Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bleepity Bleep Bleep.

INCIDENT REVIEW - Guy In Front of Me On 696 This Morning

Dude, if your car is fucking on fire, don't drive it and blow black smoke at MY car, which is not on fire.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Now I'll Never Go to Europe...

MOVIE REVIEW - Taken (2008)
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace & Famke Janssen
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Pierre Morel

Trivia: this is the second movie in the last week that I've watched that was directed by a dude with a French name.

I would go into a long discussion about the underground sex trade in Europe, and about how thousands of innocent young women go missing, kidnapped and sold into prostitution, but this isn't that kind of blog, and the subject makes me want to punch something. Besides, this movie was less about slave trafficking and more about being a badass and saving your kid.

Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a government operative (which department is never revealed) who has retired to try to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Grace). There's also his slightly bitchy ex-wife (Janssen) and her rich, nice, and lame current husband, who gives Kim everything she wants and is super old-looking.

Turns out Kim wants to go to Europe to follow U2's European tour. Do 17-year-old girls who wear bedazzled jean jackets like U2 that much? If I'd seen this girl on the street, with her heart-printed hoodies and Keds, I would've suspected she'd be more interested in Jason Mraz. But whatever. Bitchy Mom and Super Old Rich Stepdad have bought her tickets and sweet hotel rooms for this trip. Problem is, she needs her father to sign permission to leave the country, since she's underage. Bryan warns her that it's a bad idea, but after having a guilt trip laid upon him, he agrees to sign the paper.

Of course, all of his fears came true, or there would be no movie.

Day One: She and her idiot friend meet a cute-ish French boy as they exit the airport. They share a cab. He sees where they're staying. Surprise surprise, he's a bad guy! He alerts the Albanian crime ring, who then kidnap the girls.

Unfortunately for the Albanians, Kim is on the phone with her father when the kidnapping occurs; he traces the call, hops a plane, and heads off to rescue her.

Now, a lot of what comes next is incredibly improbable. But Jay-zus, it was cool. Liam Neeson kicked an assload of ass (and believe me, that's a lot of ass). I've always liked him as an actor - he's got this incredible way about him. He can play a tough guy who gets emotional without it seeming unnatural. That was important for this film; we had to believe what kind of man Bryan was. The look on his face when his daughter screamed into the phone was heartbreaking... then he flew to Europe and started beating the shit out of everyone in the chain of command. There's a particularly nice scene involving jumper cables that I found quite entertaining.

The daughter was a little too naive for my taste - she was too sweet and innocent. I hadn't seen much of the world when I was 17, but I was a cynical little bitch, so why is this girl such a Pollyanna? But whatever. She was a nice kid. I wanted him to find her.

As for the PG-13 rating, I don't think it hurt the film. It was violent, but bloodless. No nudity, not much swearing, and yet it still worked. I think that if they'd rated it R they could've upped the ante, but we don't want another Death Wish on our hands - pushing it further may have made it tacky.

I liked it. Go see it.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wank of America

SERVICE REVIEW: Bank of America

I've been dealing with Bank of America both personally and professionally for a number of years, having enjoyed a few of their credit cards/loans and having to deal with their bullshit on a regular basis because my clients have mortgages through them. However, up until August 1, I did not have a checking or savings account at Bank of America, and now I wish that were still true.

I opened a checking and savings there, lured by promises of $75 cash and an awesome ATM that swallows your cash and checks with no envelope and no counting. It counts it for you! What could be better? No adding up, no writing anything on an envelope, no getting pissed off about not having a pen or all the envelopes being gone when you want to make an ATM deposit.

Of course we were wary. And of course, the goddamn thing ate $900.00 cash - meant for my dog's surgery - without a receipt and without posting it to my account. The lady who opened my account for me stood there and watched the whole thing go down with great embarrassment; unfortunately, there was no one on hand who could open the ATM and give me my money back. "File a claim," they said. "They'll give you a temporary deposit until we balance the ATM."

File a claim I did. Receive a deposit I did. Write a check for the dog's surgery I did. Receive a letter in the mail today telling me claim was denied because they couldn't find the cash in the ATM I did.

I lost it. Most people have heard the phrase "blinded by rage" before, and I was the perfect illustration of that. My vision actually narrowed - little lights were popping all around my periphery. I was shaking. I could not speak. I called the branch, but of course, nobody answered the phone. So I called the claims department and impatiently pushed zero until I got to speak to someone.

I fucking UNLOADED on this poor woman. I don't even know what I was saying. I began to coherently (but assertively) tell her what happened, and it devolved into me screaming into the phone that if that $900.00 was not in my account by the end of next week I was going to lose my fucking mind. I think I even added a "Do you understand me" at the end of it. Then I started bawling, of course.

She was actually very nice and very helpful. My boyfriend believes that she was nice and helpful because I went apeshit. But still, she was nice and helpful. She put the claim back into active, elevated status and said the claims department would contact the woman at the branch who witnessed the demise of my deposit.

It took me 25 minutes after the phone call before I stopped feeling all wild. I ate a hot dog, did some laundry. Did some dishes. Plotted my revenge.

I've gotten angry with Bank of America in the past for various reasons with my line of credit. I've also gotten angry with them at work for their monkey business with my clients. But today was the denouement of many years of frustration towards epic-sized financial institutions.

TCF Bank would never have done this to me. They'd have opened the fucking ATM and given me my cash back that afternoon.

Funny thing is, the same thing happened at the SAME branch at the SAME ATM to a friend of ours, not two days after it happened to me. Coincidence?

Bottom line: Polite customer service? Yes. Bullshit policies regarding ATM fuckups? YES. Bureaucratic nonsense getting in the way of my enjoyable banking experience? YES. Going to be shutting down all contact with Bank of America as soon as my loan is paid off and the dog surgery business is over? FUCK YES.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Answer is Always Fire.

PRODUCT REVIEW - Allergy Buster Capsaicin Nasal Spray
Manufactured and developed by SiCap, a subsidiary of Dynova Laboratories

Let me start by saying that I have a terrible dust mite allergy. It developed several years ago while I was in law school and living in my parents' basement. Don't ever live in a basement that is too... basementy. You will develop respiratory issues. You may become shorter and more surly.

My allergy manifests itself in severe congestion. I don't get itchy eyes; I don't get the sniffles; I get get my nostrils blocked by gigantic chunks of hard, angry mucus. Of course, this is uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that nothing grosses me out more than snot. I swear to you. I have seen a million gory photos and movies in the years, and while overexposure tends to make me a bit queasy, snot is the worst. I have seen Dead Alive, Peter Jackson's directorial debut and "The Goriest Fright Film of All Time", and all the blood and lawnmower mutilations and leaky monkey bite wounds did not get to me, but there's a scene where some pus glops into porridge and gets eaten, and I want to die when I see it. I'm gagging right now.

So I've tried many things to help me out with this problem - saline sprays, nasal steroids, pseudoephedrine allergy medication, hot water on washcloths. I have a friend who is an acupuncturist and she poked my face all up. It worked for a day, but not longer. Apparently it requires repeated treatments... maybe someday.

For now, I continue to take pseudoephedrine, despite the fact that it can be used to make meth. Only a certain formulation works, which starts with a Z and ends with yrtec-D. But it makes me drowsy. Nasal steroids work, but they're expensive. What to do?

I saw Allergy Buster at Rite Aid recently when there was no CVS in sight. I decided to try it, despite the fact that it contains capsaicin, which is the substance in hot peppers that makes them burn your tongue. Naturally I figured this would be a fine thing to spray up my nose.

The instructions are easy - 1 to 3 sprays in each nostril and snork it up. The package goes on to state that "you may experience a powerful sensation which lasts a few seconds."

Jesus H. Christ(Pardon my Aramaic). The "powerful sensation" is a horrid burning pain that shoots behind your eyeballs and makes you cough and wheeze. It's true that it only lasts a few seconds, but calling it a "powerful sensation" is like calling Hitler misguided. Shit in your hat and wear it backwards, SiCap - your description is "misleading".

You may be thinking, "What did she expect, spraying pepper juice up her nose? What kind of person does this?" A desperate person. Poor breathing does things to you. It makes it difficult to sleep. It makes it hard to eat with your mouth closed. It makes you shoot pepper spray up your nose.

Truthfully, I did expect a painful experience and not a powerful sensation. And truthfully, it works - at least for a little while. For the same reason your nose runs when you eat chili, the stuff clears out your sinuses. It also contains nettle, which is supposed to deal with the allergy issue, but I found that it didn't really prevent me from getting any stuffier. I've used it once a day for about a week, and its long term effect is nil for me.

For a quick decongestant, though, it really does work, and it contains no oxymetazoline hydrochloride, so no "rebound congestion". If you can get through the burning and have no expectations of a long-term cure, it's not a bad thing to have around the house.

Bottom line: Stinging and burning? Yes. Lying on the package about the stinging and burning? Yes. Works as a decongestant? Yes. Causes rebound congestion? No. Long term effects? Probably not.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Want to Sleep Next To Daddy.

MOVIE REVIEW - Orphan (2009)
Starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, and Isabelle Fuhrman
Written by David Johnson & Alex Mace
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

I saw this movie on Monday night with my friend J, who is my horror movie cohort. We have a horror movie routine that runs something like this:

Horror Movie X comes out
Horror Movie X is in theaters for several weeks, causing the fervor to die down
J and I go to the theatre by J's apartment, which serves alcohol and has plush seats
J and I buy a large drink called a Snake Venom, which is a theme drink made for the film Snakes on a Plane, which I have not seen, and which is made from Midori, Blue Caracao, copious rum, sour mix, Sprite, and OJ and comes in a sippy cup
Food is purchased
Seats are taken in the direct center of the theater

Monday was no different. I got my hot pretzel and side of cheese in a carrying box. J got a hot pretzel and a side of cheese with no carrying box. I told her she could put her cheese in my box. Laughter ensued.

So the movie...

This is a timeless tale of a couple, Kate & John Coleman (Farmiga & Sarsgaard) who already have two children of their own (Maxine, a deaf grade-schooler; and Daniel, a pre-teen boy with Jo-Bro hair). A third child died in utero, and to fill the void, they decide to adopt another child.

They end up with Esther (Fuhrman), who is allegedly from Russia, and whose previous adopted family, the Sullivans, allegedly died in an allegedly mysterious housefire. We all know going in, of course, that there's probably nothing mysterious about that housefire, and that the Colemans are likely to go the way of the Sullivans.

Of course, Dad Coleman doesn't see any of it coming, and Mom Coleman, who is a recovering alcoholic, is kind of on her own. She does a little digging and discovers Esther is something other than she seems to be.

I actually quite enjoyed this movie. I've seen its predecessors (The Good Son, The Bad Seed) and there's nothing surprising here, nothing that hasn't been seen, other than some paintings with hidden blacklight delights and a mildly disturbing scene where Dad wakes up and smells the Lolita-flavored coffee.

I won't say more without giving away too much, but if you like horror films, you'll find this a pleasant sit. The children are actually quite good and not the least bit annoying, which is always a plus. In fact, the deaf kid was probably the best actor in the movie, and she says not a peep. The dad is an idiot, but not unlikeable, and the mom was decent. Esther steals the thing, though - how she managed to be sinister using sign language still boggles the mind. With her prissy Victorian curls, silly little tea party dresses and ancient Bible, she's like Children of the Corn done Northern Style.

Bottom line: Plot holes? Yes. Decent acting? Yes. Excellent villain? Yes. Deaf children? Yes. Stupid dads? Yes. Stupid nuns? Yes. Go see it. Drink heavily.


Maiden Voyage

Hello.... welcome. I've started this blog so that I may force my opinion upon those who come across it. I'm not sure where it will go, but I'm starting it anyway, out of ennui and ego.

My plan is to review one thing every day. It could be a movie, or a book, or a song, or a trend, or food, or some random thing I buy at CVS. If you happen across my blog, enjoy my nattering, and want something reviewed, feel free to email me at and if I want to check out said item, I will do so and review it (with credit to the suggestor).

That being said, I'm only going to review things I want to review. I'm not going to go watch some stupid movie I have no interest in for the purpose of reviewing it, for example. Let's delve deeper. I am not going to watch The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. I would die if I saw that movie. I would pull a Bon Scott if I saw that movie. Dead, drowned in my own puke.