Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pod Person

Given this blog's prominent position as one of the internet's foremost tastemakers, I am well aware of and careful with the great amount of cultural influence it wields. As I recall Cliff Robertson once said in some movie "with great power comes great responsibility". So whether it be presidents (or at least movies about presidents) or cereal brands, my readers expect a certain high standard of integrity and genuineness that comes with my recommendations or criticisms; my cheers and jeers if you will. With that in mind, I just want to give a quick little shout out to these new Tide Pods.

Hailed by Tide as the greatest innovation in laundry in decades, these newfangled individual use detergent pods were bought for the house mostly as a novelty; also they might have been on sale. I didn't have any expectations at all. For me concerns about the laundry occupy a pretty low slot in my daily thoughts; somewhere between wondering about the unusually slow speed of releases of "Family Matters" seasons on DVD and worrying about rising threat of Africanized killer bees from South America. Like most people I'm basically content with whatever random, colorful detergent with a monosyllabic brand name that manages to clean the everyday stains out of my shirts without giving me some sort of chemical rash.  

The marketers are really trying to sell people on the convenience factor of just throwing in an individually packaged pod instead of dealing with the supposed hassle of powders and liquids and measuring cups, but really I don't think that's a big deal. I mean what is this saving like an extra minute a week? Now we can do all that traveling? Also, if you're really having a difficult time measuring out and adding detergents, to reference Jerry Seinfeld, maybe laundry isn't your biggest problem right now.

What really impressed me and drove me to write this silly post was the performance. I have to say I actually noticed that my laundry has been coming out smelling a lot nicer since we started popping pods.  It must be from one of the two bright pockets of chemical goo along side the white powder core. The smell is sort of a fake kind of nice, like those air fresheners that are supposed to simulate the mythical scent of linen sheets on a wire, but I like it. For me fake clean is cleaner than real clean. True story, after slipping into my freshly washed sheets and comforter for the night, I was actually so distracted by the overwhelmingly pleasant smell that I had trouble falling asleep (this could quite well be the most first of first world problems).

I don't know if any of the other laundry packet detergents are just as fragrant or as effective or if you can get the same effect by throwing in one of those similar dish washing packets into your washing machine, but for me I noticed a difference.

One additional potential "benefit" of the pods is that that it in addition to cleaning performance and convenience the product also appears to have been aggressively designed to poison children by fooling them into thinking it's candy (seriously why don't they just put a toy inside to further increase the confusion). So I suppose if you're some sort of child hating monster you can consider it as an additional plus. I can go either way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

78 Lines About 26 Women: N to Z

You can finally release yourself from the agonizing strain of anticipation, the second half of my poetry anthology featuring the fabulous fictional females of N to Z has arrived. Full disclosure, I had to do some straining with some of the less popular letters. Call me ethnocentric but frankly I couldn't come up with many options for U or O or Z. I don't even want to get into it with X, I originally considered punting it all together considering the only three choices I could think of where warrior princess Xena, bond villaness Xenia (Onatopp), and South American sensation Xoxchisa...Xoxchoshe...Xox... So cut me some slack, I'm no Nipsey Russell:

I was into Nell
She did not like me as well
Took a while to tell

I admit Odette
My solitary regret
Is that he had met

Our brief union, Pat
I can't recall much of that
Just your friendly cat

A good girl named Quinn
Would often dabble in sin
Like drinking straight gin

What went wrong with Rose?
It's a mystery no one knows
Boredom, I suppose?

Oft I think of Sue
Is she thinking of me too?
Does it make her blue?

I remember Tess
The affair was such a mess
Still fun, I confess

I knew an Ulla
For work she taught the hula
Lived on dad's moolah

Our dynamic, Viv
Of just you take and I give
Was no way to live

What about Winnie?
Well she was sort of skinny
Voice somewhat tinny

I danced with Xena
Strangely plump ballerina
At the cantina

Night: I met Yvonne
Day: She was already gone
That's all that went on

I'll picture Zara
With a silver tiara
A shinning aura

Thursday, November 15, 2012

78 Lines About 26 Women: A to M

I had the strangest dream last night that I was writing a series of rhyming haikus (are haikus even allowed to rhyme?) about fictional ex-girlfriends from A to Z. When I woke up I remembered about half of them. The incompleteness was inexplicably bothering me so I spent a good chunk of my attention at work coming up with the other half (fortunately my work doesn't require all that much of my attention). After all this, I have to say the creative power of the unconscious mind is a truly awesome force. In my dream I was just reeling these off like nothing; while it took me significant mental energy and counting syllables on my fingers to fill in the gaps during my waking hours.

So here's the first half of my weird, partially dream penned, fictional girlfriend rhyming haikus from A to M (and here you thought there was no classy literature on this blog). Note: these are all characters and scenarios are based fiction; in fact I don't even think I know any girls personally with these names.

Ended bad with Ann
It was great when it began
Didn't follow plan

Fun times with Brandy
She was splendidly randy
And sweet like candy

Oh beautiful Claire
Perfect skin and gorgeous hair
But her head was bare

The thing about Dee
I don't believe she liked me
It ended quickly

Start again with Eve?
Not too crazy to believe
This time, I will leave

You win for now Faye
You're in my head once a day
It pains me to say

Sweet, wonderful Gwen
I wonder what could have been
Every now and then

Grade school love Haley
We kissed after school daily
Moved on to Bailey

I must say Irene
You're best when you're extra mean
You find that obscene?

The lesson of Joan
Our relationship has shown:
Sometimes stay alone

I am sorry Kate
For my showing up so late
To our only date

Serious Lily 
Couldn't ever be silly
Always so chilly

Raven haired Mary
Worked at the mortuary
Pleasantly scary

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Rise To Vote, Sir

I voted. You voted. We all voted. We're all great. We're all heroes. Whoop-de-doo. Stickers for everyone.

Now I am obviously for voting and democracy, but frankly the act of voting in modern America isn't all that amazing an act. The trials and sacrifices of people of the past who had to fight for their right to vote is amazing. The trials and sacrifices of people of the present who are fighting for their to vote is amazing. Here in our wonderful modern 21st century democracy, it's all pretty well set up for you if you are eligible and for most people it is about a much an effort as going to the post office. Overall it's just plain something that is expected of you as a citizen of this country. No one gets a sticker and a pat on the back for paying their taxes or sorting their recycling.

All I'm saying is people shouldn't get too high on themselves that they voted. It's a basic thing to do, and if you think about it the bar is really low. There are few activities with as disproportionately high amount of praise for the small amount of work involved. There's just this blind, "Rock the Vote"/"Vote Or Die", emphasis on the act of voting itself. You're not even judged on the quality of your voting. I'm not even referring to choice of candidate, which is obviously beyond critique. However it think it is possible to be an inherently shitty voter. If I remained completely ignorant of the candidates and issues and walked into a voting booth and selected candidates based on how I subjectively felt about their names? Haven't I failed at voting? If I voted against all my own interests based on misinformed half truths and hearsay I vaguely heard about somewhere? If I didn't take the process seriously and wrote myself in as a write in candidate for every position? What if my ignorant voting patterns totally nullified your informed selections? Would I be deserving of a sticker as the rational voter in the next booth?

I always feel like kind of an idiot when I get down to the town council and school board member section of the ballot and I just arbitrarily pick the required number of candidates from the given list.

Actually if someone came out and admitted that they where to busy or lacking in interest to follow any of elections on the ballot and because of that was willing to voluntarily abstain from the democratic process and not vote, thus freeing up resources for other diligent voters and enhancing the power their votes; in a weird way that would be a sort of honorable act of self sacrifice. That might be worth at least some kind of sticker.

On a quick final note: in all my years of voting, I have never once received anything close to a sticker or pin or a even thumbs up. Apparently they keep it pretty bare bones in the my North Jersey suburb.

Friday, November 02, 2012

A short scene I wrote while waiting hours in line for gas this morning

Fade In:


A long line of cars taking up the entire right lane of a highway extends for miles in front of a crowded gas station.

About 30 cars back we see a red couple with a middle aged couple, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, sitting in the front seat


Mr. and Mrs. Smith sit in their car looking tired, impatient, and frustrated.

This line is ridiculous, it’s been over 2 hours.

(leaning his head out the driver’s side window to see ahead) I think I can see the station up ahead, I’d give us another half hour. Let’s just hope they don’t run out before we get there.

We should have gotten that other hybrid car.


Mr. Smith’s eyes look up as he thinks back to two months ago.

The screen turns hazy as we enter a flashback.


Mr. and Mrs. Smith examine a red coupe in the showroom.

A Salesman approaches them. He is sharply dressed with a chipper attitude.

I see you’re interested in the coupe. It’s one of our best sellers.

Well, we’re browsing. How accurate would you say the MPG numbers on the side are?

Those numbers are accurate, in fact in reality you’re likely to get even better numbers with real world driving.


Well, if you’re concerned with mileage, let me introduce you to a new model.

The Salesman directs the Smiths to a similar coupe in green.

This is our latest model, it has all the performance and amenities of the other car but this one runs on frustration.

Excuse me? Did you say frustration?

That’s right, genuine, everyday, human frustration.

How is that even possible?

There’s a lot of fancy Japanese technology involved but essentially this car is fueled by your frustration.

Assuming all this is true, is it practical to have a car that only runs on frustration?

You would not believe how much daily frustration modern life generates for the average person. Any kind of frustration, big ones, small ones, will do: workplace frustration, frustration at home, frustration with your personal life, frustration with...

Sexual frustration?

Mr. Smith awkwardly eyes Mrs. Smith

Err...yes of course. Even existential angst in a pinch, although the mileage won’t be as great.

Well I’ll be, a car that runs on frustration. Does it come it red?

Sorry only green for now.

We’ll pass.

The flashback ends and we are back with the Smiths in traffic.


Boy that other car sure would have come in handy today.

A green coupe drives up next to the Smiths on the highway. It is being driven by the Salesman. He recognizes the Smiths.

(Smiling) Hey! Smiths! Should have gone with the new model eh?

The Salesman’s car stalls due to the lack of frustration.

Oh damn it.

The car starts up again and drives down the road.


The car stalls again. The Salesman drives off in this stop and go manner as he experiences alternating feelings of frustration and relief.

The Smiths look on in confused frustration.