Saturday, May 29, 2010

Moving Into My New Home: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

As I write this blog, I'm lying on my stomach in my new living room, a bunch of boxes -- empty and filled -- behind me, grassy areas beyond the doors to the left and right of me, and surrounded by more space than I currently know what to do with.

Yep, that's right: Earlier today, I moved into my new house.


I know that since my wife Ramona and I found out our offer for our first home got accepted last month, I've written several blogs about my new digs. But please indulge me for one more. I mean, this is the big one. I'm here. I've moved. The packing is over. The unpacking can begin. This very well may be my place of residence for the next 60 years. And with medical technology advancing every day, that number can easily grow to 70 or 80.

I've already picked out which tree out front I want to be buried under.

And as my first day in my new house comes to an end, I've learned three things:

1) Hiring movers is the way to go.

If you're one of these people who say, "I can move myself. I don't need to hire anyone to do it for me," I have one thing to say to you:

You're a imbecile.

Why the hell would you want to do all the heavy lifting yourself, renting the truck, getting the equipment, loading and unloading everything, returning the truck, then going back to your new place and unpack, when you can simply hire professional movers to do the work for you? They have the truck, the equipment, they know what they're doing, they'll move whatever you want, and they're very quick because they have other jobs to get to.

In short, it's easily worth the few bucks you spend.

The guys we used today showed up on time, packed up our apartment and dropped off the stuff at our house, all within two hours. By late morning, we were already unpacking boxes and my back didn't hurt because I paid guys to do the heavy lifting for me.

Now I know what you "do it yourself movers" are thinking:

I get my friends to help me.

I got news for you, kids: No friend of anybody's wants to help another friend move. Ever. It is the single worst thing you can ask someone to do. It's boring, it's painful, it always involves stairs, and the promise of pizza and beer a) don't make up for it, and b) become irrelevant because the pizza and beer don't arrive until after the move is over, and by that time your "friends" want to get the hell out of there because they can no longer stand the sight of you because you made them so miserable.

Just sayin'.

2) Having my own washer and dryer is the coolest thing since the return of Jay Leno to The Tonight Show.

I've been in an apartment for the past 4 1/2-plus years, and in that time I've had to learn to deal with sharing laundry machines with over 100 people in one building and finding enough quarters to do the laundry in the first place. But today, I found myself having my own washer and dryer, and the result was me doing 6 loads of laundry while skipping and dancing the entire time.

I washed everything: Clothes, sheets, mats. I even wanted to wash some stuffed animals just because I now had the power to do so (Ramona said no). There's nothing like leaving your stuff in the dryer for a long period of time following completion and not having to worry about some stranger stealing your boxer shorts.

Just sayin'.

And 3) My wife is a psycho.

I love Ramona. I really do. Marriage rocks, it was the best decision I ever made. But that doesn't change the fact that the purchase of our home has made her, on some levels, a lunatic.

Case in point:

Yesterday, during one of my half-dozen trips to the house to drop stuff off in anticipation of the next day's big move, I walked in to see Ramona and my mother-in-law spreading incense smoke all over the house, one room at a time.

"It's a Native American ritual called smudging," Ramona said. "It's to ward off all the bad spirits of our house."

Bad spirits?

"Yeah. The vibe in here was just really icky and eerie, and it was because there were bad spirits left by the previous owners. This incense will help."


So I watched for a bit. And in an eight-minute time span, I watched Ramona and her mom smoke up the bathroom, nearly set a door on fire, and set off the smoke alarm three times.

No, I'm not exaggerating.

Three times.

After this, I thought hippy time was over. But no, Ramona said. First, she had to take the incense residual and put it with the earth...

(nope, not kidding)

...and then...

"Next, we're going to light some sweetgrass," Ramona said.


"It's for positive energy."


She asked if I wanted to participate.

I declined.

One psycho in the relationship is enough.

Just sayin'.


And now for this week's:


This is quite honestly one of the most disturbing stories I have ever read.

A 2-year-old boy in Indonesia is addicted to cigarettes after his dad gave him his first one at 18 months. Now the boy, who is grossly overweight and doesn't have the energy to play with other kids, smokes 40 cigarettes a day.

His mom was quoted as saying: "He's totally addicted. If he doesn't get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick."

The father, meanwhile, had a different answer: "He looks pretty healthy to me. I don't see the problem."

I only see one problem: The fact that you still don't need a license to become a parent. Because of that, idiots like this guy are allowed to procreate.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Art Of Throwing Stuff Away: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

My wife Ramona and I are scheduled to move into our new home next Saturday, which means packing up our belongings are well underway. Like most men, I'm bad at packing. I really am. I don't know how to separate things, and boxes utterly confuse me. Where does one buy boxes? How the hell do you put these things together? What size should I buy?

Plus, there's tape involved. And that's never pretty.

However, like most men, I'm an expert at throwing stuff away.

Throwing stuff away: No one does this better than men. Let me ask you: Have you ever met a trashwoman? No. Why? All trash collectors are men. It's in our DNA. So when it comes to tossing stuff out of here, my skills are top notch.

Ramona is out of town this weekend for work, which is good because when it comes to throwing stuff away, she has to analyze every single piece of "potential throw away" material. This takes forever. But since she's gone, I'm free to handle the throw-away trash task in a 10th of the time using the following "throwing trash away" rules of men:

1) If it's dusty, throw it away.

If there's dust on it, that means it's been there a long time. Which means it's unimportant. Which means it's got to go.

2) If it's not yours, throw it away.

Ladies: If your man goes on a "trash tossing" spree and you don't want your stuff in the dumpster, do yourself a favor: Hide it from sight. If it's on the ground, it's fair game.

You may be asking yourself:

"Why can't he just ask me if I should throw it away?"

Because a) That takes too long, and b) we're afraid you'll say no, and that will interrupt our momentum.

3) Don't get attached to anything.

Men are really good at detaching themselves from their feelings. So it's really easy for us to toss things without getting too sentimental. Our thinking is: It will leave us more room for all-new crap that we'll eventually toss.

And that makes us happy.

And 4) Don't waste time giving the stuff away to charity.

Here's a fact that men embrace and women don't want to admit:

Giving stuff away is a pain in the ass.

That's right, I said it. And you know what? You're thinking it.

If you're doing a whole "throwing stuff away" spree, you don't want to lug all that crap down to Goodwill. You know how long it would take to load the car? Know how many trips it would take to get everything down there? And that's not even taking into account the fact that you have to take the stuff to the car in the first place!!

I'm just saying what you're thinking, folks.

Now, some folks will say:

"Nev, some charities will pick the stuff up."

But then I got all these bags all around the house. And that's clutter.

Plus, it takes too long.

Screws up my momentum.

Anyways, for those of you calling me a selfish, heartless bastard right about now, consider this:

When I was throwing stuff away today, I came across a pile of Ramona's clothes.

Most husbands would throw the clothes away.

But I threw it all in a storage bin, so Ramona can go through it later.

I'm one of the good ones, folks.

I'm considered enlightened.

Scary, huh?


And now for this week's:


Bristol Palin, the 19-year-old daughter of former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate (and MILF) Sarah Palin, is hitting the speakers' circuit and will command between $15,000 and $30,000 per appearance.

The younger Palin, who got pregnant at 17 and later had a kid, will be speaking about the challenges of being a teen mother. OK, that's fine (not "$30,000 fine" but at least it's a topic she can speak to) but other topics include: Abstinence (Uh, yeah it's a little late, sweetie) and her outlook on life.

I mean...c'mon.

I can speak well about wearing holes with socks in them.

That's gotta be worth $4,000 a pop, doesn't it?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Taking My Friends' Teenage Daughter To The Movies: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

I wouldn't say that I'm a crazy fan of horror movies, but I enjoy your classic Jason and Freddy Kruger movies. So when my friends Kevin and Amber asked if I would be interested in taking their daughter Bailey to see the new "Nightmare On Elm Street" movie, I happily jumped at the chance.

But then I realized something:

Bailey is 14. I am 30.

And this would be the first time I would be hanging out solo with a teenager since I went into the 30s realm.

And admittedly, I was a little fearful. Why? Consider this:

Bailey's parents aren't much older than I am. And, I figured, Bailey finds her parents to be uncool and older than dirt. Now, are they uncool and older than dirt? Of course not!! But they are her parents, and thus they are automatically given the "uncool" and "older than dirt" titles by their teenage daughter. It's just the way it is.

So because I'm not much younger than her parents, I feared that I too would be given the "uncool" and "older than dirt" labels. After all, it would be easy for Bailey to view me as "this uncool, older-than-dirt friend of my folks who I'm forced to hang with on a Friday night because the movie is Rated R and I need him to buy my ticket instead of hanging with my friends who won't embarrass me in public."

Buying the tickets only elevated these fears. If you're 30 or older and want to feel like you should be called "Pops", head on over to one of the AMC Theaters in Burbank, California. The median age is 16 and believe me when I tell you that you stand out like a freak if you're wearing a collared shirt and Dockers.

I felt older than dirt and uncool. Hell, I wasn't even cool when I was 20. Today at 30, I get called "dork" at least six times a day. How the hell would I be able to be anything less than a complete embarrassment to a 14-year-old girl for a couple of hours?

But luckily, however, experience kicked in.

For one thing, when I picked up Bailey at her folks, I realized that something about teenagers hadn't changed: If you're 30 or older, they won't speak unless spoken to. And honestly, when we began our drive to the theaters in absolute silence, this calmed my nerves. It made me remember that teenagers hadn't really changed all that much from when I was a teen -- hell, at age 14, I said about 7 words a week to my parents -- and the quiet time helped me to form a game plan.

And here was my game plan:

I was not going to ask Bailey the following questions:

1) "How's school?"

You'll get a one-word answer.


2) "Are you dating yet?"

You'll either get a giggle (if you're lucky), a "No" or she'll roll your eyes and begin wondering how dangerous it would be to jump out of a moving car just to get away from this conversation.

And 3) "What do you kids do for fun nowadays?"

Hands down the worst question you can possibly ask. Not only will you not get an answer -- teenagers don't do anything. They're teenagers. -- but she will spend the rest of the night 30 feet ahead of you or behind you just to make it seem like she doesn't know you.

So instead, I decided to stick with the fundamentals. I would only talk about things I know she'd be interested in. Which is why, over the course of the evening we talked about:

1) Cheerleading.

Bailey just made the cheerleading squad, and so we spent 15 minutes discussing handstands, thigh stands, stunts (I had no idea what a stunt was, but I couldn't risk breaking my momentum), cheerleading camp at UCLA, the excitement of high school football, and the fact that no one comes to the freshman games.

"It sucks that no one comes to the freshman games," Bailey said.

"Yeah, that does suck, huh?" I replied.



You hear that, people? A bond is being formed. :-)

2) How Her Parents Are Utter Embarrassments To Her

This topic of conversation, admittedly, was very dicey. At one point, Bailey brought up the fact that she avoided her parents as much as possible on weekends (as teenagers do regardless of what her parents are like). Now herein lied my difficulty: On one hand, I wanted to defend her parents. I mean, they're dear friends of mine. Hell, I've known my dad for 11 years; he was best man at my wedding, for God's sake!! On the other hand, doing so would've killed any clout I had gotten over the previous cheerleading conversation.

So I did the only thing I could do.

"Did you know your dad and I went to Vegas one time, and he blew all his money in seven minutes?" I said.

And I immediately had Bailey hooked.

Telling a story about her dad that would make him seem cooler in his daughter's eyes. Really, it was the only play here. As Bailey hung on my every word, I told the 2001 tale about how her dad and I rolled into Vegas at 4:23 p.m. one afternoon, hit the roulette table, and he was flat broke by 4:30. Luckily, I was a winner and we were thus able to buy Pop Tarts and gas.

"He did that?" Bailey asked, astounded. "I can't believe it!! It doesn't sound like him at all!!"

"Oh Bailey," I replied, "the stories I could tell you."

And then I paused.

And therein lies the genius of this plan. Only one "mildly embarrassing/cool story that won't really affect his ability to parent his daughter" need be told. You see, Bailey wanted to hear more. You could see it in her eyes. But in order to hear more, she would've had to actually ask a question. And that's just it: She'll never ask. Teenagers won't ever ask people 30 or older actual questions. It's not in their DNA. So all it took was one story. And for the next couple of hours, Bailey's dad was no longer as much an embarrassment to her as previously thought.

What more can a father ask?

And 3) Justin Bieber.

I'll be honest: I have no clue how this ever became a topic of conversation. Nonetheless, when it did, I had to be a participant. And as such, there was only one question I could ask:

Where the hell did this kid come from?

See, if you're age 18 or older, Justin Bieber just appeared one day out of thin air. No one my age has any clue who he is, what he does, or whether he actually exists. He's just a name you suddenly started hearing all over the place.

Luckily, because Bailey is a 14-year-old girl, she's a fan of little Justin by default. So she filled me in:



So overall, after what was surprisingly a really good movie, we got back in my car so I could take Bailey home. I had done very well to this point of not embarrassing myself, but I had one more trick up my sleeve to ensure I was over the hump.

"Hey Bailey," I asked, "do you like the show 'Glee?'''

"I love Glee!!" she replied.

And I pressed my CD player.

And Glee songs filled the car.

"Oh my gosh, you have the soundtrack!! That's so cool!!" she said.


I'm still "so cool."


And now for this week's:


Did you know that there are professional Rock-Paper-Scissors tournaments?

Yes, they do exist.

Not only do they exist, but those who participate in them have the following philosophical discussions:

Does Rock "smash" Scissors or merely "blunt" them?

Can a pair of scissors really cut an entire piece of paper with one snip or should, in fact, it take two wins by Scissors to defeat Paper?

Should prosthetic arms be allowed? (World RPS Society president Doug Walker says no. "It opens the possibility for infrared technology to send signals to the arm to instantly fire a throw a millisecond before it hits, giving it an unfair advantage," he once wrote.)



Read more about this here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The "OH MY GOD!!! I OWN A HOUSE!!! WHAT THE $%$#%@&% HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO" Moment: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

It finally hit me yesterday.

I own a home.

Yesterday, my wife Ramona and I officially got the keys to our new house, after a month of Ramona handling the inspections, documents, down payment arrangements, and in general making sure we weren't getting screwed over on anything.

My contribution during this process was mostly nodded and agreeing on everything she did and said.

So by the time we were actually handed the keys yesterday, Ramona had plenty of time to process the fact that, yes, we are indeed buying something with a roof. But I, playing catchup, didn't really come to this revelation until yesterday.

And here's the funny thing:

My "OH MY GOD!!! I OWN A HOME!!! WHAT THE %$#%$#@& AM I GETTING MYSELF INTO?!?!" moment didn't occur when we wrote the first deposit check. It didn't occur as we went through escrow. It didn't occur as we signed the loan documents (which, contrary to popular belief, is not that bad of a process). It didn't even occur when Ramona and I walked to the bank to take almost everything out of our joint account to pay the rest of the down payment, with her declaring loudly to the bank teller and any robbers and muggers nearby that "WE HAVE A LARGE SUM OF MONEY TO TAKE OUT TODAY!!!!"

No, my OMG moment occurred when I walked into my -- my -- backyard and realized something:

I'm gonna have to water these flowers.

And despite the fact that it was 85 degrees outside, I suddenly got very, very cold.

I realized that these plants were my responsibility. Then I realized that so was the fence, walls, living room, garage, walls, kitchen, appliances, front yard, bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, and the washer and dryer. It was all on my shoulders now; no parents or landlord to rely on.

And my sudden fears and anxieties over this manifested in my new backyard.

"When should I water the plants? How do I use the misting water things? What about this drip-sprinkler system I heard about? How often do I water? Are those flowers dying? What are river rocks? We have a tool shed? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?" I asked Ramona in about a four-second span.

Understand this: I haven't had a backyard in quite a while. It's practically foreign to me. And when I did have one, gardeners did the work. I didn't -- and don't -- have the first damn clue on how to proceed.

And thus, I did the following:

Turned on my new hose.

Sprayed the plants with water.

Spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn off the hose.

Tried the water misting system.

Flipped out about now knowing how long I should let the plants be misted.

Turned off the mist.

Went back inside.

Stared at my living room ceiling.

Lied down on my living room floor.

Stared at my ceiling some more.

Went back outside.

Turned on the mist again.

Turned off the mist.

Went back inside.

And afterwards: My path was clear.

Monday morning...

...I'm calling a gardener.


And now for this week's:


Kim Kardashian is "proud to rock the mom jeans."

You can read a whole article about it here.

Yes, please do. Please read an article about Kim and her mom jeans.

Because, you know, it's not like there aren't other pressing issues in the world that should take up our time, focus and concern.

Kim and her mom jeans. That's what counts.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Paying The "Marriage Penalty": A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

When I got married, I assumed I was going to get some breaks on my taxes. After all, my entire life I've been told that being married entitles you to more money from Uncle Sam.

Apparently, I've been lied to.

My wife Ramona has been working with our tax guy this week, and he informed us that we're going to be hit with a "marriage penalty."

Apparently, the United States of America does give married couples a tax break...but only if one of the people in the marriage is working.

In other words: U.S. tax law hasn't stepped into the 21st century -- hell, it hasn't stepped into the mid-1970s -- by realizing that these days, both spouses work in most married homes.

In addition, apparently Ramona and I now make too much money -- well, maybe our lifestyle really is too lavish. I mean, a 1-bedroom apartment in California's San Fernando Valley and eating regularly off of fast food value menus does scream "affluence." So now we're in a higher tax bracket.

So in other words:

We're being punished because a) I'm OK with my wife working. And b) We've actually managed to achieve some moderate financial success in our careers after working our butts off for several years.

You want to know why the divorce rate in this country is so high today?


That's right, I've discovered the problem. More than 50% of marriages -- the ones that fail -- actually are hummin' along quite well till tax season comes. Then when they find out that they would've had more money if they stayed single, the married couple starts to look upon one another as a liability.

And that's where the fights about money, lack of listening, and bad sex lives begin.

It all starts with taxes.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that when one of these spouses cheats on the other, the other spouse is happy. Seriously. I can just picture it in my head: The wife walking into the bedroom, seeing her husband with another woman, her looking at the two of them for a minute, and exclaiming:

Great!! Now I can get another $500 from the state!!

In the end, I will pay my extra taxes. And I would never even dream of divorcing my lovely wife.

But the next time Ramona gets mad at me for something, I'm going to tell her:

Hey I'm losing money on this deal, you know!!

Not sure how she's gonna take that.


And now for this week's:


Recently in a European basketball game, a team makes a jumper in the closing seconds of a close game and celebrates in the middle of the court, with fans and coaches alike running onto the floor and going crazy.

Just one problem:

There was 0.6 seconds left on the clock.

And in the middle of this celebration, the other team throws up a half-court shot, makes it, and wins the game.

One of the most surreal sports moments I've ever seen. View the video here.