April 29, 2009

Virgin Smegmastore

As everyone has known since 2007 (except me who didn't realize until a couple weeks ago), the US locations of Virgin Megastore were set to close by this year. The Times Square location in NYC met its demise earlier this month. The Union Square location (the one that I most often visit) is said to be shutting its doors in May or June. I stopped in last night to find some Mega Rad Awesome deals!!!!

The only thing I walked out with was a free Village Voice, the free East Coast Rocker, and a list of things I'll consider buying when the discounts are way better than 20% off.

The problem with Virgin to me has always been their shitty prices. As one of the last people on Earth that still actually buys CDs, I am constantly discouraged when scouring their racks. Typically, their discs are priced at $18.99, which is absolute bullshit. Oh, you want the Melvins' noise album? Fuck you, pay me. You're missing Let It Be from your Beatles' collection? Fuck you, pay me. I started shopping exclusively from their cheapo bins that popped up in the past couple years. Cheapo at $10 isn't really cheapo though when most of the stuff in the bins are discs that everyone in the world already had or didn't want. And 20% off of their regular stock is still way too much.

Occasionally, I'll find a deal on a greatest hits package and pick it up from Virgin, but for the most part, the only CDs I buy are used (Ebay or Generation Records) or older catalog items from Amazon. If something brand new is coming out I'll buy it from the artists' websites directly. Maybe I'll end up paying 18.99 anyway after shipping, but chances are, I'm getting a free t-shirts or bonus DVD along with it. Because of the price of CDs, I rarely take a chance on discovering something new. Unless it's in the $1 rack at Tunes in Hoboken, I'm no longer willing to dig. No matter how clever the name of the band is, or how cool the artwork is, or if a friend recommended them, I just can't take part in the romanticized view of the cool record store anymore.

At $18.99, I said Fuck You back and signed up for Emusic instead. $15 a month and I could take chances again. Even if I'm now saddled with some bum mp3s (bump3s?) that I'll rarely listen to, I still have discovered a million awesome bands that I never would have found at Virgin Smegmastore. I certainly never felt ripped off because of prices. I'm at a point now where I've actually put a hold on my Emusic account because I've found too much music and need to take a breather. This isn't an Emusic commercial though. The service isn't perfect. The catalog is nearly 100% independent so whenever I have a taste for something major, I go back to physical CDs. And I'll keep buying CDs as long as I'm getting value for my money. I don't care if I have to take an extra step to rip a disc before jamming it onto my mp3 player. I try to be efficient, but sometimes my cheapness defeats it.

Maybe I'm just being my usual anti-corporate self, but I tend to think that corporate greed is what's killing CDs and Record Stores, not consumers. I don't think I'm demanding much. Why would anyone pay 20% off of a $430 Sopranos Complete Series Box Set at Virgin when it's already only $329 on Amazon? I had no intention of buying that, but it's indicative of most of the "deals" in the store. I'll admit I did find a couple things that I considered purchasing right then and there--Prince's Batman Soundtrack at $7.99 and The Naked Gun at $9.99 (-20% on both)--but ultimately, I don't need either that badly and I'm positive I can find them both cheaper. Here's a sorry looking list I made on my phone of items that I sort of want (feel free to mock my taste), but they won't get crossed off until I see better prices:
Twin peaks viva bam jackass tim eric batman sound who greatest sarabarellis li e pearl jamnirvana unplug serj pee wee ameribeauty rocky Shining
The majority of things there are DVDs because it didn't occur to me to start making a list until I got downstairs. There isn't a ton of music I'm looking for right now, and I didn't have the patience to pore through the CD section knowing that the prices sucked. Nothing on my list is a necessity, so there's no urgency for me to spend my money. It's all there for the taking though, Virgin, if the price is right.

April 20, 2009

We all cream for high scream

Don't we?



I can't wait until Plowing Mud Forever practices tomorrow. We will surely be making parody videos of this.

April 18, 2009

Real American Heroes

Lo, I have returned to you. Yes, it has been a long time since I have posted here. Rollie has had to keep the dream alive in my absence. To recap: I got my heartbroken by an edouche, I went out on a grudgefuck date, I got pregnant, I had the baby. I did not post during my pregnancy because gestating a small human eats your brain. I was like a little old man with dementia. The baby ate all my words. I would wander around my house asking people things like, "what's the word for that party they throw you for the baby? We just had mine?" Oh right, BABY SHOWER. Right, thanks." My brain was mush. I missed every appointment unless it was written down. I sat quietly for hours and had to eat bland foods, or I would have DIED from explosive heartburn. Seriously, I thought I was going to have to go the hospital several times for HEARTBURN. How pathetic is that? I never knew heartburn could feel like a fucking heart attack. That's all behind me now, and I have a beautiful baby girl. I will post more about this phenomenon called motherhood later. Today, I come to you to talk very seriously about an issue that is affecting this great nation: teabagging.

Yes, I have come out of my crusty retirement to talk to you about men dipping their balls in and on things. Before we precede any further, I feel we should take this break to review that hilarious State skit about Jesus and his disciple Louie also known as he who would like to dip his balls in it.

video



Listen, much like Jesus I love everybody. Wait that's a lie, I don't love everybody, but I do defend everyone's right to publicly make a complete ass of themselves. Which is why, when I turned on my TV in the midst of my own special reaming by the tax man on April 15th and saw the Republican Conservatives, they who would outlaw gay sex, shrieking over the public airwaves that they wanted to teabag the President...well, I lost it. I got down on my knees and howled with laughter over the delicious irony of the whole thing. There's nothing like seeing a rich old Grandma who believes it is a sin for homosexuals to have sex talking about how she would like to DIP HER BALLS in an elected official's mouth. Bonus points if that elected official holds the highest office in the land. Lordie. It's not every day you see something like that. Usually, you have to pay extra to see something like that if you know what I mean, and obviously, sadly, many of you do not.

When I pointed this out on Facebook several of my more conservative "acquaintances" went off on me and called me out for having a liberal slant and ridiculing their right to protest. People, I may be the liberal here, but I'm not the one talking about how I want to teabag the President. I also fully support anyone's right to protest; this does not shield you from my right to laugh my ass off when you act the fool. Nothing says I am totally disconnected from the world and politically incoherent like a good 'ole teabagging rally stirred up and fomented by a Dick Armey. Like it isn't hard enough to take a man named Dick Armey seriously, no, he has to make it even harder by inviting us all to a big 'ole teabag rally. Yes really, an ARMY of Conservative dicks talking about how they want to dip their balls in it. Seriously? I cannot write this material. It writes itself. I could labor for hours and hours and never come up with anything as funny as this is. I find it amazing that not only do people under 40 not know what teabagging is (I've had to explain it several times to people my OWN age recently), but that not one of these "smart" people who know what is best for this country are capable of running a word through a simple google search with moderate safesearch off. It's not like "teabagging" is a new phenomenon. Us liberals didn't make it up to shame you conservatives. Teabagging is a fairly well-known sexual euphemism. It has passed far enough into our pop culture to feature in a John Waters movie from 1998 called Pecker, but in the words of Mr. Waters himself:

  • "Teabagging" is by my definition the act of dragging your testicles across your partner's forehead. In the UK it is dipping your testicles in your partner's mouth. I didn't invent the term or the act but DID introduce it to film in my movie "Pecker." "Teabagging" was a popular dance step that male go-go boys did to their customers for tips at The Atlantis, a now defunct bar in Baltimore. Hope this helps. -- John Waters via Boing Boing)

That sketch from The State that I showed you guys is from a TV show that's off the air. The State aired from 1993 to 1995. The joke here is not new, but it is a hilarious callback. Good one GOP! I am certainly not the only one who got the joke. MSNBC's newscasters like: David Schuster, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ana Marie Cox really went to town while CNN's Anderson Cooper (who no doubt has great experience with teabagging *wink* *wink*) got a few choice shots in, leaving funnyman John Stewart to bewail a bizarro world wherein he does not get to make the obvious scrotum joke. I'm sorry GOP'ers it's like running around using the word boner to reference a bone-headed or stupid move, and expecting the rest of us not to laugh and giggle when you righteously speak about the President's boners. COME ON. I am not made of steel. I am only a human being with an actual sense of humor.

I cannot believe that not one single person at FOX News, the purveryors of about a 100 "teabag" commercials, did not know that teabag had a less than savory definition. Today, I would like to celebrate these TRUE American heroes the underpaid minions who let it slide. For every assistant producer, for every junior fact-checker and copywriter that silently giggled to themselves and kept their mouths shut, I personally would like to thank you for bringing this country the greatest dick and ball joke it has possibly ever seen on a national level. And, if truly, none of these people really knew what teabagging meant, then I can only imagine that it was the will of GOD that let this series of hilarious circumstances come to pass. For an agnostic, this actually strengthens my faith in the divine because if the universe has a sense of humor, we may yet have hope in this mad, mad world.

April 17, 2009

A Very Special Beauty and the RoBeast

Or more accurately,
Remember that one episode of Blossom where her older brother Tony was talking about his recovery from alcoholism at the breakfast table? He told them all about the 12-Step program, but Joey cut him off after #11 to say "Whoa" or something else really dumb. Everybody laughed--except Tony. He was mad because he didn't get to finish his story.

Later that night Six came over for a sleepover, but Blossom was still preoccupied. "What could be the 12th step?" she wondered aloud.

"Like, I don't know," said Six, "but I'm bored and LOLcats haven't been invented yet, so let's go downstairs and get loaded!"

So she put on her favorite 90's flower hat, swiped Blossom's dad's bottle of JD from the liquor cabinet, and grabbed his cocaine stash that was hiding in the piano. "This is gonna be, like totally awesome, Blossom!"
Blossom knew better, but she didn't say anything. Soon, Six was doing drugs every day. She also started hanging with a different crowd--one that sold coke and bought guns, and never ever wore 90's flower hats.

Concerned for the safety of her old friend, Blossom went to brother for advice. "You should have let me finish my cautionary tale," he said. "Step 12 is about preventing others from succumbing to addiction. It tells you to say 'No Drugs' to all of your friends and loved ones. You had your chance to say 'No Drugs' to Six, but it's too late now, little sister. She's gone forever."

But Blossom refused to give up. She got Joey to give her a ride to Six's new apartment on the other side of town. With tears streaming down her face, she banged on the door yelling "No drugs! No drugs, Six! No drugs..."

Suddenly, Six kicked open the door, brandishing a high-powered machine gun. She yelled "In my opinionation, you should mind your own business, bitch!" and turned the gun towards Blossom.

Joey, dumbfounded as always, let out yet another "Whoa."

Clearly annoyed by his interruption, Six aimed the gun at him instead. "Say 'Whoa' to my little friend!" she maniacally shouted as she massacred Joey.

Despite the happy ending, this was one of the show's lowest rated episodes. The storyline was immediately dropped and the rest of series continued on, never again mentioning Joey's death, Six's drug cartel, or more importantly, how either made Blossom feel. Joey Lawrence was nominated for an Emmy, but lost to Mr. Belvedere who humorously revealed his penchants for pedophilia in the "Wrestling Wesley" episode. Consequently, the Blossom episode was never released commercially.

Today, however, I found the limited edition "Step 12: Say 'No Drugs' to 6" wall clock that commemorates the very special show. It is the only surviving remnant of the Blossom's lost episode.

This amazing piece of 90's memorabilia can be yours for only $26 from Franklin Instruments. Follow this link to buy one for yourself so you will always be reminded of the time that Blossom lost her best friend and her brother, but learned the ultimate lesson.

April 16, 2009

Fire Water Burn

Why does the last line of this weather alert sound more like an invitation than a warning?
Fire Weather Watch

Hudson (New Jersey)

URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY
352 PM EDT THU APR 16 2009

...GUSTY WINDS AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES EXPECTED FRIDAY
AFTERNOON....HIGH PRESSURE BUILDING DOWN FROM ONTARIO WILL MAINTAIN A VERY DRY AIRMASS ACROSS THE REGION ON FRIDAY...DEVELOPING GUSTY WEST SOUTHWEST WINDS IN THE AFTERNOON. THESE WEATHER CONDITIONS...ALONG WITH DRY FINE FUELS...COULD PROMOTE RAPID WILD FIRE GROWTH IF ONE WERE TO START.
I guess I'll make sure not to start any fires tonight.

Just a quick follow-up to the Verizon post from the other day... Today I received a call from the Billing Department informing me that I have an outstanding balance and then they asked me if I'd like to make a payment today. NO I DON'T WANT TO MAKE A PAYMENT TODAY. I JUST WANT YOUR TWO STUPID DEPARTMENTS TO USE THE SAME FUCKING DATABASE SO I DON'T HAVE TO EXPLAIN MY SITUATION FOR THE SPERMILLIONTH* TIME.

"Oh yes, I see the $330 equipment charge right here," he said.

Good, now stick it in your very dry ass where it could promote rapid wild fire growth, if one were to start.

* - I haven't decided exactly how "Spermillion" is going to be defined, but I assure you that you'll hear it here first. By the way, you are reading what Blogger is calling Beauty and the RoBeast's 200th entry. I know there a good handful that were never actually posted, but it lumps them right in with the total post count. I'm not going to go back and count all of our posts either, but I can assure you that it's less than 200, and way less than a Spermillion. Regardless, I want to thank everyone for reading and keeping the drive alive.

April 14, 2009

The Verizon also sets

I've been busy losing a war on technology and have had little energy left to actually type anything into this decaying white box.

The most exhausting series of events over the past few weeks have involved Verizon and my "new" LG Dare mobile phone. Since I have told this story seventeen hundred thousand fucking times (and each time the preamble statistics have grown exponentially), I may as well make a digital record of it. Here goes. Let's try to do this chronomotographicogistically.

2002. I become a Verizon customer.

2002-2008. I remain a loyal Verizon customer and never have any service complaints. At some point I stop using Motorola phones because I had too many charging input issues. I switch to LG and never have a single problem with their phones.

Nov. 2008.
I have had an LG 8300 over two years and it shows no signs of aging, other than some cosmetic wear. As part of Verizon's New Every Two program, I am eligible for a free or discounted new phone with the two year extension of my contract, but opt not to take advantage of it.

Dec. 2008. I thought I lost my phone, but it was just a false alarm. It is still enough of a wake-up call to make me think a little more seriously about getting another phone as a backup, just in case I ever do lose or break the 8300.

After some intense research and a hands-on demo, I finally decide on a touchscreen phone called the LG Dare. I find the phone on Verizon's website, select the discounted rate with two-year activation, and pay the remaining fee with my debit card.

Amazingly, the phone arrives on my desk the next morning. I open it up and charge it. I play with it for a few minutes, but am too busy to give it much attention. It is the holiday season, and I have a lot of end-of-year work to finish, and I'm also in the process of moving to a new apartment. Simply put, I don't have the time to learn how to use a new phone. I put it back in its box and pack it away.

March 26, 2009 - I get a message from Verizon about a past due payment. I open up my paper bill and discover a $330 equipment charge assessed to me a month earlier. I call up customer service and explain the situation. Apparently, if you acquire a phone via the New Every Two program, you are required to activate your new mobile phone within 10 days, or Verizon will charge you full price for it. They assume that you have sold the phone on Ebay, or worse, activated it on a different carrier. My options at this point:
  • Pay the $330 equipment charge and continue using the 8300 for as long as I want
  • Return the new phone and pay a $35 "restocking fee"
  • Activate the Dare in person at a Verizon Wireless Store (because the original activation code has expired). The store may decide to wave the $35 activation fee because of my circumstances.
March 27 - I pay the monthly charges for February and March on my bill, leaving exactly $330 as the remaining balance.

March 28 - I go to the Verizon Wireless Store at Union Square in Manhattan. A salesman quickly swoops in and asks how I can be assisted. I start explaining my situation and he immediately cuts me off and shuffles me over a sign-in kiosk. I enter my name and get into the service queue. The customer service folks call a name and no one responds. They call the several times, then ask me if I am that person. "No," I say. They decide it's now my turn anyway.

I tell my story again and the person behind the counter tells me that I've probably been charged because I did not return my broken phone when I received my replacement phone. She clearly wasn't paying any attention to my storytelling. I tell her she's got it wrong and attempt to explain again. She then picks up the phone and calls Verizon Customer Service. Yes, the Verizon Customer Service Rep I'm speaking to in person is calling Verizon Customer Service on the phone for assistance. She quickly gives up in trying to explain my situation to the rep on the phone (because she never had a grasp of it in the first place) and then hands the phone to me. The rep on the phone tells me that the problem is not so much that I didn't activate the new phone, but that I did not activate the new two-year contract to receive the discounted price. I assumed that simply purchasing the phone at the discounted two-year contract price was enough to take of that, but I guess I was wrong.

At this point, I am now transferred to another on-site service rep who is better equipped to take care of this mess for me. The rep on the phone and myself both shift over to a new booth. They talk on the phone for a few minutes and it seems everything is now honky dory. They hang up. The on-site rep informs me that I don't even need to activate the new phone at this time if I don't want to. I would rather just get everything wrapped up right there and then, so I go through the activation process. I also get my information transferred over from the old phone to the new phone (another reason I had been holding off putting the new phone to work for so long). They offer to transfer over my pictures and videos as well, but that will require an SD card. Fine, I was probably going to buy one anyway. All done. The LG Dare is in my hand, active, and ready to rock.

March 31 - The Verizon Customer Service rep I had spoken to on the phone while at the store follows up and leaves me a message. The equipment charge still not does appear to have been removed.

April 2
- I call up and explain the story to yet another Customer Service rep. They see that the store has activated my phone, but did not process the renewal of the two-year contract. They are going to send me a copy of my contract so I can manually sign it and return to them for processing. I confirm my correct address.

April 6 - The Verizon Billing Department calls me. My phone is scheduled for shut off because of non-payment. I tell her that I'm still waiting for my contract to arrive so that I can sign it and get the equipment charge removed, and I've in fact already paid the entire bill, except for that charge. She confirms the balance (technically, the balance is less than $330 because I've paid the March monthly charge several weeks in advance of its due date) and will "make a note of this."

April 9 - The phone is shut off. I call Verizon Customer Service, furious due to the lack of communication between the Service and Billing Departments and the constant mishandling of my account. As of the 9th, I still had not received the copy of the contract to sign and resend. It turns out it wasn't mailed until the 5th. The 5th was a Sunday, so really it went out on the 6th. The charge will be removed immediately once the contract is signed, but not until then. She explains my options:
  • Pay the $330 now and get a credit once the contract is straightened out. I refuse this on principle.
  • Go to a store and sign in person. Unfortunately, I'm at work, and obviously the store thing didn't work the first time.
  • Sign the contract when it arrives in the mail. Mail it back. Sit with my useless phone up my ass for a week or more.
What about just getting the phone turned back on until the mess is straightened out? That will have to be worked out with the Billing Department. Then bring on the fucking Billing Department. Again.

I'm transferred over to Billing. A woman with a thick Irish accent answers. I tell her that the only reason my account is being held up is due to a equipment charge that is in the process of being removed and that I've already paid all of my regular monthly usage charges.

"There's no equipment charge here," she says.

"Yes, there's a $330 equipment charge because my two year contract needs to be reactivated. I'm still waiting for that contract to arrive by mail."

"There's no record of any equipment charge. I'm looking here in my records and they don't show anything you're talking about."

"How far do your records go back?"

"All the way back to your first bill," she boasts.

"WHY DON'T YOU TRY GOING BACK ONE MONTH THEN?"

She's still being extremely arrogant with me, mumbling while going over the bill, "Usage... Additional Services... Taxes.. Equipment Charge... $330..."

BINGO, YOU D.F.C.!

"I've already explained all of this to the Billing Department a week ago. She said she would make a note of this."

"It says here she escalated this to a supervisor and your exception was denied."

"It was denied?"

"Yes, it was denied."

"Un-fucking-believable. I've had it. Transfer me back to Customer Service."

............

"Customer service, this is SomeDude, and how are you doing today?"

"Not so great, actually."

"Aw, I'm sorry to hear that. Is there something I can do to help?"

"Yes." And then the eight words that I had no reason to ever say in seven years of being a Verizon customer, came out of my mouth. "I want to cancel my Verizon Wireless service." Little did I realize that those are the magic words to make the Customer Service team go into fucking overdrive.



It was like a switch. I felt like a different person. I felt like a truck. Suddenly, this guy was going to try things to figure out the problem. He would see what he could do with the Billing Department. While on hold, I was already dreaming about what I would do with a Google Phone on T-Mobile, or dare I say it, an iPhone on AT&T. I was fully prepared to dump Verizon if this shit was not fixed by the end of the phone call.

Amazingly, in less than ten minutes, he was able to freeze my account while we wait for the contract to arrive. And in a half-hour, he promised my phone would be turned on again. Quite a turn of events. Sure enough, my phone was reactivated. The contract arrived in the mail on the 11th, and I've since signed and returned it. I'm still getting the hang of the touchscreen technology, and the odd power of having the internet in my pocket at all times, but I'm glad I finally did activate the Dare. I have to be honest, the Verizon's Customer Service people were extremely friendly and understanding to me on the phone, despite my varying degrees of pissedoffedness. The people in Billing and at the store though, not the brightest, and certainly not the most helpful. Motherfuckers were this close || to losing me. We'll see what happens in two years (or sooner).