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Exit ArchiveArchive for May, 2005
Permalink Comments Off on Counting the SunsComments Off on Counting the Suns By

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do when you are told you’re wrong when you’re really not. There’s nothing you can say. Charlie Brown will always be wrong, and Lucy will always be right. After a week of stomachaches and heartaches, at least Charlie Brown and Lucy made me laugh at the ubiquity of it all!

Permalink Comments Off on The Duesenberg’s a DogComments Off on The Duesenberg’s a Dog By

Why? Why are most cars so God-damned UGLY? I heard the Duesenberg is being re-introduced in the States, and I thought, “Oh, okay. I wonder what kind of luxurious car they’ve come up with? It certainly must be better than those hideous Maybachs!” (Careful. That link will re-size your browser window. Idiots.)

Well, the concept for the Duesenberg Torpedo is awful. Just awful. Take a look and read about it all here.

Permalink Comments Off on Industry of IdiotsComments Off on Industry of Idiots By

More on the broadcast flag.

I work in an industry of idiots.

After a day of stress and drama that sapped every once of my spirit and energy, I had to go and audition for a Greek tragedy. “Oh, good,” I thought. “I can use this morbid mood of mine to really nail these scenes.”

Unfortunately, yet fortunately, when I got to the audition, there were friends there with whom I ended up chatting and joking, and my foul mood was dissipated. Or at least masked. When I finally got to read my monologue and do my scenes, I was not in the dour state of mind I was anticipating.

My last scene, Messenger #1, was abysmal. I read like crap and lost my focus entirely. But no matter. Without the audition, I would have been trapped at home in a black mood. Better to have an evening out with actors, who are so good at distraction. And if I screwed up enough to not get cast, then my summer would be entirely free.

This is another Ken play, so when I got into work today, we chatted. Inconceivably, he’s casting me in the Messenger role. Huh.

I think he cast me for that role partly because I don’t comfortably fit into any of the other roles, but mostly because it is going to be a challenge. He’ll get his kicks seeing me work my ass off. The Messenger is the guy that delivers the bad news to everyone throughout the play. I mean, you know those Greek tragedies: everything happens off screen and then you hear about it from… a messenger. I’m going to have to be emotional, and I think Ken is gonna want me to cry.

Oh, no. Cry! On stage! I’m scared, but you know what? It’s exciting. I’ve never done drama before. I can not wait to see if I am up for it, or if I need to stick to comedy for the rest of my life.

Thanks very much to SAMerican Revolution (Can I call you Sam?) for this one.

A college kid with a valid ticket was not allowed in to see a President Bush forum because of the shirt he was wearing. He was called a threat and put on the watch list. And as Sam pointed out, who paid for that forum? We taxpayers? Huh.

I can only get ill so many times per day, Mr. Bush! Please do something that doesn’t make me sick!

There is a kind of balance to the universe. Anakin may not have brought any of that balance to the Force like he was supposed to, unless you call whining and making retardedly bad decisions for you and your wife’s future a kind of balance. But that’s a bad example. George long ago passed from the realm of the meaningful. He can not show us the answer.

No, Target holds the answer.

Shopping at Target is, for me, a consistent exercise in mind-numbing frustration. Today will serve as a good example. I had a decent list of items I needed to get, one of which was deodorant. Now, deodorant is not something you can just buy and be happy with. It may cake too much and cause sleeve dandruff. It may have an overpowering “masculine” smell, or maybe too-feminine a stench. Worse yet, it simply may not work. Mix ineffective Powder Fresh with body odor, and you get something like rotting hamburger sprinkled with Johnson & Johnson’s.

Today, the deodorant section of Target had a huge swath of empty shelf space. This is not unusual at Target, as they seem to be as good at restocking inventory as I am at krumping. However, this particular large swath was supposed to contain the deodorant I use. Instead, there was nothing but the haphazard, destroyed remnants of the “convenient” product organization and supply apparatus, in front of which were poppingly-red labels marked “CLEARANCE.”

So the sons of britches discontinued my deodorant. Great. Time to re-experiment and find something else I can use.

Next up: the eye care aisle. Here I needed to get contact cleaner. The first thing I noticed on the boxes was poppingly-red stickers. The price was surprisingly low. And on the shelf below? The same poppingly-red “CLEARANCE” tag. Holy McMoley. They were about to stop carrying that product as well! I grabbed three of the suckers. At least there were some of these left, unlike the deodorant.

In the toothbrush aisle (no, I was not even going to attempt to look for extra soft toothbrushes!) I was, just for fun, going to check on their supply of Mint Assure, this great breath mint stuff that does wonders for garlic and onion and other odorous maladies caused by diet. The last six times I’ve looked for this product at Target, they’ve had it once. Today? Nada. Fine.

How were they on wipes? Yes, I use handy wipes at home, mostly to cleanse the stray cats that hang out in the bushes outside of my apartment building. It’s my way of returning love to the community. Target, as was to be expected, did not have any of these on hand aside from their own store brand. Which I’m sure smell like Powder Fresh and isopropyl.

I was, by this point, fairly fuming. I was disgusted that this, somehow, was what a pleasant and convenient shopping experience was supposed to be. Well, I wanted none of it.

This is how Target always is. Irritating. And yet… I return to it every time. Which means there must be something to love.

I hate to sound so middle-American, but the prices are so much better than anywhere else. I have to take out a loan every time I buy toiletries and such at Sav-On or the grocery stores. Really, if I can save a couple bucks on one item at Target, it’s worth struggling to get it there, I suppose, returning several times until they finally have the item I need back on the shelves.

Pricing for cereal, for example, is a good example. For example, I love cereal to pieces, but buying it at the grocery store is like buying gas. “I’m paying $3.95 for three ounces of dry flakes with some sugar on them? But why? WHY?” If you wait for a sale at same, you get your choice of five cereals, three of which you don’t like, and the two of which are probably all sold out because you ain’t the only one who thinks cheap cereal is like a gift from the gods.

The cereal at Target is sanely priced. Not only that, today, I made a wonderful discovery: Chocolate Lucky Charms! What took them so long? Why did I have to wait through those nasty “real fruit” cereals and the Trix shapes that destroy the delicate lining of flesh in your mouth? Granted, I have not tried them yet, but simply the concept of Chocolate Lucky Charms is so refreshing, I could simply frame the box, hang it on the wall, and be happy for the remainder of the year.

There’s also a little thing with candy. One of the unsung benefits of Target is their good prices on the perfect movie candy. Why pay $3.50 for a tiny box of Junior Mints at Mann when I can spend $1.10 for a ginormous box of them at Target? Why settle for the unhappy neon flavor of Red Vines—the only licorice the theaters out here carry these days—when I can get the more pleasurably waxy and sublime Twizzlers? Oh, and Dots, the former definition of movie candy that has now been ousted at the theaters to make way for Sour Patch Kids, Sour Skittles and Sour Gummi Worms, is available at Target for 99¢. Perfect!

The trouble comes, of course, when they are completely out of Dots. But I won’t get back into that.

Hmm. Pricing, it seems, is about the only good example I can think of. I’ve been willing to spend more lately for organic food at Whole Foods, but spending an extra $3.00 for the very same contact lens cleaner at Longs is simply out of the question for me. That seems to be the balance.

I never dreamed Target would present an excellent example of the balance of the universe. And yet, there it is. I dread each trip to Target, but I love Target. That’s simply how life in this universe works, I suppose. Either that, or I’m simply a cheapskate who’s a glutton for punishment.

Permalink Comments Off on Ring Tone DancerComments Off on Ring Tone Dancer By

And finally, just because it’s Friday, may I present to you…

Ring Tone Dancer

I can not tell if this is inspired or just plain stupid. But I laughed regardless.



I can’t believe I missed it, but The Wren Forum is one year old! As of May 6th, this little part of my site has been up for a year.

What does one buy a website as a gift? More storage? Faster servers? A Spam sandwich?

Remember me ranting about having to do things twice? Well guess what…

I had to call United today to ask why my flight to Paris was credited with the Business class 150% bonus miles, while the flight back was not. I was told—you’ll never believe this, yet you will—that Z class is not eligible for 150% bonus miles. The nice second lady I had talked to on the 11th, I was told, had input that bonus by hand and should not have.

Thankfully, they did not remove the bonus in some sort of childish corporate retaliation.

Taking a deep breath, I asked about the 42,000 bonus miles, and that I was told that Z class does qualify for those miles. Again, the lady today told me it does not.

I told her I was angry, especially after having such bad luck with customer service lately. It was my way of pre-apologizing for asking her this next thing:

Why was my online mileage summary showing me having flown in C class? I had mileage in Q, M, and W classes, but for some reason, my trip to Paris is misleadingly itemized as C class. Q, M, and W are all discounted Economy classes, she told me, but C was full Business class. So why did my summary not show me the horrid, leprosied Z?

Of course, she could not answer, but did suggest I call the complaint line or send an e-mail.

Sigh. The customer is never right any more, I guess.

Permalink Comments Off on Prius BugComments Off on Prius Bug By

Yes, friends, this is why the day of self-driving cars will be one that scares the living crap out of me.

The Toyota Prius has a software bug that can cause the cars to stall on the highway and sometimes not restart. Toyota has told the owners of the affected cars the bring them in for an “hour-long software update.”

Imagine, a computer crash that leads to a real crash. Fantastic! Already, the person working on the code for a self-driving car is out there, and as careful as they might be at their future task, there is also a fatal multi-car pile-up waiting to make them feel a little bit like Oppenheimer.

But this is progress, dammit! Inevitably, some will have to die to make the lives of others more convenient.

Now I feel bad! So you did not put any steamy (of which there were none) encounters (of which there were none) on your France site because I was reading your site? Man – how true it is that Mom’s can ruin everything! But I probably should not feel too bad that you did not list any erotic (of which there were none) fun times (of which there were none) since there was nothing to report, right??

Permalink Comments Off on Real ID is ScaryComments Off on Real ID is Scary By

Yes, friends and folks, it’s more on Real ID. This great article at ArsTechnica shows that there’s even more nefarious surprises awaiting us in the Real ID act than just a lil’ ol’ national ID card.

The act is using a never-invoked (never?) section in our constitution to override judicial review of part of the Real ID act. If that sounds scary, IT IS!

Please read the article, then watch the veggie Star Wars mentioned in the previous post. Just to get your sense of humor back.

Permalink Comments Off on Store WarsComments Off on Store Wars By

Okay, this is funny. Grocery Store Wars, an amusing, Star Wars-themed push for buying organic starring a host of food puppets. It’s so cute, it hurts! “Search your peelings, Cuke. You know it to be true!”


And timely, as I have just begun a new experiment for myself. I am going to attempt to buy organic things. I plan to shop at Whole Foods more than Pavilions, and get things with less “hydrogenated lubricant” in them.

After seeing this little movie, I am sold! May the farm be with me!

The location should actually read, “A dingy office in the back of a luxury hotel in Cannes.”

I’m here, but I don’t have much good to say. This place is Beverly Hills on crack — everything is ridiculously, obscenely expensive, glamorous, luxurious and ostentatious.

I arrived at 11 p.m. last night. I immediately got a phone call — a job interview (by phone) for a position in L.A. Forty-five minutes, only to be told today that they declined. Nice.

Actually, it is, because then I went straight back to work, obsessing over the Crackberry (just got it — horrendously addicted already) and doing work until 3 a.m. Up at 8, into the office (thankfully a short stroll away, so I’m not just STUCK in the same hotel), and it’s now 1:20 a.m. and I’m still here.

The good news: We’ve become the little (or big) movie that could. We were horrendously worried people at Cannes would laugh in our faces when we said we were coming to play out of competition, and now we’re the hot ticket. The screening is officially sold out, our party has 1,250 people invited and is growing, and there’s no end to the nightmare of putting this thing together, making sure every detail is organized.

Then we move on to London on Monday (screening here is Sunday), and it’s just as bad there — we’ve got everything from major directors to Crown Princes attending, and the invitation/seating situation is unbelievably convoluted.

I set an e-mail record today: 455 e-mails in a single day, and only about 2% of them were “unreadable” (cc’d with other people, junk mail, etc.), leading me to this ungodly hour.

What I’ve seen of Cannes is … well, it’s hard to categorize. The place is a true madhouse. There’s even a Love Bug outside our hotel. The real thing.

No time to take photos — yet. But I will. Just to show you all (all?) I’m really, genuinely here.

Permalink Comments Off on Paint Your Way Out of Bankruptcy!Comments Off on Paint Your Way Out of Bankruptcy! By


So United is being allowed to default on its pensions, yet they still have the money to re-paint their planes! What bullcrap.

An update on Real ID at Wired.

A blow to human rights in Chile.

Lately, the world has been forcing me to do things twice.

First, it was finding a book for Steve’s birthday. Being a clever procrastinator and not having the gift inspiration until it was almost time to just go with the usual gift card (I love gift cards, by the way, so please send any extras you have to me care of this institution), I needed to be able to get the book ASAP, and the book I decided on is not easy to find. There were no nearby stores, big or small, that had the book.

Interestingly, Borders has this great online feature where you can search for a book that is physically in a store. You submit your query, after which you receive e-mails telling you if the book is in stock or not. If it is in stock, the store will hold it for you.

I chose the Hollywood store because I’d be able to get to it before Steve’s party. However, the online form has a bad interface design that forces you to choose a second store. Not knowing which to choose, I just clicked on one that I knew I could never get to in a million years.

Of course, the Hollywood store returned a negative result, while the second store did have the book. That book was placed on hold for me, though I’d never come to get it.

Well, feeling like a dumb-dumb, I realized I could simply skedaddle out of work for a bit and go to the Glendale store. So, instead of calling, I chose to do the fun online query again. The forced second-choice option not having been programmed out of existence in the intervening time, I chose the Hollywood store again, this time as the second choice, knowing they did not have the book and would therefore not have to needlessly hold one for me.

It will come as no surprise to those paying attention to the theme of this post that, on this second attempt, the Hollywood store said they did have a book for me and it would be on hold. (The Glendale store, for those interested in complete details, did not have the book. Or so they said thistime.)

I could not for an instant trust these antipodal results, so I ended up calling the store for a straight answer. Sure enough, the book was already on hold for me. I wondered if maybe the book had been hiding betwixt the pages of Golf Digest and some employee had discovered it in the fifteen minutes it had taken me to submit the second query. Or maybe they had been lazy the first time, saw the second request, and crumpled like a house of cards under the intensity of my desire to find that book. More likely, some other schmo had had the book held as a result of being forced to chose the Hollywood store as a second choice, and my second query came just at the moment that hold was expiring.

Next on the list of things I had to do twice was deal with United. The airline.

Before going to Paris, I had received a mailing telling me of a bonus miles offer for Mileage Plus folks like myself. Magically, the stars were somehow aligned, and this latest in a series of typically impossible-to-qualify-for offers was going to work for me. I signed up online immediately.

During the trip, I began to fear that, somewhere in the tiny print, the corporate-discounted ticket on which I was flying to Pairee would somehow cause me to be ineligible for the 42,000 bonus miles. Yes, that’s right. 42,000 bonus miles. This is why I was fretting over it in the first place. 1,000 bonus miles? Ah, who cares. But 42,000? Yes I was concerned that I’d somehow be left bereft of this bountiful endowment.

Yesterday, I checked my Mileage Plus account. Sure enough, the 42,000 bonus miles were not there. This is weeks after my trip, and so I thought it best to call. The lady on the phone, after looking into the matter, informed me that my ticket had been booked at Z class. I said I flew Business class, C class, which was what the bonus required. No matter that the Mileage Plus site showed me having flown on C class, my ticket was booked, she said, at a “heavily-discounted” Business class.

In what world $3,200 is considered a deep discount for a plane ticket, I will never know. I mean, the Concorde doesn’t fly any more!

I got testy with the lady just before hanging up, which was uncalled for, I know, but I just had to tell her that I can never, ever seem to qualify for these special offers. She cooly but politely thanked me for calling.

Gazing at my mileage summary, I noticed something else: I had not received the 150% of miles one’s supposed to get for flying Business class. Sigh. I called back.

The younger and slightly more enthusiastic woman on the phone this time told me the 150% miles was an oversight and she’d fix it right away. Just for fun, I brought up the 42,000-mile bonus issue. I simply wanted to know if somewhere on their site was the list of “terms and conditions” for the program so I could see for myself that I hadn’t qualified.

Surprisingly to me, but surely, by this time, not to you, dear reader, she said that Z class was a qualifying class for the bonus miles. I could not believe her, of course, because her cohort had just told me likewise, so I had her make sure Z class was not truly the bottom of the barrel, as anything classed with Z typically might be. She assured me I was okay, and if the miles did not show up by next week, to call back then.

I know I will have to call back again on this issue, and I guess those miles could still be denied me by that third call, but I have a good feeling the second woman was more correct than the first. It makes me feel better to think so.

Three times makes for an interesting story theme, and my third “two times charmed” incident involves my arthritis.

Yes, I have arthritis. I found this out in January when I went in to have the pain in my toe looked at by a podiatrist. For the second time, of course.

This second visit revealed that I have arthritis on a joint in my right big toe. My options, I was told, were to have surgery and clear out the arthritic mess, or to get orthotic inserts for my shoes. I chose the less-invasive option first, and the doctor took molds of my feet. He gave me a number to call in a few weeks if I hadn’t heard back on the progress of the inserts’ manufacture.

Of course, I heard nothing. However, the only times I would remember to call were after office hours or when I was otherwise indisposed. When I finally called the first time, I was told the office would look into it. I never heard back.

Now, I don’t want to wear these things. They are going to be awkward and maybe even a tad unpleasant to wear. And transferring them from shoe to shoe? Ugh. So, being the clever procrastinator I am, I ended up not calling again for a while.

On my eventual second call, the podiatrist’s office told me to check with my primary care doctor’s office, which is where I’d had the appointment. I did this once on the phone, and then twice in person while there on other matters. (The pregnancy scare had me going there for a while!) No one ever got back to me after any of these inquiries.

Monday, I gave up and called the podiatrist’s again. This time, they were able to tell me that they could not find the orthotics, and there was no record of them having been made.

What do you suppose I had to do? Yes, that is correct. Yesterday, I went in for a second set of molds.

I know I’m not consistently having to have everything done twice. For instance, I did not have to have the lady at Bake It Again Sam’s make a second sandwich for me today because my first one went missing between the counter and the register. Nor am I having to type this twice because a sudden kernel panic crashed the Mac and I lost the entire story. (I’m going to save it now just in case.)

However, it’s become frustrating the number of times I have to try and try and try to get information from someone, to have something accomplished which should be rather easy (Hello, landlord? It’s me, Steve.), or to have something fixed that was messed up the first go ’round. There are certain things in life that should be a challenge, but customer service should not be one of them.

Now I know I’m in trouble for revealing that I got Steve his gift so last minute! I’m going into hiding…

Permalink Comments Off on Give Back the FlagComments Off on Give Back the Flag By

Okay, so the broadcast flag thing was nice, but I take it all back. This country is becoming more stupid and more dangerous thanks to paranoia and those who love power.

Check out this tidbit on national ID cards. More from Wired, CNN, the ACLU, CNET, and The Village Voice.

If you don’t think a national ID card is scary, then history has already been forgotten.

Permalink Comments Off on Capture the Broadcast FlagComments Off on Capture the Broadcast Flag By

Thank God someone in this country has some smarts! Okay, so maybe the Terri Schiavo thing ended up as it should have. But this one is something everyone can support and cheer for!

A court has struck down the FCC broadcast flag. This means, if it stands through what I’m sure will be inevitable appeals by the whiny entertainment companies, we consumers can keep copying shows and things that we tape ourselves.

News at Wired and Engadget.

UPDATE: Yes, Engadget, my new favorite site, has an update on this issue. This was to be expected, of course…

Permalink Comments Off on Wallet MIAComments Off on Wallet MIA By

The scariest thing just happened…

I went to grab my wallet out of my room, and it was not there. Now, when my wallet is not in my room, it is in my back pocket. But since it was not there either, I immediately went wonky.

I looked around the apartment and it was nowhere. Then I looked again, in places I would not think to look the first time. I looked in the laundry room, where I was doing laundry tonight. Nothing.

I know I’m having memory difficulties more these days (I could not remember my chiropractor’s name this morning and had to look him up in my Palm under, of course, “chiropractor”), but to lose my wallet completely was not right.

To top things off, I was flying to Skywalker Ranch tomorrow to see long-time contributor to this Forum, John, and to see Episode III. What would I do without a wallet? My passport would work for flying, but not for the car rental. And I’d have no money since I’m leaving before the banks open…

My God. A nightmare was brewing. A nightmare. But I thought of Paris, and me misreading my itinerary, and I knew, whatever the outcome, there was nothing to be done, so panic was not in order. Oh, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide certainly had nothing to do with “Don’t Panic,” either, I’m almost mostly entirely sure.

I could not even properly remember exactly when I last used my wallet. I took out receipts to do my Quicken, but then what?

There were footsteps behind me when I walked to the mail box to deposit my late rent check (I forgot about rent this month… see?). The footsteps stopped after I rounded a corner. Was my wallet stolen from me? Did some guy who was bad at muffling his nefarious footsteps snatch it out of my loosey-goosey pocket and make a run for it?

No, that was too stupid.

The only thing I could think was my shorts. These shorts I’m wearing have a lousy back pocket. In fact, all day today, I made sure to button the back pocket because my wallet lies in it like a marble in a cupcake tin. One wrong move, and out it can pop. It had never happened, but I could tell by the design that it was one day inevitable.

That had to be it. I hoped. Then I hoped it didn’t fall out near the mailbox on Wilshire. That wallet would be long gone by now…

I put the batteries in my Mag-Lite—I keep them out ’cause I use it so rarely and don’t want the batteries to corrode and ruin the thing—and went outside.

I felt stupid looking alongside the sidewalk that runs parallel to my building. Making my way back to the laundry room, I saw moist weeds, a cute snail nearly safely across the path, and a few young strawberries on our semi-new ground cover that was installed to please building inspectors last year…

At the very corner of the patch of green and brown, there it was. My wallet was plopped askew in some weeds of some kind.

Whew. WHEW! Major whew. That was lucky. Why it had fallen out there and not somewhere outside of the sphere of our relatively calm apartment bubble, I don’t know. Guess I was just lucky this time.

I brought the wallet back in, pulled the D-cells out of the Mag-Lite, and felt relieved. Saved again from folly. I could fly tomorrow without trouble.

I just hope the wallet dries out by the morning. A wet ass on a plane is not something I want to endure.