Ordering From Alloy is an Experiment in Frustration (So Don’t Do It)

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It’s not me. It’s you.

When I was younger, getting Alloy and Delia’s catalogs in the mail was exciting and fun. Nevermind that I didn’t have the cash to buy all of the trendy (then skater-ish) clothes I wanted. Who cares? It was window shopping via glossy newsprint.

These days, I go to AlloyApparel.com whenever I need affordable pants with a super tall inseam (37″ to be exact). I’ve had hit or miss experiences over the years shopping there, mostly miss, but still, I go back. However, after this last time, I’m pretty sure I’m done.

A week and a half ago, I ordered two pairs of dress pants for a new job. Both were to be the same size and inseam. I had a coupon, a credit card number and an internet connection. Not complicated, right?

When the pants arrived, I tried them on and found Pair 1 was way shorter than Pair 2. When Pair 1 was zipped up, it fell right off my waist to the ground. When I tried to button Pair 2, I couldn’t. Madness. Again, I ordered the same size and inseam for both.

Now, I’m not new. I know not all clothes are exactly the same size they’re supposed to be. Some mediums are smalls and some larges fit like extra larges. But this? At the very least, the inseam should be 37″ on both. It’s not.

I emailed Alloy customer service. I don’t call them when I have a problem because it’s usually unpleasant. They don’t care at all and I get it, the job sucks but damn. Once I called at 9pm EST and it rang for minutes until I decided to hang up, even though their lines were open until midnight. I pictured the representatives standing by, painting their nails and Facebooking things like, “At work. Soooooo bored.” No one there seems to care. It’s unfortunate because I do.

So, I emailed them about the sizing issues and the response I got was a total copy and paste job. It’s like the email customer service reps aren’t even allowed to provide customer service. The first email from Alloy told me I could send the clothes back for free and I had to pay $6.95 to send them back. Proofreading the mass copy pasteness doesn’t happen.

Their second reply to me clarified I didn’t have to pay to send the items back. Still nothing about the sizing problems. So I asked again about the size discrepancies.

The reply:
Dear Kara,

Thank you for contacting AlloyApparel.com regarding order number [my number]. We will be happy to help you today.

Thanks for your feedback. We value your thoughts and ideas and try to respond to all requests. We’ve passed along your comments to all the right people, so your voice will be heard! a312

The a312, which I assume relates to copy paste standard answer 312, is a real vote of confidence that anyone at Alloy will actually give a shit.

I replied:
Okay but the question is how can I buy pants and not go through this all over again when the sizing was so off on both pairs?

A valid question, I think. That was two days ago. No reply yet.

Customer service is everything these days. More and more companies have hired people to respond to tweets about their brand and solve problems on Twitter. Alloy Apparel barely has a Twitter account. They have under 400 followers and just a handful of replies to Twitter users in September. You’d think a brand so geared to the social media generation would try harder to connect through social media.

Just as people remember companies with great customer service, like Zappos, people remember crappy service, too. I do need affordable, tall sized pants but I don’t need to throw my money at a company that can’t be bothered to reply to me like a person.

The best part is Alloy often sends out obnoxious and desperate-sounding “Where did you go? We miss you. Will 25% off bring you back?” emails. Wonder no more, Alloy. And no, it won’t.

Netflix Scores Gilmore Girls, All Your Nights and Weekends Are Over

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Warner Brothers Television

Well, goodbye forever because starting October 1st, Gilmore Girls will be streaming on Netflix, according to Variety. That’s all seven seasons, all 153 episodes.

You don’t have to turn on ABC Family and decide if you really can go through the Mitchum Huntzberger mess again just for a Gilmore fix. You can live in a pre-married Dean existence if you want (Dean Forrester, Dean. Not Dean Winchester, Dean). You can watch all the ups and downs of the Dragonfly Inn until you say, “Oy, with the poodles already.”

If you need me, I’ll be in Stars Hollow, somewhere between the Bracebridge Dinner and the drama with Yale.

New Walking Dead Trailer Confirms Terminus Is No Fun

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Gene Page/AMC

Hey, so remember when things were looking pretty bad for our favorite survivors at the end of last season? Based on the new season 5 trailer called Never Let Your Guard Down, it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse.

The good news is Rick seems to still be in I double dog dare you to screw with us mode. There’s also a quick shot of an alive and running Beth. The bad news is the Terminus crew is ruthless beyond all expectations. There’s also an explosion and a whole mess of walkers.

To make sure you’re not feeling too hopeful about this season, Rick tells Carl this: “You are not safe. It only takes one second, then it’s over.” Check out the full trailer below.

The fifth season premieres Sunday, October 12 at 9pm EST on AMC. If you’re looking to play catch up or just refresh on last season, Netflix will have season 4 streaming on September 28th, according to their Twitter account.

Things You Can Do to Prep For Sons of Anarchy’s Final Season

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Prashant Gupta/FX Networks

Tuesday is coming. The end begins at 10pm on FX. Are you ready? Everyone gears up for Sons of Anarchy in different ways. Here are some ideas of how you can prepare for the final season premiere.

Marathon the whole series.
Seasons 1-5 are on Netflix and season 6 is available to buy in stores and online. If you need to catch up, this is the way to go. However, considering there are only three and a half days left before the season 7 premiere, this plan is likely to bring forth all those emotions you’ve been shoving back down. You’ll be a total mess by Tuesday.

Hit the liquor store.
If you drink, this is going to be a drinking season. It’s the last damn season and as David Labrava said on Twitter, “NO ONES GOING TO THE HOSPITAL THIS TIME THEY JUST GONNA DIE LIKE ALOT.” Just don’t drink every time someone says Jesus Christ. You’ll be dead before the 45 minute mark.

Beg Kurt Sutter on Twitter for your favorite character’s life.
It’s a more than useless exercise since I don’t think anyone has ever managed to talk Sutter out of a body count but it might make you feel better. The final episode is probably written but it hasn’t been shot yet. Translation: For the endlessly hopeful SoA fan, there’s still time. Put in a good word for Tig and Juice, will you?

Clear off your DVR.
If you’re like me, your DVR is always low on space. This being it as far as SoA goes, you can bet something crazy will go down in every episode that you’ll want to rewatch. You don’t want to have to make last minute keep it/delete it decisions. Be advised all episodes this season are going to run long, so don’t expect 60 minute episodes.

Make sure to hide any Facebook friends that post spoilers.
Odds are Sons are going to be dropping dead left and right this season and no one wants to find out on Facebook. Now is the time to hide those friends with zero regard for other people, especially if you can’t watch SoA on Tuesday nights. Pro tip: Don’t go on Twitter until you’re caught up. Just don’t.

Be excited.
This is it. It’s sad and it sucks but we’re all part of something pretty epic. Most of us have committed hard to this series, defending our favorite characters and never missing an episode. This is our last hurrah and we had damn well better ride this season until the wheels fall off. No matter what, SAMCRO never dies. I’m not letting it go. Are you?

What are you doing to prepare for Tuesday’s premiere? Which characters do you want to survive?

How I Ended Up With a Massive Corey Stoll Problem

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The Strain, FX Networks

I don’t know if it was because I was in a post-Guardians of the Galaxy glow and had finally seen it after two years of waiting or if I needed a new summer TV show to hang my hat on, but I fell hard for The Strain and in turn, Corey Stoll.

I wasn’t even sure if I was going to watch The Strain. The one sheet ads were gross and I knew I couldn’t handle parasitic eye worms for long periods of time. I also saw from the on-TV description that the hero I was supposed to put my faith in was named Dr. Ephraim Goodweather. That’s a hell of a name and not one I thought would be connected to a good series (I also thought the same about Buffy and I was obviously beyond wrong). The reviews came in and they were positive, so I DVRed it.

I didn’t know Corey Stoll from a hole in the wall but had a vague memory of him in Non-Stop, that Liam Neeson movie I also couldn’t really remember. But as any Corey Stoll fan knows, the man has a way catching your eye awfully fast. Eph, as he’s called repeatedly, without any concern for how often people actually say each other’s names in life, works for the CDC and believes in locating, quarantining, studying and curing viruses. He’s saddled with pesky ethics and morals that prevent him from freely killing those infected, which is the only way to stop and contain the growing problem. If you want a pure how-do-we-kill-it mentality, Fet, played by Kevin Durand, is your man. And mine. I’m torn. It happens.

My friend, Jenn, had already been undone by Corey pre-Strain and recommended House of Cards to me. I’d put it off because with the full season episode dump at Netflix, if you don’t watch it immediately, you’re quickly left behind. Thanks to Corey, I gave in and shotgunned season one in a few days.

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I took this with my phone, clearly. The image belongs to House of Cards and Netflix and not me. Arms for days.

Several things happen when you do this. First, any casual Corey problem you have is escalated into a full-blown crush. If this didn’t happen to you, you are far stronger than I am. Second, with every passing second of House of Cards, Corey’s Strain wig becomes more and more ridiculous. You soon find you have trouble believing Eph is, in fact, Corey Stoll, for Corey is beautiful and bald and Eph wears a hair hat that is pretty impressive for a wig but just isn’t him.

The other thing that happens is that Peter Russo becomes the thread that pulls on your heart. You hope for the best for him, his sobriety, his political career and personal life. He struggles and is emotionally tortured in a way that is devastating to watch, especially with those big eyes of his. Frank Underwood is House of Cards, sure, but he’s not a good person. As Russo says in an email to one of his very angry constituents, he’s a good person, or he’s trying to be. Russo tries so hard and broke my heart several times in the process. He also made it so I’m hopelessly contaminated as far as Corey Stoll goes. I couldn’t undo this problem even if I wanted to.

I didn’t expect this to happen, especially not in the week before the final season of Sons of Anarchy but sometimes television throws a nice surprise your way. The Strain airs on FX, Sunday nights at 10pm EST. House of Cards is available on Netflix streaming and on DVD. For more Corey, check out This is Where I Leave You, also starring Tina Fey and Jason Bateman, in theaters September 19th.

30 Days 30 Netflix Movies: My Week With Marilyn

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Laurence Cendrowicz; The Weinstein Company

My Week With Marilyn (2011) is based off of Colin Clark’s memoir, which details his time as third assistant director on The Prince and The Showgirl, starring Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe.

From the time she gets off the plane, Marilyn (Michelle Williams) is a nervous wreck, with zero confidence in her acting ability and a swarm of people surrounding her, telling her she’s great. She’s hours late to set, forgets her lines and runs away when it all gets to be too much. All of this drives Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) to madness, as he is both starring in and directing the film.

Marilyn has a new husband, writer Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), who leaves a notebook full of criticisms about her where Marilyn can and does find it. This sends Miller away and Marilyn into a spiral, insisting the only hand she’ll take to steady her be that of twenty-three year old Colin (Eddie Redmayne). Nearly twenty-four, he insists. Marilyn is thirty and already married three times. Her handler (Dominic Cooper) warns Colin she’ll make him feel like he’s the only one and then leave him behind but Colin refuses to listen.

If I wasn’t already convinced Michelle Williams can do anything, this would have cemented it. I had the great fortune of seeing her in Cabaret this year and much like her Sally, her Marilyn lives in those quiet moments, where the smallest change in voice or expression shows all the cracks, insecurities and old wounds in the character.

Let’s talk about Eddie Redmayne for a minute. You probably know him from Les Mis and I previously talked about him in my review of Hick. He’s the perfect match for Williams as he can play lovestruck and devastated in a way that’s both visually subtle and emotionally explosive. If he doesn’t have big things in the works for his career, he should.

Despite knowing better, I rooted for Marilyn and Colin. They worked in the moment, as most things that burn bright and burn fast do. There is such a level of innocence with the two: Marilyn looking for an ally that doesn’t treat her like a child and can see the true her and Colin stepping up as a man for the first time in his life. He protects her but doesn’t try to control her like everyone else does.

My Week With Marilyn is well written, acted and directed. It is an absolute pleasure to watch. Out of Loved It, Liked It, Didn’t Like It or Hated It Like Poison, I give it a strong Loved It.

30 Days 30 Netflix Movies: ParaNorman

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LAIKA; Focus Features

ParaNorman (2012) is the latest stop-motion animated feature from LAIKA, the studio that brought us Coraline. Spoiler alert: it’s awesome.

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a loner that can see and talk to dead people and pets. He watches old monster movies with his dead grandmother (Elaine Stritch) and knows every deceased person in town. His dad (Jeff Garlin) and teen sister, Courtney (Anna Kendrick), think he’s weird but this sort of strangeness runs in his mom’s family, most notably in Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman).

The town of Blithe Hollow has a dark history of executing a witch and has turned this into a tourist hotspot. Kitschy witch themed shops line the street and the kids prepare for the annual altered witch history pageant. Everything is relatively normal until Uncle Prenderghast alerts Norman that there’s a curse, it’s bad and it’s up to Norman to stop it.

ParaNorman is gorgeously done, smart, funny and completely unique. Norman’s friend, Neil, voiced by Tucker Albrizzi, is a scene stealer.

You have to have infinite patience and a touch of insanity to want to make a stop-motion movie but thankfully, LAIKA is made up of these talented people. Out of Loved It, Liked It, Didn’t Like It or Hated It Like Poison, I really Loved It. Seriously, go watch it right now.

30 Days 30 Netflix Movies: Star Trek Into Darkness

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Paramount Pictures

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) has one of those titles that doesn’t really mean anything but fortunately, the movie makes up for that. Starring the usual suspects: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg, this second venture into the reboot adds fan favorite Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) as a mysterious and cryptic terrorist.

Kirk (Pine) violates the prime directive by saving Spock (Quinto) from certain death on a planet that looks like the motherland of War of the Worlds‘ red vines. Clinging like grim death to logic, because Vulcan, Spock doesn’t get why Kirk did this and files his report truthfully, causing dear Jim to lose the Enterprise.

After John Harrison (Cumberbatch) destroys a Starfleet archive and then attacks Starfleet itself, Kirk, Spock and the crew take the Enterprise out to Klingon territory to find Harrison. There’s more to this terrorist than previously expected (because there’s still two-thirds of the movie left) and Kirk faces a new enemy and lots of explodey troubles.

Chekov (Yelchin) and Scotty (Pegg) are underused in this film but when they do appear onscreen, they’re total scene stealers. Sulu (Cho) gets to be badass, which is smoking hot and Bones (Urban) pokes a Tribble at one point, which actually doesn’t cause a heap of trouble.

I’d like to advise those of you with pets that one of my three cats, Xander, had a large scale end of days reaction any time anything blew up in this movie. Luke, cat number two, didn’t care at all. So, one out of three cats rate this an Oh My God Oh My God Claws Out Hit The Deck We’re All Going to Die.

Cat trauma aside, Star Trek Into Darkness is fun, loaded with action and emotional moments and reaffirms that the reboot is still on the right course. Out of Loved It, Liked It, Didn’t Like It and Hated It Like Poison, Into Darkness gets a Loved It from me.

30 Days 30 Netflix Movies: Odd Thomas

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Fusion Films

Odd Thomas (2013) is an adaptation of Dean Koontz’s best selling series of the same name. Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Fright Night) stars as Odd, a short order cook who sees dead people and helps them get closure on their untimely deaths. When a swarm of bodachs (creatures that live off of especially gruesome murders) come to town, Odd knows the small down of Pico Mundo is in for a world of hurt.

Odd is a normal twenty-something, except for the whole dead people thing. He has a girlfriend, Stormy (Addison Timlin), who he’s destined to be with forever, according to one of those fortune teller machines, like in Big. They’re too cute and everything is a little too perfect. The chief of police (Willem Dafoe) believes Odd because he’s never wrong, which thankfully cuts down on the usual donkey-stubborn resistance from law enforcement in supernatural movies and TV shows.

The infestation of bodachs, creepy translucent creatures only Odd can see, leads Odd to a guy he calls Fungus Bob and the realization that some manner of mass murder is on the way. Since Odd is the only one that can see it, he’s got to stop it.

Odd Thomas is a cross between Supernatural and Dead Like Me with a touch of Veronica Mars thrown in for good measure. It could be a TV series. It should be a TV series. Netflix, take note.

If Odd Thomas has a flaw, it’s that it’s too perfect. The dialogue is extraordinary, so much so that it’s not in the realm of possibility, which sounds like a stupid point to make about a supernatural movie but I’m making it anyway. The conversations and exchanges are what we would say, on our very best day, if we were using all of the clever points our brain had and then some. Because it’s so clever, I would think, this is so clever and then be taken right out of the movie.

Pro tip: If you take a drink every time someone says Odd, Oddie or “you’re an odd one,” you’ll be dead before the movie is over. It’s amazingly excessive.

If you like Supernatural or Dead Like Me, you’ll love this. Out of Loved It, Liked It, Didn’t Like It or Hated It Like Poison, I give it Loved It. What tipped me from Liked It to Loved It is that, despite the over-perfectness of the characters and dialogue, I know I would watch it again. I’d love to see a sequel and really want it to be a TV series. That’s commitment.

The Rise and Fail of My Cookie Kickstarter

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Earlier today, I found out about this potato salad Kickstarter. It had a goal of $10 and is at $38,017 in funding as I type this. It was $16,000 an hour ago when I set out on my own Kickstarter adventure.

Okay, so I’m not new to Kickstarter. I’ve backed Amanda Palmer’s project, the Be Here Now documentary, HappyCanes and the Veronica Mars movie. I did a bunch of backing before I got laid off last April and had to move back in with my parents. I’m 30. Now I’m one of those “Oh, you have my support but not my money because all I have is a moth in my wallet” people. (I had two moths but the second one suffered an unfortunate accident. I really don’t want to talk about it.)

I went through emotions about the potato salad venture: That’s hilarious; Wait, he’s making money; This is ridiculous; I’m broke and alone and I’m totally doing this. That last bit led me to my cookie Kickstarter, in which I would ask for funding to make cookies for myself. Chocolate chip, of course.

I filled out all of the information, took the photo above and set backer rewards, all of which brought this bit of light and happiness to my previously scheduled meh programming. What if this takes off? I thought, as I offered tweetlove, cookie cartoon drawings and a cookie itself as rewards. None of them were more than $10, my goal. Hey, if it works, why break it?

I got to the end of the Kickstarter process, where it gets less fun and carefree and becomes unbelievably terrifying. I would need an Amazon Payments business account, it said. Well, okay, I filled out all of this other stuff and went to college so I can do this, too, I told myself.

Thus began the fail of my cookie Kickstarter dreams. I’d need a business name, category, information on how much my business makes, average transaction amount and so on. I tried to keep going but I realized all of this would be hard to explain to H&R Block and/or the government next year. I certainly don’t want to end up in trouble because I owe some sort of taxes on my cookie Kickstarter and make it onto the IRS’ shit list.

And so it was I backed right the hell out of Kickstarter and decided to stay the course with my currently cookieless and jobless life. There are 25 days left to go on Potato Salad and it’s up to $38,673. Godspeed, Zack Danger Brown.