Friday, September 30, 2011

Son of the Year

I said "bullshit" to my mother today for the first time.

For some reason, my mom has a giant phobia/problem with profanity. Always has. You know you've made her as furious as she can possibly be if she ever resorts to it. To this point, I've managed to never use it around her (except for saying "bastardized" when talking about Spanish, and muttering "oh shit" when we crashed our car in 2004 or so). But today, I guess I got pushed too far, or she made me as furious as I can possibly be, I don't know.

Nobody under Thor's green earth can make me madder than my mom and dad. And they have some kind of speed-dial shortcut to getting me there faster than anybody else does. I went for a drive, worked on the show, ate a microwave burrito, went to the library, listened to an audiobook, took my nephew out to look for worms in the backyard, and talked to Big on the phone for half an hour . . . and I'm still mad.

Life is weird.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week II: Solar-powered Boogaloo

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the town library. We didn't have a library in the village where I grew up (there was something called the Bookmobile, that would come to the elementary school every other week or so, and not only could students check out books from the small bus, but everyday townsfolk could too), and in Los Angeles, it was just so much of a bloody hassle to go the libraries there (I went a couple of times, but it just made more sense to get my books at used bookstores, or buy them new and resell them when I was finished).

Lately, though, I've been grabbing as many books as I can, as well as audiobooks, and kiddie stuff for my nephew or niece. Unfortunately, they've got something called late fees, for when a book is overdue, and many of the books on CD are so in demand that, if I return an overdue one, they won't let me re-check it out. So, I keep them until I finish, and pay the fees.

But I was surprised today to get an email from them saying I owed $19.80 in late fees, and I couldn't check out or renew anything until it was paid. I'd made a trip to the library just this pass Saturday to return three books, because my late fees were over seven dollars. But I couldn't figure out how my fees could have more than doubled in three days (one of which was a Sunday, and probably should count fee-wise, right?).

My nephew likes to go to the library with me, so I brought him along, and he wanted to take a whole stack of books, but first, I told him, I had to get to the bottom of this late fees thing. I stood in the line, and the boy stood beside me, and I explained the situation and my puzzlement. The late fees are ten cents per day, so unless I checked out, what, thirty books, all overdue, the huge late fee made no sense.

The woman told me that one of the books I had returned had been damaged, a nature book about the life cycle of frogs (which I'd checked out for the three year old, not me). "Damaged?" I asked, not really getting it. "I just brought that back on Saturday." The woman told me that they'd only just noticed it was damaged, and that I had to pay for it because it was ruined from water damage.

Well, I suppose that sort of thing is possible, but I told her that if I had to pay for the book, I might as well get to have the book, and she agreed. She went to get it, and I didn't remember getting it wet or putting it anywhere it might have gotten wet, and wondered if, in the last three days, something else might have happened to it.

She brought it out, and sure enough, there were water spots on the lower third of every page. But it was a big book for kids, and it was far from ruined. "Well, I'll buy it, I guess," I grumbled, "But it's not that badly damaged, and I honestly didn't get it wet." The woman looked at me, and at the book, and decided that she agreed, and said she could waive the fee. That was a relief, and I said as much, as well as, "I can't imagine how it could have gotten water on it, since I brought it here in my car just the other day." The woman typed something, and a child's voice beside me said, "I dropped it in the sprinklers." "What?" said I. My nephew said, "The sprinkler was on and I dropped it in on accident."

Unfortunately, the woman was still sitting there, and she heard him say that too. Sigh.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

So, this weekend, I went out of town with my siblings (two sisters and a brother), as well as brother-in-law, cousin, and . . . friend of my cousin to a hotel and casino, like we did for New Year's. My sister had her birthday on Saturday, and that was the present she wanted.

It was a lot of fun, and we didn't stay very long (the whole trip lasted about twenty-four hours), so it didn't wear out its welcome, although my allergies went absolutely crazy on me, and I have yet to recover.

My sister took us to the Craps tables and we played that for a while, trying to figure it out (I'd never played before), and she ended up winning the most money out of us all (my brother lost the most money, which is sad since he's usually the lucky one and can't lose it all even if he wants to*), but I played Roulette for a while last night, and won back all the money I'd blown on Blackjack and Draw Poker, and then some.

Unfortunately, I hit a curb driving back this afternoon and blew out my two passenger side tires, which ate up all my winnings plus a great deal more. Sigh.

So, that's probably the best candidate for Stupid Thing of the Week, that I would win a little, but lose a lot with my lousy driving, but instead, I wanted to bring up an amusing experience we had at the Blackjack table. There were three or four different dealers, and though we didn't play long, they kept switching out/getting relieved by the next one. And each of these dealers was a little more uptight about rules or casino etiquette than the other. I'm not really experienced (or at least out of practice), so I didn't know you couldn't touch your cards with both hands, or put your drink on the table, or let your girlfriend touch your cards. But really minor things like placing your bet right on the word "Nugget" rather than above it or next to it, or scraping your cards to signal you'd like another instead of saying "Gimmee another" or "I'll take one more" were absolutely hammered into us with various levels of rigidity.

The worst of the dealers in this regard was a middle-aged Asian woman, who ran the table until I lost all my money, and sourly said things like "I no tell you how to play" when I'd ask, "Should I stay on a fifteen?" Math is not my strong suit, and she had little patience with me trying to figure out what Four plus Ace plus Three plus Seven was. Watching her try to explain how insurance worked confused me much worse than never hearing the term would have, and all of us evidently infuriated her when we laid our cards next to our chips instead of under them, or put them face up instead of face down (which didn't matter anyway since our turn was over).

At one point, a trio (perhaps quartet) of drunken twenty-somethings sat down at the table next to us, and they drew her ire more than we ever had. A loud, inebriated dude kept breaking her rules or not understanding her broken English, and she berated him and all of us for his behavior. "You no hate me, you hate game! If you hate game, you go and play other game!"

I thought he was a bit of a tool, especially when my brother told him how the side bet for a suited pair worked, and he snarled, "Are you trying to tell me what to do with my money?" But there was nothing he could do that didn't upset the dealer. She didn't want to pay him for having the matched pair because he didn't show her immediately, he was wasting time by not announcing he had busted the second it happened, and there's apparently a law against raising your cards a foot off the table to show your buddies.

"I no making the rules. All Blackjack like this," she said when he got frustrated.
She told him to watch his language, when he was disappointed she'd gotten a goddamn twenty, and when she got 21 and took all our money, he used that most ubiquitous of English words.
"No F-word!" she said loud enough for the other tables to hear. "You get mad if you want, you no say F-word at my table!"

The dude's blonde girlfriend looked at the dealer and said, "What about the C-word?"

The dealer said, "I no know bout that one."

To which, the dude said, "As in, you are a c**t."

I thought that was dang funny, but the little group of inebriates all got up and took off then, leaving just me and my brother playing.

In the end, since I lost every single one of my chips, I realize, they were the smart ones.

Rish "No Q-Word" Outfield

*That's no exaggeration. The last time we went to Vegas, my brother didn't want to have to stand in line at the Cashier, so he kept putting all of his winnings on Black or Red (or Odd or Even) on the Roulette table, just hoping to double it or lose it all . . . and the crazy bastard just kept winning. He'd do it again, and win again. Finally, my sister grabbed him and said, "I'LL stand in the Cashier's line, just don't throw away all that money!"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Babysitter of the Year: The New Batch

My sister's second-born child turned one today.

Yesterday, I was babysitting both of her kids, and the older one (as usual) wanted to play with the turtles. He loves the turtles like I love Cherry Coke, Indiana Jones, and feeling sorry for myself. In the kitchen, I watched the boy try to juggle a large and a small one in front of the toddler, who kept reaching for them.

At one point, I said, "Quit hogging them, give one to your brother." So, for some reason, he handed the larger turtle over to the baby, and for some reason, the child immediately put the turtle in his mouth. Well, nature fought back, and the poor boy began screaming as the turtle clamped its jaws down on the 364 day old's lip. I had to pull it off him and see if I could offer him comfort until his mother came back.

There were tears and there was blood, and yeah, he shrieked for a minute or so, but it was nothing compared to how he screams at night, each and every night, as if he just returned from a Japanese ghost movie marathon.

I had to explain why my sister's son looked like Joaquin Phoenix for his birthday pictures today, but what's worse, when I was carrying him around the house today, I took him over to the turtle tank . . . and he immediately reached for one. Sigh.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Non-buyer's Remorse

Human nature is weird. About six months ago, Sideshow Collectibles announced a statue of Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," coming later in the year. It was a large one, and if you ordered it off the Sideshow website, you'd get a swap-out vampire head for it. Spike was pretty much my favorite character on that show, and I wanted to pre-order the statue.
But I didn't. It wasn't cheap, and I had already pre-ordered another statue from them, so I didn't jump on it immediately. But I had plenty of time to gather up the cash.

At Comic-Con, I saw the Spike statue, and it was bigger than I would've guessed. Instead of making me think that was more bang for my buck, it made me worried that I would have no place to put it, and would have trouble shipping it to somebody if I decided to sell it. And was it really that cool in person? Wouldn't I mostly likely keep it in its box (because I had no place to display it anyway), and stick it in a closet someplace, like I have most of my statues? Wouldn't it be better not to spend the money than buy something and then have it collect dust in a closet that's already full to overflowing?

It became available to pre-order, and I had a window with it in there open on my internet every day since it became available. I'd look at it and weigh whether I wanted to buy it or not. I was buying another one, after all, and it would look lonely without another one beside it. The statue was cool, no question. But what if my financial situation continues unimproved, and I rue the day I spent so much cash on something like that, when I need it for food or crystal meth or child prostitutes or something.

The weeks became months, and I decided, around August, that it would be wiser not to buy it. It's just another THING that I really want, practically have to have, until I buy it and get it home, and wish I hadn't. I assume other people are like that, and it's not just me, but like Big pointed out in that one episode of our show, I am a freak, and nobody's like me.

So, I didn't buy it. I did keep the window open, though, just to keep the possibility out there, in case I, I don't know, stumbled across a suitcase full of cash in the rare occasion I leave my room. And yesterday, the item's availability on there went from "Pre-Order" to "Sold Out."

Damn, I thought. I really wanted to buy that.

Rish "Secret Shopper" Outfield

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's the opposite of a Master of the Macabre?

I keep meaning to mention it on the show, but over at the Horror Addicts website, they had a contest somewhat-recently, and I entered it. It was called "the Masters of the Macabre." The fun of the contest (and I hesitate to put "fun" in quotation marks, though I did consider it) is that only after you volunteered to participate did they tell you the exact specifications of the contest. Plus, everybody's specs were different. Basically, every contestant was given a phobia, a location, and an activity, and a story was to be written about it. It's quite clever, actually, though I could see a writer saddled with diarrheaphobia/Cleveland/wedding rehearsal throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

Regardless, my trio of requisites were: Entomophobia (fear of insects), hang glider, luau. It wasn't hard to come up with a story featuring those three things, but coming up with a GOOD story . . . well, that remains to be seen.Because I'm feeling melancholy today, I wonder if I really am much of a writer, and if not, if losing a contest or three is the best use of my time. I'm a person that's made a lot of mistakes (as opposed to the myriad perfect folks out there, I know), and because of my sunny personality, I dwell on those mistakes a lot.

Regardless, the webmaster and show host, Emerian Rich, has done a bang-up job with the contest, and you can check out my entry at this link. There are other contestants, who recorded their stories, and posted them here. Apparently, you can vote for your favorite. Enjoy?


Monday, September 12, 2011

Star Wars Changes

As y'all know, George Lucas* has implemented even more changes to the Star Wars Trilogy for the new Blu-Ray releases. This makes, what, the fourth wave of changes?

There's no point in complaining about it. That's being done all over the internet by people much younger than me (see, it's their turn. My generation wasted our breath on it long ago, and the ones who care about such things are already converted. And George ain't gonna be swayed. Not ever).

But in looking over some of the new changes, I don't find any as egregious as the 1997 Emperor scream, the 2002 digital addition of Dakota Fanning as one of the Bounty Hunters, or the 2004 replacement of Sebastian Shaw with Hayden Christensen, and there's actually one that makes the film trilogy better.

The scene is a slight alteration to the scene in the first film where the Death Star destroys Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan. It always bothered me that the world, home of the birthplace of the Rebel Alliance, would put up absolutely no resistance when attacked. In this new enhancement, we see that Leia was lying about her home having no weapons, and it makes the Empire seem a bit more quick on their feet than before.

Nicely done, Lucasfilm.

Rish Outfield

*Or is it Lucas, do you think? Or just a bunch of over-eager ILM employees looking for something to do?