Blogs > Off Beat

Ah, blogging. Here's my little corner of it all -- in West Chester, and well, from wherever on whatever. I'll let you know what I'm thinking and you can let me know what you're thinking. But remember, I can delete your posts.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cheers Elephant

I'll be the first to admit, I've been called a music snob. It's not because I'll only listen to this or that, but not that...whatever that means. But it's cause I'm fairly vocal about what I don't like. I have no issues with MTV, VH1 or commercial radio, only bad tunes.

I've played in bands and had no success. I've known some people that played in bands and saw some success. So, I know when I hear a good tune, or more importantly something that I like.

And I'm all for supporting local music. The problem I find is when I was going out regularly to see bands, I usually left clubs disappointed. So, I stopped going out. Probably my loss, but with being selective, I set myself up to be surprised -- and today I was.

Being the features writer I often get pitches from organizations, people, that they can get some publicity. The problem is the can of worms it can open. Write about one...

Today I got one of those pitches for a band called Cheers Elephant. They're from Downingtown. Although I'm probably not going to write a story on them for the paper, I felt the need to here.

I was happily surprised by the tunes they have posted. They're playing at Rex's on Wednesday and I'm planning to go. I haven't been to Rex's in quite some time and am looking forward to it. I'm hoping to hear Sunrise Spaceships. My advice, check 'em out at and go to Rex's.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Just Say No to Direct TV

I was never a big fan of Comcast. I always thought they charged too much and that there customer service was terrible. I thought I would go the other way and get Direct TV. All I can say is what a mistake.

I made the switch in April and everything was fine until about July. I know, 5 months isn't that long. But I lost one channel and called to see what could be done to fix it. The technical support people walked me through the steps and when we were done I had no channels.

I called back and the new technical support person said the steps were incomplete and tried something else. Didn't work. So, I went from more than 300 channels, missing one to none.

This was after the original technician said I shouldn't bother installing the dish because of a tree. Direct TV sent out another guy and he said the other guy didn't know what he was talking about.

So, I called back and asked when they were coming to fix it. Fixing doesn't take priority over new installations so they said it would be something like 10 days before they could get to my place. I said no. Just cancel it.

I received my final bill and a credit that would take care of the early cancellation fee. Paid it on time.

3 weeks later I received a phone call from a collection agency asking for the money I owned them -- another 30 dollars. I said I have no idea what you are talking about, when I receive a bill I'll look into it. Two days later the bill came with a due date of Sept. 30. So, they were trying to collect before sending the bill.

I called, complained and because I canceled, I have to pay another 30 dollars. Okay, whatever just to get it done. So I drop the check off in the mail this morning.

Right after doing that I emailed them saying don't call me again your money is in the mail.

The response -- you owe us another 100 dollars for early termination. Now I'm waiting on the reply to I'm not paying any more.

My point in all this is: Do Not Get Direct TV. Their customer service is terrible with not one person knowing what the other has already done. You'd think they'd mark it in a file. But nope. The actual TV service was worth the price, dealing with the people isn't.

Maybe Verizon will bring FIOS to my neighborhood. Not likely, but I can hope.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Who Needs Progress?

I went home over last weekend to finish up the work to my car ... emissions and registration and all the annoying paperwork. It was the first time I had been back to my moms house since the township officials decided to remove one of her trees.

This tree had been there for a long, long time. It was (I'm not a tree person, if there is such a person) but I would guess middle aged. It was large and provided shade not only for her house but also for the neighbors. It was great to park your car under on a hot, summer day. It also provided a lot of color in the fall when its leaves would start to change. And now it's just a stump waiting to be removed.

My mom's house isn't in a development and sits on a bit of land. Developments are encroaching and it's because of those developments that the tree was removed. The tree sat on the road, right at the corner of the driveway.

The township, to support growth, is widening her road. So, in the name of progress a tree was destroyed. I'm not one to protect every tree ... far from it. And I try to due my part for the environment, but I'm no environmentalist. But for somewhat selfish reasons. Studies show global warming could limit snowfall and I love to snowboard. I don't want to be in my thirties going to the indoor snow resort of the Pa. turnpike.

I'm just annoyed that the neighborhood lost a cool tree because people a 1/2 mile away needed a wider road. Again, a selfish reason. But maybe we all need to be a little more selfish when it comes to preservation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where'd the Tacos Go?

Anyone know what happened to the taco truck that used to park in the Beer Mill parking lot in West Chester? That guy had great burritos and I miss them.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Come On Fall

I was walking through Center City Philadelphia last night, up the Ben Franklin Parkway, around the fountain in Logan Square, just watching all the people that were sitting on benches and in the grass beneath the street lights enjoy what I'm hoping is the last little bit of summer we'll have.

As I said in an earlier post, I love the winter. Getting me to the beach isn't nearly as easy as it is to a ski resort. But I really enjoy walking around the city once it gets cool -- sweater weather.

Walking isn't as uncomfortably warm, it seems like there are more people moving around (whether they are going somewhere I don't know) and more importantly -- the smell becomes much more bearable.

The stench of sewer, garbage on the street and urine always disappears with the heat. That is reason to celebrate.

It's a problem that I suppose Chester County residents don't really have. But ChesCo residents do have horses, mushroom farms and, well, just farms in general. So maybe you are all looking forward to the heat and smells going away too.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fabulous With A Bullet

A really good friend of mine moved to L.A. to make movies. She's also a W.C. East grad so it's nice and local.

She made this 6-minute film that I love and stuck it on youtube. I don't spend a lot of time on youtube so I never would have found it if she didn't send the link.

The title, Fabulous With A Bullet, is pretty dead on. The flick involves hot girls going to a gun range. I'm game. So...enjoy. But just to let you know I don't advocate owning a gun or not owning a gun. If you advocate either...use your own judgment.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Waiting Watching Wasting

I recently got a new car, hence the temp tag from my earlier post. Soon enough I will rejoin the ranks of PA drivers. I can't wait. But waiting is what I'm doing. And waiting. And waiting. I'm not a patient person when it comes to things like this -- things that I have no control over. I wish I understood something about cars but I don't.

This ordeal started when my first car "died" according to my mechanic in the city (I won't be going back to him) as I learned he was fishing to get the work to replace my engine when I didn't need it. So, I ended up with a new car and am learning the process of how many ways you can get ripped off. The garage that has my car now isn't in Philly, but Oxford and they are really good guys and I completely trust them.

But in the process of getting my tags and registration I learned that a tag agency throughout the county, with a shop in my town, according to the person working there illegally charges a 3-percent fee for all credit card transactions to cover costs. Ah, waiting and wasting.

But it should all be done soon and hopefully I won't have to deal with anything like this again. And I am calling my credit card company to complain. How many ways do we need to get ripped off involving something we can't control?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's a Long Drive

As my profile says, I live in Philadelphia and commute out to W.C. each day to bring you your feature stories. And it's usually quite interesting, the people I meet. But that's not what I'm going to be getting at here. This is about my commute.

I drive 202 and 76 twice each day and I don't mind it. There is traffic most days, I think my car might be the only one equipped with working turn signals and I'm always terrified that I'll be sandwiched by people with Jersey plates (Even though I'm one of them at the moment, but my tag is only a temp). But, luckily, I haven't had an accident yet. But this isn't my point either.

During my commute, I usually have enough time to listen to a complete CD. This is nice for me. I love music -- have even played in some bands. But actually getting to hear the songs in their entirety is nice.

At the moment, my top five driving CDs are:
-- The Dandy Warhols (13 Tales from Urban Bohemia)
-- The Pixies (Greatest Hits -- It's got just about every song you'd want to hear and then some)
-- Modest Mouse (This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About)
-- The Sky Drops (Clouds Over People Ep from a great band from Wilmington, Del.)
-- The Clash (London Calling)

So, there are mine. If anyone has something I should be listening to let me know. I'm also interested in things I should leave in the record store.