Friday, August 24, 2007

When It Rains…

New at Since Last Week:
The Nanny Diaries
Death at a Funeral

You know how the old saying goes…. Well, it definitely poured here this week.

It started insanely enough, on Sunday, with a mad, frantic dash to furnish our basement with a futon (“a good futon,” said my husband) before the in-laws show up this weekend. But that part is a very, very long story, and this week’s story is long enough already. So anyway…just when we finally worked out a deal with the salesguy, snagging us a [good] futon with a few scratches and dents in the wood for a decent price…just as we were about to load it up in the car and take it home…that’s when the rain started.

Immediately following, we did a little more rushing—this time, over to The Cheap Theater to see Ocean’s Thirteen. We came racing in at the last minute (after lugging the futon through the house and dumping the parts in the basement), and I was a little worried that we might have to sit in the front row (as we did for Ocean’s Twelve), but, for some strange reason, when we walked into the getting-full theater, there were two wonderful back-row seats, just waiting for us. It was lovely. And when I sat down, I couldn’t believe my butt! The Cheap Theater got new seats! I was in cheap movie heaven! I only paid a buck to see the movie, and I even got a padded seat!

I’d have to say, though, that the padded seat was the highlight of the whole week. After that, it was all downhill.

So here’s what happened on Monday afternoon:

At around 2:30 or 3:00, things started to get really dark. Really, really dark. There was thunder and lightning. And there was a whole lot of wind. And then I heard this noise—a noise that sounded like a garbage can had fallen off the front steps of the house. Now, we don’t have a garbage can on our front steps, so I was starting to wonder if the Evil Neighbor Kids had dumped off something earlier in the day, while they were playing with their obnoxious BB guns in my front yard (seriously, I’m going to throttle the Evil Neighbor Kids someday). Curious, I walked to the living room and found that our tree had fallen down. Okay, so not the whole tree—but half of it, at least. A really big branch. Huge. And it was all over our yard—and in our neighbor’s driveway. So I called my husband and told him, and he said, “I’m on a call right now. Can I call you back?”

(Hello? Did I just mention that our tree just fell down? Am I not freaking out enough?)

So after he called back, he decided that it might be a good idea to come home an hour early. So while he packed up and drove home, I went through our paperwork, looking for our homeowner’s insurance policy and the phone number of our tree guy. By then, it had started raining.

So we called the tree guy, who said they’d be there around 6. I’m not sure which 6 they were talking about—on which day—because they never showed up. And my poor husband ended up braving the hurricane conditions and hacking up the tree enough for our neighbor to get in and out of her garage. Meanwhile, I went and got groceries, all the while thinking about buying a condo.

But wait. There’s more. While I was digging through paperwork and staring at the tree that was lying in our yard, I stopped to check my email and discovered that the site was down. Well, not down exactly. The hosting company had said that they were upgrading their software, so we might have some database problems for a while on Monday. Now, I’d already had those database problems on Monday morning, and I figured it was over. But here they were again. You could get to the site. You could see the skeleton, but you couldn’t get to any articles. I figured it would come back eventually (“Fifteen minutes!” the hosting company promised. They lied.). But it didn’t. In fact, it was down all night. When we tried to contact customer service, they said they had “specialists” who were “looking into it”—but it could be another 24 to 48 hours.


So on Tuesday morning, I had a giant tree in my front yard and a site with no content. And I was pretty much ready to curl up in a ball and die. But, instead, I went to the screening of 3:10 to Yuma. When all else fails, go see a western, I guess.

Since the site was down, I thought about taking myself out for lunch afterwards, since I just didn’t want to look at that poor, naked site any longer. But I headed back—which is a good thing, since my husband’s network had gone down at work (I know…really weird, huh?), and he had set up shop in his office at home. He said the tree guys had been around, and they said the whole tree needed to go. He also called some other tree guy, who said he could take it down Wednesday morning at 7:30.

As for the site, nuthin’.

So, with a naked site and a tree still in our front yard, we figured we might as well just go to a movie. This time, Resurrecting the Champ. When we got there, I was a little surprised to find that no one was there. There was one other critic waiting to get in, and there were two people in line. Two. Usually, when I get to the screening, about 30-45 minutes before it starts, there’s a big, loud, angry mob, ready to throw things at me for not waiting in line. This time, there were two people.


When the rep let us in, there were seven of us in the film critic row, and that was about it. By 7:30, there were a couple more critics, and then there were about 10 other people. It was weird. As Jason said, they could have screened the movie in the break room at Wal-Mart, and we would have had plenty of room (and, as I pointed out, we could have gotten Sam’s Choice sodas for a quarter—maybe even a dime!).

So apparently, no one promoted the screening. Either that, or no one wanted to see it—even for free. Still, though, despite the empty theater, when one couple came in, they stopped in front of our row and stood there for a few minutes while they glared at the “Reserved for Press” signs on some of the seats. Really, people. There are 5,000 other seats in here—and you’re mad that you can’t have those two?

Fortunately, though, the movie wasn’t bad at all. And it helped me forget about my naked site and giant dying tree for just a couple of hours.

On Wednesday morning, 7:30 came and went, and there were no tree guys. But, on the bright side, my dear, sweet husband was able to figure out how to make some programming changes to get the site back up—or at least parts of it. So that was a start.

The tree guys finally showed up at around 3, and I was a little bit nervous when I noticed that one of the guys had a hook for an arm. I kid you not. There was a hook. And this was one of the guys who was going to be using a chainsaw in my front yard. Clearly, he’s not so good with a chainsaw. Why would I want him giving it another shot in my yard? So I went into the basement, where I wouldn’t have to see the blood.

Fortunately, though, there was no blood and no screaming. And, a couple of hours later, there was no tree. It looks really weird. And it’s ridiculously bright in our living room—so I’ve taken to keeping the curtains closed.

So anyway…we still had one little problem: the site. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the thing fixed, which meant another long, frustrating conversation with a clueless customer service rep. Let’s do the math here. The site was completely naked for 43 hours. Then it was partially naked for another 11 hours. That makes 54 hours without a fully functioning site. Now, I’m not going to go into the numbers here, but what it boils down it is a pretty serious loss in readers. (So if you were driven away earlier this week by a shamefully naked site, please go back. We’re fully clothed now, and we really want you to come back. Please. Thank you.) But it was Wednesday night, and we were finally working again.

Then came Thursday. I got up on Thursday morning, and the tree was gone, and the site was working. All was good and happy and sparkly in the world. And then I got to my computer, checked my email, and started getting to work, only to discover that my Internet connection had just gone and disconnected itself. This led to an hour of finagling, accompanied by a fair amount of bad words. And then, for no apparent reason, it just came back.

Just like that.

So I got back to work, putting together this week’s massive newsletter. I got everything ready to go, and I sent a test email to myself. And what happened?


I tried again.


I tried five times, and nothing ever showed up in my inbox. So I called my poor husband/webmaster in a panic, asking him if he could think of any possible reason why our mailing function would be broken. He couldn’t think of one reason. Not one. But since he couldn’t do anything about it, he said maybe I should just skip this week’s newsletter—an idea that I instantly rejected, since the site had been naked all week, and I desperately needed to tell people that we were still here. So then he told me that I might have to take my newsletter document and translate it into normal email format.

And that’s when I started to sob.

You see, my newsletter document is 17 pages of HTML code. I keep the format every week, and I update the information and send it out. That way, it doesn’t take a lot of work. I keep up with the links during the week, and it takes me an hour or so on Thursday morning to do all the audio links and the trailers and contests and things. I didn’t even know where to begin reformatting it—and even if I did, it would have taken me until next Feaselday. So I continued to sob.

That’s when my husband took pity on me and said he’d come and try to fix it if I would make him lunch. So I wandered off to make lunch.

Anyway…that whole thing brought about another hour’s worth of headaches—during which time I had to cut out a part of the newsletter because it was making the mailing function pissy, for some reason or another. But eventually, I got it sent out—and only 2 ½ hours late. Yea.

By this point, I had told myself not to even think that things couldn’t go any worse. Because they always can. Just ask Murphy.

Also by this point, I had decided that there was just no way I’d be going to the screening of The Kingdom. It’s too bad, since I was looking forward to seeing a movie so far in advance that I’d have time to actually put some thought into my review. But, if you recall, the in-laws were scheduled to arrive on Friday afternoon, and that meant that I needed to clean toilets and scrub floors and bake brownies for my bro-in-law.

I also needed a good stiff drink. Or three. My intention was to drink myself to sleep. Of course, that’s not what happened. What happened was I spent the night cleaning bathrooms and washing towels and things in preparation for guests. And I watched a couple of episodes of The Muppet Show. And I went to bed early.

When I got up this morning, I was really, really looking forward to this morning’s screening. It’s not that I was totally psyched about the movie or anything, it being a documentary. But I just couldn’t wait to get out of the house. Just to get out for a while and talk to someone else—someone who could talk to me about something other than hosting glitches and trees—would be wonderful. And, fortunately, the first person I saw when I walked up was John. And John is always happy to hang out and chat. To make things even better, he had brought his lovely friends from Washington.

On the downside, there was no screening. The print hadn’t shown up yet, and it wouldn’t be there for another hour. And it would be another half hour after that before the screening could start. So we ended up rescheduling the screening for next week—which was really no big deal, since the movie isn’t coming out for a few weeks anyway. And that left me with plenty of time to grab lunch with John & Co., which was absolutely wonderful (both the food and the company). It also means that I have one less movie review to write this afternoon, which gives me the time for one more music review. So it all works out in the end.

Next week is another relatively quiet week, screening-wise (or at least it’s supposed to be). We’ve got Wednesday and Thursday morning and Monday and Thursday night. The problem, though, is Thursday night. On Thursday night, we have two screenings scheduled. Instead of scheduling them for the same time, the reps scheduled one for 7 and the other for 9—giving us the illusion that we could actually do both. There are, however, two problems:

1) The first movie is 110 minutes long.
2) The screenings are at two different theaters.

While some of us see this as an impossibility—and have resigned themselves to seeing either one movie or the other—others of us see this as a challenge. So here’s the scenario that Kevin has set up for us:

Okay, so we get out of the one movie at 8:50. Since the parking situation at that theater is a nightmare, and we’d never even be able to get out of the garage by 9, we’d have to have someone pick us up. In a van. And bring us to the second screening at the second theater. We might be a little bit late, of course, so we’d have to talk the rep into telling the crowd that the print was late, and that the movie will be starting just 15 minutes late. And that’s how we could make it work.

Personally, I love a good challenge. And if someone has a van and a willing driver, I’d be all over that plan. I’ve done the two-theater back-to-back double-feature before. And though it was totally insane then, too (in fact, I think it may have been last Labor Day weekend, too—since I’m pretty sure I had to get up the next morning and drive the six hours to my parents’ cottage…), I’d definitely do it again. So find me a getaway van, and I’m in. Else, I guess I’ll just have to pick one or the other.

Tune in next week to see what happens…

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