Monday, March 30, 2009

Robot Resort--Mating Game

Please click on the photo above to watch the "Robot Resort" take on one of America's favorite game shows, "The Dating Game." In this episode, Fritzy tricks Lily into participating in the Resort's popular afternoon game show, "Mating Game," resulting in a surprise reunion with another guest.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flipping and Folding is Fun for Lazy Launderer

One of my least favorite activities in the world is to do my own laundry. I never seem to have the time or desire to actually perform this domestic ritual, even though I have a perfectly functioning washer and dryer in my basement. And though I’m embarrassed to admit it, there have been times when my laundry basket has not only overflowed, but actually leaped into the rest of the room, forming one of those large monolithic mounds like Richard Dreyfus made in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” And only when the mountain became so large that I could actually ski from the top to the bottom would I finally stuff it all into my two colorful laundry bags and cart them down to the local laundry mat, where they charged $.90 a pound to wash it for me.

I know, I know. One of the biggest time and money wasters ever…not to mention a clear indication of how lazy I can be when it comes to carrying out normal household tasks. (Did I mention I have a maid who comes in twice a month as well? But that’s a different story.)

Anyway, once the economy started going into freefall last year, I had to make some big sacrifices when it came to unnecessary expenditures. Naturally, one of the first things to go was my semi-quarterly trip to the laundry mat and all those embarrassing conversations I would have with the elderly lady who washed my clothing. Because even though she was very sweet and looked a little like Aunt Bee from Mayberry, I always had the feeling she was laughing about something. I wasn’t sure if it was my taste in clothing, or the colorful Ginch Gonch underwear I had in my collection, or just the fact that I only brought my laundry in when it weighed more than a Sumu wrestler. But there was definitely something that made her smile every time she’d see me. Well, smile and also groan a little.

But now that I do my laundry at home, I no longer see Aunt Bee. And for a while there, people probably couldn’t tell the difference between my dirty laundry and my clean clothing, as the inclusion of folds and wrinkles were evident in both. What can I say? I hated folding laundry. And sometimes I’d let the laundry sit in the dryer for so many days before folding it, my shirts started looking like crepe paper. For Halloween, I even draped myself with some of my dirty clothes and went as a laundry basket. Everyone thought I was so clever, but I really had nothing else to wear.

My life and demeanor were slowly becoming more and more Neanderthal, all because I didn’t have the time or patience to do my laundry properly. That is, until one day I was surfing the web, and happened upon this new miracle item known as a Flip-and-Fold. It’s a very simple and ingenious contraption that allows you to fold all your shirts to the exact same size…every single time. No more guessing which sleeve to tuck or crease to fold. It’s all done for you with a few simple flips and folds. And what’s more, it’s actually fun.

Once I got this product and actually began using it, my laundry was not such a pain any more. And sometimes, I actually looked forward to doing it. Why? Because when you have something that allows you to easily fold and organize your clothes in a civil manner, it gives you a sense of pride in your work and your appearance. No longer am I subject to t-shirts that look like dirty napkins, or pullovers that look like I slept in them. Now all my clothing comes out perfectly folded and stacked and ready for wearing.

In fact, I was so impressed with the Flip and Fold that I actually bought everyone in my family one of their very own for Christmas this past year. And not only do they all use it, but every single one of them has thanked me heartily for the ingenious device. One of my nephews even likes it so much, he now helps his mom with the laundry every week. Talk about a miracle!

But that’s just me. Do you have any contraptions that help make your laundry experience easier?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cat Clips #47--Learning the Lie

Please click on the photo above to watch the next installment in the ongoing "Cat Clips" series. In this episode, entitled "Learning the Lie," Honey tries to explain the reasoning behind Tuck's arrival to the male cat.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dancing with the Scars

What would we ever do without Tom Bergeron and Samantha Whatsherface to keep us entertained between the Paso Dobles and the Cha Chas on “Dancing with the Stars?” His sometimes witty patter and her inane interviewing style are all we need to keep our brains nice and mushy during the entire two hour marathon. That is, if all the stars are actually able to make it to the taping of the show. Because this season in particular, it seems like there is a new devastating injury a week that will either hinder a contestant, or throw them out of the competition altogether.

The cynical side of me even wonders if perhaps the accidents are now built into the contracts, as a sure fire way to keep ratings up and viewers interested. If you twist an ankle, you get featured in a special segment and sympathy votes are sure to come your way by the millions. Especially if you manage to keep yourself upright for the entire minute and a half routine, or faint right afterwards like Marie Osmond did so cleverly a few seasons back. When octogenarian Cloris Leachman was on the show, she never sustained an injury. Well, not a life-threatening physical injury anyway. But her ridiculous antics and constant need for attention forever changed my view of her as a consummate professional.

And even though the casualties keep coming, there’s never a fear that the dancing will be over any time soon. For waiting in the wings is a never-ending collection of has-beens, wanna-bes, and whotheheckaretheys to step in at a moment’s notice to take their place. I mean, honestly, the nude guy from the shower scene in the “Sex and the City” movie? Does he really qualify as a star? Does anyone even know his name? I mean, I know the term “star” is totally overused for contestants like that Jilted Woman from “The Bachelor,” but when one nude scene qualifies you for stardom, there’s something definitely wrong with our value system.

But that’s just me. What do you think about the current crop on “Dancing with the Stars”?

As a special added bonus, I have included a “Dog Days” clip that features one dog’s dreams of someday being on the show. To watch the one minute video, please click on the photo below.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cat Clips #46--Accent Antics

Please click on the photo above to watch the next episode in the "Cat Clips" series. In this episode, Tuck tries to reintroduce himself to the male cat.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

When an Innocent Prank Goes Too Far

There are NOT many things in my life that I regret doing. Mostly because there’s really no point. Regret is a waste of time which can sometimes lead you down a very unhealthy path. However, there is one particular incident that occurred in my “innocent days” that I wish I’d thought about more carefully before proceeding. Because what seemed like a very innocent prank at the time soon spiraled out of control and ended up “biting me in the ass” in the worst possible way.

It all began when I got a part-time job as a telemarketer to help subsidize my other part-time job, which wasn’t exactly paying enough for me to survive in the Big Apple. (This was obviously many, many years ago when I first moved to NYC…Young, Bright, Energetic…I was ready to take on the world…Sigh!) Anyway, between selling Weekly Reader products, Phone Services, Bottled Water and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, I made some great friends among my co-workers. Especially because we could all commiserate about how much we hated telemarketing, and how we were only working there until we got our “big breaks,” whatever those happened to be.

Eventually I became part of a click that sat in a certain area of the room each night, swapping stories and jokes between phone calls. We’d bitch and moan about everything, including our roommates, parents, job interviews, acting auditions, whatever. It was a great place to vent and let off steam, and so a lot of stories came out that you wouldn’t necessarily share with your best friend—particularly if the stories happened to be about your best friend. Which sometimes mine were.

(Quick back story: In my early days of NYC, I lived with a college friend who was somewhat of a hot head. And although we got along most of the time, there were moments when he would flare up at me or at other people, and become the biggest “drama queen” on earth. His outbursts became sort of a running joke with me, because after witnessing several of them, they never had as much weight. Like the boy who cried Wolf. If your general demeanor includes yelling and screaming on a regular basis, people don’t take you quite as seriously any more. Plus, if you’re a rather funny, dramatic person to begin with, your anger doesn’t have quite the same bite. And despite all that, my Hot Head friend was a very nice and generous person…most of the time.)

That being said, it should come as no surprise that my Hot Head friend became the target of many of my bitching sessions at the telemarketing job. So much so that several people said they would never want to meet him in person, because they’d probably punch him in the face. I guess my somewhat exaggerated portrayals of him might have painted a bleaker picture than was actually there, but not by much. And my Hot Head friend was not unaware of his reputation. In fact, he rather enjoyed it. So when I’d occasionally tell him about my friends at work, and how much they hated him, he thought it was funny.

Anyway, at some point I developed a very nice friendship with a guy who had recently gotten married and moved to NYC with his wife. We became part of a small group that began to socialize outside of work, our lives becoming even more interconnected than they were before. And so through the natural process of socializing, my friends would now become their friends and vice versa. With one exception. No one wanted to meet my Hot Head friend, as they’d already written him off as “unacceptable.” The most adamant people about not wanting to meet him were the young married couple; who just happened to be the exact people I would most want to get along with him. And since I’d always referred to the Hot Head by his real name, I couldn’t exactly pass him off as someone else. Or could I?

And this is where the story starts getting uncomfortable…at least for me. Because I felt like I was in a bit of a dilemma. I hated having to split my time between my new friends and my Hot Head friend. I wanted them all to mix together, and get to know each other, and then I could have the best of both worlds. I knew there was bound to be a social occasion or a party or something where both would eventually be in the same place, so I got this idea about how to lay the ground work for that. What if I introduced my Hot Head friend to the married couple as someone else? That way, they could get to know him as a person, and not as the monster I’d colorfully created of him. And once they got to like him (as most people did), then I could tell them who he really was, and we’d all have a great laugh. At least that was the plan.

Then one night, the wife got free tickets to a show and asked if I wanted to go with them and bring someone along. I thought this was the perfect opportunity for them to meet Hot Head. I suggested we all go out to dinner first, so they’d really get a chance to talk to him, and meet the real person. Hot Head was more than willing to comply, as he loved the idea of becoming someone else for the evening, a great opportunity for him to display his many acting talents. And he did. He was very funny, down to earth and charming, and I could tell the young couple really liked him. So much so, that I wasn’t really sure how to broach the truth at that moment. We were all having such a great time that I didn’t want to ruin it by blowing Hot Head’s cover. So I didn’t. Nor did I tell them the following day when they called to say how much they enjoyed Hot Head and how funny they thought he was. Nor the following week when they asked when we could all go out together again.

And that’s when it finally dawned on me what a stupid thing I’d done. It never occurred to me that I might be breaking their trust by pulling this stunt, as I thought it would all be over in one night. But since I’d now dragged it on for a few weeks, it was becoming more and more uncomfortable to deal with.

So one day at work, I decided it was time to come clean and I told the friend what I’d done. I was hoping he would find the whole thing funny, and maybe punch me on the arm or something. But he didn’t do that. In fact, he didn’t do anything for a few moments. He just stared at me, as if he was trying to see something in my face that he hadn’t noticed before. At that moment, I felt like the worst human being in the world, and apologized profusely for lying to him. I defended my actions by saying that I was only trying to integrate Hot Head into the group, because I felt like I’d misrepresented him during my bitch sessions. And since the couple had told me they’d never want to meet him, I thought the disguise would help them see who he really was. It didn’t.

In fact, it ruined our friendship. And even though the married couple said they weren’t that upset by the incident, we slowly drifted apart and eventually the guy couldn’t even look at me at work. My frequent attempts at rekindling our friendship were met with icy excuses and evasiveness. And though I never intended to hurt anyone, I realized that I’d broken the one thing that keeps friendship going through all adversity---trust. Without trust, there is no reason to give someone your time, energy or attention. And that is exactly what the young couple felt about me. That I wasn’t worth their time. It was a sobering jolt to my carefree existence, and an experience that has haunted me for years. If only I hadn’t done that. If only I’d handled it better. If only…

As I said before, regret is not a path I often go down. And though I definitely regret my actions in this matter, I learned such a valuable lesson about friendship that I’ve never done anything like that to anyone again. I guess that’s why I’ve never particularly liked Ashton Kutcher’s show “Punk’d.” How can he sleep at night?

But that’s just me. Is there anything you’ve done in your past that you somewhat regret?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dog Days--Watching the Game

It's basketball season, and our two two favorite pugs are no exception when it comes to being avid sports fans. So please click on the photo above to watch another episode from the popular "Dog Days" series. In this episode, two pugs discuss what to eat for snacks while watching a Sunday afternoon basketball game.

Friday, March 6, 2009

And All That Yaz…???

Have any of you seen the recent commercial on TV for a product called Yaz? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the product is actually used for, but I think it’s some kind of pregnancy prevention. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a real treat, because it paints a very clear picture of the current disconnect between pharmaceutical advertising and the general public to whom they are “targeting.”

If you usually DVR most of your TV shows like I do, you might not even notice the commercial, as it would probably fly past you without much ballyhoo. But if you should happen to get caught someday watching actual LIVE TV and you have to sit through the commercial, then be prepared for the strangest explanation of a drug you’ve ever heard. And if you’re not paying close attention, you might totally miss all the blatant attempts at toning down all the horrible side effects that could happen should you decide to take the so called medication.

But I digress. Let’s examine this advertising phenomenon from the start. The commercial opens with an attractive woman wandering around a bar or nightclub. There are many people in the background enjoying themselves, and indeed the woman herself is dressed up as if she’s ready for a slinky night on the town. However, before she can go about her business, she feels it necessary to take some time out to talk directly into the camera that is presumably hovering in front of her. And when she speaks, it is with the casual earnestness of someone who is trying to “play” you. Her voice sounds relaxed and genuine, as if she is someone you could definitely trust—perhaps she even reminds you of your best friend or your sister. (Or if you’re a guy, your best friend’s sister.)

But before you have time to wonder what kind of party she’s at, the woman’s tone turns somewhat serious. She explains that she’s there to clear up a few misconceptions about Yaz that previous commercials for the product apparently created. (And you thought she just came to this party to have some fun. Silly You! She actually has an agenda.) And this is where the commercial really starts to get confusing. Because while I was pretty sure the ad was for an oral contraceptive, the woman first launches into all the reasons you should or shouldn’t take the pill if you have mild or moderate acne. Acne? Then she throws in a few laid-back references to a few nasty side effects that might occur should you decide to take the drug, along with a laundry list of other factors you should consider before embarking on this magical journey. And if you smoke—forget about it. Because the drug increases the risk of blood clots, stroke and heart attack. Yipee! Sign me up now. (Well, maybe not me, because I was still pretty sure this was a drug intended for women only. I mean, I certainly didn’t see any men in the background getting Yazzed up about this.)

And if I didn’t think I was confused enough at this point, the woman suddenly threw in a new term I’d never even heard of. PMDD. Because apparently there’s even more confusion over the difference between PMDD and PMS, because if you have PMDD, this drug might not be right for you. Or maybe it would be right for you. I have no idea, because I was not privy to the explanation for this secret acronym. Though evidently everyone at the party was familiar, because the other guests began avoiding this woman like the plague.

Anyway, by the end of the commercial, the woman appeared to have made her way around the club, effectively dropping her words of wisdom wherever she went. I can only imagine that her running commentary on “risk factors” and “serious side effects” must have put a heavy damper on the party atmosphere that evening. Especially if she kept making references to Yaz everywhere she went. I wouldn’t be surprised if she even conducted special seminars in the women’s lounge during dance breaks, complete with gift bags and a power point presentation. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to meet someone like this at any social event I went to.

But that’s just me. What’s your take on this whole Yaz phenomenon?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Musical Mockery #1--One Percent

Did you know that 80% of the world's wealth is owned by only 1% of the world's population?

That is the inspiration for this video I helped make with my friend Michael, which offers a very "futuristic" solution to the current economic crisis. Here's the description: "On the evening before the Great Revolt of 2009, the Leader of the Rebel Faction transmits a special message to the struggling masses to prepare them for the upcoming battle against "the wealthy one percent of the world." To watch the short video, please click on the photo above.