Wednesday, October 12, 2016

You've Gotta Have Heart

Forget talking about Trump and Hillary.  I’m going to tackle the more serious issue of, “how to recognize a Fabulous Movie”; using The Replacements as an example of a “Fabulous Movie”.
Sure, anybody can make a critically acclaimed movie with great script writing, great acting, great directing, and generally a lot of money and skill players.  But how does one make a Fabulous Movie with bad acting, a bad script, and stupid dialogue?  Well, all you really need is an underdog hero, a pretty girl, some humor, and some heart.  You gotta have heart.
I’m betting that when Gene Hackman looks back on his stellar career, he cringes thinking about this movie.  But I gotta tell ya, it is at the top of my “when-channel –surfing- around- I can’t -stop- watching it” list.  As I was cringing watching Gene Hackman deliver his “gotta have heart” line, I decided to ask myself why I love this movie so much.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:  when you have an underdog hero, a romantic interest, a few laughs, and – OK – a lot of heart; it is a winning recipe for saps like me!
This is obviously present in other story lines as well.  How many times has the Three Musketeers been remade?  And yet – I’ll watch and enjoy any rendition.  Because… it has an underdog hero, a pretty girl, some humor, and a lot of heart!!  I’ll take The Replacements, Three Musketeers, Mystery Alaska, A Knights Tale, or Remo Williams any old day ahead of the Godfather, Scarface, Titanic, American Beauty or A Beautiful Mind - all Best Picture Oscar winners!  (One may argue that Titanic meets my criteria.  But I get a headache from the amount of times I role my eyes trying to watch that movie – it is disqualified for numerous reasons, such as the lead male is prettier than the lead female, the sap meter tops a giant red wood, and he dies anyway.)
So that’s my simplified approach to recognizing a Fabulous Movie.  An underdog hero, a pretty girl, some humor, and heart.  For saps like me, anyway.  
I will close in the same classic way The Replacements closed.  With a classic song.
Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive (hey hey)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Have you Ever Noticed That?

My unread blog has been neglected - being unwritten on and all.  And I'm feeling a little irritated today, so let's play Seinfeld.
Let’s talk…. Politics.

Have you ever noticed that when someone likes one candidate more than another, they defend, forgive, and generally rationalize their preferred candidate?  And yet they can’t apply the same logic to the candidate they decided they dislike?

I don’t like that.

OK that’s enough on politics.  Let's talk, religion.

Way too often – the more devoted someone is to their religion; the more intolerant they are of other religions?  Have you ever noticed that?

I really don’t like that.

OK, that’s enough politics.  Now let’s get serious.  Fantasy Football draft.

While participating in your draft, have you ever noticed that as soon as you hone in on a particular player, the person drafting just in front of you always takes that one player you are focused on? 

I hate that.

And I miss my sister.

Friday, August 30, 2013

It’s been a year since I visited my blog.  Which means nobody has visited it for a year.  But as a follow up to the post from a couple of years ago in which I posted a picture of the Weiner-mobile, I felt inspired to give advice, in the format of “Dear Jabby”.

Dear Jabby:
I’m having difficulty with my husband, “Richard”.  “Richard” got in trouble a couple of years ago for texting his junk to girls.  When his shenanigans were exposed, it was really embarrassing - very public and humiliating.  But my friend and former boss said to wait it out.  It would blow over.  She’d been humiliated in public too, and they got past it.  And people, for the most part, eventually let it go.  So I blew it off.

Then a few weeks ago, it came out that “Richard” is still exposing himself.  I’m starting to think we won’t get past this.  There are a few basic differences from my situation and my friends.  My friends’ husband is smart and funny and has great communication skills and a sense of humor; whereas “Richard”, well, doesn't seem to have any of those things.  In fact, he’s a Weiner.

So I need advice.  What should I do?

Sincerely, Overexposed

Dear Mrs. Overexposed,
Sincerely, Jabby

Friday, August 24, 2012

Storage Wars

Having been bought, sold and acquired numerous times in my working world, helping out with the most recent acquisition seemed straight forward enough. And for the most part, it is as you would expect; chaotic and ever-changing. But I wasn’t prepared for the challenge of taking over a storage unit at Public Storage. Here’s how it has played out...

I am in California, where we are closing an office that we acquired from Marriott in a recent acquisition. I was informed that there is a storage unit used for old records (seven year rule) and we were wondering how much is there so we can pick it up and transfer it to our existing Oakwood facility. So I locate a file with an access code and some miscellaneous keys that I hope go to a padlock at the storage facility, and I head out to check it out.

When I arrive and try the code, it says the code has been deactivated. So I go in to the office, explain who I am, show ID, my card, etc.. They say, “oh I’ll have to check with my district manager to see what we need to do.” “OK, give me a call when you know”, I reply. So later that day they call and say they need a letter on Marriott letterhead signed by an officer of the company indicating that the transaction occurred that makes Oakwood the new owner of the company. Then I got to thinking, is anyone in the office in touch with the old manager? Maybe they have a newer code. Yes! OK, I head back to the storage facility. As I approach the gate, the girls in the office are looking right at me. So I approach and say,

“I have a new code from the old manager, is it OK if I try it?”
“No”, they say. I am not an authorized user of the facility and they can’t allow me to be on the premises. “And all codes associated with that account have been suspended.”
“How about you call the cell phone in your records and ask the former manager, who will verify all this and OK me entering the facility?”
“No, we’ve made a note on the account that he no longer works for the company”, they say.
“Based on the information I gave you?”
“Yes”, they say.
I say, “That doesn’t strike you as kind of absurd?”
“What?” they reply.
“The fact that you can’t take my word that I now work for the company that bought out this company, but you take my word that the manager is no longer working for the company?”
“Well, he doesn’t, does he?” they say.
“No, he doesn’t”, I verify. “Could you go on-line and verify the transaction took place, and then you can contact my company to verify I’m an employee?”
“No. We need the letter.”
“Could you just go look in the unit and tell me what’s in there?”
“No – we’re not authorized users of that unit”, they say.
“But you work here”, I reply.
“Doesn’t matter”, they say.
“This is how Storage Wars was created, huh?”
“What’s Storage Wars?” they say.

At this point, I’m starting to wonder about IQ levels.

So a week later, I return to the storage place, letter in hand.
“I’m back! Letter in hand.”
“I’m sorry, it needs to be notarized. And here is an additional form indicating a transfer of fiduciary responsibility, which we will need an officer of Marriott to fill out.  Payment has not been received in two months.  Could you pay for those two months?”  they say.
"Will it get me access to the unit?" I ask.
"No", they reply.
"Then I don't think I'll pay right now.  Did you used to work for the Department of Motor Vehicles?” I ask.
“What?, Why?”

I may never get in that storage unit.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Air Travel Ain't What it Used To Be

Yesterday we bought five airline tickets for our summer vacation. It was such a bizarre and unique experience; I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll start with a quick historic run down on the socio-cultural evolution of air travel.

Once upon a time, flying was considered special - exciting and even romantic. Stewardesses – yes I said it – stewardesses were trained to wait on the customers and make them feel privileged and special. And the airline was very focused on our comfort and convenience. We could even smoke on the planes (ack!). My parents raised their family during these times – and they still employ their flying clothes – khaki skirt, blouse and sweater for mom – slacks, tie and blazer for dad. Meanwhile, the next generation was evolving. As my job required more and more air travel, I developed exactly the opposite habit. Before catching that flight home at the end of the trip, I’d dash into a rest room and put on jeans and a t-shirt.

These habits are more a reflection of the state of air travel then my slovenly fashion taste (I hope). And so I go back to yesterday’s two-and-a-half-hour ticket buying experience. To be accurate, it is much closer to six hours. Here are the highlights:

On line search:
The on line search seemed fairly straight forward. But at Allegiant Air, they want to charge a little something extra for virtually everything. (Although I’d heard this before, it was truly a shocking to experience.)

Drive to Mesa Williams Gateway (twice)
In order to avoid on-line booking fees, I drove out to this remote secondary airport only to find that they only sell ticket between 2pm and 4pm, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. So we came back the next day at about 2:30pm.

The Line:
The line was about 30 people deep when we arrived. The nice young lady in front of us had a cooler with food and drinks, and a portable chair – like what you’d bring camping or to the fireworks - or to wait in line overnight for Justin Beiber tickets.  After about ten minutes, she set up the chair and started playing Words-With-Friends. (Insert Alec Baldwin joke here).  Eventually, we struck up a conversation with her, and found out we were going to be there 2-3 hours; and this is what we learned about how ticket sales are managed.

The two hour window is when they allow people to get in line - but the actual sales will last until the people in line get their tickets. But they only sell tickets when they have no one to check in for a flight. This turned out to be about 5% of the time. And although there were five people checking in air travelers, only one or two are trained and authorized to sell tickets. So in those rare moments there is a break in check-ins, most of the Allegianteers stand around trying hard not to make eye contact, because as annoying as this is to us, it’s downright embarrassing if you work there.

Luckily the people in line seemed to all have a sense of humor. On the rare occasions someone got to move up and buy tickets, everyone in line would cheer. This was good for our spirits as participants in line waiting; but further humiliated the impotent Allegianteers. When we asked a security agent for clarification about the procedure for buying tickets, he said, “you don’t want to make a fuss – they’ve all been working all day!” Seriously?

After two and a half hours, we got to the front of the line and got to buy our tickets. (woohoo!!). The ticket agent was nice enough, but here is how it goes down:
  • Check a bag? Pre buy, $25 – at check in, $35
  • Carry on? Pre-buy, $25 – at check in, $35 (unless it fits under your feet)
  • Isle seat? Fee
  • Window Seat? Fee
  • Want to sit next to someone you know? Fee (This was particularly interesting – if you are traveling with someone else, and want to sit with them, it will cost extra. The computer randomly assigns you a seat. It’s not open seating. So there is NO CHANCE you will end up sitting with your traveling companion(s) unless you pay extra for it. They have an algorithm to insure you don’t. 
All of a sudden, Southwest looks like a luxury airline. At Southwest I can sit with my family and each check two bags, and booking on-line costs LESS than any other way of buying tickets. And… the people working there are proud to work there.

I get it. By making the cheapest way to book the most inconvenient way to book, it drives buyer behavior. But it’s all bad juju. Nobody likes it. Not the customers. Not the employees. So we planned the trip this way and we’ll do this trip this way – a flight to Grand Rapids, MI from Mesa, AZ. But it’s unlikely we’ll ever do it again. It’s a form of bait-and-switch – which is scammer stuff. Or – you know – bad juju!

My favorite thing about the experience is this: the people we stood in line with were frustrated, but good natured about it. We all laughed and cheered and rallied – and it reminded me of a scene from a silly little science fiction movie from the 80's called “Starman”.  Jeff Bridges (playing an alien) says to Marian (from Indiana Jones), you know what is most wondrous and fascinating about you humans? (I’m paraphrasing). That when things are at their very worst, you are at your very best.”

OK – the line at Allegiant is hardly Armageddon. But still, I love the human condition – and believe most of us are truly at our best when faced with adversity. Or inconvenience. Or annoyance. Or Wal Mart . Whatever.  We are good at our core.  Thanks, Allegaint.  Assholes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The State of Banking - A Little Loony

I’ve had this Canadian $5 bill in my wallet for years. It’s cool – it has a hockey player on it! But a couple of weeks ago I figured I may as well change it in for $4.87 American (the exchange rate that day on the Internet). So one Sunday while at the grocery store, I took it to the bank - a nice thing that banks now do, having branches attached to grocery stores with weekend and evening hours.  Unfortunately, they indicated that they could not do foreign exchanges; except Monday-Friday before 2pm.  I inquired why this is so – “If I can’t exchange money at the bank, I think you guys are slipping a little.”  (I had just called a couple lady's "you guys", which is a clear indicator I'm not from Phoenix - and a further indicator that where I am from, calling Canadian currency "foreign currency" is like calling Labbatt's "exotic foreign nectar").  They did not think my comment was funny.  They further indicated that they can only exchange it at those times because they use the exchange rate that the New York Stock Exchange uses; so obviously it must be while the New York Stock Exchange is open. I thought, but did not say, “I think speculation on the value of the Canadian dollar won’t fluctuate all that much by tomorrow – I mean, how much could you lose or gain in the exchange of 5 loony’s”?  The guard was inching closer.  Time to leave.

I sort of get it.  If I was exchaging 50,000 loony’s the difference could add up. Of course, I don't have 50,000 Canadian dollars – I have five. (I realize I am not using the term “loony” correctly. That is the nickname of the $1 Canadian coin. But I love that nickname – so I’m using it anyway in reference to the Canadian dollar in general.) So anyway, I thought it would make more sense for the bank to just set a limit on the amount that could be exchanged.  But banks being banks, they seem to be doing less and less for me - from a service standpoint. Not even the branch managers seem to be able to make a decision without picking up the phone anymore.  Provided I could locate and speak with the Branch Manager, I was confident that he or she would have parroted the same drivel about not being able to exchange 5 loony's while the New York Stock Exchange was closed.

Yesterday, I was passing the bank at lunch and thought I may as well exchange that $5 Canadian bill. It was well before 2 pm and the New York Stock Exchange was sure to be open. When I arrived at the counter and produced my exotic foreign currency, I was informed that they could take the bill, but I have to have an account with them (which I do) and the exchanged value would have to be deposited directly into my account.

This should be acceptable.  I am to receive the exchanged value that way.  But it also baffled me - and it also amused me.  So I replied, “I understand what you are saying.  But hypothetically, if I just wanted to exchange it for actual physical American currency, where could I do that?  My bank just seemed like the obvious place."  The look on the teller's face clearly indicated that my question was unnexpected, and a bit dissapointing, since she had already explained how it must be done.  Since the nice, attractive teller did not have a clue how to answer my question, a supervisor nearby stepped in and helpfully suggested, “I think you can exchange it at any time of day or night, 7 days a week at the international terminal at the airport.” And I wanted to, but did not, say “what do they know know at the airport about money that, you – my bank – do not?”  I was clearly talking too much.  The guard was inching closer.

And so I reflected – this time on the broader concept of the evolution of banking. When it comes to actually getting help from a banker they have become financially impotent.  (I am using the term "banker" to indicate a live person working at a bank).  I'm finding that many face to face or phone interchanges with "bankers" end with them instructing, “I can’t do that, but you can do it on-line or at an ATM.”  Great! You are an impressive individual who can talk, but that’s about it.

One upside in the evolution of banking is they seem to be a lot nicer than they used to be. But to what end? As I remember bankers 20-30 years ago, one could get a lot of advice and service and even decisions made about banking requests – but they were sort of curt and skeptical and even rude at times. These days, they smile and nod in complete empathy, but in the end I am left feeling a little like when I leave the Department of Motor Vehicles; where it is their sworn duty to send you away unsatisfied, in search of more information or another form.

So I've decided that my foreign exchange journey must be a sign.  The cool currency with the hockey player on it is much more entertaining than $4.88 US (today’s exchange rate).  So I’m just going to keep it forever.  Or at least until the volatility of the US and Canadian dollars make the exchange rate too attractive to ignore. Say, when $5 Canadian is worth $100 US.  Or as I said before, forever.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Say What?

I have this phrase I use when talking about flights from Phoenix to LA or Vegas or Denver, etc.., that it’s like catching a bus, because they go every few minutes and it’s pretty cheap.

I was reading the Chicago Tribune this morning and there was an article about how O’hare is the second busiest airport (to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson).  89.3 million people flew in, out or thru Atlanta in 2011. 923,991 flights.

That got me thinking about my phrase about flying out of Phoenix, and about growing up when flying was a pretty big deal, and someone saying, “some day, flying will be as common as catching a bus.”  So I’m thinking about this, and I’m thinking, “when was the last time I caught a bus?”  It may be back in about 1971, when sister Jude and I caught a bus for siblings weekend with sister Deb at MSU.  Where we convinced ourselves we were on the wrong bus, because the bus driver told us we were on the bus to “How!” and we couldn’t understand he was saying “Howell”; and that wouldn’t really of helped anyway because we knew we were supposed to be going to East Lansing and… wait a minute.  That would have made us 9 and 11 years old.  Boy.  Times have changed.

So any how – flying has absolutely NEVER been like catching a bus for me.  So let’s think of other phrases that are outdated or losing meaning or just plain confusing, but we use them anyway.  Here we go: 
  • Any how...
  • Is that all she wrote?
  • It’s not over till’ the fat lady sings.
  • Man Alive!
  • Jesus H. Christ! (I think I got that one from my mom?  I said it a recently and one of my kids were like, “What’s the “H” stand for?”  And I’m like, “Horatio!”
  • You are the cat’s pajamas!
  • No shit Sherlock (Never mind – I’m keeping that one.  I still like it.)
  • Holy Cow!
OK, now everyone join in...