Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lights, Camera, Action...

Victoria and I have gone to three good movies in the last few weeks. Well, one is good in the sense that I liked it but on a spiritual end I wouldn't call it "good". Green Street Hooligans is a movie that was written, produced and directed by Lexi Alexander.
You can check out the trailer here to get the jist of the plotline:

lots of foul language and violence as you might have guessed. Still, it caught my attention and had to see it. Lately I've been obsessed about football (soccer) and more especially about Norwich City which has a team in the Championship League (one division below the English Premier League). The way their leagues work, there are about 5 levels of play. Teams buy players, and based on how well they play within their league they either stay at their level (most do) or they gain promotion or even get demoted.
For instance, Norwich City for a long time played in the 1st Division (one level below Championship). They made it to Championship and played there for a while until earning premiership in 2003. They were demoted after last season because they didn't compete well at that level. This year they're middle of the table (standings) in the Championship League after the 1st break. People are calling for the head of the boss (head coach) Nigel Worthington. He brought them premiership but they don't think he can do it again. After watching them the last few months maybe I agree.
ANYWAYS, so I've always had a connection with Britain. I study their history, read books and watch shows on the country, especially post-roman to Elizabeth the First. Actually I'm more fascinated with the Pre-Roman Celtic era. They mostly couldn't read or write. They didn't keep many records. All we really know is their art and some of their culture...very little really. How did they live? Anyways...I'm getting off track.
So with my obsession of soccer comes of course the fans. Soccer hooligans or firms, as they're also known, are well documented and this movie came out at the right time to catch me up. I liked it. Lexi was part of a firm in Germany but this is set in WestHam and features the two most well known firms in England: WestHam and Millwall. The Green Street Elite are fictional but some members of the ICF, WestHam's real firm, were in the movie. I loved the movie for what it was and I got the message by the end. Anyone who watches this movie wanting to become a hooligan is too stupid to live. Perhaps the reason why this rambling was so long is that I'm still having trouble justifying why I saw the movie and why I want to see it again.

Now there's Mirrormask and we already talked about this. By far the best movie I've seen in quite some time. That trailer is here:
I can't really explain how good this movie is. You just have to see it yourself. Maybe it's not your thing. Still, I loved it and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.

This morning we saw Serenity. Victoria brought home the first few episodes of Firefly from Netflix and I liked it. Most people don't like the theme song but I've found a version of it I can stomach. We have seen all the episodes and Serenity was a good movie. Makes it easier having seen the episodes and having already been somewhat emotionally attached to the characters.

Ahhhh movies are good.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cheatin', lyin', no good, low down...

SO here's the story.

So back in April I go into Jiffy Lube...I can hear you groaning now, but let me finish...I go into Jiffy Lube in Poway and I get the fuel filter replacement service. Now up until this point I've gone to Jiffy Lube for 5 years and never once had a problem. OK back in 2003 they left something in the engine and I threw timing belt in Utah on the I-15 in the middle of nowhere. OK it was just north of Fillmore. Anyways I drove into the gas station there and this wonderful lady, who just happened to once manage an apartment complex off Broadway and D in Chula Vista, called the local mechanic out of bed at like 6am and he took care of me. In 4 hours my car was fixed. I paid the $75 and drove home feeling relieved and entirely grateful.

Now back to the story. So two weeks ago Tuesday, I'm driving to work. I'd just dropped Victoria off and was on the I-5 just passing the junction with the 805 when the engine I felt the gas give and power drop. I tried punching the gas but it wouldn't upshift and the gas pedal was pushing back. It wouldn't let me press down any more and I wasn't even halfway to being to the floor.
Well I merged over to the slow lane and parked in the safety lane at the end of the on-ramp from the westbound Hwy 56. I called AAA and they towed me to Encinitas Ford.

I talked to Dennis Heath at Encinitas Ford and he gave me an estimate of $128 and mentioned to me it seemed I was leaking a lot of fuel. I know I smelled gas but thought it was the freeway and that it was a normal smell. He calls me back a few hours later and asks me, "Who did your fuel filter replacement last?" I told him Jiffy Lube in Poway. He tells me to take it to them and have them fix their problem. I asked what the problem was and he told me the bracket and filter were missing and the clips were broken.

I didn't want to take it back there and have them do it wrong again so I asked him to repair it. He told me sure he'd do it but it would cost me about $628. WHAT?! Just for clips?! "No," he tells me, "we can't order just the clips. They make us order the entire fuel line." "Bullshit," I think, "what's he trying to pull on me?" So I tell him thanks but no thanks. I'll just have Jiffy Lube fix their problem. Luckily there's a Jiffy Lube up the street. Shouldn't cost anything to have it towed back up there again.

So I call back and ask them to have the shuttle come pick me up. Dennis says, "Why not just have the towtruck come pick the car up, and have it towed to Jiffy Lube? Have them fix it and get a ride from someone at work?" OK now I'm pissed. Not only is he trying to upsell this from a simple fix to $625, but now he refuses to send a shuttle out? I agree just to humor him and meanwhile I call enterprise for a rental. I also call AAA for a tow truck to pick the car up. This is about 4:10 or so. Enterprise picks me up at 4:30 with a blue Camry. Nice car.

So I drive out to Jiffy lube in Encinitas expecting the car to be there. NOPE. I call Encinitas Ford and Dennis says the tow truck driver left because I had to be there to show my card. NICE. I could have told him that. So I call AAA again and assure them I will meet the driver at the dealership. I go out to the dealership and meet with Dennis who gets under the car with me and shows me exactly what's wrong with it. I ask again why this will cost over $625 and he shows me. "See this," pointing to a couple tubes and clips, "this is all you need but I can't order just this. They make us order the whole line," as he runs his finger along the length of the car. "OK seems a bit much." He agrees and tells me I oughta have Jiffy Lube pay for the diagnostic too. Get whatever I can get out of 'em. It's been a long day and I'm not in a mood for a shouting match. I'll have them fix it and I'll be on my way. Ford charges me $128.79 to diagnose the problem.

The car is towed to Jiffy Lube in Encinitas and I talk to the manager. I can't remember if it's Trevor, Justin or something in between. He's a bit short but buzzed hair, older, mean blue eyes and gritty teeth. He talks like he's pissed at me and like it shouldn't be the other way around. He calls Troy, the manager at the Poway store, to confirm that I did come in there for a fuel filter replacement and that I'm not just some schmuck off the street trying to get a free service. When Troy confirms, he tells me to wait a minute and he goes downstairs under the car.

He comes back a few minutes later with a little piece of tubing and a bit of plastic on the end. He tells me the old style clips could me pulled out slightly so you can remove the inlet and outlet pipes. In the newer style, you push them in and that loosens the hold on the clips and allows you to remove the pipes. Well, I had the newer kind and the guys at the Poway store didn't know that. They pulled the clips out which broke them. So Trevor/Justin/whatever replaces the pipes with new ones and offers to drive me back to Enterprise to return my Camry. For having the car one hour, Enterprise charges me $50.63 for an entire day. Trevor/Justin/Whatever tells me that he called Troy, told him he better get some training and a better hold on his boys and that he oughta at least offer me a couple free oil changes. "Yeah right," I think, "like I'm ever coming back." He drops me off and sends me on my way. I drive home and assume all is well.

Yesterday I left work early cause I wasn't feeling well. When I turned on the car I had just under a half tank. Everything was fine until I reached the southbound I-15 from Hwy 78. Just north of Felicita Rd I smelled gas from the air conditioning, the fuel gauge all of a sudden read empty and my car started acting up again.

Somehow I got the car to reach the Shell station near North County Fair and I filled up the tank. I noticed gas was leaking bad out of my tank and there was a trail of liquid where I'd pulled into the station. I was determined to get home. I made it home and called Perry Ford of Poway. Kristine Nightingale told me she'd take care of it in the morning and that it was most likely covered by my warranty. Thank god I paid for the PremiumCARE ESP.

So in the morning I call AAA and have them tow the car to the dealership. I could have maybe made it there myself cause the car started and I still had a full tank of gas for some reason, but I didn't want to risk anything. Kristine meets me there and says she'll have a look and see what the problem is.

Around 2pm she calls and asks me, "So, who's the last person that did your fuel filter relpacement?" WHAT?! "That sounds familiar...what's the problem?" "Well," she tells me, "The clips on the inlet and outlet pipes are broken and the bracket and filter are missing."

I tell her I just had this problem two weeks ago and I took it back to have Jiffy Lube fix the problem. "Well these are factory pipes, so it seems to me he just replaced the clips and hoped it would hold. He didn't do anything to fix it." No, really? Well I'm definitely not going back to Jiffy Lube again. "How much will it cost for you to fix this for me?" She tells me...get this...$145. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE. NOT SIX HUNDRED.

I tell her that's funny cause 15 days ago, Dennis at Encinitas Ford quoted me $628. "For what" she asks. "He told me he had to order the entire line. That Ford won't let him just order the pipes." "Bull," she tells me, "he's wrong. It's just $145." OK enough for me. I ask if this will finally, once and for all, fix the problem and that I won't have to worry about this again. "Yes it will, as long as you don't have Jiffy Lube touch your car again." You can bet on that.

SO I just picked up the car. I have to get a 60,000 mile tuneup done in a couple weeks. She quoted about $500-600 for that. Said it's like a complete overhaul practically. I don't doubt it. I've heard other people quote more than that. If she gets the tuneup done, and this Focus makes it to Salt Lake City and back this Christmas without a problem, she's gonna get a big pretty present in her stocking. I'll think of something. It's hard to find honest people in the auto service industry. If this thing holds and she's being honest to me here, I'm going to repay her for it with future service. THey'll be doing all my oil changes and routine maintenance. If not, it's on to the next guy I guess.

Meanwhile I'm considering suing Jiffy Lube. I've written a formal complaint and if they don't tell me what I want to hear, they're gonna hear from my lawyer next.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The wife and I get up and put in our weekly appearance at the Carmel Mtn Albertson's. We get home, enjoy a short lunch and head off to see Mirrormask. The Ken has at least slightly improved it's amenities. They have pads on the seats now.

Putting that aside, and the fact that I missed a great shot at taking pictures of that neighborhood of Kensington, I had a great time. The movie is one of the best I've seen this year. Great story by Neil Gaiman and great puppetry and animation by the Jim Henson Company. The live actors were all amazing as well. No one famous but just a small English cast. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.

Yes it's great for the kiddies too. Other than a brief scene in the beginning when a circus performer (female) comes out in a one-piece I believe that there's nothing else in the movie that anyone would object to. This performer doesn't show anything more than leg and arms but for some people that's more than enough to say "My kid ain't seeing that movie" which I think is sorta sad but what can you do? Some people are just different I suppose. If I want them to respect me, I guess I could start by respecting them, right? Fairplay.

After the movie we head out to the Bartlett residence to pick up the infamous P.Bart. A quick bit of Jack In the Box and we head out to a meaningless Padres game. Chan Ho Park is starting and I swear if I have to hear one more joke from P.Bart about his name and Hee Seop Choi I swear I'll come apart.

The Padres had already clinched the division title, so the 2-1 loss to the Dodgers this night doesn't feel so bad. Besides, we were able to pick up our tickets for Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. That is, if there is a game four (more on that later). While there, I get plenty of stares for the nice bright lime green tint to my hair. I love the attention. It just gives me more self-confidence. Whatever works, I guess.

About halfway through the game, in typical Dodger fan style a couple comes to sit in the seats to my left that were empty. Now I'm a large man. 5'7" maybe and 285 pounds and let me tell you I LOOK like I sit at a computer all day, K? Needless to say the seats are already a snug fit and now I've got my wife on one side and this dude on the other and my arms folded over my chest to keep my elbows from knocking them both around.

So after about 3-4 innings of this I have to get up. There's like 5 seats empty on the other side of Bart so I get up and head out to get a soda and take a walk where I can calm down a bit. Being cramped for an hour tends to wear on your emotions a bit. I come back, sit down, take a sip and nearly spit it on the kid in front of me. It's club soda with the slightest hint of Coke flavor. What's this? A $5.50 soda water? I'd go complain but really what's the point? What did I expect purchasing anything from a ballpark concession stand? So I sit there and enjoy the rest of the game. Well, as much as one can when his team loses 2-1.

We head out after the game even though the rest of the crowd is sticking around for fireworks. We walk down to the ticket office and pick up the playoff tickets we'd purchased earlier that morning. The dude gives Victoria a bit of a hard time for wanting them so quick and then again when she can't produce the confirmation number. All in fun. We chuckle and grin as he hands us the 3 tickets for Game 4 (should there be one) of the NLDS. We head past the fireworks and over to the Padres Parkade.

As we approach we see the stairs and notice two sets of stairs. One says Floors 2, 4, 6, 8 and the other says Floors 3, 5, 7, 9. So we figure that means that the 5th floor, which is where Cricket is sleeping, must be the 3rd floor up on those stairs. You know how parking garages can be where different floors sorta weave between each other. Well we were wrong. It was FIVE FLIGHTS UP. Being the large speciman that I am, the first 3 were easy. The fourth was tough. Legs started feeling like lead. Not really winded until I reached the 5th floor and by then the Legs were large cement blocks. This reminded me of the 85 degree angled stairs at Dodger Stadium from the lower parking lot to the upper deck. That sucked too.

So we sit there and cool down before driving home to drop Bart off at home. Butch had texted me earlier when we were on the way out to the movie about getting together for bowling later on. I was tired and a bit hurting after the 5 story climb so I paced the floor wondering if I really wanted to go. I really need to start exercising. I mean really, this is getting pathetic.
I decide not to go and yet just as I'm about to text Butch and tell him I can't make it, I can't think of one good reason not to. Money? Probably low but with it just being me, how expensive can it be? Could I say it's too late? Could I say I just don't want to? Well, when I'd shown interest earlier those excuses would seem a bit dumb. So I decide, "why not?" and let him know I'd be there.

I head out and get there right at a quarter to midnight as I was told. Well...Aaron shows up around midnight and Ivan shortly after. A few minutes later the trio come in and we wait for Butch and the other two girls who have gone to get gas and then went too far and had to come back. While waiting for Butch, Jo heads over for some drinks. Seems the lady there is serving the bar but not the window. Way to go lady. What more can you expect for customer service from a bowling alley though?

BTW, the Brunswick Bowling Alley in Chula Vista has changed a lot. All new furniture and new bowling balls...colored based on the weight of the ball and diameter of the finger holes (stop giggling). We settle on a girls vs. guys matchup which we immediately question. We were duped before with Joanna when she took all our money the first time. We expected it the second time. Now these 5 girls want to take on us 4 men. Something's fishy. Sure enough, Joanna strikes in her first two frames and we're immediately looking about with raised eyebrows. I, on the other hand, being someone who bowls a normal game of 100-115 turned in an impressive 78 in the first game. The first toss was a hot shot right in the gutter than slammed against the back wall. "Wow, you're gonna hurt yourself". "Yeah, you gotta start out by intimidating them." Nice guys. Really, they're great.

So the second game goes a bit better. 111. Still not amazing considering Aaron bowled a 175 in his first game and something close to that in his second. We all did our best "speak softly (or not at all) and carry a big stick (bowl a better game)" bit. this enraged the girls who had been all up for a nice competitive night of tossing insults back and forth and trying to ruin each others shots all night. Well as we sat there quietly ignoring their taunts and just putting up numbers, they became annoyed and then flat out agitated. So late into the last game, Butch and I started in on a clap session and they were all "That's not fair! What did she do to you!" HA! She choked. We threw a few words out there here and there but basically just quietly gave them a sound kicking about the lane. I was mostly quiet for two reasons: 1.) I was bowling like crap and 2.) I'm still not comfortable enough yet to start taunting them. I'm still in that "trying to be accepted" mode when in my head I know I've been accepted already. Still, don't want to do anything to offend. These guys all have a history together than I'm not a part of and once I get past that stupid reasoning I'll be a real man and just have fun.

The day was really nice. Great movie, Kensington, ballgame, bowling, home by 4am. Nice.