Monday, September 17, 2012

Spending the Night in Vampire Land

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published Sept. 20, 2012] © 2012 

I’ve never been wild about night time in remote areas and all these vampire movies aren’t helping. 

Normally, of course, it’s not an issue because I live in the nice safe crime-ridden city.  If this hesitation about rural living sounds unreasonable, I would like to point out that with a few exceptions like King Kong (who was a reluctant city dweller), four out of five monsters, UFO’s, vampires, amorphous masses, psychos and parapsychological phenomena on your movie screen prefer isolated country settings.

Whether such creatures exist in fact is immaterial.  In the middle of the night in a woodsy setting they are alive and well in my imagination. 

We recently spent a long weekend in the state of Washington at a stunning but seriously remote address I will call One Forest Primeval.   Walking around in the surrounding woods, I half expected to see a coven of Twilight Saga Volturi materialize from the edge of the forest and size me up for lunch.

I do have to say that the Twilight series movies don’t move me the way the old school monster flicks did.  Maybe it’s a generational thing, but Godzilla will always be my guy.  And maybe it’s because the Twilight series is far less about vampires and werewolves than about lust.  For the record, I am not against lust.  In fact, some of the best moments of my life have involved lust.  But I’m generally only attracted to creatures of my own species.

Anyway, come dusk, I would look out onto the grassy clearing outside our window and realize that it was the perfect UFO movie landing strip.  If you’ve watched any sci-fi flicks at all, you know that UFOs have a penchant for landing in just such places and scaring the poor locals excretionless.   

Around 2 a.m., with the wind brushing tree branches ominously against the windows, I’d develop this sudden conviction that I was in the place that The Blob (Giant Ants, Mighty Behemoth, Boston Strangler, little green men with ray guns, Andromeda Strain, Ghost of Christmas Past, Edward Cullen) had singled out to first do its thing.

I guess what bothers me most about being one of the first victims is that in horror movies, it’s always a bit part.  Chomp, slosh, swallow, and you’re forgotten.  It would seriously annoy me to be relegated to a list of “also-eatens”. 

Of course, I’m aware that the demise of the first few victims is just a little dramatic intro designed to hold the audience until the plot thickens The Next Day.  That’s when the unwitting neighbor shows up to borrow a cup of sugar and wonders vaguely why the front door is (a) radioactive (b) splintered, or (c) full of giant teeth marks; investigates further (what are neighbors for?); comes upon the Scene of Horror (which even if the acting is really bad can usually be identified by the G-flat tremolo chord); and drops her cup, which shatters but miraculously never severs her anterior tibial vein, unless it’s one of those reality medical shows. 

 Laugh if you will, but I have a friend who didn’t take a shower for seven years after seeing “Psycho,” and I know at least a dozen “Jaws” viewers who never swam in the ocean again.  As for the Twilight Saga trilogy, I can’t imagine this is doing anything for Washington state tourism, except for teenage girls hoping to run into Robert Pattinson at the Forks Mini-Mart.

 My husband, meanwhile, maintains that he loves the stillness, the lack of so much as a cricket chirping, the trees whispering in the breeze.  He doesn’t know they always get the unsuspecting ones first.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Time Warner Cable: Determined To Be The Worst

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published Sept. 6, 2012]   © 2012 

I can’t tell you the depths of depression I felt when Olof announced that he wished to add additional service to our Time Warner Cable Internet and TV accounts.
“Olof,” I pleaded. “Do not feed the lions.”

I have say in fairness to TW that our internet service has performed almost flawlessly (except, of course, when their cable TV technicians disconnect it while trying to fix our endless TV problems).   They even repaired the cable for free when Winston the Wonder Dog chewed through it during one of his early visits.
One of our fundamental problems is that the TV cable installation (done separately from the internet installation) was totally botched to begin with, requiring some dozen follow-up service calls, endless replacement boxes, and still has sound that cuts out and a picture that breaks up.  We rent an On Demand movie, pay for it, then get a message saying, “That movie is not available at this time.”  (Do they only have one copy?)

Time Warner Cable (their motto:  “We can’t fix anything”) has consistently earned its national bottom ten customer satisfaction ranking year after year. Every time I have to deal with them, I think nostalgically of the ever-reliable rotating antenna I used to have on my roof which actually produced a picture and sound.
So I told Olof that if he wanted additional service, he was ordering it and taking the day off to wait for the TW Cable guy. I even gave him the whole script:  They probably won’t show up when they’re supposed to.  They will not achieve what they are there for.  But when they leave, you discover they’ve broken something else.  They have this down to a science.

Olof, an innocent, says, “It’s a really straight-forward installation.  I don’t see how they can mess this up.”
I was intentionally out during the appointment time.  When I came home, Olof was looking very unhappy.  He’d told them when he made the appointment that all our TW Cable wiring had been run under the house because of our fragile plaster walls. But the guy who shows up says he doesn’t go under the houses.  Plaster walls or nothing.  He leaves. 

Olof, a TW Cable virgin, has forgotten to make sure that everything else works before letting the cable guy escape.  Sure enough, our TV service is out.
I call and get Clint. Clint promises 100% absolutely that someone will come back by 7 p.m. to do the new installation and restore our cable TV service.  It is currently 11 a.m.

We call throughout the day.  Not to worry, they say.  We’re on the schedule.
At 7:00 p.m. I get Brandy but ask for a supervisor.  Brandy promises that if I will hang up, a supervisor will call me back “in ten minutes.”  Like I was born yesterday?  “No, thanks,” I say, “I’ll hold.”  Twenty-five minutes later Brandy is back on the line.  Sorry, she says, all the dispatchers, technicians and supervisors have gone home.  They’ll need to reschedule installation and repair.  First available is Sunday, three days hence.

The next morning I am on the phone at 7 a.m. and get Jason, an alleged supervisor.  Jason promises me that a technician will be out between 5-7 that day to restore the TV service.  The new installation will have to wait until Sunday.  I ask why no one called us when they weren’t going to come.  He says their records show that the scheduled technician (hereafter known as “The Lying Bag of Sheep Dung”) cryptically noted that he was “unable to access area under house” and hence cancelled the call without ever coming here.

At 6:55 p.m., just as we are about to give up, a TW Cable guy named Avery shows up.  He agrees our TV cable service is out but is puzzled as to how that could be since the first guy never went under the house.  We are sure he is going to shrug his shoulders – it is, after all, Friday night - and leave in TW’s inimitable way but he is determined to fix this for us.  We are so dazzled we are speechless.  Is this really a TW Cable guy?  He finally dons his hazmat suit and crawls under the house in the now-pitch blackness and discovers that when the first guy had been tugging on the cable from the outside of the house, he had pulled it out from the splitter underneath the house.  Avery fixes this and voila.

Avery fesses up, however, to tripping over one of our above-ground sprinkler heads in the dark thus disabling our sprinkler system. He offers to pay for it.  We decline.  He’s honest to boot! If only we could just get Avery on retainer.

Meanwhile, Olof decides against the new installation.  He is no longer a virgin.  In fact, he’s feeling like he’s been violated by a horde of surly ninjas.  Even though we’ve kept TW Cable because they’re the evil that we know, we conclude it’s time for the evil that we don’t know.

Neither of us feels inclined to spend yet more time on hold with TW Cable to cancel the new installation call that was rescheduled for Sunday.  When they come, we’ll tell them we’ve changed our minds.  Take THAT, Time Warner Cable!

They never show up.