Archive for December, 2009

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Your Vehicle’s Warranty

December 10, 2009

Our faceless technicians will happily jam black lines into your featureless engine for $75-120/hr.

If there’s anything nobody really wants to do, it’s reading the fine print. You’d be amazed and possibly grief-stricken by the amount of responsibility waiving inserted into the average warranty coverage by most major auto companies.

Below lies the “fine print” of the average 5 Year/50,000 Mile vehicle warranty, all blown up into a slightly less fine print for easier consumption.

Thank you for your purchase of this [fine American vehicle of your choice]. Your vehicle comes standard with a 5 Year/50,000 Mile Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, which covers all parts and labor* on any repairs** needed during the coverage period. Please view the details below for full terms of coverage.

* “Parts” excludes the following:

  • Shop use items
  • Third-party replacement parts
  • Replacement of parts in serviceable condition (“Serviceable” means usable or not totally broken parts that could conceivably last through the end of the warranty period.)
  • Expensive parts (“Expensive” means any parts whose cost is above $75. Additional note: all parts sold through our dealerships are over $75. Yes, that includes belts, hoses and valve stems.)
  • Routine wear-and-tear parts (Including but not limited to filters, belts, batteries, tires, rims, brake pads, transmissions, carburetors, fuel injection systems, etc. Safe rule of thumb: if it’s in motion when you’re driving, it will wear and tear.)
  • After-market products
  • Parts subject to recall
  • Replacements for recalled parts or any part requiring over four (4) hours to install
  • Wiper blades

Labor” excludes:

  • any labor charged at a rate higher than $15/hr.
  • any labor exceeding minimum labor charge (usually 0.5-1.0 hours)
  • any labor performed by non-certified technicians
  • any labor performed by your brother-in-law or uncle (with or without certification)
  • any labor performed by certified technicians if done on a/an a.) weekend, b.) evening or c.) Tuesday

Pending verification of eligibility, labor charges will be held in a “Disputed” status until such labor dispute is settled by appointed UAW official. Settlements will be delivered by a/an a.) threatening late-night phone call, b.) brick through your living room window or c.) slashing of said vehicle’s tires. (Note: Slashed tires are not covered by your warranty. See “Mob Violence and Street Riot Exemptions” for more information.)

Work performed by anthropomorphic funnels is NOT covered by your warranty.

** “Any repairs” does not cover:

  • Routine maintenance***
  • Body work
  • Windshield replacement
  • Any repair performed due to improper driving habits or vehicular abuse (See “Improper Driving/Vehicular Abuse” below.)

*** Uncovered “Routine Maintenance” includes any of the following:

  • Oil change
  • Tire rotation and balance
  • Engine fire
  • Lube job
  • Shock and strut replacement
  • Unexpected removal of catalytic converter
  • Major overhauls
  • Tuneups
  • Transmission problems
  • Catastrophic failure
  • Windshield replacement
  • Burning/burnt engine
  • Lights
  • Leaks
  • Recall-related repairs
  • Offset head-on collisions
  • Rapture

Another "certified" technician prepares to violate your vehicle, its warranty and your trust, roughly in that order.

Improper Driving/Vehicular Abuse” includes the following:

  • Speeding (including “going downhill” and “trying to make the light”)
  • Sharp turns
  • Emergency brake usage during non-emergencies
  • Sex in front or back seat (trunk and hood covered for total combined weight not exceeding 350 lbs.)
  • Leaving vehicle on while “running in for something”
  • More than 12 regular/bright headlight cycles
  • Signalling without turning
  • Generating more tha 150 foot-pounds of torque during acceleration
  • Backing vehicle into parking space
  • “Killing” engine due to improper shifting
  • Waving at oncoming drivers
  • Rolling down window to speak to driver/passengers of other vehicles
  • High-speed pursuits
  • Low-speed pursuits
  • On-foot pursuits
  • Using more than 10 foot-pounds of torque to close door/hood/trunk
  • “Ricing up” said vehicle through the addition of ground effects, spoilers and decals
  • Having vehicle urinated on by Calvin
  • Complaining about gas mileage
  • Failure to respect rules of engagement in Ford-Chevy rivalries

-CLT

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Fancy Plans Guide to Kansas

December 8, 2009

As part of a non-sustainable push to secure government funding, we are temporarily rebranding Fancy Plans as “blogucational” and fully compliant with the No Troll Left Behind Act. As part of our educational lip service, we are pleased to present our well-rounded profile of the great state of Kansas, birthplace of “The Wave.”

(It may also be noted that we have previously provided such educational features as the Fancy Plans Guide to Wisconsin, the Fancy Plans Guide to Minnesota and the Fancy Plans Guide to North American Trees.)

Kansas: home of the first flag entirely created with MS Paint.

Kansas
A dry, dusty state whose most prominent geographic feature is the horizon, Kansas has long been associated with the twin industries of agriculture and ranching. Referred to as “America’s Breadbasket,” Kansas has also been saddled with less-complimentary slogans such as, “America’s Dustbowl,” “America’s Killing Floor” and most recently, “What Happens in Kansas Doesn’t Matter Anywhere Else.”

Kansas has fought (mostly unsuccessfully) its image as a state routinely ravaged by tornadoes and infested with witches. This image has been reinforced by Kansas’ dry and dusty prog rock (especially Dust in the Wind; Arid as Hell) and Elton John’s hit song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, in which he deserts Kansas for its lack of shiny red shoes and singing midgets.

Should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself unable to fly over the mostly fruitless plains, here are some points of “interest” which should fully earn any sarcastic air quotes you wish to deploy while recounting this visit to annoyed loved ones and co-workers.

What you call "farming," I call "stealing from God."

Topeka Wind Farm
Contrary to popular misconception, the Wind Farm does not actually produce wind but rather reaps the benefits of an energy source produced by someone else. (Much like a “collective” farm or California’s parasitic electricity usage.)

A joyous Chiefs player receives news he has just been traded.

The Kansas City Chiefs
Long gone are the days of regular season competitiveness and playoff appearances. Presently the franchise is attempting to become the New England Patriots farm team through the acquisition of cast-off benchwarmers and assistant coaches. Catch this excercise in futility while you still can as the owners have made attempts to relocate the team to New Haven, CT, where they hope to complete the metaphor as the Connecticut Minutemen.

The Royals run another "Buy One, Get Three Empty Seats" special.

The Kansas City Royals
Speaking of exercises in futility… The Kansas City Royals continue their bold experiment to operate a major league franchise on a minor league budget. This stems from a settlement reached with their last superstar (George Brett) in which they have agreed to retire his number and avoid competitiveness until “ten (10) years after Brett’s death.”

After four sheaves, Art Mitchum found himself pitching a shutout. So to speak.

Wichita Threshing Dome
Although a yearly high point for many Kansas locals, what with its heady combination of agriculture and pointless competition, the Threshing Dome can be very intimidating for the uninitiated. Trying to grasp the nuance of chaff dispersal only becomes more difficult as the competition heats up and bloodthirsty cries of “Two men enter; one man leaves!” fill the dry and dusty air.

Two members of the Dodge City chapter of Improv Everywhere demonstrate the Wild West Reacharound.

Dodge City, Kansas
The ending point of many dry and dusty cattle drives, Dodge City is also famous for playing host to Wyatt Earp’s early experiments with vigilante justice. In addition to slapping a male prostitute, Earp also winged alleged gunman George Hoy and gave a stern talking-to to hitman Clay Allison.

Visitors often note that Tombstone, AZ is a much more exciting destination, if equally dry and dusty. The Dodge City Chamber of Commerce has countered by stating that “although Tombstone bears more historical locations and an incredible performance by Val Kilmer, the O.K. Corral is just that. ‘O.K.’ If you like your entertainment to be merely serviceable, why not stay in Dodge City and visit our old-timey Adequate General Store or grab a bite to eat at the locally renowned Passable Buffet, which has been hailed by Zagat’s as ‘not terrible; you could do worse.'”

-CLT

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Heavy Rotation Vol. 26 – Pop Tarts and Retro Night

December 6, 2009

Heading back to the pop end of the spectrum as a palate-cleanser after last week’s weed-and-uppers bender. After spending what seems like hours with unfocused proto-metalheads and their paranoia, it’s time to head back to the future (the present) and stroll around in the past (by way of some artists of the present who are hard at work on the future of music). 

This will all become clearer as the music starts. Let’s let a little light in here.

That’s better. Your eyes will adjust. So will your ears.

Previous adjustments available here:
The Heavy Rotation Archives

Annie – Chewing Gum (Mylo Mix)
Blonde and Norwegian as hell, Annie hit the pop scene in 1999, as the Kylie Minogue it was “cool” to like. (This was up until Kylie became the Kylie it was “cool” to like, with the release of Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Danni still remains mostly unlikeable. She’s like an Ashlee Simpson.)

A saucy little pop tune, about disposable boys who can be tossed aside like chewing gum once the “flavor is gone,” is toughened up by the production of Mylo, who gives it a little more bass swagger and some thumping kick drum.

Enjoyable as a brisk walk in the altogether and nearly as memorable. (The police will “remember” it permanently in that ever-swelling file of yours.)

Goldfrapp – Ooh La La
Alison Goldfrapp, the Annie it’s still “cool” to like, makes some truly sensual synthpop with impeccable production values. Ooh La La invites you to “dial up her number” and “switch her on.” Who are you to say no?

No. Seriously. Who the fuck do you think you are? Listen to the breathy, seductive voice. Listen to the galloping, lithe backbeat. That infectious chorus rising over some buzzing synths and guitar-tweakery.

And then there’s the drop. Removing everything but some bass rumble and spare handclaps, bringing Ms. Goldfrapp’s “voice that raised a thousand tent poles” to the front.

You won’t be saying no.

Late Nite Tuff Guy – Changes
Late Nite Tuff Guy, aka House Master Cam, aka Carmelo Bianchetti, takes a throwaway Gary Numan track (from 1989’s Automatic) and turns it into a low-key house monster.

Hailing from Australia but following the Italo-House blueprint of his forefathers, DJ HMC tuffens up Numan’s electro with some 808 drums, some quavering synths and a bassline that wouldn’t seem out of place during disco’s mutation in house music.

Compares favorably to proto-house classics like Cerrone’s Supernature or Laid Back’s White Horse and wouldn’t seem out of place in Danny Tenaglia’s rotation or being rerubbed to perfection by the guys in Deep Dish.

Den Haan – Heist
Exploding out of the gate (with an actual digital explosion… um… sound) like Georgio Moroder covering the Miami Vice theme, Den Haan carve themselves into history through a careful and brilliant reimagining of every early-’80s instrumental theme song into a surgical synthtastic strike that sounds simultaneously familiar and like nothing you’ve heard before.

There’s musical shoutouts to everything in here: drums from Can, the aforementioned Moroder, Jan Hammer’s clattering electro-drums, chanted vocals a la Bow Wow Wow or A Split Second and here and there a few piercing synth stabs recalling John Carpenter’s soundtrack work.

DJ Geometrix – What You Know About a White Wedding (T.I. King vs. Billy Idol)
As I’ve said previously, I have a weakness for hip hop. But my weakness is usually only fully exposed once said hip hop tracks in unchained from the same-old, same-old 808 beats and given a new leash on life with an unexpected life partner.

Enter DJ Geometrix, whose mind added 1+1 and got “fuck yeah,” with his reimagining of our musical world which now views T.I. and Billy Idol as co-partners in a rebirth/rekilling of rock and roll.

All files in one white-hot pop mess:
Heavy Rotation Vol. 26
(link opens in new window)

-CLT

[All music posted on Fancy Plans… is kick ass and too awesome to be contained. All music is also posted temporarily and, due to its high level of ass-kicking, should not be distributed without a prescription and care should be taken while operating heavy equipment or dancing around the living room (clothing optional, but do remember that the blinds are open/kids are still awake).
Should you wish to have your brilliant artistic statement forced back into confinement, please email me at 2timegrime@gmail.com. Feel free to leave a comment, as that will probably be noticed sooner.
By all means, if you like what you hear (and you will), please support the totally rocking artist(s) by purchasing some music or heading out to see them live.]
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The Fancy Plans Guide to Rock & Roll Vol. 12

December 5, 2009

It’s been awhile since the last volume of the never-ending Guide to Rock & Roll. The last time we gathered to enjoy libelous tales of the has-beens and never-weres of the rock world, we tackled only requests. This time around there isn’t a request to be found. It’s not because I don’t take requests. It’s more likely due to my scattershot posting schedule, shortened attention span and mandatory attendance of several premature funerals for rock and roll.

At this point, Oates knew the relationship was over, both with Hall and MTV itself.

Hall & Oates
1/2 moustache, 1/2 blond, Hall & Oates epitomized 80’s pop in a way few others did, except possibly Wham!, whom they were often confused with. The parallel chart success of this pair of duos saw tanned and well-rested men jousting for the affection (and money) of “the ladies.”

They deployed every weapon imaginable, including smoldering good looks (Wham!, Hall & Oates), short shorts (Wham!), moustaches (Oates) and prolific hitmaking, all despite being saddled with an underperforming partner (Andrew Ridgley, John Oates).

Once their made-for-VH1 meteoric rises and falls were over (“falls” being more accurate, especially when handcuffed to “meteoric” by some hack blogger), it became apparent that only one band was truly in it for “the ladies.” (Not Wham!) However, the information came too late to affect anything more than their respective solo careers (except for Andrew Ridgley, who ran down today’s specials for me at the local Outback).

George hid his anger well, but he had specifically told Paul to dry his guitar on "Delicate."

George Harrison
Known as the “fifth Beatle,” after being displaced by Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney, respectively, Harrison nonetheless had a successful and prolific solo career which spanned over 20 years. Famed for his combination of psychedelia and folk rock, Harrison proved that there is life beyond the Beatles (although not so much for Lennon) and enjoyed some chart success (although not as much as Paul McCartney, who was upgraded to “The Only Beatle”).

In addition to his musical contributions, Harrison was also known for:

  • Not being Ringo.
  • Not shoving his vegan ideals down his touring bands’ throats.
  • Impressive facial hair.
  • Being slightly smaller than Jesus.

Human League shortly before their defeat at the hands of Tyrell Corp.'s More Human Than Human League.

Human League
As one of the forerunners of the New Romantic movement, Britain’s Human League found itself defending its turf (and pedigree) against all comers, including the Anti-Nowhere League, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the newly-minted (and freshly dead) Zombie Nation.

They enjoyed a seven-year run on top of the musical heap before succumbing to hair metal, synthpop backlash and internal wrangling (which is not so much a reference as an indication that more people should be listening to Clinic).

As the band slowly fell apart, their legacy lived on with multiple appearances on 80’s compilation and the Grand Theft Auto:Vice City soundtrack, which would mark the only time 50 million people purchased the (Keep Feeling) Fascination single, which came bundled with a lawsuit-baiting, open-world murder simulator.

Iron Butterfly, featuring (clockwise from top) Guy Pearce, Matthew Broderick, Steve Zahn and Steve Coogan.

Iron Butterfly
Known for a single track (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida) which spanned three albums due to the space limitations of vinyl. Their monstrous hit song was one of the first singles to “go platinum,” albeit in a stripped-down three-minute version, which trimmed off nearly 90 minutes of psychedelic excess.

The track’s title (loosely translated by Hooked on Phonics as “In the Garden of Eden“) was a staple of their live shows, thanks to its sprawling length, which gave each band member a chance to dick around while their audience members retrieved their drugs, took their drugs or purchased more drugs.

During their brief heyday, the average Iron Butterfly set list looked like this:

1. Intro
2. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Encore (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida [reprise])

Having paved the way for mainstream awareness of psychedelic hard rock, Iron Butterfly abruptly lost all relevance and faded into obscurity, leaving behind an overwrought back catalog, which proved useful for seed-and-stem sorting.

As his music career faded, Rick James hit the tour circuit as a Whoopi Goldberg impersonator.

Rick James
Rick James (born Dave Chappelle) took the late ’70s funk scene by storm with his hit single Superfreak, which set the stage for the brief flareout of a “career” that was the Reverend MC Hammer. Following his own blueprint for brief success followed by spectacular failure, James made some runs at chart success with a few other, less sample-worthy singles before deciding to follow his true calling: drug addiction.

After joining nearly every other musician ever in eventual irrelevance, Rick James briefly lifted his head from the dusted mirror to release an album in the mid-’90s, approximately 15 years after anyone gave a shit. Unable to produce the “skills” to pay the “legal bills,” James returned to obscurity and blow, taking with him his talent (which at this point was as weak as the 3/4-baby laxative blend “coke,” whose possession resulted in immediate arrest).

-CLT

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In Which CLT Does A Fair Bit of Shameless Self-Promotion

December 4, 2009

As if any of us really had the time or energy to put ourselves through yet another blog…

Here’s another blog:

Blow by Blow

This is a little side project with a somewhat smaller focus (i.e., not everything). I make no promises on how often it will be updated, but I’m guessing somewhat frequently for a while and then tailing off as time, attention span…

-CLT

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Dear Harvard…

December 1, 2009

This may explain why Harvard gets its ass handed to it on the gridiron year after year...

To the Admissions Board of Harvard University:

This letter of intent has been written to announce my intentions to receive a four-year scholarship as your starting quarterback. While I have had a few options in the academic market, none of the community colleges or online universities have the wealth of history (and history of wealth) that Harvard’s MBA program offers.

While a quick look at my enclosed SAT scores may not reflect the level of excellence you have come to expect from incoming students, let me assure you that they no not reflect my years of “real world” experience.

I would also like to point out my historical reference work, The Presidents of Harvard University (Vols. 1-4). While not as thorough as the incredibly brief Wikipedia entry, the four essays do shine some new light on some unknown aspects of the prestigious line of Harvard presidents. Keep in mind that it is heavily peppered with swear words, the vernacular of the common man.

You may be asking yourselves why a 35-year-old high school graduate would be interested in pursuing a starting position on the Harvard Crimson football squad. You may also be wondering why I put quotes around “real world” rather than “experience.”

Two words: Harvard Tradition.

While there are many Division 1-A schools out there with more competitive teams and a more sports-oriented focus, the truth of the matter is that their competitiveness often works against them, and especially, me. Let’s be honest with each other: Harvard’s focus has always been on academic success rather than athletic glory. I believe this meshing, if you will, of our strong points will allow me to skate by with a low-C average while still allowing you the luxury of having a somewhat athletic quarterback.

I may need to lose about 30 pounds and get my 40-yard time down into the low 7’s, but I believe I can probably meet the goals in time for next year’s football season. I will also look into cutting back on my 4-pack-a-day habit, which is spiced up with the occasional box of cigars.

I’ve been working out during what I’m proactively referring to as the “offseason” with an under-employed neighbor who has played professionally with a variety of arena football teams in the capacity of equipment manager. We’ve done some laundry, watched some highlight tapes and tossed the ol’ pigskin around for the past several weeks. I will continue this vigorous training until camp opens or he is evicted, whichever comes first.

On the academic side, I am currently brushing up on my long-neglected math skills and reading up on current events. I am hoping to be prepared to “nail down” a two-year business statistics degree within the next 4-6 years. During this time I will also serve as the starting quarterback from the Fighting Crimsoneers.

I would also like to take this time to mention my respect for your proud tradition of gentlemanly sportsmanship, as is evidenced by your unwillingness and inability to “run up the score” on opponents. I hope to personify these traditions with my ability to “manage the game” and “not turn the ball over too often.” Let’s work together to play to the best of our abilities and not beat ourselves.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention.

Sincerely,
CLT

P.S. I am serious.

P.P.S. Do you have an application for “Skull and Bones” I can fill out in advance? I understand the application process is complicated, humiliating and possibly done at another Ivy League school altogether.