Saturday, March 26, 2011

Going Into A Bank: Like Walking Into A Car Dealership And A Casino All In One: 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’m a traditionalist: When I have a check to deposit, I walk into the bank and have one of the tellers do it. It just seems weird to me to put an envelope into the ATM machine. Or to have my check deposited via an iPhone app. That’s just odd.

But here’s the problem:

These days when I walk into my local Chase bank, I’m immediately bombarded by one or more of the bank’s investor or portfolio experts, asking me if I’ve started planning yet for my retirement or pushing the latest CD plan on me.

And then when I actually get to the teller, they’re asking me if I want to sign up for a credit card and why wouldn’t I want an extra credit card and “We’re essentially not going to let you step one foot out of this place unless you sign up for our credit card with a crazy interest rate that you’ll be hit with the second you don’t pay your entire bill on time.”

Look, I understand that banks – like any other business establishment – need to adjust during these troubled times. But these days, I feel like I’m walking into both a car dealership and a casino all rolled into one. They’ll do and say anything to part me with my money.

And don’t even get me started about overdraft fees.

Nothing like accidentally going 8 cents over your balance and being charged $75 by the bank to cover it.

But always with a smile on their face, I’m sure.


And now for this week's:


Lindsay Lohan wants to just be known as "Lindsay."

Thus becoming the first white woman since Cher and Wynonna to just go by her first name.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Watching A Friend Pop His March Madness Cherry: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

Fair warning: If you don't like sports, you won't like this week's blog. You'll be bored, roll your eyes, sigh a lot, and that's before you get to paragraph 3. Just stop reading and come back next week.

Still with me? Cool. :-)

For those of you who were born yesterday, this week was the beginning of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, where 68 of the top college basketball teams in the nation compete in a single-elimination tournament and people like me fill out brackets trying to figure out who is going to win each game, following the games online at work, watching nothing but basketball at home, ignoring our friends, loved ones and co-workers for three weeks, etc.

Three years ago, I took my readers through the craziness of following the first two days of March Madness. Two years ago, I wrote about how my alma mater, Cal State Northridge, made the tournament, almost pulled off a gigantic upset, and how I almost had three massive coronaries from the excitement. Last year, I focused on how I was doing so many brackets that one pool I was in considered implementing "The Barich Rule" and limiting the number of brackets a person could do.

(By the way: "The Barich Rule" was not implemented this year. Thank you, Josh Kleinbaum.)

This year, I want to talk about my friend Fawzi.

Fawzi is like many people in this world: Not much of a college basketball fan. To be honest, few people no longer in college -- even if they're big sports nuts (like Fawzi is) -- really are. Once you get out of college, you stop following college basketball as closely, but the experience of college and the element of college basketball go hand in hand. Once one is gone, the other can't sustain.

But that's what makes March Madness so brilliant. You see, you don't need to be a huge college basketball fan to enjoy it. That's what a lot of folks don't understand. Many people who enter tourney pools are not college basketball fans. It's not about the love of college hoops. It's about playing with your friends, trying to pick some winners, and seeing if you can actually perform well without knowing what the hell it is you're doing.

And that's the beauty of it: That's possible! It can be so difficult to predict who wins each game that even "experts" don't know what they're doing half the time. You can get lucky, pick something random, and win money!

And when you factor all of that in, here's what happens:

You become obsessed.

Within minutes, you are following box scores on ESPN. You're watching the games on CBS. You are literally living and dying on every basket, screaming obscenities you never knew you knew, yelling at players that you don't even know the names of. You become the biggest fan of any team you happened to pick at that moment. And you switch allegiances like you switch socks. One minute you like Xavier because you picked them to score the first-round upset. The next minute you're screaming at their star player to tear a ligament because you don't have them going past round two. You rub it in to everyone who will listen when you pick an unlikely winner, and you feel 2 feet tall when you pick the loser.

For two years, I tried explaining this to Fawzi, with no apparent success. Last year, he just refused to play. Absolutely refused. "I'm not a fan of college basketball," he said. "I just don't care," he said. "What's the point?" he said.

But I was persistent. I pursued. I wore him down. Because I knew. I just knew...

And finally, earlier this week, Fawzi plopped down his $5 entry fee and announced:

"OK, I'll do one bracket."

And just like that, a crack addict took his first hit. :-)

Fawzi filled out a bracket, the tournament started today at 9:15 a.m., and by 9:19 a.m....

"Nev, Clemson is up 6-2! I picked them to win!"

And just like that, he was hooked.

Fawzi started following box scores, getting scoring updates every 18 seconds. He hopped around the office smiling like a 7 year old on Halloween when Clemson was winning. He moped around, scowling and kicking chairs when Clemson blew a double-digit lead and lost. He was happy. He was sad. He was ecstatic. He was miserable. And this only took us to 9:27 a.m. He was glued to any and all information about the games. Anytime I gave him an update, he already knew about it.

It was like watching a caterpillar bloom into a beautiful butterfly.

Fawzi was hooked now. Hooked into the March Madness craze. He screamed when Louisville was upset by Morehead State. Bitched and moan to a co-worker that everyone in our tourney pool was tied for first place while he was stuck in 15th. Kicked himself for not picking Richmond over Vanderbilt. And patted himself on the shoulder when he realized that, "Hey, turns out I did pick Richmond to win after all!" (It's OK. He's a rookie.)

And that's what Fawzi discovered today in his first foray into March Madness. It really is maddening. You're up and down 647 times throughout the course of the morning. And in the afternoon, you bust out the booze just to handle the roller coaster. There's truly nothing like it. And anybody and everybody can participate and experience the thrill, regardless of sports knowledge.

Fawzi became a March Madness man today.

The butterfly...has taken flight.


And now for this week's:


I can't stop listening to this song.

As bad as it is, watch the whole video. Two minutes in, it gets worse than you can ever imagine. :-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The New Generation Of Guys And Their Limp-Noodle Handshakes: A Nevin Barich Blog Experience

So lately, for one reason or another, I've been shaking the hands of various guys who are part of "The Next Generation." These guys are in their late teens or early 20s and have been tabbed to carry the mantle of all the triumphs and achievements that my generation accomplished.

I'm not exactly sure what those triumphs and achievements are. I am, after all, just 31. But just go with me on this. :-)

Anyways, back to the shaking of hands. When I shake the hands of these younger guys, I've noticed a disturbing trend:

Their limp-noodle handshakes.

Seriously, all of these guys 7-12 years younger than me shake my hand like a wet piece of spaghetti. If I apply any pressure whatsoever, I feel like I'm going to break bones.

In my day...

(I'm no longer part of "The New Generation." Thus, I have a "in my day.")

...when guys shook hands, we shook hands. I mean, we gave each other a manly grip. Like men do. We were taught by the generation before us that men display strength when they shake hands. It's a sign of power. Of confidence. Of manliness.

And today, for some reason, these guys shake hands like they don't want to break a fingernail.

And I wonder why.

I mean, is the fault mine? Was it my job to teach these guys the difference between right and wrong handshake? Did I fail them?

Or is technology to blame for the current state of limp-noodle hand greetings? Did the advent of e-mail, text messages and iPads somehow make it so that guys had less physical contact with one another and thus made it so they didn't know how much strength was OK to show and as a result went weak with their handshakes?

Or is it the lack of action stars?

Here's my favorite theory that just popped into my head. In my day, we had movies that featured Schwarzenegger. Segal. Stallone. Van Damme. Men of power. Men of physicality. Watch Predator. At the beginning ot the movie, Ah-nold and Carl Weathers (the dude who played Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies) share a manly handshake. When I watched that movie, I was 8 years old. An impressionable age.

You know what: That's it. The problem is a lack of action movie stars.

So the fault isn't mine.

So to the limp-noodle handshake guys who are reading this, here's your homework:

Watch Predator.

Watch Under Siege.

Watch Kickboxer...and/or Bloodsport.

And watch Demolition Man.

And afterward, you'll be shaking hands like a man.


And now for this week's:


Charlie Sheen is still alive.

I don't know about you, but I'm shocked.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Man And His Toilet Paper: When Size Truly Matters: 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.)

When it comes to a man and his toilet paper, size matters. We need some heft when it comes to our toilet paper roll. Ideally, it should resemble a white, fluffy mini bowling ball. Because a man never wants to run out of toilet paper. Ever.

So when it comes to advertising a toilet paper’s size, a man takes that to heart. Which is why investigators deserve kudos for cracking down on the latest toilet paper-size scam.

According to a recent story, Kimberly-Clark Corp. has been ordered to stop advertising the length of its Andrex toilet paper after an investigation determined that the claim “unbeatably long” was wrong.

Television commercials and ads on posters and magazines claimed that Andrex toilet paper was “soft, strong and unbeatably long.” K-C was told by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) not to use the advertisements in their current form.

An investigation by ASA found that three competitor products had longer roll length than Andrex,

Now men – particularly in America – love their heroes. Firefighters. Policemen. Pro athletes. Their own dads.

But the good folks at ASA may very well be the greatest heroes in American history.

Any company that claims that its toilet paper is “unbeatably long” when it isn’t is a company that needs to have a visit paid to by the Better Business Bureau. I mean, it’s just wrong! You may be thinking, “Hey K-C is a business, and a business is going to do and say things that may not be completely true because they want to make money.” But this goes much, much deeper than that.

A man has to have trust in his toilet paper. A bond inevitably forms. As such, a man has to place trust in the company that makes that toilet paper. A man has to assume that the toilet paper company is looking out for him. There must be total trust when it comes to this relationship. There can be no other way.

So when a man finds out that his toilet paper company has betrayed him with phony claims of size, it’s akin to a mother telling her son: “I never really loved you. I just had you for the tax write-off.”

And you want to know what K-C said in its defense of this indefensible crime? That even though other companies featured longer rolls, their roll had 241 sheets as opposed to the competition’s 240.

That’s just a sad, sad argument. Every reputable toiler paper company knows that a man doesn’t base toilet paper on its sheets. This isn’t an episode of “Seinfeld”. No “Sorry, I don’t have a square to spare” moment going on here. A man rips off toilet paper in strips, not sheets. I doubt half of us even realize that the toilet paper features dotted lines to tear it off.

K-C knows this. To say otherwise insults our intelligence.

So thank you, ASA, for cracking down on K-C.

If you guys ever make toiler paper, I’ll be the first to buy.


And now for this week's:


Charlie Sheen.

No more need be said.