Miss(ed) Manners

January 13, 2006

Miss(ed) Manners: Ground Gears

Filed under: Column,Humor,Life,Ramblings — missedmanners @ 2:22 pm

There are certain things in this world that annoy the ever loving shit out of everyone, for example: terror, hunger, drugs and poverty. They annoy the world so much that we actually wage wars against them. See, I have this theory that all actions are connected through a series of “Tolerance Levels.” Meaning, things only get done when the tolerance level to a certain annoyance reaches its Reeves/Swayze Point, or RS Point, or Break Point, you catch my drift.

Things like poverty, hunger, terror and drugs are such huge annoyances on the global level that the tolerance level was surpassed a long time ago and we as a human race totally went out to fix them. As far as I can tell, the effort is going swimmingly.

Then there are the things that are annoying on a personal level. These are the annoyances that drive us to get through the day. How annoyed you’ll be by your boss being mad at you for being late to work determines whether or not you’ll get to work on time. Whether or not your stomache annoys you enough to spur you into stuffing something nutritious down your gullet or how long your tolerance for stupidity will let you watch Laguna Beach are both fine examples.

But what about the things that just aren’t annoying enough to set your ass to movin’? These are the petty grievances that sour our mood, sprinkle sand in the old axe wound, piss us off. They’re annoying enough to make us complain, but not bothersome enough to make us want to do something about it. Listed below are just three of mine, why I hate them and why I won’t ever do a damn thing about them.

1) Mass Text Messages

Here’s two words everyone should know: Broadcasting and Narrowcasting. They’re pretty self explanantory, one means casting broadly, the other, narrowly. Some devices and forms of media are meant for broadcasting. For example, television, radio or a combination of alcohol and opinionation. Others were built with the idea of narrowcasting in mind. The telephone, for example, was supposed to be a point to point communications device. When Bell spoke those first words to his assistant over that wire he didn’t say, “Hey, everyone I know, come here, I need you,” no matter how sexy that sounds.

Now that we have text messaging capability on our cell phones, a whole new era of awkward and misunderstood communication has opened wide. While in the past it was only possible to talk to someone on the other side of the country, now you can spend ten minutes inputting single character after single character to let them know: “i lv u man@ c u l8tr!!#”

Somehow in the fanatical bloodlust that accompanies new technological revolutions it became alright to send one cryptic text message to everyone in your phone book. Imagine my surprise when, on Christmas morning, I received the following text message: HAppy X-Mas! It was from someone I hadn’t talked to in ages! Oh happy day! A true Christmas miracle, lost connections were being rebuilt, this person genuinely wanted me to have a HAppy X-mas!

Fast forward four hours and I’d gotten close to twenty text messages, some from close friends, many from numbers I didn’t recognize. The ugly truth set in. These people just typed in a message and sent it to everyone in their phone book, my cell phone’s innocence was lost. Not that a year of vibrating next to my balls hadn’t been losing a little innocence daily, but that’s besides the point.

Now, while this is certainly annoying enough to warrant a complaint, I’m not going to start blocking text messages. Mainly because I’m a sad and lonely person, and the validation that even a simple CC-ing brings is more than enough for me.

2) People Who Open Doors and Then Don’t Close them Even When They Really Ought To

Oh my God, this annoys me to no end. For two reasons, mainly. The first being that a door’s natural state of being is in the closed position. If doors were meant to be open all the time we wouldn’t have them. So when someone comes to my office, or a house party, or an underground lair and wanders in and doesn’t close the door I usually have to get up and go close that door. Why? Because of the second reason why this annoys me so much: The phrase, “Close that door! What, were you raised in a barn?”

I was raised near a lot of barns and I feel this really casts a negative light on all rural denizens. Why would you ever leave a barn door open? Then the goddamned cows would get out and then you’ve got cars running into them and then you’ve got to go to court for having your cows cause a three car wreck that paralyzed a little kid and you’ve got to sell the farm, stock and equipment to pay for the lawyer’s fees and you end up working at the local hardware store to support your crank habit. So, please close the door, for the rural crank heads.

and finally:

3) Cotton

Yeah I said it. Cotton sucks. Actually, as anyone who’s ever hiked anywhere will tell you, it KILLS. That’s right, this material is actually referred to as being a cold blooded killer. I’m assuming that’s because of its long association with America’s nefarious slave trade. It may also have something to do with how poorly it handles cold and wet conditions.

Wool is much better. Right before the holidays I picked up a wool sweater. It hasn’t left my back for more than a few hours a night since. I’ve worn it in the rain, in the snow, in the cold and in the warmth, and it’s awesome. Aaron Neville should be ashamed, fabric of our lives indeed. Fabric of our cold, damp and slavery accepting lives maybe.

Unfortunately, roughly 99% of my wardrobe is made up entirely of cotton, so as I mentioned before, this doesn’t seem to be enough of an annoyance to warrant change.

As stated earlier, annoyances are what life is all about. While the big ones like teaching evolution or missing white girls can incite change to happen, these little ones just go on happening. Maybe the world would be a better place with wool underpants and Star Trek style robot doors, but what would there be to get us annoyed enough to wake up in the morning? Robot bosses?

January 6, 2006

Miss(ed) Manners: Selling Out

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 5:00 pm

So Christmas happened like what, two weeks ago? And I still haven’t gotten my brothers their present. Remember when we were all thirteen and jobless and you’d feel like a big man around town if you wrangled together the cabbage to get your bro a new Sade cassette tape? Well those days are over, you’ve got a job now and you’ve got to get something befitting of your magnanimous nature.

Or you just want to get your brothers a gift that you’ll get to enjoy whenever you make the trip up north to spend the weekend and you can sit around playing with it in a dark smokey room instead of talking to your friends and parents, gazing endlessly at the high definition gore, explosions and hail mary passes.

Maybe you want to get your brothers an XBox 360.

Maybe you decided to get your brothers an XBox 360 two days before Christmas.

Maybe you’re a complete idiot.

Well, I’m all three of those things and that’s what happened to me. For those of you completely in the dark, the XBox 360 is Microsoft’s next generation gaming console, which hit the market just in time for Christmas.

Here it is:

The idea was all flashes of bright light and heavenly music, what a perfect thought. My two brothers, Jon and Dan, and I have always had a love of video games in common. When we were fighting over bunkbeds, we had Contra and the alien brain to destroy to galvanize our blood-bond. When our voices started cracking we had Mario Kart contests to sooth our raging hormones. When college came around we had Final Fantasy to remind us what being a virgin was like.

There I was, sitting in the great Mall of Crossgates outside of Albany, New York, with the means to enter into the next phase of our electronic brotherhood and no idea where to get one. Fortunately, I ran into my friend, Brad, a fellow 518’er who let me in on a secret,

“You’re crazy if you think you’re going to get one of those things.”

That’s what he said and he was absolutely right. Apparently, Microsoft made four of these things and stores taking pre-orders sold about forty five million. EB Games told me I’d do best to check them out again in March.

Here’s a tip for Microsoft: Men will lay down thousands of dollars for anything that will let them see the following either more often or more clearly: Blood or Boobs. If there were only men in this world, there would be two channels on television, the Boobs Channel and the Blood Channel. Just titties shaking and sacks of flesh exploding. It would be awesome. So, Billy Gates, take the time and crank out a few more of these puppies, because apparently they’ve got the market cornered on exploding shit.

But I digress.

It was right after Brad said those words that I realized I was smack in the middle of the Schwarzenegger holiday vehicle, Jingle All the Way. You know, that movie where Sinbad adds his particulalry hilarious brand of comedy as a corrupt, drunk postal worker trying to keep some power rangers doll out of the hands of Mr. Black Plow Man. It’s amazing, I suspect the Disney channel will run 24 hours of it next year.

I went to the following stores:

Best Buy, Wal Mart, Target, EB Games, Software Etc. FYE, Sears, K-Mart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Waldenbooks and of course, Circuit City.

Here are some of the responses I got:


“Yeah let me check in the back.” (This guy never came back)

“Our Holyoke, MA location might have one.”

“I heard someone found one at Walmart, and there was a fight over it and someone got stabbed.”

“This is Bed, Bath and Beyond, Sir.”

And finally:
“We have a shipment coming in on Monday, check back then.”

That was from one of the eminently qualified members of the Best Buy team. He was all goateed parent’s basement stink, but he sounded genuine. So I headed for home, where I printed out a picture of the 360, wrote some funny lines on it and gave it to the bros, stuffed in a huge box, because that’s funny. Right?

Christmas came and went but excitement was high. We made plans to head for the mall at 7 in the morning to beat the rush for what we assumed would be an onslaught of hungry Xbox looters. Alarms were set, met and showers skipped. We were on the road by 7:30, little sister in tow.

There was a line when we got there. We waited the extra five minutes for the doors to open and bolted to the Microsoft section only find scruff boy from two days ago sitting there, leaning against a stack of empty display only boxes.

“No.” He laughed. They didn’t have any. Of course he had no idea when they might be getting more in.

We were crushed. We dragged ourselves to the nearest IHOP and ate ourselves stupid. It was pointless.

But not pointless enough to keep us from spending the next three hours searching the following places for a stray console:

Wal Mart, Target, EB Games, Software Etc. FYE, Sears, K-Mart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Waldenbooks and of course, Circuit City.

Eventually, we gave up. I said I’d buy it online and have it shipped to them, surely that would be easy. After all, we’re in the future now, we’ve got iron horses and flying craft, the goddamned Human Genome has been mapped, so surely I can have an XBox 360 shipped to my brothers in rural upstate New York.


But I can enter an auction. I’ve never done any of these auctions that people seem to be making livings from nowadays. It just seems a little chance-y, you know what I mean?

However, from what I can gather I have two options when it comes to purchasing an Xbox 360 via an online auction: 1) I can spend $500 or more to get a real one or 2) I can spend $250 to get nothing and send a money order to some PO box in Geary, IN that will then be forwarded to some 16 year old in South Korea.

Like I said earlier, it’s been what, two weeks? and I still haven’t gotten my brothers a present, despite my best efforts to the contrary. While I’m sure they’re happy with just the thought (which I’ve heard counts), I feel I’ve failed utterly.

I understand the laws of supply and demand as clearly as the next guy, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t suck to get stuck in between them. And nothing makes an XBox suck more than knowing you could be playing with a 360 instead, if only you’d gotten your act together.

I’m off to go hit eBay again and see if that Park kid has returned any of my emails, I’m open to suggestions here.

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