|Let the grumpiness commence!|
So like a month ago Blockbuster announced it was finally mercy killing both its stores and its DVD by mail service. I was reluctantly using the latter because Netflix pissed me off a few years ago by sending me the same broken DVD TWICE and I'm too lazy to go to the Redbox kiosks. Anyway, I could have seen the handwriting on the wall a while ago. Blockbuster's problem wasn't just people were going digital with movies, but also that they sucked in providing for the customers. I mean just about all the movies on my Blockbuster queue that were "Medium Demand" or "High Demand" or "Very High Demand" were readily available on Netflix's DVD service once I switched back to them. Part of that is probably because they knew they were winding down their business, but really long before that they were slow about mailing movies and if you weren't able to get a new one the day it came out, forget about it for like six weeks. So really, why should people stick with you? The only advantage of Blockbuster is their envelopes are so much nicer. They're easier to open and much smaller than Netflix's, which don't fit in the mail slot for my apartment's mailbox, which is extremely irritating. Why does Netflix need to waste so much paper? Think of the trees!
Anyway, speaking of companies going out of business in the near future, I recently got a $5 off coupon from Best Buy and decided to use it on a Sims 3 expansion pack since there was really nothing else I needed. I could buy it to download from the site so that seemed simpler than going to the store. WRONG! With Amazon for instance you pay for the download and BOOM! you start downloading it and then installing and playing it. But stupid ass Best Buy you have to wait for them to add it to your "digital library" which takes like an hour or so. Well then I go to my digital library and where is it? Not there. I chatted with some dope in customer service who "assumed" it would take up to 24 hours. Well gee 48 hours go by and still my game isn't there! I tried to email them. No answer. Tried again 40 hours later. No answer. Ranted about them on Twitter and got an auto Tweet--and that was it. Finally I sucked it up to navigate their obnoxious phone system. When I get a person she assures me they'll send me a code by Email in 24 hours. Nope. I call the next day another lady tells me they'll send a code in 24 hours. Nope. I call the next day the guy gives me the code over the phone. Hooray? Nope. Doesn't work. Finally I just went to EA's Sims 3 site and bought the game from them for $20. Ten minutes later it's installed. Gee, 10 minutes vs. 5 fucking days. This is part of the reason they'll be out of business in a couple years. Which is kind of sad because honestly I still like having them around for situations like when I bought my new computer and for whatever reason the thing only had DVI connectors and I have a VGA monitor. I was luckily able to go down to Best Buy and get an adapter. But when Best Buy goes under what do I do? Wait 2 days to get it from Amazon? Wait a day or so to find some Ma and Pop computer parts store? Because the only other stores with electronics these days are Wal-Mart, Target, etc. and they wouldn't carry specialty parts like that. I guess I'd just be screwed then.
Since I mentioned Sims 3 Expansion Packs, they are largely a ripoff. I wanted the "Movie Stuff" one because it promised to have superhero costumes and I thought that some professional ones might be better than someone's homemade ones I recolored for my characters. WRONG! The problem is EA is so fucking arrogant about these things. Instead of designing like some generic superhero costume parts, you can pretty much only get their character Peacock Man or whatever the hell it's called. If you don't want Peacock Man you're screwed. And for the ladies the ones they designed looked great if you were making She-Ra, who incidentally is not classified as a superhero. I mean, did these people even read a comic book or watch a superhero movie ever? Pretty much for $15 you get like 3 or 4 new outfits per sex/age and maybe a couple new hairstyles, most of which are pretty fucking lame. And they're so lazy they just give you full outfits instead of putting shirts, pants, skirts, etc. separately, which would be more useful. It's a ripoff. The sad thing is that people do so much better work from their basements than EA's professional designers do. I mean the hairs EA designs are always crap. They're always so flat and dull compared to what other people do on their own. Here's an example:
Now just to get my goat I'm sure you all will say you like EA's better, but you would be wrong. If they just put a little thought and effort into their creations they'd be much better, but they'd rather bilk suckers for $15-$40 per set. Then again most people probably aren't as big of sticklers about this as I am. Maybe they want to use Peacock Man.
I think the summary of my first three points is that big companies suck because they just don't put much effort into it and then they wonder why they fail and customers eventually leave them. Surely if there were a better way of designing my people (like if I actually could draw) I'd do that rather than use EA's crap.
Since "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" are behind us, what's this bullshit of websites like Best Buy being "sold out online" of stuff? I understand if a product is no longer being made it could be "sold out" but really if it's still in production like Kindle Fires for instance then it's not like you can't just order more of them from the manufacturer. Instead of "sold out online" you should just say it's backordered for a few days. But really I think it's more that they want you to go into the store to look for it in the hope you'll spend more money there than online.
Here's a mini sports rant for you. Considering NFL teams are starting such luminaries at quarterback as Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens, and something called Scott Thorzien, you'd think a guy who led his team to a .500 record and won a playoff game could get work as at least a backup. I am of course talking about Tim Tebow who got Denver to the second round of the playoffs and was rewarded with being traded to the Jets, whose brilliant plan was to bring him in for the "wildcat" and then have him run the ball for 2 yards. Every. Single. Time. Because no one would ever figure that out! After a tryout with "genius" Bill Belichick's Patriots he's now on the street. My thought for why this happened is that teams are lazy. For someone with Tebow's somewhat limited skill set you need to redesign your offense to accommodate him. Denver had success when they did that. No one else has tried that because it would take a lot of effort. Why go to that much trouble when you can just shove some journeyman like McCown or Clemens or Chad Henne in there? Even horrible teams like Jacksonville are too lazy to give it a try, despite that if the gamble paid off the coach might actually save his job. Or I suppose instead of laziness you could all it arrogance. But I'd say if you're 1-9 then you are clearly not a coaching genius; you might as well accept your failure and try something different. Or not. It is the NFL (the National Football League as every "analyst" has to call it as much as possible) where "new" typically means doing what other teams did 15 years ago.
A final thought on NaNoWriMo: after I got to the 50,000 it was harder to get motivated to write except on weekends. I suppose 50,000 is a good goal for a lot of people, but for me it was much too short. And then having achieved that goal it's kind of a letdown. Just another reason not to bother with it.
Last week was Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I'm on record at being annoyed that they have to have sales on Thanksgiving now. Most people concentrate on the "plight" of the workers for having to work. When you think about it, the sales creep is really symptomatic of not only our culture of greed but also our inability to actually take a day off. It's a well-known statistic that Americans take far fewer vacation days than workers in Europe. We just seem incapable of really taking a day off to relax. If we don't have to rush around to sales then we have to pack the day with a bunch of social obligations. We all really need a day just to actually just kick back and take a load off for 24 hours. No sales, no complicated dinners, no cookouts, no parades, no fireworks shows--just a day where everyone who isn't essential to keeping the country running can not worry about stuff. Call it National Chill the Fuck Out Day; it's sort of like that movie "The Purge" only the opposite of committing crimes.
I have to slip in a rant now about the Family Guy episode where they "killed off" the dog Brian. I'm going to use quotes because for now I'm assuming this is still a short-term ploy. I can't honestly say I was really outraged at first. Watching the episode I was more like, "OK, Stewie's going to use the time machine to save him...wait, he's not? We're really doing this?" It's the kind of thing where I watch through the credits just to make sure nothing is going to happen. Then later I was pissed because Brian's my favorite character, owing to that he was a struggling writer and an atheist Democrat. (I'll just ignore that he drove a Prius instead of a good American car.) My thoughts on this subject are thus:
First, how could this episode be construed as funny in any way? At least when they killed off Peter's adopted father it was in a bizarre fashion; getting run over by a car is extremely ordinary. Especially since my avatar Blue II died a couple months ago, I'm a little sore on the subject of dogs dying. Anyway, part of the reason I've only watched the show sporadically in the last three years or so is this new crop of writers they have blow. To use Peter's words, they've gone all sissy-man Alan Alda. Like that horrid 150th episode where Brian and Stewie were locked in the vault that was just painfully unfunny. There have been quite a few others too where they've just seemed to have forgotten it's an animated comedy, not a drama. It's probably why I've enjoyed American Dad a lot more than the show preceding it, at least until next season.
Second, what was the point in doing this? When The Simpsons killed off Maude Flanders it was in large part because the voice actor didn't want to be on the show so much anymore. In real-live shows we've seen quite a few examples where a character gets killed off because the actor wants to move on to "bigger and better things" (seldom with good results) or like with Two and a Half Men because of a dispute between the actor and management. Obviously in this case those scenarios don't apply since Brian is voiced by Seth MacFarlane, who still is going to be doing a bunch of other voices on the show, so you're not saving any money and since Brian's voice is his normal voice you can't even claim it's to relieve any vocal stress. If they'd killed Meg or Chris or someone like that off I could have seen where hey one less paycheck to write.
Third, are the ratings going down so much that you need to pull off something so desperate? It seems to me that you're just antagonizing the fans. How is killing off my favorite character going to make me watch the show? And how is that going to bring in new viewers? As a writer I've killed off characters plenty of times--the Scarlet Knight series for instance features a number of characters dying--but there's always a purpose to it, but in this case I just don't see what the purpose was.
Those who followed the Grumpy Bulldog Blog would know that I was a big Obama booster in 2012 and in 2008 before that. I'm using past tense because it's over now. First there was the Syria debacle where he got outmaneuvered by Putin. Then the stupid government shutdown (not his fault but still). Now the complete boondoggle that is the Obamacare rollout. At this point he's going to go down with the likes of Ford and Carter, except with two terms. Not a total disaster like Bush II but just couldn't deliver on anything. Part of that was the opposition was just fucking insane but the other part is I guess he didn't pick a very good team to support him, like the people on this Obamacare website. He must have hired people from Best Buy to do it. I mean really that was the center of his legacy and with as fucked up as it's been, unless things get turned around quick he's got nothing to hang his hat on except a bunch of empty promises.
Which is too bad since he was the first minority president you want him to set a good precedent. As it is, the next black person (or Asian, Hispanic, Indian, etc.) who runs for president people will think, "Oh, another Obama. Meh." Which is not what you want. It would be like if Jackie Robinson had signed with the Dodgers, hit .050 and made six errors a game; baseball would probably still be segregated. Will his failures spill over to 2016 to pave the way for a Republican victory? Probably. In which case don't worry about Obamacare because that'll be the first thing to go. And if the Tea Party is still calling the shots, anyone who's not a white guy over 40 can expect to get fucked like everyone in red states has been.
Would you like to hear a story about mundane domestic stuff? A couple months ago I began the great Saga of the Shower Curtain. I'd had my previous shower curtain for like 4 years but it was getting gross so I thought I'd buy a new one. The old one was just a basic Wal-Mart model I got for like $5. I figured it should be easy enough to find something similar. It wasn't. I tried a couple hardware stores but they only had ones about as thin dollar store ones. Eventually I sucked it up and went to Wal-Mart and got a "heavy duty" one for $10. The problem is when I hung it up is they creased it so tightly that it was jutting into the shower. I got fed up and tried a second one, only this one I soaked in warm water like I read somewhere. That's easier said than done since the shower curtain floats. It was a real mess and in the end it still wasn't work well. Finally I found the solution: Command adhesive Velcro strips. I put one of these on either end of the shower and a matching one on the ends of the curtain. Then I could pull the curtain tight (after a little trimming) so it wouldn't bunch up anywhere. But really why was it necessary to crease the damned shower curtains like a pair of pants?
And what's the deal with airline peanuts? Well I suppose you can't make those jokes nowadays because no one gets peanuts unless they want to pay $50 extra.