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...