M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, January 31, 2003  

Reader Mail Slot, Episode IX

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me with birthday wishes (I’m 33, BTW). If I haven’t responded to your e-mail yet, don’t take it personally. I haven’t responded to e-mail from anyone in like a month. I’m an equal-opportunity rude bastard.

Well, not entirely equal, because Sundry’s greeting also included this question, which she’s going to be so sorry she asked:

I won't ask you how old you are, but I will ask you something that's been niggling at me when I visit - why do you provide the proper trademarks to brand name items? Just curious.

Let me answer this way: of the following phrases, which one do you think is funnier?

1. Sodomized by a Swiffer.

2. Sodomized by a Swiffer™.

Okay, it’s not a lot funnier, but every little bit helps. It’s like words with a K or the names of midwestern cities.

Also, back when I subscribed to Writer’s Digest in the mistaken belief that it would make me a better writer, there were all these ads towards the end whose entire purpose was to remind us that the names of various products were brand names, registered trademarks, not just standard nouns. We writers should always keep in mind that when a character was out of Coke™ and Funyuns™, stuck in a house made of Styrofoam™ and Scotch™ tape with a broken Xerox™ machine, he should never cry into a kleenex, but a Kleenex™. So I guess it’s fair to say that all of the ™s are kind of a running gag that amuses only me. Much like ninety-five percent of everything else that goes on around here.

And if you leave one off, you never know when it’s going to bite you in the ass. As I’ve learned. Because you see, there’s a glaring omission from my litany of ™s. There’s this word. I didn’t know, or didn’t realize, or didn’t care about its brand-name status, and it’s ruined my life. Can you guess what that word might be? Of course you can. But I’ll tell you anyway.

It’s Velcro™.

Remember last month when I said there were big changes in store for 2003? Those big changes have turned out to consist of nothing more than a title above the daily entries, but at the time, I was planning to launch Velcrometer.com, envisioning an independent site with its own domain name, a separate page for each entry, a list of archives with entry titles, the whole hacienda. Just like a real web writer. I was trying to learn DreamWeaver™ and everything.

But registering the domain name set off some kind of alarm over at the Velcro Corporation. Which I expected about as much as I expected a C&D from The Denim Group or Linoleum Industries or whatever. They sent me a letter telling me to knock that shit off. They were worried that the site name “Velcrometer” might confuse people into thinking I was connected to their company somehow. Now, I know you guys aren’t that easily confused, but they have a legal department and I don’t. So I’m selling the domain name to them and backing down. As far as this here Blogspot account is concerned, they either don’t know about it or don’t care, and I’m not about to bring it up. But if you come here some day and the title has changed to “M. Giant Rites Gud” or something, you’ll know why.

So™, Sorry™, Velcro™. I’ve™ Learned™ My™ Lesson™.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about our Saturns. As Kelly says:

Saturns are evil.

OK, maybe not evil. but I used to own a Saturn. A cute little green SL2. Ran great for the first 90,000 miles, so I kind of feel a little guilty about complaining, but hey, I'll get over it.

First, the alternator went. It didn't go slowly, it died smack on the middle of a highway, while I was in the left lane doing 70. I had it towed to Saturn, who told me that Saturns have "special" alternators that require me to pay about $500 more than anyone else has to pay for their car's alternator.

Mental note: get my alternator replaced at 90,000 miles, whether it’s bad or not.

About a week after I got that fixed, my transmission decided it didn't want to work any more either. Towed it to the same Saturn dealership again. Apparently, Saturns also have a "special" transmission that required me to pay about $1,000 more than anyone else has to pay for their car's transmission.

Mental note: steal the Cavalier nameplate off Trash’s car and stick it to mine.

By that point, I got the impression that "special" really means "sucker". Had I known my car was so "special" when I bought it, I would've parked the freaking thing in the garage and forgotten about it. needless to say a week or so after I got all its "special" parts fixed, I traded it in for a Jeep, lest I find myself suddenly stopped dead in the middle of rush hour in the left hand lane with cars swerving around me at 80 miles per hour.

Hopefully (knock on wood, here), my Jeep won't be as "special" as my Saturn.

You know, nothing makes a person feel more special than being the proud owner of the one immobile vehicle fetched up on the shore of a lethal river of hurtling steel and glass and flesh. People will notice you, that’s for sure.

It’s not just Kelly and me, as Cathy assures me:

I have had so many weird problems with my Saturn, I now realize that the PR hullabaloo is just that. A car is a car is a car, and a Saturn will break down just as easily as the next car. I have had an engine mount go bad at 50,000, and the part of the back doors facing the doors has almost completely rusted away. Repeatedly, I pointed out to my Saturn dealer that the seals were bad, and they insisted that they were fine. So now I get to listen to a whistling noise when I go faster than 60 miles per hour. And my horn broke around the 40,000-mile mark. And two of my friends' Saturns' horns broke about the same time. Seriously, who ever hears of horns breaking with such regularity?

Actually, when my horn broke, it stayed on. So I couldn’t hear anything.

I have had so many other issues that I wrote a letter to Saturn in Spring Hill, Tennessee about it. I received a polite response back: "We're sorry. Your experience is highly unusual..." Anyway, I will stop carrying on about my car! Despite my issues, it is the only car I have and can afford right now, so I just cross my fingers each morning when I turn the key. It is seven years old now, and I am just praying it will keep together until I am out of grad school in the next couple of years. (and yes, I bought my car new also) Have a good one!

Hey, I got that letter too! Here’s the full text:

We’re sorry. Your experience is highly unusual. Most SW2 owners have expressed satisfaction with their vehicles, especially those in the 1999 model year. Nobody else has ever complained about their horns or transmissions or anything else before, ever. We hope you are having a pleasant January in Minnesota, and we look forward to being there for your next automobile purchase in six to eight months.

Wow. I guess they really do care.

Fortunately, even Saturns don’t give out as often as my light bulbs were doing a week ago. My bandmate Kraftmatik advances his theory about that:

6) The Cold. The poor filament sits for hours at near-absolute zero
temperatures and is suddenly heated to hundreds of degrees like that scene in
Aliens 3 where they're in the foundry and it jumps out of the liquid lead into a cold shower and shatters into a million bits of Giger-burger. Only in reverse.

That’s a good point. We store our light-bulbs-in-waiting in the basement, between two ground-level windows that are currently half-buried in snow. Maybe before I screw them in I should warm them up in the freezer for a while to ease the transition. Nothing’s more irritating than having the lights suddenly go out in the kitchen when you’re trying to whip up a batch of Giger-burger Helper™.

It’s not so much of a problem now that I’ve phased in some of those fluorescent spirals that screw into a socket just like an incandescent bulb. The packaging claims they’ll last for five years, but it’s been three days and I’m already better off than I was. Ah, technology.

Speaking of technologies (and transitions so strained they’re practically transparent), Karin set me straight on the latest developments from the bleeding edge of the George Foreman Grill™ frontier:

Actually, some of the newer grills as of two years ago have timers and some even now have temp settings. I’ll admit they are the ones that are a bit more expensive but still laugh that you may need directions. I mean you are talking to the same people who need instructions on how to properly use an extension cord and how to rinse lather and repeat.

Thanks for the update, and well put. That’s why I spent some time visiting Google results on the phrases “extension cord instructions” and “shampoo directions.” People will see that in their referral logs and know how I feel.

Without benefit of a segue, Casey shares my pain over television conflicts:

HA! I have the same Tuesday night TV scheduling dilemma. But then, I'm a 24-year-old female, so I'm allowed to have these problems.

We used to have the nice VCR setup where you can tape one thing and watch another, but digital cable has put an end to all that. Now we're contemplating purchasing a third TV just so we can stick a bunny-ear antenna on it and solve all our problems.

Sad, really.

Yeah, I didn’t know about that limitation of digital cable until it was too late. I wish they would have told us that. Also, the parental control keeps getting activated on our box. I keep calling my mom at her house to get her to shut it off, but she pleads ignorance. I think she just doesn’t want me watching MTV.

And finally, this from our friend Corpkitten:

So disappointed not to find M.Giant listed here:

Hey, that makes two of us. From now on, I’m going to concentrate all of my efforts on making it onto the Naked A-list. If that means I have to write better entries, update more often, and type without using my hands, then so be it. I’ve got my eyes on the prize, baby.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll see you in February. Naked!™

posted by M. Giant 3:25 PM 0 comments


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