Chronicles of the Single Man: Episode 2, The Jewish Singles Event

This story is from a while back, maybe two or three years ago at this point. But, seeing as how I was single then and single now, Jewish with an Italian last name then and now, and attracted to women then and now, I’m pretty sure it still applies.

For me, the hardest part about picking up a girl has always been the approach and the close. The middle, I’m great at. I can keep a conversation going (even if it’s to entertain myself) for a while. But the conversation starter and the number-ask portion of the night I struggle with. I’m not sure why, but the following is an example of this.

It was early December, maybe even late November. I remember that because a former professor of mine (who also happens to be Jewish) had asked me to go to a singles event hosted by a temple he belonged to in New York City.

Not so keen on the idea of attending a Jewish singles event with a professor I used to have (Granted, he and I are/were friends so it wasn’t anything specific about him or the event even, just a general feeling I had), I told him that he should let me know when the next one was, figuring that since they were usually on or around Jewish holidays and I couldn’t think of any that were going on, I was pretty much in the clear.

Proof I’m not a very good Jew: Hanukah was actually in a week. How I forgot about the only actually fun holiday on the Jewish calendar is beyond my comprehension. As you’d imagine, I couldn’t say no and in a week’s time I found myself ducking into the downstairs, reserved section of a bar on the Upper West side.

Yo No Quiero Taco Bell

As someone who makes his living working at a television station, I am subjected to watching more commercials than most of the population. I’m not complaining, I’d rather have the bad part of my job be “watching commercials” than having to deal with people/things like this*.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just, after the 15th time you’ve seen a Taco Bell commercial in one work day, you’re bound to go a little stir crazy.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen Taco Bell’s newest campaigns (if you have a television or know anyone that does, it’s probably hard to have missed), but I think it’s interesting to note the apparent change in their advertising strategy.

Let’s get one thing clear: Taco Bell’s food is anything but enjoyable. Maybe laughable, maybe passable, maybe irredeemable.  But very rarely, if ever, enjoyable in the true sense that food is supposed to be.

It seems to me that since the ’90s, the people behind Taco Bell were well aware of this. Well aware of what had to have been cat/dog meat in the tacos, well aware of the incredible and always reliable gastro-intestinal side effects of consumption. So, instead of putting out advertisements that flaunted these less-than-admirable traits**, they went with this:

I’m not sure if this was brought up at the time (I was 12, so pardon the ignorance of advertising trends. Ask me about Pokemon evolution, no problem), but that ad made very little sense. Yes, I get the fact that the chihuahua is a dog sometimes associated with Mexico (then again, does anyone every associate Taco Bell with Mexico? At all?) but there’s very little outside of that. Instead, it’s just the first of many attempts by Taco Bell to change the topic of discussion from e-coli and bathroom stalls to talking dogs.

Now let’s fastforward to present day and I must say, upon seeing this new wave of commercials I couldn’t recall any ads for Taco Bell over the span of about the last decade. Probably for the best, but I digress.

The new campaign, in fact the new Taco Bell, has seemingly come to terms with what they are (a gross, cheap “Mexican” fast food chain) and what people want (Chipotle, and if really desperate and/or the Chipotle has burnt down in a fire, Qdoba). Meeting somewhere in the middle, they’ve come out with a new line of menu items including tacos made of Doritos and “fresh” burritos made with “fresh” ingredients.

However, my favorite part of all this change hasn’t been the food***, but the advertising to promote it. First off is this new concept of Fourthmeal the geniuses over at the Bell have schemed up. Basically, the tagline is “Sometimes the best dinner is after the dinner“. I discovered this in the ludicrous commercial where an entire wedding party scarfs down Taco Bell in the limo after the reception, leading me to think a few things:

  1. That was either the worst wedding reception of all-time.
  2. Those people have insatiable appetites.
  3. They all bought (not rented) their tuxedos and dresses, because no one seems to care about spilling the most spillable food on planet earth.

I do appreciate the fact that the Taco Bell folks have fessed up to the idea that no one in their right mind is actually having their food for a proper meal. I’m sure someone in the creative ad room suggested “Drunkmeal” instead of or before “Fourthmeal” but the legal hurdles were probably too much to climb.

It gets even better in this commercial, where we learn that a small town in Alaska was duped into thinking they had a Taco Bell coming to their town (I’m not sure what’s more pathetic, that as a town they were collectively fooled or that they even gave a shit in the first place). When the big wigs at Taco Bell (so says the commercial) get wind of this they apparently airlifted a truck to the town to serve approximately ten thousand tacos to awaiting Alaskan mouths. Again, this made me think the following things:

  1. By the way the Taco Bell people are acting, you would think this deed of serving tacos is equivalent to flying in supplies after Hurricane Katrina or helping clean up an oil spill. Relax, we’re talking tacos here.
  2. Those shots of people smiling like buffoons either once they’ve gotten or before they’ve purchased their tacos have to be staged. No one is that excited for Taco Bell.
  3. And if those aren’t staged (like, say, the shots of people wildly running towards the truck) then the real solution is for Taco Bell to airlift that town to a Chipotle and let them experience what “Mexican” fast food should really taste like.

I wish Taco Bell the best of luck with their new “Hey, we know you’d never eat this for dinner but if it’s late enough and enough places are closed and you don’t have anything else going on and maybe if you haven’t had Doritos in a while, you’ll consider having our food” campaign. I can’t wait to see what they dream up next.

*Before I started working in the real world, I didn’t really believe that the job world was anything like it was depicted in Office Space.  And now, three years into that world, I can say that while I’ve never been hassled specifically about TPS reports, I can definitely say I’ve gained a new appreciation for that film.

**Could you imagine if they actually had a commercial where a pimply-faced kid ate Taco Bell, alone at a chain and solemnly looked up at the camera upon last bite and said, “Not only does it taste like real canine, but you won’t be able to get off the toilet for a good half hour.  Enjoy!”

***Let the record state that while I’m taking full fun in ripping apart these new menu items, I have not and likely will not try any of them so my insults are totally and completely unfounded. Read on.

Chronicles of the Single Man: Episode I, Narcolepsy

I am, as Jerry Seinfeld once said, a single guy. There are no other men attached to me.

As such, I often find myself leaving the comforts of my home when it is dark out to meet strangers in even stranger places and buy both of us drinks and food in the hopes of establishing a connection and/or having sex with them eventually.

Yes, I date. My father has often said that I’m the king of first dates, to which I’ve replied… well, there isn’t much to say to argue that. I have been on a number of first dates, but who hasn’t? The real truth is, the stories about good first dates where chemistry is there or a fun time is had just aren’t as fun to tell.

Hey guys, guess what? I went out with a lovely young lady last night to a wonderful bar. We enjoyed a few beers, had some laughs, then went on our separate ways promising we’ll see one another next week!

I haven’t even started the story I’m about to tell here, but trust me, there’s no way the one above beats this (or any like it). Ever.

Success isn’t that funny. Ask Dane Cook about it.

Everywhere You Look: 90’s Sitcoms, Revisited

One of the benefits of working frequently between the hours of 4 PM and 2 AM is that you are available to watch some great afternoon TV.  Recently, I discovered that MTV2, in addition to actually existing, shows two hours of Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World back-to-back from noon til 4.  As you’d imagine, this was a revelation and ever since I’ve been reliving some of my favorite childhood shows.  What follows is the third of several look-backs at some of those incredible shows and what made them so (not-so) great.

Let me say that while I never was a die-hard Full House guy, the show was fantastic. When you look at the show conceptually you have to admit it was pretty well done, especially for what it became. The dynamic between the sisters (how often do you see shows with no brothers of any kind?), the fact that the mom was killed off before the show even started (Single fathers? What is this, a Matthew Modine film? Dated reference in a dated blog post, hey now!), and the idea of three men (one nincompoop best friend, one studly, albeit too cool for school, brother-in-law, and a neat-freak morning TV show host—now how’s that for diversity?).  All of those ideas were and continue to be fairly original in the world of sitcom television (which isn’t such an original place to begin with).

There was also a really neat little theme song (ridiculously/unnecessarily long version, yes sir) and all of the cheesy cheese we come to expect and love from these type of shows. And, all of the cast members seemed to actually get along.

Maybe I did like it more than I remember… I digress.

I think the important thing to note (besides the Uncle Jessie-led efforts of a Full House movie, but more on that later) is that any serious discussion about Full House should truthfully start with the debate over which of the women on the show was the hottest.  Then, and now.

Recasting Space Jam: 2012

Recently, I was on twitter and I saw something that caught my eye. Somehow I landed on LeBron James’ page* and came across the following diddy:

Besides from the obvious (that LeBron James is clearly unaware of how to properly answer a question tweeted at him), I couldn’t help but think about what this movie would be like if it was made over again, for this upcoming season. The only thing I think I wouldn’t touch would be the soundtrack.  There were some classic bangers on that cd and even though a lot of it hasn’t stood the exact test of time, it’s still worth putting out there again.

The first hurdle to clear is obviously, who replaces MJ? Kevin Durant, LeBron or Kobe? While it pains me to say it, I think LeBron has to be the guy that gets the nod. He may not be the next Michael Jordan, but he’s the closest thing we have going. Is he a pompous doosh? Sure, sometimes (although I’d argue he’s the same phony personality he’s probably always been, the Decision notwithstanding, which is to say he’s like just about every other spoiled athlete).

Kobe could’ve been the guy… maybe 4 years ago. I like Durant as the new lead, but I’m just not sure he’s good enough to beat the Monstars. Has he gotten better, stronger every season? Yes.  But, has he ever had to go up against this guy? I don’t think so.

The rest of the cast needs a similar makeover. Read on.

Five Thoughts Longer Than 140 Characters

The following are scattered thoughts too long for twitter and too long for their own post.  They are presented in no particular order of importance or design.

1. Sometimes I’m convinced I could be a big-time movie writer.  Premium Rush, with budding über-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, came out 2 weeks ago and I was convinced when I saw the trailer that it had to be a joke. Forget what it’s called or who it stars, if I told you I had an idea for a film where someone needs to deliver a package of the utmost importance while being chased by cops and bad guys and all sorts of folk and he’s going to be doing it all on a bike, you’d laugh in my face.  How is this movie any more than, at the most, 10 minutes long? Are the people chasing him also on bikes? Is this some futuristic world where no one is allowed to drive cars or use any machine with an engine?  Honestly, it would be like if they made a movie where Jason Statham starred as a mounted police officer that apprehends criminals and somehow he manages to do an amazing job, despite the fact that most criminals in 2012 aren’t committing their crimes on horses.  You could call it Equine Justice, or Extra Premium Rush.

2. A couple of days ago I watched Batman Forever and Batman and Robin and still, several days later, I can’t decide which of them was worse. I had so many questions. I do remember enjoying those movies when I was younger, but was that just because I was a kid and didn’t know any better? Were those movies intentionally awful? How did we get from the first two good Batman movies to these two? Did people back then think they were as campy and ridiculous as they appear now? How did Tommy Lee Jones, George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman EVER agree to put their names to these movies? Was the Bane character made of the same material as those weird inflatable NBA mascots? How many other actors were sick the day that Val Kilmer tried out for the role of Batman? How had I never heard of this movie and why wasn’t it made? Also, Batwoman? Batgirl? Alicia Silverstone?

3. I wish there was one day a year where you couldn’t exaggerate. Everything you said had to be true and accurate. I bring this up because I recently found out that Jersey Shore, a show I used to watch (scout’s honor… watched it like a fiend those first few seasons, haven’t tuned in since), is closing up shop after this upcoming season.  The men in the house would sleep with all sorts of gals and if one of them wasn’t particularly attractive, there would be a whole slew of things said about her… like say, calling her a cow. But how funny would it be if The Situation actually did sleep with a cow. The next morning she leaves the shore house in his studded, designer sweatpants and as she does so the whole house wakes up because, after all, she is a cow and the bell around her neck is a nuisance.  Then, the next night when the gang is back at Karma again, the cow is there with her friends (who, by the way, are humans).  There’s those solo shots of Mike and of the cow awkwardly avoiding each other, drinking and dancing alone.  Ultimately, Mike gets drunk and winds up doing body shots off the cow’s udders and the two sloppily go home together once again.

4. I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey right now and I’m not sure what’s worse… The fact that I want to finish it and see what happens or the writing and grammar contained within.  Maybe I’m just a little jealous because I’ll never sell a zillionth of the copies that this woman has, but I have to believe it’s more than just that.  This book is, frankly, poorly written and the whole scandalous, sexy nature of it is lost on me.  Why? Because I have the internet at my house and there’s some photos of naked women on there.  Videos too, I’ve heard.

5. I’m really happy Roger Clemens is trying to make a comeback at this point in his life.  Nothing says legitimate like a 50-year old, past-his-prime guy trying to pitch for the worst team in the league at a level he clearly isn’t ready for. I’m sure this has nothing to do with pushing Hall of Fame clocks back or selling tickets.  Here’s what likely will happen: Clemens will do fine in his last Atlantic League start this Friday, the Astros will sign him to a contract, he’ll come in and pitch one or two meaningless regular season home games, do alright, and leave to a standing ovation.  Here’s what should happen (aside from the Astros saying, “Hey wait a minute… We’re the worst team in the league by far, in the midst of a youth and league movement, and trying to get out of a nearly decade long doldrums, we shouldn’t be helping a 50-year old, out-of-his-league former flamethrower make a mockery of this system and game): he’ll get signed by the Astros and then get the absolute shit beaten out of him by actual major league players because 85 mph fastballs and hanging curveballs don’t tend to work the same against major leaguers as they do against Bridgeport Bluefish. Houston area fans shouldn’t be supporting this. It’s a farce and should be treated as such by fans that deserve better.