Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Been watching from the desert, a horse with no name

My favorite commercial is the one with the horse.

It premiered during the Super Bowl and now a shorter version airs all the time. The shorter version is much better because it gives us less time to become emotionally invested in this human-horse drama, thus highlighting the sheer ridiculousness of its premise.

The commercial begins with a guy raising a horse from birth. Typical horse guy, wears a baseball cap, real blue collar, salt-of-the-earth, pays his taxes … let’s call him Fred.

Fred teaches the horse how to be a horse. How to eat, run, neigh, all that stuff. (Fred teaches the horse how to run by driving his pickup truck—a Ford F-150 in an ideal cross-promotion universe—alongside a white picket fence while the horse tries to chase him.) We don’t see the parts where Fred teaches the horse how to farm his land by having it trudge through fields lugging heavy equipment and supplies, but commercials can only be so long, you know?

Anyway, it’s obvious Fred loves the horse because he pets the horse lovingly. Also maybe he sleeps next to the horse? There is one scene in the long version where Fred has fallen asleep in the hay of the stable and the horse has to nudge him awake, like, “Wake up, Fred! It’s time for me to chase your Ford-F150 crew cab with optional four-wheel drive!” Fred is like, “Oh golly gee-willickers, what time is it? Did I fall asleep in the horse stable again? That is so blue collar and not weird of me. Budweiser.”

But then the sad part happens. Turns out the horse is a Clydesdale and this whole time Fred was training it to be a famous Budweiser Clydesdale. Well, guess what, Fred? The Budweiser trailer is here to pick up your dang horse. RECKONING TIME HAS ARRIVED.

Now Fred is all sad. He has nothing to do now because his only job was to raise this horse and he doesn’t even have WiFi. He spends his days thinking things like, “What do Clydesdales even have to do with alcohol? Has this bizarre marketing campaign gone far enough when Anheuser-Busch is stealing my horse in broad daylight?”

Then one day Fred sits at his kitchen table and opens the newspaper, which reveals the headline, “BUDWESIER CLYDESDALES COMING TO CHICAGO FOR SOME PARADE OR SOMETHING.” I’m sure not a lot of stuff happens in or near Chicago, and when a team (herd? school? pack?) or horses trots into town, it is major headline news. Also, there is a perfectly placed bottle of Budweiser sitting on the table next to Fred. Considering most people read the paper with breakfast, it’s safe to assume Fred is an alcoholic.

Fred hops in his Ford F-150 Super Duty with tilt wheel steering and heads to Chicago. Then he goes to a horse parade by himself. Sure enough, there’s the horse Fred raised, leading the way and being all like, “I’m a big city horse now, can’t touch this!”

Fred is happy he saw the horse, but also kind of sad. But before he can drive away, he sees the horse running to him dramatically through the strangely unoccupied streets of Chicago. Fred hops out of his Ford F-350 Heavy Duty with TorqShift and runs to his horse friend, at which point they meet in the middle of the street and touch foreheads affectionately.

The end, buy Budweiser. I’ve heard more than one person say that this commercial makes them cry, and I hear ya’ sista. We’ve all been there—the horse we raised from birth grows up to be a participant in a nonsensically ongoing ad campaign for alcohol. But you know what they say, if you love something (a horse), you have to set it free. It’s tough for sure, but there is hope. Just remember: buy Budweiser.

Note: This column appears in the 8/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/2 issue of the Peoria Times.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Facebook meme of the day


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spam email of the week


Amazing news! What is Celebrity Sweat, besides something I've been collecting in jars and selling on eBay?

Dear Mike

Pleased to make your acquaintance!

Likewise, email!

I’d like to take a few moments

BOR-RING. Sorry. Habit. Please continue.

to let you know about a press announcement concerning an exciting partnership between Celebrity Sweat, DEAL Global Holdings and Principle Media.

This sounds like an exciting partnership. What is Celebrity Sweat?

This is an exciting announcement concerning the global distribution of Celebrity Sweat,

This sounds like an exciting announcement. What is Celebrity Sweat?

the #1 celebrity fitness campaign featuring a wide variety of athletes and celebrities as well as hip hop singer Nelly.

How does one distribute a fitness campaign? No matter. I want IN. I've always looked up to Nelly as a rapper/singer/frequent participant in pseudo-celebrity softball/basketball games, so it's about time he taught me how to do chin-ups. He's got a great bod, so he must be doing something right! #nellybod

I feel like this story would be a great match for your media outlet


By the way this press release is longer than {famously long book} so Imma skip around, aiiiight? #whatwouldnellysay

Celebrity Sweat additionally held a VIP post party following the ESPYs on July 17 hosted by NELLY, featuring the Under Armor Red Carpet with NFL legend Deion Sanders, being brought to you by Footlocker.

That sentence is the exact moment when sponsorships crossed over into sponsoring sponsorships. This great moment in American advertising was hosted by Nelly, creator of the energy drink "Pimp Juice" (not a joke).

The party featuring Hip Hop singer NELLY and more than 50 other athletes and celebrities was sponsored by Under Armor and Footlocker and was held to raise money for the Boys and Girls Clubs of East LA.

Yeah but was Nelly there? "The VIP post-ESPYs party hosted by Nelly and featuring the Under Armor Red Carpet featuring NFL legend Deion Sanders - everything I just said being mercilessly brought to you by Footlocker - will donate 3 percent of its sales of Pimp Juice to the Boys and Girls Clubs of East LA." It's good to see corporate shills like Nelly and actual corporations sort of giving back to the community by hosting absurd, extravagant events of which minimal proceeds go to notable charities for PR purposes.

Where were we? I haven't even gotten my celebrity sweat on yet! What gives?

Stars supporting the brand at the event included Nelly (Hip-Hop Singer), 

Wait, Nelly was there???

Deion Sanders (NFL legend), DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers), Matt Barnes (Los Angeles Clippers), Torrey Smith (NFL), Quinton Aaron (Actor, The Blind Side), Terry Crews (Actor, Expendables 2) Gabby Douglas (Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics) Billy Blanks (Fitness Guru), Big John McCarthy (UFC Official), Eva Tamargo (Actress, The Haves and The Have Nots), Kevin Sorbo (Actor, Hercules), Kyla Deaver (Actress, The Conjuring), Lindsay Hayward (WWE), Loni Love (Comedian/Actress, Chelsea Lately), RaVaughn (Music Artist), Sean Patrick Thomas (Actor, Save the Last Dance), Adrienne Bailon (Co-Host, The Real).

Welp, I'm sold. When do I start? What is happening? Who is RaVaughn? I would like to order the Celebrity Sweat VHS tape in which RaVaughn and the actress from "The Conjuring" are teaching me how to do the Kid n' Play dance. Please tell me how to order that.

("Stars supporting the brand" are, I do realize, people who merely walked into the Celebrity Sweat VIP tent brought to you by Footlocker after the ESPYs. I like to imagine there was a person at the entrance of the tent furiously jotting down the names of the "celebrities" who passed through for the purposes of this very press release. "Oh snap there's famous UFC official Big John McCarthy! This press release is gonna KILL!")


Check out CSweat.com for more info and downloads on Celebrity Sweat.

Everybody please go there now, especially if you want to see pics of Nelly with his shirt off. If that doesn't convince you, there is a promo photo/video of Nelly with Michael Vick, which: great idea! Anyway, I had never heard of fitness before Celebrity Sweat, and if celebrities are doing it, then it must be cool and important. Wish me luck!

(buys Celebrity Sweat soccer ball at the online store)

(falls asleep)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Justice of the piece: judging cakes is something I really did

There are perks to this job, I must admit. I once “covered” a beer festival by sampling all the beer and having my wife drive me home. One time that guy “Wolf” from “American Gladiators” came into our office and posed for a picture with me after I begged him to like a fourth-grade girl. Those are just two examples. But then there is this: I was recently asked to judge a “space cake” contest.

I know, it’s difficult to even say without it sounding like bragging. It’s one of those things on a lot of people’s bucket list, and here I am at 35, already with one space cake judging notch on my belt. Sky’s the limit from here, pun intended. (Intended puns like that are, I imagine, why I was asked to judge in the first place.)

It was all part of Challenger Space Center’s anniversary jamboree. The popular space center in Peoria hosted a slew of events last weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Skylab launch; the 44th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing; the 13th anniversary of the space center itself; and the zero anniversary of me judging a cake contest.

It was called the “Great Space Cakes” contest, and participating cake decorators were eligible to win the grand prize of two Southwest Airlines tickets to the moon anywhere. When a friendly representative from Challenger called to see if I’d be interested in judging, I said, “No one knows or cares who I am and I know nothing about Earth cakes much less space cakes, but—not my problem. YES.” Then I asked, “Who are the other judges? Is Simon Cowell in? I’m not doing this if I can’t be the mean one.”

Turns out one of the other judges was retired NASA astronaut Ed Gibson, who preceded the contest by giving an amazing hour-long presentation about his record-breaking time aboard Skylab, which included 84 consecutive days in space. Mr. Gibson has the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and is a member of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. My column last week was about pesto sauce, so it’s obvious the levels of accomplishment among judges were equal, albeit it from different fields. (The other judge was Brenda Trinidad, a researcher at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at ASU, so … yeah. I honestly don’t know how I was involved in this.) Besides, you know what they say—judging space cakes is the great equalizer.

Before the contest, Gibson gave his presentation. There were many kids in attendance, at camps or on field trips, and eventually the floor was open to questions. Among the fantastic questions the kids asked Gibson: “How many Jupiters can you fit into the sun?” and “What is your name?” Kids are the best.

Then came the cakes. There were seven entries of space-themed cakes, and I have to admit many of them were quite impressive. You could even say they were—wait for it—out of this world. Man, I am on fire right now.

Ed, Brenda, and I—we’re pretty much best friends now—were asked to judge each cake entry on several categories including presentation, workmanship, creativity, texture of frosting (?), and swimsuit competition. After painstakingly examining each cake, we were then asked to return to the front of the room, sit at the dais and eat cake samples while the crowd looked on, bursting with excitement and anticipation. I tried to show a lot of chewing emotion to keep the crowd entertained. Challenger even provided us water and milk in case we got thirsty. It was all very classy.

All the cakes were great, but a couple stood out. One, “Mission Accomplished,” represented the moon and had celestial objects protruding off it that were actually Rice Krispy Treats. Another, “Skylab Launch” represented just that. As if the cake wasn’t an eye-catcher as it was, its creator, Brittany Lozoya of Goodyear, poured dry ice into a pipe in the back of the cake, which made the rocket appear to be taking off. I think it blew Ed Gibson’s mind, and that dude’s been in space. Also, both cakes tasted great. And I know what I’m talking about because I am a cake judge.

“Mission Accomplished” and its creator, Alex Davis of Glendale, won first prize and “Skylab Launch” won the grand prize. It was the right call. I think, as judges, we did our job. Afterwards everyone was clamoring to get pictures with Gibson, but luckily the crowd was kind enough to let me slip away unnoticed. 

Just another perk of the job, judging space cakes, but it’s something I took very seriously. Guess you could say, mission accomplished.

"Skylab." I ate this.

Note: This column appears in the 7/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/26 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spam email of the week

Subject: Both sales books

At first I thought this email was targeted at me in an effort to help me sell my book. Oh you didn't know I have a book? It's a book and you can buy it! Anyway, that is not what this email is about. This email is about two sales books about sales, neither of which are my book, which you can buy and which is not about sales but does have a chapter about clogging the toilet. I am considering buying these two sales books to help me sell my one book. Let's see if they can sell me.

"One of these top dog secrets can earn you a fortune."
-Jeffrey Gitomer

This is the opening quote of the email. I thought the Dalai Lama said that, or that it was from Proverbs. But this amazing quote re: top dog secrets was actually uttered by famous person Jeffrey Gitomer. I just Googled Jeffrey Gitomer and he has a Wikipedia page. Like this email, the word "sales" appears approximately 8 million times on his Wiki page, so I guess he is famous in the sales community a.k.a. not famous.

I'm writing to recommend two remarkable books that have helped thousands of sales professionals increase their sales. Top Dog Sales Secrets and Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets were written by 50 top sales growth experts and they cover every major area of sales.

When I am interested in earning a fortune, which I am, I like to hear terms like "top dog," "secrets," and "recession-busting" because then I know I am dealing with real-deal, legit things and not some crap. Therefore, I would like not one but TWO books re: top dog sales secrets. I would like to be the top dog of my respective field (sales) because that is a thing people say.

Here is your Top Dog plaque for most sales by a top dog, top dog.

Woof, woof, mother ******ers! Ha, ha ... seriously though, thanks. I couldn't have sold all that stuff without MY top dog, my wife, Jennie. Stand up, Jennie! Now sit down. Who wants to buy my wife?

America's leading sales teams pay these experts a small fortune to show them new ways to boost their sales.

Who are America's leading sales teams and why are they paying other people millions of dollars to give them sales advice? I don't really understand sales, but to me sales is just saying "sales" lots of times in conference rooms full of other self-proclaimed top dogs whose lives are bereft of any substance.

For the first time Top Dog Sales Secrets and Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets are being offered as a set with free shipping and at a big discount. Includes 2 Bonuses, Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer, and 57 Sales Tips to Reinvent & Distinguish Yourself From Your Competition by Jim Meisenheimer.

That is A LOT of sales secrets. Dang, y'all got books by Gitomer AND Meisenheimer? That's cray, yo. Questions: Do any of these secrets overlap? How do I distinguish sales secrets from sales tips, and are there more than 57 of the latter or is there another book I can buy that contains the rest? I have been extremely interested in sales for literally my entire life, but I have never wanted to pay shipping, so this is fantastic.

You'll also find that, as sales go up, stress goes down.

This is a great life lesson, and one that I don't think is driven home enough by our society today. Make money and stress goes away. It's that simple. Grandma is sick, past abuses are starting to resurface and world events have you questioning your faith in mankind? MAKE THAT MONEY, TOP DOG.

You'll get the real-world answers you need from this inner circle of renowned sales experts. Their clear, concise and solution-based advice is pure gold! "It's like reading the best ideas from 50 sales books all in one book. It's awesome!" — Michele Nichols

Thanks, Michele Nichols! Your exclamation point and use of the term "it's awesome!" have really convinced me to buy that book. Which top dog secrets book are you referring to, however, and also WHO ARE YOU? (I just Googled Michele Nichols and she is famous for being on LinkedIn. Or maybe she played Joyce on "Charlie's Angels." My apologies.)

Anyway, I bought both of these books, mostly for their "solutions-based advice." (I hate when you get advice that's like, "Just create another problem to distract you from this one." So annoying.) I am going to bring these books to the beach and read them on the beach for leisure ... I am back from the beach and now I am a top dog sales dog who knows all the secrets and tips. Unrelated: I am going to start charging $1,000 daily to read this blog and all the important stuff is contains. Rollin' Gitomer-style now, haters. Love, No. 1 Top Dog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Basil leaf symbolically wedges itself into otherwise wonderful marriage

I fell for my wife because she is beautiful and then I fell in love with her because she is thoughtful, kind, amazing, hard-working, principled … lots of adjectives that are good. Also because we share so many interests.

Seriously, we are so darn compatible. It’s something I didn’t put much stock into while being lured by her magnetic force of attraction—I would have married her on the spot after our first date without any thought as to how she takes her coffee. But every day that passes I realize more and more just how soulmate-y we truly are.

We find the same things funny, first and foremost. We share the same faith, which is kind of important. We come from similar backgrounds and share the same values, and therefore have matching parenting strategies. We express the same level of indignation at things like genetically modified organisms and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And yes, we take our coffees the same—light cream, no sugar—and become equally frustrated when the dunderheads at Dunkin Donuts put sugar in there: “What is this, amateur hour?” (Neither of us would ever say that to an employee’s face, only to each other after the fact.)

Yet there remains a stumbling block to our relationship realizing its full potential. It is very important and it hurts me in the heart to even write this. But, here goes: My wife doesn’t like pesto.

I know. Who doesn’t like pesto? It is delicious and green and made from basil, and the scent of basil is what wafts throughout heaven, according to the Bible (somewhere in like “Esther” or something). Plus, SHE’S ITALIAN. Some form of pesto makes its way into most Italian meals, and I find it unconscionable she does not have an appreciation for its goodness. Even our daughters, who complain about everything, like pesto, mostly because it’s green and I can convince them it’s “booger sauce,” which is somehow a motivator for them. They are weird.

But why I am bringing this up now, nine years into an otherwise blissful marriage? Well, it had not been an issue until recently. You see, I could never make pesto. I would just order it for myself at restaurants or, better yet, wait for my father-in-law to get here so he could make it. His pesto is out-of-this-world and he makes it for us all the time and in direct defiance to his own daughter’s very verbal dislike of it. It’s great—he doesn’t care. Honestly, since the day she brought me home, every meal my in-laws have made for us has been specifically for me. They couldn’t name their own daughter’s favorite meal at this point if their lives depended on it.

Anyway, since it makes for such a great summer dish, I bought a bunch of basil at Trader Joe’s not too long ago on a whim, and did a bit of pesto-making research that may or may not have involved YouTube tutorials. And wouldn’t ya’ know, it turned out pretty decent! (It’s so easy to make I’m not sure what the heck I was doing before that made it the color, texture, and taste of rotten spinach. Maybe because I didn’t have a blender?)

Even my wife admitted it wasn’t so bad, also noting a) it’s nowhere close to her dad’s and b) she doesn’t like pesto and c) did I remember she doesn’t like pesto?

Now I can’t stop. I’ve been armed with the know-how to adequately make one of my favorite dishes, which has only further highlighted the one thing on which my wife and I cannot agree. I’m sure it’ll all work out … when she relents. Which she won’t because, did I mention she’s Italian?

I’m not sure it will help matters that, when her parents read this, they are totally going to call her and yell at her for giving me a hard time about food and then catch the first flight out here for the specific purpose of making fresh pesto. I’ll keep you guys pesto’d I mean posted.

 The recipe is, this all goes in the blender. Minus the cutting board. You're welcome.

Note: This column appears in the 7/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/19 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spam email of the week

Today's email comes with a big 'ol red exclamation point. The red exclamation point means urgent and TO THE EXTREME. I am concerned. Let's see what's going on here ...

Subject: Did you drop in positions in Google due to this update?

Darn it I DON'T KNOW. I honestly hadn't even thought about such a thing until this email, and now I am panicking. The absolute last thing I want to happen to this company is for it to drop positions on Google due to some update I didn't even know about because I wasn't paying attention. Who uses Google anyway? Is that the thing now?


The headline is alarming, so is the issue.


Google has rolled out an update called Penguin 2.0 last week that is going to have a BIG impact in the rankings of keywords for websites across the globe.

Oh snap they done rolled out Penguin? HOW COME NOBODY TOLD ME PENGUIN 2.0 CAME OUT? This is like that Y2K thing that never happened all over again! Nostradamus was right after all. I mean, shoot, I'm still working off Google version Duck Billed Platypus 6.5 over here. And by that I mean Yahoo. What gives?

The last year also there was an ‘earth shattering’ update, bringing many websites down to the ground and decimated the businesses.

Is earth shattering in quotes because the earth didn't really shake as a result of a search engine update? The terminology of websites being brought down to the ground shows that you really understand what websites are and are definitely not being overdramatic. That fact that this was almost a sentence shows that you know what you're talking about. What next? You have my attention and I want to send you some money to fix everything.

This is the 4th Penguin-related update which Google has done to its search mechanism,

I want to put this sentence in a box and travel back in time to bring it with me to fourth grade for show and tell and try to explain it to my class.

and websites indulging in SEO malpractices are the prime target of this update.

I thought updates were updates but I guess they are targeted missiles? I feel like I am in a movie!

Commander: Penguin 2.0 ready for launch.

Will Smith: Welcome to Earth, you SEO malpractice bastards.

Me (white guy): I'm gettin' too old for this sh*t.

To see if your site has been hit with the update, please ask your marketing folks or SEO company to:

• Run a keyword ranking report

• Google Analytics Traffic report

• Check your webmaster tools account for notifications

I will definitely do all those things and I definitely understand what they mean. I just logged on to our websites and they have been decimated! All I get is a picture of The Penguin with a word bubble that reads, "HA HA HA 2.0 ME WILL BURN THIS WEBSITE HOUSE DOWN TO THE GROUND, BATMAN! So I immediately ran a Google Analytics Traffic report and it says, "Are you sure you want to shut down?" I threw my computer out the window to be safe.

However, if you feel that you have been impacted and have no idea how to check this for yourself, or you'd like to know if you've been hit by Penguin 2.0, please let us know and we'll get right back to you.

This email sounds a phone conversation I would have with my dad:

Dad: Did you hear? Penguin got everything.

Me: Yeah, wait - what?

Dad: Yep, it's been all over the news. Penguin destroyed all the computers. Wall Street's down. Russia is down. They got everything.

Me: I just ... "they?" Who? WHAT?

If you don’t understand these jargons, and wonder how to get your website ethically to the top of search results, you need to reply to this email.

You seem nothing if not ethical. I have replied to this email with the words, "S.O.S. DON'T UNDERSTAND JARGONS, PENGUIN HOLDING US HOSTAGE. OVER."

Have a wonderful day.

How are you gonna end it like that? I am NOT having a wonderful day. OBVIOUSLY.

I'm gettin' too old for this sh*t.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Chew on this: columnist buys gum, chews it

I’ve been chewing more gum lately. (If that sentence hasn’t pulled you into this column, then I give up on trying exciting new ledes.)

Why? Glad you asked. It all started, like many fascinating stories do, because I had water in my ear. Still do, actually, and I’m pretty sure there is some kind of infection happening there. Whatever. The point is, the water was making my ears and head pop. What to do? Then, I remembered all those times I forgot to bring gum on an airplane because riding airplanes also makes your ears pop. I thought, “Hmmm, maybe I’ll try some gum …”

So I left work for a few hours and walked down to Circle K to find some gum. There it was, right by the candy bars and barefoot woman muttering profanities to herself. So many options though! Which kind of gum did I want? The kind where I can blow huge bubbles or the kind from the commercials that makes the Eskimo girl wearing a fur coat and bikini want to kiss you? I played it conservative with brand recognition and went with Wrigley’s Doublemint.

I didn’t know how much to buy—it’s difficult to commit to a large quantity of gum when you haven’t chewed a piece in 10 years—so I bought one pack of five pieces. It cost 35 cents. I gave the cashier a dollar and she said, “Would you like to donate the change to blah, blah, blah organization/fund?” I was like, “Are you serious? That donation, though minimal, is not at all relative to my purchase.” But then the homeless barefoot woman spilled a LOT of relish near the hot dog fixins area, so I just left. With my change.

I arrived back at work and started chewing. Sure enough, my head stopped popping after a few minutes. Plus, get this—the gum was delicious.

Chewing gum is one of those things you do as a kid—like playing with toys and having a generally positive worldview—but then stop for some reason. I was sitting at my desk chewing gum like, “Why did I ever stop this? It’s so easy!”

Sure enough, I started buying 35-cent packs every few days (I still can’t commit—this could be a fad). Sensing that gum did more than temporarily relieve deep inner infections, I did some research.

Turns out gum is good for a lot of things. According to the famous site chewinggumfacts.com, gum can improve your memory. Maybe that’s why I suddenly remembered how to do Algebra after chewing four pieces of gum (four pieces of gum times pi times zero equals zero, BAM! That’s Algebra, right?). Also, gum reduces stress. Now when I get home and my daughters start flipping out about some nonsense, I just pop a piece of gum in my mouth and say, “Wrigley’s Doublemint, TAKE ME AWAY.” It doesn’t work, and it actually makes everything worse because then they start demanding I give them gum. But still, it works.

Chewing gum is also good for digestion which, if you read this column, you know is often my arch nemesis. I’m not a scientist, but this is how it works: When you’re chewing gum, your stomach, which is an idiot, thinks you’re chewing food. So it’s all like, “Better make room for the food that’s a comin’!” And then you go to the bathroom easily.

So there you have it. Gum is like magic, and it is also delicious. For chewing. Don’t swallow because then it will stay in your system for seven years, which is something I just randomly remembered from childhood.

Oh, plus Chris Brown chews it! So you know you're doing the right thing.
Note: This column appears in the 7/11 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/12 issue of the Peoria Times.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Spam email of the week

Subject: Charter a Private Jet

Cool! That is something I am always looking to do, a very normal activity amongst my friends and I.

Hey, you guys wanna charter a private jet and go to like an island or something?

Yeah, mos def, sounds dope to the max! Where should we charter one though?

And THAT is where we always get tripped up and subsequently distracted by our kids, lack of disposable income, reality, etc. So this email is PERFECT TIMING.

Dear Friends & Fliers,

Can I be both? LOL ROTF #frequentflier LOLZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

I hope you are doing well.

I am! Unless you count the fact that I am sitting here on land and NOT ON A PRIVATE JET.

Do you have any upcoming jet charter trips that
I can quote for you?

Glad you asked, and yes, certainly. Hold on, let me check my "upcoming jet charter trips" calendar ...





Welp, I am as surprised as you to find out that, no, I somehow do not have any upcoming charter jet trips requiring quotes. I suppose I could take a jet to my dentist appointment July 19, but I fear it may be viewed as excessive to the (rolls eyes) "99 percent."

Please keep in mind:

. All our flights are ARG/US

Funny story: I once charted a private jet that was only ARG/US gold-rated and, heh ... let's just say the champagne and chocolate strawberries tasted like they came from Costco. #charterjetstories

. We guarantee the best deal
on any size aircraft.

That is good to know. I've experienced a lot of private jet charter companies that only guarantee the best deal on big aircrafts but not medium-sized aircrafts. I mean, I realize there are other things going on in the world like Ethiopia or whatever, but I do think that issue needs to be addressed at some point.

Please provide:

. Travel dates

Whenevs, very flexible.

. Routing

??? Surprise me.

. Number of passengers

Ten. Although I am unsure how many Entourage cast members are going to respond to my friend request, so maybe two. One. Give me quotes for each scenario.

. Aircraft preference

Large aircraft made entirely of gold featuring a Biggie Smalls memorial hand-painted mural.

Also, don't forget to ask about my 12.5 and 25 hour card flight programs!

I won't! I trust this is a punch card like the one I use at Dunkin Donuts. By the way, I want my plane to have a Dunkin Donuts, thanks.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Popping the cork on a new way of life

Of pure coincidence as it relates to the recent trifecta of columns regarding our daughter’s struggles, I have been drinking wine lately.

Now, I am a beer drinker first and foremost. I want to make that abundantly beer, I mean clear. But also beer—I would like to make an abundant beer, actually. So yes, beer is great and I love it and it is my favorite.

That said, I have been getting into wine lately. Now, by “getting into” I mean that I enjoy drinking it, especially with dinner, not that I am developing any sort of pretentious wine palate or saying ridiculous things like, “I prefer a French merlot to a California cabernet.” Just writing that sentence gave me the chills. Although it should be mentioned that the levels of disdain and respect I have for self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs is strangely equal.

So no, I am not a wine snob. In fact, a major reason behind my dalliance into vino was my introduction to Trader Joe’s famed “three-buck Chuck.” (Which used to be two-buck Chuck.) It had always been a rule of mine to never pay more than $20 (ideally $10, if I’m being honest) for a bottle of wine because I know nothing about wine, so the $2.99 bottles of Charles Schwab Shaw red were right up my alley and, not before long, in my shopping cart. And it’s pretty good! You can trust me because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Of course, my slow but steady approach to wine started years ago when I met my future wife and her Italian family. My father-in-law drinks wine every night with dinner, and my wife and brothers-in-law claim to have first tried it when they were like 3. It’s never been treated like dangerous alcohol or something to approach tenuously—it’s just always there and it’s delicious so why not drink it? I agree.

And so there I was not too long ago, at Trader Joe’s, doing something I never thought I’d do—buying a case of wine. A case! Who do I think I am, German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe? (I Googled “famous wine drinkers” for that joke. Hope you liked it!)

Thus began my routine of having a small glass of red wine with dinner most evenings. Everything was going smoothly until somewhat recently, when summer began (in April) and what was once considered “room temperature” was now 80-plus degrees. “This three-buck Chuck tastes … hot,” is what I would say while making a terrible face as our two girls complained about whatever it was we were eating.

Although I am no wine connoisseur, I am also not a monster, so it wasn’t like I was going to put my red wine in the fridge. Or put ice in it! What is this, Alabama? Sheesh. But I also couldn’t drink it hot. As if out of some demented children’s story, I realized I needed my wine to be juuuust right, and to do that I needed to take my newfound love of wine to the next level.

Yes, I bought a wine refrigerator.

And what a difference it has made. It holds up to eight (8) bottles of three-buck Chuck or, I suppose, other wines, and the sweet hum of that baby on our kitchen counter makes me even more excited for dinner than usual. Even my wife has channeled her inner 3-year-old and rekindled her love of wine. Now we happily cheers each other over dinner, ignoring our two girls who are complaining about whatever it is we are eating.

We have our new wine refrigerator to thank for that. Plus, it looks great so close to our beer refrigerator, which my wife just calls “the refrigerator.”

"Pairs beautifully with mac n' cheese and/or fish tacos." - Wine Aficionado magazine

Note: This column appears in the 7/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/5 issue of the Peoria Times.