Volunforce

I’m not a volunteer. I’m glad there are people out there that do volunteer, but it’s not for me. I’m too lazy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m heartless (I kinda am), but I do my good will in other ways. I donate money to causes I like. I donate my old clothes/books/furniture/etc. to the Salvation Army as opposed to throwing it out. I give to a few causes on Patreon. Now, granted, I’m getting something back either in the form of tax write offs and/or perks (in the case of Patreon), but I would still donate even if I didn’t get the tax benefit.

Recently, my employer has started this thing called Community Service. Well, it’s not really called that. We call it that. Or Volunforce. Basically all employees are now required to “volunteer” at least 25 hours a year for approved or pre-approved charities and events. I have a LOT of problems with this, which will be another blog post eventually, but as I told Joy, my sister, I’m really fortunate to truly love what I do as well as the people I work with, so if I have to do this, so be it. But, yeah, I do take issue with the idea of it. Anyway…

So far this year, I have 7 hours applied to the mandatory 25. This 7 was earned over in two 3.5 hour spurts volunteering for SOME (So Others Might Eat). Basically, I went to this place where they serve food to those less fortunate, not necessarily homeless, and helped out. There are a variety of jobs to do, such as serving food, taking out the trash, washing the dishes, or, what I did both times, serving coffee. It was an interesting experience all around. Once I learned out how to determine who wants coffee or tea (you just watch for the cups to be raised in the air), I was also told that the people getting the coffee or tea were only allowed to have at the most three sugars or three Sweet & Lows. I think this has to do something about addicts just wanting sugar, but I really didn’t care to ask. All I needed were the rules. I will say, though, those folks that want more than three will act like they don’t know that they can’t have more than three when they see a new face (mine).

Having never volunteered for something like this before, I didn’t know what to expect. But even so, some things surprised me. For instance, I was genuinely surprised on how these folks treated one another. Meaning, no food went to waste. I had expected that, for sure, but I figured it would be something along the lines of people taking with them what they didn’t finish, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, whatever food went uneaten was offered up to whoever wanted it. I don’t know why I found that surprising, maybe because I have such a low opinion of people anymore, but it was pretty…I don’t know. Touching, I guess. Here are some people that have far, far less than what I do, but I get this feeling that they are far, far less selfish than me. Don’t get me wrong, I freely admit I will always be selfish, and this wasn’t a life changing experience, but I was humbled a little.

I should also mention the first time I did the Volunforce for SOME, there was a dude that was dressed just like Raiden. It might have even been him, I was too in awe to ask.

The second time I did SOME, a guy called me over. He was standing against a wall, with no one to his right or left. He mumbled something to me.

“What?”

Mumble Mumble Mumble.

“I’m sorry, you have to speak up.”

Abramumble Mumblenight.

“One more time, brother.”

“I said you look like Abracadabra McKnight!”

“I don’t know who that is.”

“I know you don’t know who that is.”

At this point, the gentlemen turned to his right and started talking to the person that wasn’t there.

“I told you he wouldn’t know who you are.”

“No. No goddammit.”

“I know.”

He was getting mad at this person he was having (from my point of view) this one-sided conversation with, so I walked away.

I’m looking forward to my next SOME trip. I’m not going to lie, I do get a good feeling when I help out. But I also leave with some good stories. So win/win all around, I guess.

Quality customer service.

I bought my first Keurig coffee maker years ago. Five or six at least. I loved it so much, I ended up buying one for my sister, one for my father, and one for my friend as Christmas gifts. It ended up flaking out after some years of use, so when it was time to get a new one, I reached out to Joy, my sister, to find me a coupon. Because if there’s a coupon, she’d find it.

After a day or two, she sent me an email on a stellar deal on a Keurig Vue. The (what I thought was the) latest and greatest Keurig. I ended up picking up the top-of-the-line model and once it arrived, I was very pleased with it. Sure, I could no longer buy K-cups (the new one used, er…Vue cups), but hey! New technology!

That feeling didn’t last long. Turns out, Keurig had quietly discontinued the Vue in order to get out the new, superior Keurig 2.0. This sucker took the K-cups and one of its newest features was it now did carafes! Unfortunately, because of the more-or-less push out of the Vue machines, stores stopped carrying Vue cups, I could only buy them directly from Keurig’s online store. (In their defense, though, they have really good coupons come through email, so they are quite competitive price-wise with the regular stores). However, while I really can’t complain about price and availability of the Vue cups, the selection was (and still is) SO LIMITED. With the K-cup, you literally (literally, not figuratively…literally) have hundreds of options. With the Vue, you’re looking at 30 or 40 choices, and that includes hot chocolate and teas.

So, the other day, an email from Keurig comes through pimping their reusable filters (which allows the use of ANY ground coffee in the machines) for their Keurigs and Keurig 2.0s. See something missing? Yeah. So I took to Twitter and asked if they had plans to make the filters for the Vue. They replied unfortunately not, but they’d relay my message to customer service. I said thanks, please do that, because the selection was lacking. Then I get a direct message from them asking for my contact info, which I provided because I figured maybe they’d send me a coupon or complimentary box of Vue cups.

The next morning, at 8:30, my phone rings. It’s Keurig. The guy wants to talk about my complaint.

I explained to him while they make  a great product, I felt a little screwed because of how they handled Vue’s demise. Naturally, I didn’t blame him (and people who do that, blame the person who’s trying to find out the problem, suck), but the overall situation was kind of frustrating.

He understood, and did something I never expected, offered me a swap. My Vue for a new Keurig 2.0. Ho. Ly. Shit. To say I was excited and pleased was an understatement. I shit you not, I love this product. I always have. I love the ease of use, I love the variety of choices…it’s one of the favorite things in my kitchen. Listen, I buy decaf coffee only so I can drink coffee at night too.

There’s no doubt he was looking at my online account because he knew I had two machines and I even had submitted the serial number for the Vue incorrectly (I had to read it to him), so he could clearly see I was a faithful customer and wasn’t blowing smoke up his ass. Hell, just last month I spent $50 for some cups.

Long story short, I tweeted to them on Tuesday, and there was a damn 2.0 on my porch on Thursday. Like I said on Twitter, they have a customer for life right here.

$0.25 a day plus expenses. No case too small.

The toughest thing for me when it comes to writing a review for my site is the starting sentence or graph. Hell, that’s tough for most writers. But (again) for me, I find it far easier to jump right into a blog post (when I bother to do one) than to start the first words of a review.

As I was pondering how I was going to start the review for this book I recently finished, the words came to me rather quickly. It’s going to start with, “When I was a kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were…” And as I was finishing that thought in my head, I realized not only was I happy with where that’s going to go, but I had the idea for a new blog entry as well.

When I was  kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventure, and anything Bigfoot, UFO, or Loch Ness. The latter three I’ll be discussing in said upcoming review, but the first two? Let’s talk about them now.

For those that didn’t have the luxury of growing up with Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, he was a kid that solved mysteries for $0.25 a day (plus expenses). I have to be honest here, I don’t remember any stories (c’mon! It’s been over 30 years, easy), but I do remember the solution for one because at the time it was so damn slick. I don’t recall what, exactly, Brown was investigating, I just remember it happened to do with a lady in white who was seen on the beach at night, BUT SHE LEFT NO TRACKS! Was she a ghost? Had someone murdered her, forever making her wander the last place she took a breath? It certainly was a mystery…and Encyclopedia Brown was on the case! Eventually, it turned out that whoever was walking on the beach in that white dress (seriously, I can’t remember) had put a piece of cardboard in the train (maybe it was a wedding dress) and it was weighted just enough that it was smoothing out the sand behind her, thus leaving no footprints. How genius is that? And that kid Brown, well he’s a smart cookie. As I was looking for pictures of covers, it appears that the series is still in print, so I’m pleased that a younger generation will get the same glee as me from reading these.


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When I wasn’t reading Encyclopedia Brown solving mysteries, I was tearing into Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you didn’t experience CYOA as a kid, well, I’m sorry your childhood sucked.

If you don’t know what a CYOA book is, it’s exactly what it sounds like…you choose your own adventure. Basically, you read a page or two, and then you make a choice. If you choose one way, go to page five. If you choose another, go to page nine. And you kept making choices until you ran out of them. Then you started all over. And these books were so popular, which was fantastic for us fans because there were TONS of them. Below are just a few of the titles, and you can see a nice sized picture of even more here.


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In addition to having a ton to choose from, the series’ popularity of course spawned knockoffs. The best of which were the Dungeons and Dragons’ Endless Quest books. It was like two of my favorite things got smashed together into something wonderful.


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I’m not the type to pine over the things I had in childhood, wishing I still had them. But, man, outside of all of my Star Wars toys (if only to sell), I would love to have all of these sitting on my bookshelf now.

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Film set ramblings.

Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

Kevin, Mike, Laura, Me

I have said before and I’ll say again, I have some pretty cool friends. One of the sweetest things I’ve gained from the site I co-run is the friendship of many of the local filmmakers in my area. And if there’s one thing all low-budget filmmakers have in common, it’s the fact that they are always looking for someone to help out. Because of this, I’ve been on quite a few film sets to lend a hand. I really have zero interest in either starring in a movie or even making one, but I do like watching the process quite a bit, and being eager to help them out gets me right there in the thick of it.

For the past few months, one of my buddies has been part of an anthology project. So far I’ve been part of two of the three (?) stories, and two weeks ago I helped out on a Friday and Saturday (late night shoots, no less) with the wraparound story of the film. (On a side note, if you ever want to hear a fantastic tale about one of the days we shot in the woods, just ask. If I know you well enough, I’ll tell you. Just say, “choke me” and I’ll fill you in.)

For those that may not know, an anthology film consists of a couple stories, and the wraparound is the piece that holds them all together. For example, in Creepshow, the wraparound was the cartoon with the kid and the comic. That’s what we were to be working on two weeks ago (not the kid and the comic, but the wraparound for the movie my buddy is making). It was great because it was going to be a small set, I knew most of the people there, and it was going to be indoors the entire time. That last part was a blessing, for various reasons. The only two people I didn’t know were Brad and Laura, two actors who are the stars of the wraparound. Also on hand were Matt (who is playing two roles in this movie, interestingly enough), Kevin the director, Zig (who was only there Friday and had to leave due to an emergency called LAZINESS, just kidding, it was a real emergency), and Mike, who is a wizard and was there for wizardry and other helpful things. Oh, there were some special effects folks and two of Kevin’s friends there on Saturday too.

I’m not going to get too much what happened on set, other than I had a blast. which is interesting because according to Kevin, things were quite difficult. That’s not to say he’s right, he no doubt is, because I’m more or less there to help out. I have no idea what’s going on with the technical side of things. This is basically how I spend my time on set:

Busy checking Facebook.

I’m NOT checking Facebook. I’m…uh…doing some research for Kevin about…uh…sound or something.

When I’m not looking clueless like the above picture and/or helping out setting up the next shot, much of the time on set is spent talking with everyone else there, and that is my second favorite part of helping out these cats. Because, generally, everyone on set is a film fan (naturally) and the main discussion is generally movies or TV (or, in the case of this set, football because two of us were Redskins fans, one was a Eagles fan (boo!) and one was a Miami fan (whateves). Since ‘Skins just lost to Miami and were due to play Eagles, there naturally was some shit talking.

When we weren’t talking about football, Laura and I were dropping lines from Bob’s Burgers (which was AWESOME because not enough people watch that show) and Archer, and then the discussion got even better because we talked about Richard Matheson stories. That’s when the long hours on the set are worth it, the bullshit discussions in a room full of people where everyone has the same interests. It’s kind of like a nerd convention, but far more intimate.

Plus, with Zig gone on Saturday, I got a lot more involved than I normally do on sets. I did a lot of sound and lighting. That’s what I usually do, but I did even more of it and by the end of the shoot, I was more or less (hopefully) rolling with what Kevin wanted without having to ask him (meaning, I was getting the feel for how much light he needed and where he needed me for sound). He still…directed me, don’t get me wrong, but I was better at him directing me less. At least I hope so and it wasn’t him just giving up on me.

It was two long but fun nights, and if I’m not mistaken, Kevin’s done with shooting his part of this anthology. That’s the bittersweet moment for me because I know I won’t be on a set until his next film (assuming he’ll let me hang out) but it also means now the movie is in editing mode, so I’m closer to seeing the fruits of my labor (what little of it there was).

All in all, it was a great weekend, and it always is. Of all the sets I’ve been on, Kevin’s are my favorite. Even if the sonofabitch is a taskmaster.

Oh, one final thing! My new favorite line, “It’s okay, he has glowsticks.” I will always laugh when someone says that too me.

Thumbs up for Jesus!

Your mother sucks cocks in hell.

I’m overdue for another entry (but, all things considered, I’m doing pretty fucking good here lately), but I think I’m going to start dropping stuff I find interesting here too. I posted this video on my Facebook wall awhile back, as well as the HorrorTalk Facebook wall, but I still find it rather fascinating and I want to have it someplace that’s easily searchable.

Plus, my buddy James and I will be watching The Exorcist in a few weeks here for a pretty cool reason (it will be his first time seeing it, I’m very excited for him), so this is going to be pretty timely for a few reasons.

Anyway, if you have ever seen The Exorcist, this is a pretty damn cool 20-minute mini-documentary on its impact. Well worth the time to watch. (James, if you are reading this, wait until after you see the film.)