to make sure my Google ranking on this post is good and high.
(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)
So, Thursday night, I’m going to print something out on my printer recently unclogged by proximity…and I get more streaks. Dammit.
(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)
So it’s time to bring out the cleaning fluid I purchased from fixyourownprinter.com. Followed all of the directions, and….nothing. Printer is no longer a going concern.
(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)
Let me just say that I don’t blame the Laser Service folks in the least, which is why I still link them above. Their fluid clearly works…I got some ink on my fingers in the process of all of this cleaning, and out of curiosity I put a little of the fluid on a paper towel, and it does indeed break it down and clean it right off, better than rubbing alcohol, even. Their stuff works. It’s just that Epson makes a crappy printer with an ink formulation prone to clogging, and once it does, you’re screwed. The days of Epson being a brand known for quality products are over.
(Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks Epson sucks.)
And so (Epson sucks) it is with great optimism (Epson sucks) that I shall spend today deciding (Epson sucks) between two Canon’s: the PIXMA MP510 and (Epson sucks) the PIXMA MP600. I also shall not (Epson sucks) be recommending (Epson sucks) an Epson printer (Epson sucks) ever again. They’ve (Epson sucks) made (Epson sucks) a (Epson sucks) sworn (Epson sucks) enemy.
Oh, and Epson sucks.
POSTSCRIPT REDUX: I splurged and went with the PIXMA MP600. Bigger display, and better and more conveniently located controls; it should be here this coming week. I’m excited. And Epson still sucks.
Wanna know where the housing market is in Seattle?
1,500 people lined up yesterday to try to buy studio condos in downtown Seattle.
Unremarkable in and of itself, until I give you the specs:
296 square feet. $150,000.
That’s 17.2 feet on a side, kids. Just a hair under six paces.
Want a little more room to stretch out? You can have 394 square feet of your very own for $203,950. You could take an unprecedented seventh pace.
They had 251 of these available. That’s roughly six applicants for every unit. They’re 80% sold out, and they won’t even be finished building them until 2008. They haven’t even STARTED yet; the building currently occupying the space has yet to be demolished.
Me? I’d just be excited to buy a new refrigerator. Not because I need the refrigerator, mind you, but at this rate all I’ll be able to afford to live in is the box…