Saturday, February 28, 2009

This is neither the time nor the correct forum but I HATE AT&T

I have never had as infuriating an experience as I am having with AT&T on this sunny Chicago Saturday. Hands down the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my life.

First, some background. I bought an iPhone--which I love--but of course AT&T's service doesn't hold a candle to Sprint and so I am constantly struggling to get a solid signal in the middle of A MAJOR AMERICAN CITY, the third biggest city in the US!

Regardless--that's not what this is about. I also have AT&T home phone service, and DSL. Recently, through the genius of AT&T's left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, I've been getting mailers saying that as an AT&T wireless customer, I can get DSL without a landline. (Something that was not possible not that long ago.) Great, I thought, I will cancel home phone, I never use it anyway (and somehow my move to Chicago made my Uniden cordless phone batteries last about 5 minutes anyway). So today (yes, a Saturday, but come on), I decided to try to take care of some business. I figured, shoot, it's 2009, I should be able to go on the website and knock this out in 10 minutes. No. The website is the worst designed PoS I have ever seen, I mean there are links to other links to Bell South to SBC to wherever and I ended up at "this page does not exist" at least twice. When I finally got to a "create an account" page--I had to put in info--and at first they couldn't find an account with my phone number! Finally, once they did, I had to sit and wait for them to call my home phone with a confirmation code. Finally got there, and got to a FAQ that said I had to call a phone number to cancel.

Great.

So I call up, a very nice guy answers (after a 5 minute wait) the "plans and services" number on my bill (1-800-288-2020), and after discerning what I wanted, "transferred me to the disconnection department". Great. Except for the fact that he transferred me to a department that is CLOSED on Saturdays. Way to tell me ahead of time. And of course, there's no way to transfer back. Ridiculous.

After some more screwing around on the website I decided to wait until Monday to take care of that. I had another task to take care of with AT&T.

I've also been getting separate mailers (I get about 15 pieces of AT&T mail a week) saying that "as a high-speed internet customer you can get online at more places you go every day without extra Wi-Fi fees" meaning "the nation's largest Wi-Fi network, including Starbucks." Nice, I had been thinking, this is a great added-value to my home DSL. Now how does it work--since Starbucks and the AT&T hotspots ask for a password? I asked the first guy on the phone this question today and he says to "go to att.com and click on Wi-Fi for more info."

I invite you to go to att.com and try to find the link for "Wi-Fi." Not happening.

So give up on that, and look at the tiny print on the mailer, where it says to go to attwifi.com for details. Fair enough. On there, after figuring out where to look, I see that it is as easy as "Simply use your AT&T high-speed Internet membership ID and password at any AT&T Wi-Fi Basic hot spot." Now I don't know about you, but I don't know what the hell my "high speed Internet membership ID" is. My DSL is hooked up, I hook up at home, I don't use a password or email or anything with AT&T, so what does this mean. I decide to try calling the number on my bill for "Internet Services". Got through right away, where either a junior high dropout or somebody 9000 miles away was attempting to "help" me over the phone. I had to read my telephone number 3 times to him, the third time I think he was trying to read along with me.

Me: 3-1-...
Him: 3-1...
Me: Umm...yeah, 3-1-2...
Him: 2...
Me*: 4-
Him: -4
Me: 1-
Him: 1-
Me: SHUT UP AND JUST LISTEN WHILE I TELL YOU THE NUMBER FOR THE THIRD FREAKING TIME!!!


So finally we get my account number, and I have chewed through another pen and 2 layers of tooth enamel

I explain what I am looking for (as a DSL customer, I received a mailer saying that I can use AT&T Wi-Fi at Starbucks and other AT&T places.) This guy on the phone had no idea what I was saying. I am 75% sure he had no idea what "Starbucks" was. All I wanted to know was "what is a AT&T high speed membership ID." After fumbling around with this guy for a while, his grand solution was to...ask the people at Starbucks, they should be the best people to solve my problem.

At this point I had no choice but to throw my iPhone through my window toward the Chicago river. It only made it halfway across Illinois Street, where it landed softly in a giant pothole. Then I started writing this diatribe, something I've never done before. After getting this far, I decided to give it one last try.

Called back, and a gentleman creatively named "Jackson" answered. I got right to the point this time, not mentioning Starbucks, or anything else, just asking what is my membership ID. At this point he refused to give me my membership ID--was asking pointed questions on "why do you want to know this?" Instead of blowing my lid, I explained I needed it to use the AT&T Wi-Fi that is included with my DSL service. He obviously had no idea what I was talking about, put me on hold, "checked with his associates", and then said he wanted 2 minutes to transfer me to the Wi-Fi department, who could help me.

I got transfered to another God-foresaken computerized menu, with options about an AT&T Mobility card, etc. After hitting zero for an operator 6 or 7 times, got put on hold, and finally a nice young woman named Amy got on the phone to talk me off the ledge. After we figured out my ***@sbcglobal.net email address, she explained that I use that, and my password, and the provider "sbcglobal.net" to log in.

Sure, makes a lot of sense. But at least now I think it might work. It has now been 116 minutes since I started this journey, and only got a tiny bit of information. Still can't cancel my home service. But at least I can access hotspots at McDonald's, Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks, none of which serve Jack Daniels, which is what I need right now.

Sprint and Time Warner, I never thought I'd miss you like this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Days in a Cold Month

Terry Pluto today declares what most Cavs fans know already--this is one of the finest teams that a Cleveland fan will ever be lucky enough to watch.  Brings me back to the 1995 Indians, when every day they're expected to win--and to do something memorable nearly every night (sorry, this is the best video I could find). 

The team that could win it all was on the court Sunday. It's the team that plays like a hand in a glove. Yes, James is the thumb, and without a strong thumb, no hand can function at its peak. But the other four fingers -- all different sizes -- are needed.

West and Williams may be one of the smallest backcourts in the NBA, but they are among the best. They are two old-fashioned guards. They can handle the ball. They can shoot from long range. They can drive to the basket. They are absolutely delighted to be on the same court with James, and love sharing his spotlight.

Don't you love it not only when Ilgauskas swishes those 18-footers, but when the 7-foot-3 center dives on the court for a loose ball? Or when Ben Wallace taps out a rebound to a teammate? Or when Szczerbiak breaks his nose, puts on a mask and keeps hustling? Or when Anderson Varejao draws charges, throws elbows and absolutely infuriates opponents?

I love it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

As the deadline turns...






All seems quiet on the Cavaliers’ trade front as we approach today’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline. Numerous national reports have stated that Danny Ferry is cooking the phones at various levels of urgency to get ‘er done. (Edit at 2:40 EST..the Cavs are in talks with Phoenix for Shaq! Ben and Pavlovic for the big man is the offer. Doesn't look likely at this point...Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer has the Suns asking for Wally and Sasha and the Cavs possibly trying to include a third team in the mix.) My question is: Are the Cavs legitimate championship contenders even if Ferry is unable to pull off a deal?

My answer is: Yes, with the disclaimer that getting another piece would lessen the task’s degree of difficulty.

In any contending season there’s always the feeling that you want your team to do something at the trade deadline. John Hart was never able to get that front-line pitcher during the Tribe’s 90s heyday. He did pick up Kevin Seitzer for Jeromy Burnitz…while that was pretty awesome Seitzer was not quite the player the Indians needed to win that elusive World Series championship.



Are the Cavs, like the Tribe teams of the past, missing that one significant ingredient that could prevent them from winning a ring? I’d say the answer is “no.” If they have one deficiency I suppose it’s in the frontcourt. There were some A-list names connected to the Cavs’ over the last few days…Stoudemire, Jamison…fans see those names and their eyes light up.

Those same fans see an older Z, an achy Wallace, and an unpredictable Andy and quail in mortal terror that those three will not be good enough to beat the Lakers or Celtics. The home loss against the Lakers freaked people out…LA was without Bynum and their big men still ate us up inside, nervous fans point out. “We can’t waste Wally’s $13M magic bullet!! Let’s get Shaq!!” they cry.

I admit the LA game was an eye-opener. Lamar Odom was grabbing offensive boards all over the place and simply popping them back in the hoop. Z and Co. could not handle Pau Gasol’s inside game, either. But one game against a possible Finals opponent doesn’t necessarily mean grabbing the biggest, most expensive “name” you can find. Hell, the Cavs were 2-0 against San Antonio in the 2007 regular season. That didn’t mean much come June.

I’m all for “winning now:” Just tell me what trade scenario gives us the most realistic chance of doing so without blowing up the roster or sacrificing chemistry. We’re not going to trade half the team for Chris Bosh, and it looks like Phoenix is going to hang on to Stoudemire. Same with the Wizards and Jamison, although Washington’s stance doesn’t seem as concrete as the Suns. Marcus Camby interests me – a “character” guy who can defend and rebound and would not make waves about getting minutes. However, the Clips don’t seem interested in dealing him, either.

That leaves us with the likely scenario of the current roster staying intact. That is not a horrible thing. Delonte West, our best one-on-one defender and another guy who spreads the floor for the offense, will be back in the next week. This squad just needs to get back to the defensive intensity that saw them murdering teams at the beginning of the season. Another big man would help (Joe Smith buyout, anyone?), but the Cavs don’t necessarily need one to win a title.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shoot - At Least for One Night (Okay Ten Minutes) I Thought I was Back in the Late 90s

As usual, things become a little more interesting on the "Road to WrestleMania" and this year is no different. As the WWE prepares for it's yearly megashow, the storylines take different twists and turns from the monotonous angles that we're accustom to these days. Brand crossovers, mainstream entertainers, wrestling legends returning, anticipation of the upcoming draft, etc. make the weeks leading up to 'Mania at least watchable from a viewer's perspective.

Don't get me wrong... with Vince McMahon's monopoly on the business, the industry has a LONG way to go to get back to it's renaissance of the mid to late 1990s and the Monday Night Wars. This period marked a time of daring writing and surprises each and every week. The day Scott Hall, coming in from the crowd, interrupted a match on WCW television and "shot" about, among other things, how "we" [WWF a the time] were declaring war marked a rebirth of the industry. The (first) Invasion Angle, which led to the birth of the Outsiders, and then the NWO revolutionized the sport. Shooting became customary. Talking about other companies (which was never done before) was a weekly formality. And breaking kayfabe (breaking character) to advance a storyline was used more than ever... which leads us to last night's Raw.

As I stated before... wrestling has become stale because of what I attribute to lack of real competition from another rival company. WWE is over-saturated as well, and breaking into three "brands" seemed like a good idea at the time, but I feel actually LIMITS angle development. Ironically, this is what makes the Road to WrestleMania (the weeks leading up to the event) interesting.

Road to WrestleMania "unofficially" starts at No Way Out, a second level Pay Per View that is the PPV prior to WrestleMania... and this year's did not disappoint from what I've read. SmackDown's Edge lost his WWE Title 18 minutes into his Elimination Chamber Match (and 18 minutes into the show), and then shocked the world by jumping a Raw superstar and taking his place in Raw's Elimination Chamber World Title Match, eventually winning their World Championship Title. So now what? A SmackDown star has the Raw belt. And Triple H (another SmackDown star) has that brand's title by winning THEIR Elimination Chamber (the one Edge lost). Oh, what a predicament!

This unpredictability continued on Raw as Edge was challenged by former champ John Cena, whether as Cena put it, it be on Raw or SmackDown.

Then we get Rowdy Roddy Piper, a continuation of a storyline being developed between retired Ric Flair and Chris Jericho (originally with Mickey Rourke involved). Roddy comes to the ring and tells Jericho he's going to "shoot" here. INSTANT CLASSIC!

But the final event that solidified the show as the best Raw in years came at the end. Ever since "The Legend Killer" Randy Orton kicked Vince McMahon in the head, Vince's son Shane (along with his sister Stephanie) have been in an on-going feud that included a fight at No Way Out and continued on Raw last night. Shane was (kayfabe) taken to a hospital the night before after his match, challenges Orton to a street fight.... no rules... fight until someone isn't standing. Stephanie pleads with him not to do it and later is on the phone begging someone to hurry and get there because Shane won't listen. Who could that be on the phone? Vince? Her mother Linda?

Before I continue... in real life Stephanie is married to Triple HHH (with 2 young babies). A few years ago Trips and Steph were a married couple on-camera until (as wrestling gimmick marriage's usually go) they had a big falling out and subsequent "program". After that Triple HHH (with DX partner HBK) tormented Steph and her family, especially Vince. Trips would insult her, call her a slut, etc... all the typical things that come with the territory of working with your wife in the world of professional wrestling.

Anyway, as the years have gone on, and programs evolved (and Stephanie was off-camera having babies) Triple HHH's character evolved as well. When Steph would make occasional appearances, Trips would make innuendos about their real life marriage with comments about Steph's husband having a big you-know-what, slipping her a kiss on camera to infuriate Vince, etc.

So last night on Raw was the Coupe de Grace. Orton beat down Shane, kicked him in the head, and when Stephanie ran to the ring to check on Shane with the paramedics , he delivers a hellacious RKO to her! Suddenly there's a huge pop (a favorable crowd reaction) and Triple HHH (wearing street clothes and apparently who Steph was talking to on the phone about his brother-in-law Shane) flies to the ring, checks on an unconscious Stephanie, and becomes irate... Kayfabe is "broken" as WWE admits to their real-life marriage. In actuality, this is 100% pure kayfabe at it's best. The wrestling characters have been replaced by real life.

We have our next big feud leading to WrestleMania.... Orton vs. Triple HHH... and remember when I said SmackDown had two champions? My guess is Triple HHH will becoming to Raw, "officially" transferred by Stephanie McMahon or the McMahon family.

For a brief time, wrestling was unpredictable again... and it was memorable enough for me to shoot (write this).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mike Brown Goes OFF


If you haven't heard Mike Brown's post-game reaction to the Cavs getting jobbed against the Pacers, you have to listen it here. It is (as Ted Dibiase Jr.'s theme music says) "PRICELESS"!

As he says himself, Coach Brown NEVER does this and all about no excuses, so you know if he's going off like this, he's pissed.

For some reason (maybe because it's just audio) I can't get it to link directly, so you'll have to go to site yourself...

www.nba.com/media/cavaliers/postgame_090210_v2.mp3

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Get on Your Boots, put the CD down, and run...


...At least that is my first reaction after hearing the new U2 song. I think this picture sums it up for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

One for the thumb..and Santonio digs Lebron

Ugggh. Another Super Bowl for what undoubtedly is the best franchise in the NFL. A franchise that every Browns fan is jealous of hell about for sure, up to and including this one. While we look like the freaking Kansas City Royals, and they look like the Yankees, and we pretend there's a rivalry while Pittsburgh could probably care less about the Browns.

At the very least, the bright spot is that Santonio payed LeBron homage after his touchdown...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vox Superbowl Sunday Pix

Good season, it was. Vox Pix has finally come to its welcomed conclusion. Although the actual writing was never as tight or innovative as it should've been, you can't argue with my handicapping results. Yes, that was the Vox that went 2-0 on Championship Sunday, swiping 3 dimes from the Crookie. A win today will put me eight games over .500, which is exactly where I ended up last year. Even though I struggled with my overall pick'em record in the reg season and playoffs, I turned a nice profit for everyone because I knew which games to pounce on and when to lay off. Bottom line, I know what I don't know. And that has helped me bury my book for the 3rd consecutive season. And we won't stop. 'Coz we can't stop.

Pittspuke 30-24
Your Super Wager is 2 dimes on Arizona +7.


Playoffs Overall: 3-7
Playoffs Against the Spread: 6-4
Playoffs Against the Crookie: 3-1


Season/Playoffs vs. the Crookie: 28-21-3
Last 2 Seasons vs. the Crookie: 48-33-6.

...And STILL Cleveland's Premier handicapper.

On a somber note, I will unfortunately be leaving this blog for awhile. I may comment on something here and there, but the Vox will no longer be a regular contributor. I have to go dream it all up again. I'll see yall someday in the promised land. As they say, parting is...inevitable.