On Birthday Parties…

By Katie

…which are  things children think are fun but I do not. 

Yes, I did have fun at my own birthday party last fall, and there is mucho embarrassing photographic evidence out there to prove it. But for the most part, I’ve hit that stage of life where celebrating my imminent death is not something I really enjoy. And those around me seem to enjoy it a little too much, if you ask me.

“Happy Birthday! Soon the world will be free of you,” the message seems to be. And when I grouse about it, some Pollyanna-type invariably says “Well, it beats the alternative.”

Presumably, the Pollyanna means having no birthday to celebrate due to the lack of a pulse.  And I have no argument for that, though I doubt being dead would keep my loved ones from enjoying a chocolate-cherry cake in honor of my day.

“Well, it beats the alternative. But even if it didn’t, we’re making a cake.”

My oldest turned 14 yesterday. I’m currently holed-up in my bedroom writing this, hiding from 6 screaming teenaged girls and a filthy kitchen. Now, I’ve always told my kids they get one giant, invite-your-friends birthday party  whilst on my watch. They can pick the year, but they only get one. Annual intimate family party? Of course. I’m not the devil. But I can’t be thinking about clowns and inflatable jumping devices and gift bags and whatnot every few months, every damn year, people.  

But my daughter kind of stealthily slipped this one past security by informing me a few days ago that she’d invited a group of gals over to hang for the day, go swimming and cook burgers and watch a movie and stuff, oh, and since it just happened to be her birthday they might be bringing a few gifts or whatever but it wasn’t a party per se. 

It certainly sounds like a party. A pretty good one, actually. The truth is I don’t care, they are old enough to basically entertain and clean up after themselves, so no skin off my nose.

I only had one “friend” party myself as a kid, and I thought it was weird. I’ve written before about how we didn’t get presents, but we were fussed over and treated like royalty by the family all day, so it was all good. Better than good, it was great. For some reason, though, when I was in third grade, I asked my mom if I could have an actual, send-out-invitations-type party and she agreed. 

I invited over the eight girls in my class, and we ate lasagna and played “clothespins in a bottle” and they all gave me presents, and the whole time, all I could think was how much I wanted them to leave so I could hang out with my family. They were all nice girls, they were my friends, for Pete’s sake. It was just such a strange shift from the norm, it made me really uncomfortable.  And I remember after it was finally over, I was left staring at my pile of presents and feeling bad that I got presents on my birthday but none of my siblings did. Especially my sister, whose birthday is the day after mine. It was an empty victory. Maybe that’s why my mom let me do it; maybe she wanted me to learn to not ask for extra things when what I had was enough. Maybe that’s a little too profound and I just had such runaway OCD that any deviation from my routine sent me into a funk. 

OCD, you ask? I dunno, let’s see…I had to swish exactly nine times every time I brushed my teeth, I had to put my hands on the exact middle of what looked like a tombstone in the neighbor’s yard on the way to school every day and I had to chant my own version of the Glory Be six times before bed every night, you tell me.  

It seems to be quieting down down there. Happy Birthday, sweetie.

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 2:58 am  Comments (3)  

Dead Tired

By Johnnyrottin

Last night an otherwise forgettable comedian on “Conan” opened his set with a decent insight about being 38 years old. “I’m at halftime,” the comic said. “I’m in the locker room. And the worst part about it for me, for all of us, is that we know we’re going to lose. We know how this game ends.”

 I’m paraphrasing–as opposed to parasailing–but that would be the gist. 

Most of us think of our demise less often than, say, Woody Allen thinks of his. But we all have thought about it at least a little, even those annoying brothers in Oasis who wail on about the fact that they’re going to live forever. And I bet when you consider how you’re going to go, you think that you’ll be given at least a few moments to contemplate your expiration date. Enough time to have your, “Oh my God, this is IT” moment and perhaps even update your Facebook page.

Maybe you think you’ll be given a Farrah Fawcett-style extended period, enough time to tape a special with NBC. Or that you’ll go down in a plane and have a few seconds to wonder why you didn’t go the John Madden route, literally. Even a heart attack allows you a few frantic moments to wonder what tie you’ll be buried in (allow me to state here and now that I don’t want to be buried, but if it comes to that I want to be buried shoeless, in cargo shorts and donning a T-shirt that says, “Belinda Carlisle was right”.

Anyway…yesterday I came across a death that was just so bizarre in how sudden it happened. Check out this YouTube clip. It isn’t gruesome or anything, which makes the death that much stranger. Follow the bouncing tire. 


Of all the luck. Poor Henry Surtees, only 18 years old, could not have timed it any worse. And, he went dark faster than the final episode of The Sopranos (It was the tire that killed him, not the crash into the fence). 

After seeing that, I asked my brother Porge, an insurance exec., how his company would handle that insurance claim. Here’s his reply:

“The 80-pound tire hitting you in the head while you’re doing 130 m.p.h. is covered. However, we would argue that you didn’t exercise your duty to avoid it, thereby reducing our exposure if we also happen to insure the blue car (the one that lost the tire). Now, the second impact with the guardrail is also covered, yet we’ll take a second deductible, and again, as you were already dead by that point, we’re not talking big money. The family typically doesn’t want the car because it reminds them of the accident, but it didn’t look too bad, so we’ll pay them for the repair and then sell it out-right and make more money on the salvage. Lastly, we’ll surcharge the future premiums.”

So there’s that. That’s the kind of cold-blooded assessment that they never tell you about in the Geico ads, you know? 

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm  Comments (2)  


By Johnnyrottin

“If you believe, they put a man on the moon…”

Michael Stipe, R.E.M.

Thoughts and observations on this, the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s becoming the first human to walk on the moon.*

1) How do you explain to people who were born after the bicentennial–after you explain what in fact was the bicentennial–that you grew up in an age in which the home’s back-up TV was a black-and-white and that you had to get up off your ass to change the channel and yet we sent men to the moon with the frequency of Davis Cup qualifiers?

2) The asterisk above. Perhaps because of those seemingly technological anachronisms, many people believe that we never in fact landed on the moon. One of those is my good friend Sorp, who wrote the following essay on his own site, happinessmanifesto.com (http://happinessmanifesto.com/lunar_conspiracy_theorists). Before you dismiss Sorp’s argument–or are tempted to call him a, um, lunatic– I should tell you that he is a Stanford-educated attorney who, despite being an English major, has a patent for an electric car (vehicularity.com).

3) Forty years later, another Armstrong is in the news each day attempting to go where no man has ever before gone–an 8th Tour de France victory. Interesting how despite their surname, Neil and Lance will go down in history for their legs’ feats.

4) Displaying an awesome sense of timing, today the Cleveland Cavaliers announced their intention to sign free agent Jamario Moon.

5) Given all the problems it caused him, I would like to have seen Larry Talbot (google alert) be the first man on the moon.

6) A quick lunar lesson: The dark side of the moon is that half of the sphere that is not at the moment directly facing the sun. The far side of the moon is that half of the sphere that is permanently faced away from the earth (because the moon orbits earth in such a way that it only keeps one side facing the earth throughout the orbit). Also, no band, acccording to records of records kept by allmusic.com, has ever released an album entitled “Far Side of the Moon”.

7) Had Neil Armstrong hiked down his space suit to his ankles and bent over with his back toward us, would he have been “earthing” us?

8) Bill Maher had a pretty decent end-of-show essay on the fact that it’s kind of sad, in the wake of Michael Jackson’s death, that “our peak was the moonwalk that occurred 40 years ago” (as opposed to the one that transpired 27 years ago on the Motown 25th Anniversary Special). If you’re so inclined, YouTube it (“Bill Maher” and “Michael Jackson”) and wade in at about the 2:10 mark).

Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 2:29 am  Comments (3)  

Red, and White and Green All Over

By Isleswriter

The job of a guest is to be a Good Sport. Even at family gatherings, we all know that it’s “Not All About You,” and you just need to buck up and go with the program.

Sometimes you need to pee in your pants at the request of your host. With an admiring audience of course.

Come with me if you would on the journey known as “Fourth of July 2009.”

In-laws’ house on lovely and picturesque lake: kids waterskiing; everyone decorating the boat for the annual “Best Decoration” award. So much fun to be had by all.

Time to get in the boat and get in line for a turn at the judges dock! Hurry now! Put down that third or fourth liquid beverage!

Hurray! Family memories in the making! I scamper aboard in my white shorts and Old Navy red t-shirt. We take our place in the stately progression around the lake! “Hi neighbors!” “Great theme this year.”

Hang on. Most everyone needs a bathroom break. Well most everyone is pretty clever because they had the shrewd foresight to wear a bathing suit.

There goes Uncle Larry, peeing freely in the water-yay! Opps, it’s little Walter’s turn, “Go Walt!”

Umm. I need to pee. The dilemma is clear: do I make it “All About Me” and ask if we can go back to the house AND LOSE OUR COVETED PLACE IN LINE? No! I’m not that selfish.

My husband loudly announces that I need to pee too.

“Jump in!! Pee in your pants!” This merrily shouted by all on the boat.

Fork in the road: holding is not an option. Being a major whiner and whinging about going back isn’t either.

In I go!

Twelve expectant faces peer over the side: “Is she going yet?” “How much?” “Is there a problem?” “Why didn’t she wear a suit?” “She’s from THE CITY.”

No problem here! I LOVE peeing in my new shorts as I cling to the boat while people watch me go-I’m in heaven!

But now the fun part. Getting me back in the boat. It should be easy. I’m of normal weight and height. But no, God has plans for me.

Plans that involve several aborted attempts to heave me on deck by holding one hand and one foot. “Put her back in and try again.”

My husband, a large man, soothed my jangled nerves by grunting “GAWWWWW” as he finally pulled me aboard.

No one had mentioned the social hour at the judge’s beach. In full Good Sport mode, I confidently socialized while kicking away the feeling that “Everyone is looking at me funny.”

Once back at “our” dock, my sister-in-law said, “Hon, we didn’t have the heart to tell you at the beach, ‘cause you’ve been such a great sport, but you sat in green paint on their wall. Look at your butt. We all felt so bad.”


Published in: on July 17, 2009 at 4:21 pm  Comments (5)  

Manly Movie Deaths

By Wingnut

I was bopping around on line yesterday when I came across some website that listed the Top Ten Manly Movie Deaths.  I’m not going to link to the site because the list was stupid and besides, I don’t remember what it was called.

The important point here is that the list was lame.  Getting killed out of stupidity or because you’re coked up and the cops are after you doesn’t fit my idea of a manly death.    On that list, the only two I agreed with were Mel Gibson’s death in Braveheart and Obi Wan Kenobi’s death in Star Wars.

It took my son and me about two minutes to come up with our favorite Manly Movie Deaths.  Here they are, in no particular order;

1. Bruce Willis in Armageddon.  Sure, Ben Affleck could’ve saved the world too, but not Liv Tyler’s happiness. 

2. Butch and Sundance.  They didn’t save the world and they knew their chances were slim, but BY GOD they died with their boots on. 

3. Miles Dyson, the computer genius in Terminator II; Judgement Day; all shot up and holding the weight over the detonator?  MANLY.  Saved the world as surely as Bruce Willis in Armageddon.

4. Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring;  he went down full of arrows trying to protect those weaker than himself, confessed his sins, pledged his allegiance and died like a man.

5. Leonides in 300.  Watch the movie.  So manly it could change a lesbian’s mind.

6. Vincini in The Princess Bride.  He died LAUGHING.

7. Col. Robert Shaw in Glory.  I know, played by Matthew Broderick but one of the manliest deaths ever filmed.

8. Mel Gibson in Braveheart, duh.

9. Jesus in the Passion of the Christ.  Disagree?  Go to hell.

10. The cast of United 93.  Let’s Roll.  

Guys who didn’t make the top ten; Brian Picollo, cuz he didn’t have a choice; Obi Wan, cuz what did he really accomplish by dying that he couldn’t have done alive? and Yukon Cornelius because bumbles bounce.

Then we started tossing about the Top Ten Pussiest Deaths in the movies.   Also known as the Darwin Award Oscars.  Here’s our start;

1. Hans Gruber.  There’s something about falling that is inherently pussy.

2. The Lawyer from Jurrasic Park.  Eaten by a T-Rex while sitting on a toilet.  I can think of worse deaths but none more undignified.

3. The Director from Tropic Thunder who got blown to smithereens by his own special effects.

4. The Grampa in Everything’s Illuminated because suicide is usually a pussy move.

5. Hugh Jackman’s character in The Prestige because he failed to realize what he was doing. 

6. Everyone who died in the last two minutes of The Departed, which is still a pretty good movie.

7. All the drummers for Spinal Tap.  Sure it was by design and we didn’t get to see it, but still.  Totally pussy deaths.

8. Kurt Russel in Death Proof.  I’m assuming that the three chicks beat him to death.  He deserved it.

That’s all I’ve got.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Published in: on July 11, 2009 at 6:22 pm  Comments (8)  

A Happy Fourth Indeed

By Katie

Just got back from a weekend at the Wisconsin Dells, friends. I am pooped. That is not to say I have pooped, no…I’ve been hopelessly clogged since that first slice of pizza hit my gut on Friday. Three subsequent days of ingesting anything edible and a few things that quite frankly, probably weren’t, I don’t expect to poop again for quite some time. I’ve actually been suffering from a throbbing left eyeball for the last 24 hours, and I’ve decided to attribute it to packed bowels. It is not a detached retina. It isn’t.

The Dells.

Fantastic.  Should be re-named Fat Tattooed People Flopping Around Happily. The pounds of flesh I saw this weekend…folks, I hate to tell you this, but we are not in very good shape. Maybe that’s why my eyeball aches. I’m too tired to write much now, but I’ll  give you this: at the last water park we visited today, there was a ride wherein patrons float around on inner-tubes in a chlorinated faux-river, which has various hills and rapids and other exciting features often found in a real rivers. Real rivers such as the gigantic one right next to the water park. But it’s obviously way better to float down a fake river so you don’t have to deal with any of that annoying nature crap or get run over by a water-skier. Anyway, one portion of the ride was a long, uphill incline that took the inner-tube riders momentarily out the water until they were deposited to the next section of the fake river.

Picture a line of half-drunk, nearly naked midwesterners splayed out on inner-tubes, being pulled up a conveyor belt. I nearly wept with joy.  You think I’m being facetious, I’m absolutely sincere. God Bless America.

Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 3:51 am  Comments (1)  

The DEMONS!!!!

Growing up, learning to play golf at the knee of our father, was always an adventure. Dad loves golf, and has been a member of a local club for over 50 years.

 The 5 boys of the family love golf, and the husbands of the 4 girls love it as well.   The grandkids love it.  Golf is the family game.  John G tried to get the girls interested in playing the game, even had them all take lessons.  That didn’t work out so well, they were more interested in firing shots into their brothers then getting the ball in the hole, (Bill still has the mark on his chest from a Margy 4 iron from the edge of the green) so that experiment went by the wayside a number of years ago.  But you can’t say he didn’t try. 

Although its no longer ranked as one of the absolute best courses in Minnesota by the pundits, you ask anyone who knows anything about Minnesota golf, and MGC is right at the top of the list. You can have your Hazeltines, Interlachens, Deacon’s Lodges, etc.   MGC is a great course, and will always be tops in our book.

Little does anyone realize what monster demons hide on the beautiful green of MGC.

Now that my brothers, brothers-in-law and I are older, we can admit it.  That damn course has more demons on it then the fires of hell.  It matters not how well you’ve been playing, when those wonderful words “we’re playing at MGC” are spoken, your game will go to hell in a handbasket faster than the blink of an eye.

Once the date has been set, your brain goes into some sort of freeze.   All you think about is playing MGC.   Even if you have a round somewhere else, if you hit a good shot, you think “damn, I need to remember that for Wednesday”, or if a putt drops you think “MGC will be faster, need to take that into account”.   Soon you are consumed with the thought of your game at MGC.   The Demons of MGC have already started getting into your kitchen and they are a mean and nasty bunch.

John G never has the demons, he plays there so much they leave him alone.   But his boys,  who only play there once or twice a summer, 3 times of you’re really lucky, thats a different story.  All of us have had our share of good to great rounds, close to or under par at other tracks.  One brother-in-law shot 65 a few years ago at Albion Ridges, yet when we go to MGC, its beyond mortal comprehension as to how badly we all fall apart.   Thats not to say we can’t have the occasional good r0und, I’ve put up a couple of 73’s over the years, but thats a rarity.  Its the DEMONS.

Standing on the first tee, a relatively benign, short par 5 with a beautifully wide fairway enticing you to just hit it, the demons start their slow move into your kitchen. Out of nowhere a pulled drive left into the trees. Haven’t pulled a drive since, well the last time we played MGC. Finally get the ball to the green, with about 35 ft. for birdie. Thinking “oh, greens are fast, be careful” and leave it 8 ft short. Hit the next putt like you have a head cover on, leaving it 3 ft short. Bogey. GAAAAAAAA, the DEMONS have opened the door!   I was playing with John G, Andy and my son Mike. Andy was fighting off the demons on the front side, he actually birdied the first hole.  On the second hole, Andy and I both bombed drives down the fairway, leaving short wedges to the green.   I chunk it about halfway there, Andy fans it way out to the right of the green. I get up and down, quieting the screaming going in my head.   Same with Andy, he makes par.

Now normally, my kitchen is closed.  Unless I’m going to shoot in the 60’s (and have gagged that away more than once), most of the time mentally I’m a rock.  Anyone trying to get in my head just rounds into a steel door.  Just doesn’t happen.  Except at MGC.   The steel door turns to cheese. 

Each of us has our own set of demons, standing on the 3rd tee, as Andy was getting ready for his tee shot, I told Mike, the demons were coming out.  He looked at me and said I was his demon.  He never plays well when he plays with me.  Then he proceeds to go way left.   We get to the 4th hole, a short par 3 with a 2 tier green thats big, pin in back. At Meadowbrook, no problem, just nail a 9 iron in there.   At MGC, NOOOOOO says those fucking DEMONS.  Both Andy and I fan our shots to the right of the trap.  Both of us our lucky to get bogeys.  When  we get to 7, a long dogleg right par 4 Andy bombs a drive as far as I’ve seen on the hole, well over the hill. Easy shot to the green. HAHAHAHA says the demons, and his wedge comes up way short. Then blade chip over the green, pitch back and make long putt for 5. Its starting, the demons are singing in his ears.  He bogeys 8, I birdie to quiet the shouting in my own head.  On 9, a short par 4 Andy bombs a driver, just kills it. I also hit driver, (something I haven’t done on 9 in probably 20 years), and bomb it down the middle.    Both of us have very short shots into the green.  60 yards tops. HELLO says the demons.  Chunky chunky chunky chunky.  I’m fortunate enough to drop a 15 ft putt for par. Andy? Double. The soft sirens of hell are now growing large in his noggin.

The clearest sign the Demons are out was on 11, a nice par 4. Both Andy and I crush our drives. When we come over last hill, we are astounded. I’m only 55 yards from the green in the middle of the fairway and Andy is 20 yards ahead of me.  The last time I saw a drive that far on 11 was John Daly at the Lehman get together 10 years ago.  I go chunky, then thin, then blade long by, 2 putts for double.   5 shots from 55 yards, f*&^ing DEMONS!  Andy struggles, but makes a long putt for par. Of course the singing is only getting louder.  We come to 12 on appearances a short par 5, but now with  the bunkers from hell, Andy hits a bomb down the left side.  Bounding towards the trap it actually bounces over it but stays on the hump.  Mike now has the Demons working him as well. He has gone to the right and finds his ball in a clump of grass that can only be said hasn’t been mowed since the civil war.  He makes the fatal mistake of cursing out the grounds crew for being morons, and proceeds to hit the ball into another clump of grass even longer.  After making his displeasure known to his grandpa about the mental capacity of the grounds crew (Grandpa agreed by the way), the hole is a lost cause.  Back to Andy, who is thinking “I can get home with a 5 iron”. Grandpa makes the subtle comment, “lot of wind up there” DEMONS!… Andy goes to the 4, and hits a beautiful shot, gorgeous, straight on line with the flag.   The ball waves at the flag as it sails over it into the uncut, 8 inch high US Open style rough at the back of the green.  UGGGGGHHHH. DEMONS!!!!!    And thats the way the round goes.  We struggle to the finish. At the end of the day we’ve put up an 8 on a par 5 (Andy hit it into the parking lot of the grounds crew on 15), and multiple other high numbers, all that we want to blame on the DEMONS. Our round finished, we slump wearily into the grill for liquid refreshment.  All of say at end of the round,  we drove the ball well, putted well, but the demons, they are to blame.

On almost all the courses we play during the year, there is a good chance to be around par, at least thats the intent. At MGC, the goal is to fight off the DEMONS, finish without being humiliated, and maybe stay out of triple figures.

MGC is a beautiful golf course, a fun layout and a joy to play. Yet the DEMONS are always there. Oh to slay the DEMONS. Can we play there again???? can we, can we?

Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 3:05 am  Comments (1)  

I Feel Her Pain

By Katie

I’m afraid to talk to my doctor about my bladder problems.

Not really. In fact, on the list of things I’d be afraid to talk my doctor about, bladder control doesn’t even crack the top fifty. 

I just got back from my daughter’s soccer game. She actually seems to like it, which shocks me since she’s absolutely hated every sport she’s ever signed up for with a red-hot firey passion. If she could’ve harnessed her hatred and put it on the playing fields,  she would’ve been mvp on every team. Except now. Just when I had her pegged as a goth-rock, graphic-novels kind of kid, she goes and decides soccer is fun. Kids. 

You know, I pretty much hated all the team sports myself. That may come as a surprise to some of the people who know me, since I played everything and was commonly thought of as “sporty”.  I say some of the people who know me, because those who know me and were actually on the teams with me back in the day knew I hated them.  And the reason was always the same: I just couldn’t pay attention to anything long enough to learn how to play anything properly. Sure, I probably have ADD. It’s no secret I have the attention span of a gnat.

My hair feels like it has build-up.

Anyway, the coach would always just blah-blah-blah for hours on end at all the practices, pick your sport it was always the same, and then when it was time to scrimmage, I’d have no fookin’ clue what to do. While he was droning on about God knows what, I’d be writing a play in my head about how all his ear-hair grew out his ears and  around his face and smothered him. 

A glimpse into a typical seventh grade girls basketball practice, St. Thomas the Apostle, circa 1982

Coach: (blows whistle) “Blue!”

All the other girls  start running around, amok-like to my eyes, so I follow suit and do the same.

Coach: “Katie! Where are you going! I said blue! Molly is under the basket! MOLLY IS UNDER THE BASKET!”

At this point everyone would stop running around and would be staring at me. And I’d look at them and say helplessly, “Oh, Blue. I thought he said Red.”

Volleyball and softball, pretty much the same thing. I was expected to “set the ball up” (???) and would instead, bunt it under the net. I was always relegated to some made-up position in the outfield, something like “semi-left-extra-deep-might-as-well-just-go-home-field”. 

I tried golf, which isn’t really a team sport, meaning you don’t have to be on a team to play a game of it.  I realize I just totally stated the obvious, but I can already see the heaping piles of steaming hate mail explaining to me that they’d been on their high-school golf team and it was too a team sport and who the hell did I think I was?

Well I wasn’t a dork on the golf team, that’s for sure.


Anyway, everyone else in my family played golf and my dad kept telling me I “had a beautiful swing”, so I took some lessons and tried it. After three holes I wanted to impale myself with a putter just to have something to do.

Track and Cross-Country seemed to work for me. Yeah, they’re “team sports”, but let’s face it, not really. They’re slightly more team-sportsy than golf. Plus there aren’t a lot of crazy rules and plays and balls and weird uniforms involved. At first I thought I’d like to run hurdles, because my older sister did and I thought she was pretty cool, but even that was too problematic for the likes of me. Wha?? Do what every three steps? Do what with my arms? Can I just do the one where you get from here to there as fast as you can? 

That’s all I got. My bladder is acting up again.

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 2:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Ticket Czar is more like it

If I ever die and go to Hell, I fully expect my place to be held by a ticket available only through Ticketmaster.  What other corporate entity can assure that one’s stay for eternity will be frustrating, enraging, humiliating and ultimately futile?  Tears are guaranteed.

  My daughter wants to go to an annual outdoor concert put on by our Church as a fundraiser.  The Basilica Block party  began as a really good idea by Fr. Mike O’Connell to raise money for the refurbishment of our 100 year old church and has become the Must-See Musical Event and a  Summer staple for tens of thousands of music lovers from all over the country.  Each year we now raise almost enough money to pay the winter heating bill. 

Anyway, as the event grew, so did the logistics.  What used to be a ‘buy your tickets after Mass downstairs at the coffee and donut table’ parish event is now a behemoth only TicketMaster is equipped to handle.  You can buy a ticket for Friday or Saturday night or both, at a slight discount.  You can also get a few bucks knocked off the price if you buy before July 1. According to the ad we picked up on Sunday, if you buy a block of six tickets you can get a further discount.  My daughter and a bunch of her cousins wanted to go so with a few phone calls to establish which night they wanted, I volunteered to buy the tickets.

No biggie, right?  I’m already online and I know everyone’s good for the money.

I should get a medal or at least a few indulgences for what I then went through.

First, I had to log onto www.abandonallhopeyewhoenterhere.com.  I thought that was a weird url for ticketmaster but that’s only because I’d just started.

Once at the site, it was child’s play to choose which night I wanted and how many tickets; all the discounts were right there on the page.  Easy!  Then I went to fill in my billing info.  This seemed to be going swimmingly, as well.  Once I’d gotten all my numbers into the proper slots, I was shunted to a security page held in conjunction with my bank and ticketmaster, to assure that no one but me was using my card.  Again, I was asked to fill in my info then “click activate now to continue”.

There was no “activate now” to click.  I looked high and low on that web page, there was nothing to click on that said “activate now.”  I had the kids in the house come and check out the web page to see if “activate now” was hidden in some obscure print unreadable to people over 40.  I dragged my neighbors over to look at the page.  I ran out in the street and offered a dollar to anyone who could find the “activate now” thingy so I could click it.

Everyone agreed that there was no “activate now”.

The whole time I was searching for “activate now”,  a banner at the top of the page was warning me that if I hit “refresh” or the “back” button, I would lose my place in line and the tickets I had ordered might be sold to someone else.  Not only that, but a large orange digital clock was ticking next to my credit info letting me know just how much time I had left on that page.

First they make you fill in your credit numbers two or three times, then they warn you not to refresh, then they tease you with non existant “activate now” buttons and the whole time they’re screaming “ONE MINUTE AND TEN…NINE…EIGHT…SECONDS TIL YOU’RE A LOSER!!!!!”  All this in front of your adolescent daughter who just wants to go to a concert and trusts you to be able to buy her a ticket.

Ticket Master?  Ticket Dominatrix, maybe.

Totally fed up with cyber space, I perused the ad from church again and sure enough found an 800 number which I promptly called.

TicketMasterof Darkness wasn’t through with me.  I immediately connected to what I can only describe as a perky, friendly, mentally retarded robot afflicted with glossalalia.

“Hello!” she chirped “Welcome to Ticket Master!  If you know the event you would like to purchase tickets to, you may say the name and date and promotors mother’s maiden name NOW.  If you would like to hear the listings for every event in the northern hemisphere in alphabetical order, say “saskatoon saskatchewan” NOW.   If you want to know…”

“BASILICA BLOCK PARTY!” I yelled, realizing that I was waiting for her to take a breath she didn’t need.

“Good.” the robot crooned.  “Please tell me the name of the city and state and state flower and name of the Lt. Governor’s wife…”

“Minneee-apo-lis-Minnee-soe-tah” I carefully pronounced.

“Good.”  the robot sang.  “The Basilica Block Party is a a musical concert event put on by the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota to raise money to…”

“SATURDAY!”   I hollered, as I was worried that I might fall asleep or just forget what the hell I was trying to do while Ms. Roboto droned on and on about stuff I didn’t care about and already knew anyway.

“Gooood.” she purred. “The Basilica Block Party will be held on two nights.  Please tell me if you would like to attend both nights, beginning on Friday, July 10 at 5:30 pm and continuing…”

“JULY 11.”  I cut her off.

“Or on July 10.” she suggested.

“No.  I want six tickets..” I tried to explain.

“July 10.” she ordered.

“NO!” and then I yelled something else.  The line went blank for a few seconds.

“Please hold while I connect you with an actual human style representative of the human race since you can’t seem to figure out what it is that you want to do or buy or listen to and what is up with your hair?”  the robot chirped away, saying as little as possible in the most amount of words.

Leave it to Ticketmonster to program a robot who loves to hear herself talk.

I was put on hold for about five minutes.  The gal was completely uninterested in my complaints about the fatally flawed web page and the non-existance of the ‘activate now’ button but she understood exactly what I wanted; six tickets for the block party for Saturday night, at the discount price of $29.17 a piece, to be emailed immediately so I could print them out at home.

“You’re all set.” she said.  “Your final price comes to $220.20.”

“It DOES?”  I squealed. I’m no math whiz but I’m pretty sure 6×29 is less than 220.  I’m pretty sure that 6×30 is only 180 and I’m pretty sure 30 is more than 29. Pretty sure.

“That includes the TicketMauler fee of $6.50 per ticket.  What, you didn’t think we provide this service for free, did you?  Grow up.”

That’s right.  For only $6.50 per ticket you get the inestimable pleasure of taking forty five minutes to do what should take three minutes, TOPS but at least a woman in Bangalore tells you to grow up.  So, she wasn’t as syrupy sweet as the robot.  She was a lot easier to deal with.

“Yeah, but that brings each ticket to $35.67, six times which is still less than $220.00.  How do you account for the other six bucks?”  Hah.  I may be a stupid American but I do have a calculator.

“Well, you didn’t want to pay $17.54 to have them UPS’d to your house in no less than fourteen business days.”

“Of course not, that’s a ridiculous amount and the show is in ten days. You’re sending me E-tickets online. So what’s with the six bucks?”

“That’s the ‘convenience charge’.”

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 1:02 am  Comments (2)