Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wacked Out BSG Theory

I don't think anyone who regularly reads the blog watches Battlestar Galactica, but if you do, you should know I give away the ending of Season 3 in the next sentence.

At the end of Season 3, four of the characters (Tigh, Tyroll, Anders, and Tory, who we refer to by her first name for some reason) all think they are Cylons.

I think that, no, they are not Cylons, but instead are all infected with a Cylon STD of some sort.

Insane, yes. But hear me out.

Tigh's wife Ellen slept with a Cylon. Tyrol slept with a Cylon. Anders slept with Starbuck (who slept with everyone, so there is a good chance a Cylon is somewhere in there), and Tory slept with Anders. And, as far as we know, everyone is all about unprotected sex in the BSG-verse.

Reasons for thinking this:

1) In the BSG Podcast, Ron Moore talked about an abandoned storyline where the Cylon blood transfusion started taking over Roslin. He liked the idea of having a Cylon disease slowly taking over a person during the course of several episodes.

2) They established a disease that humans were immune to, but was fatal to Cylons. What about a disease that Cylons were immune to but humans were susceptible to? And if it was an STD wouldn't that make only a select few people even exposed to the disease?

3) I may be wrong, but didn't Tory only start hearing the mysterious Bob Dylan music after she slept with Anders?

4) The Cylons cannot reproduce on their own. Maybe there is some sort of nanobot thing that happens when you have sex with them that turns people into Cylons. It could be like plant grafting or something like that.

This is a wild, crazy speculation here, with little or nothing to back it up. But it has untapped dramatic possibilities, and that is what this show is about.

A not safe for kids/work post about art and commerce from the Dallas AFI Film Festival

More Tales of AFI Volunteerism

I have been volunteering for the AFI film festival for the past few days. Volunteering is fun; you get to hang out a movie theater all day long, telling people to line up for THEATER 6 UP AGAINST THE WALL! NO that line is for PRESS ONLY! And then you repeat yourself for the next 127 people who also try to get into the press line.

One day, I was assigned to the role of Production Assistant. Production Assistant sounds a whole heck of a lot like Assistant Producer, a title I often read on movie credits. I was thrilled to have the job. Until I found out exactly what it entailed.

Production Assistant does not mean you walk around with a clipboard, telling people what to do, and having them do it with no back talk (i.e. every filmmaker’s dream).

No, Production Assistant means you get to to be part of the Production Crew. And what does the Production Crew do? It cleans up after all the parties from the night before, and it also sets up for the parties and events that are happening that night. The Production Crew lived in this little un-air conditioned closet of a space, huddled over their laptops and MySpace pages until the walkie-talkies started blaring.

My work day began with a stint in the hospitality lounge. Before we walked in, the person on the Production Crew warned me that the lounge was “totally gay.” I didn’t think of it in those terms as much as I looked at in terms of advertising. You see, the AFI Film Festival is heavily sponsored by Target, and the lounge looked like it was Target’s industrial sense of style. Everything was a mixture of red and white, and everything was… plastic. I am sure if I time-traveled from the 1960s to this moment and this place, I would be so excited to see that, in the future of 2007, everything would be exactly as I imagined – sleek, clean, and plastic.

I didn’t time-travel from the 1960s, though, and the plasticity of it all (they even had plastic martini glasses) made me think of patio furniture and cookouts. This is the type of furniture that doesn’t inspire you to mouse up your hair into that “just got out of bed” shape, clad yourself in black leather, and vamp; this is the type of furniture that inspires you to show up in flip-flops, slurp some Bud without wiping off the can first, and tell stories about how that cousin who accidentally set himself on fire while fine-tuning his illegal moonshine still because, as you pointed out before, that boy ain’t right.

The most valued area of the lounge was the snack bin. Part of being a Production Assistant means that I was responsible for keeping the snack bins full of chips, cookies, trail mix, chocolate, chocolate-dipped granola bars, and at least nine types of colored sugar water with bright labels proclaiming them as “energy drinks.”

The person responsible for the lounge inspired the volunteer staff by waxing poetic about how he has lost faith in humanity. “I have spent 23 years in the hospitality industry because I like to be hospitable. When people come in, grab a bunch of food, and leave, it makes my heart ache.” Shortly after hearing that speech some people came in, looted the snack area, and left without saying anything or making eye contact.

The whole point of being a Production Assistant is to help create this separate world between the elite (filmmakers, press, honored guests and dignitaries), and everyone else. Only the elite get to see the lounge. Only the elite get to walk the red carpet. Only the elite get to loot the free trail mix.

It is human nature to expect the elite to behave better than the rabble, and it is easy to become resentful when you see the elite behaving poorly. And while the production crew cleaned up the broken beer bottles after one of the swankier parties, the resentfulness came out in the form of gossip. Such and such person refused to walk the red carpet. So and so didn’t even show up to the Q&A. Can you believe the fit Important Person made over the fact the hotel bar didn’t carry the right brand of coffee?

The only bit of gossip I had really wasn’t all that gossipy – a bit of talent was upset because paying ticket-holders didn’t get kicked out of a screening to make room for an entourage of some sort. There was also the issue of Someone Elite wanting the movie to start late because Someone Elite was running late. The theater staff decided that, no, the movie would start ON TIME because if it started late the next movie in that theater would start late and the movie after that would start late. Needless to say, the limitations of space and time upset Someone Elite so much that a whole heck of a lot of people suffered the verbal assaults of the Handlers of the Elite.

My story did not impress as much as get an, “Eh, that’s typical… we need to wrap up here and start setting up the red carpet.”

I felt that distinct sense of blotches-on-the-neck discomfort I get when I’ve committed some sort of faux pas. And then I realized what it was – I was a volunteer. Here these crew people were getting paid $12 to $25 an hour to do this job and I was doing it for free. They had the right to complain about the cruddy work situations and the tedium of it all because, hey, it was their job, right? Everybody has the right to complain about the job, right?

But this wasn’t a job for me. I was doing this heavy lifting and manual labor for the cost of nothing, donating my time to a film festival because I love movies and I love film festivals, and to be a part of it, even if it is the part that cleans up broken beer bottles, was an honor. To complain about doing something out of love like it was just part of your job you hate… well, that is borderline insane.

I decided not to complain any more, and steadfastly march on. And I am glad I did. I am quite sure I lost a few pounds when all was said and done. One quick sniff at the end of the day would let you know that my nice little volunteer T-shirt was permeated with sweat and stink.

Because I worked four straight days on a film festival without watching an entire film, I felt this need to keep my sleepy eyes open enough to actually watch a movie.

The movie I picked was Shut Up and Sing, a documentary about those controversial Dixie Chicks who exercised their right of free speech and were subsequently demonized by bloggers, some people on Fox News who like to scream, and country music fans who decided to give up on their “South-Shall-Rise-Again/We Should All Be Secessionists Because We Hate The U.S. Government” rhetoric in favor of “Our President Should Never Be Doubted” rhetoric.

But when watching the movie, the number one thing that struck me was how the entire film is spent with the Dixie Chicks in this insulated bubble - separated from what the rest of us call reality. They have ranches away from everyone. They’re in recording studios away from everyone. They are all insulted in hotel rooms, surrounded by their laptops, cellphones, and Starbucks drinks. For a film that is nominally about the Dixie Chicks vs. their fans, there is no direct interaction between the Dixie Chicks and their fans. In fact, their manager carries a laminated photo of them one time when they weren’t kept in an insulated bubble, and he taunts the band with it. Before me, you played concerts where you had to interact with the commoners. Before me, you weren’t set to sail on a sea of professional handlers. You should listen to me.

I will have to admit that it made it difficult to feel sympathy for the ladies because their tour was only going to make $20 million instead of $60 million. As much as I am for freedom of speech and freedom of expression, the filmmakers seemed to reduce all of the intellectual and debates on principles to “Isn’t it sad when pretty girls are made to cry.”

I thought of the people who cleaned up their left over Starbucks cups and broken beer bottles. I thought of the people who set the lights for the concerts. I wondered if they did it to be part of the scene, or if they did it out of love.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Successful Filmmakers Cause Pain

I am volunteering at the Dallas AFI Film Festival, because I do things like that. I like film festivals in general and Short Film Showcases in particular. The short film showcases tend to be more crowded than other programs, and they also have the most enthusiastic crowds.

Here’s why – only newbies make short films. Do you ever hear about Stephen Spielberg’s great idea for a 6 minute short? Do you think that Tom Cruise looks up from his spiral notebook of Deep Scientology Thoughts and proclaims to his handlers and yes men, “Hey! This weekend would be a great time to film a dramatic scene where I can hone my acting ability! Let’s just do because we care about art, not money!”

Of course not. Short films, especially ones by first time directors, are made out of love and care. It takes a village to make a short film. Or an extended family.

And that is who shows up – friends and family. And they’re going to love whatever is on the screen no matter how crappy it is because THEY HELPED MAKE THIS HAPPEN. This is their moment to sit back and admire their own handiwork. And if this great happening happens to be a tasteless waste of time, no one will admit it, lest they look foolish. And clapping at every name in every credit does not make you look foolish because everyone in the three rows around you is doing the same thing, except some of them are hootin' and hollerin', too.

The only problem is when the short film programming pits first-time filmmakers against each other. Like the one I was assigned to.

One film on the program was for kids. Wellllll, it was not necessarily made for kids (it was an adult thinking back to childhood), but it was chock full of kids. Almost all of the scenes had children frolicking all through the background. And all of the little child extras came en masse to see their collective screen debuts.

Unfortunately, the film with the kids in it came after the other two short films. And the first of these was a “comedy” about a guy who creates a magic formula that makes women want to have sex with him (HA!) until he gets mobbed by women so much he just has to kill them all (HAHAHA!!!). During the scene where he is having a threesome in the back of a taxi (OH! MY SIDES! STOP THE HILARITY, PLEASE!), the parents of all the under-eight-year-old crowd decide it is time to pack up and go home.

The director of the filled-with-kids film got upset about this and complained to the staff. Because I was the peon-on-duty, all I saw of the conflict was the moment of first escalation. “I’m sorry, I am just a volunteer. Let me take you to the program director’s table, and you can make a formal complaint to them.” Apparently, the director calmed down enough to make it through the rest of the screening (minus the prepubescent entourage, of course), but wrote a nasty note to the marketing department when all was said and done. Yes, a few feathers were ruffled, but a crisis was averted.

I wondered if anyone else saw this happen, and how they felt about it. I got my answer when the screening ended and all of the friends and family clustered around each other, so happy that they had all made it to the big time. I walked over to the “comedy” troupe, put on my listening ears, and heard the director of the drug-rape-kill “comedy” bragging to the little “comedy”-loving entourage about it.

“Did you see those people walk out? That guy took, what, like five fuckin' kids out of my movie? You didn’t see it? Aw, man , it was FUCKIN’ AWESOME! I FUCKIN’ RULE!”

And then, the inevitable high five.

This is where I differ from most up-and-coming filmmakers. I would like my film to be seen, to have people enjoy it, and then want to pay me lots of money for unique pleasure of owning the DVD. No where in my agenda does making people walk out of my film fit – especially when they’re in a friends and family crowd.

Maybe someday I’ll learn.

The Soundtrack(s) to My Life

I got this from a blog I read, but apparently the idea came from yet another blog. Is this what bloggers everywhere have been reduced to? Apparently, the answer is yes.

Here is how it works. You hit the Shuffle button on your mp3 player. As each song comes up, you assign it to a scene in the film of your life. The order the songs are played dictate what scenes they are assigned to.

It seemed like a fun little idea, and would have probably been a lot more fun if I wasn’t so particular about both film and music. The first time through was nigh-painful; some of the songs were totally inappropriate for the moments they were supposed to dictate. It was terrible.

So, because I don’t believe in random events dictating how the movie of my life will turn out, I did it a second time. It turned out much, much better.

Here are the results from the two trials.

1st time through – My Life with the Crappy Score

Opening Credits

Bum Breath by Oli Clifford (from www.oliclifford.co.uk)
I seriously don’t know how this got on my iPod. Surprisingly enough, it does have an “opening credits” feel to it, though. My life must be a quirky, romantic comedy.

Waking Up

Hag by The Breeders (from Last Splash)
The first impulse to fudge the results of this experiment happens now. This doesn’t really fit a waking up feeling. I try to look at the bright side. There is a repetitive dream-like quality to this song that is similar to waking up, but this doesn’t work like the opening credits song. Maybe if I just used the nice instrumental bridge on the soundtrack that would work. Maybe.

First Day At School

Alleluia II: Ascendens cristus by Anonymous 4 (from 1000: A Mass for the End of Time)
Oddly appropriate. There is something magic and wonderful, yet a little bit sad about this song. It can be paired with something nostalgic (like the first game of Duck Duck Goose – giggling children scampering in slow motion, of course) or it can be paired with something relating to the loss of innocence (first bully punching you or the time the big fifth grader pulled all the Kindergarteners aside and told them what the middle finger meant – what can I say? I went to school in Louisiana). This is a little nicer. A bit of a challenge, but it is nicer.

Falling In Love

Hip Hop is Dead by Nas featuring Will.I.Am (from Hip Hop is Dead)
On first listen, especially after the previous song, this doesn’t seem like a good fit. But after a moment of reflection, I can totally see a falling-in-love montage set to this music. It is rhythmic and focuses on the beat (like… well, like EVERY HIP HOP SONG EVER). And, if you can get past the chorus of “She’s de-e-e-a-a-d!” it does have a young, adolescent love feeling to it with the lyrics, “If Hip Hop should die, we die together.”

Fight Song

Go (Voodoo Child Mix) by Moby (from Go:The Collected Mixes)
Seriously, I hear this song as more of a prepping for a fight song than an actual fight song. It just seems more suited to stretching or picking out the right bandana or jumping rope. If it were to score the actual fight sequence, it would be a total Sissy Fight.

UNLESS, of course, the fight was a flame war on an listserv or a bulletin board. In that case, it would fit perfectly, as I type away, point to the screen, and yell, “Booyeah!” and “In your face, Monkey_D-1138!”

Breaking Up

Three-Dee Melodie by Stereolab (from Mars Audiac Quintetso)
The image that comes to mind is someone sitting completely still while staring at a freshly poured cup of black, heartless coffee. Not very exciting cinema.


Close Your Eyes (Idiotech remix) by chemicalbrothersremixed.com (from Flip the Switch)
Apparently, in this movie, my prom is a whole heck of a lot cooler than it was in real life. In real life, we listened to our Economics teacher’s band play Rolling Stones covers. In between sets, someone played a series of Garth Brooks songs. You can’t really mosh to Garth Brooks. Whatever happened to that guy, anyway? Is he a real estate agent or a mall security guard yet?


Poor Man’s Falls by The Asteriod#4 (from International Pop Overthrow, Vol. 4)
Acoustic guitar and flute punctuate this happy-go-lucky, folksy song about someone who “in a rusted ol’ prison cell, he nearly lost his mind". Considering the next song is going to score the Mental Breakdown song I find this another eerily good match.

Mental Breakdown

Wait ‘ Till You See Him (De-Phazz remix) by Ella Fitzgerald (from Verve Remixed)
Not a good fit, really. The best I can come up with is a nice little drinking montage where I hand the bartender money and get handed something dark and whisky-levels of dangerous looking. Then I make some sort of “hand it over” gesture, after which the bartender puts a giant scoop of cherries and a paper umbrella into the drink.


Someday (You’ll Want me to Want You) by Patsy Cline (from The Last Sessions – Disc 4 of the Patsy Cline Box Set)
I am of the belief that Patsy Cline is good for every occasion. This song is a perfect example of something that can fit easily in the Driving section of the movie, the Mental Breakdown session, and a slow motion falling-in-love close dance sequence.


Golden Slumbers by The Beatles (from Abbey Road)
Apparently, I flashback to a time before I was born.

Getting Back Together

Mickey’s Monkey by The Miracles (Hitsville USA, The Mowtown Singles Colelction)
PERFECT SONG for this moment. There is so much joy and exuberance in this song you almost forget it is about a really embarrassing dance move. For once, this is exercise works.


Nail by the Sugarcubes (from Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week!)
Sure. This sort of fits. The lyrics are completely incomprehensible but the music is fun and poppy in a B-52s sort of way. And there is that nice little break where Einear has a long, drawn out scream. Oh, wait. He did that in every Sugarcubes song.

Birth of Child

I Palindrome I by They Might Be Giants (from Apollo 18)
This is the moment when I cried out for a do-over. Out of all the songs on this list, this is the worst. I like this song, and I really like the way TMBG continually mashes painfully dreary lyrics up against the most fun music, but to score the birth of a child with a song about matricide and euthanasia goes into a realm of bad taste that doesn’t make me happy. Maybe it is just the phase of life I am in right now, but I deem this unacceptable.

Final Battle

Chapter 04 from The Two Towers Audiobook. Pippen and Merry meet Treebeard. Um… ok… I’m not going to count this one, even though the line “Night Lies over Eisenguard” resonates quite well in a Final Battle sort of way. Since this entire soundtrack is going to be done over, I can skip one track.

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill by The Beatles (from The White Album)
Ok, this is better. My final battle is not overly dramatic, but instead is goofy fun that was clearly inspired by Yoko Ono and copious amounts of drugs.

Death Scene

Moonglow (Hudson-Delane-Mills) by Various Artists (from Cocktail Piano Romance)
Apparently, there is going to be a nice little jazz reception for me in Heaven.

Funeral Song

Chanukah Under the Stars by Fountains of Wayne (from Out-of-State Plates Disc 2)
I hope I don’t die in Spring or Summer because if they wait until December to bury me, I will be quite put out.

End Credits

Now it Can be Told by Ella Fitzgerald (from The Best of the Song Books: The Ballads)
This is perfect. After looking over this list, I don’t want this movie made until long after I’m gone. Now it can be told, indeed.

My Life: The Do Over Version

Opening Credits

One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) by Esquivel (from More of Other Worlds, Other Sounds)
Esquivel is like Patsy Cline in the way that the music is both distinct and universal. This song can score practically anything. I approve.

Waking Up

Can’t Take it With You by The Alan Parsons Project (from the Definitive Collection)
I like this one better, too.

First Day At School

Only in 3’s by The Breeders (from Pod)
This song evokes finger painting, although I think of that as more of a 1st grade event.

Falling In Love

Quintet in E flat, KV453 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart is capable of anything. I approve of this.

Fight Song

Strange by R.E.M. (from Document)
I can just hear the jukebox belt out this tune when someone named Lefty or Dusty challenges me over the honor of some floozie named Lola. I’ll grit my teeth and go, “Them’s fightin’ words.” And they shall tremble at my superior, Eastwood-like acting ability.

Breaking Up

Es schlagt der Rache Stunde! (from Beethoven’s Fidelio)
I think part of the reason I’m happier with this set of songs is due to the fact that there is more classical music in the mix. Although my German is a little rusty, I do believe the name of this song translates to approximately, "I can't believe its not strudel!" Truly, this break up is the stuff of legend.


La La Love You by the Pixies (from Doolittle)
This is veeery close to how I wanted my prom to be scored. Instead I was confronted with the UnMoshable Garth Brooks.


Two People by Hub (from the Book of Life soundtrack)
If I were single, I probably would agree wholeheartedly with this song. As it is, I am happily married – so happily that other married couples secretly wish children on us. This song is not a great fit, but it is still better than the song in the previous random song shuffle.

Mental Breakdown

My Man’s Gone Now by Ella Fitzgerald (from the Complete Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armtrong)
Apparently, I have a mental breakdown while watching Porgy and Bess. Hopefully, this mental breakdown isn’t as bad as the person who was crazy enough to name another living being “Porgy.”


Hearing Aid by They Might Be Giants (from Flood)
Ok. This is a decent use of a They Might Be Giants song. And I have listened to it while driving.


Vampires by Paul Simon (from Songs from the Capeman)
I can see it now - I flash back to when I was in a Latino street gang, prowling the streets of New York, singing something vaguely world beatish. This is my repressed childhood memory and now that the truth has come out, I can cry, hug my therapist, and move on.

Getting Back Together

I Hear Music by Ella Fitzgerald (from Verve Jazz Masters vol. 6)
Although this doesn’t have the sheer exuberance of Mickey’s Monkey it works on a deeper, more serious level.


Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby) by Aretha Franklin (from Queen of Soul – The Atlantic Recordings)
If we lived in a perfect world, Aretha Franklin would sing at everyone’s wedding. Somehow the blessing of Aretha would make our love stronger and our lives a little more soulful. Plus, she could help out if there was any leftover cake.

Birth of Child

Cloudy by Simon and Garfunkel (from Collected Works: Disc 2)
I complained about a song being too dark for this event, so I really shouldn’t complain about this overdose of whimsy, right?

Final Battle

Good Enough to Keep (Air Mail Special) by Charlie Christian & The Benny Goodman Orchestra (from Genius of Electric Guitar – Disc 2)
My final battle must be with Kenny G because I would totally kick him in the patootie and reclaim the word “jazz” from his twisted lexicon, wresting it away from his smooth noodling and reassociating it with some really amazing orchestral work that just swings.

Death Scene

Sad Without You by Hansom Pilot (from International Pop Overthrow Vol. 8 Disc 2)
At this point, I am pleasantly surprised at how well my little iPod decided to cooperate with the assignment. This song fits lyrically, although the music is a little too cheery for death.

Funeral Song

Legend in My Spare Time by The Bloodhound Gang (from Use Your Fingers)
My wife and I have conversations where I tell her I want to have The Bloodhound Gang played at my funeral, and she says stuff like, “Over my dead body!” Marriage is a continual lesson in negotiation.

End Credits

Z3 – No.3 Arie: Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben (from Zaide – Der Schauspieldirektor Disc 1)
More classical music. When you leave the theater, it is light-hearted enough to uplift the spirit, but serious enough to let you know you’re dealing with a work of ART, man. A. Work. Of. Art!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Another Missed Opportunity

It looks like the Stockstock Film Festival came and went this year without me knowing about it. Which is a little sad because some of the stock footage they offer for editing was really good this year.

In case you didn't know the Stockstock Film Festival is a festival based around stock footage. They give potential film editors the same amount of stock footage and a certain amount of time. During this time, all the editors have to make a new film using only the existing footage.

The great thing about the website is that now it is all electronic - you download the stock footage instead of having it mailed to you and people can post their submissions on YouTube when all is said and done. They even have a film page dedicated to all entries.

My contribution to last year's contest was a short ditty called Hey Loser! One of the frustrating things about it was that I never got a chance to see the competition, so I didn't really know the criteria/judge's tastes. This year, I do. And I'm psyched about next year.

Here's this year's winner (it really takes off at the 30 second point - you can see some of the truly incredible footage from this year's contest):

Here's my Hey Loser! video from last year:

Now you can see who is the better editor. But I'm already getting ideas for next year. Just you wait.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Its not me, its you. Believe me, its you.

I have used this blog to complain about stupid, horrible things evil credit card companies have done. After writing these blog entries, I cancel the credit card. Call it a ritual of purification if you will.

This is another one of those blog entries. The culprit this time, the card on the chopping block, is my old Citibank card.

I’ve had this Citibank card since college, you know, back when you could send any credit card company a form stating that your annual income was $0.00 and they would send you a card with a $12,000 credit limit.

What happened after I got the card is typical – I ran it up and spend years paying it off, telling myself that the Simon and Garfunkel box set was totally worth that 20% interest compounded daily. I reached a crisis/breaking point, sold that extra kidney, and got out of debt.

There was a time period shortly before I got married when I got rid of a bunch of old credit cards, but I held on to the ol’ Citibank because I had a recurring payment for my Childreach kid and I just didn’t want to make the call to get them to charge another, better credit card. The hold music there is just so depressing…

Anyway, I have paperless credit card statements, so once a month, I log into the account and see the balance.

I logged in December and saw a balance of 0.00.

I logged in January and saw a balance of 0.00.

I logged in February and saw a balance of 0.00.

I logged in March and saw $51.48 in late fees.

So I call them, and was told there was a charge for $66.00 in December that I never paid. This makes sense, because I make quarterly Childreach payments of $66.00, but what doesn’t make sense is the fact that IT NEVER SHOWED UP ON MY STATEMENT UNTIL THREE MONTHS AFTER IT WAS CHARGED. HOW CAN I PAY FOR SOMETHING IF I'M NOT BILLED FOR IT?

This is the disadvantage of going with paperless bills – when you call the credit card company with a complaint like this, you have no proof. It is just your word against the word of the evil credit card company. And since the person on the other end of the phone is employed by the evil, evil company, your chance of winning the argument is about the same as getting struck by lightning 47 times in a row.

So I told the guy on the phone my issue and asked for him to waive the late fees. He couldn’t do that. I told him, fine, I wanted to pay off that rotten $117.48 balance on my account and close it. He said I could only do that if I was willing to pay a $14.95 processing fee.

“So what I’m hearing is that if someone wants to make a fast payment, you charge them extra.”
“That is our policy.”
“Doesn’t it make more sense to not charge as much since you get the money sooner?”
“That is our policy.”
“Ok, CallCenter Robot. I’m closing the account. You’ve lost my business and you’re already getting a blog entry. Could you transfer me to someone who will at least listen to my complaint and at least attempt to make things better before I tell everyone I know that Citibank is evil?”

To their credit, there was no hold music on the transfer. And my call did not mysteriously drop, like it has before when calling them.

The new person was a customer service person. He looked at my account and told me he knew what my problem was.

It turns out in December they closed my old account and transferred everything over to a new one. I don’t remember asking for or even wanting this, but lo and behold it happened. And they never changed the website so it pointed to the new account. For three months when I logged into my account, it would bring the old, dead account up by default.

Somehow, though it was totally my fault that I didn’t go digging through the incomprehensible Citibank website, looking for the new account I didn’t know existed. And, because it was somehow my fault, there was no way I could get out of the late fees or have the “pay immediately and be done with you once and for all” fee waived.

So I ended the call. I told them I wasn’t happy, that they had lost a customer, that I was going to blog about it like the big whiny goober I am, and that one day when I become a multi-millionaire, maybe, just maybe I would buy out Citibank just for the sheer maniacal pleasure of firing everyone there.

Dare to dream.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I suppose this makes me trapped, trapped in this body...

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)

Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Input vs. Output

It really bothers me some days when I look at the ol' blog and see that all I do is post YouTube clips in it instead of writing my deepest thoughts down for people to pour over and point out the spelling errors.

The fact is that there are about 30 or 40 half-finished blog entries scattered throughout my three computers (one desktop, two laptops). Eventually, these will see the light of day, as soon as I find the time to complete them. (Right now, the killer idea I'm trying to get into words why I hated Pan's Labyrinth but tolerated Tideland even though they are essentially the same movie.)

My wife tells me I am much more of an "input" person than an "output" person. I would like to argue, but she is totally right. I'm working on creating more output, but, especially when the internet is so close, the temptation to just take in all sorts of information is overwhelming. Trying to justify it by making your input your output is as lame as... well, as embedding a YouTube clip in the ol' blog.

Which is a round-about way of saying that I have resolved to start generating more output over the next several months. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, one of my favorie radio shows, On The Media, has a way for you to embed segments of their show into your blog. I thought I would give it a try.

P.S. If I were this reporter interviewing Joe Simon, I would have casually mentioned that I thought Jack Kirby invented Captain America. There is nothing like seeing a decades-old grudge flare its ugly head.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Politics for... you know... kids!

So my Councilman is running for Dallas Mayor. And, like a dutiful, educated citizen, I'm following the issues and keeping track of the voting records.

But that doesn't really mean anything because he has decided to campaign on an issue I had never even heard of until I read about it on his blog. A new herion-like drug called "cheese." My honest-to-goodness reaction was, "Huh? Never heard about this before. If it is such a problem, what is his solution? A larger police force (which will mean increasing the increasingly-stretched-to-the-limit city budget)? A special task force? What? And should it be the governments responsibility to raise a kid or, you know, the kid's parents???"

But, you know, it is a BLOG ENTRY on a politician's web site, so how important can it be anyway?

Right. Totally insignificant in every way.

That's what I thought until today, when he released his first commercial. Then I realized that he is building his campaign around something no one has expressed concern over or taken a vote on.

Yes, taking the stance that kids should be happy and healthy is a no-brainer for a politician. And, yes, his video editor just loves loves loves the Impact font. But should we just sit back and laugh at this video clip? Look at all the time and effort put into it. They even went as far as to subtitle the second half for the deaf, hearing impaired, illiterate, or for people who just like foreigh films.

What ads like this really remind me of was when I was younger and watched 'The 700 Club' special on the evils of rock music. I was not, how do you say, very cool, and depended on shows like 'The 700 Club' to tell me what was popular. Luckily, that show delivered the goods.

It was there that I learned about GWAR and Danzig for the very first time. When the announcer said, "Your kids are listening to this!" and then played a nice little video segment of GWAR disembowling a manequin at a concert, I knew I had to learn more about this wonderful new band.

Sure enough, a well-placed GWAR T-shirt or a masterful quoting of Danzig lyrics got me in with a cooler, more unkempt crowd who taught me the values of sneering, not bathing, and hating the world. And, after my two weeks of coolness, I went back to my fantasy novels and Billy Joel. It was too much for me to handle.

I've digressed...

We were talking about? Ah yes, the political ad.

So when I see ads like this, I think kids "as young as 10 and 11" who are so uncool that they watch political ads for fun, suddenly getting it into their heads that, if I want to reinvent myself in a cooler, more drug addicted asthetic, I can do so faster and cheaper with this cheese product. Thank you, politicians of the world! Thank you!

I just keep flogging that dead horse...

I still insist that Children of Men was the best film of last year, despite the fact that the Academy Awards completely overlooked it.

And here's yet another reason why - the technology and advertisements. In this view of the future, all technological development has been focused only in one area - entertainment. There are screens everywhere, video games are now wired into your wrists, and the content is slicker than anything else imaginable.

Here's a clip of some of the stuff going on in the background in the scenes. See what I mean?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Yet Another Reason Not to Watch TV

Over at Vlog Deathmatch, they are having an air guitar contest between several ladies who do their own video blogs. The result is a collection of home grown videos that are better than the last several things I've seen on television.

Here are the rules.

I am rooting for Veronica Belmont, but the other three videos up there right now are pretty fun to watch, too.

It is amazing how we keep ourselves entertained, no?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

It is funny because it is true.

PVP has a paid-only area of their website. They have posted a preview for it before in an attempt to get people like me to shill out some moolah, but that preview just didn't make me laugh.

This one, however, does.

I swear I had this conversation a thousand times when I was single. Except I was always the guy with the glasses and the tie, not the smart one with the sunglasses.