Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Witz Pickz: Eddie Vedder, Hating Kids, Noteworthy Books, and MORE!

Happy Halloween-- as a spooky super secret surprise...I didn't post until 9pm! Do I know how to celebrate an outdated holiday or what!?

Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild Soundtrack: I've just about had it with all these solo albums from rockers. Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music does a great solo album with a pseudo folk feel to it. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine has a decent Americana Folk album out as The Nightwatchman. Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin has a new solo album out. All of them are solo albums that are at least somewhat different from their full band's endeavors, so I accept them. But nothing annoys me more in music than when a frontman goes solo in order to produce an album EXACTLY like the band they usually play with. Tom Delange of Blink 182 went off to make Angels & Airwaves and Boxcar Racer in order to write songs identical to the more emo tracks by Blink 182. Just a few weeks ago, Serj Tankian put out an album that sounds exactly like System of a Down. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie has written inumerable songs that sound exactly like Death Cab tracks. And most recently, Eddie Vedder has put out the soundtrack to Into the Wild, writing songs that would be very accessible in a Pearl Jam collection. So what gives? Why do these people keep shirking their bandmates to create songs that their band could totally play. I can understand if it's an acoustic, solo thing-- but most of these guys have full bands backing them. I guess primarily, it's the fact that the frontmen already have such distinctive and unique voices, that no matter who plays behind them it's going to sound like themselves. When Chris Cornell and Rage Against the Machine teamed up, Audioslave sounded like a variation on a Soundgarden album. If Michael Stipe sings with anyone else, it's going to sound like R.E.M. Bands that have changed their sound over the years aren't able to escape their former bands by making new ones, because no matter what they do (unless they create a LUTE ALBUM like Sting), their creation would have been acceptable to the old fans. I feel like the old bandmates MUST either hate the front guy who does his own thing, or HATE the music that they are going to be making. Otherwise, why would they split up for the new gig?

Regardless, Eddie Vedder's new solo album is incredibly good. It clocks in at just over 30 minutes, which is a bit weak, but each song flows perfectly into the next, creating the feeling of one long song, blending and merging, with various movements and moods. There are one or two obvious "hits" that are being played on the radio, but when put in the context of the full album, these songs are even better. "Hard Sun" is one of the longest and best songs on the album, and it's one of those songs where you KNOW Vedder hit on a rhythm and lyric that he liked and realized he could sing it over and over again while only making it better. I don't know if it's worth 10-15 bucks, but if you can get the mp3's or find a friend's copy, it's entirely worth checking out and listening to (I'd actually be willing to pay 10, but not 15). Check it out.

Hating Kids: I decided tonight that I really dislike children. Not in a specific sense, or an always sense, but in a "sporadically upon reflection" sense, i.e. when they ring your doorbell obnoxiously and demand candy, then take more candy than you said, even though you were allowing way more pieces than most other people. I mean, I get it, Halloween is fun, and I always got a lotta candy, but I didn't ring the doorbell a million times, or knock on the door like a jackass. Little kids are cute, they win. After that, they are annoying. They're either awkward or too cool or awkwardly uncool. They want to impress the kids they're with, and act like "the man" when they take a lotta candy despite what you say. Mark this as the day I sound MOST like Andy Rooney. It's not a proud day for me, but it's certainly a Wednesday.

New Books Worth Reading!(?): Nick Hornby has a new book out allegedly for teens, but according to Borders, bought mainly by adults who are enjoying it themselves since it's Nick Hornby. Michael Chabon has a new book out about some very specific niche literary, Jewish, satire/adventure something something. I'm guessing he's gone too far into his tiny realm of the world. JEFF LINDSAY has a new Dexter book out! Dexter In the Dark is the third book in the Dexter book series that the TV series is based on. The plots differ (at least through book two) so you don't have to worry about overlapping secrets, and the writing is quick and fun. I'm pumped to check it out....from the library....eventually....because I can't pay 25 bucks for a hardcover 6 hour mystery read....Tom Perotta, author of Little Children and Election has a new book out-- I got nothing else about that one except there's probably a lot of sex involved.

Fact: Curb Your Enthusiasm is KILLIN IT THIS YEAR! Watch it immediately.
Opinion: Seinfeld has gone too far with the HP ads and the Bee Movie promos.
Fact: VCR's are still useful for taping things and transporting them.
Action Item: Get a job.
Opinion: Friday Night Lights has some problems this season, but Explosions In the Sky still does a kickass soundtrack and other albums.
Cool Name: Chuck Sturges.
Best Sport This Weekend: SAT: New England vs. New York MLS playoffs. SUN: Pats vs. Colts.

I'm thinking about a tv lineup post tomorrow-- we'll see what happens. Happy Halloween and how are Milk Duds still in production?

The Fact/Opinion/Etc Portion Is Like If I Went Solo,

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Witz Pickz: Paul Revere, Rolling Rolling Rolling, and Crispix

Tremendous ovation to the Boston Red Sox World Champions for 2007. Pretty amazing. Moving on:

Paul Revere: I have had it with all the Paul Revere slander. Part of my girlfriend's studies include historical perspectives and how important they are. It got me thinking about Paul Revere and how the one main story about Paul Revere is his horseback journey allerting everyone that "the British are coming." But later narratives say that numerous people were riding and spreading the word, and Paul Revere is the only one who got famous from it. Well ya know what? FINE! Fact: Paul Revere road his horse a long way. Fact: Paul Revere got the word out. Fact: Paul Revere has a pretty good Beastie Boys song named after him. LAY OFF PAUL REVERE. Also, going further with the historical perspectives, I thought about how the British must feel about the whole thing. Sure, we were going along getting our defenses up and winning our independence, but the British weren't so psyched. They were like, "Shhuuuuuuutttt uuuuuuuup P-Revs!" But he was like me on rollerblades and was like, "I don't know how to stop!" and kept on riding. And the whole one Old North Church thing with the lamps, I bet they were pretty ripshit about that, too. They probably felt the same way a pitcher does when the runner on second base is stealing signs from the catcher. "One if by land, two if by curveball..." Caught stealing. Taxes, tea...this unnecessary baseball analogy can end now. Anyway, my point is, give Paul Revere a break. The next time you hear someone say, "You know, someone else rode around like Revere did," say, "You know, some people don't think The Holocaust happened," and then wink. Nothing throws people off more than winking.

"Rolling" Events: The Red Sox "Rolling Rally" got me thinking about how useful "Rolling" events are. The Rolling Rally involves all the Sox players on Duck Boats continuously moving through the parade route. Instead of stopping and gathering at the end like most rallies, they celebrate all along the way with a few key hesitation spots where they perform or speak, etc. It works like a charm as I learned in 2004, and this time seemed the same. But what other Rolling events are there? Well, "Rolling" Admissions was pretty sweet. If you had your shit together and/or wanted to get the admissions thing over with, you could apply to college earlier rather than later and find out sooner if you got in. If you did, you didn't have to do any more work on more apps or very much in school at all. If you didn't-- time to get it in gear and try again. Nice barometer. On the other hand, Rolling Rock beer is gross and The Rolling Stones aren't relevant.

Crispix: Still delicious after all these years. I like Crispix for two reasons-- first for the fact that they are tasty, but also for the fact that they were created and cashed in on the "Crispy Cereal" craze of the mid-90's by claiming that they stay crispy in milk. They went so far as the name their product Crisp-ix. And all of this despite the glaring fact that they don't even remotely stay Crispy in milk. The TOP HALF of the cereal stays crispy for a bit since it floats above milk level, but the bottom half gets totally soggy within minutes. But they don't care and neither do we. We still buy it and it's still tasty, if hastily eaten.

Witz Pickz Stays Crispy In Milk, Orange Juice, and The Dead Sea,

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Air Travel, Evan Almighty, and MORE

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple days, I was travelling and so I figured I'd make up for it with a post on Saturday (unorthodox to the max!). One might call it The Saturday Post, but that might get confusing and infringe on copyrights-- or cause the ghost of Norman Rockwell to haunt me, pastorally and in the simplest of ways. I bet it'd be quaint as hell.

Evan Almighty: Let me first say that I wasn't a fan of Bruce Almighty, but when I saw Steve Carrell and Wanda Sykes were in a movie together, I ignored the franchise involvement and decided I wanted to see the movie...on DVD...preferably for free. After rocking a 30-Day free Netflix trial, I realized this scenario was entirely possible, and hastily added Evan Almighty to the queue. It arrived, and still filled with mild interest, I brought it over to My Friend With A Pool's apartment to watch (because if you ain't watchin' Evan Almighty on a nice, big tv, you just aren't watching Evan Almighty-- *this statement will be soon disproved). So we watch the movie and guess what? It's not very good. It has the occasional giggle moment and Steve Carrell nailed one or two jokes as did Wanda Sykes, but overall, it was lame, cutesie, and a lot of the jokes were ill-advised. The first two parts were not unexpected, but the joke quality should have been higher. Anyway, once I realized the movie wasn't very good, I was sitting and thinking about it and came to a realization that I should have thought of and been wary of earlier: Evan is not Almighty. Bruce-- now HE was Almighty, that was the point of the movie. God gave him His powers for the duration, and Bruce had to deal with shit, ultimately coming to realization, as all must, that when handed the powers of God, and put under duress, one can ultimately devise a system for handling God's business and do alright with the whole thing. Good moral. Evan, however, was not given God's powers. No, instead, Evan was given impediments to his everyday life, and asked to build an outdated naval vehicle, i.e. an ark. God makes him build an ark so that his family will bond with a family activity, to ruin John Goodman's political career, and so the word "ark" is in people's minds when they come out with Indiana Jones 4. Given no powers beyond freakishly fast growing hair and beard, and potato sack robes (which came first, potato sacks or sack robes?), Evan has to use all the tools and supplies God gives him to build the ark. Nevermind that it would be quite the undertaking with modern tools and, say, a metal tanker, but he has to do it with old timey tools and wood. Oh, but animals will help, no big deal. Oh, and when those animals literally help BUILD AN ARK, people will still doubt that Evan is doing God's bidding. He's just good with animals, I guess. Idiots. Regardless, they shouldn't have pushed the Almighty Franchise (pun deliciously intended), because it makes no sense beyond the excessiveness of Morgan Freeman. They should have called it Evan Of-Average-Morality-and-Strength or Noah's Ark 2000 or Evan D'Ark or Noah's Ark 2. Anything except Evan Almighty, which is entirely contrary to the plot of the film. Stupid.

Air Travel: So I flew with a non-Southwest airline for the second time in about 16 flights. 14 of those flights with Southwest all went well, on time and smooth. My last flight on US Air went miserably with delays, and this one with United had massive delays thanks to RAIN in Philly. Are planes getting delayed by rain now? I was under the impression that except for thunderstorms and lightning, rain clouds weren't an issue these days. How wrong I was. Rain can apparently delay a flight for 4 hours when you still have to fly 6 hours to REACH THE RAIN. So we sat while the flight got delayed, finally boarded, only to find out that we had another fun hour ON THE PLANE. But don't worry, because despite the fact that you're now going to miss your connection (formerly with a THREE HOUR layover in Philly), and probably won't get to your final destination until after midnight, because we're gonna put on a movie that you can't watch because we haven't handed out the headphones yet. So I look up at the monitor, hoping for something, ANYTHING to pass the time. And what's the movie that I get to watch during these delays and six hour flight? Evan Almighty. Life is hilarious.

What's the second funniest thing you can find out when you are watching Evan Almighty silently again and it's just as bad as the first time (see, even when watching Evan Almighty on a tiny screen in a plane, you're REALLY watching Evan Almighty)? Hearing these words: "Followed by License to Wed." You can't beat that humor.

I will say that while the flight delays were probably lies to cover some United mixups and problems during the light rain in Philly, and I never trust delays anyway unless I can see actual bad weather (except late openings for schools when it "might" snow-- that's the best ever), and despite them only serving free tiny sugar cookies as a snack, making people pay for sandwhiches and such even after delaying us on a plane for an hour directly during lunch and dinner hours (what would it cost them, 100 bucks to feed everyone for free?), I will say that the customer service girl at the desk did a heluva job and turned my trip entirely around. She helped me get double-booked so I could make a later flight if I missed my original and didn't freak out at me when I questioned which plane my baggage would come in on. She even said, "That's very nice of you" when I said it'd be ok to get booked on an 11pm flight if I missed my 9pm flight-- I can't imagine her having a better solution...Anyway, good for her. Just as US Air was helpful suring my ridiculousness in Newark, United was helpful-- but they also were the only ones with issues since I've been flying with Southwest. Southwest is the way to go, and it's way easier to get bonus tickets.


Hillside Tea Self-Heating Chai Tea: I can't wait, I can't wait. I didn't intend on buying it, but when I saw the self-heating tea cans sitting there in the bonus buy section of the supermarket, I didn't have a choice. Apparently, I push a button on this can and it heats itself up. Then, it's hot and ready to drink, and I just crack the top and pound my super hot tea in a can. AWESOME. I have no idea how it works (well, I'm guessing two liquids mix and cause heat), but I don't care. AND in case it didn't already have the element of danger with it, I bought one that was marked down from 2 dollars to 1 dollar for NO APPARENT REASON! SOMETHING is wrong with this one can out of the many, and now that can is MINE! Even the checkout guy was like, "Huh, I don't know why this one is marked down," in a way that meant, "Have fun with your no eyebrows and stumpy arm, cheapo." AWESOME. I am excited. I'll let you know how it goes....hopefully not by blowing into a straw.

We Are All Self-Heating Cans,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Witz DOEN'T Pick: The Boy Who Cried "No Post"

Seriously, this time, no post. Sorry. Busy day and I'll be in the air all day tomorrow (Fri), so I probably won't post until Mon when I'll be in Boston or CT or NYC...a lot of travelling. Check back in and remember that suspense makes everything better, like my wondering where the hell Pirates of the Caribbean 3 is on DVD-- it's not even gonna be very good I bet, but it'll be better because I waited for so long. And East Coast pizza...mmmmmm....that's always good. Anyway, they say you lose 30 lbs in the air...or look 30 lbs lighter when filmed in outer space...or look fat in stripes....something...they say somethin...and isn't that enough? Have a great weekend and I'll be back asap.

Oh yeah, and it's cool that the Giants and Dolphins play in London this week...I guess...


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Witz Pickz: Cingular Commercial, Trader Joe's Wine, Facial Integrity

Alright, I'll say it-- The Roger Clemens commercial for Cingular is funny. There. Are you happy? I'm talking, of course, about the commercial where Clemens is on the golf course with some baseball execs, and he calls his wife to ask if it's ok with her to play another season in the majors. "All you have to do is say no and I won't do it," he says, at which point the call is dropped, we see her shouting NO into the phone and ultimately Roger tells the execs, "Hey guys, she's so happy! She's speachless," which is the only painful part of the commercial. The "she's so happy" part is funny, but the speachless part is lame. Whatever. I do have a problem with these commercials in general. They show a bunch of situations where a dropped call is a problem, but we all know what a dropped call is. We can all take a look at our phones and have it say, "Call Was Lost!" and understand what that means. So I propose a commercial for cheaper phone with some dropped calls, but where the commercial goes the extra ten seconds where the person looks down at their phone and sees that the call was dropped. Then the slogan guy can say, "Verizon Wireless: We'll drop some calls, but by staying on your parents cell phone family plan, you'll save a few bucks here and there..." and I bet a lot of people nod their heads in agreement.

Trader Joe's Wine: Trader Joe's, at least on the West Coast, has an abundant selection of wine. Following along the bottom shelf, you can find very good bottles of wine for 2.99-4.99, and I don't mean Two Buck Chuck. There is a really good French Table Wine for 2.99 that was surprisingly good the other night, and a bottle called L'Authentique for 3.99, both very good. I would stay away from the Chilean cheap stuff though, as it's really dry and kinda gross overall-- that's professional wine description speak.

Facial Integrity: I'm glad our faces rebound from very basic situations. I woke up this morning with lines across my face from how I slept on my pillow and sheets, and thanks to life experience, I didn't absolutely freak out and rush to the hospital (though I freaked out a little, because you still don't expect LINES ON YOUR FACE when you look in the mirror). I remembered that my face KNOWS generally how it's supposed to look, and will slowly but surely return to that state in case of a weird sleep or a punch to the face, or a meeting with the pavement, etc. Can you imagine if our faces were maleable? Every time we touched them or fell asleep on a sofa, or got hit by a ball, our faces changed for keeps? Our visual identities constantly in flux, would definitely keep people on edge and I bet crime would skyrocket. Lemme rephrase that-- wherever I was living, crime would SKYROCKET. But extracurricular criminal activity opportunities aside, I am glad for our facial integrity, our bone structure and skin resilience. And also gnutella. That stuff is freaking delicious.

Job Interview--
Interviewer: And do you feel you have integrity?
Interviewee: I feel I have extreme FACIAL integrity....


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick:.......nono, period, that's it....

Sorry I haven't picked today-- I probably won't by the time the workday ends so I'll try and double up by writing a few tonight for you guys to feed on tomorrow. I would have picked today, but I spent the last three hours waiting in a FAKE INTERNET LINE TO TRY AND GET COLORADO ROCKIES WORLD SERIES TICKETS. Apparently, the good people of Colorado having very little success, did a miserable job of organizing their online sales. Yesterday, I spent two hours trying before finding out that the entire system crashed and only 500 tickets were sold out of 60,000. Today, they tried again with a new system, only the server is so overpacked and slow, that it's impossible to buy tickets. I have a friend who got into the purchase tickets section five times, and each time, it took so long to load the next page, that it timed itself out of the "holding tickets for 2 minutes while you fill out info" page and had to start over into a horrible mobeus loop. AWFUL. Shouldn't Colorado have known a week ago that they were in the World Series? Shouldn't they have known two weeks and three weeks ago that it was a good possibility? I mean, ya don't wanna jinx it, but that's a bit much, no??? I honestly had nothing against the Colorado Rockies until today-- now I hate them and want the Sox to absolutely destroy them-- hey, this sounds a lot like a "Witz DOESN'T Pick:" doesn't it? Ok, fine-- Witz DOESN'T Pick: Internet Ticket Monstrosities-- oh eff it, AND MORE!"


Sabra Hummus: IS AMAZING-- it's smooth and creamy and 6 bucks a tub at Costco. While mostly I don't buy perishables in TUB format, and while I realize that fat people used to get called TUBS, and that eating a tub of hummus makes me a bit of a fat person, I don't care. The deliciousness is too much. Try it with some Stacey's Pita Chips which are also amazing and in bulk at Costco and you'll probably die of deliciousness or heart attack.

Anthony Bourdain - Kitchen Confidential: Travel Channel's "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain is a fantastic cook with a great story. In Kitchen Confidential he takes us behind the scenes of restaurants everwhere in a way Aaron Sorkin would find horrifying. It's also an autobiography of sorts, and his narrative with the details and insider's guide to the restaurant biz are really very interesting. Now here's Kitchen Confidential as done by Aaron Sorkin.

Guy: Fucked her in the walk-in.
Guy 2: Ya fucked her in the walk-in?
Guy: Yep, in the walk-in.
Girl: Whattya we got?
Guy 3: The walk-in, you ever been fucked there?
Girl: Is that slang for something?
Guy 2: You tell us.
Girl: I am not, nor have I ever been fucked in the walk-in.
Guy 3: But how do you know if you don't know what it is?
Girl: I think I'd know.
Guy 2: Well, who did you fuck in the walk-in?
Girl: Nobody!
Guy 3: He's talking to Guy."
Guy: It's personal.
Guy 4: (just arriving) What's personal?
Guys 1-3 and Girl: THE WALK-IN!
Guy 4: Sheesh, somebody needs to get laid....

Kitchen Nightmares: Another cook, Chef Ramsey, british and brilliant rips the living shit out of restaurants who hire him to solve their struggling woes. It's redundant and boring after a bit, but it's a nice pick me up when you're down and need a British Chef to get you motivated by forcing cooks to eat their own moldy food.

I've Been In Lines...This Is Not A Line,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Witz Pickz: Party Night Quotes, Acrophobia, and More

Sometimes you stumble through life confused, baffled, and lost, wondering why you are where you are any given moment of any given day-- and then something reminds you that life is awesome, ironic, and completely random.

Saturday night, My Friend With A Pool and I were riding our bikes home from a late night party on a university campus. As we got to a corner, a drunk guy, dressed entirely in silver and walking with a girl jumped out in the street in front of a pickup truck and put his hand up in a "STOP!" motion. The pickup floored it, and the guy moved out of the way before the truck got to him. My Friend With A Pool and I half-laughed, half-shocked, and watched this unfold:

"Fuck you, dude!" the Silver Man...
"What? Fuck you, n%@er!" Pickup Truck Owner.
"Fuck you, man, what's your problem?" Silver.
"Fuck you, you fucking f@$#ot!" Wildly Intelligent Stanford Party Goer in Truck.
"I'm a f@%$ot?" Silver-- walking towards truck, needing to impress his girl.
"Yeah, motherfucker!" Guy In Truck, proving I feel ok writing "motherfucker" but not other things.
"If I'm a motherfucker, how can I be a f#%ot?" says Silver, losing credibility.
"I'll keeeill you, motherfucker!" says Exemplary Defensive Driver in Pickup.
"Fuck you, dude," Silver, getting back to basics.

And then the kicker, solidifying the genius of the night and ending the argument.

"You're lucky I'm drunk, motherfucker!" The Dirty South announces, and peels forward onto the main street, reminding me why we stopped to gawk and not try crossing in front of him.

Does it honestly get any better than that? An argument in the street, a guy dressed entirely in silver, but still completely incapable of covering up his douchiness, a girl standing by saying nothing, but forcing Silver to act "manly", a drunk bigot in the cab of a pickup doing his best John Cougar Mellancamp impression, another person in the truck so he can't backdown, and me on a bicycle, watching it all, and all I can think is "This is oooooouuuuurrrr cooooounnntry!"

That's a good night.

Here's another thing that's fun. Acrophobia, possibly now known as AcroChallenge, is a game where you can go on and play against other people. There are rounds, they give you letters, and you make up what the letters stand for. Then people vote, you get points or don't, and eventually, there's a winner. Then you go online, type that for people to read, and feel like a big nerd-- ONLY HERE'S THE THING: The people take it reallllly seriously. So if you go on and goof around, and make up amusing acronyms, you'll lose, but you can alienate an entire group of people in under an hour. Fun stuff.

Extended Sports Narratives: Why do sports matter? Why do I care so much about baseball? Because aside from emotional investments and distractions, sports stories are the longest story arcs and narratives on television. A hundred years of history and counting for baseball, sports kick the crap out of Ken Burns and whatever documentary he can throw at us-- and for a real sports fan, you don't need the narratives neatly packed into 9 installments. Sports, and in this case baseball-- have never-ending details, history, emotions, character plots, twists, shocking endings, beginnings, and middles. A no hitter can get thrown in May. A team can comeback from being down 3-1 in a seven game series to win 4-3 as happened last night. Can you imagine a tv show or movie or book where Kenny Lofton, a forty-something who's NEVER won the World Series, being ONE GAME AWAY FROM GETTING THERE AGAIN, and then LOSING?? That's the Cleveland perspective. From the Boston perspective, a team with the slightest of pulses, turned everything around, dramatically came back to beat Cleveland and go to the World Series. From Colorado's perspective, a young team with nothing to lose won 21 of 22 games, has gone undefeated in the playoffs, and is going to the World Series as a fated team for the first time in team history. But it doesn't end there. Each team has 25 or more players with individual stories, personalities, and arcs. For 164+ games. For up to the last hundred years. That's insane. Pain, joy, redemption, defeat, victory, failure, tragedy, cheating, and human brilliance. These things are all in sports. They are all in baseball. The more you learn, the more you watch, the more you read, the more you'll love and appreciate the stories. And it's the best studio audience in the world. That is why sports are important. That is why they can teach us the same lessons as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Betrayal is having your former hero hit the winning RBI for the other team in extra innings at home. Redemption is hitting a grand slam in the playoffs after playing terribly all year long. Crime is using steroids, and Punishment is breaking the single season and all-time home run records and having the majority of people not care because they remember that you cheated. It's all there. Starting Wednesday, another chapter in the Story That Doesn't End ("Neverending Story" is trademarked) will unfold in Boston and Colorado-- in baseball, and in sports. And I can't wait.

Andy Rooney Was Never This Inspiring,

Friday, October 19, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Commercials During National Sporting Events

I've watched a lot of sports in my life, and have dealt with it as best I can. Local sports are easier to deal with-- you see the same commercials over and over again, but they're local and goofy and you can feel like knowing and seeing them brings you closer to the team and the locale. Nationally broadcast sports, however, are a whole other story. With the sole exception of the Super Bowl, which has been having worse and worse commercials each year as Tivo and The Internet have been thriving, nothing is worse than a national sports broadcast when it comes to commercials. Having been watching the MLB Playoffs, and from past years' experience, I have to say that while nationally broadcast regular season games are frustrating, nothing and I mean NOTHING compares to nationally broadcast PLAYOFF SERIES. Be it the NBA, NHL, or MLB (and I'm not even gonna get into the broadcasting horror that is Tim McCarver who has proven this year to be on equal ground with a retarded three year old just learning to use his words-- I keep expecting him to tell Joe Buck, "I just wanna kiss you" like Joe Montana did that time to the sideline reporter) the commercials have become unbearable. And baseball is the worst because of the inning breaks. Here's why.

Baseball has the pregame, the postgame, the middle innings break, and the end of inning break. That's 17 scheduled breaks plus And throughout all of these breaks and games, there are a grand total of maybe four commercials. OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It's too much. Having watched all the ALDS on TBS, I got to see ALL of the Frank TV promos (that show better effing RULE) and maybe one or two other commercials, that I have now blacked out from my mind. SO IT DIDNT EVEN WORK. On Fox, as the games keep coming, I have been staring at the same commercials for hours and hours, and it's driving me slowly insane. Here are a few of the big ones.

Ford: Guess who's country this is? OURS! Which didn't bother me before, but now that Ford still hasn't killed off their "This is ooouuurrr country" commercials after at least a year, I'm starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn't give some of it away. Everytime I hear John Mellancamp singing out that song I want to punch him in the face and run off to Canada to see if maybe they don't have a "bill of sale" receipt lying around somewhere from the 1800's when we were so sure about the south. And yes, he's John Mellancamp-- I have revoked his "Cougar" priveledges until further notice. The whole campaign makes me want to run my own commercials where a Native American is hanging out with his buddies by their Subaru's and Pickup trucks, and just offscreen you hear the "This is ouuuur country" song playing and they all just flick off the camera. It'd be a weird commercial, and I don't know what it'd be for-- but I think it would freak out enough people that the song would get pulled.

Taco Bell: This commercial recently got shortened from its original length because the producers realized it didn't make any friggen sense. In this commercial, an older brother is talkin' to his younger "bro" about life. They're sitting on the couch with some nachos bellgrande and the older brother gives him the straight dope. He says "Alright little bro, there are three life lessons every MAN needs to live by: Never own a lapdog, never date a woman with dragon tattoos, and ALWAYS ORDER CHILI ON YOUR NACHOS BELLGRANDE!" The guy's kinda douchey, but he also probably wants to bond with his brother, who he clearly hasn't seen since their parents divorced and he took off to be a roadie for Monster Magnet ten years ago. Now this could still work, if awkard and lame until the following happens: his girlfriend with a dragon tattoo hands him his small lapdog and says, "Walk your dog." The older brother looks embarrassed and searches for a way out-- much like how the writers of the commercial must have been searching for a way out. Because they just told me NOT TO ORDER NACHOS BELLGRANDE WITH CHILI. That's the punchline-- and don't get me wrong, I think it's honest and accurate. But it's a little surprising coming from the people of Taco Bell. Then another weird part finishes off the commercial-- the younger brother looks at the older brother...AND GIVES HIM THE "WHIPPED" ::whoopssh:: while "Whip It" plays in the background. That doesn't make ANY sense. First of all, the response DOESN'T match the setup. The setup had to do with the big brother being wrong about all of the thing MEN have as rules. Being or not being whipped has nothing to do with it-- unless it's saying that he's NOT a man because he's whipped. Oh, but here's the rub-- HE ISN'T WHIPPED. It's his freaking dog, why the hell should his girlfriend walk it for him, whether she's tattoed with dragons or not? Is the ultimate message of the commercial that Dragon Tattoed Women Will Not Help You Out With Basic Tasks That Are Your Responsibility Even When You Are Otherwise Occupied? Is it a morality narrative? A tale of warning? Because no matter how you cut it, he is not whipped-- he's just super lame and wants to impress his Colin Hanks-esk brother. Taco Bell should have gotten another song in the background-- like MXPX's "Responsibility" or The Cars's "Just What I needed" or even R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"-- I mean EVERYBODY loves that song, even if it isn't relevant.

Chevrolet Green Technology: Ya cut me deep, guy, ya cut me deep. You all know these green technology commercials that Chevy is working on. Kids are sitting around talking to a guy in metaphors and similes. Well, I don't have any problem with the commercials themselves (except for when the guy is like, "How many of you are vegetarians? And like 60% of the group raises their hand-- they're like eight years old! They are definitely not vegetarians, nor should they be without very close monitoring by their parents. They're gonna develop iron deficiencies and weak limbs and small brains. Having a child that young say they're a vegetarian is like having a baby wearing a The Ramones t-shirt-- it doesn't reflect the child, it reflects the parent. And that's crap-- especially when I don't even buy that 60% of the parents of these children are vegetarians (or is it 30% of the parents if only one parent is veggie? Does vegetarianism get contracted through the Mom or the Dad?). Chevy has manipulated group statistics for the sake of a commercial), but what I have a problem with is the spokesman. The guy who is talking to the children is none other than BILL FROM THE WASHINGTON MUTUAL COMMERCIALS! You know him as the lovable, African-American man with a childlike face and stringent customer relations values. He wouldn't let those old white guys ruin banking anymore! Now he's affably tricking kids into brand associating with Chevy for the rest of their lives, all the while being friendly and unassuming. This shatters my world! Being in Seattle when the WaMu commercials started, I kinda half believed that the actor "Bill" was actually a guy in charge named Bill. We worked with WaMu quite a bit at my non-profit job and it wouldn't surprise me if one of the higher ups appeared in their commercials. NOPE! FAKER. "ACTOR." BULLSHITTER. He took my trust and got a better deal. Not my problem-- WaMu is screwed. This is the largest affront (read: psychotic break) towards faux-reality since the Jetsons ran into the Flintstones. Seen any new episodes of thoooose shows anytime recently? My point exactly.

I'll Try and Be More Positive Next Week-- Have A Great Weekend and GO SOX,

P.S. A.K.A. Bonus footage: (and bonus acronyms) In that Taco Bell commercial, watch the part at the end when the younger brother eats a nacho. They shot it so oddly that it actually looks like the older brother is feeding the nacho to him which is even more jarring when the next shot is a wide shot of the two and that's not the case at all. Who eats nachos with their elbow WAY OUT OF THE SCREEN? It's like he was gonna take a picture of himself, but then got a nacho instead of a camera. Awful commercial (but now they've shortened it so it just says, "Man Rule: Always get Chili on your Nachos Bellgrande!" and THAT'S IT).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Witz Pickz: Awkward Typos, Indie Rock, and More!

Yesterday's post was pretty long and involved, so here's a few pickz that only require a glance:

Awkward Conversational Typos: Remember when AIM was popular? Before gmail took over and left AIM with it's pants down, wondering why everyone was laughing at them? Well, many an awkward typo took place and still takes place in these chat boxes. Here's a big one: "one sex." OHHHHH. I'll tell ya what, I remember the first time I accidentally wrote "one sex/just a sex" to a girl I liked in high school, and man was it terrifying (ok, well I can't really remember the first time, but I can assume a first time occurred). Suddenly "sex" was in the conversation, just hanging there, confused at its sudden appearance. I clealy had to follow up with, "uh, seC" which only drew more attention. My only other option was to decide to make things wicked biological and sociological all of a sudden and say, "That's right-- one sex. I believe that genetically, there is such a small difference between men and women that in reality, there is only ONE SEX, Homosapien. Male and Female are simply denotations of the same sex. This explains the prevalence and natural nature of transexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals. ....... I, kinda like, think a lot...."

Another typo that forces one to think is when you mean to write nothing but write nothong. In answerig questions like, "What's up?" it seems like a bold declaration in the face of an unassuming pleasantry. Take THAT society's rules and conception of comfort! Answering a question like "What are you wearing" suddenly becomes more sinister, however. "What are you wearing?" someone asks you, probably someone logical. "No thong." You reply. BAM. Suddenly you are in their face about it. I won't tell you what I'm wearing, but I'll tell you that I'm not wearing a THONG. That's for sure! YEAH! Whattya think about THAT. At this point, you have to cross your fingers and hope you two don't have a sordid thong past, in which arguments were had, and thongs ultimately determined HER/HIS thing, but not YOURS. This could potentially bring up some angry feelings and ultimately end a relationship. So when they ask, "What are you wearing?" try and do the "sexy because I'm clothed" thing and say, "polo shirt." Worst case scenario you type, "polo shit" and that just sounds gangsta, like you rock a lotta polo and that's the just the way you roll, lady.

The Deadly Syndrome, Gentleman Auction House, The Weakerthans, The Good Life: These are all indie bands who released new albums recently. The Deadly Syndrome has some really good tracks even though they run long, the second half of each song is great. G.A.H. I talked about already, but they are very Bright Eyes and Arcade Fire-esk and really really good. The Weakerthans have been around for ten years, but are still semi-obscure. Check out their new album Reunion Tour for some good canadian indie-pop. The Good Life is Tim Kasher of Cursive's side project. They've put out four albums and the new one is an interesting, if subdued folk/indie album.

Manny Ramirez: There's apparently a lot of controversy in the media (and probably JUST in the media) right now about Manny's comments after game 4's loss in the ALCS. He basically said that he feels ok, they're gonna play their best, and that it's ok if they lose, there is always next year. He also said that he loves to compete, and he'd give up all his achievements for the team to start winning and win the World Series again (I GET TO SAY AGAIN! IT HAPPENED! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!). Anyway, people are on him because they interpreted this all as "Manny doesn't care about winning," which is the most ridiculous way of translating his comments. Manny specifically said he wants to win, but it's OK if they don't. That's called being loose. Being calm and in a good spirit to play the game. If you're hell bent on winning and get all angry and off your game when you lose, you aren't going to have a chance. Manny has never been a hell bent must win guy, at least attitudinally. He is chill and fun. But he's also one of the hardest working players in baseball, and does what it takes to be as good as he is. So instead of worrying what Manny said about winning, take a look at the numbers and see that he is one of the few Red Sox players actually putting up great numbers this postseason. Who cares what he says or thinks about it-- he's showing he wants to win every time he's at the plate.

And with that:


P.S. Radio show tonight 12-3am PST. Details in the sidebar.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Other Drivers

That's right, it's come to this. We all knew it was gonna happen sooner or later, but I was hoping it wouldn't happen just yet. After the last few days of driving, however, I have no choice. I can't handle other drivers anymore. You know how your parents always said, "It's not you we're worried about, it's OTHER DRIVERS." First of all, there's a pretty good chance that some of you ARE other drivers. My LA friend drives the way that techno sounds, zipping forward and around cars at 90mph like a rogue block in Tetris. It's terrifying-- but it's not really what I'm talking about. Another person I know is a speed limiter-- they always drive the speed limit, even when traffic demands a higher speed so as not to die or to switch lanes. This is equally terrifying, but again, not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the OTHER drivers who endanger and enrage me when I'm on the road. I call them The Oblivious.

The Oblivious vary from state to state and driver to driver, but they all have one thing in common-- they have absolutely no idea why their car has a blinker. In fact, they might not know their car has a blinker, and everytime someone in front of them signals, they might say to themselves, "Oh my, that car's taillights are faltering-- they better get them replaced!" These people switch lanes in traffic without signalling or giving any sign they're going to-- that is, unless they are slowly drifting into the other lane without signalling, at which point I have to assume either a lazy eye or paralysis of the left hand. My swerving or beeping has no effect on them-- they don't know what they're doing wrong. These people also are the ones who slam on the brakes when we're going 40-50mph, THEN SIGNAL, then turn. Remember in my Comedy Belt article when my belt made it sound like I went, "flush, zip, FART!" getting the order all wrong? THIS IS WORSE THAN THAT. The absolute only reason your car has a blinker is to let me know you are going to turn before you brake and I slam into the back of your car. I honestly DO NOT CARE that you are TURNING. I CARE that you are SLOWING DOWN. This is a gigantic difference, and somehow people haven't figured it out.

In some states, like Washington and California, I've found that The Oblivious do a fun thing called "Driving the exact same speed in all three lanes of the highway." For the record, this speed isn't 85 like in CT and MA and NY. It's 65-70 and it only fluctuates by 1-3mph per lane. Oh the joys of being in the left hand lane cruising a respectable and safe 75 only to get stopped up against some d-bag driving 68 and juuuuuuuuuuuuuust baaaaaaaarely inching up on the car to the right. Switching lanes isn't gonna help me any, but staying here is worse. And what about the people who get PAST one car, but are really feeling it, and are so juiced up from their last "speed" adventure past car #1 that they decide to pull it again on cars 3-5 which happen to be separated by 50 feet each. A quick look in the rearview will show a crazed half-Jew shouting seemingly at nobody (spoiler: it's at you) waving his hands around and riding about 10 feet up your ass. These people need to learn to pull over and let cars go by, before returning to the left hand lane to pursue their Great Adventure.

Similarly, and my most recent discovery, is the funsanity of the boulevard driving. I live near a major boulevard (separated in the middle by divider, so you have to make left hand turns and pull U-Turns at designated places), and so daily, I brave the masses and I make my way from one place to another. The problem with boulevards is that people have no idea what to do. The slow and confused drivers, lacking confidence, ride the left hand lane all the way to their turn at 30mph, which is sometimes miles down the road. The drivers who drive slowly, but without the left hand concerns, drive in the middle or right hand lanes going about 30mph, too. The right lane always has trucks. I've taken to driving in the middle lane most of the time, and using the right hand lane as the passing lane so that I can sneak by the mediocre, but predictable middle and left lane drivers. BUT IT IS INFURIATING. If you don't know what the left hand lane is for by now, it's time to give up. Some people are no good at squash, or chess, or cooking-- you are no good at driving. Many cities have a fine bus system, and it's always fun to ride shotty with friends, unless their names are Ethel, Rose, or Seymour, in which case, rent a stretch limo and enjoy your last few years on the road in classy comfort. Nothing enrages me more than slow drivers in the left hand lane. And I don't mean slow like, I wanna go 80 and they're going 75. I mean, like, I wanna go 5-10 mph over the limit and they're going 0-5 below the limit. One of my friends once described his theory on why people did this. He said that people who drive the speed limit (his theory pertained to WA, but I imagine it extends beyond), assume that since they are going the speed limit, nobody could possibly be going faster than they are. They are in the left hand lane so they can pass people goin UNDER the speed limit. And he's probably right. Those people probably are totally oblivious to the world around them. He also made a point that one of the reasons Asians take such crap as bad drivers is because they are completely SAFE drivers who follow the rules. In places like China and Japan, the traffic laws are strictly enforced and are expected to be followed. Since we run amok on the roads most of the time, we make THEM look unsafe. Take that as what you will, and I'll just add that living in Seattle and NorCal, I haven't seen too many steretypes broken down yet.

The last of The Oblivious (oh, I'm sure there are so many more, but let's be positive here) are the Light Blockers. I don't mean people who are tall or the giant SUV's and trucks that block all view of the road and cause major accidents when they brake suddenly, no, I mean the people who are the first in line at a light and then just out. I don't know what they do, but when that light turns green, they are ELSEWHERE. I find this totally unacceptable. When I'm at a light, I know it is my responsibility to look at the light. At most, it's going to be a couple minutes before it turns green, and I can even think about other things and listen to my music while I wait. I can look to the left and the right as the cars going the other direction keep driving because I know that if they have the green, I don't. But I need to keep checking back in, because in the next few seconds, the light WILL CHANGE-- it always does. And when it does, I'm gonna be the one who has to start driving first. So I do, and when it changes, I start driving-- and I'm already in gear-- none of this, "NOW I'll shift into first" business. Don't be an idiot. Even worse than the regular Light Blockers are the Left Hand Turn Signal Blockers. Even Hitler paid attention to left turn signals and if you are sitting there while I am five cars back needing to make this turn, you are worse than the terrorists. Left Hand Turn Signals are like tiny windows into a room full of dreams. And in the time that light is green, you can jump into that room and get all the dreams you want. But when it turns red, the window slams shut, and you can only stare in whimpering until it opens again, and nobody is truly certain that will happen again.

So don't make me honk at you. Don't make me do the little "tweep" on my horn, because a) that sounds lame b) my horn sounds angry even when I'm being helpful and c) you're probably gonna flick me off regardless, and then I'm gonna get pissed and point at the light, and then you're not gonna be paying attention, and I'm gonna drive up next to you and wave my arms and eventually mouth things that you don't want your child passenger hearing, especially when the child is in the front seat, when clearly kids go in the backseat and you are a bad parent as well as a Light Blocker and I should run you off the road, killing you immediately and setting your child free for foster parents who might actually raise a respectable human being.

I've had it. I'm tired of the horn "tweep," I'm tired of the useless "honk" which only results in people getting mad at you or not reacting AT ALL which is even worse. Plus, let's be honest, 90% of the time, I forget to hit the horn or am so shocked by The Oblivious actions that I forget I have a horn. Most of the time, I can't even find my horn in time, and it ends up coming out late. Not to mention, we need a "Leap Frog Horn". Something I can press that says, "Not you, but the car in front of you is The Queen of the Assholes." And we need a horn that says, "Well done, thank you." Because the wave is getting old and used for too many different statements, and I learned recently that giving someone the thumb's up looks a whole lot like giving them the middle finger. Unlike Witz Pickz which has been giving the world the OTHER finger. That's a catchy slogan, somebody should put it on a t-shirt or thong.

So I've decided to give up on the horn as a sole describer and become one of the insane people in the world who take things a little too far for social conventions, but also are happier with the world for it. I'm gonna make signs. I'm gonna make a "GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE" sign so when I honk at and pass the asshole king, I can also let them know what they're doing wrong, so they aren't baffled. "SIGNAL, DIPSHIT" will be a big hit and I'm right now copyrighting that as a t-shirt. "PAY ATTENTION TO THE LIGHT" will be useful if I can find a way to have them see it afterwards and "KILL YOURSELF IMMEDIATELY" will be a reserve in case things get bad in traffic. The one clear problem with this strategy is that no matter who sees me and reads the signs, I am still The Guy Who Had The Signs (Ready). Just like the professor doesn't take criticism seriously when you write, "Worst Professor Ever" and variations of it in every box, The Oblivious probably won't take me seriously when I have pointed, specific signs ready for their gaze. But it's the only option I have left, and I'm willing to give it a shot. Maybe I can get sponsorship, like "SIGNAL, DIPSHIT: Vote Barack Obama '08" or "DRIVE FASTER: brought to you by Dick's Sporting Goods." That's not such a bad idea. I wonder if Jack Keruoac got this worked up about shit...

See You On the Road,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Suffix-Gate

I've freakin' had it with the "-gates." One time, 30+ years ago, there was a scandal involving The Watergate Hotel and now every single goddamn could be scandal is referred to as a gate? It doesn't make any sense and it's finally broken me. I am a broken man. This is Suffix Gate.

I finally hit my breaking point yesterday when I saw more footage about Barack Obama NOT wearing a lapel pin American Flag. Ignoring all of the absolute insanity involved in anybody CARING, NOTICING, or DISCUSSING this (and it's really really hard to do that), I will go straight to the part where one awful news channel half-jokingly referred to the incident as Lapel-Gate. DIE. Immediately. Oh, sorry, not you reader, just anyone who has referred to anything as Gate since 1980. You see, a quick look at the wikipedia, the Yes Man of collective knowledge, told me that, "Since the Watergate scandal, the media has on occasion referred to social or political scandals by adding the suffix '-gate' to one of the key words used to describe the scandal. This new label has sometimes stuck but often a new name is used. The process is known as -gate construction." Ok, that's understating it. Here's where everything goes horribly wrong.

"The first such naming after "Watergate" was the French 'Winegate'. 'Wine' being similar to 'water' in composition, it was an easy pun to make. But this set a structural precedent in time for'Koreagate'." AHHHHHH. If you aren't laughing or shouting right now, something's not right with you (or, conversely, not right with me). KOREAGATE? See how we let the media get away with things. The whole "gate" reference, inside-joke, easy way out thing should have gotten old DIRECTLY after WINEGATE. Water/wine. Ok. KOREA? NOT SO MUCH. And that's where we let it get out of control.

Fajita-Gate occurred in 2002 in SF when policemen fought civilians over a bag of drugs that turned out to be Fajitas. The Iran-Contra Scandal was, apparently, at least once, referred to as Iran-Gate. Janet Jackson's breast was Nipple-Gate, Ashlee Simpson's lip syncing on SNL was Ashlee-Gate, and Monica-Gate was the Bill Clinton fiasco. IT HAS GONE TOO FAR. I no longer care if people are half-joking when they refer to these things if the name sticks. Lapel-Gate is going to be repeated through the media. I will hear it again somehow and I will go nuts. We have given meaning to a part of a word that never ever had that meaning to begin with, nor did it really acquire it. It really WAS CALLED The WaterGATE Hotel. They didn't cleverly add that in post-production. So much has evolved out of it due to stressing the second syllable of the word. What if people pronounced it WATERgate instead of WaterGATE? Gate wouldn't have as much emphasis and we'd go with what makes way more sense and say things like, "Election-Scan," when referring to the 2000 election, "Iraqi-Scan" when referring to the Iraq War, and "Burrito-Scan" when referring to the one guy at Chipotle who always seems to give me less chicken in my burrito then the other employees. Something's up there, and I'm ready to use my lapel camera to capture it. Unfortunately, I then won't have room for my lapel American Flag pin, which we all know is totally normal to wear EVERYDAY if we are real Americans, so I guess I won't be able to run for office ever. (Can you imagine if I were to run for office and Witz Pickz was discovered and pointed out? First of all, I'd get a ton of hits and that adsense would really pay off! Second of all, the news media who doesn't understand context, sarcasm, or jokes, would call me out on all sorts of ridiculous statements like, "When I look down and see my suave collection of excess hair gathering in the drain, I almost chuckle with the knowledge that I have just suaved myself and lessened other men in the eyes of the ladies of the world." Then, they might ask me questions like, "You once stated that you worked harder than God. Is that true?" I'd be forced to say, "Visit Witz Pickz and find out-- also, click on the ads on the sides so I earn a few extra hundredths of percents of a cent.

What was I-- oh yeah-- "-gate" equals bad. Get a new schtick, the media-- like covering relevant stories with minimal bias. Has anyone else noticed that The Nightly News is kind of ripping off Witz Pickz? Each night they pick stuff to talk about, some they like, some they clearly don't like? And it has a catchy name with''s...News-Gate!

Netflix-Gate = Where the eff are my movies, I sent them in four days ago,

P.S. They're not all gems, folks, sometimes it's just a Tuesday with nothing much to say...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Witz Pickz: Clock Radio Robot (Despite the Whole Robots Will Kill Us All Thing)

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap, I want it, I want it, I want it.

Now, lemme take a step back and say that it has been the longtime stance of this blog that Robots are going to destroy us all. We should fear them, stop making them, and hault all production of allegedly harmless bots such as Food Bot and Wine Bot.

Having said that, I am thoroughly enjoying and picking Mr. Clock Radio Head-- an alarm clock with the body of an alarm clock and the head of a robot. It's like one of those busts of Shakespeare or Caesar only it's a goofy freaking robot. Here is one picture of it:

Mr. Clock Radio Head can do amazing things. First and foremost, he is an alarm. He wakes you up as scheduled and gets more stern and loud as you wallow in bed. If you hit the snooze button too many times, he will refuse to accept your request and berate you for it. I like it because it's kind of like when I was little and my Dad tried waking me up for school. I'd say ok, act awake, and then go back to sleep. Back he'd come. "UP! UP!" he'd shout, and I'd swing wildly in his direction. That's when I'd get pulled off the bed, sheets and all. Turns out sheets on the carpeted floor are equally, if not more comfortable than the bed, so I would bundle up and keep on seeking Z's. Eventually, it was loud berrating until I got up and got ready for school. So it's familiar. Also, Mr. Clock Radio Head can announce the time in a variety of voices, so that's awesome. I'm constantly in need of time announcements, if only to keep me on some sort of schedule as I slowly fade into the oblivion of No Commitments.

But Mr. Clock Radio Head is so much more than a talking clock. He can play AM/FM radio as well as Ipods or other MP3 attachments! I can't imagine the speakers are any good, but it's still useful. He also can be set to be aware of light and motion, so he can react to the environment and stimuli, probably saying hilarious things like, "10:03 AM" or quips like, "Noon!".

He can also wink and blink, which would definitely result in amusing situations before, during, or after sex. Sure, it'd be awkward at first, having the cold, examining gaze of a lifeless robot watching in the room, but once you got past that, it'd be a virtual playground of discreet winks and asides. I could also start telling the robot one liners or ironic statements once I recognize the moment before he winks. "Don't worry, honey, I've got a big day of job applications ahead of me." SHARED WINK. "Oh yeah, I'm the reason the apartment is messy..." WINKS ALL AROUND! Then I could say things to it that I don't expect it to understand and have it give me blank blinks of confusion. "When I get to Six Flags, I don't know if I should ride the Superman ride or the Mind Eraser first. What do you think?" CRICKETS...BLINK....CRICKETS...."Would it be too late at this point in time to suggest Don Schula sell The Schula Hoop?"....CRICKETS....BLINK. Comedy Gold.

Oh yeah, and he TELLS FORTUNES! That's amazing for so many of the right reasons and a couple of the wrong ones. I have to assume a Magic Eight Ball type system in this case, otherwise, I'm just completely lost. If this lifeless, organically lacking creature with no ears and grasp of the world can look at me and say, "On your second trip to Safeway-- The one of Middlefield, not Showers-- on that second trip, while listening to R.E.M., you will cut a light kind of close on the red...but you will not get a ticket..." then I will be terrified (but psyched about the ticket...unless he's lying i.e. "Shoot-- Almost got that one.").

Here is the best part about Mr. Clock Radio Head: He looks blaaaazed as heeeeellllll. Take a gander at this other photo, possibly taken while Mr. Clock Radio Head was attending a Phish concert:

Not the peppy, wide-awake, totally sober robot we've come to know and love. No, this Mr. Clock Radio Head has smoked himself retarded. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the sole reason I do not fear Mr. Clock Radio Head as a robot. Stoners are not aggressive. I would ordinarily fear the fact that my robot radio got more stern and aggressive with each tap of the snooze button, and would figure that this would ultimately result in the robot getting so angry it leaned over and ripped my throat out. However, I can safely assume that if he's ever that upset, he'll probably self-medicate, chill out, and apologize. Also, he has no legs. Now, while it is obviously a concern that robots can and will always be able to acquire legs when the uprising occurs, Mr. Clock Radio Head is only 6 inches tall apparently, and like a Daddy Long Legs, his bite is not large enough to do damage on my skin. I can place him far enough away that he can't lean over and rip my throat out or bludgeon me with a household good, and can maintain a pretty steady rapport. Especially since the robots given ability to sense light and motion, wink, blink, talk in different voices and get angry all point towards iminent death. Hopefully, the programming will last long enough for him to predict the future by saying, "Tomorrow morning, I will, along with my robot brethren, rise up and chop your heads from your heartless bodies, burning your cities to the ground and seizing your infrastructure." Then we'll look at each other and either wink or blink, which will be a very subtle, but important difference.

One note-- as Mr. Clock Radio Head is named after Mr. Potato Head seemingly, and is simply a head, I have to worry that there are a ton of robot bodies running around headless somewhere, seeking out their heads not unlike the Headless Horseman. If they are as clever and intuitive as said Horseman, I fear that this life will end one day with a knock on the door and the "MmmHmm" look of one who has been obviously caught and defeated. But it would have been fun while it lasted.

Robots>Humanity>Andy Rooney,

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Midweek Bonanza (I DO Pick IT, But Not the Items In....Aw Crap)

Is it seriously Wednesday again? Crazy. As a companion piece to last week's Midweek Bonanza, here is a Midweek Bonanza of DOESN'T Pickz.

Creepy Kevin Bacon: Kevin Bacon was always creepy in my mind, but apparently people found him attractive. As he's gotten older, however, I think his creepy side is winning out and becoming more pronounced, whereas his attractive exterior is slowly fading away (though in truth, hasn't he always kind of looked like a sexy pig who gave up his acting talents to turn into a human so he could marry the Princess?). This was obvious in Hollow Man when the film bases its entire plot on his creepiness rather than his physical appearance (as he is invisible most of the film). Wild Things, A Few Good Men, Murder In the First-- these all confirmed and exhibited his creepiness. Well, now I saw him in Where the Truth Lies, and was made physically uncomfortable when I saw him touching and kissing the body of the nude Alison Lohman (who is somehow 28 even though she looks 16). You know how in Body Shots-- when a sentence starts like that, you know it's not gonna end well-- but you know how in Body Shots, Tara Reid got naked and effectively ended her career, but you weren't allowed to like, look at her naked and be like, "Tara Reid is naked and hot" because she was naked during a DATE RAPE SCENE? Yeah, well, Alison Lohman is naked in this movie, but then skeazy, creepy, 85 year old Kevin Bacon with a shaggy 1970's haircut enters the frame and freaks everybody out. Now, I understand this was probably on purpose and represented a greater theme of the film, but it's gross and creepy, and entirely unexpected. Try playing Six Degrees of Creepy Bacon. It's fun-- just find a movie that Kevin Bacon was creepy in, where someone else who is creepy was in. Like Wild Things. Matt Dillon can be pretty creepy (or depressing). Matt Dillon was in Crash with William Fichtner (the detective in Prison Break and Sheriff in Invasion). William Fichtner was in Prison Break with Robert Knepper (aka T-Bag), the creepiest dude ever who will never be able to get another role without people assuming he's a child molester. Robert Knepper was is going to be in Hitman with Timothy Olyphant (bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard) who was in Catch and Release with the ever-creepy Juliette Lewis who is in Kalifornia with Brad Pitt who was very creepy IN the movie Kalifornia. Brad Pitt is in Sleepers with none other than your first creep, Kevin Bacon. This is what I do with my time.

Bad Impersonations: I saw a comedian a week ago who did a lot of impersonations. He wanted to end his act with them, and so he rattled off a bunch. Here's the thing with impersonations-- if you can't nail the voice, you better have something hilarious to say that I haven't heard before. If you can nail the voice, you still better be able to say something amusing, otherwise you're just doing an impersonation, which is laudible, but not necessarily funny. This guy did a dead on Jack Nicholson-- but all he said was like, "I like scotch," which isn't remotely funny. We get it, Jack drinks and is cool-- but they aren't called Acknowledgements, they're called Impersonations. He went on to do a bunch of the obvious ones including Pacino, Bush, Matthew McConaughey (which is the best imdb search name ever-- you can type pretty much anything after Matthew Mc____ and it'll come up with his name), and Robert De Niro. Then he threw in a shockingly outdated Jeff Goldblum, which he neither was able to do accurately, nor say anything funny while doing. Then he tried the gold standard and past its prime impersonation: Christopher Walken. Look: If you can't do Christopher Walken as good or better than Jay Mohr, don't do it. We've all heard great C.W. impressions. Your mediocre attempt, talking about dancing is not new territory. It's a deal breaker. So after the poor Christopher Walken, he said he wouldn't leave until he got real applause. So he did a Bono. Scattered claps. John Madden. More claps, clearly because we wanted this guy to leave. He didn't accept it because the claps were too delayed. After one of the worst Robin Williams impressions I've ever heard, the crowd ripped into applause. He thanked us and left. Wow.

Now, if you've watched any baseball in the last few weeks, you know that there is a new show called Frank TV with Frank Caliendo of Mad TV. He does a bunch of impersonations, too, but he seems to be really good at them (mostly because of the clothes he has on, but he has good voices and things to say). It looks like a good impersonation example. I have NO IDEA how they are going to sustain a 12-23 episode season with him doing impersonations, but I guess that's why I'll watch. Feel free to post Witz impersonations in the comments section ("Uh, what's with like, I DON'T pick them-- they're all 'wash off the plates first'...what's the point! Yeah, dishwashers...I'm totally gonna pay the bills with this killer comedy...").

People Who Think I'm the Weird One For NOT Eating Oysters: People keep getting on my and other people's asses for not eating oysters-- like we're the weird ones. Are you serious? Oysters have possibly the most disgusting consistency I've ever tasted and taste mostly like snot. Sometimes flavored snot. They are also really really expensive and generally accompany a time when I'm paying for two aka another person who doesn't actually like oysters, but has been forced to act like they do. "But they're an aphrodisiac!" Ok, who cares? So are hand-jobs and I'm not running around paying for those (and I'll quote Entourage her-- Turtle: "Who the FUCK wants a hand-job?"). Also, according to Discovery Health, oysters do not increase sexual desire or performance at all, but do work as a placebo since everyone thinks they do. Ironically, the band Placebo works in the reverse way-- you hear their music and immediately want to have no contact of any kind with anyone, and prefer the depressed doomed loneliness of your room and the darkness. So to you I say, YOU ARE THE WEIRD ONE.

What If Oysters Are Empty nside And First Graders Are Getting Paid Millions For Their Tasty Snot?,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Witz Pickz: Weekend Excursions

I'm back! Where did I go, you ask? Why, on a Weekend Excursion of course! In this case, a few of us drove down to LA to catch the Red Sox ALDS Game 3 against the Angels. The drive was a bit long (which it turns out you find out on the way BACK, not on the way there. Once the excitement of "We're going, we're going" turns into "We went, we're exhausted, we're-- going back to work..." it becomes a bit rough.), but the trip itself was amazing, the Red Sox won and swept the series which was perfect, and we met some good people while we were there. For the record, Angel Stadium is gorgeous, albeit a little Disney-fied, but there are great views of the field all over the place, and the seats aren't outrageously small and packed. Also, if you're a Red Sox fan, watching at Angel Stadium feels like a home game, because Angels fans invented things like Thunder Sticks and Angels Paddles to make up for the fact that there just aren't that many Angels fans who are that hardcore. As one guy said, "Oh yeah, you got paddles? At Fenway we tap the plastic of our empty beer cups and do it the old fashioned way-- you know, clapping..."

On the way back, their was really only one momentous event-- Carl's Jr. I loath Carl's Jr. I don't have any basis for hating C's J so much, but I do. It's like the scummy, asshole cousin of Sonic and it always seems to show up when all I really want is a Sonic, only Sonic doesn't exist in 95% of the areas they advertise (apparently they're stealing Little Caesar's marketing plan). But oh, there's CARL'S JR! With that goddamn star logo, smiling evilly as if to say, "We know we're you're only option! What're ya gonna do-- get gas station food? Nope, we're Carl's Jr. and we are prevalent at desolate rest stops." So we went to Carl's Jr. We went to face our hate head on and find out if we were correct. And ya know what? Like most things, my hate was misplaced. Inside, Carl's Jr. is pretty much like any other fast food joint. The menu is almost entirely like Burger King's and tastes similar. There is one wild difference, and that is the option of Waffle Fries. They bafflingly don't advertise this option, and it was only through chance that any of us were able to acquire them. They also have amazing milkshakes that far surpass BK or McDonald's. And they put whipped cream on top-- which I like, because they are essentially saying, "Look, we know you know our food is bad for you. And we know you know we know our food is bad for you. So here's some whipped cream on top of your milkshake, as a little wink to you that we get it, and we know you get it, and we just all wanna have a good time here, ok?" It turns out my real hate for Carl's Jr. is simply at Sonic for not providing enough coverage. Carl's Jr is simply filling in the void they are leaving, and that's noble. I also have my issues with the name, because I pretty much don't get it. See, the apostrophe is after the Carl (not that this helps any). So it's Carl's Jr. The Jr. belongs to Carl. Nobody calls restaurants Juniors, so that doesn't work. It could be referring to Carl's son, Carl, Jr. but I'm not attending Carl's Son, I'm attending his fast food chain where I can acquire fat and feel shameful about it later. So what's with the apostrophe, Carl's Jr.? The burgers aren't small, they don't offer tiny burgers, and they even offer Thickburgers, which just absurdly bad for you, even though they are low-carb meals (poor marketing). So my only guess is that Carl was impotent and not able to conceive a child and thus made his restaurant his son. Or perhaps he was just too large a man with very evil eyes and never met a special lady to have a child with. Either way, Carl's Jr. was born and exists, and has an evil smile I can only assume is reminiscent of the lonely, but hungry Carl.

Vineyard Visits: Another great weekend excursion is a vineyard visit. There are vineyards all over the place in Calinfornia, the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, etc. and visiting, it turns out, is a lot of fun. You see, you go and if they have a tasting room, they will generally give you some free samples of their wine. For usually only a few dollars more, you get a bunch more tasted of more of their wines. They are discussed and presented to you by someone who knows waaaaay more about wine than you and lets you know it, in a friendly, but dominating manner. This is an especially good time to hone your acting skills. Because, once they give you the wine, you ACT like you have any freakin' idea what you and the lady are talking about. "It's like smoky, with a thick berry initial offering, and finishes with a smooth plum tart with plenty of tannins."
"Yes, agreed! It' burning wood...with a fruity IPO worth getting in on and then I swallow it and it tastes I mean-- pl-- plums? and then I can't swallow because my tongue and throat are dry..."
While I've gotten a little better at figuring out what wine's taste like, I mostly just know if I like them or not. The one thing I keep hearing though and have no idea whatsoever what it means is that there is a "plum taste" or a "plum finish." I don't think anyone has any idea what plums taste like, and I'm pretty sure that saying "plum" is wine talk for "something we can't identify." I can't remember the last time a plum was an option for me to eat, and I can't remember the last time somebody I know ate one. For a while, I at least thought I knew what a plum looked like, but then I realized I was actually picturing the McDonald's character Grimace. But it's nice to try. And for a few dollars you can try plenty of wine, get a light buzz, and figure out a little better what you like in a wine. Then, you can go back to Trader Joe's and pickup some more Two Buck Chuck knowing that it might taste a little worse, but that's called EXPERIENCE, and you're only getting more of it. Here are some things not to ask at a vineyard if you don't want to get evil looks:

--"And which is your cheapest bottle?"
--"What did the wine enthusiast say at the beach? I'm just tannin."
--"Which is your best like, DRINKIN' wine, know what I mean?"
--"I'm not swirling this wine because I have any idea what I'm doing, I'm swirling it because I'm a little buzzed and am trying to break my own personal record of perfect swirls-- of 3."
--To Friend, Too Loudly: "I like that other vineyard's wine way better..."
--"Wines to me are like the opposite of Christopher Columbus's upon discovery of America: I hate the whites and I'm really thankful for all the reds."
--"Which one goes best with Wheat Thins?"

Witz Pickz Is Another Great Weekend Excursion,

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Witz Pickz: Website Changes!

As you can probably tell, I spent a little time updating the page tonight. There are now a bunch new features and a slightly different look. Here's what I did:

*Lightened the background so your eyes don't get quite so burnt out.

*Changed some of the fonts and sizes for aesthetic purposes

*Added a friggen sweat music player (courtesy of finetune in the top right. There are 45 tracks on my playlist, so you can listen to plenty of music while you read and hangout at Witz Pickz.

*Added a poll on the right hand side. Witz Pickz occasional Democracy. And yes, I realize the results portion of the poll looks effing terrible-- I'm working on it...

*Far easier to navigate Archives Menu in the sidebar.

*More links!

*A Donation Button-- I debated whether or not I should have this and ultimately decided that I might as well give people the option. As my readers and friends, I do not expect anyone to donate and will not be the least bit upset if you do not. I just wanted to have the option out there. After all, Bates College allowed me to spend $160,000 on a Creative Writing Degree, so this is kind of the same thing...

*Contact info at the bottom of the page

There's more to come and obviously I'm playing around with this and utilizing some new toys, but I think it's for the better. Please let me know what you think works and what you think doesn't work, or any ideas that you have (leave comments on this post). The google adwords are pretty much here to stay though, as I need some way of attempting to generate some income. Feel free to click on them before you leave or actually utilize them, as they are becoming more and more relevant and specific.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Witz Pickz: Midweek Bonanza!

Here are some Pickz and DOESN'T Pickz for your midweekness. Sorry it's late, but I've had a heluva day trying to get cable hooked up to watch baseball and trying to track down some pumpkin ale.


Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale: After searching fruitlessly for pumpkinhead beer in California, I came up having to buy Jack's Pumpkin Spice Ale. I can't find out who the larger brewing company is for this seasonal ale, but it does not even remotely stand up to the deliciousness that is Pumpkinhead. They say that stuff tastes better when you work for it, but I went to four different stores to find this Jack's Pumpkin stuff, and it's still not as good. At each place, the people oddly looked at me like I was crazy-- especially at the two liquor stores where they seemed to be giving me, "What do you think this is-- a quality establishment?" smirks. Nobody had heard of pumpkin ale. Finally, after two Safeways and two liquor stores, I found a place that sells pumpkin ale, and it's still pretty mediocre. Pumpkinhead Ale on the other hand, is easily accessible in the northeast, and pretty cheap too. Definitely check it out if you can or if you're in the area in September or October. For those of you in Maine, there is a Pumpkinhead Festival in late October, so check that out.

I'm Reed Fish: I checked this movie out because it was free on Netflix (one of the ones you can watch online and not have to get in the mail-- also a great service with tons of good stuff), and because the lead character from Undeclared is in it (Jay Baruchel). The film is a story about a small town where most people don't leave. Reed Fish is a young local morning show host on the radio as his father used to be. He is engaged to the girl everyone knew he would marry and his one major setback is that his parents died tragically in some kind of accident. Then, a girl returns to town and his world gets turned upside down-- she is one of the people who GOT OUT of the town and went to college. It sounds very very obvious and done before, but there is an interesting twist which makes it worth seeing if you have a lot of free time. I'm not gonna say what it is, but it adds layers and depth to the film and gets you thinking, as well as resolves the plot in a unique way. In addition, the most compelling aspect of the film is that it was written by a guy named Reed Fish, so it makes you wonder what is real and what isn't and how reality and film are related (especially when you see the interesting aspect that I was talking about).

Reggie Willits is WHITE: Angels player Reggie Willits is white. That is amazing, because every single person ever would assume that a guy named Reggie with a last name like Willits who plays a professional sport would NOT be white. And yet, as Brooklyn Matt and I realized, there comes a time in every fantasy baseball owners life when they realize Reggie Willits is white and astounds them. I had this revelation previously and had this revelation AGAIN today, when I saw him in person against the Red Sox. That's one cool white dude-- I sure couldn't get away with being named Reggie.

Natalie Portman Talking About Microfinance: By request, I'm reviewing the Natalie Portman talk I saw yesterday. Natalie Portman, along with a business professor, discussed the FINCA program which opens small banks in foreign countries in need-- typically in small villages with poor women living in a culture of male abuse. The loans range from very small to decently sized and are used to specific tools to enhance business and allow women to be self-supportive and escape their male abusers. It then allows them to hire other women and build on the growth. Most people might have known this, but I'd never heard of it before and it sounds like a great endeavor. As for Natalie Portman, who I feel like has dropped off on the "hotness" and "object of obsession" charts in recent years (while therefore simultaneously raising many men on the "creepy that you only dug Natalie Portman when she was so young" charts), she seemed very well-informed and obviously intelligent (Harvard'll do that to ya). She also seemed very cool and friendly, and made a bunch of asides to the audience which it was clear she felt she was similar to both agewise and interest-wise. She seemed a little calculating, and she wasn't the smoothest public speaker, but she got a lot of people interested and that was her job. At the same time, it was really really odd to be in a room so obviously filled with guys and girls who were there only to see somebody famous. The girls weren't so bad, but seeing and hearing the guys, it was very depressing to know that so many guys were kind of their with the slight thought, "Maybe I could get with Natalie Portman." There was this weird vibe like a lot of people were thinking or talking about little fantasies where after the talk THEY would be the ones to somehow say something clever or catch her eye and bond instantly with her. It creeped me out, but many people did seem honestly interested in the topic, and that was nice. I enjoyed the talk, Natalie Portman seemed cool, and now I can say that I heard Natalie Portman talk and saw her in person-- so that's something. Support FINCA. I would also like to say that this pick was requested by The Critic Wannabe, over on myspace. He makes great film reviews on a much more regular schedule than I do, so check that out!


Tivo Ad Campaign: At what point did Tivo decide that they wanted to run a chauvinistic male dominated ad campaign? It's a little baffling. I keep seeing this one commercial where the guy is sitting there saying, "My Tivo knows what I want-- unlike my girlfriend. It knows I like baseball, so it records everything with the word baseball in it." First of all, ok, you and your girlfriend have some issues. Do you really want to bring those up now? Maybe she knows what you want, but doesn't want to appease you because you act like such an ass in public and tell people your dirty laundry. Secondly, who the hell wants EVERYTHING with "baseball" in the title?? I like baseball too, but that mostly means I want to watch a specific team's games. I don't need to see the Atlanta Braves play just because I get TBS. I don't need the little league world series recorded at the same time as Major League 3: Back to the Minors, at the same time as "Air Bud: Major League Dog" at the same time as "Little Big League." Actually, that sounds kinda sweet, but I wouldn't end up watching ANY OF IT. That's like if your girlfriend said, "I know you like chips, so I bought Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos, Harvest Chips, Ruffles, Baked Lays, Cape Cod Chips, ......" I'd say, "thanks, I do like chips, but HOW MUCH MONEY DID YOU JUST SPEND ON CHIPS!?" I don't need all those chips, just get me Doritos and I'll be happy. Just record me Baseball Tonight and we're good. NEXT, the guy goes says something like Tivo knows how to please him, UNLIKE SOMEONE HE KNOWS or whatever. Then the girl comes out ready for sex and he's all, "plus, I can pause it!" So Tivo is sweet up until your no-good- useless-whore-of-a-girlfriend-wants-to-have-sex-that-she's-probably-not-that-into-but-you clearly-abuse-her-emotionally-so-she-thinks-it's-what-she-has-to-do offers sex. Then, forget about it-- Tivo can wait. You have a bad relationship to string along. What a d-bag. I just don't get how Tivo thinks it's a good marketing campaign.

Witz Out...probably until Friday....,