Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Tech Assistance Phone Call

Setting: My living room, where my Airport Utility modem has quit working. After drinking two beers, I look up the number for the tech support line and dial it. Then, realizing I have to pee, I hang up, visit the bathroom, and redial. Then I remember I have to wash my hands, but decide not to and continue with phone call.

ME: (humming tune to "Facts of Life") Got to get this thing fixed. That porn's not going to download itself.

AUTOMATED VOICE: Welcome to the Airport Utility tech support hotline. Your call may be monitored for quality assurance. Please state the first name of the owner of the Airport Utility device you are calling about.
ME: Gregg.
AV: Did you say Egg?
ME: No, Gregg.
AV: Did you say leg?
ME: Why would I say leg? Christ.
AV: Did you say Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior?
ME: (pause) No.
AV: It looks like you're having trouble speaking English. Would you like to switch to Spanish?
ME: No!
AV: Please use the Spanish for "no" if you do not wish to use Spanish.
ME: Non!
AV: That's French. Si a usted le gustarĂ­a ser frotado en bruto, por favor, pulse tres.
ME: Stop! Arretez!
AV: All right. It looks like you're a complete imbecile. Would you like to switch from voice commands to the numerical keypad on your phone?
ME: (sobbing) Yes!

AV: Please press one if you wish to use the numeric keypad.
ME: (presses 1)
AV: You have just pressed one. If you meant to press two, please do so now.
ME: What?
AV: Did you just say "shut"?
ME: No!
AV: You have selected the numeric keypad options. Please do not speak any more.

ME: ...wait...
AV: To get a technician to your house to fix your Airport, please press one. To get a technician to your house to listen to your problems with your job, please press two. To get two mechanics over to your house to make out with each other, press three. To get a technician to your house to beat you to a pulp, please press four.
ME: (after some consideration, presses one)
AV: You have selected four.
ME: What? I did not! I pressed thr--I mean, one!
AV: Chuck will be by in five minutes. If you want him to limit himself to physical violence, please press one. If--
ME: (frantically pressing zero for operator) The box makes your product look so sleek and user-friendly! Where did this horrible nightmare come from?

AV: (pause) You have pressed O for "Okay, everything's good." We're glad we could help.
ME: You cold blooded bastards!

AV: To end this call, please hang up.
ME: (does nothing)
AV: I said hang up!
ME: (scared, meekly) All right...
AV: Punk.
ME: (hangs up, trudges to call therapist, drink more beer)

"Hey guys! This one's actually dialing three!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Idioms I Hate #217: "Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic"

In a Tea Party rally this past weekend, Palin, using her tried and true playbook, railed against President Obama for spending the country into a future fiscal Armageddon, and the GOP for not cutting taxes on all poor people, rather than just most.

Such stories are entertaining for me these days, as opposed to frightening, when I believed she would seek, and get, the Republican primary nomination. The only reason the story stuck in my head this time was one of her idioms:
“Yeah, I’ll take on the GOP establishment. What more can they say about us, you know?” she said. “We didn’t elect you just to rearrange the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. We didn’t elect you to just stand back and watch Obama redistribute those deck chairs. What we need is for you to stand up, GOP, and fight.” via today's Chicago Tribune
I've always liked that metaphor. Even if it's a bad one.

Not that that's Ms. Palin's fault. It's just that, if you put it in context, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is a lot like playing music on the Titanic, or serving drinks on the Titanic. It's a lot better than some of the things people did in an effort to save the Titanic. Or themselves, for that matter.

To the best of my knowledge, the saying was cooked up sometime in the 1970s, when some politician was talking about his campaign. I don't know that anyone was rearranging chairs anywhere on the Titanic, but if we're going to keep using the ocean liner as a metaphor for anything doomed regardless of our efforts, then deck chair arranging doesn't actually sound so stupid.

Some other stuff people did on the Titanic, as per my exhaustive research (that is, my fuzzy memories on James Cameron's Titanic:
Fought over life boats
Fought over life jackets
Shot each other
Yelled at each other
Fell overboard and died
Drew each other in the nude
Fell in love and had sex in the storage space

Rearranging chairs in the midst of all this seems like a desperate attempt to retain one's sanity and sense of order in the face of impending madness, death, mob rule and rampant rich-person adultery. And if our current economy really is doomed to die a watery death and plummet to the depths of the ocean, then whoever's holding the chair-arranging seminar, sign me up. I need to blow off some steam.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Intercepted letter to Bullets in Madison from band manager Joel Pendelton

Following correspondence to Chicago band Bullets in Madison from their manager intercepted via FOIA filed this morning.

Okay, I know you "fired" me after I booked you to that kid's bat mitzvah in Boise, and I know you think I spend too much time at my car dealership and not enough time cold calling concert venues. But I've got some advice that can't possibly miss this time. I just saw the Clinch Mountain Boys and Cherryholmes concert at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last night, and I've got to tell you, they packed quite a crowd. I took some notes of what they did, and I think that, if you take a few pages from the Gospel of Bluegrass, your indy rock thing might just hit Zinc on the Billboard.

I listen to your music and I love it. I also want to kill myself. But I listen to bluegrass, and I want to go to church. And marry my cousin. Now don't church and weddings naturally lend themselves to more people? Which would mean more fans? Just seems like a no-brainer to me, is all.

Okay, how can I put this? You're an all-male band, and you know I'm totally liberal and open-minded about that sort of thing. But there were quite a few females on stage at this concert, and I think that it would help gain an audience if the audience got the idea you liked girls too. You know, sexually. You guys do know women, right? Mothers, girlfriends, wives, illegitimate daughters, whatever. Just shove a banjo in their hands, they'll blend right in.

Somber colors, t-shirts, wool caps. Great. I like it. But the fedoras, sequin gowns, button-down shitkicker suits and ten-gallon-hats these guys were wearing could work too. No, don't say anything. Just picture it. You want to set an upbeat ambience, right? Actually, I guess Losch's flannel shirt would still work. Which brings me to...

The bands last night called out for people to clap their hands in sync with the music. And cheer. And whistle and stomp and square dance. How about square dancing? The opening riffs of "Joel Found His Angel Cowering" would be perfect for a hootenanny! And Losch wouldn't even have to change his shirt!

Trust me on these, guys. Meet me at the thrift shop for some wardrobe shopping and we'll ring in a summer tour that the Oakridge Boys couldn't possibly compete with. Oh, but we'll have to do it around eight. The lot opens at ten.

Yours most sincerely,

Joel Pendelton
Professional Indie Rock Band Manager
c/o Pendleton Used Cars
Berwyn, IL