Rankyn Phyle.com

…just another face in the crowd.

Archive for June, 2013

Arresting Development

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 26th June 2013

I finally got around to watching the new season of Arrested Development (after re-watching seasons 1-3 for a refresher) and I’ve got mixed feelings.

On one hand it was cool to see the story continue but the way they chose to tell the story was a little overwhelming.
That’s not to say that I didn’t like it… In fact I thought it was quite interesting.

However, unlike the earlier seasons (and most other shows), it’s not told sequentially… All of the episodes are telling a single, parallel story.
This means that it had to rely much more heavily on narration than in previous seasons just to keep the story on track because it’s way to easy to forget what you’re seeing.

For instance, you may see a brief scene in episode 1 that’s relatively straightforward but in episode 4 you see the same scene from a different character’s point of view with more background leading up to it and something that was kind of out in left field in episode 1 (not unusual for the show) suddenly makes perfect sense in episode 4 because you’re finally seeing it in context.

It kind of reminded me of the old show Three’s Company and their “overheard innuendo” gags where Jack and Chrissy are in the kitchen doing something harmless like baking a cake. Then Janet comes home and stops just outside the kitchen door and overhears them and suspects they’re having sex (or the 70’s TV equivalent) in clear violation of the roommate rules.
Then the rest of the episode was spent focused on her reaction to what she thought she heard even though you the viewer knew the whole story.

Now imagine that same episode except that you don’t know any more about what was going on in the kitchen than Janet does and Jack and Chrissy keep doing and saying things that seem to confirm the conclusion that both Janet and the viewer have drawn.
It won’t be until a few episodes later that you get to see the exact same period in time but from Jack and Chrissy’s point of view that shows the whole thing was just one big misunderstanding.

So like I said… I thought it was an interesting way to tell the story but because it keeps constantly looping back on itself, the narrator had to play a much more aggressive role than he did in the original series just to keep you on course.

Bottom line: Did I like it?
I’m not sure.

It was a departure from the story of the first 3 seasons (which is only fair because several years have passed) and I thought the method of telling the story was interesting BUT that also means the narrative is very convoluted and you have to follow along very closely to keep up.

I think what made the first 3 seasons of the show so enjoyable was that it was light but clever comedy.
Season 4 is still just as clever but you’ve got to work so much harder to keep up with the story and I don’t know if it would have been possible to do this in the “traditional” weekly episodic format because it practically demands that you watch every episode as fast as you can before you forget what happened.

If you haven’t seen Arrested Development, it’s certainly worth watching but you have to start from season 1 because it’s one of those shows that assumes you’ve seen every episode and doesn’t make much of an effort to slow down and let you catch up.

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Take My Money… I’m Begging You!

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 24th June 2013

The medical billing system for my doctor keeps sending me email reminders that my “monthly statement is now available for viewing.”
That’s all fine and dandy except that every time I go there to try to pay, it shows my last visit with an “insurance pending” amount.

That’s not unexpected since that’s the amount insurance didn’t pay and, let’s be honest, they aren’t going to pay since they’ve already paid what they’re gonna pay.

The problem is that even though the system will let me see this number, it won’t let me pay it.

Attention medical billing people: I am trying to give you money that I owe you even if you haven’t decided that I owe it to you yet.
Help me help you.

It says I have a zero balance and even if I enter an amount in the payment field, it won’t accept it because the system doesn’t acknowledge this “pending” amount as being owed yet.

My last trip to the doctor was almost 2 months ago and it still won’t let me pay.
BUT, the next time I go, I’m fairly certain that it’ll be flagged for non-payment in their system again and the receptionist will be snippy with me and ask if I want to make a payment.

I’ve had this discussion with her before… I owe the money… I’ve got the money… Why won’t you take my money when I try to give it to you?

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Worst Smugglers Ever

Posted by Rankyn Phyle on 8th June 2013

So it’s 5am and due to a lack of anything but infomercials on TV, I’m watching some sort of “world’s wildest police videos” type program.
The clip they just showed was of a traffic stop where the cop asked for permission to search the driver’s car.

If you have drugs or other illegal things in your car, why would you say yes?
Do you think that maybe they’ll look in the front seat and possibly the glove compartment and then let you go without checking the trunk to find the 45 pounds of marijuana you have stashed back there?


Sure, they can take steps to search without your permission but at that point they need probable cause and a simple denial isn’t enough to give it.
So if they want the search and you know you’re guilty, at least make ’em work for it.

The officer was very clear as he explained how there was a problem with narcotics smuggling through that area and that he was not accusing the driver of anything.
He made sure the driver knew that he was responsible for anything found in the car and then asked for permission to search the vehicle.

The dude said yes.

So his two friends get out and the three of them stand off to the side while the cop looks through the car but when he gets to the trunk, they suddenly decide that they’d like to revoke the permission to search.

Gee, that’s not the least bit suspicious.

Now, I won’t pretend to know the finer points of Fourth Amendment law, so I don’t know if he’d be required to stop his search at this point or not.
The cop may or may not have been clear on it either but he did the smart thing and called for a drug dog.

What’s that Fido?
You smell drugs inside this car that we haven’t been given permission to search?
Well I suppose we’ve got probable cause to pop the trunk and take a look now, don’t we.

See, if I were gonna be a drug smuggler (or other transporter of contraband), my vehicle would be in top condition and I’d obey all the traffic laws.
I’d hate to think that I was responsible for the collapse of a multi-million dollar drug trafficking operation just because I was driving 10 miles over the speed limit.

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