Thursday, February 28, 2008

Witz Pickz: Jeopardy!

For those of you doubters who said Jeopardy was gonna have to change up it's schtick when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire came out-- shame on you. Jeopardy is a classic and has maintained its integrity through the years, riding out the tough times and staying constant to their viewership. It's almost shocking how solid a show it's been without changing any kind of format. Where's Millionaire now? Deadsies. Deal or No Deal is already having to use gimmicks to enhance its viewability, and no other show has really challenged the paradigm for more than a season. I will say that the Ken Jennings Era gave Jeopardy a life that it can no longer live up to, and I'm always a little disappointed by the lack of a long time champion, but I guess that's what made Ken special. I still enjoy the tournaments though, and I think they should do a regular tournament for normal folks for most of the year-- then at least it'd mean more.

I've been getting back into watching Jeopardy more regularly recently, primarily due to the Teen Tournament, and this led to two AWESOME Jeopardy/Alex Trebeck lines that made me remember why Jeopardy is still like a fine wine. The first time, one of the teens tried to scare Alex by saying that she was supposed to say, "POWERTHIRST!" for one of her friends. She shouted right at him and he didn't flinch. Instead he said, "You were trying to scare me, weren't you? Do you know why you can't scare me? Because I died a year and a half ago!"
HUH? Everyone kind of laughed because it was a punchline, even if it wasn't what they expected, but Alex got off the hook without any further questioning. But what did he MEAN? It's such an odd thing to say, and more so, such an oddly SPECIFIC thing to say! He didn't say, "Because I'm actually dead!" or "Because I died last year!" No. He said, "Because I died a year AND A HALF ago!" I can only assume that either a) Alex was on some drugs and this was the result or b) Alex Trebeck died a year and a half ago. Given the options, I have to go with B. Alex must have died a year and a half ago, and has either been replaced by a robot (a robot that can't keep a secret, that is) or an alien being, vampire, or other replicant. What else explains it? Alex Trebeck was killed a year and a half ago, but Jeopardy can't go on without him. Clearly, he has been altered and is now just as good as before, but with a little special secret. Shocking. Just remember that Witz broke the story.

The second great thing Jeopardy brought me recently was this clue in the category "Before and After"-- "Show starring Jim Belushi in which they practice racial segregationalist practices." or something to that extent. The answer? "What is Life According to Jim Crow Laws?" Take a sec. Read it again. Ok. That's amaaaaaazing. That's a joke I would have made after driving with my buddy Jazz on a road trip for several hours, when the boredom had passed into pure insanity (like when we played a car game like that and said, "Toyoto Corolla quarters" -- get it, roll of quarters? It was a long drive.). And now it's the type of clue Jeopardy is throwing on the air. Awesome.

Blogger With Obvious Regard For Trivia Host Gurus,
Who Is Witz

P.S. This is post #198, which means I've ever so close to the mythical 200. I'm not sure what to do for it, but hopefully something sweet. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Witz Pickz: Macho Journalism...of V8 (continuing the exploration)

I stare down at the murky burgundy liquid-- a slightly glossy swirl of color riding the top of the 8 ounces before descending into the depths to be discovered at a later date. "What am I doing?" I think to myself, as I sniff the liquid and catch the familiar scent of strawberries and another scent I can't quite place. "Oh yeah," I remember. "I'm taking one for the team." You see, after my V8 post yesterday, it was suggested to me by my friend The ATX to investigate further into the world of Campbell's Drinks. Why should I stop at V8 when there are V8 Fusion drinks to be explored? So here I am. Staring into my glass of V8 Fusion: Strawberry Banana Blend. I'm no longer just "picking" something, I'm exploring it-- a reporter on assignment-- the fucking Hunter S. Thompson of the juices aisle. I'm just not sure what to expect next.

When I first heard about V8 Fusion fruit drinks, I assumed I knew what was up. I assumed that instead of their vegetable drink, they had made a V8 with fruits, like every other successful fruit juice company. I was already scoffing as I picked up the bottle from the shelf. "Pff-- sure, your regular veggie product is disgusting, so why not make a fruit product? Like that's tough. Everybody loves fruit juice-- there's no challenge there. You don't IMPRESS ME V8. Try something--" and then I saw it. V8 Fusion: Strawberry Banana VEGETABLE & FRUIT. I didn't know what it meant and wasn't sure I wanted to know, so I just grabbed the bottle with a little more hesitation than before and prepared to buy it and keep the receipt as a business expense for my 2008 taxes.

Now I'm looking straight down into the concoction and I need more information. It's like wanting to know exactly what someone's going to do to you in a surgery before they do it. If you're prepared mentally, there won't be any scary surprises. Checking the label, I see the fruits portion first: reconstituted juices of white grapes, oranges, apples, strawberries, and clarified bananas (aka bananas that have been shown the path to the Lord). Alright, great. That sounds pretty standard. Then I see the veggies: reconstituted juices of sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatos, and beets. Yep. Sweet potatoes-- that's what I'd smelled and hadn't been able to place. "Color swirls are a natural occurrence," the label adds, which doesn't make me feel any better about what I'd seen, but rather makes me more uncomfortable. You know what else is a natural occurrence? Death. Or to a less dramatic degree, massive indigestion, vomiting, and diarrhea. What if the "fusion" that they refer to isn't of the veggies and fruits as would be assumed, but the fusion of vomiting and diarrhea? Doesn't matter-- no going back now-- I have too much invested to quit.

Go time. I slug back the glass and slurp down my carefully measured and remeasured 8 ounces. The fruits hit first and I feel pretty good about things. Then, the aftertaste. It's not nearly as bad as one would think, but the vegetables give a quick shout out to my taste buds and then, almost cackling, as if they know something I don't, the fade down my gullet and into my stomach. My stomach growls a little and I see the "Antioxidant Plus +" label on the package. God, I hope the plus doesn't stand for hives. Or ulcers. Or snakes, but that's not really relevant, just my normal hope. Next, I see how they tricked me with science. The package proudly proclaims, "A full serving of vegetables PLUS a full serving of fruits in each 8 oz glass!" What they put in much smaller print is that you are supposed to take 5 servings of veggies and 4 servings of fruit a day (which is NOT EVEN REMOTELY plausible if you ask me). So I would need to drink 5 glasses of V8 Fusion per day to meet those quotas. There are 6 glasses per bottle. Disgusting.

With each minute that passes and each word I type, my stomach feels a little queasier, or at least my oversensitive attention to it makes me think it does. I feel a little woozy, and I'm already preparing to fling myself towards a recepticle should the need arise. If I were a thrill seeking journalist, a real Hunter S. Thompson, this is the point I'd be starting to come down off the high-- leaving the smack, the meth, the acid, the coke, the pills behind-- the time when my body rejects the world I have stolen it from and forced it to return to. But I'm not a real thrill seeking journalist. I'm not Hunter S. I'm Witz, and all I ever wanted was to pick something for you all. To let you in on the world without you having to suffer as I now do. Maybe it's not enough, but for right now--

--sorry I just ran to the bathroom because I thought I was gonna throw up. Good times kids. This is Witz saying don't drink V8, stay outta the sun without sunscreen, and for heaven's sakes, take advantage of the free trials. Netflix, Blockbuster, eMusic...these things are just waiting for you to exploit. Good night and good luck.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Witz Pickz: Vintage Fit, Excedrin Migraine, Wax Paper, and V8

Some randomness...

Vintage Fit Shirt:

Welp, eventually you run out of shirts and your only options are to do your laundry or buy new shirts. So I took off the tags of my newly acquired Old Navy Vintage Button Down Shirt and started putting it on. That's when I learned the secret of the vintage fit shirt-- it doesn't fit me! That's what the Vintage part means. It would have fit Vintage Jon, but now, on Current Witz, it's a bit snug. It's a lot like that Mitch Hedberg joke, "This shirt is dry clean only, which means, it's dirty!" Anyway, I do like how the shirt looks and feels, so I'm giving it the go ahead.

Excedrin Migraine:

Of all the headache medicines I've ever taken, this is the best. Packed full of stuff that might otherwise be super unhealthy, it takes care of even the worst migraines. It was only recently that I realized that Excedrin Migraine includes aspirin in addition to caffeine and some other things. Being raised in a strictly "non aspirin" household and being told over and over again that aspirin was the devil, I have been shunning aspirin for years. When handed Aspirin on that Southwest Flight where I had an excrutiating migraine, I turned it down because I wasn't sure if I could have it or not-- that's how indoctrinated I was. Now, I learn that Excedrin Migraine, the most prolific pill in my family's home, has aspirin in it? My world is ravaged, my mind blown, the pieces burned in remembrance.

Wax Paper:
What's wax paper up to these days? Does ANYBODY use it? I still see it sold in stores, but other than for putting baked goods on, I'm not sure what it's for, and I don't know anyone who still uses it for that. Wax Paper is the Woody Harrelson of the cooking world (used to do a lot, now kind of not used, but still on the shelf for the public to remember).


After watching their commercials for YEARS and not thinking twice about them, their marketing FINALLY kicked in one night last weekend. I heard that slogan, "Shoulda had a V8" and suddenly thought, "You know, I don't eat many vegetables, and I get sick all the time-- I wonder if that applies to my life?" I then went back over all the days I could think of in the past few months when instead of whatever I ate or drank or took for my health perhaps I "Shoulda had a v8." It turned out that most days in my life applied. So I went to the store and I purchased a sixer of V8 (it's far easier to think of it as V8 and not VEGETABLES IN A CAN LIQUIFIED). I then had a thought I haven't had in my entire life. "I should HAVE a V8." I cracked open the can with my pizza and with only slight hesitation kicked it back and let the liquid pour into my mouth and down my throat. The first time I swallowed, and allowed the taste to hit my buds and travel to my brain, I knew something. I now know V8's secret. Ready? V8 is nothing but COLD SOUP. It's 8 vegetables put in a primarily tomato base and blended. It tastes a lot like tomato soup or even minestrone soup broth (which is primarily tomato as well). Have you ever had cold soup (that isn't intentionally cold like vichysoisse)? No, you haven't-- because it's gross. And you aren't wrong. It is gross. And V8 is gross too. It's drinkable, sure, but it's kinda tough not to wanna throw up when you think about it. What I'm thinking of doing with the other 5 cans is either shotgunning them, adding alcohol to them, or heating them and drinking the warm broth like a tea. Vegetable Tea. If that doesn't work, I'm thinking of putting it into my food like how you trick animals to take pills. Last night I made fresh potato soup, but didn't have any onion, carrots, or celery as the recipe required. "This soup needs a v8!" I thought, and came very very close to dumping a can into the boiling chicken broth and potato mixture. I didn't, because I didn't want to chance ruining my meal, but I think it could work, and provide a whole new demographic for V8-- people who cook rarely. I cook sometimes, but not enough to have veggies in the house. So instead of veggies, I could just keep cans of V8 around for when I need that vegetable mixture base for various dishes; chicken marengo, vegetable lasagna, taco toppings. It would also be great for anybody dating vegans. You want to go out for pizza, but the cheese is gonna be a problem, so you whip out a V8 and say, "Here's your can dinner. I'm ordering mine with pepperoni." Shoulda had a V8.

Roger Clemens Shoulda Had A B-12 Instead of a Shot of Steroids,


Monday, February 25, 2008

Witz Pickz: The Academy Awards

Let's start by assuming that The Academy Awards are entirely useless, sketchy at best, and way way too long. Now, with that assumption as our basis, let me say that I pick this year's Academy Awards. Plus, I was special requested to blog about it, and that's enough in my book.

Obvious Pros of this year's show:

Jon Stewart-- I thought he did a great job riding the line between Hollywood in-guy and Hollywood Cynic/counter-culture. He made fun of the oscars just enough for everywhere there to feel comfortable with their self-congratulation. He had some great one liners and the monologue was short and sweet and was thankfully without any song or dance. My favorite line was after a technical award was announced and he said, "Somebody just took the lead in their oscar pool based on a guess..." So very true (including for me). The only thing weird about Jon Stewart was that I didn't believe him at all when he was being positive and uplifting. He'd say something like, "what a wonderful actress" or "what an amazing child, isn't she?" and it would sound fake. I think he meant some of the positive stuff he said, but he sounded awkward doing it-- probably because it was what he was EXPECTED to say.

Marketa Irglova Bonus Time: I was super happy when Once won for Best Original Song, as it was a terrific movie and a great soundtrack, but felt horrible for Marketa Irglova when Glen Hansard used up all the time and she didn't get to say anything (they turned off the mic?). Then they did something awesome and unexpected and came back from commercial to bring her back onstage and let her give a short speech. I think everyone appreciated it.

98 Year Old Honorary Oscar: I'm a little mixed on this. Production Designer Robert Boyle was given an honorary oscar at the past ripe age of 98. On one hand, it's good that they gave him an award I guess, but as my friend Beantown Green Light said, "Really? They didn't think to give this to him when he was NINETY-SEVEN??? Or maybe when he was 80 and could walk unassisted?" Seriously. I think the guy was even wearing a prayer shawl in case he dropped dead at any minute. By 98, isn't the award a little awkward? I mean, that's like saying, "Sorry you weren't able to win an actual award in your ninety-seven years on this planet, so here's an honorary one because you've lived for a long time." I'm not sure I would feel great about that. I did enjoy his speech, however, where he thanked "Hitch." As it turns out, he was referring to Alfred Hitchcock, but I enjoyed the few minutes when I thought he was referring to the Kevin James/Will Smith film. Something about the idea of the 98 year old man thanking Hitch for the laughs made me happy. Other than that, I don't remember what he said, but if I know old people, he told us all to brush our teeth and listen to our mothers.

Steve Carrell, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, (and Jon Stewart): I feel like starting with Little Miss Sunshine, some kind of indie non-hollywood circle has infiltrated the ranks of Hollywood. Steve Carrell, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, and to some extent Jon Stewart, are all genuinely funny people who feel very grassroots and don't seem to quite fit in Hollywood. When Jonah and Seth presented that award, it was like they didn't quite belong there, but in a good way, and it was as if the oscars were usurped somehow for a minute or two. Very strange and I don't exactly know how to describe it. Somehow, this is connected to Juno and how much success it's had.

Cons (Some More Obvious Than Others) of this year's Oscars:

The Montages: Holy crap! For a show that made fun of the fact that they were going to have to show a lot of montages, they sure showed a freakin' lot of montages!!! They even made fun of the montages they "were going to have to show" by showing a Binoculars and Periscopes Montage and a People Waking Up From Nightmares Montage, but then they actually went ahead and fairly legitimately showed a BEES IN MOVIES MONTAGE via Jerry Seinfeld and his damn Bee Movie. Incidentally, is that movie even coming out?? Bee Movie has to be the most plugged, overhyped animated movie ever at this point, and I STILL haven't heard even a single person say, "I'm gonna see that when it comes out." Are tensions with bees particularly rough right now so they have to keep pushing back the release date? What the hell is going on? There were Bee Movie plugs during the WORLD SERIES (HP commercials?). Anyway, I was shocked that they didn't have a "Montage of Montages" joke at the end there, but when you watch the oscars in fast forward on dvr, that's pretty much what you get.

Those Two Enchanted Songs: I'm not saying I hate musicals, but how come every time a tea pot sings about happiness, Oscar comes a callin'? For best song, two different songs from Enchanted were nominated. One was about happily working and the other was about love. Eddie Vedder's Into the Wild soundtrack wasn't allowed to be included because it wasn't done specifically and solely for the film apparently, so I guess this is what we're left with. Now, as you know, I wanted the song from Once to win, and it did, but not before I had a conversation with Beantown Green Light.

"I want Once to win."
"Enchanted has better odds."
"Oh, I didn't realize I was speaking with a math wizard."

I recognize that Enchanted had a 40% chance to win vs. 20% for everyone else, but that stat doesn't mean those Enchanted songs don't SUCK any less. Thank goodness Once took it. Sidenote: was it just me or did Patrick Dempsey talk like an idiot robot when he presented? Maybe he IS a robot with limited vocab programming, and that's why they have to keep recycling the same exact plot on Grey's Anatomy. Zing.

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman were in attendance: I didn't really realize it until last night, but Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are my two most hated people in Hollywood. Laura Linney annoys me more by far and has never had a role that I've liked her in. People love her and think she's great, and maybe she's great, but she's great at playing characters I loath. She plays the same damn uppity, self-involved, done wrong by the world, woman in every role and yet every time I see a movie she's in I think, "oh, hey, Laura Linney is in this..." before remembering how annoyed she makes me. The Truman Show, The Nanny Diaries, The Hottest State, the Squid and the Whale, You Can Count On Me, Love Actually....the list goes on. The only movie she didn't drive me nuts in was Mystic River, and the only difference there was a thick accent. As for Philip I-Need-to-Sey-Less-Of Hoffman, he's got the gross market cornered, and while I haven't seen all of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, I saw the scenes that have scarred me for life and made even Marissa Tomei seem gross. I won't deny that he's a TREMENDOUS actor who has done a ton of great great stuff, but his snivelling, understated talking style has surpassed my acceptability level. Happiness didn't help any.


Denzel Washington: Am I crazy or did Denzel Washington look and sound ripshit that American Gangster wasn't up for anything? From what I heard, it was a great movie, and it didn't get a single nod. Denzel looked disgusted to be reading the other people's names, especially when he read Juno and paused momentarily to scratch his face and put a finger over his mouth. I can imagine feeling a bit upset having made an epic gangster movie about a prolific black gangster and then having to read the name of a movie about a quirky girl who got pregnant but it was ok. Probably a little upsetting.

Owen Wilson: You just KNOW that Owen Wilson's publicist made him go, because there is NO WAY he wanted to be there. He didn't pause, smile, or acknowledge the crowd when he presented, he simply got to the mic, read his lines, and backed away. Maybe he'll feel better after Drill Bit Taylor comes out....uh oh.....

Forrest Whitaker: How did his eye not get a nomination this year? Shocking. Anyway, I'm pretty sure he was hitting on Marion Cotillard as he walked her off the stage. Sidenote: Great moment at the beginning of the show when Jon Stewart made a joke that Barrack Hussein Obama has the worst name since Gaydolf Gitler in the '46 election. Cut to a shot of Marion Cotillard shaking her head "no" and rolling her eyes a little. You just KNOW that whoever was next to her just asked, "Is that true?" Classic.

Well, much like the Oscars, that went on far longer than it had to. I'm sure I'll remember more right after I finish posting, but that's what the comments section is for. Make me proud people.

Puff Daddy Thinks He's Gonna Win An Oscar Someday,

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Witz Pickz: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (In Theory)

I saw my first preview for the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I'm super excited to see it. From the preview, it looked like they kept to the same classic look and style of Indiana Jones, but got some big namers to accompany him such as Cate Blanchette (perfect for an Indiana Jones movie, given her propensity for acting like a tomboy) and Shia The Beef fresh off being snubbed by the oscars for his work in Transformers. I do have some qualms, however, and while this won't detract from my pick and wanting to seeingness of it, I'm a bit worried.

You see, also in the preview were a ABUNDANCE of "I'm too old for this," one liners. While I think they need to recognize the fact that Indiana Jones is astoundingly old, I don't want the movie to turn into a comedy based on his inability to perform the way he used to. A lot of the belated sequels of films (Rocky Balboa, Pirates of the Carribean 3, Live Free or Die Hard) all act very self-conscious of their predacessors and make it more a post-modern commentary than an actual enjoyable movie-- i.e. they spend too much time reminding us of what we liked about the past ones than actually making the current film great (although I loved the new Die Hard). I just hope that they get their couple of obligatory, "Oops, I'm elderly now" lines out of the way and don't make it the motif.

Having said that, I'm a bit concerned by the age of Indiana Jones. You see, Harrison Ford is SIXTY SIX YEARS OLD. That is old. Lemme put that in context. When they made the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles for television, Harrison Ford had a cameo in one episode where he played "Old Indiana Jones." In that episode, Old Indiana Jones was supposed to be FIFTY. Now, in real life, Harrison Ford is SIXTY SIX. I'm not sure the action-adventure is going to be the same for me given the age thing. Just watching the preview, I cringed three times as Indy slammed into windshields, got knocked about, and fell onto the ground. Have you ever seen an old person fall down? It's like the most disturbing and sad thing that can happen spontaneously in daily life. Now I'm supposed to watch people HIT a sixty six year old man? I'm supposed to watch him flying around with his whip and not think, "That man should really not be trying that!" Harrison Ford should be dating my Grandma, playing golf at noon on weekdays, and playing doubles tennis at dusk at clubs with manmade pond-pools. But what's Indiana Jones up to? He's fighting the damn nazis again-- I mean I think, from the previews. Why WOULDN'T he be? I mean, it's got to be about thirty years after they were big, right? It's been 27 years since Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, and while you can fake time passing slowly when you make 3 movies in the 80's, it's tough to pretend only a few years have passed when you go from being 47 to 66. It's gonna be interesting.

All of this does nothing to diminish my joy for the film coming out. I'm sure they'll pass on the glory and wit and adventure to Shia and maybe even groom him for future sequels. It'd be kind of cool if we followed the lineage of Indiana Jones. From Sean Connery to Harrison Ford to Shia LeBouf. And is Sean Connery gonna be in this one? Cause he's 78. If they shoot Sean Connery again, at age 78, I'm gonna be very upset. He ain't recovering from that one. Also, did Indy's dad have Indiana jones when he was 12??? There's a lot to discover in the world of Indiana Jones, and I'm just excited that we have access.

See You At the Midnight Showing,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Being Shamed In Public

I needed a little perspective on this before writing about it, so that's why I'm posting about it today and not last week. You see, I was shamed in public, UNFAIRLY, I might add, and I needed to get out of that space before telling you about it.

THE FIRST TIME I was shamed in public last week was the day before Valentine's Day. I decided semi-last minute that it would be nice to make mix CD's for everyone in my department of 9, and to buy a box of chocolates for the group. Now, I know what you're thinking and no, this idea is not how I was shamed in public-- solely because there are no guys in the group. If I give a mix cd and candy to my group of eight women, I'm a good guy. If I gave a mix cd and candy to a group of MOSTLY women and, say, just one other guy, I'm the biggest tool in the shed. Thankfully, I'm aware of this, and the former is the true situation. Onward.

So I bought the blank CD's and made the mixes, no problem. Then, I realize I still need chocolate. Ok, except here's the situation I realized I was in as I pulled into the parking lot of the store. I was suddenly the guy, the DAY BEFORE VALENTINE'S DAY, at 9PM, walking into a LONG'S DRUG STORE, over to the practically empty, totally picked over Valentine's Day section, and purchasing a SEVEN DOLLAR BOX OF CHOCOLATES. I didn't even buy the box I picked up from the shelf. I ended up buying one of the boxes in the checkout line. That's right-- I bought the "Impulse Buy Valentine's Day Chocolates." The boxes of chocolate they put out for the people who weren't even actually considering buying chocolate for their valentine up until the very last moment that it was possible, when they allowed the store to make the decision for them. Needless to say, the girl behind the counter gave me a look that said, "I feel very sorry for whatever girl is YOUR valentine..." to which I responded with a look that said, "Nonono, you don't understand, this is not for my girlfriend, this is for my office and the people I work, you see it's above and beyond," but I think the look might have made me look like I could see dead people, so she looked away quickly. I then walked out of the store as fast as possible, knowing I would not be able to show my face there on a wednesday at 9pm anytime soon.

THE SECOND TIME I was shamed in public, it was a more personal shame. What I mean is that it involved my lying in order to avoid shame, which means that while the world was protected from my shame, I knew it was there, and soon you will too. Here's what I mean:

I was in Safeway, shopping the good shop, trying not to drop another forty dollars when I was originally planning on only buying one thing. This led to my wandering down the snacks aisle looking for some tortilla chips, which led to my grabbing of other items on the shelves. After I picked up one delicious ON SALE item, a middle aged woman leaned over to me and says, "You've picked some great items!" Confused, but happy to be complimented on my obvious shopping intuition, I smiled and was about to say thank you when she followed this compliment up with, "You're throwing a good party tonight, huh?" I looked down at my basket. Barbecue ruffles, triscuits, cheese, tortilla chips, Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and Wheat Thins. Dear God. I had accrued enough junk food in the last minute and a half to both catch this woman's notice AND make her think I was throwing a party with numerous guests. Meanwhile, in my head, I had been thinking, "Good, now I can go home and watch a movie." So what did I say to the woman? Did I correct her and inform her that no, I wasn't having a party, I was just a lone guy in the midst of the downward spiral towards obesity, or did I tell her that yeah, I pick good snacks and love to share? Well, you already know that I lied-- I told you that before. "Yep, I hope so!" I replied, and quickly launched into a "Shopper's In the Know" spiel about how Triscuits and Wheat Thins are ALWAYS on sale, and if they aren't they will always be again in a few days, and how there's never a reason to buy them at their marketed 4 dollar price. She then informed me that I was right, but she bought a box at regular price last week. I then informed her that I had as well. It got a little awkward at that point so I left. Once I walked away, it was just me and my thoughts, which explains how about fifteen yogurts and a carton of soy milk made their way into my basket.

Shame Me Once, Shame on You...Shame Me Twice...Well, The Point Is I Don't Like Being Shamed Twice,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Witz Pickz: Those E-Trade Ads With the Baby

The Super Bowl ads this year felt like they were copies of copies of copies of original Super Bowl ads. Each generation lost some quality until this year they felt kind of like Super Bowl ads, but somewhat familiar and stale at the same time. The only ad that REALLY drew my attention, and has kept it in the following weeks, has been those E-Trade baby ads. You know what I'm talking about-- the ones where they have a baby talking with an adult voice about how he's investing on e-trade. I can't get the embedding to work, so here's a link to one of them:


and here's one to the other the other:


The timing, the content, and the delivery is spot on and they cast the kid perfectly too, with his bright wide eyes (unless it's all faked). It's one of the few commercials I've laughed at consistently when it comes on in a long time.

That's All I Got,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Video Store A-Holes

Ok, for today's post, I'm gonna drop some a historical narrative from my past. I was thinking about this recently and realized just how ridiculous it actually was. Check it out:

Many moons ago, when I was twelve or thirteen years old, my friend (we'll call him The ATX) The ATX and I were in Maine on vacation with my family. For those who don't know, Maine is such a boring and uninteresting place to take a vacation that they actually nicknamed the state Vacationland. That's called overselling, and it's a sure sign that something isn't right.

So after a day or two on the beach, realizing that no matter how old you are as a kid (my family went from when I was five until I was eighteen), there will never be anyone there your age to hangout with, you get bored. The one time we found some people to hangout with, one girl had a lazy eye and the other was unattractive with a stalker like obsession with The ATX. Oh yeah, and get this-- so the lazy-eyed girl invites us to hangout at her family's house, "just as friends." Since we only are looking for friends (at least from a lazy-eyed girl and her portly companion) we said of course. So I'M sitting on a bed while we all talk about music when the Lazy Eyed Girl climbs only the bed, SITS down so my hand is under her leg, and then says accusingly, "I SAID we're just looking for FRIENDS!" Shocked and confused (we should have tried that with Iraq instead of Shock & Awe-- we'd tell them they could hangout in their country and it was all good, then we could have suddenly shown up and arrested Saddam and shouted accusingly, "YOU CAN'T RULE HERE ANYMORE!"-- actually, that sounds A LOT like what we did historically-- eesh), I slowly moved away from her and shot The ATX a quizzical look. Neither one of us knew what was going on, so we sat rigidly and listened to Marcy's Playground. We should have known something was up-- nobody bought the whole Marcy's Playground CD, they taped Sex & Candy off the radio and were content.

Anyway, after all this, we were bored, and that led to us going to the local video store slash souvenir shop to rent a movie. So we're poking around, browsing, wondering if we want to see Lethal Weapon again or maybe Highlander, when my friend The ATX picks up Silence of the Lambs.

"What about this?" he asks, showing me the box.
"Nah, I heard it's not that good," I say, even though that wasn't the case at all, because what I actually had heard was that it was scary shit and I really didn't want to watch a scary movie and get all freaked out while in a vacation home with noises in the woods.
"Ok," he says and puts it back on the shelf. Until--

"Actually, it's fantastic," snaps a voice, loud and intrusive and snotty and pretentious.

We looked up. Some, like, thirty-eight year old guy who was looking at movies nearby had jumped in on our conversation to call me out on not wanting to see Silence of the Lambs. Dude, I'm like freakin' twelve years old! "Actually, it's fantastic!" Are you kidding me? Before this guy spoke up, we were trying to decide between Heavyweights and Happy Gilmore-- that's about where we were at. I don't think my pre-teen lie needed to be housed by this guy, thus exposing me for the scared adolescent that I was.

In retrospect it's even more baffling that somebody would do that. Forget the fact that they overheard a conversation and actually had to LOOK to see what move we were talking about, but to then feel the need to derisively correct these two youths about what they heard about a movie is insane! I mean, I've overheard people my age pickup moves like The Wedding Crashers or The Big Lebowski and say, "I didn't think that was very funny," or, "What about this, I heard it was alright," and yet somehow I restrain myself from cutting in with, "Actually, it's fucking hilarious." I heard a woman walk by my cubicle yesterday and say, "I stopped watching Superbad halfway through, it was just too much for me and I didn't like the humor," and ya know what? I didn't stand up and inform her, "Actually, Superbad's humor is fantastic. You are the idiot in the equation!" because as a HUMAN BEING, I know when not to say stuff like that. "Hey kids with less life experience than me-- I'm cooler than you! My movie taste is impeccable! Get over me, bitches!" Shocking.

In the end, I didn't exactly know what to do. Saying things like, "I heard it's not very good," about a movie you don't want to see was the type of lie you were supposed to get away with. Like saying you'd seen a movie you hadn't so that people would like you or think you were cool, even if they were already your friends. "What was your favorite part?" they'd ask. "I liked all of it," you'd reply, or better yet, "I dunno, what was yours?" and then they'd say, "The part where the helicopter blew up," and then you'd say, "Oh yeah! That part was awesome!" and you were better friends for it. You weren't supposed to get called on the lie, especially by a much older person. In response to the guy I think my face reddened quite a bit, and I mumbled an, "Oh," for his approval, but we put the movie back. I don't remember what we ended up with, but it wasn't Silence of the Lambs. At the end of the day, everything was fine, but I guess these are the things we remember in life.

"This post sucks!"
"Actually, it's fantastic",

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Running In Place (Not A Metaphor)

They say some things get easier with age. Childhood drama, homesickness, the ability to purchase alcohol...-- but this is certainly not the case with running in place. When I was little, running in place was one of the worst things I remember having to do. You look goofy, you don't feel like you're getting any results from your efforts, and it's also harder than it looks. And yet every year in gym class in elementary school, they made us run in place all lined up so we could see each other. Maybe some people enjoyed running in place because they weren't good at running places, but I haven't met them yet.

So the other day, I had too much energy after being sick for the last week and knew I had to do something to burn off some energy and get my blood flowing a little-- maybe jump start my immune system with some movement. I did a few quick pushups, but that wasn't enough. I lifted some free weights, but again, not enough overall movement. So what did i decide to do? I busted out RUNNING IN PLACE. I got my light jog on in front of the tv and then took the party to the bathroom to see what I actually looked like. Lemme tell you something-- RUNNING IN PLACE has not gotten any easier nor any more attractive with age. In fact, I have only gotten worse at it and look all the more goofy for that fact.

And why should I be surprised? I mean, if I wasn't good at running in place in sixth grade, why would I be any better at it fourteen years later?? Why would I look any less goofy, as I stumble over my own feet, not knowing whether to kick my feet out forward or sideways or backwards, the arm movement the only real decent looking part of the picture. I mean, the body was not meant to run in place. The purpose of the movements in running or jogging or walking are to PROPEL ONE FORWARD. Running in place is counter-intuitive and anti-homosapien. I bet it might even be un-American. Progress-- moving forward-- that's America's way. Do you know why there's no such thing as "walking in place?" Because it is virtually impossible to do. Try it. I dare you. Stand up and walk in place-- nono, don't worry about open spaces, you shouldn't be going anywhere-- just, you know, walk in place. Try and mimic your WALKING movements without actually leaving one space and entering another. Just try it. Lemme know when that works out for ya.

You want to know the number one piece of proof I have that running, jogging, or walking in place is not meant to be and that people around the world despise is? Treadmills. Yeah, treadmills. If people were so keen on maintaining their own pace in one spot, why would so many people demand a machine to move the earth below them? Why would anybody need the rest of the land to move below them so they could remain in one place while running or jogging or walking? That shit's rhetorical. That's how strong my case is.

Settling for what you get in life might improve with age. Deciding to have kids instead of pursuing your own dreams might become a reality. Learning to put others before yourself and sacrificing might become something you do more of. But running in place will not get any easier with age. And you won't look any better doing it. Trust me.

Goofy + Stationary = High Comedy,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Witz Pickz: Vampire Vineyards

While doing some research for a potential book I’m trying to write, I stumbled across Vampire Vineyards and was immediately enthralled and joyous. I don’t think it will take long for you to figure out why. The greeting for the site states, “Welcome mortal to, the ultimate beverage resource for vampires seeking alternatives to the mundane ways of this world.” I had to read that several times to try and figure out what they were going for. Apparently, Vampire Vineyards sell wine which is like regular wine only they see it as an alternative to other boring drinks that vampires must endure. Also, they are the ultimate beverage resource for vampires seeking these beverages, but they greet me as a mortal—clearly this site is omniscient and spooky, otherwise, how would they know that I was a mere mortal shopping on a site most frequented by vampires? Exactly.

Next, I was thrilled to be made privy to the history and rumors surrounding this vineyard that I had no previous experience with. “Rumor has it that the Vampire Vineyards are actually owned by a circle of vampires, and the company’s founder, an entertainment attorney from New York, is actually just a front.” There’s a lot more than meets the eye here at the vineyards! That rumor sounds faaaaar too specific to not be truth. Regardless, I’m glad the vampires are so up front in letting me know where my wine is coming from. If they had the same amount of information on poultry, beef, cheap shoes, or gasoline, I probably wouldn’t be so keen on purchasing them.

But why are the vampires here? What is their ultimate purpose? This was the best part of the site for me. Apparently, the vampires are here so that the grapes may be, “skillfully blended by vampire winemakers to produce phenomenal wines.” BOOM! That’s what vampires are up to. Time to get over the stereotype. There’s no bloodsucking, haunting, murdering going on—just good old fashioned, semi-pretentious wine-making. They refer to their wine as “Blood of the Vine” which actually seems pretty accurate…IF YOU CAN GET DRUNK ON BLOOD! I know a couple people I would consider to be “Blood Drunk” if that’s the case. Googley eyes wanderers simply in search of their next destination, meandering and stumbling like a vampire riding the high of fresh feeding. Also, I can imagine people in this state to be so drunk that if I dared them to drink blood, the probably wouldn’t hesitate. It’s the same way I look after finishing off a large pizza from Luna or City Pizza in Connecticut.

They don’t only sell wine, either. They sell vodka, beer, and my favorite, energy drinks! This is proof that the cinematic stereotype of the vampire as a raver is true—these vampires suck down energy drinks from Vampire Vineyards and then proceed to dance their white asses off to drum and bass. Nice.

When it comes down to it though, what struck me as most awe inspiring and shocking was the fact that Vampire Vineyards are the proud owners of Of all the possible websites to own that domain name, a wine company from SoCal has it. It could have been anything—an information resource, a catalog of vampire gear, t-shirts, or movies that vampires have been a part of. It could have been a simple description of a vampire or it could have been a facebook like social networking site for people who wanted vampire alter egos. But no, it’s a vineyard that sells wine. Vampire Wine! Scary wines like Pinot Noir and…Merlot. Suck down a…cabernet sauvignon….ok, so maybe not so scary. But now that I know Vampire Vineyards are out there, I can’t wait to order me a couple bottles and get put on some sort of government tracking list. Maybe I’ll even visit the vineyards if I get down to Paso Robles, California. OoooOOOOOOoooo. Paso Robles!

Monday Bloody Monday,

Friday, February 08, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: "Giving Your Kitchen the Night Off" Commercial

First of all, I've been sick all week, so I apologize for the lack of posts. Hopefully, I will feel better soon.

Now, while sick, and watching television, I saw this new Mastercard commercial where the couple goes out to eat and they give the "kitchen the night off." At first I was like, ok, this is an alright commercial. The little ET Wine Guy turns on the lights, proving that I'm not crazy when I refer to that wine opener as "the little wine man who looks like E.T." Take a look, you'll see. So I'm with them so far. Then, the spoons dance around, the utensils jump and are theoretically expressing joy in the way that utensils might, and the whisk is helping blow bubbles all around the room. And then the knives are watching a scary movie...and when the shadow of a knife is raised up, they all jump around and cheer.

WHY ARE THE KNIVES CHEERING, READER?? WHY?? It's not cute, it's terrifying! "Mastercard would like you all to know not to worry, while you sleep, your inanimate objects all have a good time, oh, and your knives have free will-- welcome to your new reality, effers." I think we all have enough concerns about knives as inanimate objects. We can cut ourselves by accident. Someone can have a knife and threaten or stab us with it. Someone can break into your home and use YOUR knife against you. All sorts of concerns. You know which I don't need? The concern that the knife might just STAB ME ITSELF. This concern goes along with others I don't need like, "My toilet might flush UP," and, "My locks might unlock themselves." I already have to worry about my toaster which refuses to toast anything the same way twice, why would I want more concerns?

Now I went back and watched the commercial over a couple times, and there's a small chance that instead of cheering, the knives are actually cowering in fear, or at least that was the intention. I don't think this comes across necessarily, but it's a possibility. So let's say they are supposed to be cowering in fear. Isn't there something innately wrong with knives watching a movie where a person is wielding a knife as a murder weapon? Who are the knives scared of or for? Most logically, they would be scared FOR the knife. "That knife is about to get gooey!" would be the fear. Or maybe, "I fully comprehend and empathize with the emotional trauma that knife is about to endure!" Those make sense from a knife's perspective. Because the knife itself is not evil. It's just a tool being used by the humans. So the next thought is, "maybe the knives fear the human and are scared by the murder of another human." This would be weird because it takes the knife out of the equation and means the knives sympathize with their owners more than their own kind. Incidentally, these people own waaaay too many butcher's knives-- there's like six of em on the couch together. They're up to something. But anyway, this means that knives sympathize with the human who is being murdered and fear/disagree with the human who is using the knife for a purpose other than what the knives are used to. Knives feel the morality of humans is what the scenario is explaining to us. I don't buy or like that. If that's true, then shown enough human evils, these knives would assume their own purpose based on the morals we provide and might choose to take over for our own good. Mastercard presents a world far more complex than I am ready to accept. Especially in my sick state.

Remember the movie Bats! that was on movie posters backwards so it read !stab...that was weird,

Monday, February 04, 2008

Witz Pickz: Damages (the show)

Damages: Since television is gasping for programming and thus far the best they've managed to do is add the fiftieth incarnation of a "Man sees things that aren't there" (Huff, Ali McBeal, Raines, etc., etc.) in Eli Stone, I've turned to watching more DVD's of shows I wasn't ever gonna watch unless something like this happened. After watching Dirt and telling you about that last week, I thankfully turned to Damages, another FX show.

FX is doing something right, because this show is incredibly well done. Written, shot, directed, and told like a film, this crime-legal-thriller stars Glenn Close as a character you could see being both fatally attracted (in that she's charismatic when she needs to be) and you could see stealing your dalmatians (in that she's evil and I can't think of a single person who wouldn't steal dalmatians if given the chance). At her side is former OC Hateable (I think I'm gonna make a lunch time snack called Hateables-- they'll be just like Lunchables, but with an honest moral compass that I believe people will appreciate) Tate Donovan (Jimmy, Mischa Barton's Dad), who plays a great role as Glenn Close's number two. The other main lead is Rose Byrne who does a great job riding the line between intelligent and naive. Ted Danson rounds out the big namers playing the defendant in the big case, and it's interesting to see how he's progressed and how Curb Your Enthusiasm probably influenced his ability to get this role. One last fun note on those involved in the project is that two episodes were DIRECTED by Mario Van Peebles. The same Mario Van Peebles who was in "Solo" and "Highlander 2: The Sorcerer." And get this-- he's 50 years old. We live in a world where Mario Van Peebles is 50 and is directing high quality dramatic television. There's always hope.

Unlike most crime-thrillers, this sucker focuses only on one case. It delves to deeply into the case, the set of characters, and the relationships and manipulations of those characters IN RELATION to the case, that each episode is interesting and nothing feels extraneous. It's the "In Relation to the case" part that makes the show great. Unlike shows like Heroes or Lost where there is a long extended suspenseful story, Damages has no excess. No romantic plots for no reason. No side issues solely for episodic story arc. EVERYTHING ties back into the main plot and almost always does so in an interesting, revealing, or shocking way. There's never a reason to say, "I'm so sick of this plot-- it's so stupid" because it's all or nothing and I, for one, vote all.

None of this would amount to anything, however, if the story wasn't told so well. The story is told from two time perspectives. One in the present, where you know an end result, although you don't quite understand it or how it happened, and one starting six months earlier when Ellen (Byrne) is hired by Patty (Close) at her law firm. Each episode, you learn slightly more from the present and slightly more about the past. They tie in perfectly together to give answers, but keep you guessing as the plot thickens and twists. It literally feels like you're watching one long movie. The brilliant part about it is that it is setup in such a way that there can be a tremendous payoff at the end, but without ending the case and causing the show to be over. I'm not at that point yet, but I can see it in the distance and am excited to see what they do. It's a lot like Dexter in that respect (although I don't see how they can go past season two of Damages).

It's only 3 DVD's and you can also watch them on those tv links I talked about before. The DVD's are even tailored to eliminate the annoying, "previously on" part that we all can't stand when watching DVD's. When I first watched the first few seasons of 24 on DVD, I couldn't believe how long I had to wait to recap everything that I had just seen. Annoying. If you sent in your absentee ballot for today, I suggest taking an hour to "go vote" anyway, and instead watch the first episode on your computer. Classic caper.

Kick Him In the Van Peebles,

Witz Pickz: Found Money!

I have found money! No, I’m not saying that as an overly proper proclamation like, “and then I found five dollars,” I’m saying it with caps. Found Money. I have Found Money. And I don’t mean the kind where a nun from Sierra Leone found some money of mine and wants to send it to me if I could only send five thousand dollars for fees and taxes so that she can process it legally in the eyes of both the United States and God oh and also any extra I send will help save orphans with AIDS. No, that’s not the kind of Found Money I’m talking about, although I’m pretty sure as this post progresses I will start to think otherwise.

I received a letter in the mail a few months ago from a reputable bank saying that an account of a bond turned up in my name and since it has sat for so long in their bank, it’s about time they notified me of it (yeah, typing that to read, it DOES look sketchy, but I promise it’s not). And this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. A few months ago, MORE Found Money made its way to me in the same fashion and I actually received it. Apparently bad accounting and confusion means I get Christmas several times a year. Or more so, it’s like when you leave a ten in your jeans and wash them, and then randomly find ten bucks the next time you put them on—and it’s been through the wash so it looks a little beat up and fake, but you keep your fingers crossed that it’s legitimate.

So I went down to the bank to get the letter notarized before I could send it in. That’s when the bank lady said something baffling. I told her why I was there and she said, “Oh yeah, a lot of people have been getting Found Money recently.” Really?? What?? “A lot” of people are receiving FOUND MONEY? What world are we living in? APPARENTLY, a shit-ton of money was misplaced years ago and now everyone’s finding money. Is that even possible? It’s certainly not plausible. As My Friend Who Formerly Had A Pool said, “that’s why the economy is in recession! Everyone hid their money like squirrels years ago!” There’s no ACTUAL recession, people just need to go and find their money, or have it find them.

My only explanation for this is that technology must have finally caught up with the problem. Like how people who have been searching for their relatives and lineage for years are finally able to get a full family tree with very little effort. Well, now all that sneaky money out there is able to be tracked down and given back to us. It makes me wonder what Matthew Lesko has been up to recently, and if we owe any of this joy to his behind the scenes antics.

This also legitimizes my life choices over the last few years. Sporadic work and sketchy income has been buoyed by extremely coincidentally timed found money claims. For a world where not working is looked down upon, the Universe sure has been sending me mixed messages and helping me out. Does this mean that there could be millions of dollars owed to homeless people, but they just don’t have the email or physical address available to receive the claim letters? It just might.

So anyway, only time will tell how this Found Money pans out, but the fact of the matter is that we live in a world where Found Money is possible, and that’s pretty awesome.

No Scam No Scam No Scam,


Here is an addendum to my television show links post the other day. One of the sites, “” was shutdown last week as UK police arrested the host of the site for piracy felonies. What doesn’t make any sense is that the guy wasn’t actually doing ANYTHING. His site is simply a collection of links pointing TO illegal and legal content. His site is just the hub, and none of the actual content is hosted by his (or any of these) sites. All the content is hosted by other sites and what they choose to host is their responsibility. The site even has a disclaimer saying that they take no responsibility for the content that is externally uploaded and linked to their site. They warn the hosts not to have pirated material. As far as I can see, they are entirely in the right legally. Now, it can be argued that they were still making this content more easily available to the public, but when 50% of the content is hosted by You Tube, how can the intermediary really be held responsible? Morally, it might be “wrong,” but legally they should be sound. WHICH LEADS TO THE QUESTION of whether or not people who link to sites like that are also breaking the law. By posting a youtube video of illegal content on a blog, am I or Bill Simmons, or anyone else breaking copyright laws? That would be a tremendous step backwards in information sharing, as it means that links to articles, products, etc. would all be violating copyrights. My guess is that they will either settle this case or the defendant will get off, but they are sending a message and, unfortunately, it’s a inane one. For every one that gets shut down, ten more will spring up in its place with the same disclaimers.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Witz Doesn't Know Who He Pickz: Presidential Candidates

Somebody mentioned to me that I ought to Pick a Presidential Candidate. Now, of course I'd love to throw my support behind someobody and allow them to send out the press release, but as it comes down to the wire, I have no idea who I want to vote for in the Democratic Primary. I guess theoretically I want McCain on the Republican side, but ultimately, for me, it comes down to if I want Hillary or Obama. I've heard a number of debates, I've enjoyed some of what they both have to say and I see strengths and weaknesses for them both. During the CNN debate yesterday, I thought, "Man, I really wish we could have them both in there-- not as Pres/VP, but as Co-Presidents. I realize this is impossible. It's like wanting both the Giants and the Patriots to win the same Super Bowl. It's like wanting Dexter Season Two to end with Dexter getting caught, but not wanting the show to end. It's like wanting Manny AND Ortiz at the plate in the clutch. It's like wanting there to be an NHL, but not actually paying any attention to it-- no wait, it's not like that one. It's like wanting both actresses to play Becky on Roseanne. There. It's like that.

But since that won't happen, I have to choose one. Either way, I feel like somebody loses in the "first president of ____" race, filling in the blank with either "color" or "vaginas," although grammatically, I bet that award goes to Bill. And speaking of Bill, what about my wanting Him back in the white house? As First Gentleman. That sounds like a movie starring Martin Lawrence, and yet I kind of want it to happen.

I have to reach back to college to remember that I was pulling for Obama to make a move in '04 and to remember that while we were all saying, '12 for him, '08 is on it's way and he is in the running. Maybe this IS the change that we all need, the JKF comparisons, etc. etc. But then why am I hung up on Hillary? I thought about this for a while and FINALLY realized why Hillary has a hold over me. CHECK THIS OUT:


My favorite fictional President of all time (sorry "Dave") looks exactly like one of the candidates! No wonder I have an inexplicable connection feeling with Hillary. I've watched her on tv for 7 seasons and already know that "she" would make a great president. It's going to be tough to shirk this mental lie, but I'm going to have to do it. ALSO, this re-raises my question of "Why Can't Jed Bartlett be President For Real?" I understand that Martin Sheen is an actor as are everyone else from the West Wing, and that situations are written and manipulated, but the problems are still creatively solved, right? I mean, Get Martin in the white house, stack the cabinet with Aaron Sorkin, Brad Whitford, et al, and utilize everyone's mind to solve problems and get things done. Martin Sheen is nothing if not a great actor who can capture our hearts and if he can act intelligent as his character, than who cares? George Bush didn't even bother with that part, so it'd be a step up.

The Candidates Are Stumping ME,

PS. Note that there's ANOTHER short post before this one!