Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Postage, The Preakness, Magazines, Subways & Game Shows

I expect my checks to be returned any day now.

On Saturday, I paid three bills. I wrote out checks, put them into envelopes, addressed the envelopes, placed a stamp on each envelope and put them into the mailbox. On Sunday, MY WIFE said that we had to remember to get some new stamps since the postage rate had gone from thirty-nine cents to forty-one cents this past week.


Only a governmental agency such as the Post Office would raise prices in such an idiotic fashion. No other business entity in the entire world would raise their rate from thirty-nine cents to forty-one cents. A real business would have made it forty cents the last time and not had to bother anybody this time. There’s been some talk about abolishing the penny. Hah! As long as the Post Office is part of the equation, it will never happen.

(Not that I want it to happen. I like pennies. They cost more to make than they’re worth. In that way, they’re a perfect microcosm of government efficiency.)

Back in the days of my youth, when pteradons were likely to swoop down out of the sky and rip your arm off for a snack, postage was something like four cents. When the rates went up, it made sense to raise them just a couple of cents and nobody made a stink about it.

(If I could have somehow worked the word “scents” into that sentence, along with “sense” and “cents,” it would have been really cool. God knows I tried.)

Anyway, raising the rates two cents nowadays just ticks people off. For God’s sake, make it 50 cents and be done with it. Then you won’t have to piss us off again for at least another ten years or so.

Enough of that. I have plenty of other stuff to complain about.

The Preakness was run on Saturday. Curlin beat Street Sense by a nose, literally. Very exciting race. What could I possibly have to bitch about?

Well, this. In the post race coverage, Sportscenter on ESPN gave a number of “interesting” facts concerning Curlin’s victory. One of them was – are you sitting down? – that no horse had won from post position #4 since 2000.

OH MY GOD! Not since way back then? Take away my Old Spice and call me Stinky! Who would have thought that you could go SEVEN WHOLE RACES without the #4 horse winning? It’s... It’s... utterly inconceivable!

Seriously. They couldn’t come up with anything more interesting and less mundane than that? Who’s writing this stuff? The Post Office?

In other startling news, MY WIFE and I have way too many magazine subscriptions.

We now receive Esquire, Best Life, Woman’s Day, Lucky, Giant, The New York Observer, LPN, More, Smithsonian, Body & Soul, Readers Digest and two or three religious publications I can’t even remember the names of at the moment. They are piling up at an alarming rate on our dining room table. If we allow this to continue for another three or four months, we’ll be in danger of becoming one of those stories you read every so often wherein somebody gets buried inside of his own house by a pile of detritus and, unable to extricate himself, dies a miserable and lonely death, the body discovered only when the mailman (there’s the damn Post Office again) notices a stench while he’s delivering even more magazines.

This sad state of affairs has come about because we had frequent flyer miles on an airline facing bankruptcy. Since our miles would soon be useless, we were offered a number of magazine subscriptions as compensation. We wanted Smithsonian. I figured Esquire would be a decent read, too. The rest of them we ordered because, well, why not? We were owed something and since this was what we could get for our miles, we were damned well going to take advantage of it. We had no earthly idea what “Lucky” or “Giant” or “LPN” might be. As it turns out? We still have little idea, since we just plain don’t have the time to read all of these things.

We have enough printed pages on our dining room table to have saved a couple of acres of rain forest if we had just had brains enough to say, “No, thank you.” Instead, we are in danger for our lives. Hell, the damned perfume and cologne ads are enough to kill us via asphyxiation.

(Hmmmm. I probably could have gotten “scents” into this thing right there. Maybe I’ll try again later.)

We had this happen once before, so you'd think we might have learned something from that. Nope. See, we had a subscription to the Financial Times. I won that on-line by picking winners over the course of a football season. I think the grand prize was $10,000. I finished second and got a year of the newspaper.

We had no earthly use for the thing - I think our biggest investment at the time was a jar full of pennies - but I won it, so I wanted it. It started coming and kept coming, every day. We piled them up by the fireplace, intending to use them for kindling or some such, but it was a warm winter and finally we had to admit defeat. MY WIFE called them to cancel the subscription. They wouldn't let her.

They told her that she could only suspend the subscription, not cancel it. This was her response:


Well, after arguing with them for five minutes, she had them suspend the subscription, since it accomplished pretty much the same thing. Except that now we live in fear that someday a computer malfunction will start the delivery again and we'll be forced to find a bigger house to accomodate it.

(Another interesting waste of paper was accomplished by MY WIFE calling the phone company and complaining that we didn't have the phone books we needed. See, we only had the local Watertown directory and we wanted one for Boston. They were very nice and, the next day, there was a Boston directory on our porch. And another one the next day. And another one the day after that. And... well, you get where this is headed. By the time we finally got them to stop delivering them, we had fourteen Boston directories.

By the way, the first time we called, after we had five of them, their suggestion was for us to go door-to-door to our neighbors and see if anyone else wanted one. Uh... no.)

So, anyway, we have all these magazines now. If I’m not buried under an avalanche of “You Could Live To Be 160 And Look Like George Clooney, Too, IF Your Doctor Didn’t Have His Head Up His Ass” articles, I’ll be in New York on Wednesday to audition for “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”

(Hmmph! Shakespeare? Let’s see a million monkeys with a million typewriters come up with THAT sentence.)

Yes, I have another game show tryout. If you’ve been keeping score, you know that I’ve had three before, one of which was actually successful. I’m trying very hard to keep this one in perspective. I’ve only spent my possible winnings four or five times so far.

In reality – which I rarely visit, but I do attempt to keep up the pretense – I’m looking at this as an opportunity to ride my favorite subway system and to see the Red Sox play the Yankees in the company of my brother-in-law, who has been kind enough to allow me to crash at his place in Brooklyn. If I pass the audition, so much the better.

The audition consists of a written test and, if the test is passed, a personality interview with staff of the show. If both are passed, my name gets put into the contestant pool for future tapings, with no guarantees concerning an actual appearance on-air. So, while it’s nice to fantasize about winning a million bucks, I think it makes sense to confine my present joy to riding the elevated out to Coney Island and maybe seeing the Sox win while I’m actually within the belly of the beast.

I’ll let you know how things turned out come Friday. Wish me luck.

Who knows? If I actually get to be a contestant and then win the million dollars, I might send every one of you an invitation to the celebration party - if I can figure out the damn postage.


endangered coffee said...

I swear, phone books are like Tribbles, especially those little ones that every distant cousin of Ma Bell puts out these days. You need a broom to sweep them all off the porch.

friday18 said...

Amusingly, on Saturday I went to auditions for Wheel of Fortune. It was being held at Suffolk Downs, but I didn't stick around to watch the Preakness there. I'd never been to Suffolk Downs before, and the place was a dump. Instead I enjoyed the race in the comfort of my living room.

As far as the audition went, I never got up on stage. There were hundreds of people there to play three hour-long games, with 5 contestants at a time in a 5-10 minute round. Contestents were selected by random drawing. Anyone who made it onto stage will be considered for a callback for the final rounds, although since they're holding a few final round spots open for applicants that didn't get selected the first time, I'm totally out of the running. But I'm not holding my breath.

WoF certainly isn't the most glamorous or high-paying of game shows, but I've liked it since I was a kid, I'm very good at it, and you get to go home with whatever you earned, even if you don't win. I'd get a huge kick out of being on the show, but I'm not expecting it to actually happen.

Good luck with your audition! I hope you make it.

connie/mom said...

Reminsce? & break a leg.

David Sullivan said...

Have fun in the "rotten" apple!!!

Barbara from Nova Scotia said...

So tell the truth: what did you end up doing with all those phone books? Sounds like there were enough to build a book case! LOL

Anonymous said...

OK, when you get on "Millionaire" you have to give a shout out to all of your Blogger buddies. We'll be home watching, and cheering you on!

Oh - be sure to wave to YOUR WIFE, too.

Good luck!

T. :)