Monday, December 24, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 5 in the series)

On this Christmas Eve, I think it's really important that we all gather tonight, thank each other for simply being there, and explain that Popcorn is not a viable gift option.

Despite what years and years of indoctrination might have told you, not everyone loves popcorn with caramel on it. It's good, sure, but it's also very 1950's, and a tin of butter, cheese, and caramel makes me think I should go test out the bomb shelter in case Russia steps it up. So please, no tins of popcorn, it's gross. Even if it is only $1.49.

The kind of popcorn I'm actually worried about, however, and the topic of this conversation, is Trail's End popcorn. For those of you not in the know, Trail's End is the Boy Scouts' brand popcorn. Apparently women make cookies, and men make popcorn. That's just how life works. I can give first hand proof that people are far far more receptive to a sweet girl with cookies at their door than they are to awkward boys selling popcorn. Too many times did I ring doorbells, trying to sell popcorn nobody wants and got doors slammed in my face, oftentimes by old men who clearly had that, "When I was your age, I worked in coal mines" look to them. One time, my German neighbor, while brandishing a couple fingers of scotch, pushed his wife out of the way and took the opportunity to curse us out for trying to sell them Trail's End popcorn. That's the legacy. In later years (like...6th grade...) I learned to bring my sister with me, and to present her in the forefront of the sales pitch. Sure, you can say no to me, but what about my little sister, who had to walk all the way to your door just to look up at you and hint at tears. Yeah-- buy my freakin' popcorn.

Well, today I came home to find a package of Trail's End popcorn on the counter. From the single package purchase, it was pretty clear it was an Appeasement Purchase (not an indie band) and I nodded with empathy. I imagined the chubby little kid, wandering up to my door, seeing my bearded dad answer the door when he wasn't expecting anyone, and fearing momentarily for his life. "Want to buy some popcorn?" he probably asked. "It takes a long time to get, it's over-priced, it's unhealthy, still not very good, and you can get a tastier version at your local supermarket....but it goes to help the Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts/or my all time favorite "Webelos" (actually an acronym for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts" which, in the context of pedophilia within the organization, is the creepiest of Boy Scout troops)..."

I'm sure my Dad hesitated a minute and then dutifully got out his checkbook. The six to eight weeks passed, and now we have a box of popcorn. So I understood the process. THEN I CHECKED THE PACKAGE!

A lot has changed on the Trail's End package since I sold it. Apparently there is "No Diacetyl Flavoring" which probably means, "Tastes Awful" but maybe it's a step. Then it says, "On Average 70% goes to local scouting!" First of all, it's vague. Does it go to a sports team who gets to scout players? Does it go to troop leaders who get to spend some money to recruit better children? Is there an influx of Cuban scouts in the more wealthy scouting communities? Are they automatically given swimming merit badges upon arrival? Secondly, where's the other 30% go? It implies it goes to the greater Boy Scouts organization, but it could go anywhere! Trail's End Corporation, The Romney Campaign, the purchasing of girl scout cookies. Anywhere.

Then I saw something which put the other issues to shame. In our world, it has become common place for products to lie in their marketing-- a little. They stretch the truth, skew facts, and leave out statistics. "Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper..." more than what? Cats? "Diet Dr. Pepper tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper than Cats do!" wouldn't sell. "Our product tastes better than the competition" claim a lot of brands. Or how about, "World's Best Shake/Burger/Pizza!" Generally, not the case. But they don't just lie with no basis. Here's what Trail's End popcorn proclaims on its box: "ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE WITH POPCORN!" and there is a picture of an asian youth, wearing a helmet, holding a paddle, and kayaking on popcorn. (deep sigh)

I don't really know where to begin. I think we can all agree that anything is, in fact, NOT possible with popcorn. You can eat it. That's one. You can throw it, that's two. You can string it, that's three. And you can fund the Boy Scouts and potentially other organizations by selling it. That's four. Four things. The slogan should say, "FOUR THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH POPCORN!" and show a white kid with glasses in a comic strip style setup, first eating, then throwing, then stringing, then earning merit badgets, and then sitting bored out of his mind. Granted, not as catchy. It seems like blatant misuse of the medium by the Trail's End corporation and the Boy Scouts of America. We know exactly what's possible with popcorn-- why try and lie to us and push your agenda so translucently. It pains me to see Trail's End reduced to such betrayal and falsehoods to gain America's trust. But I still don't want it for Christmas. Oh, and guess what? Yeah, I donated a goat to a village in Africa-- who knew.

Happy holidays to everyone, thanks for reading, Merry Christmas to everyone tomorrow, and remember that love and appreciation are...not as cool as cash donations.


P.S. Remember: Christmas is not just about giving and receiving gifts. It's about receiving gifts that when added up are worth more than the aggregate of the gifts you have given. And it's about some dude...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 4 in the series)

I didn't think I was gonna have to do this, I really didn't. I thought that we were all set after my brief aside in a previous post. I thought the Star Registry post would certainly get the message across. But now I have to talk about how nobody, really, truly, deeply, NOBODY wants you to give a gift or donation "In Your Name." Nobody.

And yet I've now been given "A Donation towards Fighting ____" in my name. The blank means it's my choice, I can choose from all sorts of things, like Cancer, AIDS, Diabetes, Parkinson's, etc. , but I find the phrasing a little poor. While those diseases are obvious options, I think I'd feel much better about the whole thing if I could write in an answer. Sure, my $50 isn't going to be much in the research of AIDS, but my $50 would probably go a long way in fighting My Upstairs Neighbor Who Files Noise Complaints Against Me. Do you have any idea how much silly string, shaving cream, toilet paper, M-80's, raw fish, and duplicate keys that could buy? That's a battle I could win with a $50 donation in my name. Slip a landlord fifty bucks and you can have any noisy pet or baby in your building "escape." OR BETTER YET, slip a landlord fifty bucks, and you can have that cute as hell raccoon that's been rooting through the garbage outside INSIDE the building. I could also get down with freaking out people by giving, "A Donation Towards Fighting The Unseen Invaders or Those Who Come In Our Sleep, or The South." All because of poor phrasing and a selfish gift.

I mean, the other thing a lot of people say casually is "A Donation to Support ____." Meaning to support research of, but a lot of people don't say that. So there's the obviously issue of not wanting to SUPPORT any of those diseases. HOWEVER, like with the Star Registry, I think this provides an important window of misuse. While I don't ever want to receive a "donation in my name" to a foundation, I would love to give somebody a "Donation that goes to Support Cancer" in their name. Get that one on the books-- that kid LOVES cancer and HATES children! That would be amusing.

Reiteration: If you want to donate money to a charity of your choice, do so-- I fully support it. But don't use Christmas as an excuse to get the satisfaction of giving that gift PLUS the satisfaction of giving ME a "gift" to feel good about yourself. I don't get to feel good about the gift YOU gave, and if anyone comes up to me and says "Thank you for helping fight diabetes," I'm going to look sheepish and say "that wasn't actually me...". It's also like a vote of no confidence in me. If you think I'm a good person and I am smart with my money and help others, give me money and we'll see if I give some to charity. By giving me the donation gift, you're saying, "I want to give you money, but I don't trust you to spend it towards the improving our world." It's insulting. I'm all for giving to worthy causes, but that doesn't mean I want to do it for me.


That's all I'll say about that. In case you need to get a last minute gift, or in case you get an itunes gift card for Christmas (I am so so so against itunes. Get your mp3's elsewhere--,, AMAZON.COM now has a huge selection, or just download them or buy the real CD. Itunes limits the number of computers you can have it on, limits the way you are able to manipulate the file, you can only burn it to a CD through itunes, and from what I've heard, you can only burn it to CD a certain number of times. Good thing ipods replaced mix CD's-- itunes sucks) here is my TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2007. These are not necessarily the BEST ALBUMS of 2007, they are just my TOP ALBUMS of the year, and they probably will have a bit more longevity in my music library than, say, "Caribou" or "Film School."

10) Blue Scholars - Bayani
9) Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth
8) Smoke or Fire - This Sinking Ship
7) The Flatliners - The Great Awake
6) Eddie Veder - Into the Wild Soundtrack
5) Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
4) Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta!
3) Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
2) Wyclef Jean - The Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant
1) Chuck Ragan - Feast or Famine

So a more eclectic mix and definitely some genres you wouldn't expect, namely punk (Smoke or Fire and The Flatliners), but within the punk genre, these two albums are tremendous and catchy and filled with good instrumental work and vocals. The Blue Scholars album might be getting more credit than it's worth because I'm a big fan and they are from Seattle where I lived until recently, but the album is packed with great beats, socially conscious rhymes and I want you people to download them and check em out. Brother Ali rounds out the indie hip-hop, and Wyclef Jean, although recent, put out a near perfect pop-hip-hop effort. Taking cues from Santana, each song features another famous artist, but maintains the Wyclef feel and sticks to the theme of the album. There are so many well constructed and catchy as hell songs that it gets #2. Eddie Veder's album is hypnotizing and while not a major departure from Pearl Jam, it's very well done, especially in context with the film. Beirut is crazy and drunken sounding, but that only adds to the complexity and bumped Bright Eyes' Cassadaga off the list because there are about four or five songs on Cassadaga that I can't stand even while the others are brilliant. Gogol Bordello is infectious gypsy punk (but not enough punk to fall under punk) with pretty straightforward lyrics and tons of creativity. Parts & Labor is my wild card pick with their insanely new take on an old genre, and Chuck Ragan wins for having the absolute best folk/punk album I've heard in years. Each song is simple, but deep, with amazingly raw vocals and heart. I can see myself listening to the album in ten years, whereas something like The Shepherd's Dog or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga are probably temporary. Also, somebody needs to tell The Arcade Fire to write some bridges and content-- they are almost exclusively intros and outros. I didn't hear all of In Rainbows so I left it off the list. Here's a list of some other albums worth checking out that you might not have heard of and some songs that deserve mention even though their full albums didn't make the grade:

Bruce Springsteen -- Radio Nowhere
Kate Nash -- Foundations
Just Jack - Stars In Their Eyes
Band of Horses - Is There A Ghost (and I probably would put this album on the top 10 if I'd heard it enough)
Tegan & Sara - Back in Your Head
Matchbox Twenty - How Far We've Come (Yep!)
Jay Z - Roc Boys

Other Bands:
The View - Hats Off to the Buskers
Gentleman Auction House - The Rules Were Handed Down EP (2006)
Against Me! - New Wave
Two Gallants - The Fairwell of Scenery
Deadly Syndrome - The Ortolan

Happy Birthday today to My Friend With A Pool and Zak Jazz!

My Drop In the Bucket Cured Cancer,

P.S. I would definitely donate money to FACE AIDS, primarily because I don't know if I'm fighting AIDS or if I'm supporting AIDS of the Face. That is one organization with an identity crisis. (Shout out to C-Murda)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Witz Pickz: Housing Life

So, yeah, I wasn't around for a few days. Let's chalk it up to the writer's strike, ok? I was suddenly overcome with an illogical desire to support the strike by not writing on this blog, even though I'm not in the WGA...that sounds fair to me. Fine, so that's not it, I was feeling miserable, life was kicking my ass, and I didn't receive any e-cards wishing me back to the site. So we're both at fault. Now let me tell you the story of how I returned to the site after HOUSING LIFE. I warn you, this is a bit gross.

When you have been waiting every single day for an entire week to hear back about a job, after three rounds of interviews and meeting the entire team, and having already turned down one potential job in order to try and get the latter of the two, you start to get a little frustrated with life and all those in it. People in CA continue to be the worst drivers I've ever seen in my entire life, with turn signals and checking mirrors before switching lanes seemingly not being their concern. All my favorite shows are off the air due to the writers strike, my healthcare runs out in two weeks, and you'll never guess what? The one time I go out and have fun, I end up sick the next day. And what do I have? A white spot on my right tonsils (I bet they call that something else, like the aft tonsils or the tonsils a droite...whatever). I had a white spot on my tonsils six months ago. I had one on their 9 months ago when that d-bag from Group Health gave me the antibiotics and I passed out on the plane and all that jazz. Six months ago it accompanied me with a fever and sore throat and since I didn't want to pay for a doctor with no healthcare option, I simply waited it out for a week or two. It finally went away. So when I have 5 days left before flying cross country for xmas, start to have a slight fever, massive fatigue, and dwindling bank funds with still no paycheck in sight, I freak out a little.

Tonsilitis. Tonsilitis. Tonsilitis. This is what WebMD tells me again and again when I search "white spots tonsils." Well, that's not entirely true. I could also have Children's Non-Hodgekins Lymphoma, but clearly I'm an optimist, so I ignore that little gem and store it away in the back of my mind to terrorize me. So tonisilitis it is. Antibiotics can help, but not all the time and I was once told that "these things have a habit of going away by themselves" so is it worth the 200 dollar doctor visit? I don't think so? But in 3 days I fly back east where getting to a doctor with my health plan is not gonna happen, and then Jan 1 it's all up anyway, so what do I do?

I do like any other sane person would do-- I ignored the initial diagnosis, told WebMD to go eff itself (seriously, I mean, WebMD only believes that ankles get sprained, muscles get torn, and people get cancer. It's a worst case scenario doctor site), and broadened my knowledge search to all of the Google Search Universe. I want med student opinions. I want herbalist healers from Califo-- here. I want crackpot insane Arizona druggies telling me what's what, asshole rednecks blaming Jews, alcoholics telling me to take whiskey and raw eggs, and three-nippled carnies telling me my future. I want it all. Google: "White spot on tonsils."

I got a lot of varied results, but none as crazy as I'd imagined. Finally one catches my eye saying, "Many patients are frightened when they see white spots on the tonsils. This is perfectly O.K. These are the dead white cells and dead bacteria that accumulate in the holes of the tonsils called crypts. Here the tonsils are just doing their job." OHHHHHHH SNAP! This sounds like an answer I can roll with! It sounds like there's an enemy I can picture-- Crips (it's important to note here how I was easily able to chance crypts, like mass graves, into Crips, like the gang. But I think it's equally important to note how easily I am able to change Crips into Crisps. Ask anyone from England and they'll tell you how important that "S" is to them. You may very well want a plate of crisps as a snack or dessert, but if a plate of Crips shows up, it's time to get a move on). So the white Bloods get stuck in the Crips. Now I get it. Anyway, sometimes these don't go away. They can cause a sore throat, mild fever, and irritation. For me, the white spot was causing super annoyance/irritation, and apparently a mild fever. So it could be infection, but it could also be this. Another article told me that doctors often treat this with antibiotics, but they have a minimal effect. Interesting. Finally, I came to an article that told me that I could go to a doctor and they could use a "tool" to scrape off the whiteness and relieve the irritation. That would run me about a hundred and fifty dollars I'm betting. I could also buy a water pik or an Oral Irrigation System...that would run me 100 and make me feel sixty-five years old.

Time to go all "herbalist" on them and find some home remedies. One kid gargled with salt water and it fell off. I tried that. Not successful. A water pik, eh? I find the closest thing in the house to a water pik-- a lemon juice squirt bottle. Eff it. I take aim in the mirror and shoot the lemon juice right at the spot. Nothing. Then it stings, then I cry. I do it again. And again. Lemon juice is kinda tasty if no one's there to watch you weep while drinking it. My next solution? Shower head. I almost drown and let me just say it's not a good idea. You ever line yourself up under a high power shower head, hoping to hit a specific TONSIL and turn the water on? You end up choking, gasping, drowning, and very wet. And the white spot remains. I drink vast amounts of fluid, I gargle lots of things including Scope and hot water and salt water again. Nothing. I sit down on the couch, furious and ready to quit. Life wins. I decide to call the hospital help line and ask an "Advice Nurse" or an "On-Call Physician." I stay on hold for twenty minutes before deciding it's just not my year and hang up.

I wait.
I think.
I self-pity.
I glance at the seventh floor balcony and the drop below.
I get angry.
I think.
Eff it.

"Wait a minute, I have a tool!" I exclaim, thinking later I will print it where it will be taken out of context the next time I run for something. I rush into the bathroom, wash my hands, and semi-blindly stick my chubby, sausage-finger into my mouth towards the tonsils (a lot of people, myself included until recently, believed the tonsils was the hangy ball straight back in your throat. They are not. That's the uvula. The tonsils are on the sides and look like teeth right by your cheekbone. Now try and figure out how they cut THOSE out! Scary shit. So I scrape my finger and yes, I almost throw up. Gag reflex and all. But I try again. And again (by the end of this, I had pretty much eliminated any gag issues at all, which means that should the need arise to deep throat anything, I'm pretty sure I'm up to the challenge-- and yes, I'm leaving that vague, open-ended comment for Anonymous to comment on-- I will not moderate it). I nick a piece and look, and it appears to have moved. I try again and without gagging, I scrape it and take a look-- IT HAS FALLEN OFF! I spit it out and take a look-- whitish and calcified. JUST what they said on all those other message boards. I swallow and immediately feel a lack of irritation that had been bothering me for days. Holy shit!

I feel immediately better. No throat irritation, no fever. The great weight of healthcare is off my shoulders, the doctor visit no longer an issue, the flight home not a big deal. I try and imagine if this were House MD:

Kutner: But the white spot not being an infection only accounts for the symptoms of the fever and the irritation. What about the extreme fatigue and sleeplessness?

House: Well, I dunno, let's see. He's a twenty-five year old guy with no job, dwindling funds, Christmas coming up, healthcare running out in two weeks, and there's a WHITE SPOT on his TONSILS!! He's a little stressed out!

Thirteen: I would have thought he celebrated Chanukkah...

House: You would have throught wrong. Remember, unlike last names and hierarchical lands, religion runs through the Mother.

Taub: Yeah, like diabetes and spite.

Thirteen: Oh, please. Mother issues?

House: Ok then. I'm gonna go see if Cuddy wants to work out any Daddy issues. You it is that you do after I make a grand exit....


Feeling better and less stressed, I wander out from the bathroom and sit smiling on the couch. I look at the seventh floor balcony and admire the view, not the fall. For the first time in nine months, I have defeated sickness and not the other way around. It's a small victory, and I'm sure there will be more tests as I plunge into the frigid sub-zero wind chill temperatures of the east coast, and the odds of me waking up healthy on January 1st are slim, but still, Christmas (Time) Miracles are tough to come by, and I'll take what I can get.

Like A Caterpillar Shedding His Cocoon, I Shed My...White Spot Gunk....,

P.S. I miss House.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 3 in the Series)

Now that we're covered on avoiding reality and diving deep into a fantasy world where you can hide comfortably while playing Madden '08 or Ratchet & Clank, here's a way to get back out into the world. Give someone a trip.

Trips can be very tricky, but when pulled off, people usually are extremely happy and can't believe you went to all the trouble to plan it for them. Plus, it's kind of like you're dictating their life and if you weren't able to buy to latest expansion pack for The Sims, this is the next best thing. The obvious problems are timing and interest. So first, get interest. Most of the time, trips involve doing things, like going to a sports game or a concert or a wine tasting retreat. So instead of deciding that everybody clearly wants to go somewhere with beautiful beaches (incidentally, I DO want to go somewhere with beautiful beaches AND warm water-- I have never been in naturally warm ocean water before and I'm told I'm missing out. And seriously, when Maine and CT were you two prime swimming places, with Myrtle Beach and Cocoa Beach being the only other two, we're not talking 90 degrees here, we're talking like...60....) pick something you know they like, buy them tickets to a relevant event, and build the trip around that. A lot of the time that will decide the timing as well, which is always helpful and usually can revolve around a weekend as opposed to a weeklong excursion with plane flights and missed work ("I wouldn't say I'm MISSING it, Bob").

Checkout what's playing in theaters, any big concerts in big cities or intimate concerts in smaller towns. Is there a comedian showing somewhere or might the person just like to go see some comedy? How do they feel about professional wrestling? UFC? Pride Fighting? Maybe you can score some tickets to their favorite tv show-- not that those are being filmed right now, but maybe you can get Deal or No Deal tickets or The Daily Show tickets once they cross the picket line, and I guarentee you can get tickets for Late Late Show With Carson Daly, which is still on the air and which there can't be a very long line for. Avoid Vegas-- forcing someone to go on a trip to Vegas is a recipe for disaster. Vegas needs to be done on their terms, when they are ready to lose a lot of money. And don't invite yourself along. Regardless of what you choose, tickets always make the trip make more sense.

Now for timing. As I said, weekends are perfect and baseball games, concerts, etc. all make sense in that respect. A lot of the time, buying tickets and a hotel room constitutes a trip, and you don't need to pay for airfare or gas. It's good to get an idea though as to when might work or not work for the giftee. Here are some questions I like to ask:

Question: "If I were to have a party in four months, would you be free?"

Answer: Generally, people will say you're crazy and they have no idea-- that means you're in the clear. Nobody will think something's up.

Question: "I heard (name of band) is touring-- we should see if they're coming to town and how much tickets are..."

Answer: You have to say this VERY lackadaisically so that there is no chance they actually will make a move to check and see. Maybe after or during watching a long movie-- Pirates of the Carribean 3 comes to mind for new releases. Hopefully, they are not coming to your town, but NEARBY so that you can send them TO the show, and with better seats than they would have expected.

Question: (while drunk) "Let's fucking go to Australia! (gage reaction) I mean London! (gage reaction) I mean Paris! (gage reaction-- this next one is key) I mean (name of city kind of close to where you live or where southwest has good deals)! (gage reaction) Whattya think?

Answer: (Regardless of their current state of being) "You're just drunk, man!" Jackpot.

Easy, right? Here are some final tips and your whole trip package gift will be a breeze. If you are indigent or if the people have a nicer apartment/house, don't ask to house-sit for the person/people leaving until a week later OR phrase it as (and as part of the gift, my girlfriend and I will housesit for you). Don't buy plane tickets going anywhere near or involving Chicago. Nothing ruins trips more than horrible flight delays. A "Night Out" works almost as well as a trip. Just buy tickets to something and a bottle of wine and that's that.

So there ya go, that was easily the most informative "how to" bullshitting I've done on the site, and I hope you all prosper from it. I'll conclude with a list of my interests and locales I'd enjoy:

Boston Red Sox
Wine Vineyards
Warm Water
Warm Music in Intimate Spaces
Good Food (but not weird food)

Just Click On My Ads A Little, K?,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 2 in the series)

There’s really no need to beat around the bush, and there will be plenty of time later to discuss whether or not anybody really wants a goat given to a village in their name. I mean, sure, it’s a nice idea, but I either want to be given a gift, or feel good about giving the village a goat myself. Having someone give a goat to a village as my Christmas or Hanukkah present means that I a) don’t get a present b) I don’t get to feel good about having given anyone anything and c) the person who gave me the goat DOES get to feel good. How is that any kind of gift? That’s just a purchase and a copout all rolled into one. And don’t get me wrong, I think giving the gifts to the villages is great—but maybe you should do it on, like, a Wednesday, not my birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Easter, or any other holiday. Like I said, we can talk more about that later. Right now I’m gonna go straight for the throat of the holiday sales—video games.

If you’re young and in school, and can’t earn any money yourself, or more than $8/hr, then there’s not much of a problem here—you want a video gaming system and you’re thrilled to get it. Also, you maybe shouldn’t be reading this blog, but if you are, thanks! Anyway, if you’re slightly older like me, then you’ve already come to the point where you definitely know you don’t “need” a video gaming system, you wonder if the $400 or whatever dollars could possibly be worth it given all the time you spend working, sleeping, eating, watching tv, movies, reading, etc. and you have already been wracked with guilt over asking your parents to spend said money on such a gift for you. Ah yes, guilt. I don’t know when that happened and maybe it’s a sign of growing up, but I’ve started feeling incredibly guilty anytime my parents spend money on me to be nice and because they want to, but when I really don’t know if I “need” them too. Regardless, you’ve already dealt with this experience, but decided, forget it, you need a present, and those video gaming system are looking pretty good. So which do you pick?

All of my information is based on having played all three major systems (PS3, xbox360, Wii), reading lots of reviews and articles, and talking to people who already made this decision. I’ve figured out a few things and they primarily revolve around Video Quality, Games, Gameplay, and Bonus Features.

Video Quality: From all accounts, PS3 has both the best graphics and the highest potential for future graphics. For a lot of games, Xbox360 and PS3 are on even footing, but PS3 uses a different HD capacity and Blu-Ray discs, so they are able to fit almost three times as much information into their games as Xbox360. They also have a different processor and graphics card, which currently is another PS3 advantage. The PS3 is quieter and doesn’t overheat, unlike the Xbox360 which has proven overheating problems and is loud. Microsoft is releasing new models that are better with those two problems, but they aren’t labeling them differently, so the best bet is to wait until after the holidays clear out the shelves and then pick one up post-Christmas. Then there’s the Wii. The Wii does not compete with graphics because it’s not supposed to. The graphics are typical Nintendo graphics and while they can be good, such as in Tiger Woods, and Madden, they also have the fake looking people and in some of the more fun games such as Mario Party or the sports pack, they aren’t “people” so much as shapes and colors. Still, that’s because Wii is not yet for serious gamers. Which brings us to Games and Gameplay.

Gameplay & Games: The Wii is for all types of people, but not primarily for the intense gamers (and if the commercials are any indication, it’s for families who don’t speak to each other, the elderly, and older asian men). Far from a gimmick, the Wii technology is fun and engrossing, and I’ve heard playing games like Zelda is amazing. It also has a cool effect of making you want to do the things you’re doing in the game. I went bowling after playing Wii bowling. I bought a tennis racket after playing Wii tennis (yeah, I still haven’t used that). I broke four ribs after playing Wii boxing—ok that’s a lie, but I wanted to. The Wii is widely successful in non-gaming groups and demographics, and is fantastic for parties. Recently, I heard that it is being used in retirement homes to get older folks to move around and get some activity, especially if they’re in wheelchairs. Which is brilliant and I guarantee they can have as much fun as you or I playing the games. It is not, however, filled with finely tuned, photo-like graphics and environments. If you live a horribly dull, ennui-ridden, “I’d kill myself the next day if it wasn’t for the Netflix I have coming in the mail,” lifestyle, and need to completely involve yourself in a fantasy reality, the Wii is not for you. For that, you need one of the other two.

As I said, both have amazing graphics and this allows for intricate, engrossing gameplay. With a big TV and great storylines in most of their games, it is easy to get completely involved in the game you are playing and the world you are now a part of. On the xbox side, there are exclusive games like Gears of War, Halo 3, and BioShock, which I’ve heard is a system seller. I played Gears of War and loved it, especially the cooperative mode so I could play it with my friend at his house. PS3, on the other hand, has games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, and Heavenly Sword, all of which are amazing stories, graphics, and, with the exception of Heavenly Sword, franchise hits. All the sports games are for all three systems, so if you’re like me, and get way too into playing as your favorite team, connecting mythical (read: superstitious, lucky) power to your season and reality, and enjoy creating yourself and friends in games, all three systems are options. Rock Band is also available on multiple systems, and is incredibly fun—like the Wii only with music for all systems.

Bonus Features: PS3 also functions as a Blu-Ray disc player. Bam. It also connects via wi-fi to your computer and acts like an external hard-drive. This means you can play video files from your computer through your television. It also means your PS3 is probably watching your porn once you fall asleep. Nothing like this for the Wii, and I’m sure Xbox360 has some kind of wi-fi connectivity, especially with Media Center, but I honestly don’t know about it. The internet being important, it’s important to note that PS3 has free online gaming while Xbox inexplicably still has a subscription based access. You have to pay an annual fee to play your games online and get new content.

So that’s my long, mostly unfunny explanation of the three systems. Can you tell I’m thinking about it? If anyone has any more information, bias, experience, or preference, drop some comments.

I’ll Pick Something Ridiculous Tomorrow, Ok?,

Monday, December 10, 2007

Witz Pickz: Holiday Gifts (Part 1 in the Series)

Let me say, right now, on the....seventh day of Chanukkah, that I do not want to receive a star registered in my name.

I heard the commercials on the radio for International Star Registry (I'm not sure how that differs from National Star Registry-- I mean, they're stars right? So, if I register it nationally, does that mean that some dude in Russia might have his national rights to that star as well? Does International registry trump all previous national registries or do they break down like those little bits of shares of stocks that somebody confused me with years ago? And more so, what's the problem here? I mean, other than the fact that my star might actually be named Witz-Yeltsin-Schmitt-VonDerling-Osaki who's ever gonna know? Might I be travelling the world some time, drinking at a bar and hear some drunken broken English coming from a corner saying, "Star coordinate 56 87 43 93 51 a/z...zat's my star..." and then I have to call him out and go, "No! That's MY star!" Clearly I don't think that would happen and clearly I have no idea how star coordinates work.) and immediately thought, "Now there's something I don't ever want. Ever." Other than the fact that it's completely useless and self-absorbed, the odds of ever knowing or seeing your star are literally a million to one or more. Then, assuming you somehow find your star, when you point and say to someone, "See that star, it's named after me," they will have no actual way to react to that besides, "Really? Where? Oh, cool..." and that's it. There's no more conversation there. The next part is, "how'd that happen" and then, "International star registry" and then, "I don't ever want to receive a star registered in my name." End of conversational topic.

So logically, I looked at the website to see how their service works. First of all so I could talk more informed about it, but also because I wanted to know how much these things cost. And the reason for that is because it occurs to me that this could make a great prank. The idea that you could spend some money and have an entire packet with information and star coordinates sent to someone saying, "The star 'Matt Hates Black People' resides at coordinates...." makes me warm inside. At you'll find all sorts of information, but we want the packages. You can choose from the "custom" which is star talk for "cheap" package, or the "deluxe" which in my experience comes with bacon on it, or you can get the "ultimate" package which runs a stout $139 + shipping and handling, so you're better off leaving the star at will call or the bill might add up. All packages come with a certificate (sweeeet), and get this, "a booklet on astronomy written by a professional astronomer with additional sky charts." Now, to me, that means that the book was not written by a professional astronomer. Anytime somebody is giving me a book or booklet about assumption is that it is by a professional astronomer and nto just some guy dabbling on his roof with a laptop. Apparently, as star registry blatantly hints, I should be more careful. This means I can finally start my jewelry company I've always wanted called "Diamonds by Witz." Then I can sell whatever I feel like until the courts force me to change the name to "Fake Diamonds by Witz."

Anyway, the cheapest package is only $54 which is actually pretty fair since you will be attaching a name to a star internationally, "forever," but I have a problem with the claim of "...a gift that will last a lifetime." I'm not saying I'm going to live a really long time, but if I bought a star registry for a newborn baby (i.e. "Tova Hates Black People") who knows which will be around longer? If the baby lives to be 100, that star could be long gone. This is the problem with stars-- those effers pop off all the time. They blow up and disappear and we don't know about it for a while. So who's to say that my star isn't already gone and the light's gonna wink out at a moment's notice? They assume I will either lose interest, assume it's cloudy, or not know which star is mine, but if I am diligent and attentive, my star just might not exist anymore. I bet this is a huuuge issue in the star registry world. I bet people get hired and fired over shit like that.

As far as I can see, the only difference between packages is the quality of the certificate you receive, and that on the higher end packages you get little wallet cards with the star name and coordinates on it-- which is kind of a must. I mean, the opportunity that affords you at bars, parties, weddings, funerals, Safeway, Bob's Stores, Borders, concerts, hiking trips, whale watches, etc. is too much to pass up. Imagine the pickup lines you could create with that sucker. I'm not gonna list any, but you can bet at least one was a killer penis size joke.

So please, no star registry for me-- although stars might be the last frontier for us to claim and name, they are also the least interesting, most forgettable, most indistinguishable in all the deepest meanings of the word, gifts. Save them for pranks, and shutting your kids up and giving them false hope by wishing upon. After all, you can always just SAY that a star is named after you, and nobody will really know the difference.

Now that you know what I don't want, I'll be posting a series of cool and interesting gifts for this holiday season all week long, so keep checking back.

"Gimme All Your Supermarios,"

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Witz Flickz: Tis the Season

The start of December, Chanukkah, and Christmas songs can only mean one thing: you're about to have a relatively plentiful amount free time. You don't need to make excuses for it, you don't need to call in sick, or take a mysterious personal day, or buy a 49 dollar ticket to Baltimore on Southwest Airlines for no apparent reason and run until you can't anymore. You have free time because Jesus was born, Oil lasted longer than people originally believed it would last (ironically the opposite of the oil crisis in the world today), and because it gets balls cold (just above tits cold and just below death by frostbite) in most parts of the country right about now, and if people didn't have some time off to cheer up, we'd probably all be dead.

So I know you're going to want to watch a lot of movies. Even with the abundance of holiday movies on the networks and even with the abundance of bad action movies and dramas on USA, TNT, FX, etc., you'll still have some time for movies-- especially if you get snowed in. So here are some movies to see and movies to avoid during your time off.

The Dog Problem: I just finished watching this film written, directed, and acted in by underappreciated Scott Caan. Starring Giovani Ribisi, the film follows a depressed writer as he tries to feel better about life and make some money in the process so he can pay off his debts. Don Cheadle, his therapist, suggests he get a pet, and the dog is the answer. I didn't have too high hopes, but the writing, acting, and lightness of the piece, along with the good pacing and brevity of storytelling (coming in just under 90 minutes), made this film an easy-going enjoyable film to watch. I'm actually interested to see what Scott Caan has for us next and Giovani Ribisi is always terrific.

Transformers: Honestly, wtf? I was not one of the people excited for the movie when it came out. I didn't see it in theaters, but I heard good things from friends. Plus, I'm a fan of Shia The Beef, and hey, I played with the toys as kids, so why not? One of my older friends who never played with the toys or watched the show/animated movies saw it and said he knew right away that he had gotten in over his head. He wanted to walk out after the first ten minutes, but then everybody around him would know he was the idiot who expected something more out of Transformers the movie. "It was bad man-- there's this part where they uncover an alien language, right? Like, nothing we've ever seen before. And the kid's like, 'It's some kind of alien code...I'm gonna hack it!' Oh man. It was bad, but as my friend told me, 'Dude, it was a movie based on a tv show based on a toy that you didn't play with. What did you expect,' and that's true." So I didn't go into the DVD (on a bigass tv mind you) with high hopes. I was stil baffled. Transformers had some genuinely purposefully hilarious and entertaining moments, but it also had some of the absolute lowest, worst jokes ever, unintentional comedy, boring action, absurd plot, illogical cuts, characters, and dialogue I've ever seen and heard. It really felt like the writers had no idea what they were writing-- they couldn't decide between an action movie, a self-deprecating comedy, a satire, a British comedy, or who knows what else. What I think probably happened was that somebody wrote the initial script as an action movie with some of the main phrases like, "More than meets the eye," but lacking comedy. Then, the producers probably said it needed to be funnier, and paid some other writers to come in and punch it up. That's the only way to explain the random comedy riffs that come out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. There's no real way to explain the extended 5-10 minute comedy sequences like when the Autobots are sneaking around Shia The Beef's house or when the transformer Jazz drops a, "What's up bitches?" to the assembled group. The acting was all over the place, especially the romantic interest, who changes personas by the minute, at first appearing dumb and boring, then suddenly she's a comedian, then suddenly she's in love with a guy who barely knows's car. Baffling. To his credit, Shia LeBouf does a great job and pulls off both the action and especially the comedy. I also think it's unfair to say, "who cares" about the acting and assume it's going to be bad, just because the movie is Transformers. John Turturro makes a guest appearance and does a good job, and a few other actors pull their weight. It was the writing and directing (Michael Bay has a lot of explaining to do...and for Michael Bay, that says something) that made it so shockingly bizarre. I can't say it's not worth seeing, I just wouldn't have any expectations at all when you see it.

Tin Man: The miniseries based on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz just finished airing on the Sci-Fi channel a couple nights ago. It's a three part series 2 hours a piece and it's re-airing this weekend, so check your listings. Starring Zooey Deschanel, Alan Cumming, Kathleen Robertson, and Neil McDonough, the series is a re-imagination of the story rather than an adaptation. It takes the framework that Wizard of Oz laid out and plays with it, changing character backgrounds, goals, story, and result. It is supposed to take place in the same universe as the original, but not at the same time. I have to say that while I was never very invested in the plot or the characters, it was interesting to see the ideas and twists. Zooey Deschanel made me loath her as an actress, reminding me more and more that she only has two acting moods-- sullen and morose. "Happy" for her is more of an "Un-Morose" than it is truly joyful. If it wasn't for her deadpan delivery and huge blue eyes and great singing voice, I'm pretty sure she'd be working at a Walmart right now. Alan Cumming on the other hand, surprised me and played a character outside his norm for a change. Most noticeably, he uses a deep voice instead of the thin, higher pitched voice he usually projects. His acting was also interesting and very nuanced which is to say, "just see it and figure it out, I can't really explain how he acted." You won't be blown away by the series I don't think, but you will find it interesting and clever.

Lost on DVD: In preparation for the new season of Lost, I would suggest watching the first two seasons on DVD...then it gets terrible. You're gonna have to wade through those next bits until it gets decent again and then you'll be ready for this season. I suggest baking, cleaning, or sorting change while watching the rough patches.

House on DVD: Fantastic. Season four appears to be over, possibly on account of the writer's strike, so catchup on the first three, checkout season four reruns and online at and you'll be all set when season five rolls around.

The West Wing: I think that the West Wing Christmas episodes get more emotion out of me than actually celebrating Christmas. They are quality television and I suggest getting the DVD's from your local library and watching a few episodes to help you celebrate life.


All I Want For Holidays Is Rock Band...But I Also Need A Gaming Console...And a Big TV...And A Friend Who Can Sing Like Professionals...,

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Witz Pickz: Channukah Time

Sorry for the last couple days of no pickz. It's been a rough couple of days with job stuff, but I'm back in the saddle bringin' some truths. Tonight is the first night of (C)hannukah according to my Dad and The Wikipedia. The two rarely agree on things, and it seems a bit early for it to be time to light the Menorah, but I'll take it at face value and assume that we're moving the holiday up this year to either cash in on the post-Thanksgiving turkey sales or pre-empt a little Christmas spirit and programming.

Here's one thing I need to say-- despite what spokesmen such as Adam Sandler or John Stewart might say, we are not all jealous of Christmas's ecoutrements. YES, Christmas is freakin' sweet and easily trumps eight days of awkward candle staring, BUT I for one, am not jealous of Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or the movie Elf. There is an assumption made by non-Jews that simply because there are Christmas songs, Jews with there were Channukah songs. Not the case. Christmas songs are enjoyable once or twice, but the constant onslaught in the supermarket, bookstores, clothing stores, the mall, can drive a person insane. I don't need a Channukah Song, I don't need, "Eight Lights a Glowing" or Torah! Torah! Torah! or "The Littlest Menorah" or "Oops, We Lit It Again" and I certainly don't need movies like Eight Crazy Nights to get me in the holiday spirit. Because there's no need to get in the holiday spirit. Oil lasted longer than it ought to have-- we light candles and think about it, do you know how much prep that takes? About three seconds with a match. (In my household there should be a spinoff holiday where we celebrate the fact that, "We stared at those candles, faking contemplation waaay longer than we thought we were able to!") Channukah is a mellow holiday-- chill back, chant some prayers, be happy, share some gifts, and spin a dreidel for some M&M's. That's all it is. And it can be great, and festive and fantastic, but we don't need Hallmark songs to accompany it.

Despite how it might have just sounded, I like Channukah. I like the attitude of it, the one gift per night and that's that stylings. I like the way that it's easy to switch into holiday mode and out of holiday mode in order to light the candles, be with friends, and go on with life. There's no gigantic buildup, no huge release. It improves life for a week and makes us take the time to contemplate the past, even if we don't do so with rigid attentiveness. I like that it's active (candle lighting) even without having to go to church, in the same way decorating and lighting a Christmas tree is. It feels personal without being forced or melodramatic and while I am happy that I was brought up in a mixed household where I also experienced the extreme awesomeness of Christmas (because I do believe that every child wants to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Morning), I am glad that I had Channukah. Long after the presents stopped coming, I am able to enjoy the holiday, and I don't need Adam Sandler or Jon Lovitz for that. Still, here's a Hannukah song I wrote, set to the tune of Twelve Days Of Christmas.

"On the first night of Hannukah my family gave to me...
One sock!
On the second night of Hannukah my family gave to me...
Another sock!
On the third night of Hannukah my family gave to me...
The rest of the package of socks!
On the fourth night of Hannukah-- I went to my friend's house...
And my parents weren't particularly bothered by it!
On the fifth night of Hannukah, my family gave to me...
The same book they gave my sister on night two...awkward...
On the sixth night of Hannukah we all forgot to light the lights...
Shit, dammit, Witz Sr. what kind of Jew are you anyway, Jesus Christ....
On the seventh night of Hannukah we kind of went through the motions...
Partially because of the night six thing, but also because we had other things going on!
On the eighth night of Hannukah, my family gave to me...
Something that I actually liked!
Going through the motions,
Shit, we forgot Hannukah,
Why couldn't we have just shared,
I played games at Zak's house,
socks still in the package,
a sock to go with the other
AND A SOCK! (big finale)"

Happy Channukah,

P.S. "Tribe" hummus is also good, but entirely unrelated and I am happy about Hebrew Beer.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Witz Pickz: Quick Pickz

Busy busy day today. Here are some pickz that aren't funny, but will help you get through a snowstorm in a cabin, and isn't that equally important?

Feeding the Monster by Seth Mnookin: I just finished reading this book about the John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner, Theo Epstein era Red Sox, and was very impressed by it. Ordinarily, I don't find myself reading any sports books or books about sports, even by reporters, but this book came highly recommended from my friend over at The Hot Corner, so I gave it a whirl. Quick reading and insightful journalism were the keys to the book being a success, and I don't think you need to be interested in baseball and the Red Sox so much as business, sports psychology, or mathematics to enjoy it. Plus, you get to hear all the crazy stuff Sox players said and did, such as Big Papi saying bye to the press everyday by saying, "Now go home and get some ass!" or Kevin Youkilis responding to being called The Greek God of Walks by saying, "It's better than being called 'The Greek God of Illegitimate Children'," or when being interviewed for SI for Kids, Pedro Martinez saying this:

SI: Favorite color?
Pedro: Green.
SI: Faovrite book?
Pedro: Whatever.
SI: Favorite Actress?
Pedro: Sandra Bullock.
SI: Secret Ambition?
Pedro: I would like to fuck Sandra Bullock.
(SI explains that's not acceptable response for a children's magazine)
Pedro: I would like to sleep with Sandra Bullock.

That's awesome, right? Read the book.

Songs For Moms: I just discovered this female trio yesterday and am already a big fan. Local to the Bay Area, these three create one upbeat, energetic, indie-folk-rock-bluegrassy song after another, and they're all ridiculously catchy. Check em out at


Converse All-Star: But not the ones you're thinking of. The ones you're thinking of are from back in the day and with my flat feet make me look like I'm wearing clown shoes. THESE Converse All Stars are the new model, or at least one of them. A regular shoe with regular materials and a pseudo-suede feel to the exterior, they have a sewn on star patch that makes them look throwback, but still feel new and cool. I'm totally diggin' the brown ones I bought and they are quickly approaching "Top Buys Ever" status, as they were only forty bucks and are exactly what I need. Other "Top Buys Ever" of mine include my 30 dollar blue jacket from Bob's, MVP Baseball 2004 for xbox (I don't imagine too many other people are on year 2010 having played every game of all those seasons), and the brown blazer I got for 40 bucks from J.Crew and wear at least 1/3 of the year. "Buys That Went (Not-So Shockingly) Wrong" include my 60 dollar cowboy hat (which I've worn about 15 times in the four years I've owned it), The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen for 20 bucks (I haven't even touched it to read), and my acoustic guitar ($250) that I said I was going to learn to play and have in the last four years only fought out 2 or 3 songs made up entirely of power chords. The only one I regret is the book.

2006 Chateau de Brandey Bordeux: I got this wine for 15 bucks at Beverages & More during a sale where you get another bottle for 5 cents. So I got it for $7.50 essentially and it was great. I think it was ranked at 90 pts or more, and had all kinds of interesting flavors and the slight sharp edge that apparently I've come to learn I like. If you need a good wine and want to spend a few bucks on it, try this one.

MLB Bloopers: I couldn't believe it when I read the Netflix thing and saw that this DVD was 90 MINUTES LONG! How is that even possible?? Turns out it was only 60 minutes long, and they blatantly lied. But it was still slightly enjoyable. People falling down, bad base-running, behind the scenes interviews and pranks were enjoyable because you got to see players' personalities (Tim Hudson is awesome), Harry Caray impressions, and COOL HANDSHAKES. I mostly enjoyed the cool handshakes. My biggest complaint was that effing Chris Kattan was the narrator and kept talking over the clips and ruining the ability to hear the players joking around. And ohhhh boy, you're gonna be stoked to see how many Grounds Crew bloopers there are....

I also realized that by renting MLB Bloopers from Netflix, I was potentially raising a suicide watch on myself. After all, what are the last stages before suicide besides being unhappy about job situation, financially concerned, having watched the "Faith Rewarded" Red Sox 2004 World Series DVD the night before until 3am, and having MLB Bloopers sent to your house by Netflix? They probably thought they were one day away from someone finding me dead on the couch, wrists slit, Safeway Brand Cookies in my lap, and MLB Bloopers on the goddamn tv.

Suddenly Inundated With Job Offers...I Mean Inebriated With Wine Boxes,

Radio Show Tonight From Midnight-3am on KZSU live and on webcast. (podcast tomorrow)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Society Tellin' Me What's What

Despite what last post might have implied, I am an adult-- at least legally if not actively. I've been around for a bit and I have picked up some of the cultural knowledge and baggage that is all around us. I know not to pick my nose, not to yell "bomb" on a plane (or "boom" or leBRON!" or "QUALM!" and I'm even wary of saying "lip balm" when declaring my Carmex lip gloss in its 3 oz ziplocked bag), and I know how to board busses, hail a cab, and speed up at stop lights (right?). SO it really bothers me when society starts tellin' me what's what when I'm very capable of making a decision for myself.

I first noticed the trend at a baseball game. After going to plenty of games at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium, and watching thousands of games on television, I know when things are good and when things are bad, and I know when to clap accordingly. While driving cross-country and visiting other ballparks, I noticed a horrifying trend-- The giant electronic boards and banners TELLING me when to make NOISE. And when to CLAP and when to say, "LET'S GO (INSERT HOME TEAM NAME HERE)." Whoah whoah whoah. No giant scoreboard is going to tell me when to do things during a game. I think we are all capable of knowing when to make noise and when not to make noise (almost never during a sporting event), and maybe I'm gonna go ahead and decide when I feel it's appropriate. If there are two outs in an inning and your pitcher needs to get this last guy out, everybody better already be standing and clapping. Same goes for when you need a big hit. If it's 6-0 the away team, and it's the fifth, and I'm a Florida Marlins fan...maybe I'm not feeling like making any noise, regardless of what the scoreboard would like me to do. I'd much prefer to use a Lite Brite of my own to give them the message, "Higher Bankroll!"

Now there's a good chance this practice got started in hockey. The jumbo-tron is there, the game is fast paced and energy-ridden, and let's face it, hockey is not the most beloved sport in our nation. It's not crazy that somebody at a hockey game for the first time would say, "Wait, should I be getting excited now?" I mean, goals and fights are times to cheer. But you maybe don't know to cheer when somebody gets checked hard 30 feet from the puck. And maybe you don't know to start getting excited on a 2 v 1 offensive break. It's tough to get excited for faceoffs and icing, but these things happen. So fine, I'll give it to hockey, but that's it. I'm entirely ready to make life decisions regarding the words and noises coming out of my mouth, and any respectable home fan base should be able to start chants and cheers and excitement all on their own. I'm blaming girls on this one.

Last night I encountered another example of society tellin' me what's what that blew my mind. I bought a package of Safeway Brand Chocolate Chip Cookies aka Treasure Chips because clearly I enjoy the middle path like Buddhism preaches (meaning that I wanted cookies, but wasn't willing to pay a lot or have actually good tasting cookies). I am eating a couple of them and glance at the package. Wanna know what it tells me? "Great with milk!"............I was astounded. "'Great with milk?' Yeah, I know they're great with milk-- they're FUCKING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!" I can't even remotely imagine a situation where somebody is eating generic brand cookies as their first cookie, with no sociocultural experience at all, reads the label is like, "Hey, that's an interesting idea, I think I'll try that!" It's just not gonna happen. It's insane to think that the helpful hint label is useful to ANYONE. Maybe if you have a smart resourceful baby, who stumbles upon these cookies at eight months, somehow squeezes open its eyes to then read the label, and then uses its resourcefulness (see, you were wondering where that came in) to acquire some milk to test out the theory-- then and only then might it make sense to have on there.

Does this mean Safeway puts this type of thing on other products? Does their turkey say, "Excellent with bread!" or their pasta say, "Try with sauce!" or their condoms say, "Great for sex!" I'm gonna give you a minute to mull over and possibly google the possibility that Safeway sells generic condoms. Done? Great. I have to assume that the ad people were under great pressure to ad a very small addition to the cookie packaging. Maybe their boss is a crazy person, or maybe he wanted this round of Treasure Chips to be the "Goddamn best round ever!" To be fair, there wasn't much else to say. They can't really say, "For fatties!" or "Eat them like crackers!" or "Like a sex appeal vaccuum!" so in context, "Great with milk!" probably seemed like a fair play. I just don't need my cookies telling me something I learned when I was three. And I don't need my sports telling me when to clap. And I don't need my car telling me when its out of gas. I'll know-- it's when the car stops moving. The little yellow light isn't going to allow me to afford $3.65 a gallon any easier.

Pshh-- What A Complainer,

Peep the podcast from this week's radio show if you haven't and be sure to checkout Couples Therapy the short web-show I write for. New episode should be up tonight or tomorrow (but usually every Tuesday).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Witz Pickz: Hitting Bottom

Let me first say that while I am a hairy guy, I am not THAT hairy a guy-- which is to say, I am not as hairy a guy as you might expect if my crazy curly hair, darkened legs, and facial hair are any indicator. I don't yet have the "Sweater" although I'm pretty sure there is an epic genetic war going on in that department to determine my future. I have had two separate hairdressers say, "Oh, you don't need me to shave your neck-- most guys with me to shave their neck." What I have on my back are sporadic, but symmetrical patches of hair that can best be described as "Wings." They are right where you would expect wings to start growing, and they are primarily conical in shape. To be clear, I don't THINK I have wings, I am simply telling you what these patches look like. And then, of course, there's the slight glazing of rebel hair, awaiting their moment to find a weakness and strike-- to become the dominant hair group.

SO, now that you have a slightly better knowledge of my furrial lanscape, lemme tell you how I hit rock bottom. Because of the sporadical nature of the wings, it's a pretty easy process to shave the hair off when I feel like it. So yesterday, grabbing my electric razor, I jumped into the shower without turning the water on, popped open the medicine cabinet so I could see in the mirror, and went to work. I mean, sure, some of the most uncomfortable arm angles known to man were involved, and yes, it is extremely difficult to manuever a razor on your back IN A MIRROR with your arm TWISTING AROUND (have you ever played that game where you twist your wrists around, interlock your fingers, flip your arms up and have someone pick a finger you are supposed to try moving, but your brain can't quite figure out which moves which? It's like that), but I pulled it off. It's not something I would attempt to do smoothly in public to impress anybody, and people would probably think I had MS or cerebral palsey, but in the privacy (pronounce that priv-a-see just this once and see how it feels-- creepy, right?) of my own home (and apparently in text for all to see), I felt comfortable.

I get distracted by email or lunch or something else after doing this, so instead of taking a shower, I leave the bathroom for about forty-five minutes. No big deal.

Here's something else you should know about me if you don't already: I'm terrified of spiders. I don't like em. I don't like their look, I don't like their Poisonous/Not Poisonous randomness, and I don't like their schtick-- the web-making, the waiting, the pouncing, the saving their food for later while they lie stunned. I don't like that they can swing, stick upside-down, drop, repel, and sometimes jump. I don't like that they have fangs, venom, and sometimes fur. I am wary and freaked out by the little ones just as much as I am by the big ones, but the big ones are absolutely terrifying. Except, I would rather have that "Attack of the GIANT Spider" than an "Attack of a Regular, but Poisonous Spider," any day, because the giant ones would not really have the properties I fear the most. Stealth. I don't like how they scuttle. I don't like that they could be in my bed without me knowing, I don't like that they might bite me while I sleep, and I didn't like the movie Arachnophobia except for the part where John Goodman goes crazy with the blow torch. I don't like how they may or may not have laid eggs in Taco Bell tacos (just the fact that the rumor exists says something...for both spiders and Taco Bell). I disapprove of their moral compass and their innate judgement. So I don't like spiders.

Getting back to the bathroom, it's time for a shower. I futz around with the mirror and my scruff for a minute lackadaisically, strip down, turn on the water and hop in. Get ready for it. Suddenly, a large brown mass floats past my vision as I get into the shower. It is large, and brown, and dangerously close. So I SCREAM. Not like a little girl, but like a Man, fearing for his life, and shocked out of his wits(z). I SCREAM and I hop out of the shower, tripping over myself, grasping for a towel and something to strike with at the same time (note: I don't like how spiders could be hiding in my towel). I step back towards the shower and that's when I see it-- a clump of hair. Yes, people, I screamed in terror as a clump of MY OWN BACK HAIR that I SHAVED OFF attacked me. And that's when I knew I'd hit bottom. When your own excessive body hair comes back to scare you, you have to start re-examining your life.

Now, I'm not a physics man, but I think I can tell you what happened. The water pressure is strong in my shower, and since I aimed the nozzle at the wall as I entered, the draft created along with the curtain being open, led to a breeze that blew the clump from the curtain where it had clung earlier towards the wall, forcing it past my vision. The surprise, in conjunction with the delay between shave and shower, in conjunction with everything I'd been hearing about California having spiders, in conjunction with recent comments from adult figures regarding spiders, made me believe this brown object was a spider. I would say that if I thought about it, I believed it was a Brown Recluse Spider-- theoretically the worst brown RECLUSE spider ever. There's no hiding in the shower.

Regardless of reason or explanation, there's no turning back from the shame that I now have from the event. In telling this story, I hope to at least admit that I have a problem, and hope that someday I can move on. If there is any truth in Fight Club, it is that you have to hit bottom before you can start rebuilding, and yesterday, I did just that. Of course, I can't help thinking that this is now the best possible time for a spider to strike in the shower. It's like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, only far more scary, because I'd notice a wolf in the shower and you'd probably see some evidence. So if you find me dead in the shower with swelling on my body, don't assume that I had a panic attack-- that's just what the spiders want you to think.

Step By Step, Day By Day, Fresh Start Over...Something Somethng Something Something,

Witz Pickz: The Picking War

On this, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, in the year two-thousand and seven, a new enemy has emerged from the shadows and stands tall and cockily against the disorganized backdrop of the Picking Landscape: The Malou Review.

With Andy Rooney in my rearview, and fueled by turkey and sweet potatoes, it is time for me to charge headlong up the scale of life (a metaphor that alllllmost works) and set my sights on the Malou Review. Let's take a quick peek at the Scale O' Life to find out where we're at:

Scale O' Life (Fragile: Do Not Tip or Drop):

1) John Henry/Tom Werner/Larry Lucchino/Theo Epstein (Momentarily)
2) George Clooney (Yeah, I saw Ocean's Thirteen)
3) Oprah Winfrey
4) Jerry Seinfeld
5) Bill Clinton (with a slight boost from Hillary)
2,304,001) Sandra Oh (a downgrade-- get a better tv show or get a plotline-- oops no writers)
4,112,345,326) LonelyGirl15
4,304,059,673) Andy Milonakis
5,000,108,423) Malou Nubla (of the Malou Review)
5,001,118,322) Witz Pickz
5,908,345,347) Andy Rooney

HEY HEY! Looks like Witz moved up a few mill. Nice. But there's that Malou Nubla character just a million and a handful ahead, taunting me with her professionalism and spot in the public eye. It's time to take a look at this Malou who is partial to the Review.

I first saw Malou Nubla on Thanksgiving while relaxing and working on a heart attack of a plate of food. The two are very important in tandem. So you can imagine my odds of cardiac arrest when all of a sudden on my television, I see a promo for a woman being described as making judgements of quality of everyday items. From restaurants to pies, to vacation spots to wines. She's based on FOX 2 in San Francisco and has her OWN SHOW on Sunday nights at 6pm (see how I'm not scared to give you the details? I don't fear Malou, even bearing consanance). At first, I wasn't all that worried, I thought, ok, this is fairly normal for local channels, and My Friend With A Pool joked that she "pickz" stuff too. Which was find up until I saw the name. THE MALOU REVIEW. RHYMING. CONSONANCE RIDDEN! And it has an even goofier, freewheelin' edge to it (the Ma-LOO part makes it funnier) that I can never achieve. Slight panic. I checked her site and she has only FOUR episodes available labeled episodes 1-4. This is good news. Malou is New and might not survive. Only I have to cringe when I hear her slogan at the top of the show:

"I'm Malou Nubla, and I'll review just about ANYTHING."

EFF. THAT'S MY THIIIIIIIIIING! Why couldn't she say like, "I'm Malou Nubla and I'll review everything except for robot clock radios!" or "I'm Malou Nubla, and I'll review everything you don't want to hear about and not make it funny or intriguing!" And the fact that she's a fairly attractive woman makes it even worse. Here I am, stuck behind HTML while Malou can throw on all sorts of cleavage revealing dresses and talk about NBA players' hair cuts. This could be a brutal war, but I'll do my part to win it. Oh no, and as a woman, I bet she can review things I won't ever review; like tampons, or the Subaru Forrester, or Man Ass! Oh God, she's gonna review Man Ass! How am I gonna--

WOOOOOT! Right? Am I right?? You know what I'm talkin' 'bout ladies. Holla for the tightness! Ain't nothin' better than watchin' a six foot eight latin man walking down the street after working out at the gym and watching that buh-buh buh-buh buh-buh of his beating like a Native American drum signalling it's time to migrate to the south and make some babies (or is that birds...)! Butts us women like to make food eating references off of, like, "I'd eat a turkey dinner off of THAT ass (insanitary and afterwards I'd get tired and fall asleep)!" And not WOMEN ASS neither-- MAN ASS. I'd like to take that song My Girl and change all the choruses to "Talkin' bout MAN ASSSS-- man ass!" thats how legitimately and honestly I am in a position to pick it. Just like Malou who I am better than. ........MAN ASS! And also, Go tampons...with the, uh, pads, and...uh...wings?
WHATTYA THINK OF THAT MALOU!? I can do anything Malou can do better-- I can do anything better than Malou. The war is on, I'm comin' for her, and while she might not be aware enough to do anything about it, she'll feel my presence from afar as a tingle on her neck, like the sense of danger a deer feels when being hunted by a crocodile, just before the crocodile pounces. And she'll itch her neck, and try and giggle and not smudge her make up as the camera's about to roll, but deep down inside, she'll know, like a night hawk being well aware that there's probably a day hawk. I am...both hawks...and Malou is...the deer. Witz Pickz: Victory.

I'll Just Sit Back and Wait For This To Be Taken Out of Context,

P.S. Look at her ishy blog! Witz Pickz is a dominant force. "Consider Malou's endorsement a stamp of approval," it says. Phff, gimme a break. You can't TELL the people, you gotta SHOW the people.

P.P.S. She does seem nice though...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Witz Pickz: "Chocolate"

Chocolate. "Chocolate." Chocolate what? Cho-- co-- late. Eff. Why was the whitest middle aged man on the bus wearing a shirt that simply had the word "Chocolate" across the back, like on a jersey? I drove by, I glanced at the bus, and there it was. There he was. "Chocolate" just like that. So ok, let's say he plays a sport. Softball maybe-- perhaps soccer if he's kept his heart fit and found an older league. So ok, he needs the jersey. And he's wearing it on the bus, so maybe he's going TO a game, I mean, it's 4pm, that's possible. Or maybe he's done using it as a jersey and needs it as a SHIRT shirt, so it's from when he was a little younger. Fine. But still, WHY CHOCOLATE??

If he was black I'd understand. I wouldn't be able to SAY that I understood because then I'd get my ass beat, but I know the drill, I've seen Scrubs, and maybe this black guy goes affectionately by "Chocolate" when around his sports buddies. But the guy's not black. He's white and he's fifty-ish. Which brings up three options:

1) He shops at the Goodwill, but not very thoroughly. Totally possible. Finds a nice t-shirt that fits him, he's into sports, doesn't see the big deal or maybe doesn't even notice the name on the back. Not likely.

2) He has a friend named Chocolate and they traded jerseys. Possible, slightly more likely. Maybe his buddy couldn't play anymore and so he passed off the shirt. Maybe they traded jerseys and some black guy is walking around with a "Vanilla" shirt on somewhere, getting high fives and smiles. Which leads to our third option...

3) This is the coolest middle-aged man around. Is that possible? Is it possible that this guy is wearing the jersey knowingly and ironically? That he KNEW that being white and older would make wearing a "Chocolate" sports jersey ironic and amusing? I mean, what are the odds of me randomly seeing the Coolest Middle-Aged Man Around as I drove past him on the bus-- and in a position such that I was aware of his coolness? The odds have to be slim, right? But I mean, assuming that I wasn't LOOKING to find the Coolest Middle-Aged Man Around, the odds have to be better, I mean, because I wasn't WAITING for it to happen. So I just as easily could have seen the Most Slovenly Middle-Aged Man Around or the Shortest Shelf Stocker At the Grocer's. What I mean is that since I wasn't seeking anyone in particular, finding someone who is exceptional isn't all that crazy. If I was looking for Burt Reynolds and FOUND Burt Reynolds, well that'd be a whole lot crazier. Shit, it'd be practically insane of me to be looking for Burt Reynolds in the first place.

So what now, Chocolate? We never meet again? The mystery doesn't get solved? Is that really how the world is gonna work? Probably. I mean, it'd be shocking to run into the guy again, especially in the same shirt. The best I can do is put this out there, maybe place an ad in Craigslist's Missed Connections and see what comes of it.

"Missed Connection: I wore a track jacket and you wore a Chocolate jersey tee. You're glazed with age and I'm youthful with a little facial hair. I drove past you while you were on the bus and part of me thinks Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us" was playing on the radio, while another part of me knows that it was really a commercial for Trader Joe's. Perhaps we can meet in the "Cereals Nobody Wants to Eat Ever" aisle. I'll wear green, to blend in, and you-- well-- you'll be wearing your "Chocolate" jersey tee, and a smile that says, 'Hey, let's give this thing a chance.'"

I Am Way Too Old To Have My Real Last Name On the Back of a Real Professional Sports Team Jersey (and You Probably Are Too),

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Mist

It got foggy last night, and I wondered briefly if I should close more than just the screen door. You know, because it was the type of fog that is famous from such movies as The Fog-- so I didn't know if something was coming IN the fog. Ultimately, I left the door open and slept comfortably, but that's not the point. I have HAD IT with these absurd horror movies involving nature. Ok, Volcano, there's a volcano under the city-- whoops, we missed it. Deep Impact, fair enough, meteors. The Cave-- fine, maybe we shouldn't spelunk. The Dark is bearable because it's people ARE scared of the dark, all the water movies make sense because what's under there? SHARKS, for starters! But then there came these last movies like The Fog. Fog is tough to see in, and if it's a movie about scary fog driving and tips such as "drive slower" or "make sure you're using your foglights" I would appreciate it. But I'm pretty sure it's not about that. And yet, I was still able to mildly abide it...and then I saw the newest. THE MIST.

When I saw the preview, I laughed out loud-- I couldn't and still can't believe that they would sink to having to make MIST scary. "BEWARE, hot and cold have merged and visibility has been....REDUCED!" You gotta be kidding me. There are really gonna be lines like, "My God, it's MISTING!" Couldn't they have been a little more specific with the title, if only to avoid sounding like idiots? How about, "What Comes In the Mist," or "Death Mist: Planet Terror"? Both viable options. I mean, The Mist?? Do you know what the difference is between FOG and MIST? Visibility. You see, it's called "fog" if visibility is 1 km or less. If visibility is hindered, but not that badly, the ancients (and meteorologists) call it...MIST....

So we're supposed to be afraid of limited visibility not quite as bad as fog. "Turn your mist-lights on." We're supposed to be afraid of something thats name is shared by a refreshing lemon-lime cola. And I understand that there are bugs in the mist...or locusts, or aliens, or something. And sure, that could be alright-- but again, that's not the focus of the title. ALSO, now that I think about it, from those previews, visibility appears to be limited more than it's not even mist! It IS fog! Unbelievable the liberties they're taking. Also from the previews, it appears that The Mist itself is actually "Horror Movie Racist." That is to say, the black dude dies first. And not just any black dude-- the black dude from Homicide: Life On the Streets. From what I can gather, he decides there's nothing in the-- "mist"-- and goes out on a leash to see, returning in blood spattered pieces. Freakin' RACIST mist. And ya know what I found out, that makes it all the worse, all of it? Stephen King wrote it. Talk about phoning it in. Stephen King might be the master of horror, and maybe he was hit by a car, and maybe people will love whatever he writes, but COME ON. PARTICLES OF WATER IN THE AIR? He must be living in a palace built of two dollar bills and laminated with gold resin. Wow, if that's the case, I bet his house smells like ass and bacteria. "The Ass Bacteria" by Stephen King.

What Was I Saying,

P.S. The podcast for Thurs radio show is actually up now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Witz Pickz: Job Interviews and Withholding Pickz

Job interviews trump pickz today. I'll leave you with this:

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Has been upgraded in my mind from my once disliking and distrusting of it to an absolutely freaking hilarious show. I'm sure you know this already, buy wow is the third season great. The cast is completely attuned to the rhythm of their dialogue and are hitting their lines perfectly, and the chemistry is stronger than it was in the first and second seasons. Danny DeVito is adding more depth and the general writing and plots are keeping up the hilarity. Great stuff-- checkout the first two seasons on DVD and the third currently airing on FX at 10pm on Thursdays (I think).

Friday Nights: Are great. Hangout and watch a movie, go out and party, cuddle up with a bottle of wine and read Witz Pickz, or whatever you want, because it's the weekend. You could even support Friday Night Lights if you feel so inclined. HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND.

Wish Me Luck (retroactively, as I probably won't read the comments AT the interview),

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Witz Pickz: Continuing the Toothpaste Discussion

Hopefully I'll give you more than just this today, but if not, let's just be happy for continuing learning, TV on DVD's, and white meat.

In response to yesterday's toothpaste post, I received a chat from....let's go with D From the SEA. D From the SEA said "They actually did package toothpaste in a stand-up pump dispenser at one point." Followed by, "I want to say Aquafresh was the industry leader in that particular packaging experiment." This is DOUBLY AWESOME!

First of all, the fact that this happened at all restores my faith in the human spirit, while at the same time crushing my human spirit, because my potentially good, creative idea is old news. But thank goodness this was attempted! Toothpaste is a pest-- we don't want to use it, we HAVE to use it. It's gloopy, sticky, and if it has baking soda in it (oh crap, I forgot about that yesterday-- which category does WITH BAKING SODA! fall under?? Is that better or worse than EXTRA GLIMMER SHEEN!), it's salty too. And now we know that it can't be manipulated to our every command-- but that's no reason to stop trying. The glory of the Human Mind is that we will always think of new ideas and new ways to fail. Sometimes we succeed, and when we do, we call that time "Thanksgiving." Our battles with Toothpaste are the epitome of our culture as humans, and as long as we keep trying new things, we cannot lose.

Second of all, OF COURSE Aquafresh was the company that attempted the pump. Aquafresh is the most creative name in toothpaste. It's not just the paste pump, but the Fresh Stripe, the Silver Rocket Tube, the low low prices...and although they haven't always been the best quality, they've certainly tried hard to be creative. The Witz Gal (meaning my girlfriend, not my sister-- so technically she's not the WITZ Gal, but more like Witz's Gal, but that's kinda possessive, no? But we're not married, and even if we were, she might not take the Witz name and all, so that's a big question mark, so really Witz shouldn't even be in that moniker, except it is now, so forget about it, you get the idea), describes Aquafresh as, "The LA Gear of toothpastes." I don't think anything could be more accurate, but the difference is that she means it as a negative thing, and all I can do is think back and remember wearing about 10 different pairs of black LA Gear high tops (LA Lights anyone???). Sure, their version of the pumps broke in about 5 minutes, and sure, they WERE cheap, and easily ruined, and ultimately disappointing, but they were also CREATIVE and that's what I remember. If I can get orange-striped toothpaste in a Silver Rocket Tube for A DOLLAR-- I'm sold.

Page France -- ...And the Family Telephone: is another great album in the line of recent albums using ellipses in the title. Say Anything...Is A Real Boy. Others I Can't...Think Of. It's also really good indie/country stuff. Lots of instruments, lots of styles, all thrown together for a really enjoyable sound.

Conversations With Other Women: I finally got around to seeing this last night and enjoyed it. It's shot entirely in split screen, but usually the two sync up and when they don't, one of the panels is used for good effect. Basically, a man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helena Bonham-Carter) meet at a wedding and a conversation/night ensues. You find out more about who these people are and what their relationship is to each other, and the story revolves around whether or not they will have sex. Interestingly, this is not really the biggest focal point, and it's not all that much of a mystery. What's interesting is the relationship and the conversation and how they both evolve. It is extremely well done, and I only got bored at a few moments when the conversation seemed a little over done and no plot had really unfolded in a while. It's only 85 minutes long, and the music is terrific. They used 3 songs by French singer Carla Bruni (who I totally Pick) and one song by Rilo Kiley ("Ripchord"), all of which leant a great deal of emotion and guidance to the film. Definitely worth checking out. It's not nearly as depressing as I thought it would be, even though it kinda is.

Don't Forget To Download The Podcast Tomorrow,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Witz Pickz: Toothpaste.

That's right-- toothpaste. And I'll tell ya why (what if one day I just DIDN'T tell you why-- I just said it was so)-- because they just don't give a damn.

For years, YEEEEARS, people have complained about the toothpaste tube and how it gets stuck at the bottom, and you have to roll it up, etc, etc. And have toothpaste manufacturers responded at all? NOPE! Toothpaste containers have not advanced AT ALL in the last fifty years (at least). No amount of complaints, jokes, or quips will make them budge. They know they have the market cornered, and as long as everyone sticks together, there won't be the need for any changes. But would it really be that difficult to fix? Couldn't toothpaste come in a pump like soap? Wouldn't that solve all problems? I'm gonna find out the next time I empty out a soap container. It might be incredibly difficult to get the toothpaste in there, and yeah, maybe it'll clog up the pump, but if it works, I'm gonna be rich. See how often I post THEN! I mean-- on to other things.

The other and more important reason I choose Toothpaste, is that they seem to have no oversight whatsoever. They slap on whatever the hell they want onto a package and get people to buy it for all kinds of reason. "WHITENING!" "CAVITY PROTECTION" "TARTAR CONTROL!" they boast. "EXTRA WHITE!" "SPARKLE SHINE!" "MINTY SPARKLE!". They all mean essentialy the same thing, "We're gonna clean your teeth now." But they find millions of ways to say it. "ADVANCED WHITENING" shouldn't exist at the same time as "WHITENING." Once the advancement of technology has been made, it's time to let the old stuff go. But everytime I go to buy toothpaste, I have to make the decision between "Advanced Whitening, Whitening, Extra Whitening, Sparkle Shine White" and on and on. Can we get a chart on the progression of "Advanced, Extra, Ultra, Super, Premium," when it comes to whitening and control? And then I see, "Tartar Control" glaring at me from down on the shelf, forgotten. Well, I still want tartar control right? I can't just let it run free. And I probably stick want Cavity Protection-- I mean, it IS toothpaste right? But then there are ones that say, "Advanced Whitening with Tartar Control." Doesn't the act of brushing teeth CONTROL TARTAR? Isn't that how it works? And if something is "With Tartar control" or "With Cavity Protection" does that mean the quality of the secondary promise is less than the initial promise of whitening? Grammatically, I fear it's subtleties and lack of clarification. But at the same time, I do respect it, because we don't know shit about shit when it comes to toothpaste, or teeth, or dentistry. When people come close to learning the secrets (aka becoming Dentists), the toothpaste people secretly kill them and make it look like suicides. THAT'S why dentists have the highest "suicide" rate. And you have to respect and Pick a product that has such commitment to itself.

Union Trade, The -- Now the Swell: Check these guys out on They are kinda like Explosions in the Sky and The Album Leaf with a little bit of southern accented vocals every now and then. Good stuff.

Advancedly White,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Witz Pickz: In the Land of Women, Polish Dinner, and The Accomodating Spirit of Caramel!

In the Land of Women:

Having recently worked in event planning and at a non-profit, I thought maybe In the Land of Women starring Adam Brody had to do with donor relations or perhaps a book group who read nothing but The Notebook over and over again. I will say these two things for the record: First, In the Land of Women was NOT about either of those things and secondly, while I didn't read The Notebook, I DID see the movie, and I LIKED IT. There. Ryan Gosling is the man, Rachel McAdams is perfect for the role, and Eric from Entourage is in it. What's not to like? Back to In the Land of Women. As I said, it stars Adam Brody, who plays a softcore porn screenwriter. The film starts with him breaking up with his girlfriend (shockingly not because of his job), and moving to live with his grandma to get away for a while. It's mildly unclear why he would move in with his crazy grandma as opposed to like, getting an apartment or living with his Mom, but whatever. The answer becomes obvious when he meets Meg Ryan and Kristen Stewart who live across the street. Meg Ryan is the mother, who he immediately clicks with, and Kristen Stewart is the seventeen-ish daughter. Now, this very easily could have made the movie terrible. If the film devolved into which one was he going to sleep with and be happy with, I would have hated it. The mother was married to a man who had an affair and the daughter is "bad, but not really and too cool for school...but probably gets good grades-- oh and she paints." So they are both viable love interests.

As I waited for the shoe to drop, however, I realized that I was 90 minutes into the movie and all of a sudden it was the credits, and all of a sudden I realized that it hadn't. That's when I realized that I not only liked the movie, I totally respected it and found it interesting. You see, Adam Brody's character is at an age right in between the two women. He is too young to honestly get into a relationship with Meg Ryan (who has not been in a movie I've seen in so long that it's possible to forget she's Meg Ryan and enjoy her acting), and is too old (logically AND especially legally) to start dating the jailbait daughter. He actually ends up developing relationships with both women, but while romance is just below the surface, it is friendship, shared knowledge, and life experience that bind them together. You aren't rooting for him to hookup with one of them (alright, maybe the daughter a little, I don't think she'd press charges), and you know you won't be disappointed if he doesn't. Instead, the film focuses on each person as a PERSON, not as a romantic possibility, and as people, they are able to help each other become better people. I definitely wasn't expecting such an interesting dynamic, but I was sure glad to finally get it. (one final note-- I was shocked to find out that the daughter who looks like a 21 year old playing a teenager, is, in fact, a teenager. I give credit to the film for that, but also, a) nobody looked like that in high school and b) oh dear god, I'm getting older-- like Adam Brody's character's the movie....crap)

Polish Dinner:

I hinted a few posts ago about a polish dinner I had recently at some friends' house. Well, now I have to tell you about it, because I found myself trying to recreate it last night. I don't know enough of the details, so I will stick to the two main hitters: pierogis and kielbasa. Pierogis are terrific-- they pack delectable filling into hearty pasta and always fill you up. We had two kinds-- Cheddar and Potato and Sauerkraut and Mushroom. The cheddar potato is the obvious kind, and was absolutely delicios. Who doesn't like cheese and potato? Perhaps the answer is The Nazis. Because we also had sauerkraut and mushroom pierogis. Now, while I have very little knowledge about German customs other than beer, unfortunate historical facts, and the Autobahn, I was under the impression that sauerkraut was German. Didn't we call them "the 'krauts" during the war? I watched Band of Brothers, and I'm pretty sure that's the case. So even if I'm mistaken, such as people calling french fries Freedom Fries even though they were Belgian, are Sauerkraut Pierogis really Occupation Era Pierogis? It seems logical. In fact, one of my hosts was half Polish and half German. Now, I'm not suggesting that she was an Occupation Era Baby, but the fact that the two cultures came together and had apparently similar cuisines, makes me think that I could be right. And what am I if not occasionally, shockingly correct?

Next, we had kielbasa. Two kinds again-- one pinker and lighter and the other browner. The difference was apparently NOT just because one was undercooked, but the type of kielbasa. I tried not to worry about the difference and ate both, and they were both tasty. But then again, I'm a sucker for intestinal tubed meats. Regardless, with a little garlicky mustardy sauce, they hit the spot. I tried to recreate the meal last night with some frozen pierogis (from a Polish Deli, mind you) and with some Hilshire Farms kielbasa (I was mostly into having the pierogis again), but it didn't live up to the first meal.

The Accomodating Spirit of Caramel:

I never really thought about caramel as so flexible and user-friendly until I had to clean off a big melty-hardened pot of caramel (which frankly is just awesome to have in the house). But as I was sitting there, watching the hot water liquify and erase the sticky mess from the pot, I realized how accomodating caramel is. It comes in solid form, sure, and that's tasty. But then, you can easily melt it down and make, say, caramel apples. It grips right to the apple and forms the perfect spherical treat (don't even talk to me about gobstoppers, jawbreakers, or sour balls). Then, it can be liquified and put on top of things like Chai, Coffee, or Frappuchinos. AND THAT'S DELICIOUS TOO! But ultimately, it knows its role and doesn't get cocky or arrogant. The time came when it had to go down the drain, and it abided. I thought I was in for a horrible long battle, but simply by letting the hot water fill the pot, it slowly liquified the caramel and washed it down the drain-- and the best part-- THE WHOLE APARTMENT SMELLED LIKE CARAMEL! That made it worth it, even if it took a little while. Plus, it allowed me to walk out into the hallway and declare loudly:

Who can take tomorrow,
Dip it in a dream?
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream,
The candyman? The Candyman can, the candyman can…
The candyman can 'cause he mixes it with loveand makes the world taste good…
And the world tastes good 'cause the candyman thinks it should…

Then, I was able to walk out onto the balcony and say, "I'm some sort of caramel chef WIZARD!" and make my neighbors question their assumptions about my lack of a daily job....or clothes....

Here's one more note: What the fuck is carmel? I've heard of caramel, and I've heard people say carmel. But I don't know what the difference is or if people are just awful. I mean, if someone heard my grandma talk, they'd ask what a "begel" was? Or an "idear?" When listening to a Jerry Remy broadcast, someone might question who "Hideki Okerjemer" is or "Dustin Pedroiaer". So is "carmel" just lazy speak for "caramel?" Are people walking around thinking they're eating "Carmello" bars? Do they think they're supporting the Denver Nuggets? Does anyone even eat Caramello bars anymore anywhere anyway? Did they ever??? At Halloween I found out that little kids STILL EAT MILK DUDS! Who knew? Anyway, please someone let me know, because I can't imagine I'll ever take the 30 seconds to look it up on google/wikipedia/jdate.

The Day After Veteran's Day Is Always Such A Let Down,

Monday, November 12, 2007

Witz Pickz: Veterans's's's Day

I know you're thinking "Witz doesn't post on holidays and he certainly won't post on Veteran's Day" and I want you to know that you're assumption is absolutely correct most of the time. Today, however, I have the time and, apparently, some people DON'T get today off from work (most people? I don't know-- if the Federal Govt Employees get the day off, why shouldn't everyone else?). I think it's totally ridiculous. What if I need to mail something for my job-- that ain't happening. What if I need to have a Congressional Bill debated? Not on THIS DAY. I'm guessing banks are closed, since banks are the veritable kid in the back of the class when it comes to businesses. They have the capacity for brilliance and limitless potential, but are ultimately lazy and no one ever told them they needed to work just as hard as everyone else to get what they want. Maybe they are able to skate by on their natural talent, never truly extending themselves to make better. Fuck it-- I'm not "coming to class" on Sundays. I'm not "Going to class after 3pm on weekdays and noon on saturdays." No two are the same, but they all suffer from the same inability to establish structure that they so desperately need. So what's the point in working on a holiday when you probably can't do most of your work?

Also, FYI, it's Veteran's Day-- meaning what if YOU YOURSELF ARE A VETERAN!? Do you have to work? Is it like if for my birthday someone said, "Happy Birthday, wash my car?" Veteran's shouldn't have to work on their day, even if you do give them cupcakes so they maybe want to be there like how people with summer birthdays got screwed out of celebrating at school. Oh yeah, I'm really pumped about the "Everyone with Summer Birthdays Party." That's a freaking fun-festival for my individuality.

And aren't there parades on Veteran's Day? I remember there being some or at least I remember a lot of parades with old guys in army uniforms walking slowly down a street. Maybe I just lived in a heavily aged military community with a strong sense of healthy exercise and disdain for fossil fuels (which would be ironic). If there ARE parades and people DO have to work on Veteran's Day...does that mean there are loads of veterans walking around proudly with NOBODY watching them? I bet a lot of bugle players shed tears over that. A parade with nobody watching is just a long walk of shame, as if everyone passed out after a night of bad decisions when the wars ended and now they have to walk back home to change. Yeesh.

And what's with Veteran's Day anyway? I mean, I'm 100% behind celebrating our veterans, but how come it's called Veteran's Day and it's only for our armed forces? What about people who have been working ANY job for over like, 30 years? Shit, shouldn't all old people be given a parade for working for so long. I mean, they might not have contributed ANYTHING useful to ANYONE, but I've been out of school for only a few years, and I already can't imagine having to work for the next 30-40 years. AND I'M NOT EVEN WORKING NOW! So hey, let's expand the franchise-- let's have a day where everybody gets the day off and we celebrate old people working for a long time, except the all Federal jobs HAVE to work, banks HAVE to be open for everyone who has the day off to actually cash checks and talk about IRA's and CD's, and Congress is available for me to lobby the hell out of them. I mean, granted, half the old people will have NO IDEA what's happening, and most will probably call all of us younger folks "Lazy" for taking the day off, but hey, that'll be a part of it. Like the Groundhog coming out of his hole or fireworks on the Fourth of July. Old people grumpifying. Way more diverse than fireworks.

Consider Yourself Posted,