Smoke on the Horizon

At night, in the tavern, strangers from the countryside speak in low voices,
telling black tales of madness and confusion.

The skies have grown dark and your beasts, possessing their innate kowledge of the greater world hidden from us, bay and snarl.

Your dreams are filled with the sound of drumming.

Make ready.

The Traveller approaches.

Really, you can’t buy great PR like this

Sprint Refuses To Reveal Location Of Cell Phone In Carjacked SUV

The car was stolen with a 10-month old baby inside.

“The deputies were told that Sprint had the location of the vehicle but that they could not disclose it to them because they needed to pay the $25 fee for a subpoena or fill out some forms,” said Stephanie.

Almost 2 hours later a passer-by spotted the SUV abandoned a mile away.

[…]

Riverside sheriff’s authorities were outraged that Sprint could have directed the deputies to the boy an hour earlier and did not.

Supervisors were told Sprint already has an emergency protocol that the employee in this situation did not follow.

Luckily, the kid was fine.

Hi, Mr. Greenberg, I’m SATAN, err Roy, is your daughter home?

Who knew Satan had such a friendly smile?

When deputies arrived, they found Roy Lee Henson walking with his boxer
shorts around his ankles and screaming wildly, according to the report. Henson then lunged at a sheriff’s deputy, the report said. Backup officers arrived and took Henson into custody as the man screamed he was Satan.

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You can learn more about Mr. Satan from
his press
clippings
.

Hi, Mr. Greenberg, I’m Patrick. Is your daughter home?

Say hello to Patrick, ladies. His turn-ons include spay nozzles that don’t clog, Def Leppard, and chicks with big racks who don’t press charges.

The Ohio man was nabbed […] for “abusing harmful intoxicants” as he attempted to make a purchase at Bellaire’s Dollar General Store. The 41-year-old Tribett, it seems, had been huffing spray paint and needed a refill. According to a Bellaire Police Department report, Tribett’s pupils were constricted and he replied slowly to their questions. Oh, and “officers observed the paint on face and hands”.

You can learn

more about Patrick
at (where else?)
The Smoking Gun.

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Yes, I know, we’ve met Patrick before. I’ve been going through the mailing list archives and I couldn’t start up a new thing without him. What would my fans think?

Besides, I don’t care what Kibera says, this is the greatest photo ever taken of
a human.

I wanted to like it, I really did!

So I watched

Serenity
a few nights ago.

Meh.

It was ok, better even than most of the crap science fiction movies that are released. Way better than anything George Lucas has done in twenty years.

I don’t want to be too hard on it because it wasn’t bad, it just… wasn’t great either. The funny bits weren’t all that funny, the scary bits weren’t all that scary, and the action bits weren’t all that action-y.

I liked the show, and looked forward to spending more time with the characters. The problem is that the whole thing just felt rushed. There are so many characters, and each of them just got a minute or two to do their thing before then we moved on.

Worse still, there were some plot points that were just dumb.

The ending was ridiculous, and <spoiler>they killed my favorite character</spoiler>. On one of the Buffy commentary tracks, Joss Whedon talks about how he always wanted to kill a character who is in the title sequence. His intent was to raise the stakes for the audience, and make the show more engaging. Ok, great, so you raised the stakes on me. The problem is that I like that character, and the story is less appealing without him.

It’s worth renting just for the feature commentary, which is a model of the form. Whedon is an engaging speaker and gives you enough detail that you feel like you understand better what a director actually does. He discusses nuances in the story that I hadn’t picked up on when I watched the movie, and it really leaves me disappointed that the show didn’t continue. I think, actually, that this might be the core of my problem with the movie. He’s created broad story arcs for all of the characters, and each is interesting. The demands of a movie, however, mean that he has to set up a dramatic conflict and resolution for each of them and clean everything up in 90 minutes. That’s not really enough time, and it feels shallow.

If you liked the show, it’s good enough that you’ll probably enjoy it as well. Heck, if you liked the show then you’ve probably already seen the movie. Go watch
Veronica Mars or the new Battlestar Galactica
instead.

If you haven’t seen the show Serenity is based upon,
Firefly, watch that. It’s out on DVD and it’s better.

Is Gruntled a word?

So I bought

this book
from Amazon. I am trying to convince Fruitbat and DarkMan that
Smalltalk
is the language of
the future
(stop snickering and check out
seaside or
croquet, I’m serious, you won’t regret it) and I want to convince them to try it out. I’m looking for some introductory material that isn’t either twenty years old or hopelessly nerdish. Stop rolling your eyes at me, it’s amazing how much you can get done with just…

Oops, sorry for the soapbox moment. I’m back now. All of that, while true, isn’t really the point of this story. The only part of that matters is that I bought a book.

DHL decided, for reasons known only to them and their dark masters, to deliver my book to a post office. I called DHL to ask why they’d done such a thing, and their response was that Amazon requires it. If I have a problem, I need to take it up with Amazon.

Not a big deal, you say, the post office is maybe six hundred feet from your house! Even you’re not that lazy! For the record, I am, but that’s not important right now. The post office they delivered it to is not the one six hundred feet from my house. They delivered it, again for reasons unknown, to a post office that is downtown and to which I will have to drive. Not exactly a Khmer Rouge killed half the population of my town sort of problem but I was annoyed nevertheless. If I’d wanted to drive and get the book, the Borders is closer. Princess wants the book to come to me.

So I called the super-double-secret Amazon customer support line (which I found on
a blog — 800-201-7575 — love the blogs).

They picked up on the first ring.

I got as far as “they shipped it to a post office box and…”, and the guy said, “I apologize, sir. We will ship you a replacement overnight at no charge”.*

You apologize? Wha? But what about all of the scathing stuff I’d worked out for you? I was prepared! I was left sputtering, “but they shipped it…”.

He was having none of it. “Do you have a pen and paper, sir? I will give you the order number of the replacement right now. We will ship it overnight at no charge to you.”

I feel… disgruntled, no wait not that, the other thing. Gruntled? No, give me a second, I know it: Satisfied?

Yes. Satisfied. I hadn’t prepared for this outcome. Break out the Asti Spumanti because he said he’d call and he called.

Amazon, baby. Go buy something from them right now. Your master commands it.

* Conversation reproduced from my memory. Given the other things that my memory tells me, it’s possible that I never called Amazon at all and the guy on the phone was just trying to get rid of me so he could find out what people want on their pizzas. Further given that I’m the guy who started off by telling you that smalltalk is the wave of the future, you’re probably better off ignoring the whole thing.

UPDATE: The pizza guy must have passed along my message. The book arrived, as promised, within 18 hours of my phone conversation. Holy moley! Amazon just got a customer for life.