Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Witz Pickz: Ambiguously Gay Paris: Discoveries In the First Two Days

They say that travel teaches you not only about other cultures, but about yourself as well. So far, I've learned a little about each.

Last night, fueled by jet-lag instead of red bull for a change, I was up until 4am drinking wine and hanging out with my sister, some of her friends, her bulgarian roommate, and her bulgarian roommate's parents-- all of whom spent the night. With limited sleeping space, but plentiful drinks, my double-bed sized air mattress suddenly became a bed for two, and thanks to the powers of Awkwardness, that meant that I'd be sharing it with one of my sister and my mutual friends-- we'll call him Euro-Trip. We slept head to toe (because we don't like to look at each other when our groins touch), which did help us avoid some discomfort, but since we both fell asleep on our sides, also led to us waking up with our clothed asses forming a yin-yang*, which, while very zen, was also very weird.

Later, we played this fun game called "Heart Attack" where we eat a steady supply of bread, cheese, pancakes, pastries, crepes, and wine, and then walk around as much as possible. We got lunch at a small cafe, and Euro-Trip went ahead and ordered the "tartare de boeuf" which he thought was steak. I saw the waiter laugh as he passed the order to the chef, which should have been a hint, but I assumed he was just laughing at how awesome we were at ordering in french. As we finished eating some pattee, which tastes like Slim Jim Cream Cheese, our food arrived. The french must be the best energy conservationists in the world because here's what he got:

Now, I know what you're thinking-- you're thinking, "Why does that look so familiar?" Well, it's because that is actually Meatwad from Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force!

and to a lesser extent, Mickey Rourke:

TARTARE DE BOEUF IS: RAW! FUCKING! BEEF! I understand that different cultures have different forms of "acceptable cuisine," but when a guy orders "the raw meat wad" with an American accent, and he hasn't been repeatedly raping your entire family in front of you, you need to let a dude know what's up. Like, if I were a waiter in America and somebody walked in and ordered sheep's cock, I would feel a moral obligation to say, "Alright, cool, just wanna go ahead and check to make sure you know that sheep's cock is actually a sheep's COCK, ok?" I know it must have been amusing that someone finally ordered the beef wad, but come on! How is that a necessary menu item? Who is going around saying, "You know, I'd like to go out to dinner with my friends, but there's a package of raw beef in my refrigerator that I've been dying to rip into..." There is also the chance the they were completely fucking with us:

Chef: Yo, see if he'll eat raw beef.
Waiter: No way, that's gross!
Chef: Oh c'mon man, they're American-- they eat Jack In the Box, Taco Bell, and Waffle House! They'll eat it!
Waiter: I wouldn't feel right...
Chef: They're responsible for Ashton Kutcher AND Howie Mandel.
Waiter: Fine, I'll do it.

Either to his credit or early disease and worm ridden demise, Euro-Trip ate about half of the dish along with all of his and my fries, in the hopes that they would form a metaphorical and physical box around the meat in his stomach, hide it away, and never speak or think of it again.

Finally, I discovered something about France: No child molesters allowed!

It's such a basic idea, really, but a simple sign reminds people that the whole pedaphilia/kidnapping is, in fact, not ok. Maybe this is just the event planner in me, but there's an important message here-- good signage goes a long way.

In A World of Pain et Fromage,

*aka an Ass Puzzle aka a homoerotic Barrel of Monkeys

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Witz Pickz: French Adventure -- The Flight Response

I literally just sat on my ass for eleven hours. I got up twice for no more than thirty seconds to stretch, but was otherwise ass to seat for almost half a day. Let me tell you that it's not as easy as parents would have you believe when they say things like, "Are you just going to sit around on your ass all day??" The answer ought to be, "No way, I don't have that kind of dedication and endurance." Sitting on your ass all day is like an Olympic* sport-- and I just won the silver medal. There was one guy who was REALLY good at it, which is why I only got silver, but I'm pretty sure that's because he had cerebral palsy-- like he didn't get up once and his parents kept feeding him and at point had to take off his glasses and dab at his eyes with a napkin (I can only assume he was shedding tears of joy at besting me).

The flight was made bearable (meaning able to be accomplished by TV personality Bear Grylls) by the older American couple who sat next to me and conversed plentifully throughout the flight. This also goes to prove my theory, lately, that strangers love talking to me. Let me explain: I was in the library on Saturday, when a random lady turns to me from a couple shelves over and says, "You want to laugh? Read this book-- it's about a vacuum salesman in Cuba in the 1960's and he gets mistaken for a CIA agent and instead of correcting them, draws diagrams of vacuums to solve problems!".....Apparently, I look like the type of guy who would enjoy a book involving mistaken identity and vacuum sales. "Lady, why the fuck would I read that book?" No, what I really said was, "Interesting, I'll check it out (yeah, that was a spontaneous library pun)," and I did.

On Sunday, I was at the track, which is a whole other post, really, and was approached by a large hispanic man while I was waiting by the restrooms. "Bathroom?" he aggressively questioned? Confused, I asked him to repeat the question and glanced at the Men's room that he was pointing to. "Bathroom?!" he demanded of me, who it needs to be pointed out was just A DUDE standing by the bathrooms. "Yes. That IS a bathroom," I responded, once again feeling like I'm really excelling at everyday life. The man nodded his head approvingly and marched off into the bathroom.

Back on the plane, we were five minutes into conversation when the man told me, "You'd do great in entertainment, it's obvious you like people," which is mostly true because there are people I like, even if I think most people are miserable human beings. I also detected an asterisk in his statement that went something like, "You know, except for bad drivers, slow pedestrians, bikers, frat guys, the deaf, the barely deaf, people who say 'guy' as part of an introduction, people who oppose gay marriage legally and not just by opinion, everyone in the film Religulous including Bill Maher, people who low five, Tucker Max, anyone associated with Stuff White People Like, anyone over 6' 2'' that can't make a simple lay-up, Chris Kattan, people using checks at the supermarket, and anyone who ever referred to Charles Schwab as 'Chuck.'"

As it turned out, I did like this couple, because he said things like, "German airplanes are always on time. We flew Lufthansa to Berlin and it was great-- except when we flew over London and they bombed it," and she said things like, "Mendecino is a very romantic town, you have to go-- and the best part is that there's NOTHING going on past 8pm, so whether she's feeling like it or not, you know what the two of you are gonna be doing at night!" Awesome.

The flight itself was made rough by two key factors: the movies and the meals. The movies were Marley & Me and Madagascar 2-- both of which basically big middle fingers to America for the entertainment we export. I didn't watch either because a) Marley & Me needs to be experienced on blu-ray to be fully appreciated and b) I didn't think I'd understand Madagascar 2 having not seen the original.

The meals, which I dub Pain Plates, were the most baffling convergence of food I have ever seen. It's like they purposefully wanted my insides to try and become my outsides. They put things together that I would NEVER eat with each other under normal circumstance. "Witz, what do you want for dinner? How about all the parts of the chicken we don't talk about plated with some mashed potatoes-- oh and some cous cous with raw salmon on top-- you end most meals with rice pudding, too, right? Hey, what do you want for breakfast? Two slices of ham with some american cheese flopped on top? Done." Only, you don't have any options, so you eat it all and let the Gastrointestinal World War II Re-enactment play out.

On the other hand, I was on the plane for a reason. Did I mention that as I write this, I am sitting at a desk in a Parisian apartment, eating fresh baguette with goat cheese and a bottle of Bordeaux? Did I mention the pain au chocolat that I consumed in roughly .051 seconds because it was the most delicious pastry I've had since I was last here? "Dear Skinny Witz, gone to Paris to purchase a fat suit-- back soon." So far, so good...

I Moved At 600mph Today, What the Hell Did You Do?,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Witz Pickz: iPhone Baby Shakin' Application

Everyone has been up in arms about the new Baby Shaker Application for the iphone (but not Shaker Babies, because the Shakers didn't believe in sex and that's why there aren't anymore Shakers, just their furniture, which, not surprisingly, is rigid, joyless, and creaky...) and I think it's ridiculous. I have to give Ash Good As It Gets(formerly Titan AE) credit for bringing this to my attention, but since then, I have heard the story on CNN, Facebook, and most of my friends. Steve Jobs (who should also change his name because he sounds like a porn star) pulled the application and publicly apologized for ever having it, which seems very extreme to me.

I guess I just thought this was America. Shaking babies is as American as a British Nanny-- wait, that's not quite right. Regardless, one woman was heard above everyone else because she had a baby that was shaken and died? What about all their other games??* What about "Pirate Treasure Hunt?" Isnt' that a bit touchy right now? Or how about fucking HANGMAN???

Player: Um, is there a g?
Game: Nope. Now you get hung. Just like when your best friend Tommy killed himself.

There's a much greater chance of people knowing someone who hung themself (or are considering it themselves) than of people knowing a baby that was shaken to death. There's an entire series of tower defense games where you shoot down planes-- what about those? "My husband was shot down in a balloon by an arrow tower!" Or what about sports games? "My life was ruined when I broke my back playing football! I find this DEEPLY offensive!"

That's what the spokeswoman for Apple told people. She said, "This application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store." TO WHOM IS IT OFFENSIVE?? People who shook their babies?? I'm not entirely sure we should be concerned with their feelings! Is it offensive to babies?? It shouldn't be-- the more people shaking iphones, the fewer people out shaking babies. Nobody's shaking their iphone and saying, "Hey, this is pretty fun, but it just makes me want to try the real thing!" And if someone IS saying that, then they were ALREADY going to be a problem.

Which brings me to my next point-- it's educational. Parents don't shake their babies because they want to kill them, they shake their babies to shut them up. If nothing else, the baby shaking application can show them why that's not a good idea. Shake, shake, shake, dead baby. Shake, shake, shake, dead baby. Shake, shake, shake, dead baby. Hm. I can't shut this kid up without killing it-- maybe I'll rethink my strategy for quietting my child (which is why I not only endorse the baby shaking application, but also think it's important that we come up with a "Baby Plastic Bag Helmet Application" and a "Sim Dumpster" game). Educational tools have been disguised as games for years, and not all education is pretty-- just take all the STD pictures they showed us in school. Nobody's running around saying, "Schindler's List went WAY overboard!"

Besides, have you even seen the game?

It's boring as hell! I can't imagine anyone spending more than 2 minutes using it before it just becomes super annoying. In fact, it would probably deter people from shaking real babies: "Man, I thought shaking babies would be fun and satisfying, but it's actually just really really boring and annoying....I'm gonna go stab some pets." ("Want to stab some pets? There's an app for that.") Ultimately, while the baby shaking app might have been in poor taste, it's not offensive-- it's just a shock value product for 99 cents. If you want to spend 99 cents and be truly offended, buy something at Taco Bell.

I Like My Babies Like My Martinis: Shaken,

*There's also an app called "Quickjack" which just for the name amuses 12 year old me

Friday, April 24, 2009

Witz DOESN'T Pick: ESL Customer Service

Let me start by saying that I have no problem with people in America who can't speak english as long as they aren't in a position where english is necessary, like, saaaaay CUSTOMER SERVICE. Yesterday, I was in Safeway and managed to drop my credit card somewhere in the store because I'm half man, half friggen idiot. I, of course, realized this at checkout after all my stuff had been rung up, and got to do the "Oh shit, I don't have a form of payment!" thing, which, when wearing shorts, sandals, a sweaty gym t-shirt, and buying more refried beans than seems necessary, probably implies, "...nor will I ever have a form of payment!" The guy behind the counter was helpful and said, "No problem, I'll just push this 'Retarded' button here and you can come back later for your stuff. (paraphrasing)"

So I wandered back through the store looking at the ground like I was autistic. When I came up empty-handed, I went to the customer service desk where I met my well-intentioned, absolutely useless Chinese arch-nemesis.

Witz: Hi, I lost my credit card somewhere in the store and was hoping you could help...did anyone turn one in to you?"
Lady: ...."Credit card? (but you know...with more l's involved)
Witz: Yeah, I dropped it somewhere in the store...
Lady: Oh, credit card...
Witz: Yyyep...
Lady: You need go to ATM?
Witz: (oh fuck me) Um, no no, I LOST my card....
Lady: Bank?
Witz: (it was at this point I realized karma had caught up to me-- for all intents and purposes, I was speaking to a deaf woman. So I busted out the charades) No. I (gesture to self) lost (look around and shrug shoulders) my (gesture to self) credit card (gesture to my debit card that I had retrieved from my car to pay for my groceries-- Ok, I see how that part might have been confusing). My other credit card. On the floor (point to floor).
Lady: Ohhhhh!!! Ahahahahahahah! Credit card! Ahahahahahah! I see, I see!
Witz: Yeah...(Thank God, she finally gets it-- all hope isn't lost.)
Lady: Yes yes-- we accept all kind; Visa, Mastercard, American Express--
Witz: --Uh huh. Ok. Ok, I'm gonna go--
Lady: --All kinds! And personal check? And cash...all kinds payment!
Witz: Fantastic, thank you.

Maybe there's something to that "one child" policy China has. Smiling gratefully, I walked away and found someone who was much more capable of enunciating just how effed I was-- time to go home and cancel my card.

When I got home, I promptly called India-- I mean my credit card company to cancel my card and get a new one sent out immediately. "Bill" was on the case, and his dulcet tones were just magical-- because they made all my faith in humanity disappear. While calling to report that I had lost my credit card, "Bill" tried to PITCH ME!

Bill: Now we like to put a security watch on your account for three weeks in case of suspicious activity on your old and new account. Would you like us to do that?
Witz: Is it a standard feature?
Bill: It's 7.99 a month.
Witz: Uhh, that's okay--
Bill: We really do highly recommend it to save you a lot of possible trouble later on. (The implication being that I'm already the kind of guy who loses credit cards, maybe I should take his advice. I've never had someone pitch me by simply stating the reasons behind marketing-- "Our product will save you trouble later.")

So, fine, I got the three week protection-- partially because I figured it was potentially useful and partially because I had started to think of "Bill" as Prabaker from the book Shantaram and wanted to make him happy. "Bill" was very pleased:

Bill: Oh, this is very good! Now, are you aware that identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the world? It is a very bad thing-- and can ruin lives! I assume you already have identity theft protection?" (read: You know and I know, and you know I know that you absolutely do not have identity theft protection already. Implication: What the hell is wrong with you? You're the type of person who loses credit cards and you don't think you need this service? You arrogant shit! Identity theft is the fucking fastest growing crime in THE FUCKING WORLD you over-priveledged douchebag, so why don't you man up and make a good decision for once in your hollow, daytime-gym-and-safeway-shopping life!)

Witz: ...Yeah, I think I have that with my other credit card company. (read: You're not the boss of me)
Bill: ...Well good. Good luck with that.

And then "Bill" gave his five minute sign off speech, during which I stopped being able to hear the correct syllables of accented words and began only hearing a scripted rhythm with musical intonations which was actually quite relaxing. I landed back on the proper syllables right as he concluded with the most surprising, endearing, and genuine sounding sentence I've ever heard from customer support: "Thank you for listening to me talk about all this," he said and I really think he meant it. People must hang up on him all the time after he initially cancels their card. Instead, due to the perfect storm of my needing his services, his reminding me of a fictional character I enjoyed, and my total lack of commitments and responsibility during daytime hours, I didn't hang up on him and we were able to bond in the way only a guy who lost a credit card and his outsourced service rep can-- as soul mates.

Nothing Like Railing on People Who Can't Speak English Three Days Before I Go to France Where I'm Screwed If I Have to Do Anything Besides Order "Deux Croissants, S'il Vous Plait",

P.S. So yeah, I'm gonna be gone for the next two weeks, but I will try and get some posts in so keep coming back to check. I also had a "baby shaking app" post for you all, but this ran long so you can check back for that later today or over the weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Witz Pickz: The Small Things in Life (including, but not specifically, midgets)

I went outside this morning in running shorts, an old beat up gray athletic t-shirt, no socks, no shoes, no shower, no problem. I was standing on the steps, taking in the temperature when I realized that about twenty feet away, DIRECTLY across from me was a guy in a business suit, tie, carefully combed hair, and a cup of coffee. We made eye contact for a few seconds longer than was normal, which prompted me to say, "We're at very different places in our lives, you and I..." He either didn't find that amusing or was more concerned with my bringing down the land value in the neighborhood. Either way, it was proof that he wasn't appreciating the little things in life.

I am extremely excited right now, because as I write this, I am only 117 miles away from an awesome palindrome on my odometer: 111111. I don't know why I think palindromes are so cool, and it has to go back to some innate OCD issue, but whenever my car hits a palindrome, for a split second (well 1/10th of a mile), I'm very satisfied. I've never actually tried stopping right at that distance because people tend to hit you with their cars when you stop abruptly in traffic and especially on the highway:

Driver: OH MY GOD-- My wife just went flying through the windshield from the impact of that stop! She's at best dead, and at worst a vegetable for the rest of her machine-assisted life! Are you ok?? What happened???
Witz: I hit 111111 miles!

I also don't think it would continue being satisfying if I stopped driving and just stared at a palindrome for a while like a proud parent. I didn't birth the number, I just chose not to take public transportation a lot. "Congratulations, you hate the Earth THIS MUCH: 111111!" And yet I enjoy palindromes so much that I can't help but think that if I had been in a concentration camp, and my life was as close to a living hell as is imaginable, I STILL would have gotten a little psyched if I saw that my number was a palindrome. Other people have to feel the same as me.

"How did you find the strength to press on?"
"Well, you see, the number is the same backwards and forwards!"

I can't be the only one who has an odd attachment to palindromes. Why else would they teach us that shit in school? It serves no actual purpose other than to look symmetrical and be kind of cool. My teacher presented palindromes like they were a magic trick. "RACECAR! HA! Did I blow your mind, children??" Apparently, the answer was, "Yeah, kind of, actually." Like I said, it's the little things...

Like maintaining a high enough level of self-respect to utilize both soap and shampoo. I recently saw a commercial for Irish Spring Hair & Body Wash. Hair AND Body Wash-- because you've reached that point in life where having to differentiate between your BODY and your HAIR for cleanliness is just too much of a hassle. How slovenly do you have to be to just douse yourself in one mystery goop and call it a day? The commercial for the wash is a dude jumping into a murky looking lake (I suppose it's an Irish Spring) and being mauled by celtic women. They're probably trying to kill him before he spreads whatever diseases and STD's he's accrued. I do appreciate Irish Spring's attitude on their website:

"It's that same great irish fresh scent only now it's cooler because it's in a bottle. It's not perfumy and it's not fruity. It's just clean and fresh-- like the Irish countryside. Seriously. It smells clean. You will like it. Your girl will like it. Enough said."

They just bro-sold me! "It's not gay, brah, just fucking do it! You'll effing LIKE IT!" I have to admire any marketing that is willing to just tell me that I'll like their product. I already know you think I'll like your product-- that's why you have a product. Their slogan is, "Do it the Irish way!" which I guess roughly translates to, "Making drunken showers less complicated for frat guys everywhere."
I'll let you know how it is

Never Odd Or Even,

P.S. Oh, about that midget-- there's a midget who works at my gym that I know could kick my ass. He's ripped, but I don't think he's gay. He looks like he has retard strength, but he's not retarded. He's just a midget with retard strength who looks gay ripped, but is, in fact, just a midget-- which is still impressive and has to be fairly challenging. I hope we become better friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Witz Pickz: Meteor Showers and Other Rare Sightings

Meteors are the emotionally abusive boyfriends of the astronomical world. They come aggressively tearing through our atmosphere, putting on a big show, but never doing any physical damage-- only one day they could go too far and kill us all. Meanwhile, we stand by at attention with justifications like, "This happens very rarely," and ultimately feel let down as our expectations fail to be met again and again.

Last night was no exception. From last Thursday through tonight, the Lyrids are in town-- which town? All of them-- it's goddamn space. Before we go any further, let's talk about how astronomers and NASA need to make Space more badass if they want people to be interested and gain funding for research. If "Lyrid" was a guy, he would be a five-foot-eight, slim framed, long haired, emo kid in girl jeans and a too tight polo shirt who is unable to fully enunciate his sadness. There's nothing badass about that.

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Me? I'm going to watch Lyrid weep." Not cool. How about naming the meteor shower something like, "The Road Warrior."

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Me? I'm going to watch The Road Warrior battle our fucking ATMOSPHERE, bro."

It's bad enough that "Meteor Shower" sounds like the last scene in a gay porn. Like Nitro said last night, "The hardest part about watching a meteor shower is telling your parents that you're gay." So let's get on the marketing path, people, and make it a little more manly to stare at the stars. Here's one time-tested approach: "SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY (through Thursday)!! METEOR STORM! LIVE IN FUCKING OUTTER SPACE! DESTRUCTOR! BLOOD VENGEANCE! THE LYRIDS! They're coming for you-- can you handle that!?" Put out some "backyard astronomy" DVDs of people drinking and doing stupid stuff while watching the stars. "World's Wildest Meteor Deaths" DVDs with shaky, zoomed in footage of meteors burning up. Stuff like that. This band gets it:

Back to last night. As we lay on the ground, watching for the promised meteor shower with some drinks, we began to suspect that we were once again going to be stood up by nature. (The following are many people talking)

"Which way to do we look?"
"Where up?"
"Up, up."
"I can see the big dipper!"
"Who fucking cares and that's the little dipper."
"No way, it's the big dipper!"
"Where's the North Star, then!?"
"I don't know!"
"Then it's not the big dipper."
"I see Orion's belt!"
"I saw one!"
"Fuck you!"
"I did!"
"Right there!"
"Perfect, then I know exactly where not to look for one again..."
"Isn't it kinda scary that meteors are like, hitting the Earth?"
"I think we all saw Deep Impact, sir."
"It's pretty scary."
"Dude, they're not that close."
"They're like light years away!"
"They are not light years away."
"Fine, thousands of miles."
"Maybe a thousand miles."
"They're very close."
"No they're not."
"Yes they are."
"Meteors are dying stars right?"
"Not even a little bit."
"Meteors are not that close." (Meteors are, in fact, that close."
"So watching a meteor shower seems a lot like just looking at the sky."
"It would appear that way."
"Look! I just saw one!"
"What? Are you sure? Maybe you're just drunk and moved your head while looking at a star."
"Nope, I saw one."
"Goddamn it."
"I am freezing."
"This is awful."
"Goddamn Lyrids."

The Lyrids were like Will Ferrell in Old School-- "We're going streaking!" they announce, but in the end it's just one overweight naked white guy embarrassing himself. Let down again by emotionally abusive space. They said they'd stop by and take us out to dinner, but they ended up just sending a lame text and making up some excuse about light pollution and the rotation of the Earth. But we'll be back next time, lying down, attention paid, hoping that this time it's the real thing. That this time he means it.**

Astronomical Failure,

In another rare sighting, my roommate CDG (insert your own airport abbreviation joke here) was at the public library the other day and saw The Pack of Middle-Aged Asian Men with Down Syndrome! This was amazing because very few people seemed to believe that they actually exist, but apparently, they both exist and utilize our tax dollars! CDG informed me, "I saw them and knew right away that it was the group you were talking about-- but you were right, I couldn't immediately figure out how I knew-- I just sensed that something was off." So there you have it-- CDG saw the pack of mentally disabled asians more times than I saw a meteor last night. Amazing.

**You know, throughout all of this, I can't help but think about how much more difficult it must be for deaf people to watch meteor showers...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Witz Pickz: Hate Mail!!

I MADE IT! I GOT HATE MAIL! I am proud to announce that Witz Pickz has received its first legitimate hate mail-- well, hate comments, really. The most shocking thing about the angry comment is that it DIDN'T come from any of the more recent and obscenely offensive posts! It came from back when I touched on The Deaf Olympics and ignited a flurry of anti-Deaflympic sentiment. While the post certainly had some over-the-line jokes (that keep you coming back for more), I probably apologized for them more than I ever have in a post and made it very clear I was kidding. I won't do that here. Checkout the comment:

Anonymous said...

Ill be honest asshole! become Deaf and see how it works out for you. And the funny thing is I am not Deaf but I do have a lot of Deaf friends and the things they have to go through that they otherwise wouldnt if they were hearing. So when you learn about Deaf Culture, Post another blog and pull your head out of your ass! Have a wonderful day =)

First of all, if you're going to get all up in arms about something, use a name-- or at least a pseudonym, like I do every time I write something that brings me closer to hell. Second of all, I appreciate that you're being honest, but this is a classic case of telling instead of showing. If you want me to believe you're honest, sell me on your emotions-- in fact, the first step towards honesty is proper punctuation and writing more than one level above spam grammar.

"become Deaf and see how it works out for you?" Absolutely I won't do that. Although, if it makes you feel any worse, my doctor told me I'm probably going deaf in my left ear, which means I'm well on my way towards being The Barely Deaf and winning a couple of gold medals in the Deaflypics (where I will definitely sing, "The Barely Deaf, we have a bobsled team..."-- too bad no one will hear the reference...).

"And the funny thing is I am not Deaf but I do have a lot of Deaf friends and the things they have to go through that they otherwise wouldnt if they were hearing." Really?? IS that the funny thing?? And who has A LOT of deaf friends, anyway? I can see you having a maximum of three deaf friends-- and that's pushing it. Any more than three deaf friends and you're either up to something or the world's worst conversationalist. You're already on thin ice for capitalizing a state of being. What do your deaf friends think of you for having so many deaf friends? If I asked them if you were really their friend would they be like:

If I asked if they considered your social and communication skills a greater disability than their lack of hearing, would they be all:

Can we chalk up the latter half of your sentence as "a good try" because I can't make much of it. I assume you mean that you witness many tough struggles for your inordinate number of deaf friends, which I completely believe is the case, but don't see what it has to do with anything. I didn't claim that being deaf was easy, I just said that you can probably be deaf and run 400 yards in a straight line with equal opportunity.

"So when you learn about Deaf Culture, Post another blog and pull your head out of your ass! Have a wonderful day =)" For starters, sometimes I don't eat breakfast because it seems like a hassle to go downstairs and wait for a piece of bread to toast*, so I don't exactly see myself studying up on deaf culture. Even if I did, I don't see myself changing my opinion that it's possible to overcome great odds to achieve success, or is part of deaf culture "Giving up when things get tough and creating more achievable scenarios in which success is the only option?" I'd like to hear what your plethora of deaf buddies think of that.

"Have a wonderful day =)" Ooph, emoticon burn...

Abbott and Deaf Costello!

Abbott: You're aurally challenged!
Deaf Costello: Orally challenged?
Abbott: Aural.
Deaf Costello: Oral.
Abbott: That too.
Deaf Costello: What?
Abbott: Exactly.

Putting the ASL back in Asshole,

*It's mostly because of those stupid little "Neck brace" clips that come with loaves of bread. They specificaly use technology that asks, "Do you like your bread kiiind of fresh?" I spin the bread all tight and then put the clip on and it immediately comes undone. Useless.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Opposite of Road Rage, Supermarket A-Holes, and Hippie Hill

I've upgraded my Netflix from 2 DVD's to 3. I don't know if that means I'm coming to terms with my situation and making good decisions or if it's just one more step towards completely giving up, but I don't care, because I've got Religulous, Milk, and Jim Gaffigan's stand up arriving to distract me any minute now. While the weekdays are for solitary confinement, the weekends are for people-- and boy did I see some gems of the human race this weekend.

Thursday night, I was driving home at 2am on near empty streets (because that's how I roll now) when I passed a slow, beat up sedan which was going 25-30mph in the left hand lane. I was going 35-40mph and I hit four or five green lights in a row and eventually came to a light just as it turned red. After about 2 minutes of waiting, the sedan pulled up next to me, which meant that they got to see my one man show that I call, "Singing Full Volume To The Gaslight Anthem While Drumming On the Stearing Wheel Because Nobody's Supposed to See Me Driving At Two In the Goddamn Morning!" It took me a few seconds to realize that one of the kids in the car was standing up through the sunroof and trying to talk to me.

Kid: Hey!
Witz: What's up?
Kid: We caught up to you!
Witz: What?
Kid: We caught up to you!
Witz: Ok?
Kid: Don't drive so fast-- you're wasting gas!
Witz: Actually, I was only going 35 miles per hour, while the optimal cruising speed for gas efficiency in most vehicles, including my own, is 55 miles per hour, which is why many highway speed limits that were updated in the '70's during the last gas crisis are 55 miles per hour. Ironically, if I had been driving at 55 miles per hour, not only would I have been more efficient, but I would have made the light that caused me to stop and allowed you to catch up and we wouldn't even be having this conversation.


Ok, that's not what I said. What I actually said was:

Witz: I was only going 35 miles per hour, but I appreciate it, man.
Kid: I mean it!
Witz: Good lookin' out.

The light then proceeded to turn green, which presented an awkward moment as I had to decide whether or not to gun the engine and tear away from the sedan. I decided to drive exactly how I had been before, but suddenly realized that I quickly needed to be in the left hand lane in front of the other car for an upcoming turn. Gunning it, I pressed on the accelerator and pulled in front of the other car just in time for a tight curve, which meant I swung too quickly around the curve with my tires screeching as if I had been driving 90mph. Realizing I had just given a proverbial "Fuck You" to the sedan, I slammed on the pedal and accelerated quickly through the upcoming yellow light to avoid another awkward "The More You Know" moment with a couple of 16 year olds. Subaru Outback, biotch.

Saturday included fun at the supermarket. I'm waiting in line to buy a sandwich and this is what I hear (almost verbatim) from the guy dressed like Tony Little in front of me, who is speaking AT the asian girl making his sandwich:

Guy: Just the meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. That's it. Ha! You can't believe it, can you?
Girl: ...
Guy: You can't believe that's all I want on my sandwich-- that's because we Americans always want everything on there, don't we? You people don't understand us, do you?
Girl: ...
Guy: Mayonaisse, mustard, fat, fat, fat-- that's why America's so obese. We want everything.
Girl: ...
Guy: Super-size it, right?? Can you super-size that? Aha-ha-ha. Can you super-size that?
Girl: ...
Guy: You don't need everything on there. Meat, cheese, some veggies-- that's healthy. Americans, we don't get that. (the girl hands him his sandwich which he accepts without a thank you and leaves. I step up to the counter)
Girl: What an asshole (definitely born and raised in California).

My weekend concluded with a day at Golden Gate Park on Sunday. We specifically went to a part of the park called "Hippie Hill" because when we go to a park, we like to feel like we're in our own backyard...that happens to be full of completely insane people and includes the constant threat of stepping on a hypodermic needle. I've been a few times, and the experience never fails to amaze me.

Let me set the scene for you. A hill crowded with people smoking weed, shaking from meth or heroin, and dancing. On the field below, people throwing frisbees, dancing, twitching, dealing-- or playing with baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, or in our case, the nerf whistler football, which is still just as unnecessary as it ever was. One patch of grass is occupied by a midget sized tee-pee which looks like the last bit of land that we relegated to the Native Americans and then said, "Buildings cannot exceed three feet in height." Jugglers, hula-hoopers, stick twirlers, and the everpresent drum circle; a veritable circus of extraneous mediocrity. I watched two stick twirling men and wondered how many hours of practice they put in at home before deciding to take their act to the park to be seen "casually enjoying themselves." How did they even meet?

Twirler 1: Nice to meet you, Damian, how do you know Katharine?
Twirler 2: Well, Eben, I know Katharine from college. We were on the ultimate frisbee team together...
Twirler 1: Oh, so you like throwing a frisbee?
Twirler 2: I do! I also enjoy fishing, knitting, camping, stick twirling--
Twirler 1: --Whoah whoah whoah! I'm gonna go ahead and stop you right there, Damian, did you say stick twirling?
Twirler 2: Of course I did.
Twirler 1: I myself am a stick twirler.
Twirler 2: What a coincidence! Perhaps we should hangout for a series of stick twirling and non-stick twirling activities, ultimately spending Sunday afternoons at Golden Gate Park showcasing our skills non-chalantly.
Twirler 3: What about me!?
Twirler 1: What do you do?
Twirler 3: I slide oversized spindles between two sticks with string attached!
Twirlers: We're gonna be such good friends.

What gets me isn't the things people do, but what must be going through their head in order to do them:

"I'm gonna go down to the park by the drum circle and play 'Summertime' on my saxophone! It's not important that I don't really know how."
"Should I look for a job today orrrrrr spend eight hours playing a drum?"
"Crack crack crack crack crack crack crack crack...."
"I'm the guy who brought a trumpet to the drum circle. They're gonna LOVE ME!"
"Devil sticks ARE NOT dead and I will prove that to the world."
"Which came first, the hula hoop or the ecstasy?"

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "You're just upset because all of the shirtless heroin addicts make you look overweight." Fair enough. But ultimately, I just want to pick out different people doing different things to fight each other using their "talents." Stick guy, fight yoga guy! Rhythmic Gymnastics girl, fight hula hoop girl! Meth guy, fight heroin gu-- oh, you already have that covered. Good.

So that's how my weekend went, which made me wonder how important human contact really is. Let the agorophobia begin.

Good Thing I Can Judge Other People Since I'm Being So Productive...,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Witz Pickz: 2009: A Mailbox Oddity

While I was driving yesterday, my recently watched netflix movie was burning a hole in the passenger seat next to me (in Witz's car, movies ride shotgun), so I decided to swing by a nearby drop-box and release it back into the wild. You would think this was easy, only because my life is the way that it is, things became weird in a hurry.

As I approached the mailbox, a large group of middle aged asian men were gathered around it, blocking my car from the "drive up and drop" area. They were pawing at the mailbox "2001: A Space Odyssey" style, and couldn't seem to figure out what it was for. One man stuck his arm into it which seemed like both a felony and proof that the "brilliant asian" stereotype isn't entirely accurate. I pulled as far up as I could to try and get their attention, but they still didn't move. I gave a little honk on the horn, which never comes out the way you want it to. This one came out more aggressive than I meant it, but at least it wasn't that embarassing "dying goose" beep. This got their attention, but they seemed more pleased with the occurrence than understanding of the situation.

Confused, I pointed at the mailbox, which prompted them to point at the mailbox-- excellent, we were all in agreement that there was a mailbox. In a moment of realization, a few of them scattered to one side and the rest scattered to the other side, completely blocking the mailbox. They didn't think I wanted to mail something, they thought I wanted to drive in a very specific part of a parking lot for no reason. I met the blank, vaguely jovial stares of these middle aged men with an even gaze of confusion. "What the fuck is going on?" I wondered aloud. I took a closer look around, and that's when it hit me.

This was not a wandering group of middle-aged male asian tourists. This was a rogue herd of 15-20 mentally disabled men. I'm not kidding. The reason I didn't realize it initially was because there is no "Corky Test" available for asians. If I see a white person with Down Syndrome, my brain quickly gives it the "Corky Test" to compare what I'm seeing to Corky from Life Goes On. Up until yesterday, however, I don't think I've ever seen an asian man with Down Syndrome. I don't know if it's cultural or genetic, but when I think about it, white people are the only group I've really ever seen in public. My realization came when I saw one man in particular who looked somewhat more caucasian than the rest of the group and immediately set off the Corky Test-- positive. He was like my Rosetta Stone for the group, and as soon as I noticed that he was mentally disabled, I was able to look at the rest of the group and see that they too had some issues. These guys were out having some Trisomy Twenty-Fun. "Fuck me, I just honked at a flock of retarded people."

With no guide or chaperone in sight, I rolled up to the mailbox and put on my "Hey Little Buddy" voice, or as Nitro calls it, "kid gloves."

"Hey guys, I need to put this in there, ok?" Their faces lit up and they scattered away from the mailbox, watching me intently. I dropped the letter in and they became ecstatic as they finally understood what the contraption was for. A few of them clapped, which made me realize that I am actually really really good at simple everyday tasks. In fact, this experience only serves to further my belief that I should be teaching people who are completely new to western culture how to use everyday things like lights, the washing machine, the toilet, or the iron (ok, I still can't really iron). I suppose I could be versatile and teach these things to the mentally challenged, but it's not quite the same. For some reason, I'd rather show someone how to use a microwave and then have them go out and be an engineer than show somehow how to use a microwave and have them go out and bag my groceries. No offense.

With my letter mailed, and my applause complete, I drove off with a polite wave and watched in the rearview as they descended on the mailbox like a group of zombies in 28 Days Later (which still sounds like a mentrual cycle documentary). I can't wait to explain this missing DVD to Netflix...

What If That Group Just Got Way Too Into the Black Eyed Peas,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Vicious Hair Cycle

Yeah yeah, I know you have to deal with things like jobs, and kids, and bills, but listen to what I'm dealing with right now: my hair when I don't shower. Let me tell you that unemployment is no field day (although I do sometimes carry eggs on spoons)-- it's not all lying around the house with no concerns. Sometimes the lying around with no concerns only raises more concerns. Case and point: The Vicious Hair Cycle.

The Vicious Hair Cycle isn't specific to unemployment, as it can be a problem during long weekends, school vacations, and ill-advised Lent sacrifices-- but it is certainly more prevalent during an extended absence from office exposure. You see, without commitments or places to be, showers aren't as necessary as they once were. I can run to Walgreens unshowered to buy some Post-Easter candy on sale-- it might even help because I won't be asked by the homeless person out front for some money.* Unfortunately, when my hair gets too long, my unshowered head becomes "socially unacceptable" and "terrifying to babies." When I see a cute girl at the gym, I have to switch from "flirtatious" to "damage control," meaning "if this girl stops looking at me and doesn't think I'm a serial killer, then I've done alright." Do you know the facial expressions you have to manipulate to convey that you are NOT a serial killer? I'll tell you that they are very similar to the facial expressions of someone who IS DEFINITELY A SERIAL KILLER. So the hair is a problem.

The dilemma, therefore, is that my unshowered hair must be presentable in order for it to go unshowered. I need to think far enough ahead to get a haircut that I can utilize when I'm spontaneously lazy, which ruins the whole thing really. That's the type of shit I'm dealing with right now. So, with all due respect to your mortgage payments, credit card debt, student loans, and unexpected third children-- my life's tough too.

ON THE PLUS SIDE, when you have the amount of free time to not shower all day, you also tend to stay up late enough to watch infomercials like the Mr T Flavor Wave Oven Turbo. The Mr T Flavor Wave Oven (Turbo) has one thing going for it-- Mr T. Mr T is the celebrity spokesman for the oven, and engages in amazingly bad acting opposite the non-celebrity spokewoman, Darla Haun. I'm just going to post this video and have you experience it for yourself, but let me say that the best part about the whole thing is the way Darla constantly condescends to Mr. T by ending everything she directs at him with, "Mr. T." I dare you to say, "Now look at these vegetables, Mr. T," without sounding like a complete patronizing asshole.

I promise this isn't a sketch.

Darla: I have a surprise for you!
Mr. T: It's not my birfday!
Darla: It had to be your birthday sometime this year!
Mr. T: You're not mistaken about that, Darla! (blows/spits out candles)

"There's nothing worse than reheatin' pizza in the microwave!" I guarantee there is something worse than reheatin' pizza in the microwave, Mr. T. I imagine whatever horrifyingly sad life you go home to at night might put soggy pizza in perspective for you. God help whoever's back home waiting in bed for Mr. T when his day of selling the Flavor Wave and shaming himself is over.

My favorite part of the infomerical is when they have a "cooking things montage" and show time lapse photography of meats becoming smaller and cooked, which looks just as much like a "broiling fetuses montage" as you'd expect**. Also, is there a single one of you who just watched that video and ISN'T convinced that The Mr. T Flavor Wave causes cancer? That's what I thought.***

I Pity the Fool Who Becomes A Caricature of Himself and Sells A Product That Sounds Like It's the Nickname of a Douchey Guy You Knew In College,

*Speaking of which, here's something I learned in Seattle a few weekends ago. If you're wandering down the street, with the wind whipping your hair into a frenzy, and you have two pieces of wheeled luggage in won't be asked for money by the homeless. They're pretty sure you're one of them.

**Also starring Mr. T.

***Did I just sneak "broiling fetuses" AND "cancer" into one paragraph, Mr. T? I'm really getting good at this...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Witz Pickz: Home Office Edition!

I've been dealing with a lot of changes the past couple of weeks; job, life, hair where there wasn't hair before; and I apologize for the lack of posting. The long and short of it is that I was laid off and am therefore in the midst of what amounts to an awesome extended vacation with an all inclusive stress package. It's like, "You're going to Spring Break!!!...BUT you're pregnant." Either way, I'm drinking.

Week one of unemployment went like this: Wake up early, healthy breakfast, gym, healthy lunch, something creative, dinner, maul anyone I know for social contact after a long day without any. Repeat. Not bad overall.

Here's week two: "I COULD have wheat toast for breakfast orrrr....PIZZA AND COOKIES!" Yep. I've reached the "pizza and cookies breakfast" phase of unemployment. It's the phase where I realize I can do whatever I want and the only repercussion is my complete inability to fall asleep at night as I am haunted by the vast purposelessness of my days and, by extension, life-- which isn't the worst trade off ever (the worst trade off ever was when the Native Americans traded All of America for Diseased Blankets. This is followed closely by any time someone traded first time sex for herpes and/or a baby.) So you see where I'm at.

You'll, therefore, understand if some of my posts in the next few weeks are less about grand adventure and more about things that are currently big deals in my saaay...

My New Goddamn Overachieving Toothbrush:
Yeah, so I bought a new toothbrush because mine started to taste a lot like the floor. This is because, in fact, I had dropped it on the floor a few try and wash it, but it's never quite the same. So I went to the store and perused the toothbrush section as if I had a friggen clue what I was looking for. It's impossible to shop for a new toothbrush as if you know what you're looking for-- because you're just looking for a toothbrush. You didn't do any pre-store research. The only thing I've learned about toothbrushes over the years is that the softness labels are like Starbucks sizes-- soft means hard, medium means severe pain, and hard means Saw VI. Which left me and some other guy looking at the toothbrush display together, both knowing we didn't know what we needed, but acting like we were buying a new car. In the end, we both picked the same brush-- you know which one? The one that was on sale for $2.50.

As I checked out, I noticed the brush was called "the 360" or something like that, and said something about a tongue and cheek cleaner, but I attributed that to desperate salesmanship and not insane technology. Later that night, I took it out for a test drive, and boy did I learn something. My new goddamn overachieving toothbrush has a scrubbing patch on the opposite side of the brush. So every time I brush my teeth, the opposite side is sandpaper scraping something else. Not only don't you have a choice in the matter, but the scrubber side was apparently invented to file down wolves teeth, not human mouth tissue. You ever exfoliate the inside of your cheeks? Less than fun. And yes, while you're able to use the other side PURPOSEFULLY to scrape your tongue, it's a permamnent fixture for all other brushing moments. Like all things, however, I've started to become used to it-- used to the pain, used to the struggle-- and I've almost begun to enjoy it. After all, in this world of pizza and cookie breakfasts, sometimes it's good to feel something real-- even if it's the mild pain of a toothbrush on the inside of your cheek.

I'm Not Unemployed, I'm A Writer...Oh, Wait...Yeah, I'm Unemployed...,