Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Witz Pickz: Christmas Eve Edition

I would have posted earlier, but, ironically, celebrating Channukah lasted longer than I thought it would. It's Christmas Eve and I have a few thoughts and ideas that, in the spirit of the holiday, I thought I should share. As a teenage girl was saying to her friend while I was out shopping yesterday, "Christmas is awesome. It's like, people are so different and have so many problems and wars and stuff, but once a year, everyone in the world comes together to celebrate Christmas."

Three Wise Men:
The more I think about it, the more I believe that the three wise men had a "no more than ten dollars" agreement for Jesus's birthday and one of them decided to be a big douchebag.

EXT. Christ Residence -- Night
Three wise men stand outside the front door.


Wise Man 1: Before they answer the door, what'd you guys get the kid?
Wise Man 2: I went with the frankincense...
Wise Man 1: You did! Nice call-- I think it's a good choice.
Wise Man 2: Totally, how about you?
Wise Man 1: Well, I couldn't think of anything, so I just picked up some myrrh on the way to meet you guys.
Wise Man 2: Who doesn't like myrrh?
Wise Man 1: That's what I figure. What'd you get, man?
Wise Man 3: Who me?
Wise Man 1: Yeah, dude, what'd you get the baby?
Wise Man 3: Oh, uh, gold.
Wise Man 1: (beat) Gold.
Wise Man 3: (coughs) Yeah, yup. Gold.
Wise Man 2: You motherfucker.
Wise Man 3: Now wait a minute--
Wise Man 1: We all agreed ten coins of Augustus each on the gifts!
Wise Man 3: I wanted to get him gold!
Wise Man 2: Well, yeah, man, we all WANTED to get him gold, that's why we went with the limit!
Wise Man 3: Look, he's just a baby, he won't even know the difference! The parents are probably just gonna scoop up the gifts for themselves the minute we're out the door.
Wise Man 2: Oh, yeah, right. They're not gonna be able to keep their paws off my frankincense. Goddamn it!
Wise Man 1: Yeah, I hope they don't try and pawn my MYRRH.
Wise Man 3: Whatever.
Wise Man 1: Fuck you.
Wise Man 3: Whatever.
Wise Man 1: Fuck you.

Secret Santa/Elfster/Yankee Swap:
I usually don't do Secret Santa deals because I'm either gonna buy people gifts or I'm not. I don't need to have to buy random crap for someone I don't know and force someone else to do the same. I might as well just buy myself four things I don't want, give a stranger an ugly sweater, and call it a day. Yes, it sometimes happens where you know everyone involved, but it's basically a cosmic rule that if I'm in a Secret Santa, I will inevitably get the guy who nobody likes, but who happened to be nearby when the Secret Santa discussion was initiated. This year, however, I was in the rare position of knowing and liking everyone in the group.

We used for our gift exchange site, which was pitched as a non-denominational Secret Santa site which seems legit right up until you realize that Elves build toys for Santa who delivers gifts on Christmas (unless Kwanzaa has an elf component that I'm missing). Elfster's cool because you can ask people questions anonymously like, "What size shirt do you wear," or my personal favorite, "If you could have anything for $25 or less, what would it be?" (I like being to the point). The weird part about Elfster is that it's a Christmas gift exchange site and yet it lists upcoming birthdays like it wants to be facebook. Do people check Elfster at other times of the year?? Of course not. And correct me if I'm wrong, but if you ask me, should only list one person's birthday. Jesus.

An alternative to the secret santa style gift exchange is what I've heard called a "Yankee swap" or, "Dirty Santa" or, as I like to call it, "Fuck you and your shitty gift, I want the iPod!" I like the idea of a Yankee Swap in-so-much as I enjoy the most awkward gift giving scenario imaginable. Everyone knows what the best gift in the room is, and everyone knows that the last person who gets to pick is going to take it. At least one person is going to leave angry with a snow globe. It's like Christmas morning, only your family is allowed to show their true reaction to everything you got them. "Dad, I got you another book you're not gonna read this year, what do you think?" and he's all, "I think it's a piss-poor effort, Witz. But that's cool, because your sister bought your mom the new Blackberry Storm. So I'm gonna snag that and call it a day." And then I end up with a treadmill or something horrible like that. Oh, wait...

I gave my secret santa some small gifts that added up to a "movie night" theme. Unfortunately, small, inexpensive food items and a blockbuster gift card that doesn't even pay for a full movie rental with tax, doesn't quite overwhelm someone when revealed. FORTUNATELY, I was given one super comfortable sweatshirt, which is currently being worn, and fueling this post.

Commercial Interruption:
A Glade Scented Oil Candle commercial just came on the television (because I clearly write these while being mildly distracted) and I have to tell you about it. They are candles that burn into oil that smell good and then the oil burns up and perfumes the house. Also, it essentially creates a pool of HOT OIL and the opportunity for a child, pet, or distracted adult to HORRIBLY DISFIGURE THEMSELVES.

"What was that thing they did to defend castles against invaders in medieval times?"
"Pour hot oil over the sides?"
"Yeah, that's right. Can we make that smell good?"

I can't wait for the lawsuits to come in.

FYI, I know how to spell "interruption" because when I was in third grade, I was in a town spelling bee and was doing really effing well right up until I spelled "interrupt" with only one "r." That one letter lost me potential scholarship money, but saved me from years of negative social stigma (not the middle school years though-- nothing could have saved me from that). I haven't mispelled "interrupt" wrong since.

Four Christmases:

Writer 1: We're writing a comedic holiday movie about a couple that has the celebrate an unusual number of Christmases."
Studio Head: Hm. Well how many?"
Writer 1: We were thinking three.
Studio Head: Hmm...I'm not sold.
Writer 1: How do you feel about four?
Writer 2: --What about FIVE Christmases!?
Studio Head: --You're fired.

Who let Vince Vaughn corner the Christmas movie market? Bring back Ernest.*

Merry Christmas, Chappy Channukah, and...Successful Kwanzaa?,

*Yeah, I know Ernest is dead (though not as a result of Ernest Goes to Hell or Ernest Scared Stupid aka Ernest Smokes Himself Retarded), but that leaves the door wiiide open for them to make a Weekend At Bernie's/Ernest Saves Christmas crossover film. I'm thinkin' Dead Ernest has to celebrate one too many Christmases...and hilarity ensues.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Witz Pickz: Letter to the Editor

Dear WitzPick Editor,

I have been listening to your new mix (WITZ PICKZ MIX #4) a lot lately. I generally like it. I like that it's small and on the side of the screen, and it streams instantly on my linux box at work. I do not like how the player gets upset with me when I skip too many tracks too quickly (For the Witz Picks readers out there who are looking for a way around this, refreshing the page tricks the player into giving you at least one new random song so you wont have to continue listening to 'Muscle'). Where to being...

Oh, Regina Spektor. Sure. You have chosen a song by her where she sings about finding human teeth, mundane life details and overdosing on drugs, twice. I mostly like this song, I hadn't heard it until you picked it, but it's a fu*king weird song. Towards the beginning of the song she shouts "so chEAp and jUcy" in an unbelievably unappealing way that absolutely makes me resent the song."

Kean" is no good Witz, it's ruining not only the mix, but my work day... when it comes on.

T.I. - "Whatever You Like" - This is a surprisingly great song. I don't know why, because there is no individual part of the song that I love.

Muscles - "Hey Muscles I love you" - Are you kidding me Witz? I also think this is one of TWO muscles songs you have (for some reason) decided to include in your mix. I fuc*ing HATE muscles now. The first 1 or 2 times I heard them, they were okay. Repeat listening exposes just how terrible they are as a band. Are they even a band? It sounds like one guy in a recording booth and a synthesizer. And what the FU#$*(@ is he singing!? "Hey Muscles, I love you, I wanna have your babies". WTF. Isn't that a male singing? Now I'm absolutely no anatomy professor - but I'm fairly confident that this guy is incapable of having anyones babies. And it has nothing to do with me not thinking he would make a great parent, it's sheer science-fact. Fail. Remove it from the mix please.

Senses Fail - "Family Tradition" - I love this song you have picked. I'm probably a little biased since I know the drummer, but every time it comes on, I like it more and more.

Damien Rice - "The Blower's Daughter" - JFC WITZ, I shed tears every time this GD song comes on. Seriously!? It reminds me of "Hey There Delilah", or a funeral... in the sense that they all make me want kill someone, or myself, or just sit in the corner of a dark room as rain streams down the windows. REMOVE, thx.

Gaslight Anthem - Love it. One think I really appreciate about this album is that unlike many modern bands that degrade their sound for no apparent reason, they have titled this album "The '59 sound" and boom, it's acceptable.

Muscles - "Ice Cream" - As I type this, another GOD DAMN muscles song from your mix plays in the background. In this travesty, the singer rants about wanting to "just dance with [his] shirt off". Nobody wants to watch this douche fu*k dance anywhere with or without his shirt on.

Noah and the Whale - "5 Years Time" - Love this one. It's new to me, and it's not really a good song - but I like listening to it. I'm pretty sure if I had the entire album, or even another song by them, I would grow to hate it.

Katy Perry - "Hot N Cold" - Get this chick a dictionary, or a thesaurus, or a 5th grade vocabulary cause this song reminds me of something you'd find on the floor of an elementary school girls bathroom. Only in this 'song' it's put to 'music' and a shitty dance rock beat. Here's a sample of a REAL line from EITHER a note found by a girl in grade school, or a Katy Perry song: "You change your mind like a girl changes clothes." Hummm, it doesn't rhyme, so i'm gonna guess "a real line from note found by a girl in grade school". Wrong.

In closing, I'd like to say, Thank You. Thank you Witz for providing a community service with your new playlist; But GOD DAMMIT, lets get rid of those failures please. I'm just trying to give back.

Love Your Reader

p.s. I can't get enough Muse and Bayside... and Rise Against in your mix.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Witz Pickz: Hobo Joe

"Make new friends, but keep the old
one is silver and the other's gold,"

That's from a song I remember they made us sing when I was little. While the song means well, it's a little weird to assume that some friends are gold simply because you've known them longer and other friends are the equivalent of a lesser valued metal simply because you've known them a shorter time. Also, I bet the song never expected it to apply to homeless people, but that's what we're here to talk about today.

Last night, on my way home from the train station, I stopped to get some gas. While I was finishing filling my tank, a pretty obviously homeless man walked over to my car with the squeegie (say "squeegie" out loud a few times, it'll make you happy). He was a pretty thin black guy with a few layers on-- clearly cold, but with a genuine (if not somewhat desperate) smile on his face. He began apologizing, saying, "I'm sorry, sir, I didn't mean to forget about ya, I was just finishing up some other cars!" to which I replied, "That's ok, I'm all good, thanks," because I still operate in a world where I don't get jealous when homeless people ignore me. I wasn't about to come back with, "Well, you SHOULD be sorry! How dare you solicit other vehicles, but leave me waiting in the cold, hoping with crossed fingers for your charmed voice to reach dearly for my ears." So I really was "good."

On the other hand, "That's the thing, though, I'm not..." he replied, but the fact still remained that, "I don't have any cash..." which was mostly true. I usually don't have any cash, but because of a recent grocery pickup for my roommate involving kale (which also involved a crazy Greek woman showing me what the hell kale was), I actually had a five dollar bill in my pocket.
"You don't have any change on the floor in there?" he asked, and I conceded that I probably did, mostly because I knew I had a ziplock bag full of change in there. The thing was, that's my meter money, and when I thought, "How much change would this guy want?" the answer was clearly, "All of it." I told him I'd check, but that he didn't have to squeegie my car, but he said that he wanted to and it makes him look busy so the guy inside the store doesn't make him leave. I told him that dynamic sounded very familiar to me and has he considered working in events? I was starting to like this homeless guy, and it didn't hurt that he reminded me overwhelmingly of a friend of mine. He was quick, cognizant, and friendly-- the kind of homeless guy you could take home to mom (while still thinking in the back of your mind that he's probably going to steal your stuff and leave when you're not looking).

I dug into my change and pulled out some quarters. Thinking about it, I snuck my hand into my pocket and pulled out the five. Turning back to him, I gave him the $5.50 and told him I'd found it in my change holder. He was thankful, and chose to tell me a story verifying what all white people want to hear: I'M NOT RACIST! Apparently, there's this other white homeless dude who is super unfriendly, but sometimes shows up at the same gas station and steals my guy's customers. A lot of the time, I am told, white people take a look at them both, and even though the white guy is way less friendly and "Monkey's all up in your face," white people will pull away from one pump and pull up to his. "That's bullshit!" I said, which really meant, "You're right, I'm NOT racist!" to which he replied, "Damn right!" to which I replied, "What's your name, man?" which really meant, "I like you as much as one man can like a homeless man without having spent significant time together or shared an experience that both bonded them as friends and gave insight into each other's shortcomings."

"Hobo Joe," the man replied. I gave a disbelieving chuckle and replied,
"Alright, Hobo Joe, I'm Jon," (this is a huge Witz Pickz moment. It's on par with finding out which state Springfield is in on The Simpsons or learning what "Big's" real name is on Sex and the City...not that I've seen that show before)
"Actually, my name's Jon, too!" Hobo Joe announced.
"That sounds a lot like a lie, Hobo Joe. You just told me your name was Joe!"
"Well, those are my initials. J-O. It makes it simpler. Hobo J.O."
"Clearly. Well, nice to meet you," I reached out my hand and we shook. I wasn't worried about it at the time, but when I got home, I reached for a piece of bread before remembering and washing my hands thoroughly. You know how when some people meet a famous person, they don't wash their hands for a while? Yeah, well it's the exact opposite of that for homeless people-- regardless of how friendly they were. "I'll keep an eye out for you the next time I come by," I added.

"Thanks-- sometimes people are scared of me," he confided. I fought the urge to tell him about how I had been homeless once-- for two weeks between moving out of my South Bay apartment and moving into my SF apartment. I was forced to sleep in my friend's guest room which had only a king-sized bed and its own bathroom. The wi-fi was only "pretty fast." So I could relate. Instead I said, "You seem nice enough," which really meant, "Let's be super best friends."

And off I went. A little ways away, I began wishing I had just offered to buy Hobo J.O. dinner somewhere and learned a little more about him (but within walking distance-- I wasn't gonna get knifed in my own car while driving to Mel's. Sorry J.O.). A little farther away, and I wished I'd hit up an ATM and gone back to help him out (it was cold outside). And a little farther away after that, as I got out of my car, I noticed that my car smelled vaguely of urine-- but that could have been any number of things.

ANY DONATIONS I GET ON THE SITE BETWEEN NOW AND NEW YEAR'S, I WILL BE GIVING TO HOBO J.O. -- that's not saying much now, but if you feel like donating for him, that's a good way to do it....OR we can put together a beat squad to take care of the white dude who's blowing up Hobo JO's spot.

I Gotta Get Me Some PLATINUM Friends,

P.S. Happy Birthday to my Mom! Can I bring +1 to your birthday party? Note: His name is Hobo J.O. and we're in love!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Witz Pickz: Cupcakes and Cheese

You know how they say that you only find out about the times the C.I.A. fails? You never hear about their successes and the close calls. Well, consider yesterday's no-post one of those. I had an entire post written and ready to go, but at the last minute decided to get rid of it and spare all of you the time and effort of both reading a post and thinking less of me afterwards. Let me just say that I did an in-depth exploration of the DMX song "Ruff Ryders Anthem." I'll chisel it down to one joke:

Stop, drop, shut 'em down, open up shop
Ohhh... Nooo
That's how Ruff Ryders roll

Fuckin' wit' the wrong crew, (What!)
don't know what we goin' thru (What!)
I'ma have ta show niggaz (What!)
how easliy we blow niggaz (Wha-- wait what??)

photo courtesy of Nitro

It only went downhill from there...

Ever onwards to today:

Last night I learned that very few things in life are more depressing than eating a cupcake alone in your room. I had bought five of the most expensive cupcakes I'd ever seen earlier in the day (from Sprinkles, which they named after the part of a cupcake I enjoy the LEAST), and gave four of them to some friends. I had to leave before I was able to have dessert with them, which left me back at my house with a lone red velvet cupcake. I didn't have any more to give my roommates, so I went up to my room. I couldn't even turn on any music because it was late and my walls are paper thin, so I sat in my chair, alone, with the door closed, in silence, and stared at my $3.25 Red Velvet with Chai Butter Frosting treat. Eating an expensive cupcake alone in silence makes you feel like you are either celebrating the one year anniversary of your pet's death, the five year anniversary of quitting smoking or drinking, or the long forgotten ten year anniversary of getting your stomach stapled. It also looks remarkably like you're about to kill yourself. I considered putting on headphones and listening to some music while I ate, but then I thought, "What if I have a heart attack and this is how they find my body-- flopped in a chair, half a cupcake lying in my lap, with a Kate Nash B-Side on my playlist?" So I ate in silence. Here were my other options and why I passed:

-Eating a cupcake alone in the kitchen is just plain fat. Hang on a second there, Tubby, there are other rooms in this place...
-Eating a cupcake alone in the hallway seems like gloating.
-Eating a cupcake alone in the bathroom is illegal in 48 states (but not the contiguous ones like you assume)
-Eating a cupcake with the tv ON in the living room is totally acceptable, but doesn't put enough focus on the deliciousness of the cupcake.
-Eating a cupcake with the tv OFF in the living room feels like you and your ever expanding belly are on a date. That's both fat and depressing. If somebody walks in, you have to start making excuses for what else you might actually be doing, so it doesn't just seem like you plunked down on the sofa to throw down some pounds. "Can you find the remote? I can't find the remote! I'd be turning on the tv, but the remote seems to be missing!"

On the plus side, the cupcake was delicious.

Cheese or Body Odor?
My friend Jersey Girl posed this question to me last night: If you had to smell one thing for the rest of your life, would you rather it be body odor or cheese? After some careful thought, I decided that the answer has to be cheese. My thinking is that even though some cheeses smell bad (some at least as bad as B.O.), if I was constantly smelling cheese, then it most likely meant that there was constantly cheese around me. If I was hungry and needed a snack, cheese would be plentiful. On the other hand, if it constantly smelled like B.O., it would mean either a) I smell overwhelmingly of body odor or b) Someone else who smelled overwhelmingly of body odor was constantly around me. Option "A" is just not socially acceptable and option "B" is over the top creepy. Why is this person always around me? Do I have to interact with them? If I'm playing FIFA '09 can I play the computer or online or do I have to invite them to play. If my buddies and I are playing, do we have to make it a round robin tournament? Can I expect this person to do favors for me, either out of the kindness of their heart or because they know how bad they smell and recognize how they must be affecting my life? Am I trading unpleasant smells for a social slave? I'm not sure...and I'm not sure I'd do it. That's a much better question:

If you could have a social slave, but they smelled like body odor and you always had to smell their body odor (and you probably end up smelling like body odor because they're around you all the time), would you choose to have one?

DMX Spells Things With a Z Too! DMXPickz.Com

Monday, December 08, 2008

Witz Pickz: Monday Melange

Today is a big day in my life because today is the day I decided to take my own advice and take a stand. "Cool kids don't say 'maybe.'" Whenever I've typed in a password for the last...couple of years...Firefox has asked me if I want it to remember my password: "Remember, Never For This Site, or Not Now." (For those of you way out of the loop, I'm referring to the Mozilla Firefox internet browser and not a mystical vision quest beast that suspiciously inquires about my passwords, probably with intent to steal my identity).

And for YEARS now, I've continued to say, "Not Now," putting off the decision for the next time. I can try and rationalize it, saying that maybe I DO want Firefox to remember my passwords-- maybe it IS a good idea. In reality, I'm just leading Firefox on-- sorry Firefox, but I don't EVER want you to remember my passwords. Not only could you slut it up with some third party and get all my money stolen, but if I rely on you and your memory to store my passwords, then if we break up and head separate ways, I won't remember any of my passwords, and I'll be shit out of luck. So from now on, starting today, whenever I sign in to something and it asks me that question, my answer is going to be, "Never For This Site." Never for any site. Never.

Wanted and Vantage Point:
I saw two horrrible action movies over the weekend and while I didn't have high expectations, I still managed to be shocked by the absurdity. First, I saw Wanted, which both promised, and delivered, the curving of bullets. Beyond Without giving too much away I'll say that a group of assassins operates exclusively on the secrets that WEAVERS (actually referring to people who weave) sew into fabric. Much like Wonder Yak, who commented about poor Christmas Gift decisions, these weavers asked for a loom for Xmas and decided to make obscure use of it. Sitting in a basement, they now use BINARY CODE STITCHING to send messages to a group of people who include the rapper Common (who's assassin role is in stark contrast to his lyrics about peace), Angelina "Seriously, how is Jon Voigt my Dad" Jolie, and Morgan Freeman, who is clearly the frontrunner in what Hollywood thinks God looks like (There's no way God is black though-- he's constantly helping sports stars win games-- he must be the universe's all-time assists leader-- definitely a white guy). What Wanted teaches us is that bending bullets isn't entirely necessary, innocent people aren't important, and you don't need to name a movie after anything relevant to that film. There is one inane reference to "wanted" in the entire thing, and unless I'm missing a super obvious double entendre, they just didn't want to name it "Curvy Bullets." I did appreciate the extreeeemely long "Guy From Atonement Getting His Ass Beat Down By Guy From Hu$tle" sequence though. It went on for like, 20 minutes.

"It cuuuurves!" Curving bullets is
to white people what spinners are to black people.

Vantage Point was another gem. I can just imagine the writers getting all pumped up about how cool perspectives are. They decided to tell the same 20 minute story from seven or so perspectives. Unfortunately, what any history teacher will tell you, it's not just the number of perspectives that's important, it's WHICH perspectives you choose to show. They showed several different "vantage points" where we, as the audience, didn't learn anything. It was just like, "Oh, so after that guy does something important, he wanders off and stares at the sky. Awesome." One entire 20 minute sequence showed Forrest Whittaker and His Wacky Comedy Eye following someone whose perspective we'd already had. Which means I saw the same scenes twice, once from about five feet behind the other. It was like changing the camera on a video game. Ultimately, Vantage Point teaches us that you don't need a very good reason to try and shoot the President, that you don't need a very good reason to make a movie, and that if you decide to base a movie on gimmicks, you better at least show some goddamn curving bullets.

Radio Commercial For Night Rider:

"Only one show has a talking crime solving car that shoots missiles! OH! And did we mention the missiles?!"

Yes. Yes, you did.

Don't Even Get Me Started On "Jumper,"

P.S. Thanks to Nitro for the Witz Pickz logo. Also, checkout the comments section of Friday's post for an interesting response from a Caltrain conductor. Also, be my follower, effers, I'm not lookin' any cooler here....(click to add your name on the right)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Train Fatalities (Going out on a Limb With This One, I Know...)

Every now and then I'm willing to take a stand on something and this is one of those times. CalTrain, Northern California's answer to the question, "How can we force people to know the name 'San Bruno,'" has had more and more fatalities in recent months, including another one this morning. While I'm sympathetic to the deceased and those who cared about them, I continue to be baffled at how you end up as The Meat on a Train N' Tracks Sandwich (I wanted to say how you end up on "The business end of a FREAKIN' TRAIN!" but it occurred to me that the business end of a train is actually just a seat on the train because it is literally a business and you would have paid for a ticket. And I completely DO understand how that could happen). I assume there are only two ways for this to happen:

The obvious explanation for how someone could get hit by a train is that they placed themselves in its path specfically for that purpose. I don't know about you, but that annoys the hell out of me. In fact, I would be willing to believe in Hell just so I can think these people went there. It has nothing to do with religion and suicide, but simply the fact that these people didn't just want to kill themselves, they wanted to kill themselves and make everybody else late. Every time the train hits someone, the train has to stop, they clean up the body (which has to be emotionally damaging to both the people cleaning it up and the conductor and passengers who just found out they HIT A PERSON), and all the trains are delayed by *FUN FACT ALERT* about half an hour (approximately the same amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Weeds). Killing yourself is your own business, but getting in the way of a COMMUTER train just isn't necessary. Find some cargo trains and hop in front of that. You know what doesn't feel emotional stress? Coal.

Sometimes, it's not just people. Cars and trucks also get hit by the train, sometimes killing the drivers. If any of these are suicides then I'm completely baffled. Why would you possibly feel the need to destroy your vehicle and put the train and its passengers at risk? I guess if you're not fully committed, you might end up living through the accident, but I can't imagine post-Not Dying From Purposefully Placing Your Vehicle In Front of a Train life would really be stellar. The only other explanation I can think of is that they want to be sitting comfortably in a controlled atmosphere when they go. Get the heat or AC just right. And more likely, have the music that you want playing-- to which I say, "BUY AN IPOD! They're not that expensive and it's not like it's gonna matter anyway! Don't worry about breaking a perfectly good iPod either, because it was probably going to die soon anyway!"

Also, orchestrating a soundtrack to your death is risky business. Whether you're in your car or listening to an iPod, there's a big problem with timing. SURE, trains usually run on time-- maybe that's why people keep jumpin' in front of them, it's reliable. BUT, occasionally they don't. Even when they are on time, there's some wiggle room of a few minutes. One minute you're listening to "I Will Follow You Into the Dark," ready to go, and the next minute, the train's bearing down on you a little after it was supposed to and you're listening to that The Darkness song that you thought you deleted a long time ago. That's definitely what would happen to me with my luck. I can just imagine people talking afterwards:

"I heard he was listening to "Umbrella" when he died."
"Me too! I heard he had the whole album!"
"Not just the one song?"
"Nope, the whole thing!"

Meanwhile I'm struggling from the grave to tell them it isn't true just to keep my music cred. That's no kind of legacy. So please, stop stepping in front of comes off as needy, and reaks of desperation. Nobody like desperate.

Total Disregard:
The only other way you end up getting hit by a train is complete and utter disregard and obliviousness towards your surroundings. Trains run on tracks, make lots of noise as they approach, and have warning lights and sounds that go off as they approach a stop. One article about this morning's fatality states, "Caltrain categorized the victim as a trespasser." I kind of assume they mean "homeless person," but yeah, I'd say they were trespassing. Anyone standing ON THE TRACKS is clearly trespassing. It also says that he wasn't at a crossing. Even if you're not at a crossing, how do you possibly not see or sense that a train is about to hit you? When you feel the tracks shaking, do you stop and check to see if you just got a text? And even if that's the case, wouldn't you check to make sure it's a good time to pause on train tracks and check your phone??

As mentioned earlier, it's not just people. Cars, trucks, semis, all sorts of vehicles have been hit by the train. This is even weirder to me. If they ain't commiting suicide, they have to just be saying, "Welp, I recognize that my vehicle is physically blocking train tracks...and I understand the light is red and those other warning lights are flashing...and I see a train coming towards me...but fuck it, I was here first." My only explanation that I'm willing to partially, mildly, understand is that these people are victims of craving adventure too much. Here's why:

A few years back, I was exiting the highway on a long exit ramp, minding my own business. All of a sudden, the car in front of me inexplicably swerved to the right and slammed into a light post. The light post started falling across the path of the road and I had a quick decision to make. Having seen way too many movies and played out this scenario in numerous video games, my immediate thought was "SPEED UP!" How many chances do you get to zoom underneath a falling light tower?? I started to push down the accelerator when I suddenly remembered that instead of riding in an ATV or a plane or a motorcycle, or a sports car, I was riding in my Subaru Station wagon, and even if I didn't die from getting hit by the light, it was my only mode of wheeled transportation-- uh, also, I'm a good samaritan. So I swung my car to the side of the road, parked it, and ran over to the guy in the other car (aka my Adventure Catalyst). I still regret my decision.

So it is pseudo-vaguely plausible that these people were driving quickly, making green lights, and all of a sudden saw the train tracks beam coming down to block their way and thought, "Speed up or slow down?" Their adventure instincts kicked in, and with nobody in a car accident on the side of the road (ironically), they chose to speed up and succeeded in dodging under the giant wooden beam....and then they got hit by a train. We'll call it a half-victory.

Either way, suicide or obliviousness, please please please keep your bodies and vehicles off the tracks when the train is coming. It's not that we're all dying to get to work, but delays can get boring, and I would have put an episode of Weeds on my iPod to watch...right after I listen to Umbrella.

Unnecessary Simile Usage: The Train Hit Him Like A Ton of Bricks*,

* (No, it hit him like a FUCKING TRAIN)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Witz Pickz: They're Not All Gems -- Biggest Mistake Gifts That I've Asked For

In my family, we celebrate Christmas and Chanukkahj (I'm making a big push to convince people there's a silent "j" at the end of Hannukah), but Chanukkah is more about being awkward, and failing at religion, and laughing at inconvenient times that makes my Dad mad because it makes my Mom mad because nobody's taking Not Her Religion seriously. Long story short, Christmas is the bomb. Here's a preview, even though I'll probably get into it in more detail another post.

Our Christmas routine includes waking up later and later as time goes on, having something happen that leads to an argument (usually the phrase, "Thanks for ruining Christmas, Witz!" can be heard), followed by classic Witz Family "We're stuck with each other" family bonding. Then, my sister and I make brunch and we get to the actual presents part. Stockings first, then the tree, ultimately ending with the "Big Gift." The "Big Gift" is always from Santa Claus. This is weird primarily because we know it's not from Santa Claus and when my sister and I say "thank you" to our parents, they say "You're welcome," and not, "Don't thank us, thank Santa Claus." They're willing to play along for the tagging of the gift, but are damn well going to get credit for what they spent their money and thoughtfulness on. Anyway, through the years, I've made some weird "Big Gift" requests, some of which were better thought out than others. Here are a few of the ones I maybe shouldn't have asked for:

This was the "Big Gift" that I asked for sometime in high school. I can't imagine what I was thinking. I hate running. I played sports every day of the week. I wasn't morbidly obese. And yet I felt the need to ask for the fattest sounding gift I can think of. The weird thing is that there was clearly a moment when I asked for it and my parents weren't immediately like, "This won't be a good gift." I've neglected to use good gifts before, and yet they spent hundreds of dollars on a TREADMILL. They had to have known I wouldn't use that-- which I suppose makes them really great parents, but I'm surprised they didn't at least push me a little on whether I really wanted it instead of some sort of video game system or something. Even if they knew I wanted the treadmill and were ok with me not using it, they had to have realized that it only fit downstairs in our super creepy basement. Beyond being super creepy, our basement has a really really low ceiling. Our ceiling is so low, there was discussion of redoing it and that spawned this little tete a tete:

WITZ: Are we going to raise the ceiling like you were talking about?
DAD: I don't know-- why do we need to raise it!?
WITZ: Well, because we're in middle school and my friend The ATX can't even stand up down here.
DAD: You have other friends besides The ATX!

With the added height of the treadmill, my head would literally be inches from the ceiling every step I took. But they went ahead and got it for me. Even more shocking is the fact that there was actually that "Uhp-- we have one more gift for you......why don't you take a peak downstairs!" moment when I got excited, ran downstairs, and was psyched to find a machine TO RUN ON. In the end, it turned out to be a great gift...for my sister. Between the low ceiling and the constant threat of spiders, murder, and ghosts, I barely used the thing, but my 4'11'' gymnast sister still runs on it today.

Pool Table:
I wanted a pool table. I was probably in middle school or younger and thought it'd be cool to have a pool table in my basement (possibly to make it less creepy). I didn't think much about the whole logistics of the size and placement, and that resulted in me getting a mini-pool table. If you can have sex on regular sized pool tables, this was a pool table you could hold hands on...with one of you on either end of the table so it didn't tip over.

When I got it, it was alright, because I was smaller-- but as soon as I was a reasonable size, the table became ridiculous. My Dad never wanted to play with me because it was so goofily small, and then when I got bigger, I never wanted to use it. Due to a warp, it also had this habit of making all the balls roll towards the holes right after the break, and the pockets had a tendency to fall off when more than one ball was in them (due to a lack of staples-- yep, the table utilized staple technology). So every time you played "pool" you were basically saying, "I really want to clean something up."

It turns out there was one major upside to this gift. I'm not very good at pool, but a few weeks ago, my friend who I will call Nitro (as opposed to just saying "My friend Nitro" which sounds like I'm either friends with an American Gladiator or banging some huge dude from the gym) and I were at a bar where there was (oddly) a mini-pool table. WELL, I DESTROYED HIM. Like, all the angles and bounces of my old shitty table came flooding back to me, and I just trounced him three games straight. Totally worth it.

Bruins Hockey Jersey:
Now this was back when hockey was less of a joke and The Hartford Whalers existed and The Boston Bruins were my other favorite team because of guys like Ray Bourque. So it's not weird that I asked for a Bruins hockey jersey-- I played street hockey after school, ice hockey on ponds, and I went to hockey games when I could. What's completely random is that I decided this one time that I not only wanted a Bruins jersey, but I wanted MY NAME ON THE BACK of the Bruins jersey. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time, but apparently I didn't factor in how incredibly mockable having your name on the jersey of a team you don't play for is. Did I think, "Hey, you know what are cool? Name tags! How can I make name tags even more prevalent in my life?" It wasn't made any better by the fact that I hadn't ever played organized hockey in my life. It wasn't inspirational. It was just basically a 12 year old kid reading off the old list of what he wanted to be when he grew up:

1) Soccer player (I severely overestimated America's love of the sport. I also drastically underestimated the amount of commitment and effort this would take, along with how puberty would treat me.)
2) Baseball player
3) Hockey player
4) Events Assistant at a Major University... (YESSSSSSSSSSSS!)
5) Writer

I'm still shooting for baseball player. So anyway, it was awkward wearing the jersey around my friends, and it was even more awkward wearing the jersey to actual games.

"WHO THE HELL IS WITZ??" drunken fans would ask?
"Oh, that's me."
"Because I'm that cool."

That pseudo-real conversation wasn't even funny-- it was just informative.

Non-Digital Camera:
I still feel bad about this one. I asked for the cheapest film camera possible and got a nice, somewhat expensive camera. I already had a digital camera for taking most pictures, but I wanted to be able to mess around with photography a little. Facts about me:

1) I've never taken a photography class in my life.
2) I never intend to take a photography class in my life.
3) It doesn't take much for me to quit on something.
4) I don't like drawing attention to myself in public.
5) When I was eleven, I threw a wood block at my sisters head and broke a window in our basement. I'm pretty sure I didn't actually want to hit her, and I'm also pretty sure she ducked, but maybe it's another example of why I'm not a pro baseball player. This is only relevant because that window is still broken and was never replaced by my Dad, which means maybe he's a bit slow to follow through on things as well at times (the story also gives you a better idea of the creepiness that the basement has captured so well). Genetics + Socialization = Witz is never going to use his camera.

Let's just say I still have the original roll of film in the camera (because someone else put it in for me, because I never took a lot of pictures, because I don't know how to take it out, because I don't want to pay to get it developed if I do get it out, and because I don't need to be the douchey-artsy hipster guy taking photos in public).

There's A Fine Line Between Funny and Spoiled,

P.S. Checkout the new music playlist I have on the right, along with an RSS feed you can sign up for AND a new "Fans of the Site" thing you can/should sign up on to let me know you care. Who knows, maybe I'll even send everyone who signs up something sweet for the holidays (read: maybe I'll scrounge up something cheap from work that I can send you-- whooo liiiikes post-it paaaaads??)

Witz Pickz: Venting and Shooting Yourself in the Leg...Literally.

The vent in our bathroom collects dust the way I collect amusing ailments. I don't know if it actually affects much in the bathroom, but once it became extremely clogged up, I started taking notice and decided to do something about it. See-- I'm a man of action-- maybe not "daily" and maybe not "appropriate," but action all the same. I'm also a big fan of cleaning or organizing when other things seem out of my control. If you can't evade a larger life problem by physically solving a minor house-cleaning problem, then somebody shoot me right now.*

So this past weekend I decided to tackle the vent. The problem is that our bathroom ceiling is inexplicably high. It's like they decided to make up for the lack of space in our bedrooms by giving us obscene headroom in the bathroom. It's the bathroom equivalent of a Honda Element (or the Scion Xb). If aliens saw my bathroom, they would assume that humans expanded in water. Other things aliens would assume if they saw my house:

1) Marriage is between three men and a woman
2) Mostly girls like Star Wars
3) A fun game humans play with ants when they come streaming into their homes when it rains is called "tag" and is played with a paper towel or fingers. A fun game ants like to play with humans is called, "Hide in the sugar until someone reaches in to grab it and then swarm over their hands like a terrifying scene in a movie and make them shriek like little girls." Sometimes ants "play too hard" and swarm into the bathroom and shower, and that's when humans call the exterminator and rain down hellfire in the form of poisonous traps and "knock-down spray." Humans are kind of dicks.

So I needed to come up with some way of reaching the vent. Standing on a chair and reaching didn't cut it, so I decided to put some paper towels on the end of a broom and reach up. I wanted it to collect the dust, so I wet the paper towels. Reaching up, I proceeded to turn the dust into cement, and mash it down into a thick layer, completely blocking the airflow. I needed a solution fast. "Where do people turn when they need fast solutions?" I thought and it suddenly hit me. I ran into my closer and grabbed what I needed. Utilizing classic abortion technology, I reached up with my unbent coat hanger and cleared each strip of soggy dust from the vent. Minutes later, the vent was completely clear and I felt worlds better. Thinking that this would probably happen again, I placed the hanger on my "bathroom shelf" in the closet, and then hesitated. As it turns out, having an unbent coat hanger on your bathroom shelf is EXTREEEEMELY creepy! Shaving cream, Nyquil, Vitamins, Sunscreen, hook-fashioned coat hanger. So I did what anyone would do-- I placed a box of condoms next to it and turned the shelf into a mini anti-pregnancy diorama.

...these are my friends and readers...

Plaxico Burress:
I know I don't usually get topical here, but it's not everyday a football player has to miss games because he SHOT HIMSELF IN THE LEG. For those of you who haven't heard, the Giants wide receiver announced that he'd be missing some games because he managed to shoot himself in the leg. The trump card is that he is now pleading NOT GUILTY to HAVING A GUN. In case his explanation of what happened wasn't enough evidence, the GAPING WOUND IN HIS LEG might be held against him in court. One explanation I heard for what happened is that he tried to look badass by putting his gun down his pants, but the gun fell down his pants, and when he tried to pull it back up from INSIDE his pants, it went off and shot his leg (totally and completely badass). This explanation does further my theory that the best home protection would be to place tons of guns all over your home. If somebody broke in, the odds of them picking up a gun and shooting themselves would be pretty good. Plus, it might not even get that far-- just seeing that many guns might be enough to make them think twice about robbing you. I don't think that's actually what happened to Plaxico, though. I'm pretty sure he was trying to see if he was Hancock.**

I Hope Plaxico Uses the "Leg Stigmata" Defense,

*Note: Just an expression, you will be prosecuted. Also, if I were to be shot and killed, I still expect my corpse to be preserved, at least well enough for me to go posthumously tandem skydiving. I don't care if it's with a buddy or an instructor, but one way or the other, you better get my Action Corpse onto and out of a plane. I'm not saying I'll haunt you if you don't, but I can't promise I won't do my best to convince the ghost of Bernie Mac to wake you up by rehashing scenes from The Bernie Mac Show. Too soon?

**Surprisingly, shooting himself in the leg does not mean that he is not Hancock. It either means a) He's not Hancock or b) He IS Hancock, but is too close to his soul-mate and therefore his power is diminished and he can feel pain. If I just shot myself in the leg and my wife ran in about to scream at me, I'd probably try and explain option b. And yes, I liked the movie Hancock-- who doesn't like Will Smith? I even saw Hitch. Twice.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Witz Pickz: Post Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I decided that the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving after the fact is for me to attempt to recall the story of Thanksgiving. Feel free to help me with the details.

A long time ago, before ipods, but after dinosaurs, a group of oppressed white people came to America to escape persecution and parking tickets. They arrived on a boat named The Mayflower, so named because everyone agreed it sounded, "too gay," for any pirates to attack it. You don't get street cred for blowing up "The Mayflower." These people were called Pilgrims and they believed very strongly in buckles. They put them on their hats, they put them on their belts, and they put them on their shoes. As my friend Turbo put it, "The Pilgrims were to buckles what Pimp My Ride is to LCD screens." I don't know why they were so into buckles, but it either had to do with keepin the Lord in or the Devil out, or maybe just to keep all their clothes on as they slowly starved to death.

Starving to death was not part of the plan, but they hadn't accounted for the extra energy they would expend being extremely racist. They knew they had arrived at the prime location because they found a really big rock to step out on. They named their town Plymouth after a shitty car company, and dubbed the rock, "Plymouth rock," thereby showing their vast creativity and love of the outdoors. Finally after much anticipation, the murdering, raping, and pillaging got into full effect and these things tire a white dude out. So they all huddled down into a house that Abraham Lincolm made out of the logs that now bare his name and prayed for the best. When praying didn't workout, they turned to the Native Americans who decided it would "Most definitely, I promise," help them in the long run to keep these intruders alive. WOW, WERE THEY WRONG!

Running Bear: I think we should save these white people.
Walks On Wind: Hmm, I have my RESERVATIONS!
Both: Ahahahahaha-- awwww :(

So the Indians showed up and taught the Pilgrims how to gorge themselves on loosely associated foods. They then read the children a book where they taught them that the english word "corn" is the same as the english word, "maize." They did have a sneaky ultierior motive-- to make the Pilgrims' intestines fill up, press against their absurdly prevalent belt-buckles, and kill them all like that one fat dude in the movie Seven (Se7en). Unfortunately, there wasn't enough food for that, but there was an act of God that day.

There was very little turkey left. Everyone was worried and so the Pilgrim leader, George Washington Carver (inventor of the Turkey Carver sandwhich at Boston Market), started making everyone trace their hands on the turkey that was left. In this way, the meat would be rationed and everyone would get one handful of turkey. He was asked to "guestimate" how many days the turkey would last and he said the answer was one day (in his best guestimation, which he was never very good at). To everyone's surprise and excitement, the turkey ended up lasting the next EIGHT days-- and it was deemed by all to be a Miracle. That is the story of Thanksgiving and that is why, to this day, we eat a haphazard assortment of obese foods on the last Thursday of November, why we eat turkey leftovers for the next week, and why Sacajawea is on the dollar coin.

In the years that followed, Thanksgiving became much more of a social holiday. It became a time when families could get sneaky drunk together and inevitably learn something sexually explicit about their grandmother. Thanksgiving became a time when the line between joyous celebration and horrific obligation became thin and vague, and this was only made more true by Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song." Strong unions (no, conservative Californians, I don't mean between two people of the same sex) led to getting both Thursday and Friday off of work, meaning people could stuff themselves longer, drink more, and get even more sexually explicit with their inappropriate family stories. It also meant that everyone could shop the day after Thanksgiving. They decided that nothing complements the stress of planning or attending a family get together like gathering millions of people into tiny stores with limited merchandise at ungodly hours of the morning. Thus, Post-Thanksgiving-Shopping-Day was born. The inventors decided it needed a catchier name that sounded less like work and more like a movie starring one of the Wayans brothers. Black Friday was created. The Thanksgiving story continues to unfold, each and every year, as the middle-aged earnestly embarass themselves with what they are appreciative of, and the youth come up with amusing, ironic, sarcastic examples of what they are thankful for-- just like the pilgrims did.

Throw Your Hand Turkeys In the Air, If You's A True Player,
"Thanks for killing my friends, effers!"
"Totally and completely BADASS!"
I tried to give it feathers, but it turned out to be backhair. Hm.