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Fuck LivingSocial

I recently had an awful experience with LivingSocial. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the site, it’s like GroupOn– you pay an amount of money to get a higher amount of money off of a purchase. For example, paying $10 for $20 coupon at a restaurant you like. Great in theory– until something goes wrong with your order. They have the worst customer service I’ve ever encountered.

I purchased a coupon from them over a week ago, as I’d done twice previous without a hitch. But this time, a day after my purchase, I receive the following email:

Our records show that your credit card was already used to make another purchase for this exact deal. Our policy only allows one purchase per credit card, per deal. Your first purchase will be honored, but all subsequent purchases for this particular deal will not be valid.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but rules da rules.

The problem is, I didn’t try and purchase the deal twice. I purchased the deal once.  There must have been some sort of glitch. So I contacted them, explaining this. What do I receive back? This condescending shit that doesn’t remedy the situation whatsoever:

We’re sorry you experienced a problem with your deal purchase.

Upon reviewing your account, it appears you have made multiple
purchases of this deal on more than one account.  This is a violation of
LivingSocial’s terms and conditions and has resulted in the
cancellation of your duplicate purchase.

While we love for our customers to take advantage of our great deals, so that as many as possible can get in on it, some deals do come with restrictions on the quantity you may purchase.  So you’re aware of any restrictions prior to purchasing, we always place this information in the ‘Fine Print’ section, associated with the deal.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.  If you have further concerns regarding the situation, please feel free to reply to this email to let us know and we’ll be happy to assist you further. 

I write back stating that this has not helped me at all. I did not attempt to make multiple purchases. I do not have two accounts. If I do have two accounts, something must be wrong in the system, and this should be remedied.

That night, I notice that I receive duplicate emails from them about a new deal. So I contact them again, explaining everything that has occurred up to this point, including the duplicate emails I’m now getting, again reiterating that something must be going wrong on their end. Here’s what I get back:

It looks like you are currently subscribed to New York and NYC: Downtown, which is why you received to emails for our Adventure deal in NYC today. We are currently working on your purchase being canceled and will be in contact as soon as we have an update. 

Thanks for LivingSocial! 

Fair enough, that explains the double email. But it doesn’t explain anything else I asked them about! So I wait for them to get back to me. Many days past. Nothing. I contact them one last time explaining everything that has happened so far, and that I’m fed up, and would like to close my account, but can’t find anywhere on the site to do so. I receive back:

We’re sorry to see you go. You have been unsubscribed.

We’ll miss you!

The LivingSocial Team

I go onto the website to try and login. My account is still fully active. And I’m not even unsubscribed to any of their emails! They didn’t even do that! I had to do that myself.

At this point, I have no idea what to do. This is retarded. I just want people to know how non-existant their customer service is, and that apparently it’s impossible to close your account, should you want to. Deal with them with caution.

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Taxi Driver (Movie Review)

Taxi Driver (1976)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
113 min.

Let’s get this out of the way: the Blu-ray of Taxi Driver is every bit as awesome as the review sites are saying it is. But only true film fans are gonna be impressed. This is a very visceral and gritty movie, both visually and aurally. A lot of it ain’t that pretty, and was never meant to be. Lots of out of focus shots, low-light scenes, hyper-saturation, desaturation– this isn’t gonna be the disc you pop in to show off your entertainment system, let’s put it that way. If that’s what you’re looking for, pick up Planet Earth. But if you’re interested in watching a brilliant film as close to how it would look day one in 1976 at a theater with a great projector– this is the disc for you. And at $12.99, it’s a steal.

Now, the movie review:

Like Raging Bull, we’re dealing with a neutered man here. Sure he enjoys XXX theaters, but Travis Bickle is a ken doll. We are given no reason to believe he masturbates or even gets erections. Porn just helps him feel less lonely. He’s a man who wants only to be wanted.

He tries finding a girlfriend, but that doesn’t pan out. Basically, because she’s kind of a bitch. I personally found it quite charming and funny that Travis decided to take Betsy on a date to a porno. Her reaction was a little harsh; she should’ve laughed it off. I’m not saying her assessment of Travis as a psycho and subsequent cutting-off of him was unjust (obviously the dude is unstable) but if the porn theater mishap had occurred in an rom-com, people would’ve thought it was cute and silly. We must not confuse the situation with the man (or art with the artist, as the saying goes.) This, I believe, is the theme of the film.

Travis’ final crusade isn’t far off from what we’d be cheering in an action flick. The only difference is, we know Travis is insane. But we can’t let that cloud the fact that he ultimately did something noble, something few in this world would ever have the balls to do. In that sense, he’s a superhero. This may be a controversial standpoint, but if Iris were your daughter, you’d feel the same.

Do I believe Travis is a ‘changed’ man in the epilogue? Sorta. He’s still crazy as ever, but he has developed a moral code. Now, some may agree with him that ‘evil’ people deserve to be killed, some may not. (That’s a moral grey area I’m not gonna step into with my two cents.) But it’s a code nonetheless. And he has a reason to be proud– he’s found someone who believes in him: his city.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Raging Bull (Movie Review)

Raging Bull

Directed by Martin Scorsese
129 min.

Haven’t seen this one in many years, and when I did it was on a really small TV– kinda the size of the one Jake LaMotta owns in the film. Not the ideal viewing experience, but educational– the film was so entertaining that it didn’t matter. With the blu-ray out now, I decided to revisit it.

Such a great movie. Probably my favorite Scorsese movie. Well, either this or Goodfellas. It all depends on which I’ve seen most recently. And definitely De Niro’s best performance. He’s such a great dramatic actor, but he’s also good at comedy, and it shows here. The whole ‘fuck my wife’ scene is sad, but it’s also hilarious. I know people shit on De Niro for him doing comedy movies, but I liked him a lot in Meet The Parents. That the sequels (and other comedy films he’s been in) are intolerable is not his fault as an actor.

There are so many shots here that last maybe a few seconds, but they stick in your mind like they lasted a minute because they’re so gorgeous. Compare that to action movies these days like the Bourne series, where there are tons of muddy quick cuts that are completely unmemorable. Can you imagine if Greengrass directed this movie?

I think part of what makes the short shots stick in your head is there are also shots that seem like they should be short, but are played in slow motion and drawn out. It plays with your sense of time in a fun way. You really get a feel for what it must be like to be in the heat of the ring, as well as what it must be like trying to remember the fury afterward. Some of LaMotta’s fights are just literal snapshots in his mind, others contain rounds that seem to exist outside of time and space. Top notch editing.

You can really see how much Paul Thomas Anderson learned from this film. And it’s a testament to how good Boogie Nights is that after I see Raging Bull, I wanna watch Boogie Nights, and after I watch Boogie Nights, I wanna watch Raging Bull. Rinse, repeat.

Also, both films are about a man and his member. But Diggler and LaMotta are polar opposites in that department. For example, when Cathy Moriarty is licking and kissing his chest, making her way to his cock (one of the sexiest non-nude moments in film history) when LaMotta stops her, he gets up and we see he has no bulge whatsoever.

Speaking of Cathy, she’s pitch-perfect the whole film. I don’t buy her as a 15-year-old in the start of the film, but I do buy LaMotta seeing a 15-year-old girl and thinking she looks a lot older than she actually is, so it works. And by the time she’s shaking her legs in the pool water (a drool-worthy shot) you’re in love with her, so who gives a shit.

Whether you’ve seen this movie before or not, you really need to check out this new blu-ray. The picture and sound are phenomenal. They didn’t do that 4k thing on it like they did with Taxi Driver, so I’m sure it could look better, but the way it looks now is incredible. Especially for $12.99.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance
by Cody Clarke

Just saw
two little kids on the sidewalk
running around chasing each other
while holding their right hands on their chests
and reciting the pledge of allegiance for fun

It was fucking beautiful

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The Magic Hour

It’s 6AM in the morning and light is peeking along the sides of the drapes. The room is pitch dark otherwise. I haven’t been to sleep yet. I’m laying in my bed writing. I’m standing, writing. I’m sitting on the edge of my bed writing. Rinse, repeat. All the while, receiving glimpses– a snapshot of a scene, a line of dialogue. Sometimes just a single word. Every ‘flash’ important.

A misconception is that this is a form of insomnia. It’s not– if I put my head down for a few minutes, I’ll fall asleep– but I’ll lose gold. I’ll wake up back where I started: Go. But with no two-hundred dollars. Maybe I’ll remember pieces, but what good are pieces when you know you had the whole enchilada in your hands, but it drifted away like an enchilada might, if it could float. (You see? Similes like those don’t come to me during the working day.)

Terrence Malick shot the majority of Days of Heaven during the ‘magic hour’, the time just before sunrise or sunset. The magic hour isn’t just beautiful on the outside. I believe it possesses inner beauty as well. Wisdom that creative types (let’s be honest, psychics) can tap into while in proximity.

Do I have any science to back this up? Not a shred. But I’ve written two screenplays, the majority of them between 3 and 7AM or just as the sun is setting. And I’ve received ideas for a plethora of future films during those times as well. See if it works for you. If not, I’m sure you’ll find your muse elsewhere. She’s waiting.

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Broken Down

Broken Down
by Cody Clarke

My car is broken down
with you in it again
but this time I have no idea
how to fix it

We’re in the middle of nowhere
and it’s getting dark fast
and I don’t know what to do
about that either

All I wanna do is fuck you
while I can still see you somewhat
and then sleep till morning

But you want me to at least
pretend to know what I’m doing
under the hood

I chuck a rock at a tree
and walk off somewhere
and you cry in the car
but I’ll never know

because when I come back
your face is dry
you have more makeup on
and you’re kissing me hard

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