Monday, July 26, 2010

Oh, Come ON!

I watched a terrible movie this past weekend. I did not watch the entire thing but I watched enough of it to know that it was a shitty one. The film in question was 2012 which came out last year and I distinctly remember saying to myself "Well, there's another movie I'll never ever watch." I spoke too soon apparently. The Wiff had recorded it off of HBO and it had been sitting on the DVR like a turd for a couple of weeks. Yesterday after she got back from running errands and doing some work she announced that she was "going to watch a movie". I understood that as "I want to be alone now. Go upstairs and let me watch this dumb movie in peace." See, it's not that I mean to ruin her viewing of horribly stupid candy-movies/TV shows, it's just that I can't help myself. I have to make comments and poke fun at the plot, characters, special effects, what-have-you in said movie/TV show. I don't WANT to, I HAVE to. I am compelled. It's a sickness.

So I went upstairs and let her be. But I got bored upstairs. When you don't have anything you really want to do, the internets can get dull super fast. I poked around on Hulu looking for a show I wanted to watch but got distracted by a game of Snood instead. After a couple of games I went on to YouTube to watch people falling off of things. That got old faster than anticipated. I made my way back downstairs and ignored the look that the Wiff gave me. I noticed it, I just ignored it. She was camped out on the couch and 2012 was stinking up the TV. I sat down and tried to keep my comments to myself. I didn't last very long. "Oh, come on man...they're on a huge, cavernous cargo plane and it's quiet enough to have a whispered conversation? So they're saying our car is louder than that plane?" Eye rolls from the Wiff. There was one scene later on with John Cusak doing his best Shelley Winters impersonation except he must have the lung capacity of an orca because he is under water for waaaaaay longer than humanly possible and when he finally comes up, he's not even tired. This is the same guy who needed a tiny French chick to help him rebuild a Camaro. Amazing.

The movie also suffers from the problem of computers not behaving like computers. Computers in movies make all kinds of extraneous bleeps, bloops, and whizzing noises. The graphics are always too flashy (especially for government computers) and although the operators have access to amazing amounts of information, they can never accurately predict anything. They can't even do a countdown properly. I know I'm supposed to suspend reality for the sake of entertainment but shouldn't the concept of time passing be the same? The movie did blow shit up nicely I must admit. The shiny-shiny-ness was palatable but the scale of some of the disasters seemed awkward, like a cut scene from a crappy video game. Plus, the whole planet is blowing the fuck up right? How come John Cusak gets to keep his entire family together throughout this shit storm? He even gets to hook up with his ex-wife after her boyfriend bites it in a rather nasty fashion. Can I just say that I don't like Amanda Peet? She always looks angry. Lighten up lady, you're in a movie.

There is so much dumb shit going on in this movie that it stopped being worth wasting my witty remarks on it, much to the Wiff's chagrin I'm sure. After John Cusak gives the Mayan's the middle finger and survives what I estimate to be a hundred different attempts to kill him and his family (did you know you could out-run an explosion? or drive through a building that's collapsing, popping out the other side unscathed? or you can sit in the bed of a pick-up truck as it drives through the goddamn Himalayas in WINTER and be perfectly cozy in just a suit jacket?), they are on the deck of one of the arks that were built in China (sure, they all survive the floods but they end up with lead poisoning) months after the disaster when his semi-retarded daughter says "Daddy? When can we go home?" Hey kid, did you not pay attention to when everything ON THE PLANET got fucked over? Hmmm? Did you miss all that? D'ya think that your McMansion on the fucking cul-de-sac survived? *Smack!* At least that's what he should have done. The need to put a pretty little bow on the end of this movie really just didn't make any sense. If the writers had made the ending dark and brooding (a la Battlestar Galactica for instance) I'd have a smidgen of respect for them.

I have a benchmark for shitty movies like this one. That standard is the movie "Volcano" starring Tommy Lee Jones at his robotic best and Anne Heche (before she went crazy). Volcano did what any movie that is this poorly written, acted, directed and filmed should do. It ramped up the crazy and unbelievable scenarios and became, in my opinion, a comedy. If you have never seen Volcano, rent it and enjoy (geologists straddling a super-hot fissure? Sure, why not. A guy melting in lava? Of course. A lava floe stopped by cramming a bunch of jersey barriers into a horseshoe shape? You betcha). I suggest that you watch it while drinking. As a matter of fact, you can do the Volcano Drinking Game. Every time someone dies while just standing still and screaming, take a shot. Every time someone does NOT die even though lava is pretty goddamn hot, take a shot. You could take a shot every time the laws of physics are ignored but you'd be shitfaced by the end of the first 30 minutes.

Since Volcano is so bad that it's good I have devised a rating system based on it. If you have a movie that is rated as 1 Volcano, it's a bad movie but you could watch it all the way through without saying "Oh, come ON!" more than twice. A movie that is rated 5 Volcanos is, well, Volcano. It's a pretty high standard of awful. This movie, 2012, I will give 3.5 Volcanos. I was going to just go with a rating of 3 Volcanos but since 2012 runs 2 and a half hours long, that makes it extra tough to take. A while back the Wiff and I tried having a "Bad Movie Night" and have some friends over to watch dumb movies and make fun of them. It kind of fizzled out after a couple attempts but I think we have to bring this back. Ooooh, maybe the first movie for BMN can be Taken. That stinker rates a solid 3 Volcanos easily.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I am Boring. Hear Me Roar.

A giant wave of dull has swamped the boat where I keep my interests and has washed away my creative urges. Currently my schedule includes waking up, getting ready for work, driving to work, working, driving home, watching some TV, and then going to bed. I could point the finger at the seemingly ever-present heat and humidity which has really become entrenched here in Boston. The weather is an easy scapegoat for me because as a fat dude, on a normal weather day I generate enough heat to power a small city. Now if you ramp up the temperature and humidity outside, then you could strap some kind of containment bell to the top of my head to extract the huge volume of heat blasting out of the top of my noggin. I'm pretty sure I could solve our nation's energy crisis if you just make me walk outside in July.

I can't with any legitimacy blame the weather for this current slump in activity. I just don't know what my problem is. I have a sense that maybe I'm just not as interesting as I had hoped I would be at this age. I'm not even sure how I thought that just by living the lifestyle that I have it would generate all kinds of wacky adventures and interesting encounters. I guess I just assumed that I'd have more to talk about than I do. But honestly my life is pretty stable and calm. "Stable and calm" does not make for hilarious hi-jinks. My work is going well and even if it wasn't, I have a policy of not talking about jobs that still appear on my resume. "Ooooh, so crazy things could be happening at work and you just won't tell us! Is that it?" you ask. Wait, what? Well, no. I mean, yea, stuff happens at work that might make for a good story but that's not the problem. If the story has nothing at all to do with where I work, then I can take it out of that context and tell it without violating my rule. Does that make sense? There are dramatic and interesting things happening to people in my life as well but these are not my stories to tell. I would never go into someone else's problems here. It just isn't the place y'know? Plus, I ain't no snitch.

What I need to do is get over or through or around this slump in which I find myself. I'll figure it out. I have a road trip to Montreal coming up at the end of August so that could certainly generate some weirdness. I have to go up for work but The Wiff is tagging along so that we can eke out a mini-vacation. I've never been to Montreal so I'm looking forward to it (not the work part though, that's not going to be much fun for me). All I know is that having this blog thing has been interesting. I'm so psyched when people tell me that they like it but then on the other hand I'm embarrassed when someone brings it up too. Why is that? I want to have people read this right? I mean, that's the whole point of putting these rambling diatribes up on the interwebs in the first place isn't it? I have to say that leaving Facebook greatly reduced the number of people who visit the site. Hmmm, should I put a Facebook page up for Flunky Boy so that people could be a "fan"? Would that be totally cheesy? Probably. I don't even know how to do that.

I'm going to do a 5-Song Shuffle here at the end to give this post some flashy shiny-ness. The caveat here is that the songs that come up have to also have a YouTube video associated with them.
  1. Big Dipper – Ron Klaus Wrecked His House
  2. The Ejected – England Ain't Dead
  3. TV on the Radio – Dancing Choose
  4. The Buzzcocks – What Do I Get?
  5. The Roots – Guns Are Drawn
Bonus round:

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Kitchen Reborn

Huzzah! After many months (ok, two months) and lots of stress and cash we now have a new kitchen/pantry in ye olde homestead! The final inspection is today and there are just a couple of very minor things to wrap up but I'm going ahead and calling the project complete! There, I just did it. Eggs all in one basket. Chickens all counted way before they have hatched. Cart squarely before the horse. Let's plow ahead shall we?

Behold a whole slew of before, during, and after pictures of the project. Click on the pics for larger versions:

The pantry window with the old sink and dark cabinets.
The new pantry window with new sink, countertops and cabinets.
View of the right-hand cabinets and the old sink unit thing.
Same area during the renovation.

Same view after with new countertop, cabinets and lighting.
The nasty old metal sink and cabinet unit.

Zoinks! The whole she-bang is gone!

Same area with the new cabinet base installed and the space for the dishwasher on the left.

Blammo! New counters, sink and dishwasher. Check out the tile work yo.

 A pic of the pantry entryway with the old pine bookcase that housed all (or most) of the Wiff's cookbooks.

 Same shot as it looks now.

An overview shot of the pantry and the mudroom (on the right). This is after we removed everything from the kitchen and put it all in the dining room the day before the project started.

Same shot after the job is done.

The stove area before the project started. You can see that I'd already started pulling down the shitty wallpaper by this stage.

In progress...

Looking better...

And done! Whew! That sure was expensive.

I'm so glad this is done and that it looks as good as it does. I wish we had had the entire kitchen floor refinished during the project but alas we did not. Ah well, another thing to add to the list. We'll get to it eventually.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Heat Ruins My Summer

It is stupidly hot outside. It's the type of hot that smacks you in the face and then drapes itself over you like a very unwelcome parka, clinging to the sheen of sweat on your forehead and generally making you feel less than human. When it is this hot I cannot function. Luckily (?) I work in an air conditioned office building but ye olde homestead is not so well equipped. We do have a few window A/C units to cool off 3 key rooms in the house (our bedroom, The Wiff's office, and the weird little bedroom where I keep my computer) but the rest of the house is all hot and bothered. From the weather reports that I have heard (quick tangent if you don't mind: I have a problem retaining weather information. I can sit and listen to a forecast and 2 seconds after the report ends I have no idea what the weather will be like for the next couple days. Dunno why that is but I thought it worth mentioning), we are unlikely to be getting much in the way of relief from this heat any time soon. Fantastic.

Being as it is so bloody hot, one could assume that the heating system in the house would be off right? The thermostat is turned off, all the windows are open and it's 89 degrees inside. Sounds like a reasonable assumption to me. Well, as it turns out we're both wrong. On Tuesday of last week we had the oil guy come in and service our boiler. One of the tests that the technician ran is called the combustion safety test. It's a somewhat involved procedure that requires that the appliance in question is turned on and allowed to run long enough to get to operating temperature. Why do I know about this test? Two reasons: 1) I'm a nerd. 2) I used to do this test as part of my job at CSG. After he ran the test and gave the system a clean bill of health, he packed up and left. Since I was on vacation last week I was glad to have the rest of the day to myself and so I continued puttering around the place.

A few days later on Monday (the 5th), the Wiff and I were cleaning in the kitchen (yes, the kitchen project is very nearly complete. We have a couple very small things for the contractor to fix and then there's the final inspection by the city. We expect that to go smoothly and I will post pics and stuff soon...I promise) when she noticed that the baseboard heaters were hot. "These are really hot." she said. "Pfffffffff." I replied. "Of course they're hot. It's like 95ºF in here." "No, seriously stupid, these are hot." she said. I'm not sure why she was so mean to me. I'm like a really swell guy and everything. "Is the heat on?" she asked. I leaned down and checked and sure enough the heaters were on. What the frick? I went over to the thermostat and made sure it was off. It was. I went downstairs and stared at the boiler. It sat there and gave me zero information. "Hmph." I was out of ideas at that point.

The Wiff then called the oil company and the guy said that he knew what the problem was and that they'd come out and fix it. Apparently the technician must have left a jumper cable on something in the control box so the guy on the phone suggested shutting off the boiler completely. Nice. Luckily it is hot as Satan's buttcrack after a game of "Fling the Sinner into the Pit" (a very popular game in Hell I'm lead to believe) so needing hot water for a shower is not a priority for the moment. Even though they said they'd be at the house yesterday, they called and rescheduled for tonight. I just hope that they didn't break anything or waste a lot of oil.

UPDATE: Turns out it wasn't the phantom jumper cable (or whatever) that was causing the problem. It looks like we have a faulty pump/check valve thing. When our hot water tank calls for hot water, this broken piece allows water to flow into the first floor zone and heat up the baseboards. Great. Now we have to have that damn thing fixed or replaced too. Luckily the technician showed us a temporary "fix" where all we have to do is shut off the zones in question and that will keep the hot water flowing only to the tank and not the rest of the house. Then in the winter, we'll just open those valves back up. Stupid house.