Saturday, October 25, 2008

Janie Comes Lately to the Tampa Bay Rays

I’m a Yankees fan and have been all my life. Still, that doesn’t prevent me from pulling for the Rays. After all, most of my friends are Rays fans and were Rays fans last year when the team wasn’t doing nearly as well. J.C., a teammate in a couple pool leagues, likes to boast that he’s been a fan from the get-go, having attended the Rays first game.

Of course, now, there are so many died-in-the-wool Rays fans out there, it’s a wonder fans haven’t been rioting outside the Trop because of their deep desire to get in. The latest to jump aboard is the newly redefined CBS affiliate Tampa Bay 10. Those Rays fanatics at 10 Connects have been airing hour long pregame shows hosted by Reggie “Do-Take-Care” Roundtree before the Rays postseason home games. I don’t know if anyone’s been watching; I know I haven’t been. Anyway, this morning, it struck me as funny and ironic when an enthusiastic 10 Connects newscaster, Janie Porter, announced tonight’s starting pitchers as the Rays Matt Garza vs. the Phillies Jamie Moyer, pronouncing Moyer with a French twist - moy-YAY. You’d think that such an avid baseball fan would have at least bumped into the name Moyer, rhymes with Sawyer, during his 22 year big league baseball career. Wouldn’t you?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This ‘n’ That

For Your Adopting Pleasure
Just wanted to inform Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that I am an orphan and that I am available for and would be open to their adoption of me. Please hurry – conditions in this old fogies’ trailer park are deplorable. Now, moving on…

ER Gets Last Rites
I’ve been watching ER since it started back in 1994. I remember the big hoopla surrounding the premiers of two hospital shows that year, one on NBC, the other on CBS. The CBS offering, I believe, was Chicago Hope, but, whatever it was, it has long since died. ER, on the contrary, kept rolling along. I was prepared to stick with it to the end but with the early departures of Maura Tierney (Doctor Abby Lockhart) and Mekhi Phifer (Dr. Greg Pratt), I’m left without characters I care about. So, for me, ER is over. I might tune in for the finale but I don’t care what happens between now and then.

Electile Dysfunction
The bad news is that McCain or Obama is going to be our next president. Personally, I don’t care which. After being around for as long as I have been and seeing as many new presidents as I have seen come into office, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that neither one of them would do anything for me.

Much more interesting to me is the local Pasco County Sheriff’s race. I’m hoping Democratic candidate Kim Bogart ousts incumbent Bob White. Here’s why I can’t support Bob White. A couple years ago my wife was at work when she noticed a couple suspicious looking women heading for the exit of the building where she worked. Instinctively, she hurried back to the room where she stored her purse and discovered her wallet containing $200 in cash and several credit cards was missing. She immediately notified her boss and then called me at home. I got on the horn with the credit card people and the customer service rep told me the card had been used to pay for gas ten minutes earlier, and at that very moment someone was trying to charge cigarettes with it at our local Kmart. I got off the phone pronto and called the Sheriff’s office, explaining that the culprits were in the Kmart at that very moment. I was told they couldn't help me until I got the bill that contained the fraudulent charges. Then I should bring it into their office. Can you imagine? My wife even had a description of the car the women were driving, yet the deputies were too lazy to get off their asses. Yeah, I think Bogart deserves a shot.

Blasts From The Past Immortalized
I found a cassette containing recordings made by me and my friends (Acey T and the Perfect Strangers) of three songs I wrote back in the early 80’s. I loaded them onto my PC, converted them into MP3s and uploaded them onto a couple sites on the internet:
Myspace Music
Check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad: CSI

We’ve always been fans of the original CSI – CSI (Vegas). This season’s dynamite premier, “Goodbye, Warrick Brown,” did nothing to dampen our enduring affection for the program. Besides us, some 23 million other viewers also tuned in.

CSI: New York has also gotten off to a good start by attracting its largest audience since November 2006. In last week’s episode, Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise, stumbles onto a murder while taking a flight down to Washington, D.C. I must confess that even though I’m from the northeast, this show always repelled me for various reasons. For one thing, every scene, whether interior or exterior, seemed to have been shot in near darkness. Secondly, Melina Kanakaredes, who we had loved on The Guiding Light and Providence seemed a little too glamorous for a cop. Thirdly, there are just so many images of bullets piercing body parts that a guy wants to see with his late-night snack. But, because of a lack of competition, CSI: NY is currently our 10 PM Wednesday choice.

Though, initially, I was receptive to CSI: Miami, over the years I’ve grown tired of Horatio Caine’s predictable one-line quips as well as his side-winding delivery. Is there a practical reason why he can’t face people head on? Every time David Caruso (Caine) sidles up to someone, I can’t help laughing which is bad for a show that’s supposed to be a drama. Luckily, it’s up against some flimsy competition – Boston Legal which has long since run out of gas and My Own Worst Enemy which will never get off the ground. In the meantime, we’ll still be watching Horatio, but we’re eagerly awaiting a decent alternative.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thinking About Direct TV – DON’T DO IT!

Complain to the FCCI’m stuck in the middle of a technological nightmare.

First, a couple weeks ago, I came home from a trip to the pool room to find that my pc had crashed. I lost everything – programs, emails, pictures. You name it, I lost it. I picked up a new rig from Office Depot. It has 500 gigs on the hd and 4 gigs of ram. With a 17” flat screen monitor, it cost me $593. Not bad.

Then, the following Sunday, my vcr died. I went out and picked up a new one at WalMart, but it didn’t work. I traded it in for another model which didn’t work either. A kid at Circuit City told me I needed to get a cable box because newer vcrs required a connection from the cable box. (This, I later learned, was a bunch of hooey, as was a lot of what I was told along the line by Best Buy, Direct TV, etc. etc.) I called Bright House and was told I couldn’t get a cable box with my level of service and that I would have to spring for an additional $40 a month if I wanted a box. Vindictive bastard that I am, I said “No, thanks,” and immediately logged on to Within moments I had called, explained to the girl rep my vcr woes, and signed up for their cheap $29.99 per month plan. By noon the next day, my satellite service was installed. I even slipped the installer a fin for helping me hook up my new LG, RC897T VCR.

Trouble was the VCR wouldn’t work. What I normally do, because my wife likes to go to bed early and I’m often out playing pool, is program our VCR to record a couple shows that we will watch early, after dinner, the next day. Well, what I couldn’t do is program the new recorder to record one show on FOX from 8 to 9 and then record another on NBC from 9 to 10. Correction – I could do it if I stood in front of the TV and changed channels with the satellite box at the times in question. Not exactly what I had in mind. I called LG customer service and spoke to someone in India who told me over the next 20 minutes how I could get the VCR to perform as I wanted. I programmed it last night and checked the tapes this morning. It did not work. The VCR only recorded the stations the box was tuned to. I called LG again this morning and spoke to someone who spoke English. After hearing my dilemma, she immediately responded that what I wanted to do was impossible because a satellite signal cannot be split. “Well,” I said, “why don’t you tell that to the guy I talked to yesterday.”

I’m pissed, now. I call Direct TV and tell them about it. They offer to sell me more equipment and to increase my monthly bill by another $5.95 for something else that would not quite give me the capabilities I was looking for. Oh, yeah, I had already upgraded my plan to the one with 150 channels because the $29.95 plan gives you nothing – that’s NOTHING! Anyway, I tell the girl to forgetaboutit, “I just want to cancel.” That’s when she hits me with the $347 disconnect fee. There was probably something in that agreement the installer had me sign to that effect. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave me a copy. “Do you still want to cancel?” “YES, I STILL WANT TO CANCEL.”

So, as of midnight tonight, the satellite will no longer be sending me beams. Tomorrow morning, between 8 – 10, the Bright House guy will be here to hook me up with a cable box which is what I should’ve opted for in the first place before I got the idea of showing the world how smart I am. To mollify Uppy, my frugal better half, I cancelled NetFlix to help defray our increased cable costs. Our next dvd will come from the movie cube down at WalMart.

Postscript: After the hookup to cable, my new VCR (or DVD-R) still wouldn't work. After a few calls, I hooked up with another young fellow from the manufacturer, LG Electronics. He told me the cable box was the problem. He instructed me that I could get the unit to perform the way I wanted if I bypassed the cable box. So, I went to Radio Shack and purchased a splitter and split the signal as it came into the house and sent one line to the cable box and another to the VCR. That did the trick. Honestly, I had never heard of LG before, but based on their commitment to customer service I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of their products in the future.

Update - I received a response from the FCC today, 11/03/2008. Here are the pivotal points:

"Billing and service disputes between customers and satellite providers are not subject to FCC jurisdiction...

You may file a complaint with the FTC. The FTC does not normally investigate or resolve specific complaints: they look for trends of patterns when an issue appears to warrant action."

In other words, I'm screwed.