XM-Less

XM, there’s something I think you should know. I don’t think I’ll be needing you anymore. It’s just one of those things. I’m sure you’ll understand.*

We decided to pull the plug on both our XM radio subscriptions after much debate. Okay, it was more like a matter of I-don’t-have-a-job-and-really-don’t-need-to-pay-for-radio-anymore. While that was the first and foremost reason there were, however, more than a few others reasons for this decision.

— XM’s billing is so screwed up that it’s not worth going into detail about it. I’ll just get pissed off and want to throw marshmallows at my monitor, and right now I sort of need my monitor.

— The Merger. Read more about it here if you haven’t already heard me pontificate about it.

— I believe my Pioneer Inno receiver has finally bitten the dust. Since yesterday, I have constantly been getting an “Updating” message whenever I wanted to tune in; the only channels I can receive are the emergency channel, the XM Preview channel, and my radio ID channel.

After calling their billing department I was told that because we were behind on payments (which we aren’t, thankyouverymuch), my radio had been disconnected. Without warning, by the way. That’s the reason for the “Updating” message.

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You Better Get Busy

UPDATE: Time Warner and Viacom reached an agreement shortly before the deadline. Crisis averted; comments have been turned off as they are now irrelevant.

Man, if you have Time Warner Cable or Bright House Network and like your SpongeBob or MTV, you’d better get busy!

I turned on the TV today for The Kid and Nickelodeon is running a banner ad at the bottom of the screen. Turns out that both Time Warner and Bright House are in jeopardy of losing their deal with media giant Viacom, also known as owners of just about half of the cable channels you know and love: MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central just to name a few.

If reports are to be believed (and I could be reading it all wrong), keeping these channels afloat would cost an incredible 23 cents per day, which would of course be added to subscribers’ monthly bills. So if you’re a subscriber to either of these and are pissed off about a) finding out about this less than a day before it happens or b) about the move in general, you’d better get onna phones and call them NOW: Time Warner customers can call 800-762-3786 and Bright House Networks customers can call 866-309-3279. The move is scheduled to occur at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow morning. Um, Happy New Year?

I know bill increases suck but if you really like to watch those channels, I think you’d be willing to pay for them, no? By the way, I’m a happy Verizon FiOS subscriber–phone, Internet and TV all in one bill. It rocks.

Ah, today is New Year’s Eve. Tonight a few friends are coming over for our own little Chinese buffet. It’ll be fun and a way to send out 2008 with one final tasty and fattening meal. I’m doing fine with my weight but hey, holidays take a toll on everybody. Live a little!

Have a safe and happy 2009 and try to stay off the roads tonight. Nutjobs-a-plenty.

See you next year!

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SIRIUS + XM = WTF?

xmx_exclusive_headerIf there’s one thing I dig about Wednesdays it’s the fact that I get to listen to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour on XMX Channel 2, home of their exclusive programming, on my merry way to work. It’s one of the few reasons I have XM because Dylan spins some incredible tunes in that hour, many of which I ended up purchasing online.

What made it even better was that XMX played the show all day long in case you missed a portion of it. This was also the case with a few other programs they aired. Theme Time Radio Hour is indeed one of my passions.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I turned on my Pioneer Inno and discovered that when I punched up XMX 2, I got a “No Signal” message and was then kicked back to the channel lineup–a very different channel lineup. Hmm.

I then manually searched for the station and, causing more havoc on the streets than an expectant husband on a cell phone driving his wife to the hospital in a stick-shift, discovered that XMX was no more.

Yay verily, it has finally happened: without any kind of advance notification (save for talk of the “potential merger”), XM and Sirius have joined forces. And I’m none too happy about it–at least for the moment.

Upon further (and not-too-thorough) review, I noticed that many of my favorite presets have either been moved, renamed or in some cases, eliminated altogether. This rather sucks because now I have to sit down and give each station a listen and decide if I want to bookmark it because, quite frankly, the descriptions aren’t all that great on this PDF.

So gone are the channels I’ve known by name such as Lucy, Ethel, Fred and Squizz. In exchange for those, XM subscribers now get much lamer substitutes, 24/7 channels dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and The Grateful-Fucking-Dead, and some bullshit channel called Margaritaville. (An aside: I despise Jimmy Buffett greater than the fury of a thousand asteroids hurtling relentlessly towards planet Earth. And while I’ll stop short of calling him an asshole, I think his music–and this may sound physically impossible–both sucks and blows.)

Also gone is Caricia 93, a station I had just started getting into, which played old-school Spanish “romanticas.” Chrome 83, XM’s disco/dance channel, has also been axed. Ay caramba.

And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any other posts, but I’m not a fan of Sirius. I had the chance to extend my 6-month trial on a few new vehicles I’d purchased but opted for ol’ reliable XM instead. Sirius’ catalog seemed lacking at best and one way to prove this was (is?) to listen to their Kids Stuff channel–now called Kids Place Live–and count how many times Laurie Berkner was (is?) played in an hour. Seriously, it was (is?) that bad.

Alas, I knew this was going to eventually happen. It was evident these past few weeks when stations began to broadcast their “off the air” recording as well as being generically referred to as “Sirius/XM radio.” But I don’t think any of us satellite radio subscribers were truly prepared for what we tuned into this morning. With the strangeness of it all I feel really alienated, as if I was shipped in a crate to an unknown city and state with only $5 to survive.

Maybe once I sit down and figure it all out I my mind will change about the merger. But as of now, I’m just one of the many that aren’t pleased.

Way to fuck us all over, guys. I wonder how busy their Cancellation Department is today because it may finally be time to buy that 120GB iPod Classic and load it with every-freaking-thing I own.

Seriously, a Grateful-Fucking-Dead channel? My God, man.

By the way, Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back on its original home at Deep Tracks. You now just have to adjust your schedule accordingly to listen or catch an encore.

UPDATE: Here’s my assessment a day after the merger:

Lithium is no Lucy and 1st Wave is no Fred. 1st Wave features a plethora of former KROQ jocks including Richard Blade and Swedish Egil but their delivery all sounds very canned. While I appreciate and even like their music selection, how many times do they need to play The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” That song SUCKS!

Alt Nation? Thar she blows!

Where in the hell is my Chrome 83? It seems to have been integrated into The Groove, which was nothing like the old Chrome. Gah.

I used to love XM Chill but I don’t think so anymore. Top Tracks and Big Tracks, another two of my favorites, gave way to Spectrum (blecch), Classic Vinyl (meh) and Classic Rewind (very good). They are nothing like the former, but I’m glad Deep Tracks is still around.

High Standards is now Frank’s Place Siriusly (get it?) Sinatra. I know people love their Sinatra but HOLY FUCK, there’s a limit! I think I’d rather stick flaming Q-Tips in my ears before listening to more than two of his songs.

The consolidation of Aguila, Caricia, and Viva into XM’s existing Caliente channel was very stupid. Each played their own type of music and cramming them into one station was a pretty narrow-minded thing to do. No song ever played on Caricia would be played on Caliente. Bring back my romanticas, you morans!

So as of now, I’m only real happy that Deep Tracks is still kicking, I like 1st Wave’s playlist, and the addition of Classic Rewind was nice. That isn’t quite enough for me to keep my subscription. Stay tuned for more assessments and my final decision.

I’m still scratching my head about Margaritaville and more importantly, how the hell anybody can listen to Jimmy Fucking Buffett–period.

Oh, and…

dead


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Selling Out in America

Target stores has always shad a knack for attracting celebrities to appear in their ads. During my brief employ at Target, no less than three commercials were shot at my store with Terri Garr, Shari Lewis and Lambchop, and one with some Spanish musician that I couldn’t name. We also hosted an in-store book signing with Roseanne Arnold when her “My Lives” book was released.

FYI: commercials were always shot at night just after closing and from what I heard, Shari Lewis was not the kindest person in the world. But honestly, you would be very happy if you made a career out of jamming your hand up a lamb’s ass?

Oh, and Tom Arnold: cool; Roseanne: not so much.

Target also seems to license the strange and unusual now and then when it comes to their seasonal/holiday items. I can recall The Dog being in one of their campaigns as well as Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends, and last year’s surprising Halloween duo, Edgar and Ellen. Hell, they even licensed–blecch–Anne Geddes before her ridiculous images of babies dressed as fruits, vegetables and plants shot into the stratosphere and allowed her push her overpriced wares at galleries around the world, and Penn & Teller starred in a series of Target employee Guest Service videos.

But nothing could prepare me for this year’s back-to-school and Halloween in-store advertising campaign.

It’s Domo-kun. Yes, Domo-kun, that brown, fuzzy little Japanese character that has a tendency to fart whenever he’s nervous.

While I appreciate Target’s willingness to go forth with such a character, I’m a bit perplexed about the choice. I mean, if you live in the U.S. and know about Domo-kun, chances are somebody either saw a YouTube clip and sent it to you or you visit Fark, where Domo-kun is a bona fide cliché. He’s pretty much a cult figure here until Nickelodeon starts to air the Domo shorts scheduled for sometime in 2008.

Having a son, I’m pretty much exposed to Nickelodeon every day of the year and I have yet to see any Domo shorts as of this post. So just who are they trying to, for the lack of a better term, target with this choice? It all seems kind of strange.

But to sum it all up, it appears as if we have a sellout on our hands.

Oh, Domo-kun. How could you?

It Started Today

July 16, 2004 was a day much like today, save for the fact that I was 35 and Anthony was still in diapers. Oh, and I was about 80 pounds heavier and had more hair.

The summer sun shone brightly and the weather was just right. Well, it was right for those of us that live in the city.

For those few that call the mountains and hills their home, it was the middle of the so-called “fire season,” a time when the media whips up their usual pointless frenzy and begins to report on what the fires are doing.

And as is always the case, the fires were burning. Duh. Fire Watch 2004 had begun!

So it was at that point I decided to do two things: first, I needed to stop watching so much TV news. The talking heads no longer did it for me. Second, I chose to start a blog to voice my opinion on the fires and the media’s coverage of them. I signed up at Blogger (because I didn’t know any better) and wrote my first blog post, entitled “Fire, Fire Everywhere.”

In the post I attacked the media’s coverage of the fires because frankly, it’s pointless. If you read the original post you’ll see what I’m getting at. They make it sound like the entire state of California is on fire when nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I had people e-mailing me asking how I’m doing when I’m nowhere near any of the fires. That’s like me e-mailing my friend in Japan to see how he is after watching a Godzilla movie.

But I digress. Four years, over 400 posts, 10,000+ hits, two domains and two blog hosts later, I’m still at it but with seemingly less frequency than before. This could be due to the fact that I now have two blogs, which…I seem to have less and less time for these days.

Either way, I’d like to take a moment to thank those loyal visitors—all two of you—for making my efforts seem worthwhile. Barring death, injury or severe beatings at the hands of rabid Steve Perry fans, here’s to many, many more years of blogging.

Cheers!

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