Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Diet Soda-Holic And His Phantom Chest Pains: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

(Nevdogg Note: A version of this blog was originally posted for my company's Web site, Industry Intelligence Inc. Check out the site here.)

I love diet soda. In fact, I’m a borderline diet pop addict. I drink the stuff constantly, I routinely have a two-liter bottle at my desk, and if you look at my grocery cart, you’re liable to see more diet carbonation than actual food.

You must understand: I have a certain connection to the diet fizzy beverage. As a kid, I was always heavy, to the point where I got to be around 200 pounds by age 15 (all of it goo). When I took it upon myself to diet and exercise, diet soda became one of the key staples in my weight-loss plan. Coke with my burger and fries turned into Diet Coke with my Lean Cuisine, and when I look back on those five months in which I lost 60 pounds and became a diet-and-exercise fiend, diet soda is remembered fondly for having a prominent role in my transformation.

So when a study came out recently by the American Stroke Association that drinking diet soda daily is linked to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and vascular-related deaths, needless to say I put my hand over my heart to see if I was having any chest pains.

I mean, in those few brief moments when my co-workers came to me and said “Hey Nev, read this! All of that diet soda you’ve been guzzling is gonna kill you! Wanna write a blog?” I was having severe, severe panic, and I raced to find the study and read more for myself.

According to this study, those who drink diet soda – not regular, mind you, but diet -- have a much higher risk of vascular events compared to those who don’t drink soda.

In findings involving 2,564 people in the large, multi-ethnic Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), scientists said people who drank diet soda every day had a 61 percent higher risk of vascular events than those who reported no soda drinking.

And for a brief moment, it was official: I was going to die.

But just as my random chest pains were returning, thankfully the good people at the American Beverage Association calmed my nerves (God bless special interest groups). In a statement issued by the ABA, Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy said there is no firm evidence of the ASA’s claim and that it wasn’t factoring in two key variables: Family history of stroke and weight gain.

In fact, Storey said, there is scientific evidence showing that diet soft drinks can be a useful weight-loss and weight-maintaining management tool.

And just like that, my world was right side up again. My phantom chest pains were gone.

Here’s the thing: When it comes to diet soda drinkers like me, ignorance is bliss. Whenever a study like the ASA’s comes out, we immediately seek out someone or some group to refute the evidence. This way, we can go back to our happy little vice without guilt or fear of death. We can continue to delude ourselves into thinking that we not only are not harming our bodies, but actually helping them because we’re consuming something with “diet” in the title.

Whether the ASA’s findings are accurate, or whether the ABA’s statement is truthful or laced with its own interest, it’s irrelevant. Others like myself will continue to drink diet soda by the gallon, and we will make no lifestyle change whatsoever no matter what kind of studies come out.

(Note: Only water was consumed in the writing of this blog.)


And now for this week's:


Troubled Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan was told by a judge that she will not escape prison even if she strikes a plea deal in the case of grand theft against her, in a court hearing here today. The Mean Girls star has been given until March 10 to decide if she will accept a plea deal or go to trial, reported Los Angeles Times online.

The actress appeared in court today for a hearing on a felony charge over a $2,500 necklace which she allegedly stole from a Venice jewellery shop last month.

Am I the only one out there who's thinking:

I wish Lindsay would just OD already.

Am I? I doubt it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moving Furniture: The Achilles Heel of Jews Like Me: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

I'm Jewish. And because I'm Jewish, I consider myself to be a good authority on what Jews are known for.

Jews are known for three main things:

1) Saving money.

2) Cooking (OK, technically my cooking doesn't extend beyond a microwave, but I make a mean melted cheese quesadilla.)

And 3) Being diehard Dodgers and/or Mets fans.

(Seriously, have you ever met a Jewish person who cheered for a baseball team other than the Dodgers or Mets? Think about it. You'll find that you've never met one. That Jew doesn't exist).

But one thing Jews are not good at:

Moving furniture.

When it comes to moving furniture -- whether you yourself are moving for one place to another, or helping a friend move, or being given a piece of furniture by someone to take back to your place -- Jews simply don't do it themselves. It's not in our DNA.

Please don't misunderstand. It's not that we look down upon it. That's not the case at all. We feel it's a honorable skill and trade. But it's simply something that we hate to do. I mean, we're not lifters of heavy things. We prefer to pay to have somebody do that for us.

And I think that's noble. Especially given the state of today's economy. :-)

As I write this blog, I am currently looking at these beautiful bookshelves in my living room, a generous gift from family members who previously had them in their home. But to get them here, they had to be moved. And though I'm not a mover by trade, my father-in-law Jim is. And he had me help him get these bookshelves from Pacific Palisades over to my San Fernando Valley home.

Now this experience -- which actually spread across over two weekends because we realized after the first weekend that there was no way in hell we could fit all four bookcases into the car -- had plenty of blog-worthy moments, especially given the fact that the bookshelves' previous home in the Palisades had two wrap-around staircases that we had to get them down from. But in the interest of time and space, here were the three main moments:

1) The vacant glaze.

God bless Jim. He's really trying to teach me these things. But learning has been slow. I mean, the whole concept of moving things myself is just foreign to me. So every time Jim asked me something or asked my opinion about this task, I answered with a vacant glaze.

"Nev, how do you think we can get these bookshelves down the stairs?"

Vacant glaze.

"Nev, do you want to trying unscrewing these bolts from the wall?"

Vacant glaze.

"Nev, what's the best way to get these bookshelves into your house?"

Vacant glaze.

That's why Jews pay people to do these things. All these questions...

2) Lack of help among my fellow Jewish brethren.

While moving these bookshelves, my cousin-in-law (and podcast partner) Mike was also there, packing up some stuff in the kitchen. Lucky bastard; the heaviest things he had to lift was spatulas. At one point, midway through this ordeal, he and I locked eyes for a brief moment and I mouthed to him the following words:

"Help me, please."

He responded by bolting the other way.

I couldn't blame him. I'd of done the same.

Moving heavy furniture: Simply not in the Jewish DNA.

And 3) The U-Haul.

U-Hauls are just foreign to me. I mean, they're borderline creepy. They're dark and gray and drab and the seats are rock-hard. We used a U-Haul to move the remaining bookshelves to my house and I swear these vehicles haven't been replaced since the 1970s. I sit in a U-Haul and I get all clammy. Like I'm truly out my element.

Plus, every time I'm driving in one, I feel like I'm sneaking Mexicans in across the border.

That's right, I said it. Don't tell me you haven't had the same thoughts driving a U-Haul.

In the end, moving furniture is a noble skill. Kudos to all that do it. And just a friendly reminder to all my friends: If you ever need help moving, I'll gladly assist.

I'll give you the phone number of a great moving company.


And now for this week's:


Monopoly is going paperless and cardless

That's just wrong. Nothing's cooler than Monopoly money.

Especially when you steal it when no one's looking.

We used to call that "Valley Rules." :-)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Bane Of All Male Existence: Valentine's Day: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Nevdogg Note: One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was about how men hated Valentine's Day. And with the "holiday" two days away, I thought I would repost my Valentine's Day blog from 2008, since my feelings haven't changed. For my new readers, enjoy. For my original readers, enjoy this trip down memory lane.

This Monday marks one of the most painful days of the year in the life of the non-single man. It's a day we dread, a day we fear, a day that makes us sag our shoulders at the mere thought.

They call this horror of horrors: Valentine's Day.

Now, all the men reading this know exactly where I'm coming from, nodding and thinking, "Amen, my brother. The truth must finally be told." So it's to you, female audience of Nevin's blogs, that I'm speaking to today.

If a man has a girlfriend, fiancee or wife, he despises Valentine's Day. Why?

1) Money. When Valentine's Day is over, the man's wallet is going to be a couple of hundred dollars less (and that's IF the woman in question is easy to please). Flowers, candy, dinner...everything is jacked up price-wise on this Hallmark-created holiday. And businesses know that a man can't skimp on the festivities, lest he do so at his own peril.

I once suggested to a former girlfriend that we go to Dennys on Feb. 14 and that she pretend to be 56 in order to get the senior citizen price on the pancakes.

The idea didn't fly.

So businesses charge their exorbitant fees on Valentine's Day and laugh to themselves, knowing that they've got us by the testicles.

2) Pressure. Here's an interesting observation I've made over the last several Valentine's Days. Giving in and paying $50 for $10 roses is no longer good enough. Today's women want something different, special, something that sets them apart from their girlfriends. It's like the man is caught in the middle of a female pissing contest.

So not only does the man have to shell out a lot of money, but now he's expected to put in some thought? What are we supposed to do? Learn the guitar and write you a love song? Take you to the circus and arrange to be shot out of a cannon while we scream "I love you" as we go soaring over the horizon? Buy you a car?

Money and thought? C'mon!!

3) It's not fair. I saw a jewelry commercial the other day with the tagline, "This Valentine's Day, show her how much you care." Well, where's the "show him" commercials? When was it decided that Valentine's Day was only about one gender? When did men get left out in the cold? Do we not have some sort of role in the whole "couples" concept?

All I want is for there to be a commercial for me. How about: "On Valentine's Day, show him you care: Madden 2011 for the Playstation 3."

Is that too much to ask?

So, non-single ladies, I'd like to end with this:

If on Valentine's Day, your man did not step up to your expectations, remember: It's not that he doesn't love you...'s that he can't afford you.


And now for this week's:


Lindsay Lohan may be headed to jail again.

Shock of shocks.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Yearly Rant On The De-Evolution Of Super Bowl Parties: A Nevin Barich Blog Exeperience

Nevdogg Note: Three years ago, I wrote a blog talking about how Super Bowl parties had devolved into a mess of people who don't even like football getting together to eat healthy, organic food. A sickening trend indeed. Because the Super Bowl is this Sunday and because my opinion hasn't changed in three years, I decided to repost my 2008 blog on the subject. Enjoy, and please: If you're at a Super Bowl party and don't like football or potato chips, be silent. Because believe me, no one who is into the game wants to hear what you have to say. :-)

When I was growing up, we watched the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday.

Let me say that again.

When I was growing up, we watched the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday.

As in, we watched the game. We had a vested interest in the outcome. We knew what was going on. We knew which teams were actually playing.

Many of you (myself included) will be going to a Super Bowl party this Sunday. I was speaking to several of my co-workers recently, and here were some of their Super Bowl comments:

I don't even like football that much.

I'm just going for the commercials.

Who is playing again?

I'm making hummus!!

My point is: Somewhere along the line, the dynamics of Super Bowl parties changed. It no longer became about the game. It was about being trendy, with it, a part of the scene.

When you go to your event on Sunday, 90% of the people present will be there simply because "it's the thing to do." And the 10% who actually want to focus on the game will be forced to listen to things like, "Why are they wearing red uniforms? It clashes with their helmets."

And let me say something about the food.

When I was a kid, Super Bowl parties consisted of three things:




Simple. Direct. Manly.

With today's Super Bowl parties, it's like being on an episode of Iron Chef. Homemade brownies. Sweet and sour chicken. Chex.

(Freakin' Chex.)

And no more Pepsi, folks. Because God forbid we should have regular soda and all those empty calories. Diet Pepsi is now the beverage of choice.

And pizza?

"Oh God, that's so 1980s!!" I heard someone recently declare.

And then there's my personal favorite:

The veggie tray.

Because at one point, some patrons of these parties who had never seen a football in their lives were aghast that there were no healthy vegetables at these things and bitched and moaned until someone raced out to the market and got a veggie tray just to shut them up.

And because of that, veggie trays and the Super Bowl are now linked. For better or worse.

I was asked to bring a veggie tray one year.

The cost: $10.

$10 for a couple of carrots and a teensy bit of special "veggie dip" that'

Oh well.

At least veggie trays are American.

Unlike hummus.


And now for this week's:


Justin Bieber has a new bio-documentary coming out in theaters called "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never."

About a boy and his dreams.

In 3D.