Saturday, April 24, 2010

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Viruses

Everyone I know has been sick recently. I've had a clingy sore throat for the last two weeks, my roommates have been fighting off the same sort of thing, my sister has been sick, and even my family's cat, Tucker, has worms, which inspired my dad to write this note to my mom: "TUCKER BARFED WORMS LAST NIGHT (SEE PYREX DISH WITH SARAN WRAP)--DO NOT WALK BAREFOOT DOWNSTAIRS (BASEMENT) I WILL CALL ANIMAL GENERAL." Yikes. CSI n' shit. Thirty years of marriage full of pet stains, meal preparation and notes like that-- that's impressive, right?

On top of the sick people, my dad's desktop computer died, my sister's laptop got a virus, and apparently, they've all been sharing water bottles because yesterday, my laptop announced that it, too, had a virus. I am Witz's complete lack of surprise.

The virus began when some software I didn't recognize popped up, announcing that my computer had said virus. More and more warnings popped up, programs crashed, and the software kept announcing that, apparently, every program I had was infected and wouldn't open, and that if I wasn't a complete fuckup, I'd pay whatever was necessary to upgrade from the demo version so I could actually get rid of whatever was attacking my computer.

I fully believed that I could have a virus-- after all, I skipped activating my free trial of Norton that came with my computer because Norton's like the lame guy in a group that NEVER wants to do ANYTHING fun. "Nah, don't go to that site, man, let's just hang here at the homepage tonight," and, "I don't know why, but I just don't TRUST that software...even if it is Microsoft Word," and my personal favorite, "Look, I just want to make sure you're positive you want to allow INTERNET explorer to connect to the INTERNET. Are you suuure??"

In addition, I stupidly clicked on an email link that I thought was from a friend right before reading his apology email telling everyone not to click on the link, so it could have been from that. The last possibility is my Dad's favorite: MP3's. My dad blames MP3's for things the way some people blame the jews, black people, and illegal immigrants. If anything goes wrong with my sister's or my computer, it's those damn MP3's fault. Not enough space on the harddrive? Those MP3's taking up all the space. He acts as if computer viruses, malicious software, poverty, joblessness, and the damn liberal media didn't exist before MP3's. He's mostly wrong, and I don't want him to have his beliefs confirmed, but it is a possibility. So, there are plenty of reasons why I could have had a virus on my laptop-- but this wasn't my first rodeo.

I know about health issues because my health has been terrible, I know about cars because of all the times my car has broken down, and I know about computers because of years upon years of talking with tech support. When I tried to run my other anti-virus software, I was told that the program was infected and couldn't open. So I rebooted in safe mode, and banged out a few scans. Nothing found. I went back to the regular boot and watched everything freak out again. I turned on my Norton trial and ran that back in safe mode-- nothing found. Reboot and suddenly the sky is falling again: warnings, windows crashing, programs failing, and constantly, message after message informing me of malicious viruses invading my computer. I would close all the warnings and try to turn off the software, but it would lead to another slew of messages. I felt like I was in a bad '80's movie, or The Warriors, or Rumble Fish or something:

"There's a virus man, a virus that's gonna ruin our group!"
"Calm down, Billy."
"No way, man, can't you feel it? It's tearing us apart!"
"No, Danny, I can't sit around letting this happen!"
"BILLY! Don't you get it, man? YOU'RE the virus. It's you."

My browsers wouldn't open, so I rebooted in "safe mode with networking," tweaked the LAN settings, and got on google. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Antispyware Soft. One of many malicious anti-spyware programs, it downloads and installs itself, and proceeds to inform you of fictional threats and viruses. It blocks programs, crashes browsers, alters .dll files, pees on your face and tells you that it's raining. Fortunately, there are programs like Spyware Doctor that can go in and fix everything. Ironically, to avoid having to buy this software, you can find a free crack code on the same sketchy sites that probably gave you a virus in the first place. Oh, The Internet.

Just as quickly as everything went to hell, everything was back to normal. My laptop runs fine, my throat still hurts, and Tucker's still vomiting worms (possibly the worst thing ever-- can you imagine throwing up WORMS? WORMS?? That's ALMOST as bad as giving birth on the toilet when you didn't know you were pregnant). Now, if only Witz Pickz would go viral...

New On Fox: Spyware MD...solving mal-ware mysteries the way Sherlock Holmes solves regular mysteries,

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Witz DOESN'T Pick: Tuesday Tapas

I'm taking a cue from the meal I had sunday night and giving you the Tuesday Tapas. This means a few assorted pickz that you should take your time reading, and while you'll hopefully find them very tasty, you're ultimately going to still be hungry when you're done.

On the Road ($9) - A spicy classic

Sometimes I think that there's no such thing as traffic, just assholes. If you see a beautiful open world in front of you and seventeen cars riding up your Toyota's ass, that means it's time to move out of the passing lane. I'm not dancing to some song in my car and singing along to the very redundant lyrics-- I'm flailing my arms at you and screaming, "Oh my god, fucking pull over, oh my god, fucking pull over!" Who are these people driving exactly the same speed next to each other?? Do they really think, "Why look at this predicament! I just don't know what to do here!" Speed up. Slow down. Pull over. This isn't synchronized driving. I don't care if you've always wanted to lead a parade. Move. And you know they know what's up because they NEVER make eye-contact with you when you finally pass them. They're always fixated on whatever is directly ahead of them, which is usually lots of open space.

I've actually always wanted to have a dry-rase board in my car that I could write things on like, "PULL OVER!" or "USE YOUR SIGNAL, ASSHOLE!" or "I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE TECHNOLOGY THAT ALLOWS THIS BOARD TO FUNCTION! (and neither does the Insane Clown Posse)," but then I realized that it would make me The Guy Who Drives with a Dry-Erase Board and I'm just not ready for that kind of commitment.

Kracken ($8) - bold flavors with a subtle hint of vulgarity.

The Clash of the Titans is now in theaters and it features something that has been on my mind through the years of watching movies: The Kracken. Now, I don't really know what a kracken is, but it always looks like a manatee fucked a redwood tree and whether it's in Clash of the Titans or Pirates of the Carribean, everyone is always releasing it. It's always the same thing, too: some guy standing in an epic site dramatically demanding the universe to "RELEASE THE KRACKEN!" Well, why's everybody just releasing the kracken? Does anybody ever "TEND THE KRACKEN!" or "CALL AND SEE WHAT THE KRACKEN IS UP TO!"? Nobody seems to think about what's gonna happen once the kracken is released. It's all fun and games until someone needs to "FEED THE KRACKEN!" Who's gonna wake up at 6am to "WALK THE KRACKEN!"? And what if the kracken's been captive for so long that when it's finally released it doesn't even want its freedom like Brooks in Shawshank Redemption? It's a lot of responsibility, and I'm not always sure the people know what they're getting themselves into.

I'll say this: if I knew I had the power to release the kracken, like, if that was part of my job description, OH MY GOD would I constantly be waiting to do so! "Witz, you're in charge of photocopies, spreadsheets, planning the holiday party, and RELEASING THE KRACKEN." I'd jump the gun on that so quickly. "Is it cold in here? Maybe I should release the kracken." "Printer's broke, releasing the kracken now." "The Hurt Locker didn't arrive from Netflix today like it was supposed to, but I was thinking maybe we could have a nice dinner, drink some wine, and thennn maybe release the kracken?? Whattya think?" (Insert obvious penis joke here). This is why I can't have nice things.

Hecho en Dumbo ($12) - the house favorite

I don't trust Mexican places with clever or trendy names. I like my Mexican restaurants to have simple names like Dos Pinas (two pineapples) or El Farolito (the lantern) or places with very direct names like Margueritas, or Expresso Burrito. If I owned my own Mexican place, I'd probably just name it Burritos, but with an apostrophe at the end, as if the burritos, themselves, owned and operated the restaurant like a co-op. So you can understand why I'd be wary of a place that translates to "Made in Dumbo," especially when the place was no longer in the neighborhood of Dumbo, but rather the bowery. This place was no two pineapples.

We quickly learned from our waiter that Hecho en Dumbo was fancy and each dish was ordered like tapas, a few small things per plate. We decided to order family style, which to some people means the table orders a bunch of stuff and everybody shares each plate, but to me usually means that one person orders a lot of food for us and then we resent them silently the rest of the meal.

A quick look at the menu, and at the plates a short while later gave me a rough idea of how the place operated. Basically, they were saying that just in case Mexican food wasn't volatile enough already, have fun with the chicken, steak, pork, swordfish, ceviche, octopus, cactus, mushroom, queso fundido. It's like playing Bingo, only instead of getting to stand up and shout "Bingo!" you jump up and sprint to the bathroom as quickly as humanly possible. Our waiter was charismatic and I was both with the type of group and at the type of place where the guy could have said, "Our special tonight is the burritas humanos, which of course are made with the meat of human babies, but they are seasoned just BLISSFULLY! I HIGHLY recommend them," so we ate everything that appeared before us. And just for luck, I tried a Michalada Cubano at the beginning of the meal and was given a free one at the end-- because why not bookend the night with a couple of glasses of alcoholic worcestershire water?

To my Noah's Ark of a stomach's credit, it handled all the food well, including the octopus which tasted like a super salty string cheese (like how pâté tastes like meat-cream-cheese), and to Hecho en Dumbo's credit, everything WAS delicious. Still, I'm happy with a five dollar brick of beans and cheese any day of the week. And yes, I was hungry an hour later.

That'll Be Eighty Dollars Please,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Witz DOESN'T Pick: A-Train Fitness

Sleep is a big deal for me. For starters, I seem to get sick the first stretch of time I don't get enough of it. To make matters worse, I'm terrible at it. Just...bad. You know how some people are with guitar, saying, "I'd love to learn how to play, but I just don't think it's my thing?" Well, that's how I am with sleep. I love sleep, it is magical and wonderful and...necessary for sanity...but I've lost the ability to do it well.

I flip from side to side, I go full covers, no covers, some covers, leg out, leg in. I fall asleep on my arm and wake up thinking, "THIS IS THE TIME I LEFT IT TOO LONG!" flailing the weight around and poking at it until life returns. I use my pillows like golf clubs; using a larger one for when I'm on my back and swapping it out for a thinner one when I'm lying on my side. Three times in the last month I woke up literally clawing at the walls with my fingernails. No idea why, but the walls won. So the last thing I need is something waking me up early in the morning after falling asleep late at night.

Allow me to introduce you to A-Train Fitness. A-Train Fitness is the personal training business directly beneath my apartment. A-Train, if that is his real name (it's not, his name is Anwar), is the personal trainer in charge. I don't know if he is affiliated in any way with the actual A train that runs nearby in Brooklyn, but more and more, recently, it has felt like the train itself is waking me up.

A-Train's schtick is that he plays music REALLY FUCKING LOUDLY. And not just music, but music with lots of BASS. The bass is the only part I'm able to hear, and I feel it, too-- it shakes the floor, trembles up the posts of my bed, and ear-fucks me into consciousness. As if the volume isn't enough, this isn't your consistent house music bass. There's never a regular 4/4 drum and bass beat for me to fall back asleep to. It always sounds like the speakers have bass tourettes: "....BOOM BOOM....BAHBOOM.........BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM........BOOMBAMBOOM......BOOMBAMFUCKYOUWITZBAMBOOM!" Anytime I think a steady beat is emerging, it suddenly switches up. It's like Girl Talk made a "bass only" album. So, it is impossible (for me) to fall back asleep.

Obviously, I need to say something, but the timing is never right. I don't want to interupt him with a client, I don't want to be bleary-eyed and out of my mind angry when I talk to him, and I don't really know what he looks like out of context. Plus, I'm extremely intimidated by this dude, which probably comes partially from him being a jacked, badass, black dude who calls himself A-Train, and partially from being the victim of his aural-rapings day after day. I've considered waiting for a pause in the music and doing the "stomp, stomp, stomp," which is the universal morse code for "OHMYGOD SHUT UP!", but I didn't want to be passive-aggressive. So, I did what every terrified, but uppity white man does: I decided to write him a letter:


Dear A-Train,

My name is Witz (but everyone calls me W-Train), and I live above your personal training establishment. Along with the partially succesful double-entendre in your establishment's title, I am impressed with your training technique, which appears to be to simulate a warzone, full of booming frenzy, stress, and inflatable workout balls. I do not think it will surprise you to learn, however, that this technique is extremely disruptive to my apartment. Every bass beat reverberates in our home, and it has only gotten louder as you have no doubt gotten deafer with every day, week, and month. It is not so bad during the day, but you have started blasting this bass as early as 6am on both weekdays AND weekends, including Sunday. You know who likes to rest on Sunday? THE LORD. You know who else likes to rest? Everyone else.

So, I would kindly ask that you turn down the bass. Surely, you're a good enough personal trainer to motivate out of shape, rich people to do a sit-up or a pull down without audio-armageddon raining down upon them. If not, I still urge you to find another way, as it is only a matter of time before your early morning bass causes me to snap, come downstairs, knife your eyes out, climb into your empty eye-holes, and sleep the deep sleep of the righteous.


P.S. I have a coupon for a free 30-minute session that expired on March 31st-- can I still use it??

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Witz Pickz: Alaskan Terror

Something weird is happening: at 6:30pm, there are no fewer than three movies involving terrifying things in Alaska. If I want gritty horror, I can watch 30 Days of Night, where vampires take over a small Alaskan town during a month when it's dark all the time and Josh Hartnett has to fight back. If I want a documentary, Grizzly Man is on HBO, getting eaten by bears. And if I want fantasy, and a shoutout to my high-school mascot, Wyvern is making an already bleak town less appealing on the Syfy channel.* Now, I'm not sure what this trio says about Alaska, or how people view Alaska, but I'm thrilled all the same, because I will NEVER live in a small town in Alaska-- it's just not happening. I've seen Northern Exposure. I get it.

Obviously, I need to see what Wyvern is all about, so I check the summary: "A wyvern menances a small Alaskan town." Menaces. Not destroys, but simply menaces. It's a fucking DRAGON. Raccoons menace. Are the dragons stealing food out of trash cans on garbage day? I decided to tune in and see what was up. Here's what I found:

It appears I've tuned in for the final confrontation. A trucker hurdles down a long dirt road in his big rig. A large egg lies in the passenger seat, which I have to assume is a wyvern egg, because it's hard to believe that Wyvern has a b-plot. The man is wearing a trucker hat, is in need of a shave, and looks like he's probably done a fair number of Lifetime movies and afterschool specials. It is entirely unclear whether this guy is our protagonist or a Jurassic Park style scumbag.

The man starts honking the horn intermittently, either to a) attract a wyvern b)scare off a wyvern or c) because honking a truck horn is cool as shit. Fact. Look it up. It must be A (and C), because suddenly, a wyvern appears in the rearview mirror. The wyvern looks like an iguana that drank a red bull (it gives you wings...and when used in mixed drinks, allegedly leads to unwanted blackout sex-- it's why Sparks was going off the market). The wyvern gains quickly on the rig, so the-man-who-I-assume-is-our-hero-although-he-looks-like-every-police-sketch-of-a-date-rapist, SLAMS ON HIS BREAKS, causing the wyvern to smack into the back and get rattled. The move seemed very practiced, and I'm guessing our boy might use that move as a monthly paycheck. Also, I can't believe they decided to use Looney Tunes choreography for this battle. "Drive! Chase! Stop! Boink! Growl! Drive! Chase!"

Our guy drives and the wyvern recovers and follows. Now, I know what you're thinking: "How do we know what the stakes are? Isn't there some way we can have a running commentary announcing how close he is to his goal?" You bet there is! A GPS announces how close Truck McGluck is to his destination. Store that little bit away for later.

The tension builds and the truck hurdles forward, the wyvern getting ever-closer. It breaks one window with it's claw, and Big Rig the Kid swerves to avoid its talons. It's still very unclear if we want this guy to die so the wyvern gets the egg back or if we want him to succeed to stop the wyvern from...menacing...this town. "One mile to destination." The wyvern dives and attacks, the truck dodges. The wyvern breaks the other window, swoops ahead and settles on the windshield. "500 feet to destination." The wyvern rears back, attacks, and smashes the windshield. It reaches into the cab to take the egg back, when all of a sudden, the driver dives out the side, the rig goes flying off the edge of a cliff, and just before it hits the ground, pinning the wyvern to the ground and exploding into flames, we hear, "Destination. Reached." (Ohhhh, GPS Narrative Device payoff!) I think we all know how that production meeting went:

Writer: ...and then the GPS device says, "Destination. Reached."
Producer: Ohhhhh-ho-ho. Wow. I need to change my pants.
Writer: Me too.

So I guess Mr. Big Riggins was our hero after all. He managed to take a species we didn't think existed and cleverly make the fantastical species extinct. Well done, sir. I thought I had a handle on Wyvern, right up until the final scene, when I was suddenly left baffled, pondering a Sherlock Holmes level mystery.

Old Military Guy: Jake! You're back.
Jake (aka Truck McGluck) It's over, Colonel. I took it out with my truck.
Yong Woman: Your new rig!
Jake: Yeah, I didn't need it anyway-- I like it just fine here in Beaver Hills. (to old woman) Maggie here?
Old Woman: Jake-- Maggie passed away over a year ago.
Jake: Good for you Edna, good for you.

...WhaaaaaAAAAAT AN AWESOME ENDING!! BOOM, SHITHEADS! Wyvern. Just. Happened.

Now tell me you don't want to watch that movie.

"This Wyvern Movie Is Dragon,"

*Can someone explain to me why the Sci-Fi channel changed their name to the Syfy channel?