Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Full of Fail

Okay, let's get one thing straight.

I never win contests. It is axiomatic.

Maybe once in a while when there's like forty people's names being drawn out of a hat, I'll be like number 35 and I'll win a pair of women's pink slippers or some other essentially worthless garbage. I'm pretty much resigned to this.

Pretty much.

But okay, let's get real for one second here.

The magazine MacLife has a back page contest every month where you send them some kind of funny picture or caption a picture or some other bit of visual entertainment and you can win a prize. February's contest went like so:

Is your current cell phone on its last legs? Do you crave 3G speeds, or are you just tired of that generations-old flip phone--the one with the cracked screen and the 7 that only works when you press real hard? If so, now’s your chance to grab a brand new 3G iPhone (and an awesome headset to go with it)! Send us an amusing photo of you talking on your old cell phone--plus a close-up of the phone itself. Be creative! Whoever can catch our eye--or garner our deepest telephonic sympathies--will score the hot new Vibe II headset and a brand-new iPhone. Paying the bill, however, is your problem.


The judges will be Mac|Life editors and will base their decision on 33 percent originality, 33 percent creativity, and 33 percent execution.

So, I actually thought, wow, I really have a chance here. Reproduced below is the entry I submitted replete with photos to back up my claims:


Hello MacLife Contest,

Well, the story goes like this. My phone was ailing already. The keypad when pressed would bring up a different number on the screen. When I flipped it open, the hinge would stop about halfway. Occasionally the screen would refuse to light up until I turned off the phone, removed the battery, placed the battery back inside, then turned the phone on again.

I was considering a new phone, to be sure.

Then one day I pulled out my phone (Motorola Razr) to answer a call while I was coming down the stairs in an RTA station and I dropped it. Like in a Hollywood movie, if anything or anyone falls at the top of the stairs, it has to make the trip all the way to the bottom. My phone did just that, bouncing, skipping, skittering all the way down a double flight of concrete steps. Where it landed. In a slushy puddle of half-melted snow. (I wonder what that sounded like on the other end of that call.)

Well, I was nowhere near home, nowhere near tools to dry off the phone inside with any kind of speed, so I picked up the super scarred, cracked phone, and tried the buttons. No dice, all was black. So I popped out the battery and rushed to my house with the idea of at least saving my photos, my address book, my texts, if not the actual working phone itself.

With some handy Torx screwdriver action I was able to open up my phone and dry it off whereever the slushy, salty mix had made it in. But, in my haste and with my clumsy hands, I severed a few contact connections inside. Four hours of phone surgery later with electrical tape and plenty of good luck, I managed to get the phone up and running again minus a few features. For example, the screen, the camera, the text function, the address book. Basically, I had a cell phone circa the late 80s. Answer and call capacity only.

With some third party software, I managed to save about 70% of my pictures, the rest had weird data errors so either they wouldn't open or they'd open with heavy distortion. Address book was lost. Texts, lost.

But the phone worked. It still worked. Now, I'm kind of a cheap-ass anyway, and to be honest, I was kinda proud of my mad surgical skills, so I kept using the phone, putting off ordering a new one. Also, my contract was near expiration and the idea of buying a new phone when I might get a free one with a new contract seemed a good reason to put off making a new purchase.

So, since the view screen was totally dead and the phone had all kinds of broken elements going on, I made sure to add some new features to make it workable. For instance, an electrical tape lock to keep the completely unhinged clamshell closed as it now flipped open at odd times, all loosey goosey.

And post-it notes and a pen on my person at all times for "text" messages. The photo of my camera workaround is just for fun, but the "text" feature I sincerely used because otherwise I'd forget things I wanted to tell people.

I didn't remember half of my phone numbers because I'd gotten so used to just using the address book on the screen. So I got their numbers directly from the people I called most, and then I printed up an address book to tape into my new phone.

Now, when someone calls, I let the call go directly to voice mail with the hope that the person will either leave their number or the person will be one of my regular contacts in my paper address book. Since my wife has a phone of the same model, I've also memorized a few cheats in case the caller doesn't leave a VM. (Left arrow, down arrow, select button, then down arrow as many calls back as the person you're trying to get a hold of. It doesn't work much if you don't keep a good recall of how many people have called you and how many people have left messages. Hell, it doesn't work at all. Who am I kidding? But I tried! I tried!)

Of course, there's only so long I can go with such a ridiculous excuse for a phone. I don't dare turn the ringer off because I can't see the screen to change the settings to turn it back on. But when you pull out a scratched, cracked, taped phone with post-its crammed inside it, people tend to stare. Then laugh. Then try to take pictures of your phone to post to failblog. It's not pretty.

So, hook me up MacLife. Give me something to show off in our next office meeting. Give me bragging rights. But most of all, pretty pretty pretty please, give me a phone that actually works.


Not bad, if I do say so myself. I thought, I've got the hardest luck story of anyone I've ever heard and I have a superbeat phone with pictures to prove it. This is awesome, I will win this iPhone for sure.


The May issue of MacLife arrives and I haven't heard anything from them yet, so I know it doesn't look good for my chances. That's okay with me actually. While I was already looking at the sweet apps I'd download like the iPhone Kindle and all the games and widescreen rendering of TV shows and all the rest of the sweet techy goodness that comes with it, I still didn't truly believe in my heart of hearts that I'd actually win.

However, I was not prepared for what awaited me when I went to the back page.

Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously? This is the win they came up with? Look at this entry. It's not even in the ballpark of funny, though it's trying to be. The rusty tin can execution? That's like grade school level funny, something a first grader might come up with.

And get this, the image doesn't even make sense. He's got a Bluetooth earpiece (which comes with a microphone) and he's talking into a can. Is that supposed to be how broke his "can-phone" is? That he has to use it and the Bluetooth? When you have you seen someone using their phone headset and at the same time talking into their actual phone?

Never. Because it doesn't make sense.

This garners MacLife's sympathies? This had the perfect 33/33/33 originality/creativity/execution break down? Seriously?

So I can understand people reading this and thinking I'm just being a sore loser here, and let's face it, I am being a sore loser here, but to lose is one thing. To lose to such a demonstrably weak delivery is insulting.

Now here's the icing on the cake. Yesterday, after I found out about this retardulous loss, I posted this on Twitter:

The editors of MacLife can suck it, suck it, suck it. What the hell are they putting in their bongs over there? GAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

And what did I get for this outburst?

The following two emails:

Hi, The Critic (The_Critic).

Roberto Baldwin (strngwys) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Roberto Baldwin's profile here:


Hi, The Critic (The_Critic).

Ray Aguilera (raguilera) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Ray Aguilera's profile here:

Now who do you think these two are?

Editors at MacLife. To make matters worse, Ray Aguilera goes and reposts what I wrote about them. It's almost like they're either taunting me or they really are as ridiculous as I took them for after I saw this mega FAIL on the back page.

I swear this is the most ridiculous loss of my life. After this, I can take any beating in any contest ever again because, kids, I have seen the bottom. I have seen the bottom and it looks like a rusted fucking can.


Amanda Choi said...

Have you sent Ray and Roberto this blog entry yet?

The Critic said...

They're following me on Twitter. They'd get the message through there is my guess.

Susie said...

Aw, I liked your phone! This is a great post, too. Sorry we disappointed you. Want me to send you my old Razr? It's in good shape, but I don't use it. I was just hanging on to it in case I ever needed an extra. For stunt work.

--another Mac|Life editor

Ray Aguilera said...

Was I taunting you? Nope. Am I ridiculous? Possibly-depending on who you ask.

I re-tweeted your post because it was amusing... and it stood out amongst all of the other public floggings we receive on a daily basis. So you should take it as a compliment, really. 'Cause that's how I intended it.

The Critic said...

Awww thanks, Susie, but that's all right.

However, there is a post-script to this story. Ultimately, I couldn't wait for a contest result. My phone died for real and all time, so I had to get a new one. By using Google Shopping, I managed to find a Razr on eBay for like $60.

Now listen folks. The old adage is true. If it's too good to be true, it's too good to be true.

The sixty dollar Razr turns out to be a Singapore area knock off. Not only do the buttons go all hinkety when pressed, sometimes when I'm writing a text message and I want to type: "Hey I'll be home late" my phone will render this: "Hey, I'll be hW23qrsz" before I can stop it. I press the button for "O" and it shoots straight through a sting of randomized nonsense.

Other than that, an all right phone. But the moral is, don't fall for cheap prices.

Lastly Ray, I know you weren't taunting me. There's no way you could know the backstory on this because I shouted my tweet into the darkness with no additional info.

It just all happened so fast it seemed like a cosmic joke on me. No worries, man.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

Why is anyone supposed to think that the tin can bit is funny? I don't know if that sense of humor would fly in a retirement home. The Maclife editors get the Bob Saget award for being uber douchebags. I'm sure they just picked one of their friends to give an iPhone.

Anonymous said...

No surpise, really. Most techies I know have no sense of art. The entry that won is just a restatement of a cliche, and that's what most non-sophisticated people want in their so-called art, i.e. what they already know given back to them in a different package. No originality, at least nothing bigger than a new forehead prothesis on the umpteenth Star Trek pointlessness.

Your entry rocks. Better that you got to put it on your own blog than some pathetic online tech-worshipping excuse for product advertisements and buy buy buy buy. MacLife? Even the name makes my skin crawl. Wal-Mart Life. McDonalds Life. Hummer Life. Jeesh...

sexus interruptus said...

J I love this.