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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Beast In Me


Oh wow has it been a long fucking time since I've been on here.  Seriously, I haven't written on here regularly for at least a good couple of months, and that is totally my fault for various reasons.  If you've got a little while, I'll explain.  If not, then take the following out the door with you: I never stopped writing, I've just been writing elsewhere.

For those of you who decided to stick around, here's the rundown: Since last October, I've taken up two different writing gigs.  Gigs that if successful, could prove to be career making gigs. One is with the fine folks at WhatCulture, where I reside as their Doctor Who Editor and Contributor At Large.  They work on a point system over there; so the more views, shares, and content I have to my name, the higher up on the ladder I'll be.  The top prize: an Associate Editor ship, with Full Time hours and actual pay; which would be awesome for several reasons.  The most important one being I lost my job just two weeks ago, but more on that later.  If you're interested in my WhatCulture work, which will basically be half of the bulk of my Entertainment writing, click here for my Author's Profile, and keep coming back.  Even those of you who heckle me can visit, as it will only help build my notorious profile.

The other gig I've landed is with the fine institution of Cocktails and Movies.  Now a funny story about that one: I was thinking of planning a screening group that would go out for drinks and flicks, and even had the name Whiskey and Popcorn picked out.  Then, through random happenstance, I happened to meet and fan the very page I'm now a contributor for.  So far, I've pushed two pieces for them, and I'm hoping to be involved with more of the business end proceedings that'll attempt to make us a countrywide entity.  Again, it's going to take all of you to help out with the good fight and make this a viable thing.  If you want to check out my work there, click here.

Which brings us to the meat of today's post: my sudden and inexplicable unemployment.  Well, it's not that sudden, because I've felt and known the company was going down the tubes for quite some time.  When you're the only full timer banished into a Cubicle, you start to think you're the bastard son of the organization.   It's funny and sad when you realize that all those nights you stayed late, and those days you covered the front desk as the company's official in-house temp, officially meant dick when it came to saving your job.  Regardless, the job I thought I was doing, the tenuous and limited but measured enough security I thought I had, and the standing I thought I had in the company were much less than I thought, and I made it a point to undersell myself.  I was constantly convinced I would be one of the first to go in any such action, and I was deadly correct.  I just thought I had more time to get myself into a better situation before I landed where I am now.  Indeed, I'd started looking for jobs at a moderate pace, and I'd even had a phone interview the Wednesday before I was laid off.  I thought I was set for evac before the arbitrary August 2013 deadline that coincided with the clandestinely open office move we were making.  But, as with any point in this sordid state of affairs, no one knew anything and everyone assumed something different.  Information was scarce and denied to certain parties who asked for it, but everyone knew something was coming.  We just didn't know what.  If you remember your history, and your Shakespeare, Caesar was warned to "beware the Ides of March".  It would have been nice to have the same sort of cosmic warning the great Roman emperor did before his backstabbing, because that exact day was the last I would serve as an employee at my place of employment.  (I won't mention them by name, because God knows what they'd try to do if I did.  I don't know if it's any sort of violation, but anonymity doesn't hurt in this case.)

Suffice it to say that if you've watched Mad Men, the moment I was told to shut the door and take a seat, I knew something was up.  Three of us were let go that day, and I've been wrestling with that fact quite a bit as of late.  Indeed, it seems like a catalyst for me to stand up and really speak my piece on a lot of things.  I've been trying to avoid confrontation, as I like being liked by everyone and have a massive inferiority complex when it comes to arguments, especially when it comes to Politics.  Indeed, I tried to swear off of them, and I'm not entirely sure I can.  Which brings me to why we're here today.  Mr. Controversy is going back to what it was in the beginning, back to its initial form when I put fingers to keyboard back in High School and wrote the first ever Mr. Controversy column: it's going to be my Rant outlet, and it might just be more Politics and Culture related than anything Entertainment, since Entertainment is covered on two other sites.  Rest assured, between those two sites, this blog, and The Bookish Kind (YES, it still exists!), I'll be popping up a lot more often on the radar.

With all of that, I'm going to sign off for now and just let you all know that the Beast within hasn't died, hasn't weakened, and hasn't faded.  It's just been a little off topic.  Before we go, here's those links again:



Thanks for sticking around, and here's to a better tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Open Bag Doctrine


Working in an office is a lot like living in a house with a bunch of roommates.  There are common areas that everyone gets to take part in, the most important (at least for my own storytelling purposes) being The Kitchen.  It’s where everyone stashes their food, makes their coffee, conducts gossip filled chats, and it’s also an unintentional breeding ground for tension.

Case in point: this bag of Tostitos Scoops chips.  Sitting in the kitchen since roughly the end of last week, it was unopened until yesterday.  Untouched by man or woman, full of potential calories and diet woes, mocking anyone who walked in to acknowledge its existence and open its contents.  But there it sat…destiny unfulfilled.  All the while, anyone who would pass it would think to themselves, “Who’s bag of chips are those?”, followed by, “Are those for everyone?”.  You even see this sort of thing at parties: everyone's standing around afraid to dip in the pool, eat the first Deviled Egg, or scared to start that game of Spin the Bottle everyone seemed soooo keen on playing the day Suzie decided to invite everyone to her stupid party.  (Honestly Suzie, put up or shut up...I'm a good kisser, and you were just afraid you'd be ruined for any other man.  Especially CHAD!  By the way, now's a good time to mention the names I'm using in here are made up.)

In Office Kitchens across America, this debate is raging on quietly in the minds of employees far and wide.  This debate could lead to freak outs such as the following fictitious scenario:

“No, seriously, who’s chips are those?  I have Chili sitting in the fridge that would be perfect to dip them in.  But I don’t want to open them, because if I open them and they belong to someone else, I’ll be accused of food theft.  And food theft in an office is pretty much a vote of no confidence against the employee who is accused, much less convicted by a jury of their peers.  Goodbye plum spot on the Company Softball team.  So long usual table at the office Christmas Party, Suzie (Yes, THAT Suzie!) from Accounting sits there and it was her chips you pilfered from.  No, the most you’re getting out of that crowd is the usual death stares they would give Andy in Marketing after he took the last donut on Casual Friday.  You know, the donut that was saved for our visiting VP?  Oh, will you look at that…Andy’s taken your spot.  And it looks like he’s practiced that death stare to a tee.  Guess that’s to be expected, after all he got that stare for the past three years in a row.  Really?  I’m going to have to endure that stare for three years?  But Jimmy in Accounts Payable was only give two weeks for using someone else’s butter.  Oh god!  The Butter!”
With all of that on the line, a co-worker and I were in the kitchen the other day and she remarked about the bag and how it was unopened.  We wondered who’s it was, and deducing it was actually left out for public consumption, she had wondered why it wasn’t opened?  Thus, the Open Bag Doctrine was born.  The Open Bag Doctrine goes as follows:

“If a food product of any sort shall be left in the fridge, out on the counter, or out on the table; and its owner or origin is unknown, it shall be up for grabs after a reasonable statute of limitations.  (Inter-office policy shall dictate the parameters that equal “reasonable”.  HR should really be consulted in matters like this.)

Should this product be intended for public consumption, it will remain dormant until someone opens the bag/breaks the seal/takes the first donut or bagel.  Once that first portion has been consumed, watch that puppy fly.”

I tested the Open Bag Doctrine’s validity by opening the bag, once it was cleared for public consumption by our coordinated opinions.  From the open bag, I took a handful of chips and savored my philosophical victory.  I even went back later that afternoon to load up on some chips with the Salsa I brought from home.  Sure enough, by lunch time today, the bag was about 3/4ths consumed when I grabbed a couple to dip in my soup.  I think we can officially say that the results are conclusive: The Open Bag Doctrine is now a thing.  So if you see a sealed bag or a plate of donuts just waiting to be opened or consumed in your office kitchen, remember that The Open Bag Doctrine applies.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Born On A Soapbox: My Political Life

I've been known to wax political on this fine blog of mine, and why not? I'm a Political Science junkie, having earned my degree in the field as of six years ago this past June. I've always been drawn to the process our nation has gone through to find itself new leaders and representatives, who are ideally standard bearers to light the way to a better tomorrow.  If you'd indulge me (and I assume you are, if you're reading past this statement), I'd like to editorialize and recap my political life and the experiences I've been through.

My earliest political memory was when I watched, what I assume were, the Dukakis/Bush debates of '88. I was 5 at the time, and between writing fake memos to my mother (I was playing "Guidance Counselor" at the time) I was supposedly commenting on the debates themselves. At one point or another, I said something that made my mother exclaim (with fond comedic value) "Michael, you little Communist". I assume I said something that sided with Dukakis, because my family loved Reagan so much they had to have voted for Bush. (Childhood memory eludes me with some details.)  I grew up in a (for all intents and purposes) Republican household.  As I'd said before, my family loved Reagan.  They still hold him as a standard bearer to this very day.  As much as my mother loved Reagan, my father loved Nixon.  He loved Nixon because he ended Vietnam and spared him the horrors of combat, as he was serving in The Marines during wartime.  I too hold a soft spot for Nixon for that same reason, as well as because of the man's political acumen, despite his ignominious end.

In High School, I was thinking of becoming a Senator in Virginia, and strangely enough my mother said that I sounded like Kennedy in my graduation speech.  Ask anyone in my f\family, and they'd probably recall that at various points in my upbringing I've been called "a born politician".  When I turned 18, I was so upset that I'd missed the 2000 election by a year, unable to fulfill my proud duty as a voter.  Still, if I remember correctly, I voted in a local election that year, and I was proud as anything.
 
It's no doubt that political thought has always been in my blood.  Especially as I went through college and found other like minded people (whom I'm still friends with to this day). We were the guys that read the paper at breakfast. The guys who would talk about Rassmussen polls when we weren't talking about movies. We were those guys you'd expect to take over the world, or at very least a small part of the campus.  And today, we're still sending each other poll results, political cartoons, and commentary on the election in general. 
 
Which brings us to today.  My youngest brother, Nicholas, has just turned 18 this year.  He's one of those infant minded citizens Ann Coulter wishes couldn't vote until they were 21.  Apologies to Ms. Coulter's remarks, but I believe otherwise.  I believe that in this country we still have civic minded people of a younger age that want to do something.  Now granted, there aren't a lot of them, but there are still some.  And I would like to pose the theory that growing up in a household of any strong political views does a person good.
 
Ever since I was a kid, I've had political values instilled in me as a core part of a person's life.  To quote an age old belief, popularly espoused by Aaron Tippin back in the '90s, "You've got to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything".  That's how I was raised.  I was raised to believe that voting is not just a privilege, it's a civic duty all Americans should take part in.  I was also raised to believe that elections aren't the time to sit around and let things pass you by.  I'll admit, there have been times I haven't made it to the polls.  I'm ashamed to admit that.  But we all have our mistakes and our failings, and I never fail to hold true to my beliefs.  I am, however, open to those beliefs evolving along with my tastes. 

This November, it's time for the electorate to once more raise its hands, cast its votes, and continue the American traditions of civic duty.  No matter who you vote for, no matter your convictions, you must vote so that you may be heard.  It's as simple as that.  I'm not going to dangle celebrities in your face, or pander to your fandoms and religious beliefs.  I'm appealing to your sensibilities as an American citizen.  A citizen who isn't afraid to speak their mind, be it on the Internet or at gatherings.  Someone who cares where this country is heading.  Someone who wants to make a difference.  We are living in times where good people should not live in silence.  We are in times where no one should be silent, so as to determine the true nature of the course our country is headed on.  These are trying times, that seem perilous and fraught with worry.  Moreso than we've ever seen, depending on who you talk to. 
 
I'd like to say that sentiment is false.  This country has been through plenty, and it's been through much worse.  True, we're not living in the salad days that some would tell you came before, but we're not at the bottom of the barrel.  We'd just like to think so, because it justifies our vote for the people we believe can save us.  Which is perfectly natural, in fact it's the way voters think.  But I'd like to think that proper voters, the people with true heads on their shoulders, vote with more than feelings.   They also vote with truths. 
 
Personal, inalienable truths that people hold self evident.  Truths that balance out with other people's truths, which combine to form one great truth: we're Americans, and we're damned proud of this country.  We're so proud of it, we want it to succeed and prosper as it has in the past.  The major disagreements are with who and how we carry on that greatness.  And if you fit the bill, then your county registry has a ballot with your name on it.  Your ticket to defend the republic for which we stand.  Our nation (you can take the 'Under God' as you may), indivisible, believing in liberty and justice for all. 
 
Some may see it hackneyed or trite for me to crib from old school political thought, and why not?  It's been used for good as well as bad in our political discourse.  But at least they've been used.  Indeed, the Founding Fathers, and all the great political minds that came after them in our long history, have written words that spoke to the nation.  Those words even built this nation, and those words will forever be the bedrock to our personal beliefs.  They are the ultimate precedent in our cases for where we want to go tomorrow.  Their intent may not always be pure or be just, but they are there to guide.
 
I'm going to close with another, more foggy memory of mine.  It's of my parents taking me to an Anti Florio rally in Trenton as a kid. (In fact, I think it was this rally here, because I remember signs about taxing toilet paper being present.  It's funny what you remember with things like this.)  Yes, my family was (and is still, for the most part) pretty Republican; and yes, for a time I too was in the Republican way with the family. As I grew up, I started to part terms with those ways, with the final divide being in the 2008 election.  In the end, I'd like to think my parents are proud of the sons they raised. No matter what party affiliation, no matter what politics they hold, I'd like to think that they are proud that we are active and voting.  America, get out and vote.  It's a tradition we should all agree to uphold.  And parents/friends/family?  Be proud to know a voter, no matter what their vote shall be.
 
Matt Stone and Trey Parker had it right.  "America...Fuck Yeah!"

The Monday GAAH! - 10/1/12


So last week wasn't as productive as I had hoped.  I had a slate of pieces ready to go, but my duties at The Bookish Kind and What Culture kind of have me working in triplicate.  Still, more writing is a good thing, and more places to show it off is also a good thing as well.  I can tell you this though: a new Musical Anatomy is in the works, as well as a new short fiction series, which is just in time for Halloween.  For now though, let's start the week off the way we always do...wishing it were Friday again.

- Anne Hathaway got married this weekend, and that's all we're saying on the matter.  No...seriously.  That's it.  Game over, man.  Game over.

- Also, the Doctor Who mid-season finale was as sad as everyone was hyping it up to be.  ARGH!  No questions on that either.  Jesus!

- R.I.P Michael O'Hare, Commander Jeffrey Sinclair from Babylon 5.  After a heart attack, Mr. O'Hare had slipped into a coma, upon which he never awoke.  J. Michael Straczynski posted a rather fitting tribute to him on his Facebook page.  It's from Mr. O'Hare's brother, and it's as sweet as it is heartbreaking.  Goodbye Mr. O'Hare. 

- The Breaking Dawn part II poster will slowly be revealed over the next 24 hours, piece by piece.  Currently available for view: the shits that I give about Twilight, and my joy for its departure into the annals of "trends that should have died a LONG time ago".

- Hotel Transylvania topped this weekend's box office, with Looper pulling a beautful second place finish.  Here's hoping for a long haul for the latter and a quiet exit for the former.  (I still haven't forgiven Adam Sandler for Jack and Jill and Bedtime Stories.)  That said, here's this weekend's Futile Box Office Predictions:

1.) Frankenweenie - It's a kid's release, it's Halloween, it's Tim Burton...Kindergartners and  Hot Topic rejoice.

2.) Looper - Expect some strong word of mouth, the handsome-ness of JGL and Bruce Willis, and time travel junkies to sell this puppy for another week.  (Hopefully.)

3.) Pitch Perfect - It's very Glee-esque and it had a 6th place soft opening, so I'm expecting a sleeper hit.  Unfortunately, it won't be a smash hit.  Thank Tim Burton for that.

Lovable Loser of the Week: Dredd 3D, because it's not exactly making a killing at the box office, which just leaves us with an awesome cult classic.  (And short hard, awesome SciFi/Action; whilst Len Wiseman is allowed to remake The Mummy.  Fair shake, eh Hollywood?)

Loathable Winner of the Week: Frankenweenie, because when Plain White T's does a cover of "Pet Semetary" on your soundtrack, you've kinda just summed up the expectations of this film for anyone who's above 12.  (The dog's still adorable, so I might give it a shot.)

- MSN's Unfortunate Headline Pairing of the Week: "Bieber vomits onstage | Bonaduce: Fan bit my faceTwo things:  1.)  Does this mean Justin Bieber has been performing all of his shows without listening to his own performances?  2.) What's Danny Bonaduce doing at a Justin Bieber concert, nevermind the fact that he had to have been in the front row to have been Bieber Blasted?  (At least, that's what I'd think Selena Gomez would call it.)

- I don't appologize for that Justin Bieber joke.  I'll apologize for it the day he apologizes for his music.

There's no video in the GAAAH this week, simply because I've already posted Episode 1 of Bumbloods earlier today.  My buddy Joe is the co-writer/co-star of this awesome zombie madness, and if you haven't seen it already head below this post and watch it!  Share, enjoy, and comment on the awe and glory that is Bumbloods. 

Bleeding Hell, or "You should be watching Bumbloods"


Full disclosure, before my gushing: the product I'm about to review is from a buddy of mine.  However, I wouldn't be selling you on this if I didn't think it was awesome.  And quite frankly, it's the tits.  You've been "warned".

A little backstory before we start: Joe Bandelli, one of the minds behind this miniseries I'm about to review, is a High School friend of mine.  We graduated the same class, ran against each other in the Senior Year Class President race, and we've kept in touch here and there.  For some time now, he's been making movies and putting them on the Internet for everyone to watch.  Unlike any celebutard that does the same thing though, his are actually pretty damned entertaining.  And now, with the Season of the Witch upon us, it's time for things to get a little spooky.  Also, a little funny, because every trick needs a treat.  Bumbloods brings the tricks, and remembers to supply the treats as well.

Short synopsis: Dr. Jeremy Madison (Played by co-writer Matthew Wise), along with his roommate Mario Krepeli (played by Mr. Bandelli) are two of the last men standing after a new synthetic drug turns 90% of the world into zombies, or "Bumbloods".  Our story will focus on these two men and their quest for survival, redemption, or at the very least a healthy case of bromance.

I'm going to go out on a limb and do one of those critic comparisons that you always hear with movies.  If you loved Shaun of the Dead, you're going to love Bumbloods.  No...seriously, you will.  Bandelli and Wise manage to recapture the Shaun/Ed dynamic that Pegg and Frost made famous, but still manage to bring something fresh to the table.  Jeremy and Mario aren't just pale comparisons to the work of Edgar Wright, but they are loving homages that nail everything you love about those characters without looking like some kid just changed the names and set it in New York.  (In other words, this won't end up on CBS' line up starring Lucy Liu anytime soon.)  It's fun, it's zombified, and it's something that should have been loading on your computer in the time it took you to read this review.


No worries, I'll provide the embed down below.  (And, if you're all interested, I'll gladly provide the embeds every Monday.  If anything, that works because I always have a Monday video to push anyway.)  So, without further ado, I proudly present to you all: Bumbloods - Episode 1: "Saving Grace".  Don't forget to visit www.bumbloods.com for stills, information on the show, as well as a fresh episode every Monday in October.  (And if you guys like what Joe and Company have provided, you're going to want to be around here on Friday.  Let's just say an idea I've had brewing for last Halloween has decided to re-animate itself.  Yes, for the subtlety impaired, it's a zombie story.)


Bumbloods Episode 1: Saving Grace by Bumbloods

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Letter of Concern to Mr. Francis Shammo



So Verizon Wireless has decided to get rid of its Unlimited Data Plans instead of a newer, fresher approach: The "Share Everything" Plan.  As if that weren't enough of an insult to customers who've stays with Verizon for years on end, one of their corporate officers (One Francis Shammo) showed just how out of touch the company is with the consumer.

In order to give them what for, I wrote them a rather upset letter.  Now warning:  this puppy's long, so if you've got a while, feel free to enjoy.  Also, if you like/agree with the letter, I suggest you do what I intend to do...flood the Internet with this letter (or send it to Mr.Shammo himself at Verizon Communications.  I don't have a mailing address for him, so I might just send it to a corporate address and address it as "Care Of...").
"Unlimited is just a word, it doesn't really mean anything.”
“That whole unlimited thing, I think, is going by the wayside."
-
Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications

Dear Mr. Shammo,

                Back in 2001, I received my first Verizon Wireless Phone: a sign my father was ready to move into the Cellular Phone age and ready to let his eldest boy jump onboard as well.  Up until this point, I’d only ever had a TracFone.  My parents were worried I’d be one of those kids that would use their minutes like water and run up overages on the account.  Overages, as most consumers know, are the devil when it comes to service contracts.   Who really wants to pay for something that should (logically) be included in the contract?  We’ll get to the point of Overages later, but for now I’ll continue to reminisce about my adolescence.  It helps sell the emotional impact of my ultimate message.
I also remember by time I was in College in 2002, I was a text fiend.   Enough of a text fiend that I racked up HUGE text overages.  My father, the person responsible for the bill, was furious about these overages, and kept telling me to watch my texting.  While I tried to, I couldn’t help but use it.  I mean, cell phones were giving my generation a convenient way for all of us to communicate in situations where a phone just wasn’t convenient.  But then, one day, something beautiful happened…Unlimited Texting!  This wonderful revelation gave us the ability to use this new and handy feature all of our phones were built for (and required to have) and we were allowed to use it freely, without fear of recrimination or overage fees!  Soon, Unlimited Mobile to Mobile calling happened: Hooray for that too!  I can call people who have Verizon and not have to wait until after 9:01 PM or The Weekend!  I can TALK to people!  The very things Cell Phones were built for…I could engage in them freely!
Off the top of my head, I can remember several (if not all) of the phones I’ve had under the Verizon Wireless Banner:

Motorola  (Model Unknown): 2001 – 2003  (It was small and black, had ringtones out of an 8 bit video game, and had a green backlit display with black text.  I still look fondly upon this phone, even with the constant $10 replacement antennas I had to keep buying.)
Motorola t720: 2003 – 2005  (Color!  And a flip phone!  And 16 bit ringtones!  It was so advanced at the time, I loved it to shreds.  Still had problems with that damned antenna though!)
Unknown: 2005 – 2007 (You’ve got me on this one.  I don’t know what phone I had at the time.)
Motorola Krzr: 2007 – 2009  (Finally!  No damned antennas!  And it was a camera phone!  And it was red!  I sidestepped the Chocolate craze and went with this reliable phone.)
Blackberry 8330: 2009 – 2011 (At last!  I dip my toe into the Smartphone waters!  And it was…hampered by that damned trackball.  And it was so behind in the App world.  Honestly, Blackberry was on their way out for a while, and this was only proof.  Still a decent phone with a decent camera.  I only replaced it because I was due for an upgrade just as the battery died its final death.)
HTC Droid Incredible: 2011 – Present  (Which brings us to today.  I have a full on Smartphone…and it sucks.  It was great in the beginning, but then it started glitching out on me randomly and turning off at any given moment.  Not to mention the screen will light up for no reason, except to perhaps say “Hi.  How are you?”.  Also, the panels will shift without me swiping.  That’s kinda weird too.)
                Now through my twin narratives of added features to the calling plans, as well as the hardware used on said plans, there’s a singular thread running through both…evolution.  What was once a “premium” feature on a phone, prone to caps and overages as any good premium feature is wont to do, eventually became a “standard” feature.  For definitive purposes:

               
Premium Features: Special features that will lead to, if not already entail, premium charges.  Think of a cable provider getting TV Land for the first time and shelving it on a slightly higher tier than Basic Cable.
                Standard Features: Bare bone features that are eventually built into plans and the hardware that is used in said plans.  They are commonplace, and compulsory in design.  To further the cable analogy, this is when TV Land shifts to a lower, more basic tier; and becomes part of the standard lineup.
                Text Messaging used to be a Premium Feature, now it’s pretty much Standard.  Camera Phones used to be Premium Features, where you’d have to pay higher prices for a phone that allowed it (and a plan that allowed it too).  Again, that became standard.  Unlimited Mobile to Mobile…you get the drift.  The trend held: something was introduced as a Premium, but then became a Standard once something new came along.  However, this where it gets tricky.
                When I got my first Blackberry, I remember buying  my first Data Plan.  For $30, I was allowed access to the Data Network on my Phone, which allowed me to surf the web, download apps, and use what seemed like Premium functionality on my somewhat Premium phone.  (Smartphones were starting to become Standard at the time, so this whole part of the narrative is in a rather grey area.)  Wow…a Premium feature that was pretty damned Premium!  Sign me up for that bad boy!
(It is at this point in the story where I suggest you take out your Top of the Line Cell Phone (Presumably an iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy III), with Unlimited Data no doubt, and either load up YouTube or Spotify.  There yet?  Marvelous.  Now then, I’d cue up the song “Our Town” by James Taylor.  It’s on the Cars soundtrack, so if you can find one that’s complete with the narration and visuals, feel free to load that up for a Premium experience.  After all, you have all the data, um…time, in the world.  Ready to go?  Excellent.)

                Over time, Data Plans became standard on Cell Phones.  The number of phones that didn’t require Data Plans dwindled.  It was why my father bought an LG Cosmos Touch, a phone I’d have never suggested he buy, except for his distain of having to pay for a data plan.  It’s why my kid brother still has an LG Titanium, which too its credit has stuck around for a while.  But alas, the phone has grown feeble, and may not live to see Christmas.  (Or, it’ll just keep wonking out.  Sorry, was going for dramatic narrative/A Christmas Carol vibe there.)  Now if history were anything to go by, one would have assumed that Data Usage would have just been built into plans and become Standard.  But I guess there isn’t anything new and shiny for you to charge consumers a “Premium” rate for, because that’s exactly what hasn’t happened.  But wait…there was something you could have charged a “Premium” rate for.  Family Data Plans!  Duh!
(How’s the video doing?  If it’s ended, just cue it up again.  In fact, set it on a loop.  Again, data is, um time is on your side.  Are you getting the same feeling in your gut Lightning McQueen did when he learned about Route 66 being bypassed, thus turning Radiator Springs into a Ghost Town?  Keep reading, you’ll get there.)
Instead of starting Family Data Plans though, you’ve started a de-evolving process.  You’re now charging for a feature you used to provide freely, and in Unlimited Quantities.  You’re building a bypass road that’ll take all of the cars away from Route 66.  The problem though?  You’re Radiator Springs…and you’re building the road for everyone to drive away and into the arms of another provider.  That bypass road?  The “Share Everything Plan”: the plan that does away with unlimited data and forces people to choose Data Brackets to share with their families.

(Ok, we’re reaching a crescendo now.  Time to switch music.  Still got Spotify/YouTube up?  Great.  Now load up either Ravel’s Bolero or Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  It’s time, um I mean data, for a change.  No, wait, I was right the first time!  Anyhow, moving on…)

                Oh sure, you could say “Those are family plans, Mr. Reyes.  We’re evolving!”.  To which I would reply, “No, Mr. Shammo.  You’re partially evolving in the short term, but backsliding into de-evolution in the long term.  And it is keeping customers in your good graces that occurs in the long term.”  (I should know, I‘ve been a customer of yours for the past 11 years.)  And the truth is, your comments about “unlimited” being “just a word”, as well as your selling practices with the new “Share Everything” plan, have been brazen about the fact that Unlimited Data seems like a passing craze.
                In fact when you’re shilling the iPhone 5 on the official Verizon Wireless website,  you include a tab that says “Why Verizon?”.  Under that tab, you flagrantly hawk your Share Everything plan.  I wouldn’t do that if I were you, simply because that’s a reason to ask “Why Should I Not Get Verizon?”  I know you’re secretly laughing to yourself, thinking “You want Unlimited Data?  Go find it somewhere else, peasant.” Wait…you’re not saying that?  You mean as somewhat sensible businessman, you WANT to keep my business?  Buddy, you want to keep my business as much as Mitt Romney wants that 47% of voters that would never vote for him to do just that.  In other words, you have a really funny way of showing that you want my business, and the business of all of us other former “Grandfather Clause” cases.

                If anything, “Grandfather Clauses” are there for a reason: they help promote business.  In the Contracting World (a world I occupy as a professional), we have what we call “Legacy Customers”.   Those are the guys we stay with on efforts we keep over time, simply because it’d cost too much to switch to someone else.  Also, we stay with them because they take care of us.  You know…like good business partners do.  Now in my own personal price justification for your network, I cannot justify paying for a “Sharable Pool of Data” at (insert rate here, on top of monthly phone rate), when Sprint or Tmobile will offer me and my family an “Unlimited Everything” plan for (insert rate here).  It’s stupid for us to remain with you, and that’s four plans you’re saying goodbye to.  Do the math on how much you’re losing the next two years you would have had with us.  And don’t even get me started on your policy of paying full price for a phone, yet keeping your Unlimited Data Plan.  You’re not going to get that extra money from me…you haven’t earned it.  If anything, you’ve squandered my customer loyalty in this decision.  
It is with all of this fact digging and emotional reminiscence that I have arrived at the decision…my family and I are switching carriers.  You’ve gotten our money over 11 years, and this is the thanks we get?  You sure have a lot of nerve trying to make a quick buck like this, when you’ve usually been classier than the rest when it comes to things such as this.  You should be moving to Unlimited Data built into the plans, much like you did when you built Unlimited Mobile to Mobile Calling, or Unlimited Texting into your plans.  You shouldn’t be backsliding and start to charge extra for something you’ve been offering for free.  That’s how you lose business, and that’s what’s happening here.  (Also, you’ll notice my father is the primary account holder, not me.  He listens to me on what we should do in terms of this kind of stuff, so you’re not safe with him either.)
                However, I have a problem…and you have an opportunity.   My plan is up for renewal next Spring (around April or so, with a window of Early “Discounted” Renewal in December), and as of this moment I’m thinking of switching to an unlimited Data/Voice provider.  Think Sprint or Tmobile.  Indeed, if I can’t have my Unlimited Data, I will get it elsewhere.  The fact of the matter is, I’ve gone to bat for you several times over the years.  I’ve scored you converts who have stayed throughout all this time.   If I wanted to, I could probably influence them to bugger off.  All I have to do is start the trend, and then others will start it too.  Up until that moment where it all just crashes down on you and you’re left with a husk of a corporate giant.  Oh, right…I was supposed to give you an opportunity as well as a problem.  Your opportunity: undo your decision to not grandfather Unlimited Data users into the program.  Believe me, customer loyalty money is easier to earn than New Plan Change money.  (And it doesn’t result in angry letters that reference Disney/Pixar films to get a point across/ are posted on the Internet.)
                In closing, allow me, the humble and misguided consumer, to give you a short history lesson.  (And if you’ve skipped to the end of this letter , you’ll still get my point.  It’ll just be without nuance or rationale…much like your decision to take away Unlimited Data.  Except I didn’t force a family of four consumers to keep their outmoded phones I no longer produce in order to prove my point.)  Hollywood Video’s CEO was known for saying that the Online Rental “craze” that Blockbuster bought into was just that…a craze.  A passing fancy.   Soon to no longer be a going concern.  Well, I would suggest that you take out your Unlimited Data 4G LTE iPhone 5/Galaxy III again, and load up the website for Blockbuster.com and HollywoodVideo.com.  Notice who’s a rental chain (albeit a struggling one), and notice who’s an entertainment blog/merchandise hub.  (Hint:  It’s pretty obvious if you’ve read the rest of the letter.)

                The clock is ticking, Mr. Shammo, and don’t think I won’t be circulating this letter (and any future responses) to my friends.  In fact, it’s already on my blog.  It’s ok though.  If you’re lucky, my words will just be words.  Doomed to go by the wayside, signifying nothing.

                Regards,
                Michael Reyes

The Monday GAAAH! - 9/24/12


 
So...excuses for my absence this time: none.  Honestly, I think I got fatigued.  A lot of stuff has happened in my life.  Some good, some bad, some a  mix of both, but all busying.  That post last Friday was a wake up call, and it felt good to be writing again.  I hope it lasts this time, as I've already taken way more leave from this gig than I had ever intended.  Onwards...

-          Are we allowed to say The Avengers was the best movie of the Summer?  It totally was.  I mean, A #1 Second Prize with a Blue Ribbon goes to The Dark Knight Rises, but we know where the bread is buttered people.

-          The Full House reunion was this weekend, with only the Olsen Twins being absent from the festivities.  Oh the jokes Bob Saget must have told in their absence.

-          Headline from MSN’s “WonderWall”: “Case Closed: Fred Willard has completed a Sex Education Course.”  One would think that if anyone wouldn’t need  a Sex Ed course, it’d be Fred Willard.  C’mon, he was in a Porno theater!  He was already getting a lesson in his seat!  Still, it pleases me to know that Mr. Willard now knows where babies come from.  That’s the first innocence to be lost, Sir.  Be wary!

-          While we’re still on the subject, wouldn’t it be funny if we got Fred Willard to narrate a sex ed film for High Schoolers.  It might help raise awareness, and laughs.  Just saying.

-          Cee Lo Green has a Christmas Album coming out at the end of October, with a special to accompany.  Honestly, that sounds like the best Christmas album since Michael Buble’s album last year.  (This also inspires me to create a new hashtag for the holidays:  Start tweeting #CeeLoForSanta, kids!)

-          This Week’s Addition to the Lexicon: “Ass Sandwich” – A really shitty situation.  Something that just sucks to no end.  “You lost to Jimmy Fallon at the Emmys?  Boy, talk about an ass sandwich.”

-          Ben and Kate…looks like it’s only a week from cancellation.

-          If people saw my “Recently Viewed” lineup from IMDB, I’d dare them to make a film incorporating all of the entries.  (It would also probably be the best film in seven known universes.)

-          End of Watch (which I always come perilously close to calling ‘End of Line’) debuted at #1 this past weekend.  With that in mind, here are this weekend’s Futile Box Office Predictions:

o   1.) Looper (I’m being optimistic, but I think it’s been brand saturated enough that Joseph Gordon Levitt’s mug equals box office gold.)

o   2.) Hotel Transylvania (Kids…what do you expect?)

o   3.) Pitch Perfect (It sounded stupid, but then I saw the trailer and fell in love.  It’s only a limited release this weekend, but I think it’ll build a lot of buzz.  This has sleeper hit written all over it.)

Loveable Loser of the Week: Dredd 3D, because it was beaten by a dying franchise, a 3D re-release, an attempt to make Clint Eastwood happen again, an obvious cash in, and an awesome looking indie hit.  (Open Road Films isn’t a major studio, so End of Watch can be considered an “indie hit”.)

Loathable Winner of the Week: Trouble with the Curve, because studios and politicians alike think that if Clint Eastwood simply acts like a grizzled old man on the screen, it’ll rake in the dough.  You need the heart behind the grizzle.  Just ask Eastwood himself…he perfected it in Gran Turino.

This week's Opening Act highlights the gaffes, flubs, and shut outs of one Willard Mitt Romney. The video speaks for itself, just as Governor Romney does.  Presented without comment...