Tuesday, July 31, 2007

EDIT: I Yam Gettin' This!

Okay, folks. I suffered through everybody's "Harry Potter Fetish" posts last week, now it's my turn!

Today, the first POPEYE THE SAILOR DVD set finally hits the retail shelves around the country. Unlike that Potter book, there have been no "minute after midnight" hyped-up "events." I'm just going to wait until after work and drive over to the Best Buy and purchase it.

I've only briefly mentioned my cartoon mania on this blog, but I am a cartoon nerd. There, I've said it!

The black and white Popeye cartoons, specifically, started me down this path of nerdom, oh so many years ago. Maybe sometime I'll do a long post about my Popeye-centric obsessions.

But right now, I'm counting down the minutes until I can hit that Best Buy check-out line.

Well, Blow me down! Arf, arf, arf!

UPDATE: The van finally gave up the ghost last night! This stranded me at home with the Li'l One while Mommy was at work. Hence, no trip to Best Buy for the Popeye set. I'm pretty sure it'll be in stock for more than one day; I'll just try again some other time. GOSH! Maybe I'm not that big a "cartoon nerd" after all!

UPDATE #2: OK, I got it Wednesday. My moment of doubt is over. I yam a cartoon nerd (an' that's all wot I yam!)

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Dominos Continue to Fall

A short while after Michelle left for work, a thought occurred to me:

"What is the minimum balance we need to retain in our savings account per our agreement with the bank?"

I was so proud of myself! I called our local branch, gave them my account number and asked them.

"Two hundred dollars," came the reply.

Sweet! We'd be leaving at least twice that much on deposit until the VISA transfer could come through.

The phone rang. It was Michelle; she just happened to think about the very same thing!

Proudly, I told her that I had just called the bank and they said the minimum balance for our account is $200.

"That's funny," Michelle replied. "I remember it as being $750."

Spider sense is once again tingling. Even though I just called the bank and was told otherwise, Michelle is usually inerrant about these sort of things. I promised I would double-check at the teller's window before I made any withdrawals.

I was lulled into a false sense of well-being when I arrived at the bank with three-year-old in tow to find I could walk right up to the teller without waiting in line (or "on line" if you like to use that phraseology.)

I asked the teller to check my savings account and verify the minimum deposit requirements.

"Three hundred dollars," came the reply.

Uh oh! This doesn't match what I was told an hour before.

"Say, could you double-check that," I asked. "In fact, here's my checking account number, too. Does one influence the other?"

After tapping some computer keys, she came back with, "Oh, you have one of our older account packages. We don't offer this any more, so I'll have to get some help here."

The help turned out to be a sit-down with an accounts manager in her office. Again, the three-year-old is in tow, and she's getting antsy.

"Ah, yes, Mr. Davison, you have one of our old "Valliant SuperNova" accounts (I forget what she called it) and we no longer offer that anymore," she said as she was rifling through some dusty manuals. "It says here you have to keep $750 on deposit to avoid a monthly service charge of $11.95."

See? Michelle is always right about these things!

At this point Mariel is knocking over paperclips, wrinkling papers and causing a certain amount of attention-sapping mayhem.

"Oh, I don't mind!" said Ms. Account Rep. "I have one just about that age, so I'm used to it. Now, Mr. Davison, are you happy with your current home mortgage? Would you like a home equity loan? "

Sweet spirits of ammonia! Is there no one in Fayetteville trying to sell me something I don't want?

"Ma'am, we refinanced our mortgage four years ago and I don't want any kind of loan," I simpered. "What can do about my 'outdated' account package?"

"Oh, well, I can switch you over to our 'Free Checking' plan. That way, you can decouple your savings account and need only keep a $300 balance in it."

"Swell, " I replied. "let's do that."

At this point Mariel had pulled a huge "Afro" fight-wig from behind this lady's credenza and was parading around the office with it.

"Ha ha! Oh, she found the wig I wore when we dressed up as the Jackson Five last Halloween," laughed the Rep.

I'm entrusting my money to these people?

She set about clackity-clacking the keyboard to switch me over.

"Oh," she said. "I just thought of something. With this new account, you won't be getting your cancelled checks mailed back to you with your statement. Will that be a problem?"

Bam! My head hit her desk. Michelle is very vigilant about stapling certain cancelled checks to certain receipts. This could be a deal breaker.

"Oooh," I groaned. "I'll have to check with my wife. You're open tomorrow, right?"

"No, sir," replied the account rep. "Tomorrow's Saturday and we're no longer open on Saturdays."

"I'll have to get back to you," I mumbled as I grabbed my young perpetual-motion machine of a daughter.

I stumbled out of the bank and drove home to call Michelle at work. I laid out the most recent unforeseen twist. Would the lack of cancelled checks scotch changing over the account?

She was fine with that. (We'd have to finally set up an on-line account so we could view scans of the cancelled checks, so there was that much of a consolation prize.)

I made a decision then and there.

We'll go ahead with the checking account update, but there have been too many unpleasant surprises this morning. We're going to wait until we can do that VISA checking account transfer so that we have the cash in-hand before we buy anything.

Michelle agreed.

All that remained to do was call Mel at lunch time and let him know...
Dominos: GAME OVER!

Armed with my decision to hold off on our car purchase until the VISA transfer embargo has been lifted, I called the car lot, as promised.

Mel: Hello, [Insert Name Here] Motors.

Me: Hello, is this Mel?

Mel: Yes it is!

Me: Hi, Mel. This is Craig Davison, the guy who looked at that 2000 Taurus last night.

Mel: Oh, hello, Mr. Davison. So, how do we stand?

Me: Well, Mel, it turns out I won't be able to get my hands on that money for another thirty days. So go ahead and sell that car to someone else and I'll look you up once I have the cash in hand.

Mel: Um, may I ask what went wrong that you're not able to get the money?

Me: (I'm getting pissed here, folks.) No, that's my business. I'll look you up in a month once I have the money.

Mel: Well, could I make a suggestion?

Me: (Forcefully) No thanks, Mel. I don't want any more of your suggestions. I'll look you up once I have the money. Good Bye. (click)

Whew! Well, at least that's over.

Ring! Oh, there's the phone.

Me: Hello.

Mel: Hello, Mr. Davison. This is Mel. Listen, I think...

Me: (That bastard star-69'd me! It's Clobberin' Time!!!!) Listen, Mel. I don't want any more of your suggestions on how I can finance this purchase. I don't want a loan, I want to pay cash, understand?

Mel: But, I think we could... (At this point, he started to babble, non-stop, like some sort of chipmunk cartoon character. I pulled the receiver away from ear and practically swallowed the mouthpiece.)

Me: Listen. I don't want your so-called "interest-fee" loan. I don't want to take out a home equity loan. I want to pay cash. Cash! And you know what? I'm not coming back to your lot! You got that, Mel? I AM NOT COMING BACK TO YOUR LOT! I AM NEVER SETTING FOOT IN YOUR LOT AGAIN, MEL! YOU BLEW IT, MEL! BLEW IT! NOW, L-E-A-V-E M-E A-L-O-N-E!!!!

I hit the hang-up button and that has been the last I've heard from Mel.

What a week. All this and I still don't have a car!

Yeah, it'll be inconvenient to muddle through with one car for a month, but I don't think it's anything that will kill us.

And you know what?

They've been making cars for, like, a hundred years now. I'm pretty certain there will be plenty of used cars still on the market come the end of August.

Well, that's my car shopping saga to-date. Now, maybe I can get back to blogging about something more wholesome.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Dominos Start To Topple

As previously mentioned, we had decided to get a couple thousand dollars transferred to our checking account from our VISA card to help underwrite this car purchase. I had called from work earlier in the week and the only reason I didn't do it then was that, for security purposes, I had to call from my "home" telephone.

Since the customer service center is a twenty-four hour operation, I decided to call them Friday morning at 7:15, while Michelle was getting ready for work. That way, she'd know the score by the time she left the house.

I dialed the 800 number and got to a service rep fairly quickly.

I went over all the pertinent facts with the VISA person and they confirmed yes, there'd be a $60 (3%) service fee on a $2,000 transfer to checking. Yes, the interest rate is o.99% until March 3, 2008, after which it will go up to a fixed rate of 7.908%.

"Great, said I. "Let's do it!"

"Yes sir, Mr. Davison." replied the service rep. "In order to complete this transaction, you must first be calling from your home telephone."

"Oh, I know! I am calling from my home telephone," I said, because I was home and I was using our telephone.

"Well, the number coming up on my screen doesn't match the number in our data base."

FLASHBACK: According to the 800 number's automated account info, Our card has a zero balance and the last transaction was August first, 2001! We moved into our new house in July of 2001. Obviously, we had gotten the card prior to our move.

"Oh, yes," I told the operator. "We moved back in the Summer of 2001. Is the number in your data base [insert old number here]?"

"Yes, it is, sir." came the response.

"Well, our new number, since July of 2001, is [insert new number here]. Can you update the database?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, sir." she replied. "There, I've done it."

Whew. I was worried there, for a minute!

"Okay, now that we've cleared that hurdle, let's transfer the money," I suggested.

"Mr. Davison, the system won't let me proceed," said the service rep. "I think you'll have to call back, so that the phone numbers will jibe. Sorry about the inconvenience," she said soothingly.

"Oh, no problem. Thanks for your help," I said while reaching for the redial button.

I was connected to a (different) sales rep and I re-started the process by confirming (for the third time) all the amounts and interest rates. Everything rang true to the rep's data base info.

"Okay," I said, once again. "Let's do it!"

"All righty, Mr. Davison." came the reply.

After a couple beats the rep came back with, "Uh, Mr. Davison, the system's not letting me do this transaction."

"Well" I replied, "Is there a problem with my phone number? You see, I just had them update the data base because there was a six year old phone number in my card user information."

"Ah, that's it!" came the response. "There's a note here on your screen that says you just changed your home telephone number."

"Good," I said with a false sense of relief. "Now we can go froward, right?"

"Uh, no," the response. "You see, Mr. Davison, for security purposes, this sort of transaction cannot be completed until thirty days after you change your home phone number."

"Gnong, gnong, gnong!" I responded.

In a daze, I updated my wife on this unforeseen turn of events.

We huddled and came to a provisional agreement to go ahead and nearly empty our savings account (there'd be about $400 left), buy the car and then replenish the account thirty days later when the VISA transfer could be completed.

The spider sense was tingling mildly, but it seemed like a low-risk proposition.

Michelle left for work and I resolved to take Mariel and go to the bank as soon as they opened.

Next: What went wrong at the bank...


Friday, July 27, 2007

Danger: Falling Domino Zone!

UPDATE: The Dominos Star To Topple (Part Two)
UPDATE: The Dominos Continue to Fall (Part Three)

Wednesday, I took the afternoon off because my wife had to go down to the courthouse at 2:00, owing to a jury duty summons. (Well, someone had to watch our daughter while Mommy did her "civic duty!")

She actually got home earlier than expected, so we decided to make used-car hay while the sun was shining. We ended up at a car lot where we had bought her 1994 Dodge Shadow eight years before.

I'll condense this part of the story as much as I can. We tried out a 1998 Chevy Contour, which got the thumbs down because the key could not be turned in the ignition. I drove a 1999 Ford Taurus that was very nice, except for the fact that the AC blew out air that would melt shrink-wrap tubing.

"Oh, we'll get that AC fixed, if you're interested," the salesman assured me.

Another salesman came out of the trailer waiving a cell phone.

"It's Mel," said the phone waver. "He says he'll fix the air conditioning and let you have the car for $3,500. He really wants to close on this tonight."

Well bully for Mel!

I told him I would call him tomorrow after work to see if they were able to fix the air cnditioning, then we'd talk.

"Yeah, but Mel really wants to close on this tonight!" the sales droid repeated.

"I'll call you guys tomorrow, after work." And with that I drove off.

Thursday, after work I came home and realised I didn't have either the phone number or the Name of the car lot! You see I wanted to simply call about the Taurus' AC repair status rather than go back to the lot.

I finally decided to grab our TracPhone and hop into the van. I drove past the lot and got the name and number off the sign. I pulled into a strip mall parking lot and dialed the number.

What luck! I got Mel on his cell phone.

"Yeah, hey, Mel, this is Craig Davison. I was calling to see if you got that AC fixed on the Taurus."

"Oh, yes, Mr. Davison!" Melly-Mel replied. "The garage is still looking at it, but I'll tell you what. We just got in a 2000 Taurus SE today. It's a year newer, but I'll call the guys and tell them to let you have it for thirty-five hundred, the same as the '99. How's that sound?"

"Thirty-five hundred? Well, OK., I'll take a look at it" I replied. "I'm on I'm Skibo, by the Best Buy store right now. I can be at the lot in five minutes."

Long story short: I took it for a test drive, my wife drove it and we agreed that we were interested.

Back at the lot, I told them that I was interested in the Taurus, since Mel said I could have it for "thirty-five hundred." I also told them that I would need to know the total price, with taxes, tags and what-not, so I could arrange to get the money together.

The grand total came to $4,034.40. (The lot-lackey kept quoting a price of $3,599 rather than the "thirty-five hundred" that Mel kept promising. Um, that's like $99 too much, right? Ah, screw it. It's closing time and I wanna get the heck out of there!)

"All right, " I told him. "I have to get in contact with the bank. I'll call you tomorrow to let you know if I can swing it, as this is about $1,000 over what I had budgeted."

As I'm backing my car up, Lot Lackey #2 comes running out of the trailer waving the cell phone again and starts knocking on my window.

"It's Mel! He really wants to wrap this up tonight." Is this guy's name Deja Von Vu or what? "What's it going to take to get you to buy tonight?"

Me: I can't buy it tonight. I have to go to the bank and move some money around.

Lackey: Mel says, can you write us a check?

Me: No, I don't have the checkbook with me. And even if I did, the check would bounce because I have to go to the bank and transfer the funds.

Lackey: Mel says can't you do it on the Internet? You can use the computer in the office.

Me: No, I can't do it on the Internet. I'm not set up for on-line banking.

Lackey: Mel says that he'll finance the extra $1,000, interest free! How soon could you pay it back?

(This is really getting tiresome, folks!)

Me: I dunno. How long will he give me?

Lackey: Mel says he'd have to raise the price to $3,799 if he finances that $1,000.

Me: No, thanks. I want to pay cash.

Lackey: Mel wants to talk to you.

(Lackey hands me the phone.)

Mel: So, how'd you like the car.

Me: I liked it fine. Look, I don't want a loan. I want to pay cash. I will call the bank first thing tomorrow and start the funds transfer process. I will call you at lunch time tomorrow to let you know if it's going to happen.

Mel: Oh. So you'll call us tomorrow at lunch time. 'Cause I'll give you an interest free loan for that extra grand. Of course, I'll have to get $3,799, then.

(Yeah "interest free!" So what's the extra $200 for?)

Me: No thanks, Mel. I'll call you tomorrow at lunch time. Good night.

I handed the phone back to the Lackey, rolled up my window and drove home with a headache.

Then, Friday morning, the best laid plan of mice and men...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Prodigal Check Returneth

Ah! We got the deposit check back from the lying scum person who sold that car out from under us a couple days ago.

I guess I can rest easily now. Wait a minute! What's this in the comments section from my buddy allan?

...now they have your home address, your phone #, your bank account and routing info and a rough idea of what hours you keep at home.
Be careful...

Wow! Thanks for putting my mind at ease, pal! Guess I'll be sleeping with one nostril open after this.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

To The Spoiler Belongs The Vic!

UPDATED: Then, On Monday (Part Two)
UPDATED, AGAIN: The Kiss-Off (Part Three)

Well, the lying, cheating scum who took my deposit to
hold the 1998 Crown Victoria went and sold it to someone else.

Let's rant, shall we?

Saturday: I found the ad for the car in the paper and called the first of two listed numbers. A woman with a heavy accent answered the phone.

Woman: Hello?

Me: Yes, hello. I'm calling about the 1998 Crown Victoria you have advertised in the paper.

Woman: Oh, you must call back in forty-five minutes and talk to my daughter.

Me: Oh. OK, thanks.

A half an hour later the phone rang. I guess her daughter did the *69 trick, because I didn't leave my phone number. I told her I was interested in seeing the car and wanted to schedule a time where we could get together. She suggested Sunday morning. I countered with sometime in the afternoon, since we'd be busy with church in the

"How about you call me at 1:00, after you're home from church?" she suggested. Fine with me!

Sunday: At the appointed hour, I called the daughter-person.

Woman with Accent: No she's not here now. You call back.

On the next call I was able to speak with the daughter. She suggested we meet in the parking lot of a local park at 6:00. "OK, I'll see you after dinner!"

We met at the appointed time in the appointed place. As I was doing my initial once-over the daughter blurts out, "Well, instead of $3,200 (the advertised price) would you want it for $2,800? That's because the driver-side window needs to be fixed!"

"Sounds reasonable," I replied. "Let me take it out for a spin."

I drove to a local supermarket parking lot so I could look it over some more. In the glove box was the title, made out to, I guess her mother. It was listed as "Salvaged- Rebuilt." It was obviously an old police car of some sort. There was also a notarized slip of paper giving the daughter "power of attorney" to sell the car on her mother's behalf.

The odometer readings matched up with the title. Everything seemed OK and it drove smoothly. Sold!

I returned to the park and told the daughter I'd be happy to give her $2,800. for it.

I gave her a $50 check as a deposit to hold the car until I could get the money together.

She agreed to take the deposit but seemed disappointed that I couldn't hand over the full amount on the spot. I explained I have to go to the bank and arrange a loan; that's why I took down the VIN.

"Well, I have one other person I'm showing it to tonight," she said.

"That's fine," I replied. "Just let them know you've already taken a deposit on it and that if, for some reason I can't get the money, he can buy it if he's interested."

I wrote out the check and two receipts with both of our names, phone numbers and signatures on it. I gave her the check and a copy of the receipt.

"Uh, when will you know about the loan?" she asked.

"I'll probably have the money for you by Wednesday. I'll give you a call tomorrow and let you know when I've been approved," I replied.

"OK. Well it was nice meeting you. I'll talk to you tomorrow, then," she said (or words to that effect.)



Then, On Monday...

After reviewing our options, we decided to see if we could get a cash advance from one of our long-neglected credit cards. The thinking here was that we could avoid the whole loan process and then quickly pay off the balance using the proceeds from sale of the van plus some other "revenue streams."

At break time, I made a quick call to the member services department. Pay dirt!

The one card would do a direct transfer to my checking account with a 0.99% interest rate through March of next year. There was also a $60 fee, but that's no biggie. It would take a few days for the funds to transfer, but we could pull the money out of savings immediately, knowing that the cavalry was on the way.

One slight hitch: thanks to the credit card company's security measures, I'd have to do this using my home phone. Again, no biggie. I'd just call after work, as the member services line is staffed 24 hours a day.

Michelle had a good idea: call the woman who was selling the car first, to let her know we had the money ready to go. We could also arrange a time and day to do the transaction.

Car Seller: Hello?

Me: Hi, it's Craig Davison, the fellow who's buying your Crown Victoria.

Car Seller: Oh, yeah, hi.

Me: Well, I have the money all straightened out. Do you suppose we could get together Wednesday evening to swap plates?

Car Seller: Um... did I tell you that this car has a "salvage / rebuilt" title? I know I told everybody else that was looking at the car, but I can't remember if I told you.

Me: Oh, I knew all about that. I saw it on the title.

Car Seller: Oh. Like that can be a problem when you're trying to get a car loan. Are you sure you still want it?

Me: Oh, that'll be no problem. I already have the money. Yes, I still want the car. (Spider sense is tingling...)

Car Seller: Um, well there's someone else who wants to look at the car tonight.

Me: Well, just let them know that the guy who gave you the deposit is buying it. (Spider sense is more than tingling...)

Car Seller: Well, the car is yours, of course, unless someone else makes a better offer...

Me: (Spider sense is roaring off the scale, now!) Uh, no. I gave you the deposit and I have the money for the price we agreed upon.

Car Seller: Oh, yeah. Sure, sure. Um, look, can I call you right back?

Me: (Assumes the position...) OK, I'll be right here.

Car Seller: OK, I'll call you back before 8:00. (It's currently about 6:45.)

Me: Oooo... Kayyyy....

By now I have a very bad feeling as to where this is all headed. Luckily, Michelle had taken Mariel out to the store to pick up a few things. This was good, so I could sit quietly and let my head throb until...


The Kiss-Off

The throbbing of my temples was soon accompanied by the ringing of the telephone. It was Ms. Lying-Scum calling back to deliver the final thrust.

She started spewing forth the sort of transparent, weak-assed hokum you'd expect from a jonsing crack addict trying to hustle up her next fix.

Here are some bullet points:
  • "My mother sold the car to this other guy!" - Her mother, as previously noted, not only would not talk to anyone on the phone about the car, she gave her daughter the power of attorney to sell it.
  • "Well, he offered us $3,000 and you were only going to pay $2,800." - Hey, there, Mother Theresa, it was your idea to offer the car to me for $2,800! And besides, this isn't eBay; I gave you a deposit to hold the car for me!
  • "Yeah, well when we didn't hear from you by 5:00, we figured you weren't interested." - Um, I gave you the deposit because I was interested. Interested enough to buy the car for the price you quoted. And what's with this 5:00 jazz? I never agreed to some stupid 5:00 deadline.
  • "I couldn't call you because I lost your phone number." - Oh, you mean the phone number that was on the copy of the receipt you signed and retained along with the deposit check?
Me: Well, what about my deposit check?
Scum: Oh, I'll rip it up. We didn't cash it.
Me: (thinking to self) Yet.

Scum: Or do you want me to send it to you?

Me: Yes. Send it to me. Here's my address - [Gives address to Lying Scum Person]

Scum: Oh, yes, it's right here on the check! (Nice touch, It almost sounds like she hasn't cashed the check yet, doesn't it?) I'll mail it to you tonight.

Will I get the check back? I don't know. All I do know is that a person who is a big, fat liar told me she would mail it to me. It doesn't sound promising. I'll check with the bank to see what my "stop payment" options are.

As folks in the comments section have said, this obviously isn't the car I was meant to own. As of this morning, it's still listed as being for sale in the newspaper. Maybe they have a scam going where they take deposits and then don't sell the car. Who knows?

In the mean time, I'm still in the market for an automobile.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Car Shoppin'

I spent the weekend used car shopping. Yuck.

First stop was a local "car wholesaler" lot.

The salesman greeted me with a hearty, "We're a wholesaler, so the price on the window is fixed; we don't dicker here!" A sign in the office made it clear they don't "do" financing, either.

I tried out two vehicles, a 2000 Olds van (144k miles) and a 1995 Ford Explorer (185k miles). Neither really tickled my fancy.

"Well, Mr. Davison," said the jolly salesman. "What can I do to get you to buy today?"

Let's review: (1) You don't dicker on the price and (2) you don't finance.

"Nothing. See ya!"
A search through the want ads turned up a 1998 Crown Victoria with 49k miles on it! I arranged to see the beast at a local park after dinner last night.

Yep, it was white.

Yep, it was a "Police Interceptor" vehicle.

Yep, it's a gas-hog V8.

Yep, I gave the lady a deposit.
Now, to scrounge up some way to pay for it.

As recounted here, the old savings account has taken some major hits in the last nine months:

  • Emergency transmission repairs to the old van while wife and child were stranded in West Virginia.
  • Massive take-home pay cut to join the phony-baloney medical plan at work.
  • Wife's surgery.
  • Bathroom remodeling to get rid of the massive infestation in the walls around the shower.
And now, this!

With any luck, I'll have this all buttoned up within the week. It just means doing all those "car things." DMV - ugh! Insurance - ugh! Financing - ugh!

Wish me luck...


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pick One

UPDATE: Added "Sorry But I Gotta" underneath this post.


Doodle by Lee. The code for this doodle and other doodles you can use on your blog can be found at Doodles.

Egads, do I have a severe case of blogger's block! Perhaps, you, the blog-reading public can help me pick the topic(s) for future posting(s)? Read on...

Whiny, long posts concerning my humiliating school days seem to be popular. Should I write about that dark period of my sixth-grade life during which I was forced to KNIT for an art project? An unhappy ending is practically guaranteed!

How about I share the time I took a trip to a gay bath house?

Would you folks like that? Huh? Wouldja?

Or, are you just a bunch of homophobes? Stop the hate!

Or, how about a cute little story about doggies and kitties and going to dinner with some slovenly pet-lovers?

Roast beef! Cat dander!

SPOILER ALERT: It's not really as cute a story as this graphic might lead you to believe. Not at all.

These are just three possibilities that pop to mind. Leave a comment as to which one of these deserve elaboration. Or give me an idea that is "none of the above."

C'mon, help a brother out!

(Thanks to Ms. Lee for the opening doodle-graphic. Visit her site and leave some comments!)

Sorry, But I Gotta...

I'm still reading everyone's thoughtful comments concerning what my next post should be about (sample: "Hell, yeah! Tell us about that gay thing!") but as I was reviewing the blogger TOS, it seems we are all contractually obligated to post self-pitying entries whenever any of us experience major car trouble. So...

My 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan is on a death-watch. The transmission has been re-certified as scrap metal by the man at the repair shop and it would cost upwards of $1,700 to replace what needs to be replaced.

That wouldn't be so bad, if we hadn't already pumped a like amount into the same problem since last October! Here are some posts from the archive of my other blog:

  1. The stage is set: Time Enough At Last!
  2. Things start to go wrong: Check Engine Light In Buffalo Blizzard!
  3. Things continue to go wrong: Breakdown in West Virgina Strands Party of Three!
  4. Still Stranded: The Waiting Game!
  5. The Anti-Climactic Home-Coming.
The tab for transmission repairs to-date is either $,1500 or $2,500 - we've kinda lost track. We can't justify throwing more money down that rat-hole.

My Dad gave me this van a couple years back, when Mariel was born. He bought it back in 1997, after my Mom's stroke, so he could tote her around. She died about six years ago, and when he bought his new KIA Sedona, he let me have the Grand Caravan.

I'm kind of sad about getting rid of Mom's last "ride" but, really it is just another chunk of troublesome machinery that now needs to be replaced. My wife and I will be hitting the used car circuit this weekend...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Thanks, Allan!

Can you believe it?

The whiny, self-pitying story about my $15 trombone has earned me yet another blogging award!

Thanks to Allan, I now posess the internet equivalent of the Nobel Peace Price: The SCHMOOZIE AWARD!

I am, it appears, "da man."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Don't Worry...

I received an email from my brother a couple days ago and it reads:



there was no need for this.

all hope is lost"

Now what, exactly, had plunged my brother into this slough of despond?

Financial woes?

Wife left him?

Dog died?

Car won't start?


It was a movie.

A movie I sent him.

A movie made in 1966, written and produced by MOREY AMSTERDAM!

Click HERE for a YouTube sample!

Only in the mid-sixties could such a rat-fink of a movie have been made! Filmed on sets at the Desi-Lu studios with a budget of about $50 (or so it would seem) we have Morey bringing his artistic vision to bear in the wake of the Dick Van Dyke Show's demise.

His co-star is Sally Rogers herself, Rose Marie! Richard "Mel Cooley" Deacon plays two roles and Allan Brady also makes a cameo appearance. I guess Dick was busy filming his own cinematic blockbuster (Disney's "Robinson Crusoe, USN") and couldn't make the scene. Neither did Mary Tyler Moore, but look who did show up:

Moe Howard!
Milton Berle!
Irene Ryan as Granny Clampett driving the Clampett truck!
Steve Allan!
Danny Thomas!
Sylvester the cat!

The "plot" has something to do with a Soviet astronaut defecting to the USA with records of his 98 orbital space flights. Oh, and the astronaut looks just like MOREY AMSTERDAM! Morey is a numb-nutz short-order cooks and Rose Marie is a waitress and they both work in Richard Deacon's diner.

Their "young-n-sexy" coworker inherits a bookstore and they all end up 600 miles away running the store. And there are spies. And a Beatnik party. And modern art. And, oh, who cares?
The movie just kinda plods along until they run out of film and it ends.

I guess I'd have to say that my brother's review pretty well nailed it:



there was no need for this.

all hope is lost"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Breakfast Special!

As I had mentioned earlier, I was "on vacation" last week, owing to the annual plant shut-down at my workplace.

Now, in years gone by, our clan had made annual Summer pilgrimages back to Buffalo, NY to visit family and friends for the week.

This time around, however, the excessive costs (both financial and otherwise) associated with various medical bills, home improvements, car repairs, etc. left us with little choice but to scale back our plans.

We decided that we would visit a local farm that gives site tours, so that Mariel could see all the animals and tractors up-close and personal. Then, we would check into a Holiday Inn for a night to enjoy the pool and cable TV.

Of course, Mariel got a sinus infection the night before we were going to do all this. Dragging a sick, crabby child trough a cow pasture and then being cooped up in a motel room didn't sound like the kind of relaxation we had in mind, so we put the whole thing on hold for that nebulous, future "next time."

Going out for breakfast at the Shoney's or Cracker Barrel was also part of this aborted master plan.

Last Friday morning I suggested that we should all just get dressed and go out for breakfast anyway.

Michelle countered with a suggestion that I go out for breakfast and bring something home for her and Mariel. Oh, do I love this woman!

Driving to the local Greek restaurant, i.e. "Zorba's", I was filled with a feeling of relaxation and inner-peace that had been oh-so-elusive, lately.


Monday, July 09, 2007


1. California Girls
2. I Get Around
3. Little Deuce Coupe
4. 409
5. Little Honda
6. When I Grow Up To Be A Man
7. The Warmth Of The Sun
8. Surfin'
9. Fun, Fun, Fun
10. Help Me, Rhonda

I had posted about this budget LP a while back and I have just now found mp3 links for all of the songs on it!

Seein' as how it's Summer and all, I figured I'd share it with you, my loyal blog readers.

DivShare File - SURFSIDERS.zip


Friday, July 06, 2007

Hi, gang! I've been on "vacation" this past week, owing to my company's annual plant shutdown schedule.

What have I been doing? Well, that's a whole 'nother blog entry, I suppose.

Right now, I want to thank Dorky Dad, for awarding me the blogosphere equivalent to the Malcolm-Baldridge Award. Of course, I'm talking about the prestigious "Guy/Dude Blogger Award!"

You can read about the selection process in Herr Dorkenheimer's uber-patriotic July 4th posting.

I am now compelled to pass the honor along to five other Guy/Dude bloggers. Here are my choices.

1. Toby Roan's writefink blog gets the first nod. I happened upon his blog last fall by hitting the "next blog" button. Toby is an advertising copywriter who lives in the "Triangle Area" here in NC. His love of Beach Party Movies and such caused me to leave some comments. Then he left some comments here. This was a big enough incentive to add entries here on a more than once-a-month basis. So, Toby, you were the unwitting catalyst for making the who-really-cares-anyway blog what it is today!
2. The In Crowd's I'm Learning To Share spot gets the second nod. His early Yvonne Craig photo spread had me hooked instantly! The pop-culture effluvia kept me coming back. Keep up the good work, my man!
3. Allan's camels-back-and-forth blog is well worth reading on a daily basis, says I. His entries are by turns harrowing, hilarious, thought-provoking and nougat-filled. He's a regular deer-splitter!
4. Lester Hunt's blog is peachy keen brain food. I have to admit, I'm 'way over my head when lester gets to thinkifyin', but I likes it fine.
5. The life-time achievement award goes to dirk star's jester's rap blog. Yeah, dirky-poo is doin' the "Mister Mom" thing these days with his new-born son, Micah, so he hasn't been prowling the virtual neighborhood as he once was. But, let's not hold these skewed priorities against him, folks. Let's give it up for the man with the Frank Zappa icon! WOOT!
Now, I'll probably think of another five or five hundred "guy bloggers" I should have also mentioned after I post this, but you know what?
I'm on vacation!