I bought the Blokus game (which you can play online, too) from Amazon and it arrived yesterday.

Short a piece, natch.

So I called the customer service number they provided and a lady with a thick Texan accent answered the phone and…

Lady: How may I direct your call? Me: I’m missing a game piece. I’m not sure where I’d be directed for that… Lady: Is this the Blokus game? Me: Well, yeah. Lady: Okay, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to redirect you to a voicemail box where there won’t be a message. When you hear the beep, leave your name, address, and a description of the pieces that are missing and we’ll mail them to you. Me: Um… okay. Lady: Here you go. *beep*

There’s a missing piece hotline for this game. Yow.

We played anyway last night, faking the missing piece with a slip of paper, and it was a lot of fun. I recommend it, but keep the instructions around - that’s where the missing piece hotline number is.

The TV got returned to me at 11:00a today, still exhibiting the discoloration and distorted picture they took it away to repair all that time ago. They replaced the tube - it’s still there. Of course, now they claim it’s “factory spec.”

Interestingly enough, I requested documentation twice from the repair shop that showed my TV being within factory spec parameters. What I got back was a rather unhelpful invoice with my original problem description on it and any cost-oriented information blacked out and an equally unhelpful email saying, “The set is within factory specifications. You may contact Sony for those numbers. I asure you that all numbers are well within the ranges.”

That’s… that’s great.

Since the warranty company won’t help me because the repair shop says it’s factory spec, and the repair shop won’t budge on its determination of factory spec, my last ditch effort is to contact Magnolia A/V (where I purchased the set) and see if they will help me from a dissatisfied customer standpoint.

So far, I haven’t been disappointed. I spoke with the store manager on the phone and he promptly contacted their regional service manager, who, in turn, is going to contact the repair shop that “fixed” my set and find out their story. The regional service manager is then going to call me back tomorrow and talk to me about… something. Next steps? Tell me I’m screwed? Something.

This is pretty much my last avenue, short of small claims court (which is just going to cost the same as it would if I bought a new TV anyway) or filing formal complaints (which still leaves me a TV short).

A final, interesting note: When the repair shop guys delivered my set, they were curious why I wasn’t putting the set in the garage. They were under the impression the set was going to be switched out for a new one. I told them the story of how it’s now “factory spec” and they agreed that was a pretty fishy situation. Hmmm. Even the delivery folks from the repair company think it’s weird.

Okay, so we all know that my 300 pound carpet weight is coming back on Tuesday and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. (I’m going to try talking to Magnolia, where I bought it, but I’m doing my best to just move from the depression stage into acceptance.)

I went this weekend to rent a couple of movies down at Mr. Hygiene’s video store where I have the monthly video pass - I can have two movies out at a time for however long I want and I can rent as many movies I want in the month. The pass is good only for that specific location, even though the rental chain is country-wide. Fine. I got a note in the mail a week or so ago (conveniently like a day before they renewed my membership for the month) telling me the price of the monthly pass was going up. I was willing to accept that - it’s not a budget-breaker by any means, it’s just annoying.

Anyway, I went to rent a couple of movies and it turns out the location I rent at is closing. Today (Monday) is the last day for rentals and they’re transferring my membership “automatically” to their sister location a few miles down the road.

That’s a problem. The shop we were renting at was just on the edge of convenient as far as location. Moving my account for me to the next closest location a few additional miles down the road doesn’t help things. If it weren’t for the fact that they don’t refund partial months’ account fees, I’d go down there and cancel right now. Thing is, I rented two movies for $25 this month and I don’t feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth. I’ll probably cancel anyway and just eat the $25.

From a karma standpoint, I must be getting ready for one hell of a second half to this year. This first half has sucked.

media, movies comments edit

I rented the movie Closer this weekend. I wasn’t real hot on checking it out, but there wasn’t much else that looked interesting at the time and, hey, it has Natalie Portman in it, so how could I say no?

Loooong story short, the movie went like this: Natalie Portman, a stripper, randomly meets Jude Law, a writer, while crossing the street in London. They fall in love. Time passes. Jude Law gets his picture taken by Julia Roberts and somehow during the shoot they fall in love, but Julia’s reluctant because of Natalie, so nothing happens. Jude Law decides the best way to get back at Julia for not condoning his cheating on Natalie is to get in some sex chat with Clive Owen, pretend that he’s Julia, and convince Clive to go meet Julia. Clive meets Julia and they fall in love. You following this? Eventually you find out that Jude and Julia have been dating behind Natalie and Clive’s backs, respectively, and that everyone is lying to everyone else. Ridiculous fumbling about ensues and, in the end, Jude’s single, Natalie leaves London, and Clive and Julia are together.

I can see why the critics loved this movie. They always love movies like this. Movies based on poor communication. Movies that want to seem intellectual by trying to get you to think about the role that lying plays in even the most intimate relationships. Movies that you can imagine preppy folks leaving the art house and heading over to the local indie coffee shop so they can discuss the philosophy of this and the concept of that, generally making them feel like they are better people for having seen it.

(For reference, comments on the film at IMDB include descriptions like “thought-provoking,” “multidimensional,” and “rawly realistic.” I think the avant-garde film audience needs to step away from their computer terminals for a bit.)

Here’s what I got from this movie. First, don’t cheat on your significant other - it only leads to bad news. If you do cheat, just get it out there - maintaining the lie only seems to make it worse later. And, lastly, if you’re a liar and you lie about something really important (like your name), you’d better make damn sure no one’s going to find out about it.

In all, just pass. I mean, I love Natalie Portman and pretty much see everything she’s in… but I feel like I’d rather have spent the time watching The Professional again than have the pretentiousness of Closer waved in my face.