Friday 14 May 2021
I am now fully vaccinated (2 shots + 2 weeks), which, according to the CDC, means that I can resume my life as "normal" before COVID-19 reached American shores. But what if I don't want to?
I *could* drive to my friends' houses, assuming that I can find gasoline (which is not in short supply but is suffering distribution issues after too many of my fellow Americans succumbed to panic following news reports of possible problems and bought up all the available
toilet paper gasoline). But I've never been enthusiastic about leaving the house, and I find I am even less so now, even to spend time with people who I theoretically enjoy spending time with.
I *could* attend a movie, as I used to do before the entertainment world ground to a halt. But my favorite theater couldn't survive the economic downturn and is now boarded up. Besides, what's playing? The number one movie in America is Wrath of Man, and I get to see plenty of that on the evening news for free.
I *could* go to a sporting event, such as a minor league baseball game. But the thought of being surrounded by a crowd of people has always made me anxious, and that was back when the odds were low that the people sitting on either side of me could kill me with their breath. Football season doesn't start for months yet. I've paid for season tickets; will I be comfortable enough to venture forth by then?
Or I *could* stay under the covers in my bed in my basement, where the world can't reach me. I think I like that option best.
Wednesday 12 May 2021
I watched a new-to-me movie every other day in April, and that count might have been higher if I hadn't also re-watched several not-new-to-me movies. The Back to the Future series never gets old.
41. (1900.) Son of Kong (1933)
This is the original sequel to King Kong which is not nearly as popular or well known for the obvious reason that it's not nearly as good. Spoiler alert: Kong's son dies, too. Great apes should stay the hell away from humans.
42. (1901.) Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
This screwball comedy-slash-murder mystery is a pleasant enough waste of time, but I cannot imagine sitting through it twice.
43. (1902.) Voltaire (1933)
This is almost kind-of a fictional biography of the French author Voltaire's later years. I got a kick out of it, but I was already a Voltaire fan going in. Given how often Bill Shakespeare appears as a character in films, there should definitely be more Voltaire movies.
44. (1903.) Henry V (1944)
Unlike Voltaire, I happen to like the writing of Bill Shakespeare, especially when it's performed as well as it is here by Laurence Olivier and company. The speeches! The comedy! The color! The horrors of medieval warfare! I still like Branagh's (grimmer) version better, but this is still a great film.
45. (1904.) Here Comes the Navy (1934)
James Cagney plays James Cagney in a love triangle on a blimp. Sorry, a rigid airship. (The U.S.S. Macon, in fact, which was a real U.S. Navy ship until it fell out of the sky about half a year after the movie was released.) I enjoyed it, and not just because we get to see the inside workings of a doomed airship.
More to come.
Monday 10 May 2021
Saturday 8 May 2021
Thursday 6 May 2021
Stuffed animals often become a comforting, reassuring presence for their owners, and 2020 was a terrible year. Put those two things together, and you might have predicted a stuffed animal boom in 2021. But did you realize what form they'd take?
If you said teddy bears or puppy dogs, you haven't been paying attention to pop culture lately.
That last one there is a tie-in with the unmemorable Emoji Movie, which reminds me that back in the day my brother had a stuffed, vinyl E.T. doll that I found particularly unattractive. I owe you an apology, 1982 E.T.
Tuesday 4 May 2021
My father's aging (10+ year old) DIRECTV satellite receiver finally died, so he called AT&T for a replacement. That was the easy part. The new receiver came within 3 days, and Dad installed it (correctly!). He then visited the url the device displayed on screen for remote activation. That link re-routed to a page that told him to call a telephone number, so he did.
The first customer service representative he spoke to tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Repeatedly. Dad ultimately had to abort this attempt for a pre-scheduled doctor's appointment. Afterwards, he had me try again in the hopes that I would be better able to communicate with the technician. The customer service representative I spoke to also tried to remotely activate the receiver and failed. Then she hung up on me. I don't think it was her fault. She was using AT&T phone service, after all.
At this point I stopped waiting for a customer service representative to suggest what I suspected: that the problem might be in the receiver's access card. The receiver was reporting an on-screen ID number of "0000-0000-0000", which happens to be the default number if there is no card installed. When I opened the panel, I did indeed discover that whoever had inserted the card before shipping had installed it upside down. The old receiver model took cards face down; the new model required face up. I pulled the card, turned it over, plugged everything back in, and called DIRECT a third time. This time, the customer service representative was able to activate the receiver on the first try.
The terms for the new receiver required the old receiver to be shipped to DIRECTV for recycling. Again, the url that DIRECTV provided for generating a label was outdated, redirecting to *another* page that returned a 404 page error. After a little creative Googling, I found an AT&T electronics recycling link that appears to do what the suggested link was supposed to have done. By this time I was not surprised when the website instructions (and generated label) made it clear the receiver was to be mailed via USPS but the downloaded file called it a "FedEx Shipping Label." AT&T seems to have a real problem with modernization.
Hopefully, Dad will get credit for returning his receiver as instructed, though given how hard it was to do almost everything else, I'm not holding out strong hope. I'm starting to feel like I'd have a better chance if I sent a telegraph to the company to tell them it was coming and personally handed the box to a Pony Express rider.