Thursday, September 30, 2010

At least that one British dude gives Billy Mays shout-outs in all the new OxiClean ads

Every time I happen to catch some TV station slip up and let an old Billy Mays commercial run, I get instantly confused.

I mean, my brain tells me that I know he's dead, but my heart won't let go.

"BILLY MAYS IS NOT DEAD!," I yell aloud in an otherwise darkened apartment — save for the light from the TV — as I wonder how he's dropping new material.

It reminds me of the first time I saw the music video for "To Live And Die In LA." It was still pretty early on following 2Pac's death, and it wasn't yet common knowledge that he left behind, like, entire studios full of unreleased music. Plus I was ignorant to how production cycles worked. So, of course, I was just all, "There's a new 2Pac video! He IS still alive!"

That memory prompts a whole inner debate about whether Billy Mays is dead like 2Pac, or if Billy Mays is not dead like 2Pac.

But then I remember that the Billy Mays ad I'm watching is the same Awesome Auger one I saw 80 bazillion times while he was alive, but that I've just not seen it in a really long time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This is how I get down: The stairs. Up, too.

Shortly after I started working for the financial company I now work for, way, way back, like, a year and a half ago, the people running the company orientation session I went to were promoting an idea of an “elevator speech.”

For roughly the first half of the session — give an hour or so while the other noobs and I were busy assembling jigsaw puzzles — their casual references of this elevator speech concept did more to confuse me than anything.

My first thought was, “I don’t know anything about the inner workings of elevators — except for my relatively limited knowledge of pneumatic vacuum systems, of course, but what does any of that have to do with the world of finance and banking?”

And then my thoughts went all like, “Wait. Do I have to give a speech in an elevator? Will everyone stay on for all floors during my speech? Or will I have to deal with people constantly getting on and off while I’m orating? Because that could get distracting.”

But then as the orientation instructors went on about this elevator speech idea, they started mentioning stuff about how we would all need to be able to describe our jobs to strangers.

I’m not quite sure why they wanted us to tell strangers about our jobs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up being told not to talk to strangers.

Then I asked myself what telling strangers stuff about my job had to do with elevators, because I really wanted to know. It still didn’t make sense to me.

All I could think about was how I don’t usually take elevators if I have the option to take the stairs. Well, unless I have to go up like 30 stories or something, because then, even as a stairwell regular, I’d probably get all sweaty and out of breath and stuff, and that’s not fun for anyone.

I understand that there are some legitimate needs for elevators. I also understand that they can simply make things easier even if you don’t truly need to use them, and I further understand that’s probably why most people use them. However, sometimes I just prefer to do my own thing, so it’s the stairs for me.

You may not like the stairs yourself, but if you were ever to consider taking them, I promise there are, like, millions of reasons to do so. Okay, “millions” might be a stretch. But I did come up with four:

  • Hip hop calves. Even if you’re not walking up a ton of flights of stairs, walking up one is better exercise than none. I don’t have a degree in kinesiology or pulmonology or anything, but I’d say it probably builds leg strength and endurance. And if you’re awesome, you can skip every other stair for a more intense workout.
  • 28 Floors Later. You know how many germs circulate within elevators? Yeah, neither do I. But I just have to assume those boxes are veritable Petri dishes during cold and flu season. Well, maybe not, but that just seems like a reasonable guess to me. At the very least, I’m sure the buttons are all germy or something.
  • Peace and quiet. Who really wants to talk to people? Especially in the morning? And that’s when you deal with most people on an elevator. Everyone comes in to work all tired and then you’re faced with the decision of either standing around awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact so as not to have to speak with anyone, or giving in to the feeling of obligation to make small talk about what you bought at the grocery store last night or how your mailman keeps delivering your mail to your next door neighbor.
  • I don’t mean to brag. If the company you work for is like mine, then you have a yearly fire drill, which may include turning off the elevators to force a more realistic exit. But if your company's like mine, then you know they also take forever to turn the elevators back on. So, the more accustomed to walking up stairs you are, the less winded you’ll be at the end of the drill when you walk back into the building and up the stairs. Then you can be the person walking around telling everyone who’s breathing heavily, “Oh, y’know, I take the stairs ALL THE TIME. Because I’m awesome. So, yeah, that’s why I’m not all, like, tired and out of breath like everyone else and stuff.”

I have to admit that I’m not completely opposed to taking elevators, and I do happen to do so on occasion. However, if and when I do, no one should expect me to deliver any speeches while I’m on one.

However, all bets on public speaking are off if they ever build some escalators at my job.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Well, if it's good enough to get broke off a proper chunk, I'll take a small piece of some of that funky stuff.

It's 1983, it's 12:30 a.m., it's raining, and you're taking a shortcut home through some alley outside a new wave dance club where you can hear the bassline from Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" emanating from out of the broken men's bathroom window.

Aside from the rain and the fact that you hate that song, you feel good. You feel like you could fly and like nothing bad can happen. You just saw "Trading Places" as a second date with a woman you met a few weeks ago. You feel comfortable in this city; you've been living here for three years after traveling back here from the present day version of the same city.

Apparently you have some sort of time machine. That's cool, I guess, but I wish I would've known so I could've convinced you to let me travel back to the 1960s and remove the laugh track from The Flintstones. C'mon: it was a cartoon. I mean seriously — a laugh track on a cartoon?

Anyway, you're on your way home from your date in this dark alley with crappy music being thrown your way, so you bust out the iPod you brought back with you and fire up some old school Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg.

Well, it was still like nine years from being released, but it was old school to you. You gotta have your jams. And you hate '80s music. For that reason alone, I still never understood why you chose to go back there.

Oh, yeah, so you're going about your business, being all, " this, that, and this and uh, it's like that, this, and that and uh, it's like this!" when — BOOM! — a crew of bikers pulls up from both sides of the alley. You stop and survey the bikers as they step off their motorcycles and form a circle around you.

One biker approaches you, insisting that you have something they want.

Despite assuming he was referring to something modern you brought back with you, like, probably the George Foreman grill you'd been bragging about to all of the 1983 people, you tell him you don't know what he's talking about.

He repeats that you do, and tells you that you will turn it over to them or face the consequences.

"Oh, really?" you ask. "The consequences?"

"Really," the biker retorts, mimicking your tone, like one of those punk little elementary school bully kids would do. "Steep consequences."

So you mean mug him, taking one those quick steps toward him like you're going to punch him, but don't raise anything more than your shoulders.

Dude flinches and you start laughing, so he takes a swing at you.

Apparently you were prepared, though, because you side-stepped it. You proved to be prepared for his next two punches as well, as you side-stepped those, too.

You grab him by the throat and make a point of looking him in the eyes: “That’s three strikes.”

Barely able to breathe, let alone talk, the biker lets out a wispy “I hate baseball,” before mustering the strength to pull a knife out of his belt and take one of those improbable swings at your stomach that bad guys always seem to be able to do when it looks like the good guy's in control.

You let go of his neck and jump back, causing him to miss yet again. You back up and ready yourself in some sort of martial art stance.

“That wasn’t a baseball reference,” you inform him in one of those Jack Bauer angry whispers. “I was talking about the three-strikes justice philosophy.”

Dude, also: why didn’t you ever tell me you knew karate or jiu-jitsu or whatever? Because I’d totally have asked you for some lessons and tips or something.

Anyway, so then this biker guy rushes at you with the knife over his head, except not really.

And by “not really,” I mean you just sweep his legs out from under him before he can get close. Dude gets knocked out when his head hits the ground during the fall.

The second you go to grab his knife, the rest of the bikers charge in at you.

At that point, you just go on some sort of crazy, parkour-fueled Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon display of beatdownsmanship, jumping off the alley walls and knocking out multiple bikers with single spin kicks, and all sorts of other cool stuntman tricks/martial artistry.

With the whole biker posse laid out in the alley, one last bike pulls up and some big tall menacing looking dude gets off. He pulls out a gun and shoots you before walking up to you, standing over you, and telling you " just chill 'til the next episode."

Yeah, I still haven’t figured out how he knew the words to “Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang.”

And now you’re just waking up from your coma, 27 years older.

Oh, and that chick you were dating, strangely enough, ended up marrying the biker dude who shot you. She never heard from you again and figured you weren’t into her, so one night she was drowning her sorrows over you at a bar that the big biker dude frequented.

So, yeah, they’ve got, like, grandkids together now or something.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When I was your age, we played video games uphill in the snow both ways

I've never understood why Italy didn't invade Japan after the release of the original Super Mario Bros.

I'm pretty sure the portrayal of Italians in that game qualifies as a blatant act of war, or at the very least, a serious act of provocation.

Maybe Italy just assumed Japan had a bunch of dudes who could smash bricks with their heads and pull bouncing fireballs out of their pockets to chuck at people, and that they'd send those guys over in a counterattack.

Upon further reflection, that would've been my assumption.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How many woodchucks could a woodchipper chip if a woodchipper could chip woodchucks?

There's no good reason I don't own a woodchipper.

No, I don't chop down trees and need to dispose of excess branches and blocks of wood. And no, I don't need to create mulch or sawdust. But I really don't see why having a woodchipper wouldn't be really convenient for other things and/or just totally awesome.

Document shredders take way too long and don't even always do that great a job of shredding those highly-sensitive documents and identity-theft prone pieces of mail.

And if you're like me, you tend to let that stuff stack up before you finally get around to dedicating a two-hour block to sitting down and running credit card applications and the like through a shredder.

Boom: woodchipper to the rescue.

Just chuck all that stuff down in there at once. Next thing you know, you're being rushed to the hospital with junk mail particulate in your eyes and lungs — HOWEVER! — now you have no more junk mail!

You're welcome.

But why stop at shred-worthy items? And why not make a game of it? Chores are always more tolerable when you make them fun.

Next time garbage day rolls around, I'd recommend setting up the woodchipper on the front porch, pointing the out-spout at the street, and then when the garbage truck swings by, shove your week's trash down that bad boy and see if you can score it in the back of garbage truck. Or in the garbage truck passenger seat. Or in the garbage truck driver's face. Wherever.

Personally, I'm pretty sure I'd turn myself into the Wayne Gretzky of spewing trash smoothies into the back of garbage trucks, but within a few months or so I'd get bored of dominating the sport at such a high level without any real competition to speak of and I'd stop.

I fully expect at that point I'd probably take to just aiming it out the window at the neighbor's yard and throwing my biodegradable trash in it on an as-needed basis. "As-needed" meaning whenever I had biodegradable trash to throw away. Or whenever the neighbors got on my nerves.

I'd probably also rent myself out to the neighborhood kids on Halloween.

Egging houses?

Smashing pumpkins?


Just give me a mini-van with a slide-out side door, a couple hundred or so cartons of eggs, a few dozen pumpkins, a getaway driver, and you better believe I'll be drive-by Picasso-ing the neighborhood houses all shades of Halloween shenanigans.

That's it.

Time to make a trip to the hardware store.

There's not a five-day waiting period to buy a woodchipper, is there?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Suzy wore her dresses tight. And in a color that matched her Crocs.

I don't care what you have to say, Crocs are awesome!

Yes, the shoes!


They're totally cool! Figuratively! Because they're awesome! And literally! Because they have air holes to let your feet breathe!

Crocs are comfortable and make you feel like you're walking on air!

If you don't like Crocs, you're just a hater! Because they're awesome!

Crocs make me think of summertime picnics and butterflies and sunshine and happy happiness!


Crocs! An Ode!
Crocs are awesome! Crocs are nice!
If you don't like Crocs, you probably hate your life!
Crocs are cool! Crocs are the best!
If you hate Crocs, you have no heart in your chest!
Crocs are snazzy! Crocs are fun!
If you can't have Crocs for both feet, you should at least have one!
Crocs are footwear! Crocs are shoes!
If you say something else bad about Crocs, you'll get the "I don't really have any good reasons other than I just don't like them, but Crocs are stupid!" blues!


If I could own any pair of Crocs, they'd be these!

These are like the Crocs that Batman would wear around the Batcave before he goes off and fights The Joker! And, btw, The Joker doesn't wear Crocs! Because he's a bad guy!

You may disagree that Crocs are awesome! But you're wrong! Crocs are awesome!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When I grow up, I want to draw airline safety cards for a living!

I've been flying a decent bit lately.

Seeing as how I'm not fortunate enough to own a jetpack, as well as that my arms aren't strong enough—nor do they have enough feathers—to do it myself, I've been forced to rely on airplanes for my travels.

My favorite part of the trip easily is the few moments at the beginning of the flight while the flight attendants go over the emergency procedures.

Although I particularly enjoy the flight attendants' casual insistence that a water landing is an unlikely event, I find myself really drawn to the drawings in the emergency instruction pamphlets.

There's really nothing like textbook-style cartoons that remind me of the mustaches and sunglasses I used to draw on the characters in my elementary school spelling books to make me feel at ease in the unlikely event that gravity pimpslaps the plane I'm cruising at 35,000 feet in.

Inflatable slides???

Seat cushion rafts???

People smiling???

This is totally like a water park! I like Splash Mountain! I want to go!!! Yay!!!

Except I can't imagine it's anything like the pamphlets make it look like. If it were my job to draw the safety cards, I'd probably get fired. Because my cards would probably look something like this one I found on the internet:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why did they ever call it "Book It" anyway? That's the best you got, Pizza Hut? Seriously? Actually, I don't think I'd do any better.

When I was a kid, my teachers tried to bribe my class to read books by offering us pizza.

It was actually part of that Book It program that Pizza Hut offers, which—even as a kid—I thought was a decent idea, despite the fact that I disliked reading more than I liked eating pizza.

Personally, I thought free Nintendo games would have been a better idea.

Sometimes I’d get a little jealous when I’d see other kids getting their coupons for a personal pan pizza. However, I understood the price I’d have to pay to join them: losing my mind from boredom by sitting in front of some book during precious time I’d rather spend playing Super Mario, doodling on my sketchpad, or running around outside make believing I was a ninja.

When I thought about how much more fun it was pretending to kick my friends in the face than it was to read a book, any jealousy I had for the Book It achievers disappeared.

Only once did I ever do enough reading to achieve free pizza status.

My parents congratulated me and made a big deal of taking me to Pizza Hut upon completion of my achievement, and I remember sitting there eating my pizza thinking something like, “Reading is so awesome! I want to be an author when I grow up so I can touch the hearts and souls of readers with my writing!"

Well, not really.

Actually, I’m pretty sure the only thing I was thinking was “AAAAGHHH!!! ME LIKE PIZZA!!! MINE MINE MINE!!! PIZZA-AAAAA!!!”

There are moments today that I wish there was a Book It club for adults so I could be enticed to read. Because even today, I’m all about some free pizza.

But then I think about how I’d be subjecting myself to boredom sitting there in front of some book during precious time I’d rather spend playing PS3, blogging, or make believing I’m a responsible adult.

And then when I think about how much more fun it is to do bills than it is to read a book, well, nevermind. Actually, speaking of bills, some free pizza sounds good.

So, like, Garfield counts as reading, right?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

If you play with fire (and/or anti-wildfire educational cartoon bears), you're bound to get burned.

Confession time:

I don't trust Smokey the Bear.

There. I said it.

I never have, and I'm not sure I ever will.

Now, maybe this has something to do with that I've lived my whole life in the Midwest. We don't really have forests, per se. We have forest preserves and, like, parks with bunches of trees and stuff, but mostly we just have farms and open fields with butterflies and kids flying kites.
What you see

So am I familiar with bears?

Only the ones in Chicago.

Except they play football. Next to a lake. And they're humans.

All I know about Smokey the Bear is that he likes pointing at me, sometimes while he's holding a shovel, and he doesn't wear a shirt.

Firstly, why are you pointing at me? I didn't do anything to you.

Secondly, a shovel? I sure hope it's not to bury some extra crispy forest friends.

And thirdly, no shirt? Look, if you're an anthropomorphic bear, I can't take you seriously unless you're either fully covered up or not covered up at all.

What I see
If you're buck-naked, you're just a bear keepin' it real doing mostly bear things, but you do human stuff too. You could probably still roar and crush my skull with your teeth if you wanted to. But you choose not to.

If you're fully-clothed, well then you're pretty much a human, except you have fur. I might be able to take you in a fight, but even if I lost, I wouldn't be inside your stomach being digested.

But if you're half-clothed? Well, then you haven't decided who you are. If you can't figure that out, why should I let you push a cause on me?

I'm all about letting the Berenstain Bears dispense some wisdom to me, or tagging along with Paddington Bear on a road trip, but the most I'm gonna do with Yogi Bear do is hit up a picnic and let him tell me some jokes. And don't get me wrong: I like Winnie the Pooh. He even says some pretty deep stuff, but I'm pretty sure it's because he's totally high. I mean, he's wearing a shirt but no pants. At least Smokey has that part the other way around.

Except I think he's high now, too. Remember Smokey's whole "Only YOU can prevent wildfires" spiel? Apparently now he's more into everyone getting their Smokey on.

I'm confused.

So, like, Smokey the Bear's a pothead now? This is a bear I'm supposed to trust for wildfire prevention tips and advice? Doesn't that make him more likely to start a wildfire? And doesn't that make him a total hypocrite with three claws pointing back at himself?

Okay, fine.

Let's just pretend Smokey's not on weed.

I still just have this gut feeling he's at least 70 percent likely to walk up to you and give you some sort of stern fire safety lecture before lighting your house on fire while laughing maniacally and yelling things like, "Not even YOU can prevent this wildfire!" or "You want to know why I'm doing this? BECAUSE I CAN!" and sticking around to tell the firemen you started your own house on fire for insurance purposes.

And then no one will believe you when you say Smokey burned it down, because he's Smokey the frickin' Bear! SMOKEY THE FRICKIN' BEAR!!!

Smokey the frickin' Bear.