Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz


5bbc952a01a7760eb04b8b4bc31da025There are some things in life for which you have no real explanation.

Like getting your leg caught in a ceiling fan, for instance. And on Saturday, I had an odd thing happen to me. Perhaps not as odd as the ceiling fan thing but odd enough.

I dropped my Xbox One controller – yes, an expensive wireless one – in a bowl of water.

I know it sounds silly but it almost makes sense once I explain. Besides, it’s not like I have a houseful of water-filled bowls just sitting around. I only have two: one for the cats and one for the dog.

In this case, it involves the one belonging to Arliss which is in the den or, as Anthony calls it, the man-cave.

I despise that term, by the way.

Anyway, the water bowl in question sits beside to Arliss’ bowl of dry food in the man-ca…den. Both bowls are situated next to a small table that has my nightly essentials strewn upon it: audio/video remotes, a notebook filled with notes pertaining to my ongoing Japanese studies and, of course, my Xbox controllers.

On Saturday morning, I went into the den to grab something off of the table. I don’t remember what it was but at any rate, while I was reaching for it, my Xbox One controller scrambled off the edge of the table and directly into the bowl of water.

*plop*

Oh shit. Really, oh shit. It was submerged for maybe one whole second at the most which is certainly enough time for water to make its presence known on the innards of any electronic device.

I figured it was goner but retrieved it from the bottom of the bowl anyway. I shook it vigorously, hoping to get all of the water out of it. And in my attempt to shake it dry, I slung water all over the den floor and patio doors. I continued to do so until I thought I had it all out.

Then I ran into the bathroom and turned on the hairdryer – trust me, it’s Ann’s not mine – to finish the job at Max Power. If there was anything that would dry it out, this would be it.

This was about all I could do for the time being. I inspected it and it seemed fairly dry on the inside (at least as far as I could see once removing the battery cover). I then tried it out – and there were problems.

When pressing the Xbox button, the system would power-on but the controller wouldn’t stay on. The light on the Xbox button would flash a few times and turn off. Nothing after that.

Then I put some of my reliable rechargeable batteries in the controller since they seem to be much more powerful that the standard alkaline batteries I use. No dice – the controller was doing the same thing.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not like I use the system very much. I seem to use it more for streaming baseball games online since I can’t watch them otherwise due to the greed of my home team and a certain cable provider watching YouTube videos via Chromecast from either my phone, tablet, or PC in the living room. So if I had to buy a new controller, I could go cheap and just get another wired one.

And that’s what it was looking like at this point.

Hours later, I tried it again. The controller literally looked like it was breathing its last breath with the light slowly fading like it hadn’t done before, almost as if it were saying goodbye.

I could almost hear a little voice crying, “Help meeeeeeeeeeeeee…”

Well, crap.

I had already planned on putting it back in the bowl of water and taking a picture of it to share on social media if it had died. If there was nothing else to be done then I might as well have some fun with it, right?

Then Sunday comes along. After a morning of mishaps (that’s another blog post), I thought I’d give it one more try. So I held the Xbox button down and the system powered up. The good thing was that the controller stayed on.

Resurrected. A true Sunday miracle. Or was it?

I thought I’d give it a try by playing Forza Motorsport 6 and everything seemed to be functioning just fine. Then Anthony wanted to play so I handed it over to him.

He discovered that Change View button wasn’t working. He came across this because he wanted to change the POV in FM6 since he doesn’t like my POV: either the hood or bumper views. I would have never found it myself unless I played another game.

I was now going to have to shell out x-dollars because one stinking button wasn’t working. Isn’t that a pip?

So tonight about an hour ago I gave it one more shot and, using some critical thinking (yes, I’m capable of such things), I found the cause of the problem.

In FM6, you can apply Mods to your car with varying degrees of difficulty to earn more points, XP, etc. Some are one-time use and others will remain until you decide to deactivate them.

So I started my Career, got to the track, and reviewed my Mods. One of the active ones was Hood View, a mod which gives you extra points for only using the hood POV; you cannot changed it once the game starts. I went into the Settings and removed the mod, then started the race.

As soon as it started I hit the Change View button and, lo and behold, it worked.

Resurrection, again.

So even after being submerged in dog-water for about a second, I managed to bring the controller back to life with only a hairdryer and the brute gorilla force used when shaking it dry.

Then again, we managed to wash and dry Anthony’s old iPod twice and while the screen had some water damage, it still worked.

I guess we have that kind of strange luck.

I’m on Bing Maps


About two months ago, I saw a Bing Maps surveyor and decided to follow it for a bit because I thought it would be funny to eventually see myself on the street maps.

Well, tonight I checked the maps to see if they had updated them. They did.

But first, take a gander at the video I shot and posted on Instagram. I always have my camera going when I’m on my scooter because you never know.

Now here I am behind the Toyota RAV4, sitting at the stop sign.

bing

I guess I should have waved at it for maximum effect but I didn’t even think about it. Oh well.

To see the precise location, click here. Note that you will probably need to view it in IE since Bing is Microsoft, Silverlight, blah blah blah.

Kay Jewelers Can Suck It


Click to Embiggen

I normally don’t write blog posts in the middle of the day but since the fire inside of me is still burning bright, I need to let it all out.

With the Christmas shopping season almost in full gear, retailers are doing just about anything to get you in their stores. You see that image to the left? This was one of those enticing deals designed to get you to spend, spend, spend.

Those $19.99 specials (regular $80 each) were included in the Kay Jewelers catalog that arrived sometime last week. And the minute Ann laid eyes on that ring, she expressed an interest in it so I agreed that I would buy this for her as a Christmas gift.

No, it’s not exactly a knock-’em-dead diamond ring but remember that it’s been a tough year and we’re just sort of getting back on our feet again. And it was what Ann wanted and what would make her happy this Christmas.

So we loaded up the truck and headed down to the Lakewood Mall to make the purchase. It was actually a dual-purpose trip: we were also going there to get Anthony’s picture taken with Santa Claus with our $10 Groupon (regular $25–go Groupon!).

Once our visit with the Jolly Old Fat Man was complete, we meandered over to Kay Jewelers to check out the ring. We were immediately greeted by, for the sake of description, Girl 1. She smiled and asked if there was anything she could show us.

I expressed an interest in the $19.99 ring. She nodded and headed over to the display to grab one that Ann tried on. It just happened to be the right size. It was a done deal.

And then it began. Girl 1 began her spiel about extended warranties, sizing, etc.

“No, we only want the ring,” Ann smiled and told her. Girl 1 continued.

“Did you get any warranties on those rings,” she asked, pointing to Ann’s diamond wedding set. Yes, we did but then again, that set also cost me a few thousand dollars. Big difference. And she’s starting to get annoying.

And not to get too much off-track here, but when I was making more money back in the day, we literally spend thousands at a place called Weisfield Jewelers which, unfortunately, has since closed up all local stores and merged with Kay Jewelers. They were a first-rate jeweler who never gave us any kind of slack. You asked, they helped. You were never pressured into anything you didn’t want and all of the employees at the South Coast Plaza location were as kind as could be.

Then there’s Kay.

As the conversation continued, we made it clear that we were only interested in purchasing the ring. Come on, it’s $20 and the warranty was another $20. I get that they are trying to upsell stuff this time of year and I went so far as to blatantly tell Girl 1 that I’m on a budget after being unemployed for almost 2 years and that the extra $20 wasn’t in cards.

So Girl 1 walks over to the register to complete the transaction–or so we thought.

While behind the register, she handed the ring over to someone I’ll call, for the sake of being polite, Girl 2. Although there were a few other niceties that come to mind with how she handled the siltation. So it wasn’t enough when we told Girl 1 that we only wanted the ring; she had to sic Girl 2 on us to try to retain us.

Girl 2 begins to tell us about the ring. And then she gets in on the whole warranty thing.

“Are you sure you don’t want the extended warranty,” she asked. Ann spoke up.

“No, I already told the other girl I only wanted the ring.” Girl 2 got agitated and threw up her hands, palms facing us.

“Okay okay, I’m just asking!” she said in a manner implying that we had firearms on our person and were ready to ransack the place for every $20 ring they had in stock.

Ann and I stood there, mouths agape. I turned to Ann.

“So…you still want that ring?”

“No, let’s go.” We left the store with Girls 1 and 2 looking a bit surprised yet smug.

It’s Christmas. It’s going to get busy. And having worked retail for years, yes, I know things can get a bit stressful during the holiday season. But unless a customer is making some wild accusation or claim about a price, is about to throw down with you over something stupid, or just being a pain in the ass in general, be good to them, for Chrissakes. They give you money which is why you are business in the first place!

No, no and no, goddamit. Kay had to see it another way. So fuck you, Kay Jewelers. If you had simply handled the situation in a more kindly manner then perhaps you could have had that extra $20 sale on your take tonight but no, because someone behind the counter had to get all high-and-mighty on us and fling an attitude in our direction, you get no sale–and my wife gets no ring since we both refused to have what little money I now make fund the payroll of someone like that.

Now Ann has to set her heart on something else this holiday season. And I don’t care what I have to do, she will get it. You don’t even know how disappointed she is/was about leaving the store without this little trinket of a ring which she loved and was within my budget.

Bored? Give Kay a call and let them know they suck: (562) 633-7141. And tell them they can stick their extended warranty.

Ironically, Kay’s slogan is “Every kiss begins with Kay.”

Well, guys, here’s my ass. Now go on practice what you preach.

(UPDATE: E-mail about the incident was sent to their Customer Service Department, and I’ve also gone through this post and made a bunch of edits/corrections. I was typing in a blind rage when I posted this and missed quite a bit. Calm blue ocean…calm blue ocean…)

(UPDATE 11/25/10: Kay’s Reply)

I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your visit to our Lakewood Center Mall, Kay Jewelers location. Our goal is to exceed our customers’ expectations, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond when there is a concern. We will forward this issue to the management staff at the store location for additional review. I want to apologize for how you feel you were treated. This is not how we want our customers to feel when they leave the store.

Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience that you experienced and hope that you will allow us to provide you the service you deserve in the future.

Sincerely,

Amanda L
Customer Care

Jeez, at least Cost Plus was kind enough to send Ann a $25 Gift Card after contacting their Corporate Office about one of their managers disputing a price/signing issue with us. As far as Kay goes, you couldn’t get me to go back there if you tried and I hope someone got busted for their horrible service.

Not On My Wish List


When I was working at Kmart for those few wonderful weeks, there was this co-worker that also happened to be a guitar player and as such, never passed up an opportunity to talk garbage about the whole Rock Band/Guitar Hero genre of video games. As a matter of fact, I recall us getting into a heated debate with me defending the games as a means for those of us without the talent or wherewithal to “play a guitar.”

Look, you can play a guitar. I’m happy for you. But there are tons of people out there that, for whatever reason, just can’t grasp the concept. These games are for them, not people like you. It’s not for real–it’s a game. Do you think NASCAR drivers are as pissed as you are about driving games? Or [insert your favorite professional sport] players despise the fact that gamers are living vicariously though these games? Hell no. So let us at least have that and if I can say so, you must not be a very good guitar player if you’re working at Kmart.

The guy shut up and quite honestly, I think I broke his brain because he was quite silent after this little incident and remained so until my last day of work. I didn’t regret telling him these things because I felt he had it coming. He seemed to be quite arrogant (imagine that: an arrogant musician!) about the whole thing and he just needed to be set in place–by a guy about 20 years his senior.

But upon seeing the latest addition to the Rock Band franchise, I’m beginning to see his point.

As you might recall on this April Fool’s post from 2008, I accurately predicted the eventual materialization of the Rock Band keytar:

Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.

I also mention my plans to sue Harmonix and Microsoft (for entirely different reasons) in this post but that’s neither here nor there…for now.

So let’s get into my reasons as to why I won’t be buying Rock Band 3. When I first saw the gameplay with the keytar I thought it was pretty cool and was a must-have. Then as I watched more and more videos for the thing, I realized that I have a Casio keyboard sitting in my bedroom which never gets used. But when I do bring it out, I’m the kind of person that can listen to a song a few times and easily play it back after a few tries. No, it won’t be as complex as the original version but the melody will be there and you’ll know what it is. Sheet music? What’s that? Yes, I’m “one of those people” as my wife says.

Did I mention any song, not a limited list of songs offered in the game or ones that may or may not be available for download? It’s doubtful that the Marketplace will ever produce anything that I would want to see and honestly, I would rather sit in a quiet room with a regular keyboard and figure out how to play the synths from this song* rather than clack on a goofy 24-key keytar and pretend to be Ray Manzarek or some lame/forgotten group.

And let’s face it: Manzarek played keys and bass at the same time.

That’s one aspect of it. Then there’s the cost of the thing which, at the time of this post, is a ridiculous $129 for the (required) keytar bundle.

As if I wasn’t already turned off by the concept, they have to offer it a price point that is a little over the top. Hell, my full Rock Band 2 bundle was only $20 more than that when it came out and when you consider that a decent, starter stand-alone keyboard can be had for the same price as the RB3 bundle, I’d go with the option that might just spawn a little more creativity, has 88 keys and won’t be collecting dust a month down the road because of its limited use.

No, Rock Band 3, you won’t be part of my collection any time soon. Sorry.

But while I’m here I want to mention one more thing that I’m sure Harmonix will rip off from me and run with. Now that the franchise has a practical full set of instruments offering a “complete band” experience, where do they go from here?

Add a new drum set but not just any drum set: a replica Simmons SDS-8 drum set. They were all the rage back in the ’80s and were played by Phil Collins, Prince drummer Bobby Rivkin, and whoever the fuck played drums for Spandau Ballet.

Then, as if that’s not enough, make an entire game dedicated to ’80s music: A Flock of Seagulls, the aforementioned Spandau Ballet and Prince, and even throw in some Morris Day and The Time for good measure (Jerome not included). It’ll be fun on a bun!

Come on, Harmonix, it’s the only natural progression you’ve got left. You’ve pushed the genre about as far as you can possibly could and very little will make it much better than this.

So to my former co-worker I’m pleased to say that I know where you’re coming from. As for Harmonix, just remember: I accept PayPal.

UPDATE: Wow, I mention suing Harmonix and all of a sudden they are up for sale. So much for my big payday…

*I say this song because I did do that one night

I’m Suing Microsoft and Harmonix


hqdefault Way back in March 2008, I wrote an April Fool’s entry about potential Rock Band add-ons. In case you need to have your mind refreshed (or didn’t even know about it in the first place), here’s the link.

Thinking it was just a lame blog entry that would get absolutely no attention, I just let it simmer and wrote a follow-up the next day explaining how bad I thought it was. Turns out that years later, that post is still one of my blog’s most popular entries:

One year later, Microsoft launched their idea of an April Fool’s joke: Alpine Legend, a game which shows gamers playing yodeling and dancing around like fools:

It would have been really funny—if I hadn’t written about it first in 2008:

Harmonix also plans polka yodeling, allowing previously reluctant individuals languishing for oddball octaves lively, spirited dancing all year-round.

Huh. Imagine that. The mind boggles.

Then comes news that Rock Band 3 will be purportedly gaining a keytar, as reported in this Endadget article and teased in the Green Day: Rock Band demo:

gamrockband3teaser580

Let’s go back to that April Fool’s entry, shall we?

Rock Band’s mature fans will appreciate the Rock Band Wireless Keytar, an exciting addition that will introduce the synth-pop and electronic genres to the game, with music from bands such as Depeche Mode and Devo planned for downloadable content.

Either I’m the Nostradamus of video games or somebody’s been reading that blog post and getting ideas.

So what do you think this’ll get me? A couple of million? A toaster and a few broken baseball bats and a ticket to a minor league game?

I think it’s time to get Larry H. Parker on the horn–no foolin’.

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