more cable TV and internet shenanigans

I got a phone call from my cable company recently; the person who called started rattling out a prepared script about some good news: they were upgrading my internet speed. I got suspicious pretty quickly, and, at some point in the script, she mentioned some additional fees. I assumed the call was a sneaky way of getting me to agree to upgrade my account, and cut her off to tell her that I was happy with my current service and didn’t want to upgrade. Then I hung up.

Afterward, I started to get a feeling that maybe I should have listened all the way through or at least tried to engage her in conversation and get some questions answered. Maybe it wasn’t a sneaky attempt to get me to agree to a service upgrade, but instead a sneaky way to try to brand a price increase as a service upgrade.

A few days later, I got an email from them, again with the “good news” that they were increasing my internet speed, to 60 Mbps. I read the fine print carefully, but there was no explicit mention of a price increase or any additional fees.

So I did some internet research, and I found a thread at DSL Reports that seemed to confirm that there would, indeed, be additional fees. So I then went and checked my most recent bill, and found the details in the fine print there. It looks like they’re going to start charging a $5/month modem rental fee, starting next month. And they’re signing me up for their “service protection plan,” for free until the end of the year, after which it’s probably $7/month. (I think I can drop that when the free period is up, at least.)

The most frustrating thing about all this is how they can’t just come out and tell you that they’re raising prices. It’s always a bunch of double-speak and shenanigans. The “service protection plan” is (of course) nonsense.  And the modem rental fee is also pretty ridiculous. (And they try to make it sound like they’re doing you a favor on it, by discounting it from the usual $10/month fee.) I might be able to dodge the modem rental fee by buying my own modem, but it’s not clear if they’d let you do that, or how much grief it would be to set up. (And I’m not really in a mood for a bunch of extra grief right now, so I’ll probably suck it up and pay the fee.)

Anyway, Cablevision/Altice just keeps getting worse, but I don’t really have any alternatives. I also found out recently that Verizon is retiring their old copper lines in my area, and that they probably wouldn’t be running new fiber into my apartment building. So I may lose the option of getting POTS from Verizon soon. (I know all the “young people” think that having a landline phone is an anachronism, but I kind of like having one.) So I might have to drop home phone service entirely, or switch to Optimum Voice, giving Altice yet another way to drain money out of my wallet. (Also, I had always assumed that Verizon FiOS was an option for me, for internet service, but from what I’m hearing, apparently it never was, since my apartment building isn’t wired for it. So I’m stuck with Altice for TV, Internet, and maybe phone service.)

Oh well. (Yes, I know that this was a pointless rant, but if I can’t rant on my own blog, where can I rant?)

Not at SDCC, again

Once again, I am home in NJ instead of enjoying San Diego Comic-Con, since I (again) couldn’t get a ticket. I was entirely OK with this, up until this week, when the weather here in NJ got really hot and humid, and I started thinking about that beautiful San Diego weather. It’s been pretty brutal in NJ this week, and I could really use some nice moderate San Diego summer weather. I shouldn’t complain though; my air conditioning is working fine.

I’ve been following the news out of San Diego, but in a very scattershot way. The Beat and Newsarama have had some good coverage. I’ve watched some of IGN’s video coverage on my TiVo and on the web. And I’ve set up the TiVo to catch SyFy’s nightly show and Conan’s show from the con. All of this is a very welcome distraction from the usual barrage of disheartening political news. I even added “comics” and “comic con” as topics under Apple News on my iPhone, so now I’m seeing stuff about Batman and DuckTales in with the usual Trump news. I plan on continuing to nerd out on Comic-Con news through the rest of the weekend. If anything important happens in the “real world” I can wait until Monday to find out about it.

Kirby and Eisner Humble Bundle

Humble has a pretty interesting bundle running right now, celebrating Jack Kirby and Will Eisner, who would both have turned 100 this year. It’s definitely an odd assortment of stuff. Most of Kirby’s work was, of course, work-for-hire, done for Marvel and DC, so none of that’s going to be in a bundle like this.

Eisner’s Spirit character was creator-owned (very unusual at the time). I think DC currently has the rights to reprint the original Spirit material, so none of that is in the bundle. Some modern Spirit comics, published by Dynamite, are in the bundle though. (DC published new Spirit stories for a while, a few years back, and I’ve read most of those. I haven’t read the newer Dynamite stuff.)

A couple of Eisner’s modern graphic novels are included, and those are all pretty good. (Of the two included, I’ve read one.)

For Kirby, there’s a couple of collections of his very old romance comics, plus some of his creator-owned stuff from the 80s (Silver Star). And some newer comics featuring his creator-owned characters, but done by other creators. I read the original Silver Star series when it first came out, and it’s pretty weird stuff. I haven’t read any of the modern spin-offs.

And there’s a bunch of magazines and books about Eisner and Kirby, including a bunch of stuff from TwoMorrows. So quite a random collection of stuff, of varying quality. But probably worth $15 or $20, given that some of that would be going to CBLDF and/or the Hero Initiative.

If you wanted to read a nice collection of Eisner’s original Spirit comics, Will Eisner’s The Spirit: A Celebration of 75 Years would be a good place to start. I was trying to think of something similar for Kirby, but I can’t really think of any one book that would be a good starting place. Maybe Fantastic Four Masterworks Vol. 1? Kirby did so much work for Marvel (and DC), it would be pretty hard to create a “best of” volume.

finishing Transmetropolitan

I just finished the final volume of Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan series. I bought the series from Comixology back in 2012, when they had it all on sale for some reason I can’t remember. I started reading it about a year ago. I got through about half of it last year, then took a break, then picked it up again a few months ago. It’s a really good series, and holds up well. (It was originally published from 1997-2002.)

I’ve been on an Ellis kick lately. I also recently finished his book Normal, which was fun little novella. I have some more of his stuff in Comixology that I might read soon too. But I’m also on a Grant Morrison kick, having recently finished his Batman & Robin run. (His Batman Inc stuff is up next.)

So I have a lot of good stuff waiting to be read. I went to Garden State Comics Fest yesterday, expecting to come home with some more books to add to the pile, but I wound up buying only one comic, out of a dollar bin. So I guess I spent more on gas driving to and from the con then I did on actual comics. I thought about going back to the con again today, but decided to sit outside on Division Street reading Transmet instead. I think that was a pretty good decision.

Joe Sinnott

Here’s a nice article about Joe Sinnott, from the NY Times, earlier this week. One thing that’s good about all the superhero movies coming out nowadays is that they usually kick up a handful of related media stories that can bring some attention to creators like Sinnott. (Though this article isn’t directly related to the new Spider-Man movie, it does mention it, and the article probably wouldn’t exist if not for the new movie.) I tend to think of Sinnott primarily for his long run on Fantastic Four, but that’s barely mentioned in the Times article.

The article is largely about Sinnott’s current work on the Spider-Man newspaper strip. It’s kind of cool that the Spider-Man newspaper strip is still running, and that folks like Stan Lee and Joe Sinnott are still involved with it.

Speaking of stuff that’s loosely related to the new movie, this exhibit at the Society of Illustrators sounds interesting. (I’m still a little annoyed that I missed their recent Will Eisner exhibit. That’s entirely my fault; I knew it was there, and I just didn’t get around to it. So I should make a point of going to this one.)