Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Devil And The DVD

A couple of days ago, Valued Member of the WO'C Community The Minx begged us to cut back on the Robin of Berkeley posts and mix in a few deep-album cuts from Classic Crap artists like Dr. Professor Mike Adams, or Pastor Swank.  Unfortunately, while Dr. Mike is still cranking out imaginary encounters with easily flustered feminists, the Pastor has either doddered off into semi-retirement, or finally found a cocktail of anti-psychotics effective in keeping away the homo nups and the Muslim murderers global.

Then again, perhaps Pastor Swank has simply tired of the hurly-burly of political punditry, and is looking for new creative outlets.  Back in August he experimented with food criticism, in a piece devoted to "Maine's Munchiest Morning Bun," before delving into Charles Kuralt territory with a column celebrating that most American of art forms, the yard sale -- although it somehow devolved from there into a jeremiad about poisonous earrings and the advantages of snorting cocaine off infant car seats.

Anyway, today the Pastor serves up a Bombeck-flavored piece on treacherous household appliances. (Spoiler Alert: It does not end like the Twilight Zone episode, "A Thing About Machines," with Swank's Norelco razor chasing him around the house in a homicidal and tonsorial rage, so don't get your hopes up.)

Sometimes Life's Problems are Simple
I could not get the DVD working.
We had signed up with Time-Warner about a month ago. Now I slipped in the DVD. Tried to get it to show on the TV scream. But no show.
I've had Time-Warner Cable in the past, and I know just how annoying it can be when there's no show, and the TV is screaming.
I punched the TV's autoprogramming. That did its thing. Tried DVD poke in again and no movie showing up on the TV screen.
Unplugged all wires to this and that for the whole system to reprogram itself.
Tried DVD poke in again and still nothing showing on TV screen.
It would appear that a "DVD poke in" is like a 60s-era "sit-in," and if Pastor Swank really wants to see Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, he's going to have to listen to the disc's demands.  I assume they're on one of the commentary tracks.
Turned off everything. Started everything up again. This time DVD movie would appear on TV screen. But it did not.
DVD movies are a lot like the Second Coming of Jesus.
Went to personal phone book to find Time-Warner phone number-toll free. Dialed it on a Sunday afternoon not expecting a mortal. Got a mortal. Surprise. She was there in the technical menu slot. Nice.
Nice for you.  The mortal, on the other hand, had apparently fallen afoul of that flesh-digitizing laser from Tron.
I tried to explain to her that I had slipped in a DVD movie to watch but nothing happened. It simply did not appear on the TV screen as it had every time prior when I slipped it into its slot, then poked the proper buttons on DVD box and so forth and so forth.
She gave forth with such jargon at high speed that I tired out quite quickly. After all, it was a Sunday afternoon. I had not taken my deserved nap. I was tethered with complications prior to making the phone call. And now she was speaking a language from the moon.
"Thank you for calling the Moon.  Please stay on the line, and your call will be answered by the first available Cat-Woman."
She informed me to get my Time-Warner manual, look up this and that relating to something. As if I knew where the Time-Warner manual was. I store these treasures in nooks around the place where I later have no idea where the nooks are.
Check the crannies.  That's where I keep my nooks.
I do believe that the Time-Warner manual was actual. It was a part of our Maine cottage reality scope.
It's just like that scene in Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard are trapped for decades in a fantasy world of their own creation, until Leo realizes their only hope of escaping back to reality is find the warranty for the Shower Massage®.
But I actually had no idea where to start; however, I could not let on to that lady about that for that would have permitted her all the reason more to inform me to go fly a kite.
I think the mortal probably wanted Pastor Swank to read the manual because it also sounds like it was badly translated from the Japanese. 
I tried poking things again, per her jargon, whispering back to her her litany to me. Nothing worked.
While I'm all for the Pastor's attempts to stretch as a writer, I'm not sure this foray into erotica is really a good idea.  Still, it's better than the sex scene in Those Who Trespass.
Then I said in a soft, refined voice: "I don't mean to irritate you but I don't understand a word you are saying with your jargon. You are speaking too fast and in a language that I can't get hold of."
Well this is a switch.  Is it possible the Pastor fell through a wormhole and met his counterpart from another dimension, the Earth-2 Swank?
She permitted a Grand Canyon pause. I tolerated it. Then I broke the silence with this wisdom: "I have not found what you have related to me any help today and therefore will hang up."
"Do not even bother to inform me to fly a kite."
I thought of Butch, my computer guru who seems to know everything about today's high tech whatevers. I would see him mid-week. Could I wait till then or pant my breath dry in not seeing the movie via DVD?
Apparently it's the Unrated Director's Cut, with extra poking and more explicit litany whispering.
I thought of grandson who is in his early teens who likewise is part of the generation that knows everything by God's knowledgeable pattern placed within these urchins at conception. They seem to come onto the planet with a high tech equation imbedded in their genes.
O brave new world!  That has such urchins in it!
I prayed. "God, can you help me? I know that there are starving humans on the Earth who need your help far more than I do. And you have those who have just passed through death's door. They are there at the judgment seat of Christ tended to for their eternities. However, can you please show me the solution to this problem, that is, if it is your divine will to be so kind?"
"Your prayer is very important to us.  Please stay on the line and your prayer will be answered by the first available Supreme Being."
Then it was that I lifted the microwave out from the kitchen wall. You see, it hides the myriad wires that run from TV, Time-Warner network and other items such as a toaster. I followed the wires from the TV and Time-Warner contraption only to discover that one wire was not plugged into the outlet.
"I tried pushing the DVD into the toaster, but still the movie was no show."
I plugged it in.
Then I went back to the DVD player, poked in the proper buttons and - lo and behold! - there was a movie showing up on my TV screen.
How quaint.
So it was all due to an unplugged appliance.  This is basically the same plot as the MST3K short Young Man's Fancy... the Pastor should just consider himself lucky that he was finally able to sit down and watch The Omega Code, and didn't wind up married to a lipless loser named Alexander Phipps.


M. Bouffant said...

How has the Pastor survived our modern world long enough to get white-haired?

Chris Vosburg said...

The Swank One writes: I prayed.

Pft, that's some useless supreme being, can't even plug the Pastor's TV in for him. Next time you're shopping for a deity, be sure to get one that's handy with technical matters, and will feed the cat and take out the trash as well.

Re Young Man's Fancy, I'm reminded that in the early 60's, Southern California Edison was humping for an "All Electric Gold Medallion Home" in which the push-button age was realized in all its glory. And as a child growing up in the San Gabriel Valley, I learned just how slow and useless an electric stove could be.

Favorite Gold Medallion lie in the short: "Let's have hot chocolate; it'll only take a few seconds to heat the milk with our electric range."

Bill S said...

It may seem small of me to mock Swank for being so easily confounded by a problem like this, but c'mon. A DVD player isn't that different than a VCR, and they've been around for decades. So has cable television. The FIRST thing you do when something's on the fritz is check to see if a wire's loose.
But laying aside his stupidity, reading his Swanklish makes my brain hurt.

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Not to mention the corollary, Bill S: mortals on the other end of the line spend 98% of their time talking to the sort of idiot who pushes a button three times, gets nothing, and calls for the rescue boat. Rattling off "technical jargon", or asking grandpa to check his manual are open invitations to spend twenty-five minutes on every call. Which no one with eight hours experience on the Help desk would do.

This is why you or I, facing an actual technical problem, will, once we're connected, be asked to run through every simple explanation, despite having done this twice already before calling.

And I don't know what's worse: slagging off the woman on the phone because you're too stupid to understand her, or perpetrating the horseshit about how fifteen-year-olds have an innate knowledge of gadgetry which baffles every adult.

D. Sidhe said...

ProTip: Your first dosage is intended to gauge your responsiveness to a new drug, and to identify side effects before they are severe enough to do you permanent harm. It is almost never a sufficiently therapeutic dose. Go see your doctor again and get it adjusted.

Brian Schlosser said...

Scott, did you HAVE to show that picture of Alexander Phipps? Now I'm all squishy! You're such a book gook.

Pastor Swank is beginning to sound like a Dr. Bronner's soap label.

The Minx said...

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!! I was going to need LOTS of meds to survive any more of Robin of Berkeley's whining and paranoia. A bracing slap of Pastor Swank was just what this technologically tired, fibromyalgia drug flying woman needed.

I'm scared to go back to the old home of Wo'C; if I try to go there with the MacBook, I hear an alarm reminiscent of the Original Star Trek (the one that would send Uhura flying to the keyboard) "Red Alert! Red Alert!" Malware detected!! I will cry very hard if I can't have access to the Deep-Cut Classic Crap! I remember fondly the first post that I ever read on Wo'C; the one in which our befuddled Spiritual Advisor was getting beaten by his own vigor and was bitching because he had to drive The Amazing Mrs. Swank to the hospital to have her I.V. port removed. Ah! The classics never die!
Thanks so much, Scott & Sheri. I really needed this.

Love from The Minx!
P.S. How is the New book coming?
P.P.S. Avoid Riley and rub Moondoggie's tummy for me, please?

heydave said...

Regardless of the pharmaceutical details in the pastor's Swankbag, another adult might be just too fucking embarrassed to write, and so badly, about one's travails and triumphs leading up to when one plugs the fucker in.

word verification: fumarghly Precisely!

Rebuscado said...

I hope "God's knowledgeable pattern" is not placed on these "urchins" at conception but at birth.

Otherwise, abortions would be a way of erasing copies of (technical) God's knowledgeable patterns.

Jim Donahue said...

I'm stuck at the fact that he called the cable company because his DVD player wasn't working. Even my mom wouldn't do that. (And I say this after spending a good 45 minutes recently walking my parents through their new widescreen TV, mostly to no avail.)

BTW, Scott-- is the old Wo'C site dead for good? I've been listing both new and old URLs on my blogroll (and surely you get at least one hit a year from that) assuming the new one would be only temporary.

Scott said...

Brian: I apologize for the photo. Here, let me make it up to you -- have some pineapple juice...chilled just right!

Minx: the deep album cuts are safe. We've been transferring all posts (from the old old WO'C at Salon, as well as over here -- everything from 2003 to 2020 -- and we'll be putting up a link shortly for anyone who wants to poke around in the musty archives.

Jim, we'lI put up a post and make it official when the archives are finished, but I spoke to s.z. the other day, and we've agreed to make this place the new permanent home of WO'C. Over the years we've paid way too much to our previous host for unreliable service and laughable security (the last hacking was not the first, just the first fatality), and this just seems easier, seeing as we lack access to urchins genetically embedded with the high tech equation. Besides, s.z. has an exhausting and complicated enough life as it is, without having to frequently stop what she's doing to fight cyber-ninjas.

So please change your links and bookmarks to Blogspot everybody. And feel free to pick out a comfy chair.

Kathy said...

When I worked at Sears Service & Repair, the first question we asked complaining customers was "Is it plugged in?" If the appliance was dead, I advised checking the circuit breaker. About 1 in 5 calls this was the problem.

Brian Schlosser said...

Scott, I'll just take some SPACOM, if that's alright...

StringonaStick said...

I wonder if Swank's speech pattern is as incomprehensible as his prose, because if it is, that poor tech deserves a medal just for trying to understand him, much less help him.

bidziliba said...

Um, admittedly I'm not one of those urchins born with technical schematics hardwired to my cerebral cortex, but I have to ask, if the DVD player wasn't plugged in, how did he get it to accept the disc in the first place? I'm guessing either the pastor was poking buttons randomly and complaining that the disc he hadn't succeeded in putting into the player wouldn't start, or it was some other device in the chain that wasn't plugged in.

Green Eagle said...

What amazes me is Grant's unapologetic lack of concern with the fact that he reamed the poor tech support person for something that was his fault.

There's real Christian kindness for you.

It's a shame that he seems to have abandoned political commentary in favor of turgid religious garbage, because he could always be counted on to say something that would give us a good laugh.

Jay B. said...

While I initially shared Jim Donahue's bafflement: What does the DVD player have to do with the cable company? I eventually saw it for what it was, a parable of a searcher.

If I have to spell it out: The DVD Player represented prayer (how come it doesn't work when I try to use it?). The baffled jargon-laden Indian phone jockey was God (this gibberish you are telling me, what does it have to do with my prayers?). And the mystically unplugged chord represents faith.

Which simply proves that you can bypass God with color-coded input jacks.

Kathy said...

The unplugged cable probably was one of the 6-to-10 cords leading to & from the DVD player to/from the TV & other contraptions. Blast-My-Ass! we have a tv, dvd player, a "box" that connects us to AT&T Uverse, and amplifier box for (BIG scowl) surround-speakers (husband loves them. I think they're dolby, I know the sound is echo-y and weird). So we have 4 remotes, and another (hahaha) "universal" remote to switch on all the machines, and change the TV from "currently broadcasting tv shows" to "recorded tv shows" or DVDs. And don't get me started on downloading movies.

Like Swank, I get my kid to do it. It's not that I can't, it just isn't worth the trouble. I'm starting to just watch stuff on my computer.

Being on the receiving end of many calls like Swank's, he doesn't sound too bad. I've had customers slam the phone down (can't do it with Today's phones), scream at me for daring to suggest they check the power or connector cord, and once threaten to come down and "whip your ASS!". I hung up on him, and dammed if he didn't call back and say we were cut off! I gave his call to my Boss, who deserved it.

Li'l Innocent said...

Brilliant analysis, Jay B! This is just like John Bunyan!

And a note in the non-techie Pastor's defense: if it turns out the Supreme Being(s) really do decide to make its/their wishes known thru the medium of an Indian tech-support person on my telephone, I will probably remain as clueless as Swankster. It'll mean the outer darkness in the end, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

The other classic IT help question - "is it turned on" Inevitable answer- i hit the power button twice. My response - try hitting it 3 times

Anonymous said...

But nobody has asked the obvious question: Why is everything plugged in behind the microwave? Does he live in an efficiency apartment where the kitchen and living room occupy the same space? And there's only one plug for the whole place?

I'm an old fart, but I can't imagine calling the cable company due to my DVD player not responding to my pokes & repokes & all the prayers & screamings & so forth.

Also, my VCR player has started eating tapes. To whom should I direct my prayers and technical service calls?

Color me confused.

pearloftheprairie said...

That was my first vision - every electrical device in the living room routed across the floor with extension cords to be plugged into one kitchen outlet - then cleverly hidden by a 1987 microwave. And, being so inaccessable, how did one cord get unplugged?

The mind that produces that logic then produces his jumbled literary "style". Or, "garbage in, garbage out".

karen marie said...

I'm shocked that the Pastor gives his business to an anti-Christian corporation that makes employees work on THE LORD'S DAY OF REST.

Srsly, what's up with that?

Chris Vosburg said...

KWillow writes: The unplugged cable probably was one of the 6-to-10 cords leading to & from the DVD player to/from the TV & other contraptions

Trust me, TV power cord, read the clues. Service rep response should have been an inquiry about the TV itself-- usually there's a little light on the front that indicates whether it's on or not, and notice I didn't say LED or Power Indicator Lamp (that's jargon).

Other questions should have been along the lines of "are you seeing anything at all on the screen, even if it's only a text message like 'no input' or something else". I'm gonna cut Swank some slack and say bad service rep-- good service reps are born, not made, etc.

K, I used to repair computers out of my home in the eighties and fielded a lot of calls from folks with problems that defied all understanding, and slowly evolved a method of dealing with them that I like to think has enhanced my understanding of the human condition as no college course in Anthropology or Human Behavior ever could.

Now I am Chief of Engineering for a company that rents video and computer equipment to folks who make movies and TV shows, and field the same sort of calls from video operators on set who are paid a princely sum to hit the play button at the right moment, and I wanna tell you, despite their pro status, they suffer from Swank's dilemma as well. And because time on set is measured in millions of dollars, they are hip deep in flop sweat, so half the battle is to get their mind to stop racing like Swank's clearly was, although his need was to watch the DVD Newt sent him announcing his PAC fundraising drive or whatever.

That said, I am by no means exempt from the occasional forehead-slapping realization that the damn thing wasn't plugged in.

Chris Vosburg said...

Briggs & Stratton writes: And I don't know what's worse: slagging off the woman on the phone because you're too stupid to understand her, or perpetrating the horseshit about how fifteen-year-olds have an innate knowledge of gadgetry which baffles every adult.

Riley, next you'll be shaking your fist at clouds. Kids are the quicker picker uppers; it's simple fact that they acquire knowledge and new concepts more handily than us old farts.

Chris Vosburg said...

Anonymous writes: my VCR player has started eating tapes. To whom should I direct my prayers and technical service calls?

To World o' Crap, silly.

Typically the problem you describe is the result of either or both of the tape reels in the cassette failing to draw the tape into the cassette correctly, which usually means that the VCR's reel drivers aren't doing what they should, and this is usually because of a faulty idler wheel. The idler wheel swings back and forth between the two reel drivers, depending on whether forward or rewind.

If the idler wheel is rubber type (older VCRs), typically cleaning is all that is needed, use alcohol on a Q-tip to clean the rubber surface and the reel driver surfaces it comes in contact with. If gear type (newer VCRs), lubrication of the gear bearing is probably indicated (it may not swing as freely as it should).

Sadly, it'd be simpler to just junk it and buy a new VCR. I'm reminded that in the Andy Griffith show of the fifties, a guy named Emmett ran a repair shop, and was frequently found to be repairing items as simple as toasters-- inconceivable today.

Chris Vosburg said...

Jay B writes: And the mystically unplugged chord represents faith.

The Lost Chord.

Murfyn said...

Troubleshooting. God help me, I love it. My best goof was trying to connect the MP3 player to the tower with the USB connector. It wouldn't work and wouldn't work . . . I had two USB cords, one plugged into the tower, the other into the player.

Chris Vosburg said...

Murfyn, I'm going to show your comment to my Boss, who has a hundred cables under his desk, about a dozen of which are actually connected to anything.

I try to tell him that it simplifies troubleshooting to remove cables that are not used, but nothing doing. Don't get me started about the fifteen thousand programs he's loaded into Windows and decided he doesn't need but never removed.

Why he no listen?

Bill S said...

"Why he no listen?"
He no so smart like you is.

Nom de Plume said...

I'll probably get slammed for this, but a part of me was pleased at the vision of a phone rep, quite possibly in India, attempting to decipher the incoherent Pastor Swank.

Anonymous said...

I clicked the link, because that column is bizarre even for Pastor Swank. Wow.

guitarist manqué said...

We have a place in Maine, where we're from, but haven't been able to spend much time there the last couple of years. The idea that Swank is there and I might run into him at the bottle depository, the auto parts store or the dump makes me look forward to going back. Can you imagine how that would make one's week?

Li'l Innocent said...

Chris V., I'm with you on the young picker-upper vs. old farts thing, though I tend to attribute it to the same effect that Sherlock Holmes noted when he compared the human brain to a lumber(storage)room of fixed dimensions. Forty, fifty years of observant living and learning will fill it to the point where stuffing more stuff in takes longer. You have to re-arrange the piles, put in more shelving, label new cartons -- all that stuff.

Also, Chris, you sound like you may be the Ideal Man of my tremulous dreams! Should you be harboring an unrequited passion for elderly female cartoonists who are willing to shovel their own snow, within reason, let me know. It could be great!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

"God, can you help me? I know that there are starving humans on the Earth who need your help far more than I do. And you have those who have just passed through death's door. They are there at the judgment seat of Christ tended to for their eternities. However, can you please show me the solution to this problem, that is, if it is your divine will to be so kind?"


I think The Pastor's cord has come out as well, and the Time Warner Tech person will also be unable to help with that.

Chris Vosburg said...

Also, Chris, you sound like you may be the Ideal Man of my tremulous dreams!

I'm not too old to blush, and my heart is yours.

Thanks, darlin.

Chris Vosburg said...

Last add Sherlock's Instruction:

"I shall always remember her as the woman."

We poke a lot of fun at Conan Doyle's constantly changing rules for the Holmes psyche, and this is one that encourages the belief that Holmes thinks more or less like the rest of us-- unable to forget the stuff he'd like to let go of, probably the sunlight soap jingle he heard, or the pain of the rejection of the woman he once knew.

Conan Doyle was wrong-- it's not a storage space, it's a source of constant change and interpretation of the world around us-- see Sherlock's trifling monograph on...

...whatever the hell he was puzzling over.

Li'l Innocent said...

Well, Chris, you're totally cool and sweet. Let us fly, fly to the Isles of Spice and Liberalism! You can offer tech support to the local folk, and I'll do portraits of their dogs and children down on the beach. Hooray!

Anonymous said...

Hey, hey, hold up there, sister. If Chris is up for grabs, I'd like to put an offer in too.

I run an Internet cafe and office services joint in rural SAfrica and I NEED a tech support guy more than you do, me being an old Luddite and all.
The fact that I could also use Chris (drool) around here is just frosting on the cake. It's beautiful where I live, Chris, and your inner humanitarian would be truly contented.There's no money to be made of course but I know you are above material considerations, right?