Thursday, January 31, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Snickers Advertising

This just occurred to me-- Snickers has the slogan, "Hungry? Grab a Snickers!" which seems acceptable until you actually think about it for two seconds. In fact, I think the only reason it works is because they're so casual about the whole thing. What they're legitimately saying to us is, "Are you in need of food? Here-- eat a friggin' candy bar!" That is the most base level of nutrition and a very high level of bad advice. Parents have their children taken away for feeding their kids like that. "Here, you little brat, eat this sugar!" That's not remotely acceptable eating behavior. If you are hungry, like genuinely hungry, your body is saying, "I lack nutrients required to fulfil my functions." The last thing you should do is tell your body to go to hell by stuffing caramel, chocolate, and nougat into your mouth. That's the fast train the Diabetic Land. Diabetic Land looks a lot like a back alley in a sketchy neighborhood, only all the needles are prescribed and people are passed out for natural reasons. So no, if you are hungry, don't grab a Snickers. I don't care if there are peanuts in it, too, Snickers is not the answer. Their other slogan, "Snickers Satisfies," is also really vague and misleading. It satisfies you momentarily in your quest for sugar and substance, but I can't believe they've gotten away with having athletes promote it for so long. At some point, when that stopped, scientists or doctors must have knocked on their door and just said, "You know what, we gotta be honest with you here..." and just shook their head, "No." Bad Snickers.

Witz Pickz: Lost Returns and Other News

The over-extended, oft frustrating, vaguely enjoyable and yet hugely addicting show Lost comes back on tonight for a new season. I'm not sure how I feel about it, since there is a really good chance that they won't be able to have a full season due to the WGA strike. They haven't had a legit full season it feels like in a while, and the last time they ran a short season it was HORRIBLE. I don't know what they have planned, but a short season will only be made worse by the fact that I am more Lost than ever. I don't know about you (people who watch), but I don't remember what the hell is going on AT ALL. They're on an island. Time travel may or may not have taken place. Charlie may or may not be dead? Is that it? I can't remember anything else, and I don't really remember how those parts fit together. So they're gonna have a lot of work on their hands trying to remind everyone what the hell is up and then present a shortened season for us to watch. It's almost predestined to suck, but I'll be there watching.

On the House front, House appears to be back for a few episodes (four I believe). I'm psyched because unlike FNL, Lost, and other extended plot related shows, House can be viewed independently and fully loved and appreciated. I taped the first episode and am psyched to see it.

Which reminds me: I'm a little tired of hearing this-- "Oh man, I want to watch two shows at the same time, but I don't have TiVo!" or "God, I wish I had TiVo, the _____ is on at 8pm, but I have to go to this thing!" Geez, if only there was a device OTHER than a DVR that could record television while you were watching television or that you could program to have record later. Maybe they invented something like this back in the 80's? Is it called a Beta Max Player? No, that doesn't sound quite right...what's it? OH! It's a freakin' VCR. With VHS tapes. Which is like FIVE FRIGGEN DOLLARS AT EVERY GOODWILL OR SALVATION ARMY. I actually held onto my VCR even after DVD's got big for this very reason. And when people tell me they need to record five things at the same exact time and only DVR can do it, I say that they're right, but maybe they don't actually need to watch all of that prime time television. OR you can go online and get most shows these days. Check these links out:



Dirt: (on DVD and those links)
Starring Courtney Cox as gossip magazine editor slash actress desperate to escape her role on Friends, I can't get a grasp on if this show is actually good or pretty horrendous, but with some good aspects. The magazine aspect is not particularly interesting and they hit on just about every cliche out there. It's tough to like them even when you're supposed to because they are ruining people's lives (even though you have to realize that these people PLACE themselves in a position to get their lives ruined, but still), and while the information and Hollywood/Magazine dynamic is interesting and well done at times in the show, the characters are not particularly likeable or enjoyable. One of the major plotlines is boring as all hell and I was shocked that it was still around at the end of the season.

The one positive aspect of the show (and the one that got me to continue watching) is the character of Don Konkey, a schizophrenic photographer who grew up with Lucy Spiller (Courtney Cox). He is a great photographer and knows a cover shot when he sees one. He understands that a photo is just a photo without a story-- and he finds the stories with his camera. He also sees dead people, manifests his past, and loves cats. He wears a hat all the time and he speaks a bit like I imagine Lenny spoke in Of Mice and Men. All these details make him interesting and appealing, and the acting is really really good. Definitely check this out on your Netflix or Blockbuster Online or some other free form, and let me know what you think.

HU$TLE: Just an update-- season three is just as good as the first two seasons. All 3 seasons are just 4 DVD's and the writing is really good and the characters enjoyable. It's often predictable, but they keep you guessing and mix up the formula quite a bit.

You Can't TiVo This,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Witz Pickz: Music In the Workplace

More and more I find people with ipods in the workplace. Sometimes people are on headphones connected to itunes, but for the most part, it’s iPods. More and more frequently, I’ve been seeing these people all over the place, from the cubicle to the supermarket, from maintenance workers to cable installers. Especially within my own workplace, personal music players are plentiful and out in plain view. The taboo that listening to music is mutually exclusive with getting work done is dissipating as more and more people have access to personalized music selection. I can’t possibly imagine that people hauled Walkmen or CD Players around the workplace with that level of comfort. Even at their peak, neither device was as ubiquitous as iPods are today. But what’s my point? I mean, we all know this.

My point is that with the acceptance of some portable music devices in the workplace, people are now able to label busywork for what it is. We’re able to say, “Ya know what boss and people who see me? This task requires almost no human intelligence or focus, and so I’m going to listen to some music while I do it.” It’s letting the world know that you’re not souped about what it is that you are doing, and you need a little assistance in getting through it. It’s not that you can’t, it’s that you don’t want to. And at work, that’s a very necessary distinction and usually hidden. Because the other statement being made is, “I’m not totally excited to be here doing what I’m doing right now, so I’m going to use this music as an escape—but don’t worry, I can be back very quickly if need be.” It says I can listen to punk and feel good about that, even if I don’t want to be filing alphabetically. It makes the workplace more honest. The music is a symbol that everyone can recognize and silently understand.

So what are my top five albums to listen to in the workplace? In no particular order:

-Eddie Veder – Into the Wild Soundtrack (for when you want to space out and feel free
-The Album Leaf – In A Safe Place (for when I need to focus and get work done)
-Atmosphere – Lucy Ford EP (hip hop is still a form of rebellion in the workplace—but I don’t wanna get fired listenin’ to Biggie…)
-Millencolin – Kingwood (great poppier punk to keep you moving)
-Elliott Smith – anything (when I’m not trying to improve my time, just consider ending it)

Better Pickz Are Comin’,

Monday, January 28, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Eating Semi-Solids With A Fork...

There comes a time in every person’s life when they find themselves hunched over a container attempting to eat a semi-solid, semi-liquid food with the wrong utensil. When this moment occurs, and it inevitably will, you know that your life has reached a momentary low point. It’s important to recognize this.

I found myself this morning hunched over a cup of yogurt with a fork. As I leaned in and hastily swooped the fork from the cup to my mouth, I attempted to cradle as much of it as possible on the back end of the fork, where the little bit of un-spong-ed metal/plastic exists. I thought this was clever, all things considered, but ultimately, it was mostly just a dangerous bad idea. The trouble with working the rear of the fork is that the yogurt must balance precariously on the edge, and the next step is off the side and onto my shirt and pants. Guilty. So I sat, forking forkfuls of yogurt into my mouth as quickly as possible, and prayed that the alien, CIA, or Google Satellites weren’t honed in on me for future video archives, to be filed under, “Suspicious/Borderline Retarded.” I knew I’d reached a low.

I blame a few things for this situation—first, the lack of spoons in my place of employment. I’m sure there are some, but not in plain site where spoons always ought to be. Second, I blame myself for not bringing a spoon with me and being improperly prepared. Lastly, I blame the spork companies. What baffles me about sporks is that they EXIST, but are not even remotely present in our culture. I blame the companies for allowing sporks to a) not be very functional on the fork side of things and b) not trying to spin the marketing and press in their favor. Let’s be honest here, sporks look ridiculous, like they grew up near a power plant that had another power plant built underneath it. They’re goofy and primarily useless. BUT, at some point, someone assumed they served a function and they were created. They’ll pop up still in the strangest places; planes, cafeterias, etc. Yet the people at the Spork Companies have done nothing to improve their image or take over a market share from the other utensils. Are their Fork and Spoon lobbyists in Washington, holding heavy sway over utensil implementation? Why haven’t I seen a single spork commercial in my entire life? I’ll tell ya what, forks, spoons, and knives DO NOT ADVERTISE, and ONE commercial about an alternative utensil might win some people over. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

“Tired of having to switch utensils when eating that yogurt and eggs? Rice and runny beans? Got both hands full? Why?? It’s time to use the spork. The best of both worlds to make our world the best!”

And what if they had anti-spork campaigns like political ads?

“Sporks want you to believe that they are both a fork AND a spoon. But did you know that the spork only has TWO PRONGS that are MOSTLY USELESS? Sporks are just spoons with crutches. Do you want your utensils looking like they just got beat up by the mafia? Of course not. Forks and spoons get the job done.”

Or from the religious right:

“The union of a fork and a spoon just isn’t moral! Why would God have created both utensils for us to use if He didn’t want us to utilize them independent of each other? Just watch someone trying to use a spork and you’ll see what I mean. And what’s next if we allow this? Knorks? Spiveks? Spatu-tongs? Where does it all end? It just doesn’t FEEL right.”

My point is that in our reality, sporks aren’t an option. And when you end up eating a semi-solid with a fork, or a knife, life just isn’t on your side. But it happens, and we must take these situations as opportunities for growth. If it wasn’t for the cold, we wouldn’t appreciate warmth. If it wasn’t for forks, we wouldn’t appreciate spoons. Life is like this. You’re gonna spill a little semi-solid on yourself sometimes, but you’ll only be stronger for it.

I Am So, So Hungry,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Witz Pickz: Weekend Prep Pickz

It’s Thursday already, which is tremendous and rewarding, and after you all listen to my radio show live or checkout the podcast tomorrow, you’ll need some things to do. So here is a little pick-nic, a grab bag, a survival kit, if you will, of things to make your weekend better (or to avoid in order to keep your weekend at a high functioning level).

HU$TLE: TV is dead and you need a show to kill some time during the long, non-football hours of this weekend. Well, I suggest checking out Hustle, a BBC show from the makers of MI-5. Hustle cleverly spells it’s name with a money sign to let you know that a) there’s money involved b) the show is clever and c) not all is as it seems. The show is about a bunch of British grifters and if you’re anything like me, you love a good long con. Or short con. Cons are really enjoyable for me—not the kind that’ll punch you in the face and take your…respect…but the other definition that tricks people into giving you money. Lila from Dexter is in it which is interesting, as are some other vaguely recognizable British actors. Considering the BBC’s history of cheesy production, it’s very well done, well written, and only a couple DVD’s per season. It’s just the type of show Murs* would like.

Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste: This toothpaste is like Hustle because they con you into thinking its more effective than other toothpaste. In fact, I’m pretty sure MOST toothpastes do this, and I really don’t believe that any one toothpaste is better at freshness than any other. The FLAVORS? YES. The effectiveness of freshness? No. The hook with this brand is that they have mini-breath strips IN the toothpaste. These are little squares like the Listerine fresh breath strips that are actually inside the gel like fruit stuck in jell-o. When you brush your teeth, they allegedly go and get their fresh on. In actuality, if you don’t brush for more than 5 minutes, you end up spitting out a whole slew of mini-breath strips. Hoax. HOWEVER, this toothpaste wins a pick because of its name. Max Fresh sounds like the name of a G-Funk Era Porn Star. Max Fresh would “get his clean on for the ladies.” Max Fresh would “get his test on for the HIV and STD’s.” Max Fresh would “do kinky shit if the gig paid,” and would definitely, “do whatever was necessary for a quality money shot.” Max Fresh takes his profession seriously. Max Fresh would like to have been a B-Boy, but got caught up in the porn game and never looked back. When girls on the set brush their teeth after a long day at work, they use Colgate brand Max Fresh Toothpaste.

Gordon Biersch Winter Hook Beer: I hit up the Gordon Biersch Brewery this weekend for the first time in San Francisco and was immediately greeted by Thatch, a waiter whose name so obviously speaks for his personality that I was overwhelmed with his cool. Thatch didn’t give much of a shit about classic waiter/patron rapport and started dropping serious knowledge on us. He assumed we’d been there before and we hadn’t, so Thatch asked if we wanted the beer sampler for free. I kind of assumed he said, “I’m going to give you a free beer sampler because who doesn’t want that,” so I waited a few seconds before realizing it was a question and answered, “Yes.” We were then brought an assortment of eight beers in shot glass sized samplers. He then went into describing each beer as if we’d never heard of beer before, which was actually kind of amusing. He showed us the Blonde Ale, the Pilsner, the stout, the Heffeweizen, and couple others before getting to the seasonal. He described one of them as being, “medium hops, medium flavor, medium body, medium alcohol content, and medium calories.” I promptly quipped, “…And it’s just ok….” To which Thatch stared at me as if to say, “Oh, I get it, you’re the ‘funny guy.’ Does that work with the ladies, ‘cause I’m the Cool Guy, and before you ask, Yes, It Does.” I couldn’t even hate him for it. Thatch WAS cool. He eventually got to the Seasonal Brew and told us it was his favorite. It was the most flavorful, the highest alcohol content, the best taste, and only around for a little while longer. He so oversold it that I felt like a chump when I finally told him that I wanted it. And it WAS delicious. And it WAS high in alcohol. And it WAS worth my money. So if you’re looking for a beer this weekend, I suggest the Gordon Biersch Winter Hook.

No One Belongs Here More Than You: Miranda July:
This might be kind of a downer of a book, but if it’s rainy this weekend and you just wanna curl up with a book and read, I very much pick this book of short stories. Miranda July is the performance artist who wrote and starred in Me, and You, and Everyone We Know, and some of the same themes of loneliness and human connectedness of that film are present in her book. Clever, poignant, sadly amusing, and often overly sexual, Miranda July manages to blend a number of stories together through her strong tone and appealing voice. It’s like dark humor that’s meant to be taken seriously and is. Also, it’s only 200 pages and a fast read, so it’s a one or two day-er if you’re into it. Enjoy.

TGI Almost F,

*H-U-S-T-L-E hustler.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Witz Pickz: Heath Ledger (and more...awkkkkkwaaaard...)

I've been running around getting other things done tonight, but I wanted to make sure to post regarding Heath Ledger's death.

While I wasn't a teenage girl and 10 Things I Hate About You wasn't my favorite fave movie of all timesies, I feel way more bothered by his death than I ought to. Maybe it's because he was 28 and that's not so far off (I somehow assumed he was like 32+), or maybe it's because he has a wife and a kid, but unfortunately, I think it's more so because he was a really good actor and was only making better stuff as he went along. From films like Brokeback Mountain, Ned Kelly, Monster's Ball, and I'm Not There to amazing vocal acting roles like in Lords of Dogtown, Heath Ledger won me over from thinking he was a two-bit teen actor to realizing his actual abundance of talent. I don't know whether he meant to overdose on sleeping pills or if he just wanted some damn sleep and ended up with too many in his system at once, but either way, I will miss his potential and it's a damn shame.


Ok, now let's make fun of cakes-- Kakes actually. Here's what I'm talking about:

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Kathy's Kreative Kakes
I ran into this cake company recently and was baffled by it. Not by the cake aspect and the fact that they make very cool cakes, but by the company itself. I'm a very big fan of Ace of Cakes, and was almost a little surprised to see that another creative cake company existed and was thriving. And more so, how could one attempt to compete against such a cake giant? The answer would soon reveal itself.

You see, what I have to seriously wonder is the glaringly obvious problem with the name of the company. Kathys Kreative Kakes. Because the thing here is that two-thirds of your title is mispelled. It's not like Bagelz With A Z where they tell you exactly what's up, and it's not like Jim's Jungle Jym where the last J is clearly there to keep the flow of the first two. It's not even like Witz Pickz where the second z is lending accent to the first z. It's not like that at all, it's just wrong.

Kathy's Kreative Kakes implies that Kathy is extremely self-absorbed. Kreative is spelled with a C. Kakes is spelled with a C. It's only Kathy who spells her name with a K. If she really wanted to line everything up nicely, she should have just gone with Cathy's Creative Cakes. Nobody would have been any the wiser, and she still would know when people were complimenting her. But instead, she forced the issue. She got an idea somewhere rattlin' up in that batter brain of hers that she could be clever, and she didn't let it go strictly because it wasn't logical, or well-crafted, or really clever at all. So she changed the other letters.

Which brings us to the big awkward part of the show. By manipulating two thirds of the starting letters, Kathy brings even more attention to the fact that her cake company's initials for short are KKK. As My Brooklyn Buddy said, "I don't want to eat at KKK bakery." But let's all take a moment to realize that at some point Kathy had to have been aware of this fact, either by herself or pointed out by someone else. And when that moment came, Kathy HAD to have taken a moment to think, breathed in, and said, "Not a big deal. Let's go with it." That's weird. Because, as Brooklyn Buddy pointed out, who WOULD want to buy cakes from KKK bakery? Welp, racists for one. Anti-Semites for dos. Probably people who hate gay people, if they didn't feel too effeminate purchasing a specialty cake. So I guess that answers my earlier question. How do they compete with Ace of Cakes? I guess they cater to a specialty audience.

The whole thing makes me both confused and pranksterish. Around Halloween, I'm pretty excited to not only order a "ghost" cake, but to see how many other people do too. I wanna see if Kathy even flinches when she hands over the box. I want to know if they make any religious cakes for the church. I hope they make one for Nu Churches that try to be hip. "Yeah, man, make it like, a cross, right, but like, make it badass, you know? Like, yeah, that's it, throw some flames on there man! That's awesome! This cake is so badass, the teenagers are toootally gonna come to church now!" Oh Kathy. You and your Kreativity. So Klever. You're like a Dave Chapelle sketch come to life. And I can't wait until Halloween.

Google: "Kathy's Kreative Kakes Hates Black People" Until It Shows Up In Search Results Like the Aziz Ansari Joke,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Witz Pickz: MLK, Jr. Day, BUT...

....isn't it a little troubling that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is so awesome because most people get it off from work? I mean, I know in school they teach about MLK, and I know that some schools, primarily private, stay open on MLK Day and have MLK and civil rights or african-american culture based programs, but the fact of the matter is that while Martin Luther King, Jr. was a tremendous figure in the American civil rights movement, we wouldn't necessarily have a day for him if he hadn't been assassinated. After all, it's not called African American Civil Rights Day or Civil Rights Activists Day, it's called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And just like many other important and integral historical figures, those who die before they have finished their cause are primarily memorialized. I mean, c'mon, CHRISTMAS? Yeah, exactly. So my concern becomes somewhat obvious.

Since MLK, Jr. Day is so awesome on the whole for people because it's a welcome break from the work week, doesn't this open up a problematic paradigm for the future? I mean, aren't we pseudo-celebrating the day off BECAUSE he was shot, and doesn't that make it horrible? I realize I'm not sitting around today saying, "Good thing MLK was shot," but I am saying, "I'm enjoying this day off," which seems awkward at best. Was James Earl Ray like the guys in The Rock? Was he thinking, "Today they'll call us terrorists, but in time, we'll be called Patriots?" By being psyched about the day off, are we letting the terrorists win?

Also, since America's policy is not to negotiate with terrorists, doesn't this open the door for more situations like this?

"Gimme Monday off!"
"You know we can't do that, it's a busy week!"
"But it's the third monday in april, that's not busy!"
"I'm sorry, I just can't do it..."
"We'll see about THAT (in five to ten years)!"

And then they go ahead and shoot a major activist or political figure. Granted, they'll probably get caught and go to jail where they will either celebrate Anal Rape Day over and over again or ultimately land on death row, but when the third monday in April rolls around years later, they'll be sitting there saying, "Your welcome, effers!" as we all celebrate Al Gore Day or Joel Osteen Day, or even Mitt Romney Day (I wish I was married to Mitt Romney so I could say "Happy Romniversary" every year on our wedding day...of course Mitt would never allow any of that, but still I dream...). It just doesn't quite make sense.

WITZ ALSO PICKZ (in case that last bit was awkward):

Triscuits and Cheese: WILL THIS NEVER GET OLD??

"Hi, my name's Triscuits and I'm delicious and dependable. Also, you can get the reduced fat version of me, and I don't suck! While somewhat overpriced, I'm almost always on sale and I guarentee to give solid taste and satisfaction."

"Well, hello, Triscuits, I'm Cheese--"

"--Oh, I'm well aware..."

"Oh, well great! Then you already know I blend well on the palate with your wheaty grains and combine with your nutrition to give people both delicious taste, full flavor, and quality servings of whole grains and dairy!"

"I DO know that! Now you look like Cheddar Cheese, am I right?"

"While I don't feel entirely comfortable with your racial steretyping, you are absolutely correct in this instance! I am orange cheddar cheese!"

"Ah, I thought so! Sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason. I also know your relatives, Swiss--"

"--Gap Faced Inbreds"

"--Monteray Jack--"

"--Captain Queer, you mean--"


"--Soft Spreading Pansies--"

"--and even White Cheddar!"

"--Aryan Cheds."

"You know, for not liking my stereotyping, you're certainly incredibly racist for a cheese."

"No no no, it's not racist-- it's ok because I'M a CHEESE..."

"Ohhh, now I understand. Well, anyway, now that we both know each other and how enjoyable we are together, let's take the market by storm like we've been doing for so long."

"Yes, and let us never let anyone realize how fucking fat they'll get by eating us."

"Whole grains and dairy! (WINK)"


Eatin' Healthy,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Witz Pickz: Stock Tipz

I’m a sure thing. You should know this about me. Like balls cold weather on the east coast and a lack of leg-room on a plane, I will always lose when betting on something. Me and gambling are like John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga in the movie The Sure Thing. Maybe more so.

I used to sports bet. I’d bet between 5 and 10 dollars on games and usually took the favorite. That’s a pretty stupid thing to do, because even when picking parlays with massive favorites, somebody is bound to lose and you never win more than you’re apt to lose. So I ran out of money that way—turns out Pedro Martinez didn’t go 30-0 ever, and I can’t make money sports betting.

Roulette will always turn up the other color. The dealer will hit blackjack. I don’t have any idea how to play craps, and the algorithm is always in the other guy’s favor when I go all in playing online poker. My horses, greyhounds, and marbles will always finish last.

In high school I got into stock trading. I had some money from my Bar Mitzvah (boy were those the days), and I took it out of the mutual funds they were in and bought some stocks, partially from my own half-assed misguided research, and half based on my extremely well-read, intelligent friend. Remember when everyone made an assload of money on tech-stocks? Yeah. I was the guy who bought too late. When the boom busted. I lost all my money, and had to settle for a great capital gains loss ten years later on my taxes.

So with shockingly mild trepidation, I bought some stocks last week. Apple stock. I believe in the “buy what you know” theory of stocks, and what I know is that I’m probably going to lose all my money. I bought way too high and have since watched as Apple has dipped down to 160. Thankfully, I’m in it for the long term and feel good enough Apple that it’s not going to fold. I might hate the ads, but I love the products, and now that windows runs better on Macs, I might even buy one.

I had a little money left over in the account, so I decided today to spend it on something. While randomly searching symbols, I stumbled across CMG. CMG is what I wanted to buy four years ago, but didn’t know it existed outside of McDonald’s Corp. CMG is CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILLE! If I’d known and bought it back when I wanted to, I would have gotten it at 40—it’s now at 120. EFF. So following the buy what you know theory, I bought myself a couple shares of CMG, not so much because I expect to make money off it, but because I love Chipotle and I’d feel ok about losing money to it. I mean, I already drop cash on their burritos, why not buy their stock?

So what I’m trying to tell you in this column is DO NOT BUY CMG. DO NOT BUY AAPL. That's my stock tip. Buy the farthest thing from them and your life will be better and you might just make some money. But if you’re looking for some tax deductions this year, buy up the same stocks I do, and let’s ride this flume to the splashdown.

E'erbody In the Club Gettin' (stock) Tipz,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Witz Pickz: Sliders

Remember when you first realized that you were old enough to buy candy for yourself and that your parents weren't there to say you couldn't? Remember when you first figured out you could have all the Cocoa Krispies you wanted for breakfast and nobody could stop you? Well, I do. And unfortunately, I think I've moved on to the point in my life where I have those realizations, but then decide I'd really better not, because it's not healthy to eat that much sugar for breakfast. Last weekend, however, I had one of those realizations, and it was amazing. How?


That's how. It occurred to me out of nowhere that I am totally within my rights to make mini-hamburgers on small buns. I know, it sounds crazy, but each and every one of us has that power, and after last weekend, I urge you to use it. You see, I knew my first weekend after work was going to be awesome-- more relaxing and welcoming than a weekend had been in a long time. Christmas Morning-esk. So I planned to sit on the couch and watch my THREE football teams (I collect them like auto-immune diseases) play in the playoffs. This, in and of itself, would be amazing. Then I thought to combine it with sleeping in late and I would be in heaven. Only then it hit me-- I could make delicious little burgers and tell people to come over and eat them.

A couple friends arrived just as I was arranging the burgers. A few dipped in ketchup with spices, a few with bleu cheese centers. A few more with garlic powder. One of my friends jumped right in with glee and made a few with egg and hot spices, giddy like a kid-- we all were. So we grilled em up, made some bacon (literally), and then the topper-- I MADE BISCUITS. The thing about biscuits is that they are ridiculously easy to make, but seem nearly impossible. They require only the ingredients that people have lying around their houses, but they are often overlooked for simply rolls. Also, whenever I make biscuits, no matter how many times I've done it before, the thought, "There is absolutely no way this is going to turn into dough," goes through my head and every single time the result is, "I can't believe that floury mess turned into dough!" So boom. Biscuits and burgers. Gimme all your money, I win. We devoured all the mini burgers and sat sated as the Giants gloriously held off the Cowboys to advance to the NFC Championship game this Sunday. What a good good day.

This led me to want to open a Sliders restaurant. My Friend With A Pool and I brainstormed. We had created the Bacon Wrapped Bleu Cheese Slider and pretty much assumed we could make a restaurant based on that product alone. Then we realized that we could not only start a restaurant, but we could land a serious Triple Pun at the same time. We wold name our restaurant: Sliders. Like the burger. But then, we would reference the television show Sliders by making it, "Sliders: A New Dimension of Taste" because in the show they travel to new dimensions. And then we'll play that fuckin' Beastie Boys song in the background that goes, "Another dimension, another dimension, ANOTHER dimension, aNoTher DIMensIon, AnOtHeR dimENsion!" over and over again, and then Jerry O' Connell will pop into the frame, point at the camera and say, "I really shouldn't have made the movie Body Shots!" and it'll freeze frame. In fact, the entire restaurant in real life will constantly be freeze framing. To demonstrate another dimension. It'll be like your world is lagging and you need to get a better connection, but instead, you just kick back order a Bacon Wrapped Bleu Cheese Slider and let this new dimension of flavor enter your mind, body, and soul.

Now, I know what you're all thinking. You're thinking, "I'm not entirely certain Witz knows what a pun is." Fair enough. Triple Threat, perhaps? Triple Entendre might have worked better. Get over it. You're also thinking, "Witz, who exactly is your audience? Are you truly targeting Hungry Fans of the Cult Hit Show Sliders Starring Jerry O' Connell and the Fat Guy With a Beard From Indiana Jones? YES! And when somebody is out with a potential love interest, and they start fighitng and one of them leaves, we'll get that fat bearded guy from Indiana Jones to come out to the remaining member of the couple and say, "Bad Dates."

I can see it now-- Sliders: A New Dimension of Taste. Nerds will love us. Hipsters will love and subsequently hate us. We will be described as, "Hit or miss" by most media outlets and by word of mouth. But people will come. They will come for the experience, they will come for the delectable meats on biscuits, and they will come to hear Intergalactic by The Beastie Boys. Because once that goddamn thing gets in your head, it's really very difficult to get it out.

anOthER diMENsion!,

P.S. Tagline for a new gay reality show like the Tila Tequila Shot At Love show: "Forget A Mansion, this Summer, get ready for a MENsion!"...and the show'll be called Honorary Mension.

P.P.S. It's been a long day and I'm tired. You're gettin' THIS type of humor tonight...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Dream-Insanity

I've been having some pretty insane dreams the last couple weeks. Long, extensive dreams, with lots of levels and blatant plagiarism from my reality. These suckers go on and on in dream time, which is not unusual for people, but fairly unusual for me. Here are two abbreviated examples of these dreams, and while I realize that nothing is less interesting to hear about than what didn't really happen to other people, I think if you look at them as a story, you'll enjoy yourself.

Night A:

This dream was a real treat. First, a bunch of my friends and I are hanging out for the day. My family shows up and we decide we should totally go camping at the beach. So we go to the beach and pitch some tents by the picnic tables because we're gonna sleep there. Then a bunch of homeless people show up and we realize that we've blatantly taken the "best homeless sleeping areas." We all feel a bit sheepish, but decide it's too much trouble to take down and move the tents, and besides, if the homeless people had a selected spot that they usually slept at, then they wouldn't technically be homeless, would they? So we all go to sleep.

Cut to the next night (still in the same dream, just the next night in dream time), when myself and a couple friends are for some reason hanging out at a sort of ghetto club slash warehouse in New Britain, CT. First we walk around and get a few drinks. Then I go off and have an extensive yet dull as hell conversation with some dude I don't know. While we're talking, two thugs come over and tell us they're gonna have a dunking competition. We say OK. They both start out just regular dunking, but then start to move further away. Once they get to the foul line, one of them starts putting down some absolutely amazing dunks. He flies through the air and slams down the ball and me and the dude I was talking to start exchanging looks that say, "this is pretty effing awesome!" His buddy, however, has virtually no ups, and it becomes obvious as they move further and further away that he has no chance of reaching the hoop from that distance. They keep jumping at the same time, but the one guy keeps awkwardly landing many feet from the hoop while the his friend dunks like crazy. Everyone feels too awkward to tell the guy when he asks how he did that he's far far worse, so we all smile and say they both rule.

After a while my friends and I are bored, so we all hop in the regular sized bathtub together...that is packed with ice. So we all sit in the ice bath, hanging out, drinking some drinks when violence starts to break out. People start punching each other and it appears that a gang has entered the bar and started some shit with another group. It basically descends into random one on one violence and it's impossible to tell who is a threat and who is trying to stay safe (this is definitely because I watched The Kingdom). We all make a run for the exit, but I drop my phone into the ice bath as we go. We make it to the door safely despite gunshots, knives, and fists, and I even see one guy put his hand on a guy's shoulder and stab him with a blade. "MY PHONE!" I remember as we exit and turn to run back through. And here was my dream logic: "I'll lose all my contacts." We're all screwed.

So I book back and SOMEHOW make it through all the seemingly random violence and to the tub. I grab my phone from the ice and rush back towards the exit. Right as I reach the exit, the kid with the blade jumps in front of me and our eyes meet. I am TERRIFIED. The kid puts his hand on my shoulder just as he had with the other kid and pulls out the knife. "PLEASE DON'T" I shout at him, knowing what comes next. He looks me right in the eye, and he says to me, "I wasn't gonna. I just wanted to feel you shake."
I wake up.

Night B:

This one is from last night. I don't remember nearly enough of it to paint a great picture, but here's the gist of it. My girlfriend, My Friend With A Pool, my friend J-Kow, My Russian Seeming Friend and His Girlfriend, and I are all hanging out. First we drive a school bus around, wondering what to do. Then, eventually, we reach a hill. On the hill is a weird type of grass that feels like there is loose ground underneath and that it could easily be peeled back like an orange. I proceed to have this conversation as we hike up the hill and my walking stick pokes into the grass:

ME: This ground feels creepy.
ME: It feels like the type of grass that snakes would live under.
GF: Oh. Are you afraid of snakes?
ME: You know I am! They really freak me out.
GF: I didn't know they bother you so much...
ME: I keep having dreams about snakes like every night and wake up as I'm getting attacked by them and can't manage to run or get away.
GF: That's scary!

I then poke the ground with my pole, a piece of grass gets torn away, and you'll never guess what? SNAKES! They hit they're freakin' dream cue! A snake pops out and slithers towards me and I start hopping around to get away. Each time I land, a new patch of grass opens up and another snake pops out. I hope frantically down the hill, but can't keep control and can't get away from the snakes. I eventually fall and roll down the hill with the snakes all around and now on me. I can't get away or run. Shocking. I wake up, both terrified and a bit confused. Yes, I had a scary snake dream, but wtf? I'm talking about my dreams in my dreams now? Have I gone that postmodern? Have my dreams run out of material and are asking itself what to do in a conversation format? Is any of that the plot to Cloverfield??? My only hope is that now that I know what's up, I can control the dream conversations and not give my subconscious any more fodder.

SUBCONSCIOUS: Witz, what are we scared of?
ME: Pizza and midgets!
SUBCONSCIOUS: Really? I thought we loved pizza and adored midgets-- who I believe go by little people or vertically challenged now...
ME: Well, you got me, Subconscious. We really fear flying and having claws like Wolverine that we use to fight crime and travel safely and efficiently like birds.
SUBCONSCIOUS: Hmm...well first of all, I don't buy it, but second of all, I'm a bit surprised that what with your attempts at revere subconscious psychology, you didn't say something about naked women.
ME: Aha! I was trying to avoid the obvious joke and overused stereotype.
SUBCONSCIOUS: That seems fair.
ME: Does it?
SUBCONSCIOUS: Welllllll.......

I'm not gonna try to analyze what my dreams mean. A lot of them are obvious from things I've been talking about or doing on a day to day basis, but a lot of it is completely insane. Feel free to offer in depth analysis in the comments section.

Dream Theater Is Not Just A Crazy Band,

P.S. There is a new post before this one as well, so make sure to read both, so you get your full dosage of posts this week!

Witz Pickz: Picking A Doctor (And HAVING Healthcare)

I'll go ahead and assume everyone knows how miserable my immune system is. So I'll skip to the glory that is Healthcare, and to be more factually accurate (since Healthcare is not actually ALL that glorious), MY HAVING healthcare. Now that I'm working, I'm apparently not going to get sick anymore, because I'm not stressed out about not working and not having healthcare in case I get sick, which leads me to getting sick. Sometimes life is evil.

Now, having healthcare is great, and everyone absolutely must get SOME KIND always. But now that I'm signed up, I had to select a primary care physician. This entails looking through a list of about 80 similarly qualified doctors with very little differentiating information. The process to switch primary care physicians is a bitch and a half, so I have to make this count. Narrowed down by location radius (apparently it's a problem for me to drive 2.3 miles to a GREAT doctor, when I can drive 1.2 to an OK doctor), I still have about 60 doctors to choose from.

They each have specialty's within the areas of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Pediatry (that has to do with kids, not feet right?). Well, here's the thing-- I don't have a family, but I probably have a lot of the same health concerns that individual family members have. I am, in fact, an individual family member, just not in this state. So maybe that's for me? But then there's Internal Medicine. Except for the time I was stung by a bee, the time I touched poison ivy, and the time my toe nail fell off, almost all of the medicine I have been given quickly became internal medicine, along with a glass of water. Also, after a quick look in the mirror and some mental math, I determined that I am MOSTLY INTERNAL. So maybe THIS ONE is for me?

Finally, there's pediatrician's, and while I went to a pediatrician up through college when I was at home, exposing myself to the strong and terrible filthiness of children's germs, I am no longer a child and probably should not go to an MD who specializes in children's medicine. I do like the prospect of going in for a routine exam and having my hernia test done by a pediatrician, knowing as he checks my junk that I've got a clear advantage in that arena. But that's no way to pick a doctor.

So I do what every person does in my situation-- I racially and culturally profile. I start looking at the individual names, and occasionally explore further one of the names that SOUNDS right. That's pretty much how I ended up choosing my college, so why not a doctor, too? Hal Johnson sounds like he'll make fun of me for "being a puss." Beverly McDonough reminds me that I don't want a female doctor. Anoush Abkadazian gets crossed off the list, but to make sure I'm not racist, I leave on Juan Rodriguez. See? So I go through and I go through and eventually, I hit upon a name I recognize and have some history with: David Fischer.

For those not in the know, David Fischer is the name of Michael C. Hall's character in Six Feet Under. As I've seen the entire series from start to finish on DVD (and thought it was "OK" as you can read in a previous post), I have a lot of history with David Fis(c)her and feel like I know where he's coming from. I doubt THIS David will be a late thirties gay man with dry humor, uptight tendencies and a penchant for corpses, but still, gotta go with something. Then, there's the Michael C. Hall connection. Along with Six Feet Under, Michael C. Hall plays the lead role in Dexter, one of my all time favorite series thus far. I can't pass up a connection like that, it's just too obvious to me.

I pause only momentarily to think about the consequences of my actions. Does picking a doctor based on a fictional character, he happens to work IN A MORGUE, make sense? Does it jinx it? Is the irony enough to override any horrible curses I might have placed upon myself? I wonder beyong that to the greater fact that Dexter is a serial killer who feels no emotion and lives only by a code his step-father laid out for him...that's kind of like the hypocratic oath, isn't it?? Yeah, of course it is. So I focus on those facts, ignore the negative possibilities, and click on his name. I find out that he a) looks a bit like Alan Alda b) is an allergy and immunology expert (THOSE ARE MY POTENTIAL PROBLEMS!!!) and c) went to the University of Washington (the state from which I moved). So that's three cool coincidences worth running with, and I do.

I sign up online and make David Fischer my doctor. Is it the best idea, ever? Probably not. But do I have any other real criteria to base my decision on, given that I was in the middle of the registration process and couldn't proceed with a name? Nope. And so I'm counting on my Emotional Intelligence on this one. My instincts, my life experience, and my gut. Because even though I went with my gut when choosing a college and regretted it, and even though I went with my gut when buying Taco Bell and regretted it, and even though I went with my gut when betting on roullette and regretted it, this time is going to be the time. And if my gut doesn't come through this time, well, I'll have to hit the gym and make sure I stay in shape and healthy.

Limited Liability Human,

(posts will come at nights now mostly, so be sure to check back for more posts you might have missed-- I'll try and make up with another one so you get all 5 this week)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Witz Pickz: Live Free or Fly (Southwest Airlines)

I can’t think of anything I’ve partaken in recently, so I will instead regale you with another tale of air travel adventure. This time I passed out 100% less than in previous adventures.

I got to the airport ready to head back West. It was freezing cold outside, I could feel my “Immune” system breaking under the pressure’s of a real Winter, and I knew I needed to get back to the moderate temperatures of California. I walked to the boarding area and looked at the new system of boarding—instead of simply having groups A, B, and C, they now have numbers that accompany the groups. They built posts in the boarding area with numbers on them to line up next to. Each post has five number increments. So basically if you’re A23, you lineup in the A group, between 21-25 marker. This doesn’t so much speed up boarding as it does dramatically slow it down while allowing for more people to hangout sitting down and further away. While this is more logical in one way, it also is moving the wrong direction in actual travel accommodation. I blame lazy fat people.

So I line up, board, and snag a seat by the window. A girl sits on the end. Group C is clearly boarding and only middle seats are left open. Suddenly, a seven foot tall giant boards the plane….and walks by…phew, dodged a bullet, right? Wrong. After a slight pause, the ENTIRE UMASS BASKETBALL TEAM boards the plane. About 30 huge dudes, heads bent to fit in the plane, walk on in and take middle seats. There is nothing worse than that. The value of short people still boarding suddenly quadrupled, and I started making eye contact with them, smiling brightly and attempting to convey the though that, “You’ll just LOVE sitting next to me!” Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it translated as, “I’m gonna touch you when you sleep!” and none of the petite women took the bait. I threw the, “Dude, I’ve got snacks and a video ipod” look at some smaller guys, but I’m pretty sure that one translated as, “I’m gonna touch you when you sleep!” as well. It was already predetermined that a seven foot athlete was going to sit next to me, so I was not surprised when it happened.

I tried to break the ice with some conversation, and said something to the effect of, “Man, you’d think someone would have been in charge of making sure you were in the A Group,” but it didn’t land so well. Have you ever tried to make an event planning/organizational comment to a gangsta looking nineteen year old with biceps bigger than your head? In case you haven’t, they don’t go over so well. He was not interested. But whatever, I mean, it was only a few hours to—where were we going again? Oh yeah, Las Vegas. Right? Kind of.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, Southwest Airlines doesn’t tell you where their planes will be stopping unless you are physically transferring planes. So a flight from Hartford to San Francisco, for instance, might have the vague and mysterious detail “3 stops” on it. They don’t tell you what those three stops are, but they definitely exist. They could be Hartford to Austin to Chicago to Seattle to San Francisco for all I know, only in the past, this system hasn’t been a problem. This time, with a huge baller next to me, it suddenly became infinitely more important. I found out that they were playing Vanderbilt, which meant that we were actually landing in…Nashville. So we were going from Hartford to Nashville, which happens to be a three hour flight. Awesome. I managed through it, sitting quietly, occasionally talking to the girl next to us and receiving a look from No. 18 that clearly indicated shock that I would even consider talking to a girl, even about the city we both had in common (Seattle), especially when HE was around. So I slept.

From Nashville, I found out that the flight to Las Vegas was actually another FOUR HOURS. So even though it took 6 hours to fly from SF to Hartford, it was taking 7 hours simply to fly from Hartford to Vegas. Whatever, though, suck it up Witz. And I did. Until we reached Vegas. I was supposed to transfer to off my flight which was continuing on to Reno and San Jose (which got in later than my flight to SF) and get onto a flight to SF. They announced on board that there was snow in Reno, so all flights were cancelled for the night. Groans, but for once, not my problem (or NMP as I’ve started saying—and LOVING saying). So I get off the plane, where my luggage was being transferred, and walked out to get some food, water, and bathroom break—all of which were meant to help eliminate my raging migraine. Before I could do anything, however, I saw that my flight from Vegas to SF was DELAYED FOUR HOURS. MINIMUM. Rain in SF was causing problems.

And this is where the positive side of Southwest steps up. Uncertain that my plane would even leave Vegas, rebooking and hotel fees in my future, and a four hour wait staring down at me, I took action. A huge line formed at the Reno/SJ gate because of the Reno passengers. I overheard that since Reno was cancelled, they were flying STRAIGHT to San Jose, and getting in earlier than my SF flight was supposed to originally. Once again my instincts kicked in and I…ran. I ran until I found a less trafficked Southwest gate and then I tapped my foot frantically as I waited for the two Reno passengers in front of me to solve the middle east crisis or whatever the hell they were taking so long with. If my plan was going to work, I needed celerity—time was not on my side.

I finally got my chance at the front and spoke quickly to the customer service rep.

“Hi, I was on the flight to San Jose, but am supposed to be transferring to the SFO flight which looks to be delayed and maybe cancelled later, but Reno was cancelled, so there are probably open seats and I’d like to switch to that flight if possible which leaves in 15 minutes!”

“Honey, you have to go to that gate, not this one,” the woman said, oozing helpfulness.

“Yeah, I know that’s the general rule, but it’s a mile long and I won’t get to resolve this and since there are empty seats, it will save trouble later if I can just—“ I though as much begging and pain into my eyes as possible, silently praying that they didn’t simply give off the, “If you fall asleep, I’m gonna touch you!” vibe as before.

“Ok, I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything,” the wonderful air goddess informed me. She typed away for about ten minutes and finally handed me a boarding pass. “Hope this works,” she said to me, and I stood in shock that it actually worked out. This crusty, cranky, old lady, clearly having spent too long at work, smiled brightly at me, a tired smile, but a genuine one, and I beamed back gratitude.

“Thank you SO MUCH!” I said and went in for an awkward hug, that was made more awkward by the fact that she stepped backwards as I did so to avoid my arms. I looked at her and smiled my best, “I was going to touch you whether you were asleep or not” look before turning and running to my gate with minutes to spare.

I jumped on board, about ten scattered people in seats, and took an entire three seat section. A few more passengers followed suit, but there were still at least 200 empty seats when we gloriously took off for San Jose. Unfortunately, my bags were not a part of the celebration. You see, due to an egregious system error, there is no good way to communicate with the baggage people. I literally saw them taking my bags off the plane I had been on all day and would be on again, but couldn’t say anything about it. I wanted to shout down to them, “Yo, keep those on, I’m here now,” but I doubt it would have even done any good. Can’t we do something about this? Would it be so tough to get some system into place? Baggage people seem way too disconnected from the rest of the airport staff.

With surprising faith that my bags would get to SF eventually, I closed my eyes and rode it out to San Jose, where I was picked up and brought home earlier than I expected when I left that morning. I had flown for 10 hours, but I was home.

I called SFO the next day and had some brief conversations with bag people—not that kind. Flights were still delayed, but I was assured they would be on the first flight into SF. I asked, logically, if they could check to see if my bags were on a flight yet, but they could not. I asked if they had some sort of system to scan in bags as they were placed in different places and flights, and was shocked to find out that they DO NOT. I found this rather hard to believe. AIRLINES, or at least Southwest Airlines, do not employ the logical, easily implemented, and tremendously useful method of package tracking that EVERY SHIPPING COMPANY IN THE UNITED STATES EMPLOYS. All they’d have to do is have one dude with a scan gun like the grocery store as luggage was distributed. Then, they’d know EXACTLY where your bag was at all times. Baggage worries gone. Whatever.

The next day, I went to SFO and picked up my bag in about three minutes. I walked in, went to the claim area, and there was my bag, sitting in a roped off area. I had my claim check and asked if I could snag my bags. The woman replied, “Sure, just tell us your name so we can write it down…” Really?? “Should I give you my claim check…” I ask her. “Oh yeah!” she replies, “That would be even better!” I sigh an even greater sigh of relief than before and wonder how many bags I could have just taken if I hadn’t offered my claim check. Christmas Part 2—Merry Christmas, you get…socks, toothpaste, makeup, books, and who knows what else…
Within an hour, I’m home, with my bags, and stress free. I could still have been stuck in Vegas (any other time, a great prospect), not knowing when I’d get home, but instead Southwest listened to me, helped me out, and got me where I asked to be. That’s more service than I have gotten anywhere else, and despite some odd or illogical practices, they get the job done. Go Southwest.

I’m So Fly You Get Yo’ Ass Flown (to quote Prozack Turner),

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Witz Pickz: Toothbrush Knowledge and MORE!

You never realize how little you know about toothbrushes until you have to buy one. Even then, you really don't know how little knowledge you have about the subject until you actually brush your teeth. As you stare at the toothbrush rack in Target, facts drift through your mind, your filter down as your brain searches for simply any answers with "toothbrush" in the title. What you get is an array of half-truths or hearsay gathered from all the years you've had on this Earth. Dentists don't help the matter at all. Sure, they occasionally give you some brushing advice or the toothbrush down-low, but then they also GIVE YOU A TOOTHBRUSH. So I learn nothing other than, "If I want a toothbrush, I need someone with latex gloves and a mask to brush my teeth for me." So television becomes the number one memory accessible source of information. Here's what I know about teeth and teeth related subjects based on television:

-Gingivitis is worse than Hitler and sneakier than Osama Bin Laden.
-I'd be way better at brushing my teeth if my teeth were animated and I had a cheek-free view.
-Oral B is the shit. I just know this, I don't know why.
-When I brush, bubbles should appear and bristles should get down into my gums
-Tartar is not a palindrome even though I sometimes think it is.

So armed with next to nothing, I had to buy a toothbrush. I'll explain why I didn't have my old one another time, but it ends with the moral that Southwest Airlines still rules. I looked and a fact struck me, "Harder bristles are better." Ok, seems fair-- no pain, no gain and whatnot. So I search and search but all I see are soft, soft, soft. I finally find a medium, made by Oral B, and decide this is the one for me. It was two bucks, and had a grip, which is apparently a big deal. I'm not entirely sure why these sticks need grips, because I'm pretty capable of holding something firmly in my hand while moving it, but I guess some people lose their handle and end up stabbing themselves in the back of the throat or the gums. So I'm psyched about my grip.

I go home and brush my teeth at the appropriate time. The first time, it hurts, but I think, "Whatever, my gums are weak and unused to the medium-ness of this brush." Bleeding occurs. The next time I brush my teeth, I spit some more blood, but only feel stronger for it. The next time I brush, everything just basically hurts, and I start to get the idea that something is wrong. My girlfriend gets back to the apartment and asks what I'm doing. I tell her that I'm brushing with my new medium strength toothbrush. She looks at me like I'm insane tells me that you're supposed to brush with SOFT BRISTLES. Interesting, because let me tell you something I was starting to realize about "medium bristles." There is nothing MEDIUM about them. It should have occurred to me that since the store, out of forty or so brushes, didn't have a single HARD bristle brush, medium was the new hard. Apparently they've started using Starbucks thinking. small is Tall, medium is Grande, and hard is Venti. Only they went more like, Small is safe, medium is brutally painful, and hard is by prescription only for monsters and SF tigers.

So this morning was my last time using the "medium" bristled toothbrush. I have acquired a soft brush and can only pray that in time, my gums will forgive me. There is a lot of healing that has to happen, both physically and spiritually, but I will take this lesson to heart and can only hope that I can spread the word to more before they make the same mistake. SOFT TOOTHBRUSHES PEOPLE.

I don't know why, but I love David Duchovny. Maybe it's because I didn't care one way or the other about him while he was in The X-Files, but now anything he does is impossible NOT to compare to his work on that show. So when he made Evolution, it was David Duchovny of The X-Files in Evolution. When he was in Zoolander, everybody got psyched, because that was Mulder in ZOOLANDER. I think the guy's a great actor, and so I decided to checkout Californication via some online tv-link sites while I sat at home around the holidays. I learned two things. 1) Californication is very well done, the writing is good, Duchovny is excellent, and I like the plot and the characters a lot. 2) You know a show is dirty when you hear someone say, "Girl, you haven't had a wax in months-- you must have some crazy hippie bush goin' on down there!" and you aren't on edge that your parents might walk in and make things awkward. Because a line like that was mild. It was mild and it wasn't graphic. Whereas, while watching the show in my room, with the door closed so cats wouldn't come in and make me sneeze, I was constantly nervous that my parents would hear one of the many many sex scenes and assume that I was watching porn. That's the kind of show it is. David Duchovny got sick of cold, stoic Scully and wanted some of Showtime's finest. So that's what he got-- topless sex scenes, lots of naked butts, and a whole lot of moaning. By the end of the season I was just crossing my fingers that my parents didn't walk in right during the Tag Teaming A Groupie With The Bald Guy From Sex And the City scene. If they had walked in, they would have seen some pretty graphic, but ultimately legitimately placed and plot relevant sex. If they looked deeper, so to speak, they would have discovered some very good dialogue, plot entanglements, and emotionally enticing material. Duchovny's character is a self-loathing novelist, and during one particular plot line, I found myself enraged at the antagonist to the point that I felt I had been personally affronted. That's good writing. And Californication is a good show that will be back for another season. Not that anybody gets Showtime.

DEXTER: WILL BE ON CBS! They are editing episodes for the more egregiously over the top content and will be airing season one soon. This might be the one good thing that comes out of the WGA strike, although seeing David Letterman with a beard and finally understanding his lonely, half-insane, crackpot identity is a close second.

You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem:
This was one of those books that had me saying, "I bet this book was good if I was smart enough to figure it out." I don't think it was a particularly brilliant novel, and it certainly wasn't difficult to get through, but I constantly felt like I was missing some subtext that would have made it great. I mean, I followed the basic metaphor and symbolism, but sometimes you just hope that books are deeper than the meaning you grasp, if only because that initial meaning isn't all the brilliant and the author usually is. Still, after loving Motherless Brooklyn and then failing four times to complete reading Fortress of Solitude, this 250 page read was welcome, interesting, and enjoyable.

Radio Show Tonight!,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Witz Can't In Good Conscience Pick: American Gladiators

All I ever wanted to do was get my American Gladiators back. The Joust, the Nerf Gun Shooting Challenge, Hang Tough...loved em. The Red, The Blue, and the Gladiators, battling it out for glory. It was gold-- when I was younger. Unfortunately, like much of the 80's and 90's, when struck with the bright, eco-friendly fluorescent lights of today, what was once beautiful and nostalgic becomes awkward and ill advised. Gary Coleman, Vanilla Ice, Everlast, Gogurt, these are all examples we know of. Well, with the remake of American Gladiators on NBC, you can add it to the list.

The problem with new American Gladiators is that it lacks the rawness and sincerity of the original. I don't remember who the host of the original was, but now it's Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali, two alleged television personalities who are seemingly incapable of acting at even a reality tv show level. While I do love that the contestants get to reply with, "Well, Hulk Hogan, I just went out there and gave it my all," I find it distracting that Hulk Hogan can't even say, "Brother!" anymore without it sounding fake and scripted. He did it for 10+ years in the WWF, but somehow out of context, it feels awkward and depressing.

There's also a problem with the contestants. The contestants are organized into an Olympic Style bracket where they are competing for best Eliminator (final race event) times. From the one episode I saw, all the contestants are like 5'7'', weigh a buck-fifty, and are not only super enthusiastic about the show, but they believe they can defeat the ridiculously jacked gladiators. It's not that I don't want them to, it's just that I can't possibly believe that they weren't given a break when they do. There's no way a 250 pound sack of athletic muscle can't tackle a small asian child before he dunks a ball into a basket. And most of these guys are tech guys or women who are really into fitness-- by which they mean stretching and cycling. They can't form tackle. They can't climb shit or swing on rings, they can just pilate like a motherf$#*er. And yet sometimes they win. But they all have really really positive, often religiously inspired attitudes. The few times relevant competitors have played, i.e. firefighters, marine corps, body builder, they've lost, which is both confusing and deeply disturbing. Maybe we should have our Positive Thinking Spinners take a crack at Iraq.

Which brings us to the Gladiators-- the real heroes of the show. Only this time around, they aren't just jacked and applaudable, they're over the top goofy. One guy's name is Wolf and he has big wolfish side burns and long hair. I can't tell if his teeth are sharp or just white, but either way he howls, and it's the least convincing howl I've ever heard. It's like the Mitch Hedberg joke, "That's like working really hard your whole life to be a chef, and after you finally achieve it, somebody comes and says, 'Great -- can you farm?'" These gladiators are really stacked and athletic-- but then they make them act. Another guy looks like a plastic figure with overdone makeup, and at least two of the women look like porn stars with no interesting personalities at all. One woman's name is Stealth which makes no sense because American Gladiators has nothing to do with stealth, and another chick's name is Hellga. They had to show a sign when they announced her name so that we'd know it was spelled Hell-ga. When American Gladiators resorts to visual spelling puns you know it's time to move on. Finally, and most annoyingly, there's a gladiator named Militia, which we should talk about. Because a militia is a roughly thrown together town organization with the mission to protect its territory in times of need. These men are vaguely trained, live otherwise normal lives, and when called upon, bring more heart than skill. Is that an inspiring name for an American Gladiator? Then you see him and realize that someone was proooobably gonna call him "Gang-Banger" until NBC execs stepped in and said that was totally unacceptable. Here's the biggest problem with Militia. Laila Ali always announces him and says, "versus Militia," which EVERY SINGLE TIME sounds like she's saying Melissa with a slight lisp-- there's just no way around it. The gladiators are weak.

This leaves only the challenges. Joust is back, but really isn't interesting and probably never was. The gun thing is still sweet and worth watching. Some of the old games still exist and some new games are alright, but nothing else stands out. And then there's the Eliminator. The great finale of the show. Only it's not much of a finale at all. Instead of the showdown against gladiators like in the old show, there is essentially a 5 part course. You climb over a wall, dive into water and swim, you climb a rope net, then you go through a series of 3 elevated challenges including a hand bike, a balance beam, and a rolling spindle like thing. The problem here is that it's waaaay faster to just fall off these three challenges and walk to the ladder and climb back up than it is to furiously work a hand bike for 30 seconds. Then they have to climb up an inclined treadmill (going the wrong direction) and jump through foam bricks to win. Aside from the redundancy, blatant flaws with the course, and brevity of the challenge, there's one thing glaringly missing from the finale-- oh yeah-- GLADIATORS! They are nowhere to be seen! Why would you not place your standout characters in the finale of your show?? The show is NAMED American Gladiators, but in the last event you just have two mediocre athletes slowly battling each other and fatigue? When one finishes, they don't even wait for the other to finish before interviewing the winner. That's how little they care about these competitors.

Overall, the new show feels tremendously like Spike TV's Most Extreme Challenge, and I can't help but feel like somewhere in Japan, American Gladiators is being dubbed over with Japanese voices, mocking our antics while high school and college kids laugh their asses off at "Wolf" and "Militia" and "Venom" and the puny, doofy Americans falling off hand bikes and diving through foam bricks. Sorry American Gladiators, you no longer protect our nation-- you do it harm.


I don't even know how to describe this movie. Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti square off in the action movie that self-consciously and deliberately comments on its own action movie-ness. Nothing about this movie is metaphorical, and when it verges on being symbolic, they state the symbolism, thereby losing one form of artsy and gaining another. It's like the movie Crank, but with a more ambitious directing style. It feels like Tarantino paying someone to purposefully make a Tarantino film. And it would suck if it wasn't perfectly done. Each and every scene escalates, starting off with Clive Owen SHOOTING an umbilical cord off to deliver a baby, and ending with a tremendous over the top battle. Every scene revolves (aha) around guns and violence and literally declares, "Violence is one of the most fun things to watch." Hopefully, it's not a commentary on me when I say that the film proves its thesis, and by doing so, by packing in so much COOL violence and excessive gunplay, actually might end up being one of the most ANTI-GUN, ANTI-VIOLENCE movies of all time. The film is satire, but not pretentious satire-- honest satire. "Here is what you want to see, we all know we like it, come and watch it and let's have fun," the movie says. You can't say, "I didn't like the plot," because who cares? You can't say, "The characters weren't believable," because no kidding. The acting was spot on, the writing was perfect. What they made you focus on was the violence and the characters creating the violence. People and guns. Chekov once said, "If you see a gun over the mantle in act one, it must go off by Act 3." Well Shoot Em Up has one gun on the mantle in act one and shoots off about 1,000 by Act 3. Tremendous.

Use Your Trigger Fingers to Click Links,

Witz Pickz: Burger King Unabashedly Going Too Far

There's a thin line between clever advertising and blatant, transparent manipulation. I'm applauding Burger King for crossing the line from the former to the latter and unabashedly going too far with their current ad campaign. For those of you who haven't seen the commercials, Burger King's new ad campaign is allegedly live recorded footage of customers going ape-shit when they are told that Burger King now functions differently. First, they told people that they no longer had the Whopper. Footage showed customers getting ripshit and demanding a Whopper. "What do you mean you don't have the Whopper??" what the typical response, with some solid bleeps and blurs thrown in to raise the stakes. Then they stamped down a statement saying something to the extent of, "People went crazy," which it appears they did. Kind of.

Because everything is even more clear in the most recent commercial. In this new commercial, Burger King goes beyond just not serving their #1 selling item, they actually give the customers the competition's food. Somebody orders a Whopper and they get a Big Mac. Somebody orders a double cheeseburger and they get Wendy's patties. One get yells, "I don't want a @($$ing Big Mac! This is Burger King! I want a $*%in' WHOPPER!" Because you see, that's what he ordered. Another customer gets worked up because he has Wendy's square patties. So the commercial essentially boils down (bRoils down, if you will, aha-ha) to "When people are given our competitor's food, they flip out because it is not as good as our food." Only that's not quite right, is it? There are three things that stand out in these ads:

1) America is fat and spoiled. Emphasis on the fat, but highlight the spoiled.

2) The footage might very well be faked. If it's not faked, then it is probably drawn from a huuuge number of hours of footage in numerous franchises around the country. I'm guessing that 99% of the people ate what they were given and liked it. I'm not saying everyone didn't notice, but I bet a lot of people said, "Oh, huh, square patty, whatever" and kept eating, and a bunch probably said, "Fuck it, I'll eat what I'm given, it's all the same shit." There might have been a few people who didn't notice because they were just so hungry or in need of a grease/fat fix, they didn't care what it was. Either way, I'm guessing the angry flipout was the minority response.

3) And this is the big one here: The responses were completely legitimate, regardless of the preference of burger. Let me explain.

This footage was taken when customers gave money for an item and were handed an item that they did not order. That's the first strike. Now imagine this: you go into a fast food restaurant. You order something from the pimply, awkward, sick of his job kid behind the counter and moments later he hands you a bag. You open the bag and you realize that, shit, once again, the kid who you assume doesn't give a shit about customer service, messed up your order. You go back to the counter and tell him that instead of a Whopper, he gave you A BIG MAC. This kid must not only be apathetic, he must be pathological-- a sociopath of the fast food world. But THEN, when you TELL the kid that he gave you a Big Mac, HE DOESN'T CARE. He does not register any remorse, conflicted feeling, or acknowledgement of problem. He just stares at you and says, "What's the problem?" WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?? Burger King videotaped people being given the wrong food and getting upset about it. I don't know if that's genius or insanity, but it's definitely going too far and probably slightly illegal (although technically, they did do what they said they did and people DID respond the way they did. The two just aren't entirely related). Way to go, BK, you've harnessed the power of idiots.

WITZ DOESN'T PICK: Mac Ads (still)

On the other side of the spectrum is Apple, still being douchey to an apparently innocent, well-intentioned nerd. I need them to get over it. I do. Because I seemingly can't. This time, PC and Mac are standing in the white space with a football referee. PC says it's so that the ref can deem Mac's calling Leopard better than Vista foul play. Mac mentions that it wasn't Mac who said it, it was, like, The Wall Street Journal. Then the ref agrees with Mac, and PC is thrown out into the void. I'm sold. Seriously Mac, nothing makes me more hot for Apple than beating a dead horse-- or more appropriately, kicking a fat, pretentious character actor when he's down. And it's not like they're pulling out big left hooks anymore. They're just sending out wild swings with not much power behind them. The Wall Street Journal says we're better than PC? Really? Is that enough to base an ad around? Next we're gonna have Mac and PC hanging out in a school yard and Mac will tell PC to fuck off.

"Why" PC will ask.
"Because my friends and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day say you're a fag."
"Huh?" PC will ask.
"Yeah, you're a big nerdy, fat sack of queer, PC."
"Can I point out my substantial market share?"
"Is that what you call your boyfriend's cock?" Mac will taunt.
"Huh? I thought you were hip and cool, not pretentious and mean..."
"Ha! I'm a hipster computer! We're hip and cool BECAUSE we're prententious and mean!"
"PC, are you even listening?"
"Huh, what? Oh, sorry, I must have spaced out while not worrying about you as a competitor at all. I like to fall asleep at night by counting Bill Gates' cars."
"You can sleep at night? I don't even know how I live with myself..."

And so on and so forth. I like to think that since people don't like smear campaigns, in politics or elsewhere, these ads are responsible for Apple stock's 20 point drop in the last week. Either that or the stock market is actually heading toward that recession everyone's been talking about. Whatever-- I'm still buying Apple stock while it's low. Hells yeah I am.

Fingers Crossed,

Monday, January 07, 2008

Witz Pickz: New Year's Resolutions 2008

Hello faithful readers, it's been far too long. Instead of placing blame on the lack of posts, let's instead remember that we are lucky as a culture to be able to place blame, for there are others around the world who are not so fortunate as to be able to vocalize who it is they think is to blame for things. Our freedom to blame is in itself a reason not to. Boom.

Although I tried mightily to avoid it, I don't think I have a choice but to post about New Year's Resolutions and my New Year's Resolution. Some of you might remember last year's resolution, which set down a solid foundation for this year's resolution. Here it is for easy reference:

"It is for this reason that my resolution this year is: To Do My Best To Stick To Future Resolutions. That's right, I'm resolving to resolve in the future. While this might sound like a total cop-out, it is actually quite brilliant. You see, every year I make a resolution and then say, "meh, nobody's holding me to that one..." you know these resolutions; when you don't feel like doing those situps, when you figure why not watch 6 hours of television tonight? When you say you're gonna eat better, but then at Thanksgiving gravy suddenly becomes soup. Hot Fudge Shortage strikes the East Coast-- Failed Resolution To Blame. That type of thing. Well now with this new resolution to try harder on future resolutions, I have two layers of defense. In the future, when I resolve to make it in professional arm wrestling, I can't just quit after my first defeat to an elderly yet suprisingly spry grandmother. "It's just this year's resolution" i'll think, but then will remember that it is also LAST year's resolution. That's two levels of legitimacy instead of one.

Think of it as laying a groundwork for the future. Perhaps next year I'll make another structural resolution to even more solidify this year's. If the Iraq War has taught us anything, it is that infrastructure is king (but not the kind of king that gasses his own people), and we must therefore lay a strong infrastructure for our own future. It is an "ally-oop" resolution-- This year I am simply throwing the ball in the air, but over the next year, three, years, ten years, I will be slamming down the resolutions-- food, tv, drinking, dual handguns, fear of Popples. There is no telling how much I might be able to improve my life simply due to this year's resolution Resolution."

Now, this year, with the solid foundation laid, I need to build on it. So with that in mind, this year's resolution is to stick to making REALISTIC resolutions for the future. No longer will I make resolutions like, "Make pecs jump on command," or "Learn Spanish." A lot of the time I believe that if I just start FAKE speaking Spanish, I will ACTUALLY start speaking Spanish-- and that was kind of my gameplan to learn to speak Spanish-- just start fake talking it. Well, that didn't work, and since I'm still not able to speak Spanish, French, Russian, or ASL, those will be out in the future. And no more resolutions to win the lottery-- clearly I cannot Pick Six. No more shooting fire from my fingertips-- sure it sounds plausible, but no matter how many X-Men episodes or movies I watch, it's just not happening for me. Same goes with telekinesis. I can't even do most basic math functions with my mind, how the fuck am I going to move shit? It's time to get back to simplicity and achievability.

Thanks to my resolution to stick to resolutions, this new resolution will definitely stick, and I am very excited to see what next year brings. I'll almost definitely resolve to make one paper airplane per month and set it free from my balcony. It's not impossible that I will resolve to go running "sometimes" or "lift weights when plausible." You're gonna be seeing a lot less, "Stop eating pizza" and a lot more, "Get drunk and dance awkwardly at party." As I make these more realistic resolutions, I'll start to gain more confidence. I'll have last year's resolution to fall back on, and I'll have this year's resolution to keep my eye on the prize-- success. As my confidence builds, I'll start believing MORE resolutions are REALISTIC and when that happens, there's no telling how high I might fly-- which was one resolution I will be forced to cross off next year's list.

Seriously Though, How Is It 2008,

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Witz Pickz: Witz Picking

I know I've been slacking around the holiday season, but who expected any different, right? I will attempt to get a post or two in over the weekend, and I start my new job on Monday, so the posts are going to probably come later in the day for a while until I get into a routine at work or during lunch. I hope everyone had a happy new year, I have a lot of fodder for the next few weeks thanks to an abundance of activity, television, music, and life.

Witz Pickz Is My Jaun,