Monday, August 11

Plus, My One-Liner About Dita Beard Doing Their Repair Scheduling Went Right Over Everyone's Head.

FRIDAY afternoon, the one-week anniversary of our phone and IP services repairing themselves a day before AT&T line techs were scheduled to get to them, they all went dead again, necessitating another round of pay-phone visits (this time the automated phone repair line refused to give me any Talk To A Human option, which is now my single-issue requirement for this fall: the first guy who says he'll make automated help services illegal, unprofitable, or the object of constant White House ridicule has my vote. Period. Easy as that. ) The Automated Repair System told me My line was fine! when it tuned out to have been neatly severed across the street from me, in all likelihood by the marauding hordes of electric company line clearers who were working there at the time, but possibly by one of the two lawncare-obsessives whose properties the thing traverses. Let me repeat that: the automated system told me a line which had been cut in two was operating just fine from where it stood, and the problem was in my head, or my basement. This follows by less than two weeks the Human-Operated Repair System informing me that My line was fine! when, in fact, the dial-tone power was out for an entire city block. In that, at least, one could trace some sort of electron-level truth: the line may have been fine, just not capable of operating, although such razor-sharp distinctions are rarely enforced in American commerce. But this time My line was not fine! Severed is not fine, by anyone's definition, even eBay booksellers. I did not call the Automated Repair Line for some robo-machismo. "Hello, my phone doesn't work." "Well, walk it off, dude! It's fine!"

At one point in the festivities I was asked to choose my favorite from a selection of Problems for which "1" ("one") represented "My phone has no dial tone".  And--do not get ahead of me--after answering in the touch-tone binary affirmative I was next asked whether I was calling from that phone. I swear I'm not making that up.

I was fortunate, though, in that this weekend the "news" turned out to be exactly the sort of thing network teevee does best: matching the inspiring stories of young American athletes who have overcome all sorts of personal obstacles in order to become monomaniacal commercial pitchman candidates to sappy background music, while intimating that any other country's athletes which defeat them are cheating (it's possible--barely, I think--that there's some other country where Béla Károlyi would be given air time to declare, "But Chineses is exploiting little girls!" But it's dollars to doughnuts there's no other where it would be managed with the assumption that irony was not just lost on the audience, but totally unknown); assigning blame for the war in Abkhazia to Russia, on the grounds that no country which wants to become a US client state could possibly be at fault; John Edwards, of course, (sorry for assuming you've heard something about it; if not, do sit down first); and, finally, interviewing George W. Bush as though there's anyone left in America who wants to hear what he says, or tries to say.

(My Poor Wife had to watch the Opening Ceremonies with available, fuzzy, over-the-air reception; I peeked in from the other room occasionally, whenever her ooohs and ahs would crescendo. And here's a thought experiment for you: watch a replay while imagining you're an aphasic, and try to figure out why Matt Lauer and Bob Costas are buzzing over the whole thing. They never fucking shut up! Now imagine your aphasia is miraculously cured. Watch again and try to figure out what they were saying that was so damned important.)

I am, as I mentioned recently in the matter of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, a life-long Track and Field fan, from the days when the inspiring stories were Glen Cunningham and Wilma Rudolph, who overcame real obstacles, not the First Cousin Who Couldn't Stop Hiccuping For Seven Years or Beloved Family Pet Which Died variety, let alone the Rafer Johnsons and Jessie Owenses whose obstacles weren't the sort mentioned in polite society. My enthusiasm got dry-rot when choreographed flag strutting* became mandatory, lost structural integrity when professionalism replaced amateurism** (the Russians are cheating!"), and is all but gone in an era when the entire record book is suspect.† I will watch next week in the same way another man might pause before a display of GI Joes at a flea market.

Imagine what sort of world we'd have to enter if such behavior was not rewarded, where prominent, revenue-generating exposure of a sport's governing body was taken away for egregious misbehavior or unbridled greed, and handed to clean sports with competition for the love and beauty of Sport, not gilt. Imagine one where soft-core porn for the terminally repressed teevee viewer did not supplant real sports,†† at least during sports festivals.  Try to picture what it would take to produce a global competition where every winner demonstrated respect for the other competitors, instead of turning the thing into a pantomime of martial superiority, with overtones of colonialism.§ Then you have some idea of what Change entails.

Fuck it. Just gimme somebody to answer the goddam complaint phone.


* How is it that the love of Sex, or Drugs, or Sex and Drugs, are psychological diagnostic categories, but the constant need for Reassurance by Bunting is not? Christ, if you masturbated as often as some people need flag displays you'd have no skin left on your hands, let alone Down There.

** I realize the Amateur Movement had a considerable number of problems, and was, in some instances, a complete sham, and that, furthermore, it was run, in the person of Avery Brundage, by the worst fascist dictator to not have his own standing army, but the idea that one corrects flaws in a system by throwing the damn thing on the landfill is simply beyond me; and the idea that one could advocate doing so and yet be unaware that the benefits would accrue to the very same people who were besmirching the old system beggars belief.

† I cannot understand how people excuse, condone, or even champion skullduggery in sport, especially those nameless leftists, cough cough, who do so when it's their ox whose abdomen has been exposed. How far beyond your own nose must you look to see how damaging that attitude is? It elected Ronald Reagan twice and George W. Bush once.

†† "Beach" "volleyball", the NASCAR of Olympic events. It's bad enough that the rules, and the point, of actual volleyball (now known as "indoor" volleyball to distinguish it from the slatternly, made-for-teevee impostor shaking its surgically-enhanced tits outside, as though the Catholic church started calling them "Female Nuns" to distinguish them from Sister Boom Boom) are, so far as I can tell, simply treated as minor inconveniences. I defer to no man in my appreciation of the female graces spilling out of half-hearted, minimally legal attempts at concealment, but this is the fucking Olympics, not a two-week Bud Light commercial (wait, what am I saying?). Women competing in pasties and a g-string is bad enough; everyone connected to the modern Olympic movement should be censured for that alone. But then the men, dressed as vacationing shoe salesmen from Ohio, are augmented by teams of precision pole dancers. This is the fucking Olympics! Reader, imagine you discovered, at a young age, a God-given talent for Team Handball, Canoeing, or Badminton. You hone your skills for a lifetime, giving up all other pursuits, free time, and the license of teenage hormonal insanity, granted only once, all to chase your Dream. You overcome all obstacles, including fourteen years sharing a room with your brother and his Uncontrollable Hiccuping. Finally you reach your place in the Olympic sun, only to be preempted by a Brazilian Wax competition put on solely for the enjoyment of people too repressed to buy porn. I ask you.

§ I don't have a footnote for that, you just don't get that many opportunities to type a §.


D. Sidhe said...

That was easily the most enjoyable rant I've read in weeks. Bravo.

Also, consider the possibility that the guy who could fix your phone problems is a regular reader here and is just having too much fun to bother.

Comcast continues to call and invite me to switch my telephone service to the very same company that periodically and for no reason leaves me without tv or internet. I've stopped telling them I have no phone (my usual response) and begun pointing out that doing so would leave me utterly incapable of amusing myself during said outages by calling them to threaten them with the various obscure but traditional punishments the gods have decreed appropriate for failed sorcerers and other technological gatekeepers who don't deliver. I gather they understand that and this is why they keep trying to sell me on it.

Tracy said...

""Beach" "volleyball", the NASCAR of Olympic events."

I think of it more as the Arena football of Olympic events. It also reminds me of the six-player baseball games of my youth, when you had no first baseman and instead threw to the pitcher on ground balls.

I've never understood why the players just don't dink the ball into the acres of open space at every opportunity. Seems much easier than trying to slam it down the opponent's throat.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't mention NASCAR when writing about the Olympics. It might give people ideas.

Anonymous said...

"teams of precision pole dancers" is quip of the week and it's only Monday. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'd forgotten about Brundage. What a memory you have!
I laughed out loud three times reading your rant-o-rama!

Anonymous said...

try to figure out why Matt Lauer and Bob Costas are buzzing over the whole thing. They never fucking shut up!

I didn't watch the whole thing, but I caught the beginning, and at one point one of them said something like, "We'll be quiet now, in honor of the moment" and then, not seven seconds later, they started talking again.

And no, the part of the ceremony they were honoring with their silence was not over yet.


A couple of days ago my internet was being slow, so I decided to try reseting the modem, because, hey, why not. What I forgot was that you need a code number to reinstall it after you reset, and I'd misplaced the piece of paper that had the code number.

So I call tech support and say, "Hey, can you give me my code number?"

I won't bore you with the details, but long story short, tech support tells me:

1. There is no problem.
2. If there was a problem, the code number wouldn't fix it.
3. And besides, the problem would be a glitch in your computer, and have nothing to do with Qwest.

The tech support lady then tells me to try using a program that does not actually exist. While I'm trying to figure out what program she MEANT for me to use, I ask why the internet was slow. Again:

1. The internet was not slow.
2. If it was, it was a problem with your computer. You should clear the browser cache.

So I say, okay, fine, I'm gonna hang up and fiddle with my computer.

So I look carefully at my bill, find a number that, while not labeled as such, is probably the code number, and as soon as I type it in I'm back on the internet.

Guess how much difference emptying the cache made.

heydave said...

I find that a nice cigar and more red wine after dinner makes the out-of-doors volleyball a pleasant diversion. At least until they get to that tandem diving thing and I lapse into full WTF? mode.

LittlePig said...

and the license of teenage hormonal insanity, granted only once, all to chase your Dream

Sigh. And I did that for academic achievement.

Boy, do I feel stupid. Would that someone take the poor Asperbergy kids (like myself) aside and relay the relevant information that regular people appear to get through the ether.

And tandem diving? tandem diving??. I thought I walked in on a SNL rerun.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been watching so I'll just say your imagined joke about Béla Károlyi was hilarious and no way am I going to believe it actually happened like that, because they have yet to certify synchronized drinking as a competitive sport and I just don't wanna. Also, my limited experience watching non-Olympic beach volleyball on the teevee has opened my eyes to the possibility that asses have never been this tight in human history. So, sport or not, that's some kind of progress.

Anonymous said...

Having now watched Three Whole Matches and learned that the favored US men's pair was beaten by Latvia, I feel sufficiently well-informed to comment on beach volleyball. The "uniforms" are indefensible and the game is a bastardization, granted. But if any of those women were surgically enhanced it wasn't by addition; all the ones I watched were lean as whippets.

Tandem diving, yeah. I've actually toned down my attitude about events that are scored by judges. I no longer hold that they should be kicked out of the Olympics entirely, just that they should be cordoned off to avoid confusing them with actual sports*, which are "judged" by stopwatches, measuring tape, or the ability of Side A to score against Side B.

*No disparagement of the athletes intended. Pound-for-pound the little girls in tights are stronger than NFL linemen, and are tougher and more skilled straight up.