Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Year I Saved Chanukah: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

One of the staples during every Chanukah season are potato latkes. Latkes, for those who don't know, are potato pancakes that are as prominent during Chanukah as turkey is during Thanksgiving.

I'd like to confess something here.

I hate potato latkes.

There. I said it.

And I need to point out something: I've tried to like potato latkes. I really have. Year after year, I've given them chance after chance. And every time, they've let me down.

Here are my three issues with potato latkes:

Potato Latke Issue # 1: They don't taste like hash browns.

Now-Jews who have attended Chanukah gatherings who had never heard of a latke have no doubt been told that latkes taste like hash browns.

This is a lie.

Latkes taste nothing like hash browns. Hash browns, for one thing, taste good. Also, hash browns melt in your mouth and don't clump into mushy patties after five seconds out of the pan. Plus, hash browns don't contain those weird Jewish spices that no one can ever describe but yet spot in all Jewish foods.

Jews everywhere know what I'm talking about.

Potato Latke Issue # 2: Incompatibility with sour cream.

Sour cream is often served with potato latkes. On paper, this makes sense. Many potato dishes taste good with sour cream. Baked potatoes. Potato skins. Even french fries in certain instances.

But potato latkes, for some reason, don't work with sour cream. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe it's a combination of the clumpiness and Jewish spices that makes it resistant to the greatness of sour cream. Regardless, potato latkes and sour cream just don't mix.

Now I ask you: How can one trust a potato dish that doesn't mesh with sour cream? That's like creating a milk that doesn't work with chocolate syrup. It's unnatural, off-kilter, unholy.

When a potato dish doesn't work with sour cream, it's time to find another starch.

Potato Latke Issue # 3: It's often eaten with applesauce.

Here's my theory about how "potato latkes with applesauce" began:

Someone, thousands of years ago, decided to take an apple, mash it up into a fine sauce paste, and serve it with their potato latkes as a cruel joke.

And here's what went wrong:

No one who ate these latkes knew it was a joke and didn't want to hurt the person's feelings. Thus, they said that the mix of potato latkes and applesauce was bold and exciting. As a result, applesauce became a potato latke staple and people have convinced themselves that the combination is good.

Let me ask you: Do potatoes and apples mix?

Don't answer because it's a rhetorical question.

No, they don't mix!! Are you kidding me? One's a vegetable and one's a fruit sauce. One's fried and one is...A FRUIT SAUCE!!!

Does that sound appealing to anybody? Be honest with yourselves now.

At this point, you may be asking yourself: "Nev, why did you entitle this blog, 'The Year I Saved Chanukah.'"

Here's why:

At the recent yearly Chanukah party thrown by my fiancee's family, we were treated to the following announcement:

We have a latke shortage this year. Repeat: A latke shortage. So please don't take as many as usual.

The gasps are still echoing across the room.

It was then that I answered the call.

"I won't eat any latkes this year," I said.

"Are you sure?" the Jews in the room replied.

"Absolutely," I said. "It won't be easy; I'll have to fill up on crispy chicken and seven-layer dip -- you know, good food -- but I will happily sacrifice the latkes that I was going to force myself to keep down with the use of massive amounts of salt and ketchup."

I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

And thanks to me, everyone else got their normal amount of latkes.

And I saved Chanukah.

This story should be re-told every year till the end of time.


And now for this week's:


Last week, I mentioned how Scarlett Johannson was selling her snot rag on eBay for charity.

This week, I'm here to report that it sold for more than $5,300.


Does anyone have any words? Because I'm at a loss...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dealing With Those Who Don't Have The Holiday Spirit: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

This week, I've had to deal with a lot of Scrooges in my life.

For example, my buddy Carlos and I were at the mall last night for dinner when a couple of little girls came up to us selling these little candy canes with a teddy bear on them. I thought the kids were cute so I thought, "Sure, why not" and bought a cane for $3.

As the girls walked away, I caught Carlos' eye.

Carlos: What the hell's wrong with you?

Nev: What?

C: That candy cane cost $3!!

N: So what?

C: It's $3!!

N: It's the holidays.

C: It's $3 for something that costs a quarter at the liquor store!!

N: Carlos, they're kids.

C: They're scammers!!

N: They're not scammers.

C: They're hoodlums!! Praying on the gullible.

N: Have a heart. It's Christmas time.

C: It is for them. You just gave them $3 for nothin'.

N: It has a bear on it.

C: It's a candy cane.

N: A bear on it.

C: A candy cane!!


C: Besides, you're Jewish.

And there's the people at my work.

Co-Worker # 1: I don't like Christmas carols.

Co-Worker # 2: Me neither. They're cheesy.

OK, pause. First off, how the hell can someone not like Christmas carols? They're Christmas carols!! What's not to like?

Co-Worker # 2: But they're cheeeeeessssyyyyyy.

Of course they're cheesy. They're old!! All old songs are cheesy. But Chrismas carols are supposed to be cheesy. And sappy. And "love thy fellow man"-y. Slient Night. Jingle Bells. Noel. Christmas Canon.

Co-Worker # 1: They're all stupid.

Co-Worker # 2: I agree.


I hope they're visited by three ghosts.

And finally, there's Co-Worker # 3:

You know the song "Christmas Shoes"? It's a cute, cheesy song about a boy who's trying to buy some shoes for his dying mom because he wants her to look beautiful "if Mamma meets Jesus tonight."

It's beautiful. It's moving.

Co-Worker # 3: Why didn't he buy her a sweater?

Co-Worker # 1: Seriously!! What dying woman would want shoes?

Co-Worker # 2: I agree.


You know what these people need?

$3 candy canes.

With bears on them.

And now for this week's:


Scarlett Johannsson blew her nose while on the Jay Leno show and is now selling the snot rag on eBay for charity.

High bid thus far is over $2,000.

If you're bidding on this item...

...there's no hope for you.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Proper Bathroom Etiquette: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

The other day, I was visiting a business establishment and the men's bathroom was locked. Thus, I used the women's bathroom.

Which, I might point out, didn't have a couch.

Television, once again, has lied to me. I was looking forward to sitting on that couch, for contemplative reflection.

Admittedly, using the women's bathroom was poor bathroom etiquette (though I put the toilet seat back down). But it got me thinking: What is proper bathroom etiquette? What are some of the unwritten rules we all should follow when visiting the facilities?

(Note: Most, if not all, of the following will probably not apply to women. Then again, women may have couches in most of their bathrooms, so etiquette takes on a whole new meaning with them).

For one thing, there's the whole issue about space in between the urinals. Men should never use the urinal that's next to another man unless absolutely necessary. The bathroom is the one place where men need space, a chance to stretch out and collect his thoughts. If another man is next to him, he can't properly focus on the task at hand.

All male readers of this blog have, at one time or another, been through the following scenario: You're in a bathroom with about 18 empty urinals and you proceed to one. A few seconds later, another fellow male comes in, and despite all the other empty urinals (which are far, far away from you) at his disposal, he chooses the one right next to you.

Bad form. Simply bad form.

Then there's eye contact during urinal use. Not allowed. While standing at the urinal, you look straight ahead, eyes forward. You never, ever tilt your head in another direction. It's not right looking at another man's eyes during urinal use.

And you sure as hell don't look down.

For obvious reasons.

Then there's conversations with men in stalls. For men who have conversations with men who are in stalls, I have just one question:

What the hell is the matter with you?

The last thing a man in a stall wants to do is talk. Whatever you have to say to the man in the stall can wait until he's out. You heard a funny joke? Wait until he leaves the stall. You're having a personal problem? Wait until he leaves the stall. The building is fire? Tell him after he leaves the stall, even at the risk of him burning to a crisp and dying a horrible death.

That would be the proper etiquette thing to do.

And now for this week's:


The other night, I was watching TV, flipping through the channels when I came across this cartoon movie called "Batman vs. Dracula." Apparently, Dracula is jealous of Batman because of the whole "bat" thing and wants to kill Batman and take over as the new Batman.

Why Dracula would want to pigeon-hole himself into that role is something the movie doesn't explain.

It's a plot hole, if you ask me.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Problem With Old People: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

OK, I love old people. I really do. They tell cool stories. They have candy. They pay for things. But with all due respect to the senior citizens of our society, there are times when you really get in the way of young people like myself. :-)

Now many of you younger folks, verbally, may be saying out loud, "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT!!" But deep down, you know what I'm saying. And you're happy. At one time or another, an old person has pissed you off, slowed you down, gotten in your way. And today, young people of this blog, I'm going to provide you with a voice.

Now older people reading this blog are asking themselves two questions: 1) What is he talking about? And 2) Does he mean me? Luckily, I've developed a two-front system that will reveal both whether you're old and the main problems that younger people have with the elderly.

You're an old person if:

You're too damn slow. How often have you been on a sidewalk, on the road, in line somewhere, where an old person is in front of you and walking or driving at less than 0.0025 miles an hour? If you're not in a walker and a snail is matching you stride for stride, then you're old. And slowing young people down.

You would think that with limited time left, you'd be in a hurry to get things done. But apparently, you're content with spending the remainder of your days taking in the sights and making young people late to wherever they're going.

Hey old people: You want to stop being a drain on young society? Move off to the side and let the young folks pass. Because we've got things to do.

You're an old person if:

You don't shut up. How have of you young people have been stuck in line at the supermarket for two hours because the old person in front of you is talking the supermarket cashier's ear off about a) trying to save 15 cents on a gallon of milk with an expired coupon, b) insisting that the bagger "use both paper and plastic bags, but the paper has to be strong and the plastic shouldn't be flimsy. And no, not those bags. Use the ones at the bottom because those are sturdy" or c) their cat Mittens, their dog Fluffy or their son Stuart (complete with pictures of all three).

Old people not only don't stop talking, but they talk about nothing. If you want someone to listen to you talk nonsense for four hours at a stretch, get a) a dog, or b) a private nurse who gets paid to listen to your babble. But don't waste my time. I have to get home with my chips and beer and set up a poker game with my other, younger friends who only speak when spoken to.

And finally, you're an old person if:

You use checks to pay for everything. OK, using checks to pay bills? Fine. Using checks to give someone a deposit? Fine. Using checks to give or pay off a loan? Fine.

But if you use checks at the supermarket, dry cleaners, barber shop, video store, pet shop, Home Depot, Jamba Juice, bookstore or any facility where they sell clothes, than you're old. And a pain in the $#@*&$. Not only have you not discovered the new technology known as credit cards and ATMs, but it takes forever for you to a) fill out the check, and b) make the entry in the checkbook, which you always have to do RIGHT THEN AND THERE!!!!

Why don't you just pay cash? That's something from the old-people era, isn't it? Cash?

Now, how can we solve this issue? This rift between the young and old?


Put old people in homes.


Look, I don't advocate segregation, but sometimes steps must be taken in the name of progress. If old people are in homes, they're happy in their little old-people nooks, and young people are free to run the world at a brisk pace.

Now I'm not saying put old people in one of those crappy old people homes. No no no. Put them in the nice ones. Where they have activities. Colored walls. Pudding.

Put them in a nice place.

Because after all.

They deserve our respect.


And now for this week's:


The other day, my friend Kevin forwarded me this blog written by a guy in Colorado who was talking about a Taco Bell promotion that had to do with the performance of the state's professional sports teams. Evidently, every time the local team scored a certain amount of points, Taco Bell would offer a two-hour promotion the next day where you could buy up to four tacos for $1.

One time, the guy said, he hit up seven Taco Bells during the two-hour period, purchasing 28 tacos.

Personally, I think the guy is fat.

And single.

And collects comic books obsessively.

Just a guess.