I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy…

So what’s a car with over 96,000 miles and probably a thousand bucks of work on the horizon worth? That’s what I was stuck contemplating Wednesday as I headed over to meet Billy and his dad at a Toyota dealership. Have I mentioned Billy before? I still never know how to refer to him. He’s the guy I hired to do my dirty work at the production facility. The word “Assistant” is in his title, but that doesn’t accurately describe his association to me. Sure, he works for me, but it’s not like he’s fetching my coffee or taking notes for me (Geez, did I just offend every assistant out there in the workforce? I’m terribly sorry). Let’s just call him “my guy” – that’s typically how I refer to him at work.

Where were we? Oh yeah, I was meeting up with my guy (Billy), who conveniently knows a guy (his dad), who, even more conveniently, knows another guy (the owner of a Toyota dealership). And there we would beg them to take away my trash heap and not absolutely rape me on the price of a new car even though Citibank has decided to take all of their frustrations out on my credit rating this year.

In the end, I could have gone elsewhere and leased one of those real low end cars you see advertised that come with 2 cylinder engines and manual crank starts, but I need some security this year. So my payments are a tad higher than I want, but I am now the proud lessee of a beautiful 2007 Toyota Corolla. Why this car? Because I still miss my old Geo Prism. I didn’t even consider other cars because I just wanted something dependable – I don’t need fancy. And now, I have many exciting car experiences to enjoy for the next 4 years:

  • When I press the gas, the car doesn’t think about it. It actually just goes.
  • When I press the brakes, I don’t have to think about it. The car actually stops.
  • Random “Your engine iz pwned!” lights won’t come on even after it’s just been serviced.
  • I got to roll the odometer over into double digits and then triple digits with quadruple digits in the near future. That’s far more exciting than hitting 90,000 miles and realizing that your car is now worthless.
  • Closing the vents means that the stink of NJ is actually kept on the outside – not filtered back in.
  • People can get in and out of the back seat without my assistance.
  • 350+ miles per tank of gas…
  • I won’t sigh when someone asks me what I drive.
  • Most importantly, any major mechanical problems for the next few years will not be my concern – they will be Toyota’s.

Now, there are some downsides to getting a new car:

  • Monthly payments – ‘nuf said. That’s the price you pay for getting a new car.
  • I actually care about the condition of my car now – no more shrugging off people banging into it because “it’s made of plastic anyway.”
  • I’ve got a new license plate to learn. My old one was so easy, I wish I could have kept it.
  • No more… uh… tape deck. My last two cars had combo CD and tape units. That was kinda cool. Seriously, I’m running out of bad points…

I’ll continue to worry about financial issues into the new year, but at least we no longer have to worry about housing and transportation. I’ll post some photos of my new hotness next week.

Must see

I am officially psyched for two new movies. For those of you who missed the recommendation by Mark, check out the trailer for Pan’s Labyrinth. Mmmm, deliciously fantastic eye candy from the brilliant Guillermo del Toro. Hellboy was an awesome film, but if you want to know why I’m really excited, check out The Devil’s Backbone – a film that more than lived up to the expectations set forth by it’s wonderful trailer. If anyone is interested in the films, let me know – maybe we can watch the latter at my place and then got see the former when it hits theaters.

Unfortunately, the second film will not be out until the spring. But one viewing of the trailer for 300 should tell you all you need to know about why I am chomping at the bit. It seems like studios might be wisely keeping their hands off of Frank Miller adaptations and letting directors have full creative control, having learned from the success of Sin City that such masterpieces should not be toned down.

I never got around to recommending some of my latest Netflix rentals since we started the subscription back up. Brick was a movie I couldn’t wait to see once I caught the trailer on another rental and… wow… did it impress. It’s a stylish film noir piece set (of all places) in the confines of a wealthy high school. The dialogue blew me away and left me drooling in envy of the writer – I actually stopped the film about 10-15 minutes in to tell Lisa just how amazing the film already was.

That was almost topped by another film who’s trailer grabbed me right away: Everything is Illuminated. The directorial debut of one of my favorite underrated-supporting-actor-types (Liev Schreiber), Lisa and I were both mesmerized by this coming-to-grips-with-my-Jewish-past film that managed to subtlety dance from a quirky fish-out-of-water story to a very somber tale of broken pasts. The biggest surprise of the film would be the stellar performance of Eugene Hutz, lead singer of Gogol Bordello (the great gypsy punk band).

Oh, V for Vendetta also rocked most majestically.

Communications down

Just when I’m thinking how smoothly Gmail has worked for me – WHAMO! – it goes down. It’s been down for a couple hours now. The sad thing is that I barely even use e-mail to talk with real people – just to get notifications of stuff. But of course today I was actually about to send off a quick e-mail to a friend. Now I must resort to picking up the tin can and hoping the thread over to their house hasn’t snapped yet…

UPDATE: Mea culpa. It appears that Gmail was not down, rather it was the victim of a proxy problem I was too lazy to check on here at work. All fixed, things appear normal now. I still need to look in on that cup and string backup plan, though…

Crap

I’m sick. It’s not that bad, but I’ve got a terrible malaise about me. I wouldn’t be so upset, but this is supposed to be a good week for me. My company’s holiday party was yesterday, and I’ve got friend’s parties on Friday and Saturday night. Yesterday was difficult enough, as I couldn’t really mingle that much (and obviously couldn’t drink). I even left early! That is just not like me.

And now it’s obviously just rotting my brain as I’m not sure I’m even writing complete sentences at this point. But the sore throat is slowly starting to clear up, which gives me hope that maybe my weekend won’t be killed.

At least I’ve gotten the chance to sit on my ass on a week day and watch silly crap on TV…

Deathmobile

Sunday night Lisa and I had our usual “can we afford to continue living our exorbitant lifestyle of a heated home and almost two square meals a day” talk. So far we’ve decided that there’s at least enough cheese and crackers and olives to get us through the year. I’m not so sure after that.

Alright, it’s not really that bad, but anyone else out there who’s used to being able to cover bills from paycheck to paycheck knows that you’re just one busted boiler away from being sunk. And did I mention that our boiler was, in fact, busted? I’m a terrible blogger – I totally forgot to mention that we did get that old beast replaced with a sexy new metal contraption that can actually get our house over 70 degrees without using an entire third-world country’s worth of natural resources. I’ll post some pics – promise!

Where was I? Oh, that’s right. Lisa and I determined that life was not a complete financial disaster and we drew up a plan to make sure it wouldn’t become one. Raise your hand if you can guess what happened next! That’s right, Monday morning I turned the keys to my car and received nothing but mutterings and a bad cough in return. I think she was offended by my talks of replacing her with some leased hotness just the night before. Yes, my car can apparently hear through the walls – and understand English no less!

We’ll ignore the pathetic attempts I made to correct the situation on my own and simply point out that Whole Foods make a mean cafe au lait – which was clearly the highlight of my morning. GEICO was more than happy (actually, they were probably merely content) to tow me to the nearest Saturn dealer. I “wisely” deferred to being taken to the Sears near work, as they’ve fixed my car in the past and are close enough to get a quick lift in. How smart am I? Let me tell you – not very.

After waiting in line for about 30 minutes behind a couple who didn’t even bring in a car (yes, I’m serious), the “mechanic” finally took a look at my pseudomobile and figured out that I was screwed. Apparently it was a timing belt, and Sears don’t play that. Gee, if only there was still a tow truck around like there had been 30 minutes earlier. So it’s time to get another tow, this time to the nearest Saturn dealer. Boy, I sure did manage to make just about every wrong decision possible that day (well, except for the cafe au lait – seriously, give it a try).

The dealer rented me a car for the day and went to work figuring out home much I’ve neglected my own vehicle the last year or so. When he called me up later, he was even nice enough to pretend there was good news. “It just needs some maintenance,” he declared. Oh goody, what needs to be done? He then proceeded to name every component of the engine and the low cost of two to four hundred dollars it would run to fix each one. How lucky am I? It’ll only cost $1700 to get my POS running as poorly as it used to! Oh joy.

I’m sure you’re anxious to hear how does our little story ends! I tossed them 400 bucks and told them to make it not explode and said I’ll probably just get rid of it inside a week. And that’s how I’m currently getting around in my own private deathmobile. Anyone need a ride?

The honeymoon is over

Last night when I was in the middle of another classic rant about Apple… or the Eagles… or politics… or monkeys… I really don’t remember at this point… Lisa suddenly made the little talky hand gesture. You know the one, the one where you use your hand to mimic the other person talking too much in order to demonstrate your disinterest. Yup, it’s been 4 months and we’ve finally made it to the last throes of our marriage. Of course, we all know how long the last throes can last…

Oh yeah, she also used a very condescending voice when referencing the small amount of milk I use in my cereal (3 drops according to her). Where has all the love gone?