Monday, March 9, 2009

Microsoft XBOX

I think we have all appreciated a Microsoft product at one point or another. Of course, by "appreciate" I mean "became ridiculously, rainbow-punching frustrated with" and by "product" I mean "worthless piece of obscenely priced 1986 Johnny 5 technology." Not even mentioning the absurd operating system they call "Vista" (which I'm 90% certain was designed by Mavis Beacon) or MSN (their "search engine" that works about as well as "no" at a frat party), Microsoft has quite the track record for terrible.

But believe it or not, none of the aforementioned technological gems produced the spark to this stick of TNT. The site of it still haunts my dreams. The Red Ring of Death. In plain terms, this XBOX ailment is when, at any given moment, the green ring on the front of an XBOX that means "everything ok" turns red like the fires of hell, indicating a very real hardware failure.

Actual picture I took with my camera phone.

Basically, imagine someone playing a video game that they just quit work to beat on a 23 hour marathon of Hot Pockets and Yoohoo (because that's what they eat) in the hopes of being the first to gain an arbitrary video game award and probably become a professional video gamer where everyone (especially real live girls) chant their alias in unison above uproarious applause. Or at least that's how I imagine it. Now, imagine that same person coming to the final stretch of that long imaginary road when suddenly, the system freezes and a brick comes flying through their window with a picture of a middle finger taped to the top facing up amid shattered glass and dreams. Ok, I made up the last part about the brick and the middle finger, but they might as well have done that, right?

The problem with the Red Ring is that Microsoft has known about it for years and, generally speaking, it's not a matter of if it will happen to yours, it's when. So how do I personally know so much about it you ask? Because it's happened to me. Twice.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Why did you go back after the first time? If you knew it was going to happen, wouldn't you just avoid it altogether?" Well first of all, no.

Now that that's settled, let me try to re-count how it all happened. It was a cold, dark night (I was trying to save on heat) and I was kind of tired (probably from volunteering or mentoring kids...I can't remember which one, it was honestly so long ago) and all I wanted to do was sit down for a nice relaxing night of video games with my friends. When, KAZAAM!, Red Ring of Death.

Unrelated picture.

To most gamers, finding out that an XBOX has the Red Ring of Death is almost as devastating as finding out that Star Wars isn't real. But I played it cool and called Microsoft, naively thinking they would apologize and offer me a new XBOX and maybe some pie. But what I got instead was a person I could hardly understand telling me that I needed to ship my XBOX off to what they were making sound like some kind of "happy" factory for XBOXs. When I expressed my anger at the situation, I was offered a game that was literally made for eight year olds and another XBOX. Notice I didn't say a new XBOX.

"Hi, I'm Microsoft customer can I help you?"

Not three months later, after weeks of anger management training, I thought I would pop in the complimenatry children's game so I could, you know, test it for children...and before I even get near the damn thing...RED RING OF DEATH.

I wish there was a word for angry about being angry. Hell, maybe there is...I'm not a doctor. Subtracting all of the expletives that came out of my mouth that day with customer support, the conversation literally would have been shortened to "XBOX broken". Needless to say, once again I was forced to send the box off to the "happy" factory and was offered nothing in return. And by nothing I mean the box they sent back to me was filthy and smelled like Otto's jacket. Awesome.

Sparing all of the gruesome details, I now have an XBOX that kind of works and a hatred for the company that "let me" buy it from them. Here's the moral: if you or your friends have an XBOX right now, strike first by chucking it through the front window at Microsoft headquarters. It might be hard getting all the way to Mordor, but trust's better than the Red Ring of Death. You got a lot of growing up to do Microsoft.

*Picture Source:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dakota Fanning

Let me first preface this entry by saying that I think kids are great. They are the vessels for companies to keep making the delicious explosions of sugar that an adult/me probably shouldn't (but does) eat for breakfast including, but not limited to: Cookie Crisp, Pop Tarts and Donuts. Without kids, I would have no unnecessarily easy maze or three letter word scrambles (which are surprisingly difficult) on the back of my cereal box to keep me occupied in the morning. So I guess thanks for that kids. That being said, I do have some complaints.

Children, bless their hearts, will always want to be like adults. They have a youthful yearning to imitate mommy or daddy, hence the reason little girls generally have a genetic desire to wear makeup and carry purses. It obviously serves no practical function, but admittedly it is cute so we let it happen.

Little kid 1: Do you have any Kleenex?
Little kid 2:
Hold on I think I have some in my purse....let's see...looks like a have a Barbie, some sand from the box earlier, a nickel, two worms and a Cheetoh. Nope, no Kleenex. Can I interest you in some Pez instead?

Could they be any more precious? The answer is yes, but truthfully it becomes borderline cocky at a point. Now, before you get all "They're just kids?!" on me, let me explain. You see, if a child were to say a curse word at a very young age, the odds are pretty good that everyone would laugh and say "Where did he hear that from? Probably his father!" and everyone would have a good chuckle and probably hug and drink hot chocolate together. However, if that same child said the same thing five years after the fact, he would be punished. Ain't that a bitch? The point is, that after doing it for a time the child would have some idea of their actions and should be able to choose whether or not to do it again (unless they were born with an unstable super power that they cannot control which would be, for lack of a better term, completely awesome.) Which, in a loosely related way brings me to my arch-nemesis: Dakota Fanning.

Dakota Fanning first sprung up in a little movie called "I Am Sam" in 2001. Demon child aside, this was an excellent, heartfelt story that I may or may not have cried watching. Upon first glance, one can't help but fall in love with her character. I mean it's a little kid taking care of an adult. Thoughtful... At least that's what I thought. Then I saw an interview with her two years later after the release of the now classic and on my bookshelf "Uptown Girls". The then 9-year-old Fanning raved about her "career" and the "projects" she's worked on talking about her "co-stars" and how she's just been sooo busy being better than everyone else. Keep in mind that 9-year-old everyone elses were still getting hand-written crayon letters with "Do you like me? Circle yes, no or maybe" written on them. I usually circled maybe. I liked to play the mysterious card.

But going back to my earlier point, if Dakota were to act all adult in an interview when she were, say, four years old, everyone would say "Aw, she thinks she has a career! How sweet..." and then probably hug and drink hot chocolate together. However, if she were to do the same thing when she was, say, nine years old, everyone/me would say "Who the hell does she think she is?" If you think that I'm overreacting, watch any movie she's ever been in. She generally plays the annoying sister-type that won't stop acting ten years older than she actually is. See the aforementioned "Uptown Girls" or "The Cat in the Hat" or "War of the Worlds". If you've seen any of these you know exactly what I'm talking about. She's always watching, always judging.

I'm better than you.

Maybe I'm just jealous of her early success. Maybe I'm jealous because she had over 20 acting gigs before she was 10 years old. But isn't that like saying I'm jealous of Screech for his early success in Saved By the Bell? No, I imagine I would only be truly jealous of her if I were, say, a 9-year-old struggling actor. Until then, I'm going to continue sort of boycotting her movies until she's a 30-year-old struggling actor that becomes the house favorite to beat out that kid from "The Sixth Sense" on VH1's "Surreal Life" for a shot at a redeemed 15 minutes of fame.

On a completely unrelated note, has anyone seen "The Secret Life of Bees"? I'm looking for someone to go with...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Self Proclaimed Troubadors

The guitar is a powerful instrument. From the depths of its six-string soul came power unlike anything the musical world had ever seen. Rock gods and blues legends were born, forever changing generations of music the world over. But alongside these gods and legends, another breed of guitar player was born. A different kind of guitar player. A guitar player who's skills would scrape the lower reaches of sub-par playing and who's "abilities" would be used to promote self-absorption and deception. An "artist" who's repertoire would include the not-so-complicated songs on a Dave Matthews Band set list or the emotional melodies spilling out of "Your Body is a Wonderland." Whatever the case, this player abuses the power of the guitar and, in turn, engages in unethical pick-up tactics.

The guitar has powerful effects on women. Seriously. It's a scientific fact/I read it on Wikipedia. The sounds coming from a guitar are a natural aphrodisiac and as long as you make borderline "I'm stalking you" eye contact and lick your lips every once in a while whilst playing, the hottest girl in the room will sleep with you. I don't make the rules. The problem is, more and more guys are finding out about this age old secret and are taking advantage of it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is as wrong as an albino at a Snoop Dogg concert. Now before I start dogging on the Benedict Arnolds of guitar playing, how about some background on me?

I've been playing the guitar for going on eight years now, and boy are my arms tired! But seriously, they are. I started playing the guitar in high school when high-pitched, awkward me had nothing else to do since making the personal choice to abstain from having pre-collegiate alcohol. I just didn't want to fall in love too soon and get my heart broken again. It hurts too bad.

I was such a fool.

So I started learning the songs that most touched my heart/the songs that didn't hurt to play, and actually became a self-proclaimed ok at it. Most of these tracks were centered around the 90's because, after all, it was the greatest decade of this or any generation. One can only imagine the emotional tears of joy I brought to my audiences. Like witnessing the miracle of birth or two rainbows at once, there is nothing like hearing the graceful melody of "Semi-Charmed Kinda Life" on acoustic guitar around a campfire. One word: breathtaking.

So there I am, shredding in stadiums (my parents' garage) and living like a rock star (putting extra sugar on my cereal) when not-so-all-of-a-sudden I realized the powerful magnetic attraction between my guitar and girls. Now I don't want to mislead you into thinking that girls were throwing their bras at me, but they were. Literally, everywhere I went there were bras. And right when I thought I got rid of one, it seemed like two more would replace it. Now I know what you're thinking, "That's awesome! You must have been ridiculously charismatic and good-looking!" Well, I was.

Not pictured: Me.

But in all honesty, I learned the guitar for ME. I learned it because I wanted to and because I wanted to be in Simon and Garfunkel (who rejected me after only one audition!? I guess they weren't big fans of the whole "trio" thing. Close-minded if you ask me...) But then I went to college. Now, most of us have run into the guy that always has his guitar out and plays songs just to be noticed. That's really nothing new and to be honest, I'm not even really upset about it. If you're good at guitar, in my opinion, you should share it with the moderation of course. I mean, Wendy's is awesome, but to eat it everyday would literally kill someone via tasty values. My annoyance begins where it's taken a step further by putting on a button up and enough cologne to successfully tranquilize a moose before each rousing set of "Wonderwall" followed by a borderline offensive interpretation of "Freebird."

I actually had someone ask me in college to teach him guitar so he could get women. He came in my dorm room and said "Can you teach me to play guitar so I can get women?" Isn't that like asking "Can you teach me to break dance so I can stop the war in Iraq?" It's not really an instantaneous thing and really doesn't get any better when mixed with hazardous levels of Axe and collars popped higher than Jay and Silent Bob at a Cheech and Chong convention.

The point I'm trying to make is, as mentioned, the majority of all women are attracted to the guitar. But don't learn the guitar to get women. Frankly, it's flat-out overrated and considered "selling out" in most Midwestern cultures. And if you're going to play "You're Body is a Wonderland", at least play it when either A) alone or B) directly staring into the eyes of a single girl in your bedroom. Don't play it on a secondhand, multi-stained couch in the middle of a sausage fest where one or two girls were tricked into showing up with the more-than-delivered upon promise of free alcohol. They are only interested in you because your partial delivery of the man-God's love anthem reminded them of something they desperately want (but can't realistically have). So in a drunken stuper they close their eyes and imagine Mayer in some inappropriate manner when, in reality, they will open their eyes to find that they are holding on to a dream but are left with the essence of John Mayer's table Oh, and all of the other guys think you're a douche bag.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New poster!

Let me be distinctly clear by saying that "New poster!" does not mean I am handing out a literal poster with some not so clever and overly used drinking joke such as "One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor!!" That would not be fair to you and, in all honesty, is a blatant lie. I know from personal experience that the only person who would hit the floor after three shots of tequila is an 8 year old girl (in the United States anyways.) No, I am indeed speaking of the new blog poster, Nowasteland, who many of you may or may not be familiar with. He is a good friend of mine and also, coincidentally, has things that really grind his gears. Check out his first post below and keep your eyes open for updates because even though I've never been very good at math, I do know that two blog posters means more udpates, and more updates means more awesome.



Tuesday, December 2, 2008

An Assault on Taste: Commerce and Christmas Music

Pondering the intricacies of cheese and sausage gift basket marketing during the holiday season, it's not uncommon for me to daydream songs playing on a turntable in my head. Jimmy Page guitar solos, Wilco lyrics, hell even a Rachmaninov concerto have snuck into my consciousness at which point I typically stop myself, a second or two away from humming.

Usually I hear things I've recently listened to (hence the arguably good list above). Which is why, when "Good King Wenceslas" started playing in my head this morning, I was confused. That song sucks and there's no damn way my producer (me) would have let it on the air. No way. I, nevertheless, shrugged it off and went back to analyzing pictures of smoked gouda and summer sausage.

Then I got Cheneyed by another round of birdshot in the form of notes clumped together; this time I noticed it in my ear and not emanating from my brain. "Bah rum-bum-bum bummmmmmmm." I've had homicidal thoughts about the little drummer boy since I was, well, a little boy (sans drum). No way he gets on the playlist.

Cheney + Gun

Well, it turns out that the guy who shows up to my office one day like every other week (still can't figure that one out) has his radio on one nudge above zero volume and tuned to the only radio station that can ever descend even further below Kenny G on the List of Good Taste: Christmas Carols on Repeat. No DJs. Just Terry Bradshaw and Rosie O'Donnell double teaming Silent Night, break for commercials, repeat.

I'm not going to get into a diatribe on how the ubiquity of Christmas music, sales, and presents bastardizes the true meaning of Christmas, whatever that may be. It probably does, but that's not the point. This is an assault on taste.

Do you really think God---and if you don't believe in God, imagine there's a God of Taste---is up there thinking "I'm glad humans made Little Drummer Boy. It's the pinnacle of audio-art. Put that on repeat."? Not a chance. While I'm damn tired of people speaking on behalf of God (e.g. "God doesn't like gay people", "God wants me to kill people different from me", etc.) may I put forth that God doesn't want to hear crappy music, especially on or about his birthday? He (or she) wants to read between the lines on When the Levees Break or sync Dark Side and Wizard of Oz. Maybe some Chopin when feeling down. Not The Brady Bunch sings "O Holy Night."

So turn it off and pop in some Dylan. Listen to it, because life is too short to ignore great art and even acknowledge bad art.

Oh, on the same "We Suck at Christmas" note: a bunch of greedy, materialistic wretches in Valley Stream, NY (on Long Island) trampled a Walmart employee on Black Friday stampeding for marginally discounted TVs, blenders, and furbies or whatever the hell children like these days. Cool, guys.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Letter to a troll

Recently, I've had a few run-ins with the locals that have brought unnecessary amounts of stress on my already stressful life. I've taken it upon myself to start writing letters to these people in the hopes that they will accidentally stumble upon it while Googling "douche bags." Expect more of these in the future and feel free to send your own my way.

To Shrek/the man that forcefully stole our table at the bar,

Thank you for "blessing" us with your ogre-like charisma and lack of anger management the other night. No, really. I wanted my beer spilled on the table and my sleeve because it was so tasty I didn't think I could handle it all and was going to do that anyways. But you beat me to it, so thank you for that. Additionally, thank you for bringing us the stench of your 4 day marathon party shirt and your hat drenched with the ocean of sweat that naturally produces when someone is sitting doing nothing active whatsoever. That's a common problem, so I understand. And let me be the first to apologize. You and the other trolls were probably out for a night of drinking after terrorizing the villagers, and I almost ruined it for you. Tell them I'm sorry too. The next time I see you I'll bring you a baby to eat or a bag full of Big Macs or something (although you're probably sick of eating them EVERY day...) And I'm sorry we didn't fight. I know you were threatening it and everything, but I just wasn't in the mood and you are a lot bigger than me (actually you are a lot bigger than 95% of everyone.) But if it makes you feel any better, you probably would have got a few good shots in and impressed the 2% of girls that think cavemen are sexy. You really scared me slugger. Anyways, I hope we didn't get in your way too much, and I hope you enjoyed sitting at our table. Tell donkey I say hello.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cheating: The fastest route to hell

So I'm in my car this morning driving to work (actually more crawling to work; see the blog on me hating traffic below) and the morning show I was listening to was on the subject of cheating. Now I'm no expert in the matter, as I have absolutely no experience with cheating (unless you count Game Genie), but if I had to pick one thing I hate most in the world it would probably be cheating...and also spiders.

To be honest, I've never really understood the concept of cheating. I've definitely been caught up in my share of totally doable cheating opportunities (no pun intended), so if you're a cheater you can take your "you wouldn't know what it's like" argument and throw it in the garbage along with the rest of your ethically immoral excuses and probably dead puppies....murderer. I cherish my relationships as much as I cherish the first season of Full House (which surprisingly is saying a lot) and I don't need one moment of seized opportunity to screw it all up.

The one thing I will never understand is taking someone back after they cheat. If a person cheats on you it means they are capable of it. Even if they say they will never do it again, they are capable of it. And if they're capable of cheating, they're capable of other rape and terrorism. That person deliberately and with conscious intent thought about your relationship and decided that a random physical act was worth more than your trust. They literally (figuratively) took a dump on your trust, then went ahead and did an entire river dance chorus on it when you took them back. And don't give me the other excuse of "everyone makes mistakes." A mistake is when you accidentally DVR Gilmore Girls or forget to carry the one in long division. Cheating on your partner is not a mistake.

A hypothetical friend for this story just said to me the other day "Aren't you being a little harsh? I mean you don't know every situation. Things change and sometimes shit happens." First of all, "shit happens" is a bumper sticker most commonly found on a pickup truck from the early nineties being driven by a guy wearing a confederate flag t-shirt and listening to "This is Our Country". Anything that can be found on a novelty t-shirt alongside the popular "Waaazup?!" probably shouldn't be passed off as a viable excuse. Second of all, it's true I don't know every situation that could ever happen in a world. But I for the life of me can not come up with a situation where the end results in a life-threatening struggle between cheating or death. Oh wait, that's because it doesn't exist. Although it would make for an interesting plot line for a straight-to-DVD movie starring Steven Seagal.

Cheat or Die: Fists of Justice

Kung fu aside, lets look at the facts. If someone were willing to cheat on their partner, they're not fully satisfied with the relationship. Like chicken nuggets with no sauce. The relationship isn't there. So why risk showing up on the (probably) award-winning show "Cheaters" looking like an idiot literally caught with his pants down, when you could just be single and make babies with everyone? I think I've made my point.

Moral of the story: Don't cheat or do drugs. Also, if you believe in yourself anything can happen...even magic.