Friday, October 30, 2009

The 'Evolution' Of Halloween Candy: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Shopping for Halloween candy has taken on a life of its own.

Back in my day...

(note: "Back in my day" is probably like 1990)

...there were the following main Halloween candy options (and I'm not counting candy corn):


---Milky Way

---That Hersheys miniature pack that consisted of little Hersheys, Krackel and that yellow-wrapped candy with nuts that no one liked.

---Almond Joy and Mounds (which, to me, is the same damn thing).

---And Three Musketeers.

That was it. That was essentially the extent of Halloween candy.

And you know what? We were happy. We were content with the limited choices of Halloween candy we had. Because damn it, it was Halloween candy!! It's like Thanksgiving turkey. It's never bad no matter who actually makes it or how many times it falls on the floor. We were just happy to have it.

It was a simpler time, back when kids were easier to please.

Today, in the 21st century, kids are spoiled. My sister Blake (who, by the way, forbids me from mentioning her in my blog without her permission. I don't have permission here, so I have to hope she actually means it when she says "No, I don't read your stupid blog") is a high school teacher in south Boston and thus has first-hand knowledge of how selfish kids have become. Kids today, she says, have more choices of main Halloween candy. Snickers now comes in several varieties, including peanut butter. Hersheys chocolate can now be white. Three Musketeers now features mint.

Mint!! WTF?

And because these kids are now given so many choices, they're more likely to lift their noses high in the air when you offer them candy from their bowl than they are to say "thank you". What the hell am I supposed to think when some snot-nosed 3 year old named Gus gives me a "you cheap bastard" look when I offer him a small box of Milk Duds?

F*****n Gus.

I'm not in favor of beating up little kids, so I'm just gonna hope the minty Musketeers bars gives him diabetes.

That's OK, right?

So today, as an adult, I have one of two choices: 1) Continue to give kids who come to my door on Halloween the stuff I got as a kid. Or 2) Give in and give the Guses of the world the fancy stuff.

I'm gonna give these kids the fancy stuff.

Because the world changes. And I can no longer live in my comfort zone. I can't fight what the world of Halloween candy has become. And if kids demand better, then I will give better.

Right after I scare them senseless with my Grim Reaper costume when I open the door.

Complete with plastic sickle.

That's something...that's timeless.


And now for this week's:


Iceland has said goodbye to McDonald's.

There's actually a place in this world with no McDonald's.

If that ain't an SOTS, I don't know what is.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wishing I Was A Bad Person: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Sometimes, I wish I was an asshole.

OK, let me clarify: There are times where I definitely am an ass. Just yesterday, for example, I had a horrible day at work that was preceded by another crappy day at work, and I found myself moody, irritable and -- worst of all to the loved ones around me -- more or less refusing to be consoled. I just wanted to be moody and irritable, crawl into bed, hide under the covers and disappear.

But in general, I'm considered to be a good person. I treat my friends and loved ones well, I listen, I don't break the rules, I don't have a criminal record, and I feel I'm considered by my friends to be someone they can rely on.

In short: I have "nice guy syndrome." :-)

But here's the problem: Like all people, we do bad things. It's inevitable. We're humans and we're not perfect people. But when a nice person -- someone not considered to be an ass in general -- does something bad, it goes over far worse than when someone considered to be an ass does the exact same thing.

For example:

Let's create a person who is a general ass -- let's call him Steve -- and he and his friend Linda have made plans to go to the movies on Friday night. Friday comes and Linda can't get a hold of Steve. He's not returning calls, texts e-mails or smoke signals. By this time, Linda's other friends have already made plans and her Friday night is ruined, because Steve has suddenly fallen off the face of the Earth.

The next day, Linda comes to find out that Steve didn't fall off the face of the Earth. Rather, his buddies asked him if he wanted to hit the bars with them, and he agreed, conveniently blowing off Linda, forgetting all about their plans, and not realizing his phone was buzzing when Linda was calling because he was drunk off his ass drinking Patron.

Now what do you think is Linda's reaction in this scenario? Is it:

a) Anger, frustration and utter disappointment because Steve just totally blew her off and didn't consider her feelings. Or

b) Just kind of shrugging her shoulders and brushing it off because, hey, Steve is Steve and that's how Steve is. He's an ass and we just have to accept that.

If you answer is "a", you're an idealist like I used to be. :-)

Amazingly, most reactions to this scenario are in the "b" category. Because people generally considered to be assholes have basically been given a pass by a number of their friends to be assholes because...well, they're assholes and that's just what assholes do.

Now, take the same scenario from earlier and put another person in the situation -- let's call him Nevin -- a nice guy, reliable, keeps his plans, calls if he's going to be a few minutes late because he values your time, etc. Let's say I blow off Linda without explanation and it turns out that I went to the bar, got drunk, and pretended I didn't hear my phone. You think that Linda is going to give me any sort of "asshole" or "well, Nev in general has always been a good guy so I'm gonna let it slide this time" kind of pass? Hell no!! She's going to scream and shout and be hurt and offended, not speak to me for weeks, and be chilly toward me for several weeks after despite my repeated apologies, completely ignoring all the times I've been there for her!!

Now let me ask you: Why is that?

Why do assholes get forgiven more easily than non-assholes? Is it because we're holding non-assholes to a higher standard? Don't non-assholes have a right to be flawed too? Why are suddenly all the good deeds done by the non-assholes erased in one fell swoop because he -- or she -- had one minor asshole moment.

And then there are the times when the asshole does something nice. And it's not even a big deal. It's something like handing someone a bottle of ketchup for their fries. Then the asshole is the greatest person to ever walk the Earth. Because we expected him to hog all the ketchup like he always done, but today he had an epiphany that -- hey -- maybe you'd like some too!!

You know?

What I'm saying is: Sometimes I envy the bad people.

They have it easy.

They're not expected to answer their phone.


Before I get to this week's Sign of the Apocalypse, I want to give a shout-out to longtime reader anothersuburbanmom, who has a very entertaining blog called Check it out!!

And now for this week's:


Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt recently fired his estranged wife Jamie McCourt as CEO of the team.

Somehow, I don't see "makeup sex" in their future.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Changing The Design Of Olympic Medals: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Let me ask you a question:

Do you think the recipe for ketchup should be changed?

Ketchup. It's a condiment. Made from tomatoes. Used for fries and another fatty fried-potato concoctions.

Ketchup, according to my good friends at Wikipedia, can trace its roots back to 1801, when it was made from tomatoes, walnuts and mushrooms. The modern version you've come to know and love came about around 1913.

My point is: Ketchup as we know it has been around for 96 years. It hasn't been changed because it doesn't need to be changed. It's ketchup!! It's perfect in its current form. And if you don't like ketchup, there's still no point in changing it because whatever it was changed to, you wouldn't eat it anyway!!

Here are some other things that they got right the first time:



Paper clips.

And Olympic medals.

The last of these, unfortunately, are undergoing a dramatic transformation. Beginning with the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Olympic medals are going to look badly formed radishes, with its curved shape and "I'm on acid"-like appearance.

The idea behind this, apparently, is to take into account the uniqueness of the Vancouver landscape, with its ocean waves, drifting snow and mountainous landscape. Additionally, every medal will be unique. Everyone who wins a medal in 2010 will have something that's one of a kind.

So essentially:

After 114 years, it was decided that the current shape and size of an Olympic medal -- you know, round -- was no longer good enough for the Olympic community at large. So they decided to add some curves to it because...

...well, I guess it beats making them square.

But we can't stop there. Each of the medals has a unique hand-cropped section of the abstract art, making every medal one of a kind. Because apparently, just winning an Olympic medal -- which, last I checked, wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do -- no longer carried the same weight. Now it's not enough to win a medal in 2010. My medal has to look different from the dude who won in the same medal in the same event in 1976.

I mean: C'mon.

What I'm saying is: Olympic medals are one of the things they got right the first time. They don't have to change it. A tweak here and there? Fine. Make the paint with less lead. Make the medal strap a little firmer. All acceptable things. But don't change it completely!! What the hell is wrong with you?!? While we're at it, let's add green to the American flag. Let's make the steering wheels on cars octagons. Let's dye salt purple.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Another thing that shouldn't be changed.


And now for this week's:


NBA legend Kareen Abdul-Jabbar was recently on an episode of celebrity Jeopardy and he was asked a question about a line in a movie that he delivered.

And he got it wrong!!

It's OK, Kareem. As a lifelong Laker fan, I still love you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

People Who Have 'Decorative' Towels: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Before I begin this week's blog, I'd like to be serious for a minute and talk about an organization that is aiming to help the people of the Philippines who were devastated by the recent Typhoon Ondoy.

HOPE worldwide
is an international charity that aims to change lives by harnessing the compassion and commitment of dedicated staff and volunteers to deliver sustainable, high-impact, community-based services to the poor and needy. A good friend of mine who has volunteered all over the world for Hope worldwide helped to build and work in an facility called the Center of HOPE Worldwide Orphanage in Manila. It is a treatment center for abused children in the Philippines, specializing in child sexual and physical abuse cases primarily. The center offers short-term and long-term residential care, treatment and placement, meeting the holistic needs of each child. The center has been completely flooded and destroyed, and they are working to take care of the people who were displaced as a result.

Here is a link to how you can make a donation to helping the victims of this terrible disaster reclaim their lives.

On a personal note: Like many of us, when I initially heard about the typhoon, I admittedly thought little of it. Was it sad to hear? Yes. But was I greatly affected in any way by the news? No. To be frank, I was pretty disconnected from the whole thing. When tragic events like this happen, most of us don't stop to realize just how much people's lives have been affected by this, because simply put we're not the ones being affected.

But when my friend told me about the orphanage in Manila, and that she knows of several people who have perished or are declared missing as a result of the typhoon, I began seeing things in a different light. And I began to think that in these times, we have to look beyond our little bubble. We have to see the world around us and help out -- all of us -- when others are in need.

In addition, a small donation really goes on a long way. Living in America, we don't see how far a little money can go. But in an impoverished nation, a $25 donation -- one donation!! -- can help feed a family for months. All of this -- individually -- can make a big difference with just a small effort.

So please click on the link above and make a donation. You will be changing a life for the better.

And now for the blog. :-)

I was at a party recently and I asked my buddy where the bathroom was. As he pointed down the hallway, I started to walk toward the area when my buddy gave me the following warning:

Oh hey, don't use the pink towels. They're for show.

Don't use the pink towels. They're for show.

Here's the thing: I'm a traditionalist. I don't believe in having items that are meant for regular use but don't get used because they look pretty. It doesn't work for me. A towel is meant to dry things: Your hands, dishes, the occasional spill. It's not meant as a decoration. They're towels, people!!

My buddy, to his credit, looked embarrassed. And I know why: This was his girlfriend's doing. See, at the risk of sounding sexist, this idea -- of not allowing people to use items that are meant to be used regularly because they fit within your home's color scheme and you don't want to mess it up -- is a female thing.

That's right: I said it.

I have never known a guy who said to me: "No Nevin!! Don't use that towel!! It's a display towel!! It's for aesthetic appeal!! What the hell's wrong with you?!?!" But women will say that. Not only that, but when they say it, it sounds strangely natural. And what happens when you actually use that towel? You'd have thought you had killed one of their beloved pets. They yell at you, throw things at you, chase after you with knives. You're no longer allowed in their home, your male friend gets denied sex by her every time he hangs out with you or even speaks about you, and the woman always refers to you as:

That dumb ass who f******* up my nice towels.

Growing up, my mom took this concept one step further. In the living room, we had a couch that we had purchased for several hundred dollars that had a prominent space in our living room. And we were never able to sit on it. I mean never. Guests couldn't even sit on it. It's a couch. It's meant to put your butt on. But my mom had a dream as a little girl of a pretty little living room with a big nice white couch, and she would be damned if her family was going to crush that dream.

I have a place of my own now. And I'm happy to say that I have a wife who is OK with using all of our towels. Also, I've yet to hear her say something about purchasing a non-usable couch.

But am I in the clear?

"Now Nev, we got these really nice plates as a wedding gift," she said recently. "They're really, really good quality.

"Never use them."

Guess not.


And now for this week's:


My buddy, cousin-in-law and podcast partner Mike recently told me about an Applebees commercial that said the following:

"Great news! Applebees appetizer and two entree's menu now has real food!"

Sources tell me they were also going to include the words "as opposed to the crap we normally serve" but it got left on the cutting room floor.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Laundry Machines And The Quarters They Demand: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

One of the final things Ramona and I did before we got married was create a joint account, with the short-term intent of a) paying for some of the wedding stuff, and the long-term intent of b) saving up to buy a house one day. A place of our own is something we're really hoping for, so we can have a backyard, pets, more room, a place for our future kids to call "the house we grew up in"...

...and our very own washer and dryer.

Our very own washer and dryer. Admittedly, until I moved into my own place a while back, I didn't realize what a luxury that was. See, like most boys, my mommy did my laundry growing up. :-) I lived in a house during most of my formative years (with a washer and dryer in tow) and even when I lived with my mom in an apartment for a few years, she continued to do the laundry so I never struggled much with the concept of having to share a common laundry room.

And then I got my own apartment and the pain became my own.

Let's start with quarters. Every time you're ready to do the laundry, you realize that all the quarters have somehow mysteriously fallen off the face of the Earth because they are nowhere to be found. Prior to your search for these coins, you have an ambitious goal of doing two loads each of washing and drying.

The cost: 20 quarters.

But early in your search, you realize that finding 20 quarters may be problematic, so you say to yourself: "Well, I really can get away with one load of drying." So now you only have to find 15 quarters.

Midway through your search, when you've found only two quarters and are starting to look underneath cushions, you decide that one load of wash and drying will have to do because the search for money has really gotten annoying and you're now willing to take the risk of jamming every article of clothing into one machine and hoping it doesn't overflow.

So now you're down to having to find 10 quarters.

And then, after 90 minutes of futilely searching and coming to the conclusion that the quarters are probably hiding in a dark corner of the closet, mocking you for not being able to find them, you say to yourself: "Screw it, I'll do one load of wash, I'll dry the clothes out on my dust-infested patio (because I haven't swept in four years) and the rest of the clothes will remain in a dirty pile in the bedroom that I hope against hope will miraculously clean themselves."

Even then, you're sometimes short 1-2 quarters and you find yourself staring at the laundry machine longingly, wishing that it took dimes.

Ya know?

And then there's actually being able to use the machines. There's nothing like finding the quarters you need, packing up your dirty clothes and detergent, marching triumphantly down to the laundry room, only to find out that all the machines are in use.

It's a chess game, really, trying to figure out when the machines will be free. Sundays are definitely out; that's the universal laundry day. Saturdays are off-limits too, because that day gets a "Oh man I better do my laundry today because on Sunday it will be a madhouse" traffic. Mondays suck because it's the day that everyone who didn't do their laundry on Saturday or Sunday do their laundry. Fridays are bad because you find yourself being more willing to put a loaded pistol next to your head than to start the weekend doing laundry. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, all the good TV shows are on. And on Thursday, you're so excited that you only have one day left in the work week that you don't want to lose your euphoria by whipping out the Tide.

So if you're like me, you put off doing laundry until you find yourself completely out of socks, down to one pair of surfboard boxers, and are seriously pondering whether you can get away with wearing your high school gym shorts to work the next day because that's the only thing you have left that's clean.

And then, and only then, do you do the laundry.

At 3 a.m. on a random Tuesday.

Because that's the only time the machines are free.

So when Ramona and I eventually get a house, I plan to celebrate with a nice dinner, a bottle of chilled Diet Dr. Pepper, and a basket full of laundry that will keep me in bleach until the sun comes up.

I can't think of a more beautiful, happy image.


And now for this week's:


A friend of mine recently sent me this video link about a school answering machine in Australia. It's hysterical and, one way or another, will change the face of public education as we know it. :-)