Tuesday various

I will not buy this Monday, it is scratched

I was more than a little convinced, for most of the morning, that today was really just an elaborate practical joke, or perhaps just an unusually vivid dream. It seemed just off enough that I was occasionally looking for hidden cameras or pinching myself in order to wake up.

Part of that’s just a product of the past few days. We had a little bit of a health scare here at the household recently, enough that my sister and her husband came to visit over the weekend, but everything seems to be significantly better now. (It’s funny, but just typing that now made me feel significantly better.) The weekend, my first full one since returning from Canada, was kind of a blur, and I’m kind of glad to have put it behind me.

But it was also the day itself, which started with a bizarre e-mail from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, “apologizing” for their recent price hikes — which I’ve grumbled about here and elsewhere myself — and detailing the company’s plans to split itself in two.

This is quite honestly the worst thing they could have done. While they claim they’re “done with” pricing changes, that’s only now that the new rates have already gone into effect. They’re taking what was a costly and increasingly less certain product — Netflix has been losing studio deals left and right, and their streaming catalog is looking less appealing every day — and they’ve made it twice as difficult to navigate. The new DVD-by-mail side of the business, named (rather poorly) Qwikster, won’t be tied to the streaming-only Netflix in any obvious way. Customers who opt for both options, like I currently do, will have to navigate two completely separate websites and will receive two completely separate bills. And there’s every indication that Qwikster’s being created just so it can be spun off and sold somewhere — probably not very far — down the line.

Somehow Hastings and company think this is what customers (and investors) didn’t like about the recent price hike. I stuck with them through all of that — I didn’t change or cancel my plan, despite the grumbling — but I’m seriously eying the door right now. I’ve been a customer of theirs for more than ten years now, but I think this might just be the end of the road.

The day just got more Monday-ish after that. I missed my morning train — the later one, the one that’s usually my aw-let’s-sleep-in-a-little back-up — and then got on a subway headed downtown instead of up when I arrived at Penn Station. I figured it out pretty quickly, but wound up on the local instead of the express going back. I wasn’t very late to work or anything, but it was a weird start to the day.

And then the fire alarms at the office… It was almost like being at the old office, where they went off all the time, with only occasional information relayed about why.

By noon, though, the day had more or less righted itself — as much as a Monday can, I suppose — and I carried on as usual. This evening, I finished Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, which really has some wonderful writing advice in it. It’s warm, patient, and funny, at times feeling revelatory without being especially ground-breaking. I mean, her best advice — and Lamott admits its not even hers — is write. Put one damn word in front of the other. I didn’t quite do that myself this evening, as I still have a fair amount of line-editing that needs to be done if I’m going to get an issue of Kaleidotrope out before November, but I at least dug out my notebook and started re-reading the story I’ve been working on. Now that the weird Monday — and the health crisis — have passed, I’d like very much to get back into the swing of it, writing again.

Running commentary

Comment spam on the weblog just gets curiouser and curiouser:

I’m just commenting to let you understand what a excellent discovery our girl had using your blog. She even learned a good number of issues, which included what it is like to possess an ideal coaching character to get most people completely have an understanding of a number of very confusing issues. You undoubtedly exceeded our own expectations. Many thanks for producing the priceless, trusted, edifying not to mention unique thoughts on that topic to Emily.

That on a post from September 2004. It’s difficult to see just what “Emily” learned from that. I wasn’t entirely sure it was spam, despite being on a post now seven years old, but a quick search found the same or similar comments scattered across the web.

So, deleted. I’m not your search engine optimization farm, jerk.

Wednesday various

Tuesday various

  • Abercrombie & Fitch will pay Jersey Shore cast to stop wearing its clothes. How have I gone this far without ever directly encountering either? (And how can I continue this pattern of unexpected grace?)
  • Now you can watch The Big Lebowski with a bunch of random people on Facebook. I am intrigued by this…but not at all interested in participating. I’ve watched — and riffed on — movies with friends online, and enjoyed that experience. But Facebook’s system seems designed mostly to send money to Facebook, which is something I’m considerably less interested in doing.
  • Angry Robot’s WorldBuilder, on the other hand, seems like a much more intriguing communal experience. It’s, again, not one I’m likely to participate in myself, just because I don’t tend to seek out secondary worlds like this — fan fiction, role-playing games, etc. — but there’s something potentially very cool (and profitable, obviously) about a publisher embracing and facilitating this kind of thing right out of the gate. [via]
  • Aled Lewis’s mashups of historical paintings with ’80s adventure games. There’s only a few of these here, but they’re really quite amusing. [via]
  • And finally, Whiny Tea Partiers feel threatened by Jane Yolen:

    Why all the fuss? I believe it’s because Jane explained what was wrong in clear, straightforward language — a knack that way too many liberal pundits have lost. If exposing children to books and literacy is good, then what Ron Johnson is doing to schools and libraries is bad. If children being cared for in a public health clinic is good, then what Ron Johnson is doing to healthcare funding is bad. Johnson tacitly admits that these things are good, and that the general public sees them as good, by using them as props for his photo session. He wants the benefit of being associated with them. Then, in real life, he does his best to trash them. Simple.

    What venues like Moe Lane and WTAQ News Talk are really saying is that Jane Yolen made them feel bad. She got through to them. They can’t really argue with her, so they throw sh*t in her general direction, but still: she got through to them.