Thursday, April 30, 2009

That'll Do, Pig.

Because the people of the world currently don't have enough to worry about, Swine Flu is making the rounds.

A few words on swine flu:
Really? Swine flu? Did we even know about this? Was that what that "Penelope" movie starring Christina Ricci was about? The news just started talking about it like it was something we all saw coming. "In other news, swine flu is here. Buy a mask and don't hug pigs."

A big part of the problem is the name. It just sounds bad. In America, government officials have asked that we stop calling it swine flu and instead call it H1N1.
That's like someone who has a nickname all their life and then one day insists on changing it to sound grown up.
"I go by William now."
"Whatever, T-Bone."

I'm the first to admit that I'm a terrible hypochondriac so now not only do I have to avoid strangers with the sniffles, I also have to be concerned about rogue farm animals and BLTs. The medical advice dispensed through the media says to wash hands, and don't panic--as the World Health Organization raises global alerts to the "Knock Knock. Who's there? Holy Crap. Holy Crap Who? Holy Crap there's basically going to be a swine flu pandemic and all we have to protect us is Purell" level. (also known as level 5).

I don't want to be disrespectful, because people are seriously sick, but geez, can the world get a break?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take On Me.

Insurance company Mutual of Omaha has filed a lawsuit against Oprah claiming that it owns the phrase "aha moment." The lawsuit follows a cease and desist request from Winfrey suggesting that Mutual of Omaha's latest ad campaign, "What's your aha moment?" uses her aha moment line. 

I don't know if either side can lay claim to this term. I thought an a-ha moment was when you somehow got sucked into a pencil-sketch cartoon and danced around to new wave.  If anyone should be involved in this legal skirmish, it's the entire nation of Norway.   

Monday, April 20, 2009

And More Etc.

While waiting for a concert to start the other night, Bri and I started listing stores with really open-ended names. I forget why we started doing this, but it was a pretty fun way to pass the time. I know I mentioned something about the most random store name I'd ever seen (Wicker -N-Things) and that probably got the list going, but I can't remember why I brought that up.

Obligatory 2-second rant about Wicker 'N' Things:
Why? Why name your store Wicker -N-Things? Would a person in the market for wicker products really be so intrigued by the "things" that they had no choice but to shop there? Perhaps. But a person not looking for wicker products would never browse around Wicker-N-Things just for the things. And "Things" is FAR too general to tag on to Wicker. Are these wicker related things or is it a store full of things with wicker in them? Or are the things literally just random things, like electronic toothbrushes and dolls? How is the store divided? One section for wicker, another section for things?
I saw this store like 5 years ago and it's still bothering me. I guess I should get over it.

But you know the stores I'm talking about. Bed Bath & Beyond, Mailboxes Etc., Linens N Things, all the "And More" and "More Than" stores. Futons And More, Beverages & More, More Than Carpet, More Than Bagels, More Than Shirts. These kind of establishments go with the More Than because it looks only slightly better than "Mostly Carpet" or "Mostly Shirts."

These are few new stores we came up with:
*Things and Other Things Etc. Unlimited Wholesale Discounters
*Edible and Inedible Stuff & More
*More & More Etc. Etc.
*Noun Etc.
*Etc., Etc., Etc., Etc., And More
*Copies & Photos & Socks and Nothing Else.
*More Than Things & Whatnot & More & Beyond & Beyond That & Then Beyond That Even More Etc, Etc, I Mean Seriously, It Just Keeps Going, Like When You're In A Dressing Room And Two Mirrors Are Facing Each Other And Your Reflection In Those Two Mirrors Just Goes On Forever And It Kind Of Trips You Out 'Cause You're Like, Whoa, There's Like A Million Of Me, Do You Know What I'm Talking About? Like Infinity Mirrors, You Know? Well That's What This Store Is Like, Only More.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

There's A Sale At The Chichen Store.

I have a love/hate relationship with the American shopping mall. On one hand, I hate the mall. On the other hand, many of my childhood memories involve the mall. And on the other hand, outside of an airport or a subway, the mall is prime people-watching space. (I bought an extra hand at Williams-Sonoma. It's one of those salad hands. Great for when you want to include three points but only have two hands.)

When you grow up in a town with freezing winters and nothing to do, you spend a lot of your weekends at the mall. An image of my father walking about 50 yards behind us with all of our winter coats and hats and scarves, our shopping bags, our giant lemonade from Hot Sam's Pretzels, and my mom's purse, is forever burned on my mind. The food court, the carousel (did you ever notice that kids have to wave at their parents every time they go around on the carousel? Every time. It's pretty freakin adorable, and also, the only thing you can do on a carousel.) and hide-and-seek in the department stores (I suggest jumping in the middle of circular racks of clothes). And all of this was before cell phones obviously, so every trip to the mall included at least one page over the mall sound system. "Martin Family, your father is waiting with your coats at the information kiosk."

There's been a steady flow of news about the fate of malls because of the economy. Reuters reported today that the second largest mall owner in America just filed for bankruptcy in what would be "one of the biggest real estate failures in U.S. history." That's crazy, and part of the reason I think malls are so gross. All that wasted space and all that sprawl for 35 senior citizens to power-walk around. What do you think will eventually happen to all those malls? Housing? Schools? Greenhouses? Probably Costco. Either that or giant city-size laser tag arenas. Which, when combined with an Orange Julius, might not be so bad.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


It's too bad that after years of holiday meals and gatherings, my entire extended family has grown to overlook our collective randomness. It's nothing new, so no one really notices. I imagine the people who work as ushers at Cirque du Soleil experience something similar. "Oh, that? Yeah, I guess it's pretty weird. I don't know, I've seen this like 300 times."

No one comments on the insane amounts of food anymore, or the fact that a celebration means about seven solid hours of force-feeding. No one tries to argue with my grandma as she shoves money at us, yelling for us to take it. And then once you've accepted the money with thanks, no one's eyes grow wider with confusion when she continues to yell at you to take it. I used to think to myself, "Gram, I'm holding the money, what more can I do? Should I ingest it?" Now I know that a five-minute scream for me to "take the money!" is also part of the gift.

In general, volume is never discussed. If my throat or ears don't hurt after a holiday, I wasn't with my family. And for holidays like Christmas or Easter, when a certain character arrives, I try to make my way to the bathroom before the big announcement, because the commotion makes me nervous. "SANTA IS HERE!!!!! GO GO GO" "THE BUNNY IS IN THE BACKYARD! RUUUUUN!" Followed by a scene similar to the footage of when the Beatles first came to America.

And unfortunatley, because it happens so often, Sabrina doesn't even think to take pictures of things like my Uncle Greg walking out into the dining room with a Halloween mask on, or sitting in the living room watching golf with a Halloween mask on. This year I really would have loved a picture of my little cousin Christopher pointing to the framed photo of Billy Joel on my grandma's table.
Actual exchange:
Christopher: (pointing) Who's that?
My Uncle Steve: Billy Joel.

No further explanation.