Saturday, September 27, 2008

Raising The Price Of Double Cheeseburgers: How The Failing U.S. Economy Affects Me: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

In case you haven't heard, the U.S. economy is coming apart at the seems. The U.S. housing market is collapsing. Retail stores are struggling. Washington Mutual failed.

None of these things affect me in the slightest. I don't own a house, I'm not planning to buy a store, and even though I'm a WaMu customer, JPMorgan buying them out means all that will change is the name of the bank on my accounts.

But that's not to say the sad state of the economy hasn't left me unscathed. Quite the opposite. The struggles around us have touched my circle of existence. And it's done so in a very personal way.

Because of the recent failures of the U.S. economy...

McDonald's might raise the price of their $1 double cheeseburger to $1.29.

Truly a dark day indeed.

I've seen many cheap burgers come and go during my 29 years on Earth. The Burger King Whopper was $1 for so long that I, like many Americans, assumed that was always the regular price. Today, the Whopper goes for $2.69 (extra charge for cheese).

When the price of the Whopper was raised, Carl's Jr.'s Famous Star filled the void, selling its goodness for a mere 99 cents. Today, this sandwich goes for $1.99 (extra charge for cheese).

And when the Famous Star went uptown, there was McDonald's, ready to fill the void. Willing to say, "We understand. We feel your pain and we're here for you. Here's a $1 double cheeseburger. It's not as big as the Whopper or Famous Star, but we won't charge you for cheese. Do good by us and we'll do good by you."

And now, "do good by you" is threatening to go up to $1.29, claiming economic poverty.

Now you may ask: "Nev, what's the big deal? It's only an extra 29 cents. What damages could that possibly cause?"

To which I say the following:

It is that way of thinking that has doomed us throughout history.

It is that way of thinking that was used when deciding not to stop Hitler in Poland. It was that way of thinking that was used when deciding not to go after Saddam Hussein in 1991. Mike Tyson roaming free. Osama bin Laden in caves. New Coke. All caused by the idea of, "What harm could possibly come of this?"

If the McDonald's $1 double cheeseburger gets raised to $1.29, do you think that will be the end? No. Soon after, it will go up to $1.50. Then $1.75. Then $1.99. And before you know it, that delectable treat that you enjoyed for a mere buck has more than doubled in price.

And that's when you'll ask yourself: "Why didn't someone do something sooner?"

The housing market is collapsing? Fine.

Retail stores are struggling? Who cares?

WaMu is no more? I don't have enough money to risk losing it.

But raising the price of double cheeseburgers?

That hits home.

And now for this week's:


A Nebraska man abandoned nine of 10 children at a hospital under the state's "safe haven" law, which allows parents or caregivers to leave children at state-certified hospitals without fear of prosecution.

The law was passed with the intention of protecting infants, and lawmakers are apparently "shocked" that parents of older kids are taking advantage.

Now there's talk of amending the law.

I have two suggestions:

1) Don't allow any more Nebraskans to have children. Make it a felony, punishable by death.

Or 2) Make it legal to shoot unwanted children without fear of prosecution.

I'm cool with either one.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Putting A Big Shiny Rock On My Lady's Finger (Part 3): A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

(Nevdogg Note: On Saturday, Aug. 30, I asked my longtime girlfriend Ramona to marry me, and — no doubt blinded by the size of the ring I got her — she said yes. :-) But when it comes to proposing marriage, it’s not just about getting on your knee and saying, "Well?" No, there’s more to it than that. So much so that this is the third of a three-part blog series on how I officially put myself on the path to engagementhood. Part 1 can be read here, and Part 2 can be read here.)

I'm a romantic. It's just my nature. Some guys are romantic. Some guys aren't. Some guys are good at making women's hearts melt. Some guys crash and burn. I'm a romantic. I know how to melt.

So in my mind, the stakes were high as I planned to propose marriage to my longtime girlfriend Ramona. See, in many respects this is where non-romantic guys have an advantage. They don't have to do much to make the moment special. Just take the girl to a nice restaurant or a beach, make sure you look good, say I love you, get on your knee and pop the question. The girl will love it not because it's a great proposal, but because they don't expect the non-romantic guy to do anything romantic and are stunned to see their guy do something remotely romantic and not screw it up.

Women with non-romantic guys know what I'm talking about.

But for guys like me, it's not as easy. Doing a generic proposal just won't do. Oh sure, most women will say, "She'll love it no matter what." That's just a bunch of crap and you know it. I can read between the lines, ladies. When a guy is romantic, you expect romantic moments to be more romantic. Your expectations are heightened. It's just a fact.

And thus, a few weeks ago, I embarked upon a marriage proposal that had to accomplish two critical things:

1) It had to be the most romantic thing I had ever done (not an easy thing to do for a guy who once spelled "I love you" in roses. Which, surprisingly, isn't as hard as it sounds.)

And 2) It had to be better than all her other friends' proposals.

Yeah ladies, I know you want to outshine your friends. It's OK. :-)

Neither was going to be easy to do, and admittedly, it took me a while to think of something special. But then I came up with something to seemed to work pretty well. For the women reading this, seethe with jealousy and longing. For the guys reading this, when your woman reads this and later tells you she liked your proposal better...

...she's lying.


With that said:

I began Aug. 30 by taking Ramona to her favorite breakfast spot, Bobby's Coffee Shop in Woodland Hills. It's good food, it's cheap and she loves it. Nevdogg romance rule No. 47: If she loves it, simplicity is complex enough.

Write that down.

After a good hearty cheese omelette, I treated Ramona to a three-hour spa package at a cute little salon/spa place not too far from our apartment in Northridge. And as she enjoyed a eucalyptus steam, aromatherapy facial, and some type of mud...thing, I went to work.

I had decided to propose in our apartment, since we don't have a special place or spot. Nevdogg romance rule No. 65: Don't force anything.

Write that down.

So after picking up a dozen red and a dozen white roses, I went back to the apartment, cleaned up and did the following:

---Laid out a dozen of the roses on the living room floor one-by-one, alternating between red and white.

---Put a little love note at each flower (I'm a writer, after all).

---And made sure the flowers led to the ring.

Nevdogg romance rule No. 73: Presentation is key.

Write that down.

Then, after I picked Ramona up and gave her a little bracelet (to throw her off the track, in case she suspected anything), I saw that it was 4:45 p.m. I really didn't want to propose in the mid-afternoon. It just didn't feel right. Besides, it went against Nevdogg romance rule No. 79: Romantic moments should occur in the evening.

Write that down.

So I got her a gift card and took her shopping, which she loves and I hate (thus showing how much I love her by being willing to do something that makes me want to kill myself. Nevdogg romance rule No. 87: It's the little things that matter. Write that down). After we spent an hour or so shopping, it was after 6 p.m. (thus, the evening) and I made it seem like we were going to dinner.

"Oh dang," I said when we got to the car, "I forgot something at home. Can we swing by real quick?"

"Sure," my soon-to-be fiancee replied.

When we got to our parking garage, I had Ramona wait in the car, to make it seem like I'd only be a few seconds. But instead, after rushing inside to make sure the flowers were still alive (I had another dozen in the fridge just in case), I called Ramona on her cell.

"You know what, babe," I said, "just come in. I'll be a few minutes."

And, like a deer to headlights, Ramona got to the apartment door, read a little note on the door that explained what to do...

...and the rest worked itself.


Nevdogg romance rule No. 95: The element of surprise: Use it.

Write that down.

And this is how I know this was a proposal for the ages:

A few days ago, I was getting my hair cut courtesy of my good friends at Over The Rainbow in Northridge when I told the engagement story to a number of women of all ages. They all oooohed and ahhhed and "can you tell this to my husband so he can be more romantic."

If you can impress the women at the beauty salon, you did well.

I'm making that Nevdogg romance rule No. 107.

I wrote it down.

And now for this week's:


According to my stat tracker, has been read in 48 countries.

Including Iran!!

And that Iranian president says he hates Jews.

Such a kidder.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Putting A Big Shiny Rock On My Lady's Finger (Part 2): A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

(Nevdogg Note: On Saturday, Aug. 30, I asked my longtime girlfriend Ramona to marry me, and — no doubt blinded by the size of the ring I got her — she said yes. :-) But when it comes to proposing marriage, it’s not just about getting on your knee and saying, "Well?" No, there’s more to it than that. So much so that this is the second of a three-part blog series on how I officially put myself on the path to engagementhood. Part 1 can be read here.)

Here's a little tidbit about me: I hate shopping. I mean, I despise it. Unless I'm looking for video games or frozen pizza, if I have to spend more than five minutes shopping for something, I start itching uncontrollably and the walls start closing in.

True story: A few years ago, Ramona insisted that I needed new tennis shoes and dragged me to some two-story shoe store. In the 90 seconds it took her to look down an aisle and say "Hey, we can even look upstairs," I had found a pair of shoes and was waiting in line to pay.

I. Hate. Shopping.

Unfortunately, getting an engagement ring involves this unpleasant task. There's just no way around it (trust me, I thought of alternatives). And due to my severe lack of knowledge about rings, I feared this would turn into a long, drawn-out task that could take (horror of horrors) more than one day to complete.

Fortunately, I had an idea.

My mom used to work with this woman named Kara, who is a former jeweler and knows her way around the downtown Los Angeles jewelry district. She agreed to come with me and my mom to get the ring, so now I had an expert with me to make sure I got good quality and a good price.

But even with this, shopping for the ring wasn't easy. It was Saturday, Aug. 16. It was me, my mom, Kara, and Kara's 1-year-old boy Patrick. It's 10:30 a.m. and the car is leaving.

10:30 a.m. (in the car)

Kara and I are already off the same page.

Me: If I find something right away that I like, I'm getting it.

Kara: I won't let you.

Me: But what if I like it, it's a good price and the quality is good?

Kara: Doesn't matter. Even if you like something early on, you need to go to other places so you can feel better about what you eventually buy.

Me: But I'm a guy. I'll feel good immediately.

Kara: You need to go to other places.

Me: But I'm a guy.

Kara: We're not buying the first thing we see.

Me: But I'm a guy.

Kara: I won't let you.

Me: But I'm a guy!!! Jesus, I have hair on my legs!!

(1-year-old Patrick starts to cry. He feels my pain).

11:30 a.m. (Store 1)

Me: I like that ring.

Mom: It is beautiful.

Kara: And it's a good price.

Abit (the salesman): You buy this then?

Nev: Yes.

Kara: No!!

(Abit slumps his shoulders because of the lack of sale. I slump my shoulders because this task continues).

Kara: Remember our conversation?

Me: I was hoping you'd forgotten.

Abit: What conversation?

Kara: I told him he can't buy the first thing he sees.

Abit: But he's a guy.

Nev: Save your breath, my man.

(1-year-old Patrick starts to cry. He feels my pain).

1 p.m. (Store # 7)

Me: I like the first ring I saw.

1:30 p.m. (Store # 10)

Me: I like the first ring I saw.

2:30 p.m. (Store # 17)

Me: I like the first ring I saw.

2:45 p.m. (Store # 19)

Patrick cries.

Poor kid.

3 p.m. (Store # 21)

Me: Enough!!

(And I lead us to the first store, to the first ring)

Me: I like that ring.

Mom: It is beautiful.

Kara: And it's a good price.

Abit: You buy now?

(I look at Kara pleadingly)

Kara: I think you should buy it.

Me: YES!!

Mom: I'm so happy for you, Nevin.

Abit: You just wasted the whole day.

(Patrick smiles.)

(What a kid)

4 p.m. (driving home)

Kara: Nev, I'm proud of you. You hung in there and didn't complain.

Nev: And you have no idea how hard that was. We could've been home four hours ago if you had just let me buy the first thing I saw, like all men!!

(Note: I was thinking that. I didn't actually verbalize it.)

Mom: It's a beautiful ring and Ramona is going to love it.

Kara: I agree.

(Patrick snorts)

Nev: I think so too, and I learned a valuable lesson today. I learned that shopping for an engagement ring is not like shopping for shaving cream. It takes time, patience and planning. This is a special moment in my life, and it was important for me to give it the attention it deserved.

Kara: Well said.

Mom: Hear hear!!

(Patrick laughs)

(He knows a load of crap when he hears it.)

(He's a guy.)

And now for this week's:


I've been hearing on the radio recently the following line on ads for the grocery chain Albertsons:

"Organify your food."

Right after I organify my vomit.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Putting A Big Shiny Rock On My Lady's Finger (Part 1): A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

(Nevdogg Note: On Saturday, Aug. 30, I asked my longtime girlfriend Ramona to marry me, and — no doubt blinded by the size of the ring I got her — she said yes. :-) But when it comes to proposing marriage, it’s not just about getting on your knee and saying, "Well?" No, there’s more to it than that. So much so that this is the first of a three-part blog series on how I officially put myself on the path to engagementhood.)

In mid-July, I had the following conversation with my mom.

Nev: Please, Mom?

Mom: Nevin, I can’t.

Nev: But I’m desperate!!

Mom: Honey, you’re just going to have to figure this out on your own.

Nev: But I need help!! Just a little bit, please?

Mom: I can’t.

Nev: You have to!!

Mom: I can’t.

Nev: But you’re my mother!!

Mom: Nevin, please don’t.

Nev: I’m your son!!

Mom: Oh God, honey…


(and I throw myself at her feet, crying on her shoes and hugging her ankles)

Now, those who don’t know me might conclude that this conversation took place while I was coked out of my mind and begging my mom for a few bucks to score my next high. But in actuality, I just told her that I was planning to ask my longtime girlfriend, Ramona, to marry me, and I needed my mom’s help in figuring out Ramona’s ring size.

Now, I have a lot of female friends. And prior to asking my mom to assist me in this vital task, I asked various lady friends of Nev to help me figure out what Ramona’s ring size was (so that the thing actually fit when I put it on her finger). And these friends all had the same reply:

Just grab one of her rings and take it to a jeweler.

OK, guys are stupid. I admit that. Many of us are lacking in the brains department. But if it was as easy as grabbing a ring out of Ramona’s jewelry box, going to some jewelry kiosk and asking someone, "How big is this?" I’d of come to that conclusion on my own.

The problem was, Ramona doesn’t wear rings. And while God granted me with an uncanny ability to pick out jewelry — really, I’m quite good at it. Just ask any of my ex-girlfriends who still wear my bling while out with other, lesser men than I — that ability is null and void if the damn thing don’t fit!!

So I went to the one woman who could maybe help me: Mommy. And, as one can tell from the conversation above, she was loathe to do it. It’s not that she didn’t want to help, you understand. It was just that she felt she couldn’t give an accurate idea of Ramona’s ring size.

"But even your best wild guess is better than anything I can figure out," I argued.

"Maybe," she replied. "But I really don’t know anything."

My mom was right. She didn’t know anything that could help me here.


See Nev, my ring size is a 6, and I’m guessing that Ramona’s hand is probably a size or so bigger than mine. You also have to account for shape and texture, and remember that a woman’s hands sometimes grow at different points of the year. Then you have to determine fingers: Lean or round? If lean, go a size smaller. If not, go a size bigger. Then of course, there’s the setting, which can add to the size, and then of course there’s her knuckles and her palms…

She went on and on like this for a good 15 minutes, telling me all these things about a subject she didn’t know. Apparently, lack of knowledge ain’t what it used to be.

"So you’ll help me then?" I asked when she finished.

"Nevin, haven’t you been listening? I don’t know anything."

"Mom, you just spent almost 20 minutes telling me every little detail to consider on a thing you claim to have no concept of. Surely you can look at her hands and take a guess."

"But what if I’m wrong?"

‘But what if you’re right?"


"Wait, why don’t you just get one of Ramona’s rings out of her jewelry box and take it to a jeweler?"

If there was a ledge right there in my mom’s apartment, I’d of jumped off it.

Finally, after once again going over the "Ramona doesn’t wear or own rings" routine, my mom agreed to help me.

It turns out, however, that her assistance wouldn’t be needed in this case.

About a week later, Ramona and I were watching television when she said:

Oh by the way, I stopped in a jewelry store a few days ago and got my ring size checked. I’m a 7.

Just like that. No warning. No preamble. Just…

I’m a 7.

And with that, obstacle 1 had been cleared. :-)

Next week: Shopping for the ring.

And now for this week's:


They've made animated films about superheroes, clown fish, ants, mice, ogres, lions, and a cute little robot named Walllllllllllleeeeee.

And recently, I found out that my oldest friend's brother's wife (try saying that three times fast) made a short animated film about a dollhouse.

Hey, why not?

You can view the short film (about 10 minutes) here.