Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jon Bon Who?

On the way to the Dead Weather show on the north side of the city, we were like salmon swimming upstream against the current of Bon Jovi fans storming our new neighborhood adjacent to Soldier Field.

Sid: See all those faces?

Mrs F'er: Yes.

Sid: He'll rock them all.

Mrs. F'er:

On the other hand I have no doubt that Dead Weather rocked the faces off everyone who made the tough choice to forgo Soldier Field and the Bon Jovi boys and instead invade the decrepit Congress Theatre to see what a rock show should be. Thanks to everyone who showed up, including the tallest man on Earth who stood in front of me. Oh, and to the two women who couldn't shut the fuck up and could have saved $35 a piece by just going down to their local coffee shop to yap it up. But it was still a swell time. Really. Do not miss Dead Weather if they visit your town.

How hot is this...?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Comcast, An Xfinity of Crud

Hey, y’all. I just moved and had the pleasure of dealing with Comcast again. Because I can’t get enough of their high rates and crappy customer service, I decided to add phone service. The triple penetration package, I think they call it. Two reasons I got a home phone – first, we have an alarm system in the new place that requires it, so that in the event a scary looking dude busts down our front door, a nice white man in a button down shirt will call to make sure everything is okay. Second, the neighborhood to which we moved is so exclusive that it apparently doesn’t even allow wireless signals. Or AT&T Wireless blows. But that’s another post. And I digress.

They managed to get the TV and internet working, but if you remember I was paying for triple penetration. Unfortunately when they were here to install it, I didn’t have a phone to test the line. Eventually I went back in time to find this thing they call a landline phone and hooked it up. No dial tone. However, it would ring when called, but I couldn’t hear a thing when I picked it up. Just static. So I would guess what the other party was saying and try to continue the conversation like that. I thought I might be able to pull it off, but strange people began showing up at my door, I was receiving odd packages in the mail, and inexplicable debits were being made to my checking account. After verifying with Mrs. F’er that she signed us up for the Digital Voice and not the specially priced Static and Interference package, I finally threw in the towel and decided I needed to talk to the fine folks of Comcast customer service. However, if you remember, I didn’t have wireless service and I wouldn’t be able to hear them on my new Comcast phone service. So I decided to try the live chat function. Turns out I might have been better off just guessing what a phone rep might have been saying.

The follow transcript is not embellished. It is 100% authentic (except for changing some identifying details). With my added commentary in brackets.

user Sid_ has entered room

We can receive calls but cannot hear the other party. We can place calls, but do not hear a dial tone. Just static in both cases.

analyst Ana Maria has entered room

[The irony of Ana Maria being identified as an analyst will be apparent by the end of the chat.]

Ana Maria>
Hello Sid_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Ana Maria. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Ana Maria>
You are a valued customer, and your satisfaction is my priority. I will gladly assist you with whatever Comcast related concerns you have today.

[The irony of her saying I am a valued customer will be apparent by the end of the email. Same for that satisfaction part. Oh, and that part about assisting me with my concerns.]

Ana Maria>
I am glad to have you on chat, Sid. How are you today?

[I’m kind of annoyed and pissed off but I’ve worked in a call center before and know it sucks, so I’ll spare you right now and just move this along.]

good, thanks

Ana Maria>
I am glad to know that you feel good today, Sid.

[Serious? Clearly we’re working off a Madlibs script.]

Ana Maria>
I understand that your phone is not properly working. The other party can't hear you. Is that correct?

[Wow. I could understand if this were a phone call, but the problem is pretty much written out for you and you still got it wrong.]

No, we can't hear the other party

they can hear us

Ana Maria>
I understand that.

[You didn’t understand that a minute ago.]

Ana Maria>
I am very sorry to hear that this issue happened to you. I can understand the frustration when something is not working the way it is supposed to. I am glad you came to chat so that we can do our best to assist you in resolving this issue.

[Okay, back to Madlibs and irony.]

Ana Maria>
No worries. As your Comcast service representative, I want you to know that issue resolution and your satisfaction are my top priorities for today. Together, we can work this out, Sid.

[I’m not trying to save our marriage here I just want my damn phone fixed. But please continue with your scripted empathy. What function key do you have that programmed to?]

Ana Maria>
To start with, may I please have the name on the account, the telephone number starting with the area code, the complete service address with the zip code, your account number, and the last four digits of your SSN.

[Considering I had to log in to my online account to access the chat, that seems like overkill but I’ll play along.]

Mrs. F’er, 312-555-1234, 123 S. Main Chicago, IL 606xx ssn 1234

Ana Maria>
Thank you. Please give me a couple of minutes to pull up your account and verify the information you gave me.

Ana Maria>
May I know how are you related to Mrs F’er?

[I’m her pet squirrel monkey. Does it matter – are you afraid an unauthorized person is trying to get her service fixed?]


Ana Maria>
Thank you.

Ana Maria>
May I know when this issue started?

new service - just started using the phone today

Ana Maria>
Thank you.

Ana Maria>
I run a health check here on my tool, and it gave me a good result, meaning the phone line is in good condition and there is nothing wrong with it.

[I ran a health check here on my tool and I might need some penicillin, but I don’t see what that has to do with my phone.]

Ana Maria>
Let me do a test call from here.

Ana Maria>
To set the proper expectations, the call is only to test the phone, and we are unable to answer any other inquiry that you might have for your Comcast services or any other concern you might want to raise. If there is anything you want me to address for you further, please wait until you get back in chat so we can work on your concern.

[Damn you… this was all a ploy to get some phone sex. I love how terrified they are that a chat operator might have to talk to a customer.]


yes, phone rang, but only heard static after i answered

Ana Maria>
Is that a new receiver?

[Yes, brand new from Target, thanks for asking. It still has that new phone smell.]


Ana Maria>
From here, I can here you very clearly. It indicates that the phone line doesn't have a problem.

[Clearly you missed the day in which they covered homonyms. I told you it was a knew phone.]

any other suggestions on what may be causing the static beside a bad phone?

[Okay Ana Maria, you also must have missed the day in “analyst” class in which they taught you to analyze. So you see what I’m doing up there – I’m helping you out. It’s like a flow chart in chat form. Please, play along with me.]

Ana Maria>
I ran a second health check agaibn, and it says here that the problem is with the phone itself and not with the phone line.

[Actually, you just wasted your time since we established that it wasn’t a problem with the phone line. And I don’t believe your health check tells you that it is specifically a problem with the phone itself. But it can’t hurt to have your cholesterol checked.]


[Now are you seeing the irony?]

since you're telling me it's my phone i'll try another one

[I’m still pissed off, but hey, maybe there’s a 1% chance I got a bum phone or hooked it up wrong.]


Ana Maria>
You are welcome, Sid.

[I was being sarcastic, you dumbass.]

Ana Maria>
Since your issue was already resolved, do you have any other issues that I could address?

i wouldn't call it resolved, but that's all for right now.

Ana Maria>
The problem is vith your phone itself, and I have done everything from here.

[You haven’t done shit but the absolute minimum to shift the blame, get yourself out of this chat in a timely manner so your supervisor doesn’t yell at you, and make sure that Comcast doesn’t incur any additional expense.]

Ana Maria>
It has been a pleasure to be of service to you. Thank you for choosing Comcast as your service provider and making it a part of your life! Comcast appreciates your business and values you as a customer. Our goal is to provide you with excellent quality service.

[You have been absolutely no service to me whatsoever. I can’t believe you had the balls to say that even though it’s probably required at the end of every chat session.]

Ana Maria>
If you need further assistance, you can chat with one of our Customer Support Specialists 24 hour a day, 7 days a week at Here, we value our business with you. Have a great day and take care! To properly close this chat, please click the End Session button.

[Yeah, since I had such a stellar experience this time I’ll be sure to try it again!]

Ana Maria>
If you do not have any Coamcast related issue, you may click the END session button to get the survey.

[Okay, sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll stop annoying you. And it appears that I ended up in a chat with the wrong company – I was trying to reach Comcast, not Coamcast. That must be a new clever strategy to get out of assisting customers.]

got it - have a swell day

So I went even further back in time and got a corded phone – how much simpler could it be? I ran a health check which consisted of plugging the thing in and listening for the non-existent dial tone. That tells me the problem is not with my phone but with my service provider who clearly does not appreciate me as a customer, does not value my business, and has not made my satisfaction their top priority.

So here’s the deal. I can sometimes sympathize with the poor customer service rep, who is working a shit job for little money and is under pressure and at the mercy of their greedy management and asinine policies. So I have a problem taking it out on them. Which by this time I wanted do more than anything, so I made the Mrs. call and told her not to hang up until they agreed to send a tech out. Her phone rep made sure that we knew the difference between a cordless and corded phone and that we knew how to plug one in, and that we knew how to turn a modem on. It’s a phone, not a proton accelerator. She finally agreed to get a tech out.

Guess what? It was the modem. The tech was great. But he did mention that they obviously recycle equipment and sometimes the defective stuff ends up back out in the field because they don’t have a good system to tag it as defective. Sweet.

I love you Coamcast. It’s those a-holes at Comcast with whom I have a problem.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Gone Fishin'

June is turning out to be a very busy month, so I wanted to do a quick post to make sure you don’t worry if you don’t hear from us over the next few weeks. Given that we post every time we change our underwear, I’m sure a brief hiatus would no doubt spark a panic amongst our loyal and dedicated fan base and end up with our images plastered on milk cartons throughout the lower 48 and perhaps even Canada. Do they drink milk in Canada? Is it even possible to milk a moose? Milk-a-Moose sounds like an indie band playing at Pitchfork… I’ll have to find someone in skinny jeans and ask. It also reminds me of Pomplamoose. But I digress.

Next week I leave on vacation. Worst planning ever. If the Stanley Cup goes to a Game 7, I will be on the road while it is being played, instead of my usual place in the Ab-Rocker wearing my overly flammable Scrappy-Doo pajamas purchased at the Dollar Store. Pass the saganaki, please. Opa!

Then on my second day of vacation, Concrete Blonde brings their reunion tour to town on the day when I’ll be 1,016 miles away. Thanks a lot, Johnette. I’ve supported you for 24 years, which is longer than any other band except for Pure Prairie League, and this is the goddam thanks I get. And then, as if to twist that rusty tracheotomy knife in my throat even more, you decide to schedule a concert stop at my vacation destination the very day after I leave.

And as if it couldn’t get any worse, we will also miss Chicago Tap Theatre’s one night only summer show. How will that look to the Chicago tap community for me to miss one of the premier shows of the season? Clearly, it will tarnish my up and coming status as a top patron of the pedary percussive arts.

Finally, I also failed to check the summer festival calendar and will be absent for Ribfest. And I was really hoping to make the fest this year to have my lower ribs removed to enhance my girlish figure.

It’s okay Johnette, my tap heroes and fellow rib eaters… we’ll always have Paris.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sid Dogg

So the 2010 concert season is in full swing, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Bodeans, Cowboy Mouth and Junior Brown, and Snoop Dogg under my belt already. Yes, Snoop D.O. Double G. I confess that I enjoy rap as much as I enjoy NASCAR. Not very much. But I'm an open-minded kind of guy and enjoy new experiences as long as it doesn't require any extended conversations with other people. I even went to a NASCAR race after I was informed that the cars were too loud to speak over and I would only be required to let out a Woooo-Eeeeee every time a car spun out. The Snoop Dogg show was at Metro, a club with a capacity of only 1100 so it seemed like a rare opportunity, and I figured I wouldn't have to talk to anyone and only throw my hands in the motherfucking air if I went.

I went in with high expectations (no pun intended). I figured that somehow I would cross paths with Snoop and for some reason he would take a liking to me, invite me to be part of his posse, and eventually there would be a screenplay written for a buddy movie about our relationship, starring Snoop as himself and Topher Grace playing the part of Sid. But I digress.

Doors at 7 pm, show at 8 pm, with one opening band. In my experience that would mean he should go on around 9:30 or 10 pm, right? Wrong. Clearly I don't understand the effects of weed. I got there around 8:30 and the opener was just starting. After they finished we had to stand around for half an hour and I caught a peek at the run sheet for the night. There was something called Wonderland scheduled in between with Snoop scheduled for 10:30. No problem. I just ordered another gin and juice and chilled with my homies. My homies being the other 1,050 white folks at the show. Wonderland turned out to be a film about the making of Snoop's film Malice in Wonderland. By now, the energy was being sucked out of me faster than an iPhone hooked up to one of those raw potato batteries. The clock crawled past 11 pm and I was annoyed and nothing would salvage the show at this point.

Finally at 11:15, his DJ came out, played some tracks and talked about weed for 15 minutes. Yeah, I get it - you guys like weed. If I just wanted to hear somebody talk about weed I could have stayed home, rented a Cheech and Chong flick and saved myself $35. Finally Snoop came out, and the crowd went wild and he owned that motherfucking joint (pun intended this time). And all was forgiven. By the end of the show I decided I wanted to be Snoop Dogg when I grow up. Here's why:

1. Snoop can be an hour late and people won't care.
2. Snoop is so cool that he did most of the show in a winter coat and didn't break a sweat.
3. The indoor smoking ban does not apply to weed when Snoop is in town.
4. Snoop has guys whose sole jobs are to wear a suit and stand on the side of stage while he performs.
5. Snoop appears to have a sideline pass for every team in the NFL.

After we suffered through his pre-show movie/video, he delivered and played all the classic Snoop the crowd wanted to hear. And when it was all over, he left us with Snoop's Three Things You Need To Do Every Morning:

1. Brush yo teeth.
2. Thank God you're alive to see another day. (Apparently God doesn't like bad breath)
3. Smoke some weed, motherfucker!

Thank you, good night, and drive safely. And by safely I mean with weed and a firearm.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Top Ten Concerts of 2009

Just like Festivus, I’ll start the Top Ten first with an airing of grievances. These are three shows I attended but with which I was disappointed. Much in the same way you’re disappointed with this blog….

3. Bob Mould – Old Town School (3/29) – I debated whether I wanted to go to this show. I liked Husker Du and was somewhat familiar with Sugar and his solo stuff, but not sure if I was big enough fan to see a solo acoustic show. Turns out I’m not. He’s evolved in the last 20 years and I have not. Makes no sense at all.

2. Buddy Guy – Legend’s (1/18) – A legend. And every January he plays a series of shows at his bar in the South Loop. I got a pair of coveted weekend tickets, but unless you arrive hours early you won’t get a seat. No biggie except that standing room is delegated to corrals designated by stripes painted on the floor and enforced by bar security. Again, I might have been cool with that had he put on a real blues show instead of the fluff he presented that night. If you want to be able to say you saw him live, go for it. Otherwise save your money for a hooker or something equally delightful.

1. Juliette Lewis, American Bang, The Wanton Looks – Bottom Lounge (10/2) – This one is well-documented. She gave us 2-1/2 good records of rockin’ material before she went back to being an actress pretending to be a rock star. Still a high energy show and we got to see American Bang up close so maybe it’s unfair to drop this one so low, but I wanted this one to be a Dairy Queen Brownie Earthquake and all I got was some figgy pudding.

Next up – honorable mentions. I won’t blow my reward money hiring them to play my birthday party, but they were definitely good shows.

The Von Ehrics – Quenchers (12/10) – These boys pack up the van and come around about twice a year and always deliver a good time. Kind of like a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls – cheap, delicious, consistent and predictable. So I was a little concerned when they parted ways with their bass player. But on their last stop in town, the sound didn’t lose much and it actually sounded fresh with some new songs in the set list and some others reworked. I’ll miss Jeffrey’s stage presence but the rest of the band seems to have a renewed energy and have stepped up their game.

Keb Mo – Pottawatomie Bingo Casino (11/14) – I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Keb many times and he never disappoints – probably the most likable artist on the list. But it’s still basically a show for suburban housewives who want to feel edgy by seeing someone a little more hip than Harry Connick, Jr.

Jorma Kaukonen, Ruthie Foster, Robben Ford – College of DuPage (2/21) – Also reviewed earlier this year. Kind of a laid back show, but the talent and vibe was top notch. I primarily went for Ruthie, but also got to brush up on my music history and learn why Jorma was the headliner.

The Smithereens - some lame street fest last summer - I rediscovered that these guys were still touring a few years ago and have caught them a couple times since. They're clearly still loving what they're doing and still doing it well. Pat looks a little different, but the music is better than ever. Be on the lookout if they ever come to your town.

Pretenders, American Bang – The Riviera (2/15) – Definitely a top ten show, but dropped a bit because of the venue and the fact that I got to see them both again later in the year at better venues.

With that, I present you with Sid F’er’s Best Concerts of 2009:

10. Ruthie Foster – Old Town School (8/22) – A powerful voice, some decent chops on the guitar, a great mix of gospel and blues, and a personality that makes me wish she would just come over to my house, hang out and play some records. That’s not too creepy, is it?

9. Monte Montgomery – Fitzgerald’s (10/11) – Monte comes ‘round a couple times a year and you should make a point to see and support him. The dude is good enough that he could just go up there and shred for an hour and would still have a following. But in addition to some surprising and not-so-surprising covers, he can write some good old-fashioned rock and roll songs and has put together a band that can pull off some crafty arrangements that will help you get your groove back faster than Stella did. And he’s got a sense of humor that makes me wish I were a woman so that I could have a crush on him for it. That’s not too creepy, is it?

8. Los Lobos, The Duhks – Symphony Hall (11/1) – I’ve heard these guys put on a great show and finally got to see them this year. It wasn’t as high energy as I had expected, but just damn fine musicians with some great chemistry. And as much as I wanted to hate the La Bamba encore, I La Bamba-ed with the rest of the crowd and had pretty damn good time. Add in an opening band made up of a bunch of Franco-Manitobans and how can you go wrong? You can’t.

7. honeyhoney – Folk & Roots Festival, Welles Park (7/12) – This is a pretty cool fest if you can manage to dodge the monster truck strollers that obnoxious parents roll in there to pretend they’re exposing their disinterested kids to culture and getting in the way of obnoxious folks like me who just go to look at cute girls who can sing and play fiddle and banjo. honeyhoney happened to have such a person, who was also cuter and more talented than I had expected. As Lou Reed said so eloquently, “I love you, Suzanne.”

6. The Pixies – Aragon (10/20) – I had forgotten how good these guys were. At first I balked over the $45 ticket price, but the tour reignited my interest in their music. The more I listened the more $45 seemed like a bargain. Especially since by the time I decided I wanted to go I had to go through the detritus that is Craigslist to get a ticket for $55. They sounded great, but don’t stray much from the records in concert. And they had possibly one of the worst opening bands I’ve ever seen – No Age. Otherwise they might have come in higher.

5. U2 – Soldier Field (9/12) – I can’t even recall who played the last stadium show I attended but I think it was on a sweaty, summer night at Texas Stadium, and I vowed never to go to another stadium show again. But I felt it was my husbandly duty to get some tickets to my wife’s favorite band. However… it was a great day and I got to ride my bike down the lakefront path to the show. There weren’t any douchebags in my immediate seating area. I actually kind of like their latest record. And it was almost worth the price of the ticket alone to see the 360 stage, video display and the coordination and logistics necessary to pull off a production of that scale seemingly flawlessly. They’re coming back around – check it out.

4. Dave Alvin and The Guilty Women – Old Town School (3/21) – So I was familiar with the Blasters and knew of Dave Alvin but quite wasn’t sure what to expect going in. This one turned out the opposite of the Bob Mould show. Dave was personable, laid down some groovin’ tunes, and sounded great despite still getting used to his new bandmates, who just happened to be some badass women that are good enough to hang with Dave.

3. Pretenders, Cat Power, Juliette Lewis – The Vic (8/18) – I have a weakness for female musicians so this lineup blew me away as soon as it was announced. I was still a Juliette fan, and her 30-minute opening set was just enough to give me a fix without being so over the top to drive me away like she did six weeks later. Cat Power won me over with her set. I had always been on the fence, but the way she stalked the stage drew me in like an office staff to free donuts in the break room. And Chrissie. THE coolest woman in rock and roll, even at 58 years old. She’s so good I even considered joining those freaks at PETA just to impress her. Besides having just one other original Pretender, she’s collected some guys that know their place and capture the energy of any lineup past.

2. The Dead Weather, Screaming Females – The Vic (7/29) – I like The White Stripes. I like The Kills. And Jack and Allison did not let me down. The most powerful show of the year. Quality musicians, commanding stage presence, and great lights and sound at a good venue. They rocked so many faces off that night that they had to stop the show half way so that security could sweep them up like hats after a hat trick. It also didn’t hurt that they found Screaming Females to open the show with some loud, dirty rock and roll featuring tiny but powerful Marissa tearing it up on guitar.

1. The Jesus Lizard – Metro (11/27) - Despite spending my entire life in Chicago and Texas, I never managed to see these guys. So I was pretty excited when they announced the reunion tour, but wasn’t sure if they could still perform at the same level as 20 or even 10 years ago. I’ll just leave you with the following exhibits: a) it was a packed house and I somehow ended up a good 20 feet from where I started the show. b) lead singer David Yow passed overhead several times and eventually left in an ambulance. c) it was the highest energy and most fun I’ve had at a show in recent memory.

What were your best shows of the year?

Rock on, and here’s to some good shows in 2010.