April 29th, 2010 | Mike
I’m not crazy about flying, so as far as I’m concerned the only good reason to get on a plane is to read the SkyMall magazine. It’s always chock full of amazing products that you just can’t find at Walmart.
For some reason, most of their stuff is designed to make a unique fashion statement. The Head Spa Massager is a large silver contraption that looks like something a high-tech Spartan soldier might wear. The copy says it’s suitable for any age, but I think it would probably look ridiculous on an infant. To be honest, I’m not sure it’s a look that just anybody can pull off.
It also reads, “Enjoy at home or at work.” If I ever walk into my office and see everyone sitting at their desks wearing a kitchen colander on their head, that’s the day I start putting my resume together. In fact, I think there should probably be some kind of disclaimer warning people that under no circumstances should this device be worn out of the home. And especially not outside during an electrical storm.
Another interesting item is the Telekinetic Obstacle Course kit. You’re supposed to wear an elaborate headband and earlobe clips which measure your brain’s theta waves. Then you sit in front of a tiny gymnastics course that looks a lot like a flea circus. Through intense concentration, you move a ball around the course using only your mind. I’m not making this up. I guess if it doesn’t work as advertised they could just say there’s a problem with your brain. I bet they don’t get a lot of returns.
Another great product for jetsetters is the computerized baby monitor. It says, “Monitor your baby day or night, from anywhere in the world.” Just imagine how much money you’ll save in babysitting costs the next time you’re in Prague for a week. You’ll rest easy knowing that with its built-in motion detection capability, you will automatically be sent an email when “an event” occurs. That way, you can simply fly home if there’s any trouble.
There’s lots of cool stuff I’d love to have — the digital camera swim mask, video recording sunglasses, massaging boots, the Facetrainer hood (don’t even ask how it works) — but I think I’m going to hold off on any of it and just save up for the Head Spa Massager. Flying makes me a little tense, so I think I should probably wear one the next time I take a trip. Fortunately, it’s a look I can pull off.
February 20th, 2011 | Mike
When I first saw the poster for the Quad Steak Burrito, I tried to think of four different kinds of steak: sirloin, New York strip, filet mignon, porterhouse. Say, that sounds pretty good! I’ll give that a try.
I thought about it a little more, and I wondered if I could tell the difference between different kinds of steak. And do they grind them up and make burger out of them? And is it more than 35% “beef” steak, or was it something else entirely?
Then I saw the TV commercial starring an obnoxious lounge singer named Buddy Mignon, and learned that the Quad Steak Burrito only has one kind of steak, but it has four times as much. Four times as many steaky chunks as their very own Steak Burrito Supreme. And I’m guessing it’s not filet mignon.
Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the good ol’ days when companies used to compare their products to the competition. Coke versus Pepsi. Eveready versus Duracell. Apple versus Microsoft. Maybe the lawyers got involved, but it seems dopey to badmouth your own stuff.
Don’t buy our old crap! That stuff sucked! Buy our new crap! There’s no comparison!
It’s only a matter of time before companies start sandbagging their products just so they can one-up themselves. Look for Taco Bell to introduce the Boiled Fish Head Tostadarito. Then, six months later, they’ll launch the new and improved Tostadarito Supreme, completely fish head-free!
And it’ll sell like hotcakes.
October 22nd, 2010 | Mike
My dog is not a smart animal. The other day Tango barked for a half hour at a seed from a jalapeño pepper after he’d apparently tried to eat it, and it had attacked him with some kind of heat weapon. But that episode paled in comparison to today when we was ambushed by rotting fruit.
He was minding his own business eating leaves and rocks in the backyard when the lemon in question pounced on him unexpectedly. This sent his puppy attack skills into full combat mode. This involved a lot of barking, a little pouncing, and a lot of running away.
He eventually got up the nerve to actually touch the lemon, and then he proceeded to drag his prey into the agapantha jungle much like a puma or jaguar might do. There he unleashed an ungodly barrage of barks in an effort to incapacitate the lemon, which apparently was still a threat at this point.
I’m sure this would have gone on for hours if I hadn’t intervened. I patiently explained to Tango that when a lemon is that shriveled and gray it loses a great deal of its fight. I explained that he was the undisputed victor. This news seemed to calm him a bit, and he reluctantly agreed to allow me to remove the remains and banish them from His Territory.
It was a tense and exhausting situation, and I’m just glad that the rest of the lemons on the tree didn’t join in when his back was turned.
The Night I May Have Saved A Man’s Life Or Possibly Just Ruined His Chances For A Meaningful Relationship
September 30th, 2010 | Mike
I was never actually trained to administer the Heimlich maneuver, but it seemed simple enough: grab the victim in a bear hug and pull. So on the night in question I felt like I was prepared to spring into action.
The area in which the event occurred was affectionately referred to as “The Hole” among the server staff, because there were five tables in very close proximity and configured in a sort of dead-end in the building. This made it difficult to carry on a private conversation or, as it turned out, to privately choke on food.
I came around the corner of The Hole and saw Suzy (another server) slapping a young man on the back. I thought this odd. As I came closer I could also hear her instructing the man (quite forcefully): “Breath. Breath!”
The guy was gasping for breath, his eyes bugging out of his skull, and he was making a disturbing wheezing sound. Across the table from him was his date, her eyes also bugging out of her skull. This was my cue to spring into action. I ran up behind him, wrapped my arms around his chest, and tried jerking him backward.
At this point, the blockage was supposed to be expelled. That didn’t happen. I was looking over his shoulder at his horrified date, but trying to devise a plan. After a few moments of jerking and wheezing, I instructed the young man to stand up, so that I could get a better thrusting angle. Bad idea. When he stood up I realized he was at least a foot taller than me. I continued trying to pull up and thrust and jerk, but it probably looked like I was trying to get a free piggy-back ride.
I continued to ride the man around The Hole from table to table in a very uncomfortable man-hug, and after one particularly close pass by a group of businessmen I mouthed the word “help.” No one did. I made one last Herculean jerk, and an enormous chunk of cucumber shot across the small room. It was a perfectly round cross-section and at least a half an inch thick, and I instantly made a mental note to talk to the food prep people about portion size.
There was a general sigh of relief among The Hole group, and everyone went back to their meals. Unfortunately, it appeared as if this was probably a first date for the chokee and the young lady. While his eyes returned to normal eventually, her eyes remained bugged-out. The lovely couple didn’t speak another word the entire evening and slunk away quietly, leaving a lousy tip.
The next day Suzy told me her dad (a lawyer) told her I had been doing it wrong and I was likely going to be sued. And that if we had simply stood back and allowed the gentleman to (ahem) clear his throat he probably would have been fine. But I knew in my heart that I had questionably saved a man’s life maybe.
September 21st, 2010 | Mike
Their latest TV spot guarantees thicker looking hair in one week. Sounds pretty good to me. But the disclaimer states that this is a guarantee based on using Head and Shoulders vs. not washing your hair. Let me see if I have this straight: their claim is that their product is superior to nothing?
Don’t me wrong, I would kill a man to have hair like Troy Polamalu — and I think I could pull off that look — but this seems a little misleading. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say I believe a large bottle of Head and Shoulders is more expensive than nothing. This makes me want to read all disclaimers a little more closely.
When Ivory soap says their product will make me feel clean and smell better, is that compared to not bathing? When a car company says their cars are safe, is that compared to cars with sticky accelerators and no brakes? From what I recall, when they did the Pepsi Challenge it was comparing the taste of Pepsi to the taste of Coke, not Pepsi vs. an empty cup.
And thicker looking hair is a little ambiguous, isn’t it? I’d buy fluffier looking, but I could argue that unwashed, filthy, matted hair can look kind of thick. And dense. And disgusting.
In an attempt to inject a little truth in advertising, I took the liberty of creating a few possible ad slogans for Head and Shoulders:
Better than nothing.®
Smell like you’ve bathed recently!®
Troy Polamalu has good hygiene habits, and so should you.®
For people who wash their hair at least once a week or somewhat regularly.®
September 13th, 2010 | Mike
I took my wife’s minivan in for service today, and just as I was dropping it off I noticed she’d left her purse in the car. This created a dilemma: I could either pretend I didn’t see it there on the passenger seat and leave it, or I could take it with me and carry it around for the next two hours.
I knew I would get in trouble for leaving it in the car with the thieving crooks at the garage. I also knew carrying it around with me would undoubtedly be excruciating.
It’s a light blue purse with dark leather trim, and kind of a Kate Spade style. I would describe it as extremely feminine. I’ve held my wife’s purse before, but it’s usually been just for a fleeting moment and I have generally held it as if it were a diseased raccoon. Today I would be carrying it for quite a while and might even have to put the strap over my shoulder.
I generally walk over to the mall when I take a car to the shop to kill some time. I took a quick look around the parts department for something to buy, so that I could obtain a bag to hide the purse. I got a few glances as I shopped through the delightful array of chrome exhaust pipes and seat covers, and unfortunately nothing caught my eye enough to justify a purchase.
So I set out for the mall, deciding that the most manly way to carry a robin’s egg blue purse is over my head, under one arm, and slung towards my back, like a soldier might carry an ammo bag in WW2. I had to traverse a busy road and cross a freeway overpass to get there, and I heard two cars honking, but they may have been unrelated to my purse.
When I got to the mall, none of the shops were open yet (I planned on buying a bulk pack of tube socks to get a large enough bag to hide the purse) so I just had to hang out at Starbuck’s for a while. With my periwinkle blue purse and my Vente iced skinny caramel latte with two pumps.
September 5th, 2010 | Mike
My plan to carry my new Swarovski iPhone around on a small satin pillow didn’t quite pan out; satin is just too slick. So I’m looking for an alternate solution.
The problem is not that I’m uncoordinated, the problem is I have an extremely heightened nervous system. Did you ever start to drop something, and in your attempt to catch it, you slap it into the air and across the room? That’s what I feel I’m about to do whenever I’m holding my iPhone. I pride myself on my cat-like reflexes, but I’m starting to wonder if I have overdeveloped and counteractive movements. Maybe I’m like some kind of weird, spastic cat that starves to death because it keeps launching mice into the neighbors’ yard.
Which leads me to ninjas. I wonder how many ninjas accidentally kill themselves by overreacting to nonexistent threats. If a car backfires, how likely is it that they jam a throwing star into their neck while spinning around? Or leap out of the way of the perceived speeding car into the path of the actual speeding train? Maybe good reflexes are just 50-50 when it comes to your survival rate.
I’d like to see some data on the lifespan of your average ninja vs. sedated koala bears. I bet sedated koala bears lead long and uneventful lives and suffer very few fatal self-inflicted nunchuck blows to the head.
I just read back that last sentence and fear I’ve gotten off-track just a bit.