Wolves Among Sheep

Orson Scott Card is a bigot.  He uses his power and influence and money to support and preach anti-homosexual missives.  Most of what fountains from his mouth is hatespeech.  But Ender’s Game is a terrific book.  Spectacularly written, spectacularly conceived.   It is an excellent piece of art.  Somehow, perhaps in a more lucid period in his life, Card managed to create something.  To make something.  To do something.  Something that was, and actually still remains, great.  Despite the fact that the creator is himself a degenerate, foul-breathing scumbag.

This summer, they finally made a film out of his book.  I found the film problematic.  In that they shaved all the nuance to make Baby Starship Troopers.  But still, it was visually stunning, the action was terrific, and for the most part the acting was wonderful.  It was a solid science-fiction effort.  And yet, numerous organizations were calling for a boycott.  Don’t put any more money in Card’s pockets so that he can spread hatespeech.  Don’t support a film from a man who is a contemptuous bigot.

Fair enough.  I don’t think Card was making back end points on the success of his film.  I think all the money he was making from Ender’s Game was pretty much made when they optioned the rights.  He didn’t work with the filmmakers.  And no matter how successful, I don’t think they were going to suddenly option the exceedingly philosophical Speaker For the Dead.  Even if they did the Ender’s Shadow series, I doubt that Card was going to suddenly have a new audience.  Ender’s Game isn’t subversively homophobic.  It’s not like legions of children were going to leap into starships.  Card wasn’t going to go to schools and say, “Who wants to save the universe!  FROM THE GAYS!  You think the Buggers are bad?  Let me tell you about the buggerers!  Buttsex is as bad as aliens!”

In fact, when it comes to anti-homosexual rhetoric, it’s become a game of Red Rover.  Where basically, we just need to whittle away at the homophobes until they’re all on the side and the game is over.  As far as I know, the statistics are pretty low as to the number of people who used to support people’s basic human rights to love who they will and be left alone and then suddenly decided the queers were ruining the soil.  I know one dude.  One.  And even he’s not anti-gay, per se, just convinced he can pray away the sickness.  Like someone did to him.  Ahem.  I digress.

Everyone felt that Card’s personal rhetoric was enough to dissuade them from supporting a film that had nothing to do with said rhetoric, and that he should be silenced for his despicable beliefs.  And I say, fine.  You do what you are going to do.  Frankly, I didn’t think Ender’s Game was as good as a Chik-Fil-A sandwich anyway.

Then I saw The Wolf of Wall Street.  Martin Scorcese’s latest picture, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular howler.  It’s based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, a fraudlent scumbag stockbroking douchebro who drugged and drank and whored his way through the eighties like the bastard offspring of a game of Ookey Cookie where Gordon Gekko and the band Motley Crue masturbated onto the lap of Sharon Stone in Casino.  Belfort proudly bilked folks out of millions of dollars, turned government rat to save his own worthless skin, and now hawks himself as a motivational speaker.  Here’s a piece of shit who never created anything, who basically profited from shoveling bullshit, who never made anything but a fucking mess.  And his memoirs read like Penthouse forum letters written by a flipper baby locked in a basement and forced to watch an endless loop of Wall Street and Boiler Room.  It’s embarrassing.  And it’s also being touted as one of the best films of the year and a possible Oscar contender.

We, as a nation, are still very much in the midst of a depression.  There’re still numbers of people who are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial vulturing of Wall Street and banking conglomerates.  Our government is all but a corporatocracy.  Affluenza is a real fucking thing.  Where a child can murder someone with their car and get a slap on the wrist because the hand’s holding hundreds.  Where a substantial chunk of our reality programming is either get-rich-quick schemery, or videotaping the bad behavior of manufactured elites.  I shouldn’t know what a Kardashian is.

Jordan Belfort’s going to make more money because talented people wanted to take his sad, drug-addled bro-five stories and turn it into a moderately compelling story.  We’ll get pissed as a culture that Orson Scott Card actually created a decent story that has nothing to do with his crimes and dares to make a dime off it.  But we’ll give accolades to Jordan Belfort for mumblefucking his bad behavior into a tape recorder.  If Ender’s Game was basically Christians turning their megachurches into Death Stars and Alderaaning P-Town and San Francisco to save humanity from the scourge of homosexuality, I could appreciate the rage.  But The Wolf of Wall Street is actually an inflated cataloging of affluenza where the misguided criminal has somehow spun himself into a hero.  Where not only did he directly profit from being a scumbag, but now he’s going to double dip on that scumbaggery.

It’s worse than Wall Street.  Because Gordon Gekko wasn’t real.  Jordan Belfort is, even though the version he’s created is high bullshit.  He clearly watched the stock-bro films and said, “I can do that!”  Like some sort of teen boy who watches Jackass and then tries to skateboard off his roof on to a dildo.  Only instead of breaking his neck and saving us the trouble, Belfort broke people’s lives and wrote books about how awesome ludes are.  The entire effort spews like some balding forty-year-old former frat fuck counting the number of kegstands he used to do, pathetically explaining how he used to do bumps of coke off hooker nipples while waving off a bag of Doritos because he forgot his Prilosec.

We’ve developed a class culture in America where so long as you have money, you matter.  Believe me, I’m not downplaying the importance of equality and gay rights.  But we also need to fight against this goddamn cashcow aristocracy.   This guy didn’t deserve a penny he made hawking penny stocks.  And now we’re going to put more money directly into his pockets.   And possibly give an Oscar to the dude who played the fake version of him.  We’ll get mad at a fucking chicken sandwich, but not at a scumbag Wall Street phony.   I think that’s a little fucked.



You Can’t Keep A Good Dork Down

I meant to publish Twenty-Sided Die in January.  But I guess I just published it.  It will take some time to make it to the NOOK Stores and iBookstore.  Amazon actually put it up immediately.  Lulu.com has the digital version in EPUB and the paperback version of the book.  I’m still working on ensuring that a digital copy comes with the paperback.  So in the interim, please let me know if you purchased a paperback through Lulu, and I will send you a digital copy in your preferred format.

If you go to purchase through Amazon, make sure to use this link: tinyurl.com/shopcannonballread

Here’s why.  About six years ago — Jesus, was it that long? — I started a reading contest called the Cannonball Read.  I fought a girl with cancer.  No, I didn’t fight cancer.  I fought against a friend of mine and legend of Pajiba to see who could reach 100 books in a year.  I eventually won, but only because leukemia fucking cheated and killed my friend.  Which is pretty bullshit and made the whole goddamn affair pretty bittersweet.  Since then, The Cannonball Read has grown and shrunk.  Now, contestants must review 52 books in a year, or the quarter Cannonball or John Kruk Cannonball (half a ball).  You read a book, you post a review online, you do that 52 times you win.  It’s currently in its sixth year.  And they even have a website: cannonballread.com

So if you click on that link up yonder, it will take you to a Ryan Gosling poster.  And then you browse from there for the books you are looking to shop for.  And then a portion of the proceeds (and honestly, it really is a meager portion) goes towards the fight for cancer.  So yeah, it’s a bit of a loop.  But honestly, if you’re gonna give me money, jump through that extra hoop and give money to a good cause.

And more importantly, READ AND LOVE MY BOOK.  As always, I beg and plead of you.  Go to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18975724-twenty-sided-die and click Want To Read.  Write reviews on Amazon and your own personal blogs and on Goodreads and on NOOK and every damn site.  Pepper this bitch everywhere.  The more you share, the more I sell, the more I have time to write.  And that’s good for everyone.

Thank you so much.  This book is as much yours as it is mine.  And all the stories and reminiscing and shared remembrances has lead to a second full collection called Other Worlds Than These which is forthcoming in March of 2015.  So now we have something extra to root for.  In the meanwhile, BUY MY BOOK. BUY MY BOOK.  BUY MY BOOK BY ME.

The Woeful Ballad of Gay Tony and Newegg

All I wanted was a Xbox game.  Just one Xbox game.  But they wouldn’t give it to me.  Just one Xbox game.

Black Friday was pretty lame for us this year.  We managed to score a copy of Pitch Perfect and underwear.  Jenny got a pretty rad deal on some cashmere scarves.  I understand.  The crass commercialism.  The hording to get stuff you don’t need but just want.  Pulling retail employees out of their family’s warm embrace all so you can get $25 off a toaster oven you don’t even really want.  I get it.  Truth be told, I worked at a movie theater on vacations and summer break when I was in college.  One night, I had to work on New Year’s Eve.  Midnight came and went as I stood in an empty lobby, sweeping popcorn kernels into a butler.  Did it suck?  Yeah.  But I didn’t ask people to not go to the movies.  I got a better job.  And now, I’m unemployed.  Do you see?  Life gets better.

But this, this is about poor customer service and vengeance.

I decided that I would like a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition for Xbox 360.  Yes, GTA V came out this year.  But I typically don’t buy games brand new unless they are given to me as gifts.  I don’t have the income to shell out $60 for something I will play occasionally.  I usually wait until the prices drop down under $30, and especially if there’s going to be a Game of the Year edition with all of the downloadable content pre-packaged.  I learned that shit this year with Borderlands 2.  I loved Borderlands 2.  But now, to get the full game, with all the DLC including the extra character classes, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200.  And they are still making more.  Never again.  I can wait.

Except when I can’t.

Newegg was running a Black Friday deal where they offered GTA IV: TCE for $9.99.  It was $14.99 elsewhere.  Amazon, Target, whathaveyou.  So we’re looking at a total savings of $5.  Funny enough, a lot of sites were selling GTA IV the regular edition for $20.  And the two DLC packages, The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and the Damned for $15 or $20.  So it actually cost less to get everything pre-packaged.  For $9.99.  Remember this number well.

So Newegg was also running a promotion with Shoprunner where if you signed up for their service, you got a free 30 day trial.  Which meant the game would be delivered in 2 days.  I hemmed and hawwed, and by the time I talked myself into getting the game, the sale had passed and it was back up at $14.99 on Newegg.  Ah, well.  I’d wait.

Well, December 1st rolls around, and I find that Newegg has decided to offer GTA IV: TCE for $9.99 again.  So I immediately click on it.  And then, I get the Shoprunner trial.  So naturally, you’d figure, okay, well, I should get my game on December 3rd.  Because that’s how INTERNET SHOPPING WORKS.

December 4th, my father’s birthday, rolls around.  No game.  So I go online to check the tracking number.  Newegg says “It shipped!”  I check the tracking number for UPS.  It says “Ready for UPS.”  Which means that they have printed a label, but the game hasn’t even left their warehouse yet.  I am pretty pissed.

So far:  3 days,  Game costs $9.99.  Hasn’t shipped.

I contact Newegg’s customer service.  If you somehow managed to navigate through their constant attempts to get you to just fuck off, you have two avenues.  One, you can call their line.  Two, you can do an online chat.  Online chat had me at 124 in the queue, and they would get to me in approximately 57 minutes.  So I called.  I was on hold for about 36 minutes.  I left the chat up figuring, whoever gets to me first!  Well, the phone won this round.

I speak with the Newegg rep.  I say, “Why isn’t my game here?”  She says, “Oh, it’s the holidays, so there’s going to be delays.  Your game will probably ship on Tuesday.”  My response is, “What the hell?  I was promised two days.  Now, it’s taking  a week? How is that acceptable?”  She says, “The holidays.  There’s a large volume of orders.”  I say, “Shoprunner promised me two days.”  She says, “Shoprunner is a third party.”  I say, “I understand.  They didn’t even have a chance to fuck up yet.  You’ve already done their fucking up for them.  So where’s my goddamn game?”  She says, “There’s a high volume of orders.”  I say, “Show me where on your website is says that in any form.”  She says…nothing.  So I say, “I would like you to make this right.  I don’t know how you can do that.”  She says, “Well, fine, sir.  Let me put it to you, what do you want me to do?”  This is the wrong answer to give pissed off Prisco.  I say, “I think a gift card in the amount of the game would be acceptable.  Since you can’t do your job.  I should get it free.  Let’s go by the Dominos adage.  Only if my pizza came this late, I’d starve.  And haunt your fucking office, smartass.”  She puts me on hold.  After an hour on the phone, she issues me a gift card for $9.99.  And an assurance that the game is still on its way, and that it will still arrive on Tuesday of next week.  I am assuaged.

The gift card pops up almost immediately.  So they can’t change their minds, I quickly use it to purchase Alice: Madness Returns.  Which also comes with American McGee’s Alice.  It’s pretty much the Hot Topic of video games.  Little Emily the Stranges are squeeing into their hamburger phones.  Alice costs $19.99.   I order it December 4th.  Meanwhile, my chat session finally clicks on after 72 minutes, only to immediately be dropped and kicked off.  It would take another hour or so to get back in the chat session.

Status:  11 days, $9.99 for GTA, $9.99 gift card, $10 paid for Alice, free shipping.

Now, we get to December 11th.  Which is Wednesday of the following week.  I check the mail to see if GTA is there.  It isn’t.  However, Alice is.  So now, I go back and check the tracking number for GTA at UPS.  It is STILL in the warehouse, awaiting delivery.  I am now supernova pissed.

I call again.  After another 28 minutes, I get through to another person.  I explained what happened.  Her response is, “I understand you are upset.  We’ve already issued a gift card.”  I said, “Because it took you a week to send it.  You couldn’t even do that right. ”  She said, “Here’s what I can do.  The price of the game is back up to $14.99.  You go ahead and buy that.  Do next day shipping.  That will cost $28 total.  I will give you a credit for the $28.  You will have to pay the taxes on that.”  I say, “Why the hell would I want a credit?  I would just have to spend more money in your goddamn store.  I don’t want to be any money out of pocket.  I just want my fucking game.  Which isn’t an unreasonable demand.  Resend the game.”  She says, “The only way I can do that is to issue a claim.  The claim takes 3-5 business days to go through.  And then we make a resolution.  And then we can resend your game.”  I say, “Just do it.  At this point, you’re killing me.”  She says okay.

So.  3-5 business days puts us to Monday of the following week.  December 16th.  Sixteen days after I originally ordered the game.  Still no resolution on the claim.  Still no shipment.  So I go chat option this time.

The chat basically goes like this:  WHERE IS MY GAME?  We gave you $10.  WHERE IS MY GAME?  We gave you $10.  You have a claim.  We need the one more day to resolve this.  We said business days. I WANT BLOOD.

Their resolution is to issue me a $10 gift card.  Only instead of a gift card, they just give me a $10 credit on my Visa.  So I get $10 back.  So now, they’ve given me $10 back, they’ve given me a $10 gift card, but they still have not given me my game.

Yesterday, December 17th. They sent me the resolution.  They will REFUND me.  Which means I will not get the game.  I will instead get my $9.99 back.  It will take 3-5 business days to get my refund processed.  So after 17 days, Newegg paid me $19.99 not to sell me GTA IV: TCE.  They also gave me Alice for $10.

So.  I went on Amazon and paid $14.99.  With Prime, it’s free 2 day shipping.  The game came immediately two days later.  Even with the holidays.  Which are NOW.  So basically, Newegg sold me Alice for $5.  And then third party paid Amazon to do the fucking job they couldn’t.  I have my game.  I had to fight three times with customer service to get this shit resolved.  Could it have been way worse?  Sure.  They could have not given me squat.  But I will never be using Newegg again.  In the end, I won, because I fight like my brother — the Lord and Master of Customer Complaint Refunds.  He never raises his voice.  He never swears.  He just ruins their minds with unflagging relentless logic.  So in the end, I get to run over hookers with Datsuns, and stab caterpillars with an emo Alice Liddell.  But Newegg.  You’ve lost me forever.

Until next Black Friday when I forget.