‘Sicko’

Michael Moore’s new movie, Sicko, aims for the gut. Like the old adage, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you want to bring the entire family, not to mention every public office, medical, health care and insurance professional you know. It will make you applaud at the end. And it will thoroughly embarrass you for being complicit in a system that has failed the people it is supposed to help.

See this movie.

Opportunity lost

The Blockbuster Video near my old apartment closed last fall. Not enough business in a land of early-adopting downtown Manhattan folks using VOD and Netflix, I guess. The missus and I liked renting DVDs every so often, but we learned to do without.
Now that we’re uptown, we were pleased to discover that the Blockbuster in our new neck of the woods is still open and doing a brisk business. We were less pleased when the store said we had no Blockbuster accounts. The clerk made us fill out a new-customer form and hand over ID and a credit card to rent a movie.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been a Blockbuster customer for approximately 17 years, since around the time I first got a driver’s license. I was one of the first people to have their then-impressive “universal account,” which amused me to no end when I used my Pennsylvania-issued replacement card in New Jersey. I was a happy customer when they let me start verifying my ID with my driver’s license so I could stop carrying the Blockbuster card altogether, and my account followed me from New Jersey to Pa. back to Jersey and into New York, including an account merge when I got married. All without incident. Never a late fee, never a lost-video charge, just half a lifetime of contented membership.
Frustrating and ironic, then, that after all these years I have disappeared from their system. The only reason I can find is that they probably purge accounts after a year of inactivity. If it’s been a year since I rented from Blockbuster, well, that’s because they closed my local store. And when I became able to return to the chain, a slow and aggravating barrier existed, when in fact they should have welcomed me back with a smile, and perhaps a coupon to re-engage me. A company swinging from its heels like Blockbuster should know that. So much for loyalty.
(“Breach,” by the way, was interesting but only decent.)

Unsurprising

The Blockbuster Video near my old apartment closed last fall. Not enough business in a land of early-adopting downtown Manhattan folks using VOD and Netflix, I guess. The missus and I liked renting DVDs every so often, but we learned to do without.

Now that we’re uptown, we were pleased to discover that the Blockbuster in our new neck of the woods is still open and doing a brisk business. We were less pleased when the store said we had no Blockbuster accounts. The clerk made us fill out a new-customer form and hand over ID and a credit card to rent a movie.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been a Blockbuster customer for approximately 17 years, since around the time I first got a driver’s license. I was one of the first people to have their then-impressive “universal account,” which amused me to no end when I used my Pennsylvania-issued replacement card in New Jersey. I was a happy customer when they let me start verifying my ID with my driver’s license so I could stop carrying the Blockbuster card altogether, and my account followed me from New Jersey to Pa. back to Jersey and into New York, including an account merge when I got married. All without incident. Never a late fee, never a lost-video charge, just half a lifetime of contented membership.

Frustrating and ironic, then, that after all these years I have disappeared from their system. The only reason I can find is that they probably purge accounts after a year of inactivity. If it’s been a year since I rented from Blockbuster, well, that’s because they closed my local store. And when I became able to return to the chain, a slow and aggravating barrier existed, when in fact they should have welcomed me back with a smile, and perhaps a coupon to re-engage me. A company swinging from its heels like Blockbuster should know that. So much for loyalty.

(“Breach,” by the way, was interesting but only decent.)

Honesty

We bought a striped Chilewich welcome mat for the front door of our new apartment. Since the hall floors are tile, the building permits them, and since our door is directly opposite the elevator, the Chilewich is on display.

The other morning we came out of our apartment as our neighbors were waiting for the elevator. Little Ellie, age 4, made eye contact with Amy and beamed.

“I like your new mat,” Ellie declared.

“Thank you very much,” Amy replied.

“My babysitter doesn’t like it, but I do!”

Jury duty

Leave it to me to make a courtroom laugh.

Judge, addressing the jury panel: “Since this is a criminal case, we’d like to know if any of you have ever been the victim of a crime.”

I raise my hand.

“Yes, Mr. Wertheimer.”

“This is going to sound a little silly, but I once had my pants stolen….”

Hypocrisy

Google Zooms In Too Close for Some in the New York Times. The article, discussing privacy issues surrounding Google Street View, uses as its human-interest lead a woman named Mary Kalin-Casey, who a few days earlier discussed Street View with BoingBoing and complained that anonymous people on the Internet could see her living room and her cat.

In agreeing to the Times interview, Kalin-Casey, who is ostensibly concerned about her privacy, posed for a photograph… in her living room… holding her cat.