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December 22, 2008:

LIFE WITHOUT AOL

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, yes, there is life without AOL. I ask you, where else on all the Internet can you read an opening salvo such as that? Nowhere, that’s where. I first got AOL many years ago, probably back in the year 2000 or thereabouts. You must understand that at that time I was still using – wait for it – WebTV as my main Internet browser. In fact, I didn’t even know what a browser was. But I liked sitting on my couch like so much fish and surfing the Internet on my big-screen TV. Never mind the slowness, or the difficulty connecting, it was convenient and I even liked certain aspects of its setup, particularly for Usenet newsgroups – this was long before discussion boards made most Usenet groups obsolete. At some point, I got a Dell laptop computer, and since I didn’t know much about anything, I just got AOL, because I’d heard of it and it was, at that time, the cheese. From the get-go, it was problematic and I had so many issues with it, it became endlessly annoying. But, as frequently happens, I got used to the way it worked (or didn’t work) and the way it looked. In those days, I believe we were charged $29 for unlimited access. I was still on dial-up, and at times it was almost impossible to connect, and even when one was connected everything was horribly slow – and frequently you’d just unceremoniously get booted off. But still, I held on to it and kept paying. Then I got my second Dell, but still had many of the same problems. At some point, I got a high-speed cable modem and that really helped – in fact, it helped everything except AOL. Again, I was just used to it and liked the way everything looked and besides I had no idea how to switch to something else or if the something else would work any better. I held on to it and kept paying, although the fee went down to just under ten dollars. About five years ago, AOL made everything free – free e-mail and, if you had high-speed, you could even use them as a browser for free. But when I called and spoke to them about it, they were so obtuse in the way they spoke around my questions, giving me very unclear answers about my mail filing cabinet and other stuff, that I just kept on paying the ten bucks every month. What I later found out was that I was basically paying the ten bucks for the privilege of being able to call them for fixing things, advice, or whatever. However, since I’d had phone dealings with them all during the early years, I would NEVER call them, because their technical people are the stupidest anywhere – frequently in telling you how to “fix” a problem they would inadvertently have you nuke important things that you could never then get back (this happened to me twice). When I got my first Apple laptop, the world changed, computer-wise. All my Dell PC problems instantly disappeared. I began using Safari as a browser (while still using AOL, too), and everything worked pretty well. When I went to a MacBook Pro and the Leopard operating system I began having problems from day one, most of which had to do with the sudden incompatibility of AOL and Leopard. AOL would quit over and over again, for no reason. The only way you could actually quit out of AOL when it was working was by force quitting, and then Safari wouldn’t work until you put the computer to sleep for about ten minutes and then woke it up. All this reached epic proportions last week and I’d had it. AOL was quitting whenever I opened an e-mail, or tried to respond, or tried to change screen names. Again, I called AOL and asked them about what would happen if I stopped paying the monthly fee and their answers were way to vague. Thankfully, dear reader Jose helped me understand that NOTHING was going to change if I stopped paying the monthly fee, and so I went to billing and changed my payments to zero. And guess what? Nothing changed, including the fact that AOL was quitting every two seconds. It became obvious that there was something corrupt in my AOL software and that I’d have to perhaps reinstall – which would, most likely, lose my filing cabinet and all my saved e-mails. That I wasn’t willing to do. And so, I made the decision to never ever use AOL again, other than not logging in but being able to use the filing cabinet if I had to find an old e-mail address or look up someone in my address book. Jose then told me all about the Mail program that’s part of the MacBook, and I set that up and now all my AOL mail goes into the Mail program and I can answer, store, and read from there without ever having to log onto AOL again. And since I have not logged into AOL I have not had one single problem with the Internet. So, life without AOL is a good thing. A very good thing.

My goodness, that was a very long paragraph, wasn’t it? And I haven’t even discussed my Sunday, have I? Well, it was a perfectly pleasant day, really, with none of the bumper cars of the day before. I got a good night’s sleep, did some work on the computer, then did the long jog, after which I met former dear reader Hisaka at Panero to exchange Christmas gifts, since she won’t be able to attend the Christmas Do. I had more orders to print out, and quite a few e-mails to respond to, so I did that when I got back home. I then got a foot-long Subway turkey sandwich for lunch, and before I ate it I did the weekly weigh and was very happy with what I saw. I then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below and I shall continue the Saga of Sunday in the next section.

Yesterday, I watched a whole mess o’ stuff. I began my viewing with a spy thriller called The Jigsaw Man, starring Mr. Michael Caine and Mr. Laurence Olivier. This motion picture was made way after the spy thriller crazed was a thing of the past – it was filmed in 1983. This was a critically reviled film, a box-office disaster, and even on the imdb you cannot find one good amateur person saying it was an undiscovered gem. While I won’t say it was an undiscovered gem, I will say it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. Caine and Olivier are just too much fun to watch, and add to them the beautiful Susan George and a short running time, and it all goes by pretty quickly. No, it’s not a great story or script, but I’ve seen much, much worse. The director was Terence Young, who did some of the best Bond films, and who did a wonderful job on Wait Until Dark. Unfortunately, after the latter he never quite reached those heights again. But the film looks good (thanks to cameraman Freddie Francis), and the music is an odd mix of John Barry-like spy music with an occasional disco beat – the score is by John Cameron. It doesn’t add up to much, and it does get confusing at the end, but I certainly didn’t hate it. The transfer is, unfortunately, full frame, a real shame because the color is perfect and it would look great in its proper ratio. I then watched a motion picture I’d TIVOd entitled The Killer Is Loose. I had no idea what it was, but I liked the title and hence TIVOd it. Well, it turned out to be a film of Budd Boetticher, a tense little thriller all shot in LA. In fact, the opening shot is at Pico and Roxbury with a great shot of the Roxbury Drugstore, which I’m sure I mentioned in Kritzer Time (those who’ve read the Kritzer books know I grew up just mere blocks from Pico). The film stars Wendell Corey as someone involved in a robbery, whose wife is killed by a cop (after Corey shoots at the cop). Corey goes to jail, gets transferred to an honor farm, from which he escapes and comes back to LA to get revenge and kill the cop’s wife. The cop is played by Joseph Cotton and his wife is Rhonda Fleming. Boetticher’s direction is terrific – he really captures LA in the rain better than any other director. The actors are all good. There is a lot of tension, and Corey gives the best performance of his career. But the script lets them all down by having some of the characters behave so stupidly that you just sit there and want to hurl your shoe at the TV screen. But, I liked it anyway.

I then watched two episodes from the about-to-be-released season two set of Mannix. I really enjoyed both of them quite a bit, and the show works much better in season two because they got Mannix out of the computer-filled environment of Intertect and into his own office, and thereby got rid of all the tiresome interplay with his Intertect boss (Joe Campanella). So, in season two we have a new character, Mannix’s girl Friday played by Gail Fisher. He’s got his own office, which is conveniently located on the back lot of Paramount Studios. Transfers are excellent.

Today, I shall do the long jog, shop for the Christmas Do, take my car to the service station so they can re-attach my front license plate, which was ripped off in the bumper car incident. Other than that, the day and evening are mine all mine. I shall eat lightly but well, and I shall probably do some trading at Amoeba if I can get up the energy to drive over there.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, shop, and do everything else mentioned above. Today’s topic of discussion: Our best-of 2008 continues – what are the ten best films you saw this year. And your ten worst. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, as I continue to enjoy life without AOL.

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