Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cablevision Sucks, Part 2: The Suckening

Around this time last year, I noted that Cablevision sucks. In a nutshell: Long Island's cable monopoly took a bunch of basic cable channels off of so-called analog cable (meaning that no cable box is required) and switched them to the digital tier, so you have to pay Cablevision another $70-something a year for a digital cable box to get them back. (That's per television, of course. Got more than one TV? Then you'll need multiple boxes.) And the company tried to palm it off, with misleading information, on the government-mandated switch to digital broadcast, which is finally happening this month. Recently -- and without adjusting prices downward, of course -- it took off another huge swath of channels, including AMC (so good-bye season 3 of Mad Men) and VH1 (so good-bye New York ... well, actually I can live with that) and MSNBC (so good-bye Rachel Maddow). But, curiously, not Fox News. Really, if there's one station I'd like off my TV, that's the one I'd pick.

But whatever. Cablevision is an awful, money-grubbing company that has also ruined Newsday, which used to be a pretty OK local tabloid. What else is new?

Here's why I'm angry anew: I wasted a perfectly nice afternoon with my parents, my voice getting louder and louder and louder and louder and LOUDER, trying to explain to them that no, you do NOT need a digital converter box because you have cable and only people with a TV antenna need a digital converter box and the reason you no longer can get MSNBC -- yes, my 80-something parents watch MSNBC and my 50-something brother watches Fox News exclusively (and, yes, please KILL ME) -- is that Cablevision wants you to pay another $6 a month per TV and no, Mom, your best friend who got a box and swears it's a digital converter box from Cablevision because of the mandated switchover, as Cablevision explained to her, did NOT get a digital CONVERTER box but a digital CABLE box and it has NOTHING to do with the switchover and YES if you want MSNBC back you (eventually) will have to pay an extra $6 to Cablevision (I say "eventually" because, oh, OK the company is "graciously" giving one cable box free for one year) but no, you DO NOT NEED A DIGITAL CONVERTER BOX, despite the confusing information being given to you by Cablevision ...

I'm sorry, I got lost in that sentence. Where was I?

Oh, yeah, right. Cablevision sucks.

(As a side note, I get a bunch of hits every week from people doing Google searches on the phrase Cablevision sucks. A number of them seem to be coming from within the bowels of Cablevision itself. Listen, folks, if you're a big company and you need to use your employees to monitor how much people think you suck (see the "When Twitter Meets CRM" sidebar here), there may be something wrong with your business model.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No, the replacement does not involve a monkey getting spanked

One of my work duties involves checking over the magazine's home page for typos and bad links.

This morning, as I poked around the site looking for problems, I got to a promo blurb for a report on "network chokepoints" -- that is, places on a computer network where applications grind to a halt. This was illustrated with a photo of a man's hand around the neck of a (rubber) chicken, choking it.

Yes, he was choking the chicken.

I stared at it awhile, in disbelief.

The following IM conversation followed:

Me: Um ... did you pick the art for the home page for the chokepoint story?

Editor: Yes. Bottleneck, chokepoint.

Me: Have you heard the expression "choking the chicken"? 'Cause I must say it's the first thing that came to mind.

Editor: No ... should I have heard it? Lemme Google.

Editor: Oh!!

Editor: Hmmm ... Well.

Me: What, you were never in junior high school?

(Postscript: She changed it. Immediately.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Truly appalling quotation of the day

From a this-is-how-a-magazine-gets-put-together piece in The New York Times:
Last week, for the June 1 cover, [People editor Larry] Hackett had four possibilities, including an exclusive interview with Bristol Palin, accompanied by photos of her in a high school graduation robe holding her baby.

"We're also on Farrah watch," he said. "At this point Farrah has to die. It's the only cover left for her." ...

Over the weekend, Mr. Hackett made the final cover call. There was no news on Farrah. "Out of my control," he said.

Well, you could try smothering her with a pillow, you ghoul. Yeesh. Perhaps it's best that I work for a tech magazine. At least we're not on Steve Jobs Death Watch.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When you're glued to the last page of a book, carefully extricate yourself before closing

Part of an occasional series in which we improve depressing or odd descriptions of vanity press books advertised in The New York Times Book Review by appending the phrase "Wacky high jinks ensue." All ad copy verbatim (except for the high jinks) from the May 24 issue:
Controlling Your Future. Life is unfair, the economy is out of control, and disaster can strike at any time. ... Wacky high jinks ensue.

Majestic Restoration: Taste of Hell, Glimpse of Heaven. In his stunning autobiography, [the author] takes readers to Heaven and Hell and back as he relives his near-death experiences. Follow him to the ultimate mental and spiritual brink and experience his wonder and terror. Wacky high jinks ensue.

The White Lion. Narrated by Xenu, the grandson of Mars and the great-grandson of Uranus, this devil slayer takes readers on his journey of rape, murder, and pillage as he defends the Earth's inhabitants from nuclear war and complete destruction. Wacky high jinks ensue.

The Adventures of Marshal Gabby Tucker. This exciting Western follows the Tucker family as they search for their kidnapped son, Lefty. The large family joins forces with local Native Americans to find the group of lost boys. Full of humor and adventure, you'll find yourself glued to the last page. Wacky high jinks ensue.

According to the rules of grammar, this last one suggests that you are full of humor and adventure. But it's good to have a sense of humor when you find yourself glued to the last page of a book. Obviously, you've been drinking and reading while situated near an open pot of Gorilla Glue (the only brand of adhesive used by The Velvet Blog). With any luck, someone has recorded this, and you will soon find yourself a YouTube star.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quotation of the day

This interesting fitness advice comes from Dane Cook, America's Most Inexplicably Popular ComedianTM:
His fitness kick began while he was making the 2007 rom-com Good Luck Chuck. But aren't comics supposed to be schlubby? "I always looked at it the other way," Cook laughs. "Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin -- they can be goofy, but they take care of themselves."

Yes, who can forget Pryor's 1980 self-help classic, The Crack Diet?

It's very slimming.

(Quotation from Entertainment Weekly.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sarah Palin speaks!

Ah, the mainstream media can't keep her down anymore -- she's writing a book for HarperCollins! Which is, you know, kind of mainstream.

From the AP:
"There's been so much written about and spoken about in the mainstream media and in the anonymous blogosphere world ...

As a side note, SyFy will be broadcasting Anonymous Blogosphere World next Saturday.
... that this will be a wonderful, refreshing chance for me to get to tell my story, that a lot of people have asked about, unfiltered," the Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate said during a brief telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Wonderful and refreshing? Is this a book or an ice-cold Coke?

And if she's been "filtered" so far, please settle in for a refreshing glass of pure crazy. Hold the ice -- we don't want to dilute it.
"In fairness to my family, this is going be a good opportunity for them, too, because there have been so many misperceptions out there about who we are and what we believe in, and I'm excited to get to put my journalism degree to work and tell my story as it relates to my family," said Palin, 45, who in 1987 graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in journalism.

Last time I checked, journalism did not have much to do with writing a memoir. Is she going to interview herself?
"Being a voracious reader, I read a lot today and have read a lot growing up. And having that journalism degree ...

For someone who despises journalism, she sure brings up her degree a lot.
... all of that, will be a great assistance for me in writing this book, talking about the challenges and the joys, balancing the work and parenting, and, in my case, work means running the state," Palin said.

"I've read a variety of books, and that helps shape my opinions and my views."

Upon being asked what books she's read, she replied, "All of them."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Word of the day


Used in a sentence: If one more person bugs me today, I will caterwaul till his eardrums bleed.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Why the Google ads are gone

Ugh -- I got a huge ad for a defense of (straight) marriage group, with photos of its titular spokeswoman, the beauty queen (whatever her name is), and Perez Hilton.

I don't need Google's pennies that badly.

Consider this a failed experiment.

What is that glowing orb in the sky?

Its rays feel warm on my skin. I think I like it.

And yet, when I dare to gaze in its direction, it hurts my eyes.

Obviously, this "Fire Sphere," as I think I will call it, has much power.

How wonderously strange ...

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Happy Mother's Day From Mr. T

Yes, I've run this before -- but think of it as a tradition rather than a rerun.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Quotation of the day

"Morale has dropped from ‘low’ to ‘I’d like to burn this place down’ ... which, frankly, I’m surprised was one of the options.”

ABC has apparently dropped the ax on its workplace comedy Better Off Ted, which is really too bad. It was an odd show, and I mean that in a good way. (The current slogan at the top of this page, "You couldn't pull off a caper ...," is also from the show.) There's a bunch of unaired episodes; I hope they turn up on a DVD set a la Wonderfalls.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hey, Joe. Whaddaya know?

Not much.

From a Joe T. Plumber interview in Christianity Today, excerpted in the Colorado Independent (emphasis mine):
At a state level, [gay marriage is] up to them. I don’t want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it’s wrong. People don’t understand the dictionary--it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do--what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children. But at the same time, they’re people, and they’re going to do their thing.

Oh, please, please, please find Joe's homosexual friends. I really want to talk them. I can only imagine the BBQs. "Hey, guys, great to have you here! Oh, get within 20 feet of my kids and I'll blow your heads off with my unlicensed Uzi. Burgers are on the grill and beer's in the bucket over there. Help yourselves."

BTW, when was the last time any black person has used the word "honky"? 1974, during an episode of Sanford and Son?

(Via a commenter at Sadly, No!)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bon appetit

Apparently, moving to Washington does odd things to your taste. Both these culinary insights come from today's New York Times:
But to focus on [Justice David Souter's] eccentricities -- his daily lunch of yogurt and an apple, core and all; the absence of a computer in his personal office -- is to miss the essence of a man who in fact is perfectly suited to his job ...

[Sen. Arlen Specter's] idea of relaxation: "I get back to my condo at 1 in the morning and have a martini, a frozen bagel and a can of sardines."

This makes me nostalgic for Bush the First's taste for pork rinds.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Postcard of the day

New York, NY
Dec. 1
8 PM


The local yokel taking a gander at the tall buildings

My advice: While taking a gander, make sure you don't get goosed.

Damned if I can read that signature. Any guesses?