Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Two Cent Tuesday: Grumpy Potpourri

Let the grumpiness commence!
In the spirit of Festivus, I feel like airing some recent grievances.  Maybe later I'll challenge Rusty to the Feats of Stength since we're probably the only ones who still get the Seinfeld reference.

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:

Less Boring.

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.


  1. Great rant as usual!
    You have a lot going here. I do go to redbox there seems to be at least 50 of them within a block of where I live so I can go online and reserve what I want. I hate Bust Buy! The pimple faced Techs know less than me sometimes, and I'm not an "expert". I am a Houston Texans fan and we lost to the Jaguars...yuck. I have a cat and kids, so I tend to go through Shower Curtains. We get ours from Anna's Linens they tend to last longer. I think the closest to you would be in Chicago...probably not worth the drive.

    1. That loss to the Jaguars really pissed me off because I had Case Keenum and Andre Johnson on my fantasy team, thinking "It's the Jaguars, how can I lose?" And hooray they have the Jaguars again Thursday night! But I no longer have Keenum at least.

  2. That was an epic post. I do love me some Sinefeld. So thanks for the reference.

    I feel like chanting now. Mandelbaum Mandelbaum Mandelbaum!

    Did you get your money back from best buy?

    Not that it matters - but I read that the Obamacare website has been suffering from repeated DOS attacks for some time.

    1. You can't get your money back on downloads, which means unless I want to file a complaint with the credit card company I'm screwed out of $15. Or sue them as I'm sure Pagel would.

  3. I knew blockbuster was on the way out a couple years ago and dropped my account. I had a good run, though, but they never could get me the first disc of a number of tv series and, like you said, anything new was nearly impossible to get. If I want to check out a new series, i really don't want to start with disc 4 of 6 just because some idiot stole the first few. We only use netflix for streaming, mostly for the girls to watch their shows, and I've used redbox a couple times, but it's so hard to just watch a movie in one night and return it the next day.

    I do the best buy call center and most of those people are probably like me, working from home, dealing with the crappy systems we're given to use, and not fully trained on most of the eventualities we encounter. They should have gotten it right from the beginning, but there is a reason I've spent less than $50 at best buy in the last four years or so...

    Dude...the sims is a girl's paper dolls game. Yeah, the stuff they make probably sucks, but it is designed for girls to play electronic paper dolls.

    Not sure who tebow pissed off to get blacklisted like that, but yeah, it sucks he can't even find work with a crappy team. not sure why family guy "killed" off brian. I read that there is a christmas episode scheduled where santa grants stewie's greatest wish, so i'm sure we will see brian again.

    Oh boy...does it mean that in two years when i turn 40 that i suddenly get elevated to some elite 1% status?? looking forward to that lol. obama messed up a lot of foreign policy stuff, both with libya and with syria and now they are messing with china. the whole healthcare thing was a mess from the beginning and i still contend that it was shoved through congress in contradiction to the constitutional process, but who lets a little thing like the rules stand in the way of getting what they want these days? instead of the supreme court upholding the constitution, they made an assinine ruling affirming the thing because they are on the obama payroll (judges should NOT have political party leanings or affiliations). so it goes to figure that the roll out of the thing is a mess because why not, let's just half-ass it like everything else.

  4. Best Buy lost a DVD order a while back and after days of arguing with them I cancelled the order and never went back. Amazon really is the leader in digital sales for a reason: they know what they're doing. I can only assume Family Guy is trying to generate controversy but if indeed they thought the new dog would be more popular the strategy isn't working.

  5. That's a very thorough rant. I haven't given up on Obama yet. He could pull his chestnuts out of the fire with an Immigration bill or an Iran deal, and I also haven't given up on Obamacare, especially since the Republicans are offering no alternatives.

  6. Peanuts? I'm surprised that they are even an option anymore, what with everyone being allergic to them nowadays... I appreciate the Seinfeld jokes, just so you know. I'll touch on a few of your ranting topics, just for shits. Tebow should go to the Vikings. They seem to be running short on quarterbacks. The Geek Squad crack about Obamacare's site launch made me snort out loud. Good one! I rather enjoyed this rant. Way to be resourceful with that shower curtain, by the way.

  7. I think Sims expansions are nothing more than marketing tools at this point, released to drive micro transactions on the website. And, well, after the mess they caused with the new Sim City, who knows what they're going to do next? They've been at the top so long, they don't know what they're doing anymore.

    And Blockbuster... well, Blockbuster never had their customers in mind. Back when everything was VHS and they were the big boys, it didn't matter what they did, because people had no other alternatives. Once people did have better options, they never quit operating as if they were the only game in town.

  8. Melinda and I got peanuts on both flights last year. In fact Delta was pretty generous with the peanuts on the way back from LA but then again that particular flight wasn't full.

  9. This was awesome. As it went on and on I thought "YEAH, TELL IT BROTHER!" I like when you write longer stuff.

    There's a lot to comment on here. I'll try to hit it all.

    First off, you should complain to Best Buy. I got a check for $21.09 in the mail the other day. I BROUGHT FISHER-PRICE TO ITS KNEES. Complain and write negative reviews; copy this post into the Best Buy site on Yelp or something.

    Let me think. Blockbuster? I don't care. Videos on DVDs are going to be dead. Does anyone even buy a CD anymore? Music is all downloads. As broadband gets better and better we'll just stream all our content. Google has a $35 USB plug that will let you stream content from any computer onto a TV. Something like that'll be $10 in 2 years.

    Tebow: As you know, I'm probably the biggest Tebow fan out there. But after he couldn't break into the ranks anywhere, and could never get more accurate as a passer I kind of changed my thinking. I used to think "Why don't all these brainiacs in the NFL hire Kurt Warner or somebody to teach him how to f-in throw?" But then I thought "Why won't TEBOW hire himself someone to teach him?" Maybe he can't learn, or won't. But if he was good, he'd be on a team.

    (Also, I think you meant Scott Tolzien, former Wisconsin Badger now disgraced backup Packer QB.) But your malapropism is almost appropriate; it sounds like "Thorazine," which is both a drug that helps you keep from throwing up and can serve as a tranquilizer. Packer fans seem calmly accepting of the fact that their beloved team will not make the playoffs this year and that's probably due to the effects of Scott "Thorazine." (It's also an antipsychotic, which Packer fans, the worst fans in football, need.)

    I watched the Brian's death episode. I didn't understand why they killed him off, either. I remember when I watched "City Slickers" and the old man died. I had trouble laughing at the movie after that. In "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" a character goes and has an abortion and then people are supposed to laugh after that, too. (That movie sucked, by the way.) It's really supertough to make a comedy out of a dead body, especially like that.

    But that said, I thought the episode was pretty well-done, all in all, and kind of touching at times. I know it's supposed to be a comedy, but I'm okay with them doing some drama if they do it well, and the episode was probably a 5 or 6 out of 10.

    I think they just wanted to inject some life into the show, shake things up. I mean, "The Simpsons" has been on for something like 3 decades and I can't believe anyone still watches it. I haven't watched it in years. So if it makes the show better, then it will work out.

    (But you're right: American Dad is generally a better funnier show.)

    I don't know what else is in there to comment on. I guess, congratulations on the shower curtain?

    I didn't mean to leave such a long comment. I got some maybe-bad health news today and wanted a pick-me-up. So you did that. Thanks.



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