Saturday, February 24, 2007

Creepiest LOST moments



The
LOST season has started up again, and for the first time in a very, very long time, Jeremy and I are actually watching TV. If you can call watching one show, for one hour per week, "watching TV."

The kids over at LOST are very good at creating creepiness. Even what would otherwise be an ordinary scene or dialogue exchange can be rendered skin-crawly by the LOST people. Here are my favorite creepy scenes. With video clips if I can dig them up, hopefully legally.


My very favorite (and I think it's my brother Steven's favorite, too) (and probably Jeremy's) is when Ethan says, "If you do not stop following me, I will kill one of them." This line is very adaptable to situations that come up in everyday life, and so it's fun to repeat. For example, "If you do not stop (attacking me at Risk/leaving your dishes out/tickling me), I will kill one of them." Also, for Ethan's character, I think they put out a casting call for someone very freaky-looking. And they got him. (The line in question is at 24 seconds into the clip.)

Here's the link to this unembeddable video.
They put out another casting call for a freaky-looking person, and got Mr. Henry Gale here. Heebie jeebies! The line in particular that I like is the last one: "You guys got any milk?"

Finally, and I can't find a video for this anywhere, there's Fionnula Flanagan's scene in the mid-season opener of LOST. I'm really wondering if that was just a throwaway cameo role, or if she'll be back. Because she sure is creepy as the jewelry store owner. All she was doing was asking Desmond to give her back a ring, but I could hardly look at the screen, I was so scared.

Keep up the good work, kids!

Twilight zone

Miriam and I were on a walk yesterday, saying hello to the cows and horses that live across the street. As we walked, I noticed a small scrap of paper on the ground with some handwriting on it. I looked closer and realized that what was written on it was my full name. My full maiden name.

[Twilight Zone music]

Before I really freaked out, I took a moment to think. I had seen the handwriting before, somewhere. But where? And why was it in my maiden name?

After a few moments, I was able to remember that it was the handwriting of one of the librarians at our local library branch. With that came the realization that the scrap of paper was what they insert between a book's pages to signify that it is on reserve for a specific library patron. Then, when you pick up your books on reserve, they usually take the paper out for you.

And it was in my maiden name because my library card is in my maiden name, along with almost every other bill we have here (I didn't get around to changing my name legally until a little while after we moved to Tucson. Which meant that I felt like an unmarried - and looked like a teenage, to everyone who encountered me - mother when I was dealing with all of Miriam's birth and medical paperwork).

So that part of the mystery was solved. The only remaining question was why the slip of paper was now on the ground. I can only imagine that the librarian did not remove it from a book, and that I then recycled it, and that it fell out of the recycling barrel, possibly on trash day during pickup. And then the wind blew it away to where I found it yesterday.

Or so it would seem...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Housekeeping

A few things. First, one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time, at least at the beginning of a scary movie. The first few real minutes (after the animated intro) of M. Knight Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" rendered me helpless with laughter. It's the scene with the apartment manager killing a "creature from the devil" for the five Hispanic ladies. I think Jeremy related to the scene, as well, but it wasn't so funny to him since he's the one who has to kill the bug while I'm in the background, yelping.

Secondly, one of the dumbest things I've seen in a long time, at least as far as male-principal-movie-scene-entrances go. In "Ice Princess," there is an actual scene where an actual teenage boy actually appears at the teenage girl's frozen pond driving an actual ZAMBONI. Jeremy and I rewound the scene several times because it was so unintentionally, absurdly funny. I saw it first, rewound it, cued it up for Jeremy to see, and then called him in to the room. Before I even pressed play, Jeremy said, "He doesn't come driving up in the Zamboni, does he?" Yes, Jeremy. Yes, he does.

Finally, I came across this product somehow and I can't even believe that it exists:

What ever happened to a normal stepstool, like the one Miriam loves and insists on pulling out at least ten times a day? Also, I take issue with their statement that "there isn't anything children can't learn through cooking." I submit that there are many things children can't, in fact, learn through cooking. But I'm not going to waste my time thinking of them.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blockbuster update

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably publicly announce that Blockbuster made amends by extending my free trial for another two weeks (which is now almost up). So I forgave them.

I still haven't received my precious movie, though.

And I will not recant my statement that Netflix is a superior DVD rental service. Blockbuster's new gimmick to compete with Netflix is that you can exchange a DVD envelope for a free rental in-store. Obviously, Netflix cannot reciprocate. However, that supposed benefit inspires the following damage:

1. The reason I'm signing up for an online DVD rental service is - get this - to rent DVDs online, from the comfort of my home. Not get into my car, drive to your scary store in a scary part of town, home of hitter-on-ers and parking-lot-dwelling transients, and browse through lots of disgusting DVDs to find the one I want.

2. When I turn in an envelope for a DVD at your store, I think you sit on it for a couple of days before mailing it in. That bothers me.

So thanks, Blockbuster, for trying to make it up to me. But Netflix is still better than you.

Have fun, or else!


Miriam engaging in some messy, unstructured playtime at the beach in Oregon

Miriam and I went to a new playgroup this morning. We are regulars at Library Storytime, and yesterday as we left, I noticed a sign for something called "Stay n'Play." It is held on Friday mornings, also at the library.

I assumed it was just an informal, drop-in kind of thing, where you could stay for as long or as short as you liked. So I was surprised this morning when I was greeted at the door by a sign-up sheet, information folder, and enthusiastic playgroup employee, of all things.

It turns out that it is a super-organized playgroup, where you actually pay to belong, although I didn't figure that out until later (Fortunately, the first visit is free. Phew!). In the beginning, I just sat down by a bunch of moms who were watching their kids play and yammering away in...Japanese. My lucky day! I asked them, in Japanese, if everyone in the group was from Japan. They were all quite surprised that I was speaking to them in Japanese. (Note: that kind of thing is really fun to do - casually addressing a foreign stranger in their native language. It happens to me all the time with Arabs at Fry's).

The playgroup was led by a grandma-type woman. She was very nice, but kept giving me pointers on how to play with my daughter. On the outside, I was smiling and nodding, but on the inside, I was thinking, "Lady, if there is anything I know how to do in this world, it is play with my 18-month-old."

Miriam had fun, of course, but I don't think we had a choice. We were all required to participate in every activity, sing along with every song, do the hand motions exactly right (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little), etc. So I was already thinking I didn't want to join the group - and then I found out that it costs $30 per month. I think I have friends who will play with me for free, thank you very much.

Which brings me to why I like Storytime so much. It is loosely structured so that if Miriam is engaged, she's having a great time. If, on the other hand, she is wandering aimlessly around the room looking for electrical outlets, that's OK, too. The story leader doesn't bat an eye. That's my kind of playgroup!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The art of extraction


One of my earliest memories is of our big red shoebox-on-wheels van getting its tape deck replaced. It's kind of a strange event for my memory to single out, but there it is. We had to get it replaced because my little sister Teresa fed it pennies. She had done this before - one of my other earliest memories is of my dad fishing out pennies from the tape deck using a piece of tape on the end of a pencil.

It must be a kid thing, because lately Miriam's favorite activity is feeding the underside of our TV stand various DVDs from our collection. And it is so darn hard to get them out of there. You can see in the picture that it is a very small space beneath the TV stand. She pushes DVD after DVD in there until they are all jammed up against each other. The only way to get them out is to clamber over the speakers, balance precariously behind the TV, and try to snatch them up using a piece of tape on the end of a wooden spoon. I usually find myself performing this task, or asking Jeremy to do it, on my way out the door to the library to return an almost-overdue DVD.

It will be nice when she grows weary of stashing our DVDs under there. But I'm sure she'll think of something just as aggravating to replace it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Champions of Learning, ARR!


If we still lived in Tucson when Miriam entered middle school (which is not going to be the case - thus the subjunctive tense), she would attend Amphi Middle School. I feel so bad for the kids who go there. Their mascot is, of all things, a pirate. And not just any pirate, a scholarly pirate. I think when we first moved here, it was the Academic Pirates, but they must have changed it.

Also, spray-painted in stenciled letters on a cement block in front of their building are the words "A+ School." In my opinion, any school that needs to advertise their merits in such a manner is probably not deserving of them.

Never fear, Miriam, we won't condemn you to a life of piracy, even if it is scholarly.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thanks for the advice

The townhouse across the street from us was burgled on Monday (is "burgled" really a word?). Someone broke in while the owners were at work and stole passports, checks, jewelry, and what-have-you. The owners didn't discover it until late in the evening, after having been home for a while, when they noticed a pillow was out of place.

Needless to say, I am kind of freaked out. Anyone who reads this blog knows what a scaredy-cat I can be, and this was almost the last straw in my relationship with Tucson. What is wrong with this city? Can't we all just live in our houses without fear of being robbed?? I know there are other dangerous cities around, but really, for a town of its size Tucson has waaaay too much crime.

It's something he's been thinking about for a while, but this incident put him over the edge. Jeremy went to our local Play-it-Again Sports store to pick up a couple of baseball bats. Purpose: self-defense against potential intruders. As he was browsing, an employee asked if he could help him find something.

"I'm looking for a baseball bat," Jeremy said.

"Any particular kind?"

"Umm, just the normal kind."

"OK..."

"Actually, I just want to keep it in my house as a weapon of sorts."

"Oh, in that case, you'll want a short bat to allow for maximum maneuverability inside your home."

I find it slightly unnerving that the employee was apparently familiar with our kind of situation, and had a ready, helpful reply.

And so now I have to talk myself back into the mindset of going about my daily activities as if someone could be watching our home at any given moment, just waiting for a chance to break in. The very day of the burglary, while I was running, I was thinking about just giving up on the vigilance already because no one is really out to get us.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm sorry, I don't get YOU!

For reasons that will remain unexplained, I had to call Social Security Administration yesterday. Actually, I'll explain a little. It had something to do with our tax return being rejected for reasons related to one of our social security numbers. We're still not sure which one.

SSA has one of those wonderful automated phone menus that we've all come to know and love. What's more, this specific system featured voice prompts, meaning I had to say what I wanted instead of punch in numbers on the keypad.

Here's why I hate those voice menus: I don't know about you, but I don't save up my tedious phone errands for those precious few moments when Miriam is asleep, which means that she is awake and playing noisily in the background whenever I have to call the bank or whoever. That's usually not a problem since most automated phone menus have touch-key ability.

But SSA's system registered every little squawk, chirp, or cry from Miriam as one of my responses. So our "conversation" went something like this:

SSA: [A bunch of introductory stuff that I don't care to repeat here.] Please tell me what you need. You can say --

Miriam, in the background: Doggie!

SSA: I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Could you repeat tha--

Miriam, in the background: [maniacal laughter]

SSA: OK, you want to change the address to where your benefits are sent. Is that cor--

Miriam, in the background: Nuh?

SSA: I'll transfer you right away.

Then I hang up and have to start all over again, because don't even try pressing zero to get through to a human being. They've disabled that option, apparently.

The thing is, when I finally did manage to tell the automated lady that I needed to talk to a human being, she spent FOREVER telling me how long the hold time was, and that I could complete many common tasks online at ssa.gov, and why doesn't she read me the ENTIRE LIST OF THESE TASKS before putting me in the hold queue? Meanwhile, I still have the whiny one-year-old clinging to my leg.

And you know they really despise you as a human being because poor Jeremy had to go through all this, too. I was only able to verify the information for Miriam and myself. But even though I'm his wife, I apparently did not have the authority to confirm Jeremy's information. So he had to call back, separately, and go through all the automated menus just like I did.

Except actually, he didn't have Miriam squawking in the background, so maybe it wasn't so bad after all.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The bad treatment continues

Here's what Blockbuster had to say to me after that nastygram I sent them:

Hello Bridget,

Thanks for contacting BLOCKBUSTER Online Customer Care.

As I understand it, you have received the wrong DVD, Bridget. I apologize most sincerely for any inconvenience this may have caused. Please do not worry as I have already checked your account and verified that an issue has been reported on the title “Charly”. Right now, reshipment of the correct disc has been initiated, even if you do not see it in your Queue. This means that you do not need to add this title back to your Queue. As soon as a slot is freed in your “Shipped Movies” list, and the title becomes available within your shipping zone of 2-3 days, it will be sent to you right away.

As an added action plan to have this corrected, I have reported this incident to the proper department in our distribution centers so they may be able to correct the issue right away.

I realize this is a valid cause for concern as we are committed to ship your movies as quickly as possible in order to meet your shipping expectations. However, please know that I am here to help you out, Bridget. This is why I am giving you this additional e-coupon for a free movie rental at your local BLOCKBUSTER store. Please click on the link below to claim and print your coupon.

Once again, I apologize most sincerely for any inconvenience you may have experienced, Bridget. If you require any assistance at all, feel free to contact me.


We appreciate your loyalty,

Roger
Customer Care Associate
BLOCKBUSTER Online

My favorite part is where he uses my first name all the time. Wasn't that in The 7 Habits or something?

Today, they defied all logical reasoning and sent me the EXACT SAME WRONG DVD. The weirdest thing is that they keep waiting for me to return the stupid wrong DVD before they send out a new one. The only explanation is that they own only one copy of "Charly," and it's not even a real copy at all. So lucky me keeps getting the same wrong DVD over and over again.

I really do wish I took the time to write these better, but I have better things to do than spend hours composing coherent nastygrams for careless companies (although you wouldn't know it from reading this blog). You have to admit, they were asking for it:

For the third time, with the same movie, I have received the wrong DVD. I already reported the issue and have requested to have the same movie sent to me. But this time, unlike the previous three times, I hope you understand the following:

1. The movie title and sleeve are correct.

2. The actual DVD itself is the only thing that is incorrect. You can check the outer sleeve all you want, and it will appear to be the right DVD you are sending me, but the DVD inside is not the one I want. Please understand that this will probably require an actual human being to be involved to actually check the DVD inside the sleeve, rather than having the system send me the same wrong DVD yet again (which is what I suspect is happening, since you always wait for me to send back the wrong DVD before re-sending the "correct" one).

3. I am unable to simply rent this movie at my local Blockbuster store - I have already checked and it is not available.

4. The only - ONLY - reason I ever signed up for Blockbuster.com was so that I could see this movie. My two-week free trial is almost up, and I have yet to see the movie because you have sent me the incorrect disc three times.

I will definitely be canceling my blockbuster.com account before my free trial ends. Words cannot express my level of dissatisfaction with your service.

If it is at all possible, I would like the real DVD of "Charly" sent immediately, without waiting for a spot to open up in My Queue. At this point, I think it's the least you could do.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

The sad part is that I still have hope that this will all turn out OK, and I will get to see this ridiculous movie.

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