Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Vacation

I'm talking the rest of the year off. See you in 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Premium Brewed Game Day Ice

Game off.
Have you every wondered what your favorite sports would taste like as a beer? Me neither. But somebody somewhere did and the result is Premium Brewed Game Day Ice. Brewed with real, game-used jock straps, this golden lager is the equivalent of a holding penalty ... in your mouth. On the plus side, a 12-pack goes for an impossibly affordable $2.99, so there's enough for the whole team and the coach to drown their sorrows after a loss or two.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Is anyone getting me a car this Christmas?

I keep seeing commercials where affluent, well-manicured people give each other cars with oversized bows on them? Is this really a thing? How do they even know what features the other likes? Are they dropping hints into casual conversation? “Boy, this leather couch sure would be great at 60 mph, right?”

If I surprise one of my friends or family members with a luxury sedan, will I hear a peel of joy or see a cringe of awkward regret? “Thanks for the car. Did you keep the receipt?”

Monday, December 19, 2011

I am a loser.

This past weekend, I flew across half the country to participate in a poker tournament hosted by a former* fraternity brother. There were 22 of us seated at three tables with a bevy of food and beverages to keep us well contented and lubricated over the course of the afternoon. Some of the guys played fairly regularly and others, such as yours truly, hadn’t played in over a year.

And then I was out. THE FIRST ONE OUT. I had a pair of Jacks and I bet aggressively, pre-flop, but two guys matched me. Then, a Queen appeared on the flop, and I felt I had to bet even more aggressively to chase the two out. One obliged and one didn’t—the one with the pair of Queens, it turns out.

At first I was disappointed, however, the more I thought about it, the better I was with it. Being out first meant that I could mingle amongst the remaining tables and catch up with guys I hadn’t seen in years.

And the best part was that no time had passed. Sure, we were all a little older, some fatter and a great number had wives and kids and responsibilities, but we all cracked jokes, told stories and laughed to the point of tears. Some guys had suffered health problems, experienced losses or were having a hard time, but we listened, consoled and, after a certain point, busted their balls. Because that’s what we do.

Will I remember who won this year? Yes, because we get it engraved on a trophy. Will anyone remember that I was the first one out this year? Yes, because those guys are merciless.
Was it worth it? You bet your @$$ it was. 

*Technically we’re still fraternity brothers—brothers for life and all that—but I mean that we’re not longer in college.

Friday, December 16, 2011

In ___________ We Trust.

2011 seemed to be the year when we lost our trust*.

The government lost the trust of the American people.
America lost the World’s trust.
The dollar is no longer the most trusted currency worldwide.
The 1% lost the trust of the 99%.
We lost trust in banks and stocks and bonds and anything other than gold.
No one trusts China. Or the media.
Fewer and fewer people trust God, any god.
We can’t even seem to trust the food we eat or the air we breathe.
And, as Penn State proved, sometimes we can’t even trust each other.

So what can we trust? Who can we turn to in 2012? Can we trust ourselves?

Trust your gut.
Trust in life.
Trust in the inevitable march of time.
Trust in 4 billion years of evolution**.
Trust that Hollywood movies will always be over budget and underwhelming.
Trust that a man being hit in the nuts will always be funny. Always.
Trust that a monkey will always pee in its mouth when it’s on camera.
Trust that everything will work out okay.
Trust me, I’m a professional.

*And trust funds, if you were so lucky to have one.
**Or 4,000, if that’s your thing.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Creativity is a lot like Pooping*

If you work in a creative field, like advertising or graphic design, you’ll eventually hear someone say something like, “great, I guess I’ll just go poop out another idea**.” But, honestly, they’re not far off.

Top 5 ways Creativity is like Pooping
1.     You can’t force it***. Trying to squeeze out a creative idea before its time is like trying poop when you’re not ready—you’ll end up getting hemorrhoids … of the brain.
2.     When you’re stuck, read something. This goes back to number 1****, but sometimes you have to distract yourself in order for ideas to come to you.
3.     Garbage in, garbage out. Feed your brain substantive ideas and inspiration***** to get nutrient-rich thinking; granted, it’s all crap, but some is better than others.
4.     Sometimes you just have to be the biggest @$$hole. To convince others of your ideas, sometimes you have to challenge and even risk offending them.
5.     You never know what you’re going to get. Sure, when you sit down to poop, you have a general idea of what you’re going to get—brownish, smelly, clingy—but until you look in that bowl, you don’t know if it will be smooth and silky or clumpy and runny. Which, let’s face it, is why you got into the business in the first place, right?

*My parents are so proud right now; “Four years of college for this?”
**Which precedes the notion of “polishing a turd.”
***Yes, yes, very funny.
*****Like That Tad Guy’s blog, maybe?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All I want for Christmas is … more variety.

I was recently given a mixed holiday CD. “Nice gesture,” you might say. Or, “How thoughtful.” And you would be initially right and then horribly, painfully wrong. It was a CD assembled by a committee of people with disparate tastes and sensibilities. I know that Christmas is a time of togetherness, but sometimes Run DMC just needs to sit at the other end of the table from Jessica Simpson and Justin “Shortie” Bieber.

The CD was a disaster. But it got me to thinking, as I’m oft apt to do, and it made me realize that while it FEELS like there is an overabundance of Christmas/Holiday music, there actually ISN’T a lot of NEW music*. With some exceptions, most original artists churning out holiday albums these days are merely acting as glorified cover bands. Few are actually writing or performing wholly original music. And, unfortunately, when an original song does come along and get popular, like Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is Tad**”, someone*** comes along and covers it until it’s unbearable to hear ever again.

So if I have one wish this holiday season, it’s this: $1 billion in cash. But if I have two wishes, then it’s that everyone in the whole world write more holiday music.

**The original title
***Specifically: the Cast of Glee

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Brunch Pants (tm)

Artist's rendering of Brunch Pants (tm)
By now you know that this site is like the Mississippi River of websites--awesomely majestic, constantly flowing and a great source of random flotsam and jetsam. But could you possibly comprehend that today you would see an idea so incredible, so amazing, that it would turn your whole conception of reality on its head and/or ear???*

I give you (with the help of my brunch crew; respect): Brunch Pants (tm). This project is in the experimental stages, but--if successful--will absolutely change brunch as you know it**.


Is that elastic in the waistband and at the ankles? Yes. Our highly made-up brunchologists have determined that both swell throughout the course of each of the courses, of course.

Are those printed patterns of breakfast foods? No. They are of brunch foods.

There's no way that someone was genius enough to put plastic linings IN THE PANTS to take home and/or smuggle buffet food, right? Wrong. We are that genius.

Aren't those just a take-off on weight-lifting pants from the late 80s/early 90s? Maybe. But we can 100% guarantee that no one who wears these pants will ever workout.

What will be the estimated cost of these amazing pants? Right now, our estimates are between $25-$753 retail.

*No, no you didn't.
**That's a heads up, Nobel Prize committee.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All I don't want for Christmas.

When I lived in Seattle, a group of friends and I participated in an annual white elephant gift exchange.

For the uninitiated, the term “white elephant” was originally and literally a white elephant. White elephants were seen as rare, enviable and precious gifts, but they were also a financial burden to feed, house, and clean. Only the wealthiest kings and sultans could afford to keep them, so if a person were given one as a gift, it was essentially meant to drive the owner to financial ruin. In modern usage, it means a gift that isn’t really a gift. Or at our party, it was a gag gift.

Basically, everyone wrapped their gifts and people drew numbers out of a hat. One had the first pick. Two could then steal one’s gift or pick from below the tree. If a gift was stolen three times, it was no longer available to steal.

Some of the most memorable were: The Clapper*, Bootleg DVDs from Taiwan and a beer in a sock. Good times.

But as we got older, we wanted to be classy. So we decided to change the game to be a CD and DVD exchange**, but still keep the same structure. One person, however, didn’t get the memo. And it so happened that I picked old number 1 for the first time ever.

So there I was in my Christmas sweater, all eager and full of Holiday Cheer***, surrounded by friends when I unwrapped the first gift. It was neither CD nor DVD. It was a Strokin’ Santa wind-up doll. Without going into too much detail, Santa had one arm raised over his head**** and the other on his “north pole”. And when you wound up the doll, Santa “jingled his bells”. Again, I’m thankful that this was not a DVD. Needless to say, no one wanted to steal this gift.

But, fortunately, my roommate’s girlfriend was going to another white elephant gift exchange and traded me a Snoopy Snowcone Machine for Jolly Old St. Nick. Classy indeed.

*My roommates and I first used it with the TV, but it would shut off if there were any loud noises ON the TV
**Throw this one in the time capsule, right?
***How is this not a brand of cheap moonshine?
****A detail that has always befuddled me. Was he looking for a high five? Was he waving to someone?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The One-Handed Rule

This past weekend, some friends of mine were talking about the high turnover of restaurants downtown. Some places seemed to only last a few scant months while others disappeared shockingly after a few days, like a kidnapping victim in a new country. And then we cracked the code. Correction: I cracked the code. To be a successful lunch establishment, you only have to pass one test and that test has only one rule: can you eat it one handed? Soups, salads, bottomless pasta bowls are all well and good, but they fail the test. And the beauty of the one-handed rule? It frees up your other hand to receive congratulatory high-fives. Yes!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Origin Schmorigin

I’m a sucker for superhero movies. Not all of them**, but if they’re even remotely entertaining, I’ll give them a chance. Let me clarify: mainstream superhero movies, like Spider-man 2 or The Dark Knight*—I’m not a fan of the hyper-realistic, hyper-violent sub-genre, like Super or Kick-ass. I don’t need trumped up morality tales or movies trying to subvert the genre. I just want a halfway decent popcorn movie, like this year’s Thor or Captain America.

The reason I write all of this is because I just watched The Green Hornet. It was terrible; this is not new information. Every review I read said as much, but I figured that maybe Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen had created something starkly new, which oftentimes means that it is initially rejected by the masses.

Masses 1
Gondry & Rogen 0

The main problem was that the creators never defined what type of movie they wanted it to be. One minute it wanted to be a super cool action movie with video game effects and the next it was a slapstick farce with action scenes that would make the 3 Stooges blush.

And the shame of it is that the movie could have been a compelling statement on violence and vigilantism***.

There’s a scene early on when the Green Hornet and Kato instinctively run from the police, but end up running the police car into another car, resulting in a fiery crash. At that moment, they cheer. But what if they had stopped and thought, “Oh crap. We just hurt a police officer who was just trying to do his job?” Seth Rogen’s character is supposedly a billionaire and yet we hear nothing about his efforts to rectify the consequences of his actions.

Which got me to thinking: I’m done with origin stories. Origin stories are passive. Things happen to the hero instead of the hero making things happen. I don’t care so much about the “why” as much as the “what”.

Which in turn caused me to remember a stunningly original comic book mini-series I collected in my youth: Marvels. The first thing that struck me was Alex Ross’s photorealistic artwork. But after that, it was the story. Instead of following the story from the hero’s perspective, we follow a newspaper photographer, who bears witness to these goliaths as they crash into and intrude on the lives of everyday citizens. Each of their conflicts results in both positive and negative consequences and most of the victims know little to none about “why” Spider-man decided to choose a red and blue color scheme over black****. It was a bold take on a host of classic good vs. evil stories.

I just wish there was a filmmaker in Hollywood brave enough to tell a conventional superhero story in an unconventional manner. Because if there was, they’d be my hero.

*Yes, both are sequels.
**I’m looking at you, Daredevil, Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four. 
***Yes, I get that I just said I didn’t want that from a Superhero movie.
****That was a nerd test. You failed if you got the reference.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yogurt, yo.

Just like you can bake bread without a bread machine*, you can make yogurt without a yogurt maker, but if you want a dedicated machine, then the Euro Cuisine Automatic Yogurt Maker does the trick nicely. 

When I made my first batch, I followed the instructions to bring the milk to a boil, let cool, add yogurt, pour in jars, set timer, plug in and wait. I'll be honest: it was a hassle. So after reading up on the process and making a few more batches, here's what I now do:

-buy skim milk, measure out 48 oz.
-add a cup of non-fat powdered milk
-add a jar of yogurt from a previous batch
-set timer for 12 hours and turn on (overnight)
-put lids on jars, cool in fridge and go to work

The higher the fat content, the fewer the hours needed to cook. But all of the yogurt comes out nice and thick (not Greek yogurt thick, but regular thick). I add frozen fruit right before eating, although there are instructions for adding them in at a different stage of the process.

I'd rate the machine higher, but the on/off switch doubles as the light and I forgot to turn on the machine once because of it**. 

*yes, you can actually bake your own bread
**surprisingly, the yogurt still turned out okay

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That Tad Guy's Gift-giving Guide™

It seems like everyone does a gift-giving guide this time of year. The best gifts for octogenarians. What to get your co-workers. How to say, “thanks for checking me into rehab” for under $10. All of those guides are misguided*. This is the only guide—the definitive guide—you’ll need this holiday season. Why? Because I’m not going to give you a list of crap to purchase. I’m going to show you how to select a gift. And isn’t that the best gift of all?**

·      Get them something they want. Sounds pretty simple, right? Yet studies*** show that 89% of gift recipients don’t get what they want, 43% of the time.
·      Get them something expensive looking, but which was actually on sale. Oops, secret’s out, folks****.
·      Give them something meaningful … to them. The better you know a person, the less you should have to spend on them. Uh, I mean that you won’t have to overcompensate trying to impress them. Jeez.

·      Give them something that doubles as a passive aggressive attempt to change something about themselves. Examples include: Gym memberships, non-alcoholic beer, one-way tickets out of the country, gift cards to psychologists, etc.
·      Give them an illness. Blankets for winter are great; small pox blankets for winter … hard to return.

*See what I did there? It’s called “wordplay”
**Hahahaha. No.
***I’m sure there’s some study somewhere that backs this up
****Hope everyone likes their “Rolexes"