America’s Worst Haunted Houses

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Spooky King – Hartford, CT

This is a Burger King that some enterprising franchisee has draped in fake cobwebs and rubber bats on strings. The teenager manning the drive-thru is dressed as a Dracula and all the other employees are dressed as The Crow, save for LaShonda, who doesn’t need this shit from an $8-an-hour job. The Whoppers are usually lukewarm at best, but the fries are hot, salty, and full of the Halloween spirit inasmuch as they are chock full of melting, fun-sized Mr Goodbars.

Darren’s Haunted Trailer of Doom – Lansing, MI

Just a large-ish moving trailer parked out by the dump. It is spray-painted black, inside and out. Darren is usually asleep outside on a lawn chair, though occasionally he’ll get drunk enough to put on a fright wig and dance around. This usually results in him falling over and cutting himself on some scrap metal. You will have to take him to the hospital. There is nothing remotely scary about the trailer itself, however the paint fumes can cause some interesting hallucinations.

Nightmare Horror Factory EXXXTREME – San Jose, CA

After standing in line for three and a half hours, you will be admitted into a room lit only with a black light. On a couple of stacked cinder blocks, there is a glass punch bowl filled with what are clearly de-breaded McNuggets. You are told to put your hand in the bowl. “They’re eyeballs, or whatever,” says a girl in a sexy kitty costume, in between huffs from a paper bag containing… what, exactly? Oven cleaner? Varnish? It is unclear, as you are immediately hustled out of the room and back outside. You will most likely find that your car has been towed.

The Old Cemetery Road Haunted Hay Ride and Apple-Bobbing Extravaganza – Waxahachie, TX

Not a haunted house, nor is it a hayride. Technically speaking, it is more of a trap. Steer clear unless you’re into the idea of being hunted for sport.

Mrs. Cavanaugh’s 3th Grade Scare-a-teria – Tempe, AZ

A fundraising venture mounted with the hopes of raising enough money to take care of the many wasps nests that have infested Elmer C. Burnblatt Elementary, this haunted house offers nothing in the way of thrills and/or chills. It mostly consists of a strobe light, seventeen children in ill-fitting ghost costumes, and a lot of urine (the kids have yet to really master “potty time”). Much scarier is the walk to and from your car, where you will invariably be attacked by great clouds of wasps.

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10 Tips For Having The Best Fall Ever

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As of a few days ago, it is officially Fall!!! Fall is the best season, hands down… Summer is too sweaty, Winter is too cold and it also has Christmas, which, as an adult, is an endless bummer, and Spring… ugh… too much pressure to go do stuff outside. OOH, IT’S SO NICE OUT, LET’S GIVE A SHIT ABOUT TENNIS. We all know you’d be much happier sitting on the couch shoving fistfuls of dry Frosted Mini-Wheats in your mouth while watching your fourth consecutive episode of Chopped.

But none of that matters now, because it’s FALL! Ooooh yeah… getting crisp and cider-y up in this bitch! So, in the spirit of it being a kick-ass time of year, here’s a bunch of crap you can do to distract yourself from the fact that you will eventually die, as will all your loved ones, because life is just the worst. Enjoy!

10 Tips for Having The Best Fall Ever

-Look at all the pictures in your Facebook news feed of your friends posing with their kids in pumpkin patches. Think about how funny it would be to go pose in a pumpkin patch ironically. Realize that, actually, that would probably be more trouble than it’s worth. Go see if there are any Goldfish crackers left in that seemingly empty bag that’s balled up by the couch.

-Pull out all your sweaters that have been tucked away in your closet since March. Put on a fashion show for your cat. Yell at your cat when he is not appreciative of the dynamite way you rock that cable-knit. Apologize to the the cat for yelling at him, then cry on his belly until he scratches you. Then it’s back to the fashion show!

-Talk shit about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. People get SO MAD when they find out you don’t like them. People get INSULTED, like their grandmother is the one who first came up with idea of dumping nutmeg into some Folgers. Not caring about a thing that people care deeply about is so fucking satisfying, it probably gives you lung cancer.

-Ever been on a hay ride? No? Then go on a hay ride. If there are no hay rides in your area, fill up the back seat of your Ford Focus with loose hay, then pay an old man to drive you around while telling you stories about a haunted scarecrow. NOTE: As with most things in life, hay rides are exponentially more fun if you are gooned on cheap tequila.

-Rake up a big pile of fallen leaves. Jump in the leaves. God, that hurt your back. You are in the autumn of your life now. Pull the pile of leaves over you and drift off into a fitful slumber.

-Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so you should probably eat an entire turkey by yourself just to get warmed up. Cooking the turkey first would probably be the smart way to go, but follow your heart.

-Crochet a scarf. Or, if you don’t know how to do that, fashion a scarf out of tied-together old socks.

-Enjoy some postseason baseball until you start thinking about how the shortstop is 22 years old, and that when YOU were 22, your whole life basically consisted of taking rips off a dirty bong in an efficiency apartment while watching Jackie Chan movies. And this asshole… he’s 22 and playing PROFESSIONAL SPORTS? How dare he. Tweet racist things at him.

-Try to get into some of the new fall TV shows. Get bored. Think to yourself, “I could make better television than THIS.” Swear to yourself that you’re going to start a web series tomorrow morning. The iPhone is basically a high-quality HD video camera, so nothing’s stopping you! FUCK IT, let’s start RIGHT NOW! Wake up hungover with 47 videos on your phone of you singing Wilco songs into a ketchup bottle that you’re pretending is a microphone. Realize in horror that at least half of them have been uploaded to all your social media sites. Spend the remainder of the day sweatily explaining to your coworkers that your “cloud” got hacked by your identical twin, whom you’ve never mentioned before because you’re embarrassed of his alcoholism. Pat yourself on the back for coming up with such an airtight scenario. You’ve earned a Coke, buddy… full-sugar, no diet.

-Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour for Daylight Savings Time. No joke here. You should just really remember to do that.

Girl Drink Drunk

Girl Drink Drunk is a regular column that features your host, an adult male who prefers bourbon and beer, exploring the sugary, sweet world of “girly drinks” for your edification and entertainment. He promises not to barf on you. Enjoy.

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Here are two things that happened to me this week:

-I bought, then (mostly) consumed two bottles of wine from Arbor Mist’s “Desserts” collection, not because I enjoy such beverages, but because I have made it my business to write about sugar-blasted pseudo-booze on the internet. I assume you’re aware of this by now, unless you are a first time visitor to ZFS; if that IS the case, welcome, please remove your shoes (new carpet), and note that we prosecute shoplifters to the fullest extent of the law.

and…

-I listened to Taylor Swift’s new song “Shake It Off” for the first time. Then I listened to it again. Then several more times. Then an additional thousand times after that, because it is the catchiest song that has ever been written. It makes “The Name Game” look like Side A of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.

Now, I want to talk about the second item first, because I guarantee you that… at the very invocation of Taylor Swift’s name, at LEAST half of you made a who-farted face and said, “this guy’s got worse taste in music than MY MOM.” And then you chuckled smugly to yourself as you fired up an e-cig and an old Guided By Voices album. My response to all of that is this: Take a step back from the front lines of the Pop Culture Snark War, and calm down. I get that Swift isn’t everybody’s thing, and I also get that it is fun to throw enormous amounts of shade at people that are very rich and very famous (and even more so when they happen to also be very earnest, as Swift tends to be). That being said… I don’t know… I feel like the internet-curated ill-will towards Swift is a little misguided. There are better targets out there, and more deserving ones, at that.

Which is not to say that I am Taylor Swift super fan, either. I am 34 years old, and also a dude. At this stage of the game, being WAY into young pop starlets is a little… unseemly. It happens, I guess, but it’s really not a good look on my people (early-30’s big, fat party guys). That being said, I am not immune to the charms of a well-crafted, radio-friendly song, which are things that Swift cranks out fairly efficiently. If nothing else, Swift and her musical overlords know how to capture and manipulate that intangible force known as “catchy-ness,” and said necromancy leads to otherwise reasonable people (such as myself) listening to individual Taylor Swift jams over and over again until Spotify sends us an email to inform us that our accounts have CLEARLY been hacked by a group of 7th graders.

The other reason that people dislike Taylor Swift is that she is a bit of a serial monogamist, and that, post-breakup, she writes songs about her exes. This is a stupid reason to hate a 24 year old person. You know what you’re SUPPOSED to do when you’re in your early 20’s? Try on a bunch of guys (or girls) and figure out just what the hell you like in a significant other. You’re SUPPOSED to take chances. You’re SUPPOSED to not settle too early. That is what being in your early 20’s is all about. And the fact that she writes songs about the guys that she dates… well, hell, she has to write about something, and dating and whatnot is a whole lot more relatable than, say, the hidden inconveniences of private plane ownership, or how one can spend $10,000 on hats and not feel even a little guilty inside. Writing about her exes is nothing more than a solid business strategy. But… some people feel that dating a bunch of guys and then singing about it is, somehow, Swift being a bad role model. Putting aside the fact that we, as a culture, should really, really, REALLY stop turning to our nation’s celebrities for moral authority and life-lessons we can point to when we try to parent our children (because, I mean, C’MON), Swift, by and large, is a FINE role model. She is basically just living the life of a normal, early-20’s person… albeit on a grander scale… and, if I had a child (which I don’t), I would be fine with hypothetical him or her hypothetically following her lead. It beats hypothetical him or her taking after Miley Cyrus and rolling on Molly while dry-humping an older gentleman at the VMAs. Which, AGAIN, I don’t care what Cyrus does. She can attempt to popularize the mythical Tijuana Donkey Show here in America, if that’s her heartsong. I’m just saying I’d rather my fake daughter have a few boyfriends, as opposed to smoking so much Salvia that her life turns into a round-the-clock Burning Man.

ANYWAY, I bring all of this up about Taylor Swift because, if you’ll remember several hundred words back, I mentioned that I had bought and consumed some Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine. While, at the time, I thought I was merely drinking some extremely sweet starter hooch, it was only after listening to the aforementioned “Shake It Off” on repeat that I realized I was actually drinking Taylor Swift herself. Or at least it is like drinking one of her songs. Let me explain…

The Girl Drink(s):

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If you’re not familiar with Arbor Mist wine, it is basically liquified Skittles that will get you moderately buzzed. You can usually buy it in gas stations, which should fill in any unanswered questions you have about Arbor Mist. The “Desserts” branch of the Arbor Mist family tree make its predecessors look like strong, black coffee. Tying themselves to specific dessert items… Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Apples, respectively… have opened the door for the makers of said wine to just go absolutely fucking nuts with the sugar. IT’S A DESSERT! You’re basically drinking a pie! DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT!!! How much sugar, exactly, is in Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine? So much that I immediately forgot the amount after looking it up, as it scared the shit out of my kidneys. That’s how much.

So, like I said, the flavors are Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Apple, but that doesn’t really matter. You could call them Formula x17-A and Formula X17-B and the people that drink this kind of stuff are going to drink them, regardless. Yes, there are some differences… the Strawberry Shortcake one kind of tastes fruity, and weirdly also a little like a cream-based frosting smeared on a sponge cake. It’s unsettling, and not just because drinking it makes you feel like you’re going blind. Drinks shouldn’t taste like carbs. I’ve always said that, and literally no one in the girl drink industry agrees with me. The Caramel Apple variety is a little better; it basically tastes like candy corn, with the faintest touch of cider on the back end. It is slightly less sweet than the Strawberry Shortcake one, which is a lot like saying that a Mako shark will devour you slight slower than a Great White.

At the end of the day, the Arbor Mist family, in general, and the Arbor Mist “Desserts” wines, specifically, are just kind of whatever, at least as far as the actual product itself goes. Where they ARE interesting is within the concept of Taylor Swift, and how drinking a bottle of Arbor Mist “Desserts” is basically like drinking one of her songs. Here’s what I mean… Taylor Swift came into the spotlight as a teenager who sang sweetly pleasant country songs about Tim McGraw and teardrops on her guitar. That Taylor Swift is dead, or at least it is almost in the grave. The current Taylor Swift is a woman, who is living her womanly life out loud, but who still has to keep up a little bit of that sweetness in order to maintain a fan base that didn’t necessarily grow up with her. She has to appeal to BOTH sides of her fans… those that were there at the beginning of her career and are now, like her, grown ups, and those that are the same age as she was when she started, because she unquestionably still makes music that appeals to teenagers. In essence, she has to put out wine for the adults, and sweets for the kids. And since she only has a three minute song to in which to do that, she has to combine the two into one sugary product that will make you tipsy.

Arbor Mist “Desserts” are Taylor Swift, and Taylor Swift is Arbor Mist “Desserts.” One foot in the bar, one foot in the candy shop. Or, to put it another way, Taylor Swift is a specific kind of 24 year old lady, and if that specific kind of 24 year old American lady were a beverage, that beverage would be Arbor Mist “Desserts” wine. Sure, the haters are going to hate, hate, hate, but shake it off. It’s okay to like Taylor Swift, because Taylor Swift is an okay person and an okay beverage. In whatever form she chooses, Taylor Swift is okay.

The Return of the Surge

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Today is a very whatever Monday in September, and I was expecting literally nothing from it at all, save for work, and beer drinking after work, and, should it come to pass, the small bit of smirky joy that would come from seeing the Philadelphia Eagles get their doors blown off on Monday Night Football. However, this whatever Monday in September took a turn this morning. Things are different now.

Actually, things are like they used to be. Order has been restored. Surge soda is coming back.

If this news means nothing to you, then you were clearly not a teenage boy in the mid-90’s. Which… you should probably be grateful for that fact. It was a greasy time, filled with ska music and 90210 haircuts and very, very bland fashion. Cargo pants… a sea of cargo pants, hiding out-of-control boners.

And then there was Surge. Some will say that Surge was just a crappy knockoff of Mountain Dew. These people are bastards, and also lack vision. Surge was its own animal, and that animal was fucking delicious. Now… granted… Surge has not passed my kissable lips in over a decade, so my memory might be a little patchy and stained by nostalgia. But if I remember correctly, Surge tasted like a citrus tornado ripping across a prairie, destroying homes and businesses and leaving no survivors. It was also fatally sweet, like getting mauled to death by a pack of starving gummi bears.  And it looked like carbonated antifreeze, but that doesn’t matter. It was FUEL. It was LIFE. It was GOOD TIME JUICE, guzzled in mass quantities while driving around Arlington, TX listening to Reel Big Fish CDs and trying to appear attractive to the ladies despite having sticky, green mouths and a hard curfew.

In no particular order, here are…

Three Specific Memories I Have Involving Surge

-My best friend and I seeing Speed 2 in the theater, and sharing a massive concession stand Surge (which was totally “no homo” because we left an empty seat between us). This ended when, while attempting a mid-movie hand-off, the mop bucket-sized soda slipped from my fingers and landed directly in his lap. Things were never the same between us.

-Mixing Surge with stolen vodka during an inexplicably parent-approved high school party in a cabin by a lake on property that my grandparents owned. The Surge-tini did not catch on. SOCIETY’S LOSS.

-Splitting a six pack of Surge with my very first roommate in the dorms at the University of Texas. It was around Surge #2 for both of us that we realized we had nothing in common (save for a love of processed, liquid sugar) and that it was going to be a miserably long year of cohabitation. I did us a favor, though, by getting kicked out of school LONG before the awkwardness truly set in and started to fester.

And now Surge is back! I can have it again, and drink it again, and taste it again, and… well… that’s kind of worrisome. In no particular order, here are…

Eight Specific Fears That I Have Now That Surge is Coming Back

-I’ll hate it.

-It won’t taste anywhere NEAR as good as I remember it tasting.

-It will bring back horrible, Surge-related memories that I have repressed through years and years of heavy drinking. What if I was drinking Surge in Math class and sharted really bad and the prettiest girl in school laughed so hard that she DIED? I don’t REMEMBER that being a thing that happened, but it MIGHT BE? What if a sip of Surge unlocks that door?

-I am worried that drinking a lot of Surge will angry up my acid reflux. See, I’m an adult now. I have adult medical problems, and saccharine acid water stands a real solid chance of not playing well within their confines. Then again, I did just eat a heaping bowl of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni (with extra hot sauce) (and fancy, shredded Parmesan on top, because I’m 34 and a bit of a foodie), and I am not currently trying to plug up the smoking crater that was once my esophagus with old clothes and/or discarded copies of Esquire, so maybe it will be fine.

-People will think I’m the kind of person that wallows in nostalgia like some sort of backwards-looking man-child that refuses to embrace the present or, heaven forbid, the future, because the unknowable is terrifying and it’s much easier to remember stuff that’s already happened in a glowing, soft light and point to it and say, “that right there… that’s the best it ever was.” HAHAHA that’s ridiculous, that’s not me!!! Please don’t make eye contact with me right now!!!

-It will just taste like Mountain Dew, and all my years of chest-puffed bluster about how Surge was the superior green, citrus beverage will look foolish.

-I’ll somehow drown in a spilled pool of Surge, or I will have unknowingly developed a serious allergy to Surge and my throat will close up after the first hearty chug and it’ll be curtains for ol’ C-dog (this isn’t terribly realistic, but I always have to include at least one death scenario in everything that I think about because I’m sort of a broken person).

-It somehow won’t make me carefree and happy as 16 year old me. Fuck THAT if that happens. I’ve got a lot riding on you, Surge.

So anyway, I guess you could classify my feelings about the return of Surge as “mixed.” Nonetheless, and in conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that Surge is a thing I used to drink a lot of, then it went it away for a long time, and now it’s coming back, and very soon I will spend money on it so I can drink it in the apartment that I share with my wife. I will update you all on my experiences with Surge when the time is right, because if there’s one thing the internet is hungry for, it’s personal essays from a guy about a soda.

Celebrity Halloween – 2014 Emmys

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Julia Roberts as…

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…a boring movie star that has doomed us all because she has no idea that her dress has the bubonic plague.

Lena Dunham as…

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…an American Girl doll that was rejected due to a lack of interest in her story, which mostly revolved around a group of art school students falling into a K-hole.

Kate Walsh as…

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…the Sun’s mean, alcoholic aunt.

Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna as…

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…the Emmys’ annual reminder that being famous and wealthy can beat back the ravages of time for only so long, so enjoy it while it lasts, SARAH HYLAND.

Johnny Galecki as…

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Eraserhead’s younger brother, Skip, who works in advertising and is also fraught with terrifying hallucinations, but they mostly just involve running out of fair-trade coffee and/or being late for a Crossfit training sesh.

Adam Levine as…

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…the son of a senator who is rich enough to convince a judge that running over a homeless man in his Bugatti Roadster while rolling on molly is a matter that can be cleared up with a little community service (that will be carried out in his stead by one of dad’s interns).

Amanda Peet as…

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…a high school Salutatorian who misunderstands the dress codes for formal occasions.

Sarah Paulson as…

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…the final second before you realize that you’re being eaten alive by a swarm of fire ants.

Julie Bowen as…

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…the wife who ruins the Key Party by blowing chardonnay breath and venereal disease statistics in everyone’s face.

Mayim Bialik as…

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…that necklace that the old lady from Titanic threw into the ocean, and also the ocean itself, and also an old lady.

Terrible NFL Facts

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With the new NFL season only two weeks away, the creator of Zombie Fights Shark thought it would be fun to share with you some facts about every single team in the NFL. So… here they are. Also, by reading this sentence, you have agreed to not sue the creator of Zombie Fights Shark for libel, slander, or for stealing your car. <— LEGALLY BINDING, YO.

Minnesota Vikings – These guys uniforms are so purple, it’s like… WHO LET GRIMACE ON THE FIELD??? Haha, I’m kidding, Grimace isn’t real. He’s just a guy in a costume. That costume, however, is based on a real monster that lives in a forest in Germany and eats children.

St. Louis Rams – The entire offensive line of the St. Louis Rams is made up of guys who are really good friends, and even once took a spa weekend together. They have a code name for their group: The Offensive LineBROS.

New York Giants – Calling them “Giants” has a caused a lot of body image issues in the NY locker room. They’re a sad bunch… just sitting around eating lettuce, waiting for their SlimFast shakes to get properly mixed by a trainer.

Arizona Cardinals – The Arizona Cardinals spent the early part of the 2013 season playing baseball until it was brought to their attention that they are not the Arizona Diamondbacks OR the St. Louis Cardinals. A good laugh was had by all.

Tennessee Titans – Everyone in the Tennessee Titans organization has a tattoo of a Japanese character that means, “You are an official employee of the Tennessee Titans; security HAS to let you into the stadium.”

Oakland Raiders – [No official fact here; all ZFS Fact Finders were stabbed in the parking lot of O.co Stadium before anything noteworthy could be discovered]

Atlanta Falcons – Pranksters once swapped out the placard on head coach Mike Smith’s office door with one that read, “Head Couch Mike Smith.” People were trying to nap on him FOR DAYS. He figured it out eventually, though, and subsequently banned juice boxes from the locker room. Juice boxes just get the players too riled up.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not real pirates, though many of the players DO have peg legs.

Houston Texans – The Houston Texans aren’t playing this year until someone fesses up to stealing all the jockstraps from the locker room during training camp. A statement from the front office reads, “It’s not FUNNY anymore, okay? We really need those! We SWEAR we won’t tell, if you just RETURN THEM.” There is an accompanying photo of Houston Texan’s owner Bob McNair swearing on a stack of Bibles, but you can totally tell that he has his fingers crossed behind his back.

New England Patriots – All the players for the Patriots got her number, and want to know if you like apples.

Philadelphia Eagles – A fan of the Philadelphia Eagles once whipped a battery at a referee SO HARD, it punctured the metaphysical walls that separate the dimensions, allowing beings from other planes of existence to pour into our world. The other-worldly beings called said fan, “a dick.”

Cleavland Browns – The official chant that rings throughout FirstEnergy Stadium on game day is just the fans, in unison, apologizing.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Every single player on the Pittsburgh Steelers considers themselves to be superfans of the BBC series Call the Midwife. This is evident in their run game, which has been called “nurturing” by many.

Carolina Panthers – As part of a hazing ritual, the coaching staff once told QB Cam Newton that the entire field was made of lava. This explains why Newton is always standing on an ottoman or a bookshelf during offensive possessions.

Miami Dolphins – Concession stands at Sun Life Stadium DO NOT sell dolphin. They sell DolFeen… an FDA certified dolphin substitute that tastes like the real thing, with NONE of the guilt. Real dolphin IS served, however, in all Sun Life Stadium luxury suites.

Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning died two years ago in a mysterious helicopter crash. No one knows who that guy is taking snaps under center. Everyone is afraid to ask.

Seattle Seahawks – Having won the Super Bowl last year, all players and coaches are now entitled to an official NFL “Winners” coupon book filled with over $50 worth of discounts at local businesses and restaurants.

Green Bay Packers – Every autograph signed by a member of the Green Bay Packers reads, “To xxxx, Have A Great Summer!” You can tell they don’t really care if you have a great summer or not, though.

Dallas Cowboys – The Dallas Cowboys ceased playing professional football in the mid-90’s. The brand has been kept alive, however, as the Pro Shop was far too lucrative a venture to shut down.

Buffalo Bills – The Buffalo Bills are the only NFL team to have as many Super Bowl appearances as they do games called due to yeti attacks.

New Orleans Saints – As per New Orleans tradition, and in accordance with the city’s liquor laws, the Gatorade coolers at every Saints home game are filled with rum. This explains why Drew Brees is always so quick to flash his beautiful titties at the beads-throwing crowd.

Detroit Lions – The Detroit Lions proudly boast more members of the Clean Plate Club than any other franchise in the NFL.

Indianapolis Colts – During Colts in-game huddles, you can usually hear highly specific references to the novels of Mary Higgins Clark mixed in with the play calls and route assignments.

Cincinnati Bengals – QB Andy Dalton was once mistaken for a ventriloquist’s dummy, and spent several months on the road as part of an act entitled, “The Amazing Randy and his lil’ wooden pal, Pine Cone Pete.” After his rescue by team officials, his only statement regarding the matter was, and to this day, remains, “Amazing Randy sure did know his way around a peanut butter sandwich!”

Washington Redskins – Redskins owner Dan Snyder would like it to be known that he once totally heard a Native American guy use “the N-word.” So everybody needs to back off, because that guy was CLEARLY Chippewa or Cherokee or something.

New York Jets – The New York Jets have officially changed their nickname from “Gang Green” to “gangrene,” because most of the players currently have gangrene.

Kansas City Chiefs – All press materials for the Kansas City Chiefs contain the following paragraph: “We mean it like how you’d call a buddy ‘Chief,’ you know, like, ‘grab me a brewski, Chief!’ We’re totally chill like that. You know who IS racist, though… The Washington Redskins. Oh you know about that already? Yeah… those guys are so racist, am I right, Chief?”

Chicago Bears – Games played at Soldier Field are rarely televised, as even our most modern television cameras cannot pick up the action on the field through the haze of deep-dish pizza farts.

Baltimore Ravens – QB Joe Flacco thinks The Wire is overrated; is more of an NCIS: Los Angeles kind of guy.

Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently slowly fading out of every photo ever taken of them, much like Marty McFly’s family in Back to the Future.

San Diego Chargers – Team practice was suspended for three days during preseason so several members of the Chargers core starting roster could finish investigating The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse. Turns out it, it was just a pesky raccoon causing all that trouble!

San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers are so sure they’re going to win the Super Bowl this year, they can practically TASTE that coupon book. To quote Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, “there’s one in there that’s good for a whole free sub at Subway! I’m gonna get a Spicy Italian, and no one can stop me! EXTRA PICKLES TOO!!!”

3/3/3: Condiments

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3/3/3 is a new series on Zombie Fights Shark where we take a look at the top 3, bottom 3, and most overrated 3 entries in a given category. The categories will cover the entire spectrum of pop culture, plus food & beverages, and even simply life itself. Let’s have some highly subjective fun, shall we?

Top 3 Condiments

3) Salt and Pepper – I mean, sure… salt and pepper are great. They are the load-bearing support beams of every delicious meal we’ve ever collectively jammed into our gaping maws, and for that, they deserve at minimum a Nobel Prize in Tasty-Making. HOWEVER… salt and pepper are boring. Unsexy. Distinctly lacking in pizazz. Look, they DESERVE to be on this list… I’m not saying they don’t…  but they’re also kind of like the grand, sweeping epics that used to get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars back in the 80’s and 90’s (before Hollywood got slightly more hip). YES, Remains of the Day is technically a motion picture of exceptional quality, but GAAHHH… I’d rather watch roadkill rot in the sun.

2) Mustard – Have you ever had mustard on a corn dog? Holy shit.

1) A1 Sauce – The day that A1 first met my tongue was the day I learned the true meaning of the word “savory.” SO ZESTY. A1 is the condiment equivalent of a bicep flexing as it lifts a bale of hay. In every stereotypical sense of the word, it is a MANLY condiment. And so damn delicious, it makes me want to weep tears laced with pure testosterone. MEN DON’T CRY, THOUGH [does one-armed push-ups; rips phone book in half; bellows like a goddamn majestic bull moose]

Seriously, there was a period of time in my life when A1 was a more frequent addition to my meals than, say, vegetables, or things that weren’t bought through a two-way speaker/drive-up window arrangement. I have very specific memories of being 25 years old and drunk, sitting on a dirty kitchen floor at 4am, eating blobs of A1 on Saltines, and feeling like motherfucking Alain Ducasse. “This is living,” I thought-screamed, as I washed down God’s Appetizer with some very cheap malt liquor. “I HAVE BEATEN THE SYSTEM!” And then I’d black out for 12 hours, and wake up covered in…

Well, it doesn’t matter. A1 is amazing, is all I’m saying. If you wash your face with A1, it will clear up your acne. In a pinch, the Vatican has used A1 in place of Holy Water during certain religious ceremonies. Buzz Aldrin chugged a whole bottle of A1 right before he took a metaphorical dump on the Moon. All of this is 100% true.

A1, you are my everything.

3 Most Overrated Condiments

3) Ketchup – Good to dip your fries into? Sure. Splash a little ketchup on your hash browns? Why not. A nice smear on your burger and/or hot dog…? NO. Absolutely not, you son of a bitch. Put down the ketchup. PUT IT DOWN. You don’t get to have ketchup until you realize that it is for POTATOES ONLY. Hold on… you… YES, YOU… you bastard, are you trying to put ketchup on a fucking STEAK? I swear to Christ, I will hunt you ’til the ends of the earth if you don’t drop the squeeze bottle of Heinz and kick it away.

Good… good… okay, now hand over the steak. You don’t get that either. IS THIS STEAK WELL-DONE?

Start running. I’ll give you a half hour to make it sporting. May whatever God you pray to have mercy on your wretched soul because my crossbow won’t.

2) Grey Poupon – Do you realize that people still do the “pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon” bit? Like, you can’t even ask for it on a sandwich without someone giving you a faux-snob accent and pretending to roll down a fucking car window. It’s been DECADES, yet that joke lives on. Also bullshit? Grey Poupon itself. It’s FANCY mustard, oooh so luxurious. We poured WINE in it, so it’s basically SPREADABLE DREAMS. What that really means, is this: If you see Grey Poupon in a menu description, it means you’re paying $2 more for your ham and swiss. That’s it. It’s an up-charge in condiment form.

1) Sriracha – Before you try to beat me to death with the internet, hear me out. Sriracha is FINE. There is nothing wrong with it. It is pleasantly spicy, has a nice garlic kick, and it’s a jazzy shade of red that really pops in photographs on your Instagram account. Sriracha itself is not the problem with Sriracha. The problem with Sriracha is every Buzzfeed article ever written about it… every hipster that gets a Sriracha bottle tattooed on their arm… every Oatmeal cartoon that treats Sriracha like it’s the stuff Jesus himself used to kick things up a notch at The Last Supper. The problem with Sriracha is HYPE. Big, smelly, impenetrable clouds of over-effusive praise that make a good thing mediocre with needlessly high expectations. Hell, the hype has made me actively dislike Sriracha; well, the IDEA of Sriracha, anyway. The gunk itself, as I said, is fine. But seeing it mentioned on a menu, or reading about how you should put it on everything, haha BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH IT lol j/k BUT DOOO IIIT makes me want to roll my eyes until my retinas pop.

Look, I recognize that food is good, in general, and that some specific foodstuffs are individually excellent. But we, as a group, have to realize that if we keep pounding the excellent stuff into the ground, everyone is going to get sick of it and start eating dry saltines and lukewarm tea totally out of spite. Bacon, Nutella, cupcakes, anything served out of a food truck… they ALL know what I’m talking about. Everybody just calm the fuck down about everything. Sriracha would really appreciate it, I’m sure.

Bottom 3 Condiments

3) Sweet Relish –  You know what this hot dog needs? Some goo that looks like a fungus you’d find growing on a boat. And if that goo could also taste like it had several packets of Splenda mixed into it, well then this hot dog will be totally good to go! DID I MENTION THAT I’M A MONSTER??? (dill relish is okay, but I also would be fine if it totally disappeared off the planet; it is the Bill Pullman of condiments)

2) Mostarda – This isn’t a real common condiment, I’ll admit, but I really like the symmetry of having a mustard thing in all three categories. SO VERSATILE. Also, mostarda is disgusting and people need to be warned about it. Now… brace yourself, because I’m about to tell you what mostarda is, exactly. Ready? Made peace with your existence? Texted the family, told them to avenge your death? Good. Mostarda is candied fruit suspended in a mustard-flavored syrup. It looks like this. Try to hold that description in your mind. Run it over your mental tastebuds. If your first thought isn’t, “Dammit, Grandpa’s trying to cook again; time to up his medication,” then I think your brain might need a good thwack to realign its mechanisms. Naturally, your next thought should be… who the fuck is eating this garbage? THE ITALIANS, that’s who. They love mostarda. They put it on bread and meat and, presumably, their naked bodies while engaging in small-batch, locally grown, artisanal sexy times. Gosh, the Italians are just SO much better than us. They do things the RIGHT way.

Except for NOT putting candied fruit in a mustard-flavored syrup, then eating it. They suck at that.

1) Mayonnaise – I am going to admit up front that mayo is a favorite, and much used, condiment of mine. It tastes good when it’s used as an ingredient for casseroles and dips, it’s even better when mixed with flaked tuna and pickles and onion and hard boiled egg, and it’s at its absolute best when it’s spread on a simple sandwich, letting its flavor accentuate and embolden everything it touches.

But here’s the thing: Mayonnaise is disgusting. Like, damn bone-chilling in its horror. Doubt me? Here’s what I want you to do: Make your way into a restaurant kitchen around 11pm on a Friday night. Watch as a tired waiter, tasked with restocking the expo line, takes an industrial sized, plastic jar of mayo and plorps… there’s no other word for it… a huge glob of mayo into an empty hotel pan. Try to maintain eye contact as it heaves out of the jar in gasping, farting slumps. Take in the SMELL of all that whipped fat. Your mouth will water at the tang it kicks off into the air, and you’ll hate yourself for it. Your stomach will tie itself into a reef knot. Oh god, the waiter got some on his hand and he just LICKED IT OFF.

LITTLE DROPLETS OF MAYO ARE SUSPENDED IN HIS MUSTACHE HAIRS.

I don’t feel out of line in saying that the scene I’ve just described is worse than anything that has ever appeared in a Faces of Death video.

And thus, the dichotomy of mayonnaise. Good. Evil. Necessary for deviled eggs. May we one day be forgiven for our sins.

Girl Drink Drunk

Girl Drink Drunk is a regular column that features your host, an adult male who prefers bourbon and beer, exploring the sugary, sweet world of “girly drinks” for your edification and entertainment. He promises not to barf on you. Enjoy.

Marketing to people in their early 20’s has got to be just the worst job. I mean… no, it’s not cleaning up a parking lot after a country music concert (SO MANY EXPLODED DIP CUPS) or working 50 hours a week in a telephone call center (you can only get hung up on so many times before all the rejection makes your soul implode like a decommissioned sports stadium), but still. Having to design advertisements that specifically attract men and women in their early 20’s is awful, because you’re trying to market to a group of people who don’t even know who the hell they ARE. Think back to your early 20’s… what kind of person were you? What were you into? What did you stand for and/or believe in?

If you were anything like me, the answers to those questions are, respectively,  “an awful person,” “whatever, man,” and, “my right to party.” HOW DO YOU MARKET TO THAT??? Early 20’s men and women are emotionally malformed, half-humans who are still trying to figure out how you do adulthood. Everything is exciting! Everything is terrifying! Everything is the best it can possibly be, and the worst it has ever been, all at the same time. Trying to figure out what those people want, and how to make them buy it, is akin to killing the Rancor in Return of the Jedi; sure it CAN be done, but you basically have to be a Jedi to do it.

(For the non-nerds reading this, the above translates to: “Doing something impossible, but only because you’re a person who is literally magic”)

So when you market to people in their early 20’s, you basically have to take the scatter-shot approach. Spray the bullets in a wide enough pattern, and surely you’ll hit SOMETHING that draws blood. And so what you end up with is stuff like… say, an AXE body spray commercial that star an anthropomorphic armpit. Or endless ads that feature a DJ as a lazy shorthand for THIS IS WHAT’ COOL LOOKS LIKE. Or, if you’re Kinky Liqueur… the subject of today’s Girl Drink Drunk… you cram a whole bunch of Sex and the City-style sexual innuendo into a bazooka, then fire that fucker at a laptop fully loaded with Photoshop capabilities. What you get is this:

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Flirty, lingerie lady with bottles of booze in her hair? SURE LET’S GO WITH THAT. This will make the young ladies want to drink our cartoon beverages, surely! This girl is what ALL girls aspire to be!!! Look at her! She’s having SO MUCH FUN!!! Just livin’ life, putting liquor bottles in her hair, for some reason. Probably SUPER FUN reasons! CAN I MIX YOU UP A KINKY-TINI???

Anyway, what Alcoholic Medusa up there is trying to sell you is this:

The Girl Drink(s)

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Kinky Liqueur and Kinky Blue… booze that looks like liquified Snorks, shown here with a quarter for scale. I really don’t want anyone to think I actually bought whole bottles of this stuff. This is what they purport to be:

Kinky Liqueur (the pink one): It’s a little bit of vodka… distilled 5 times, the copy says, because THAT fucking matters after you dump an entire sand dune of sugar into it… as well as a lot of flavoring, dye, chips from a hunk of radioactive uranium, ground-up members of the Tinkerbell family, and, of course, pure, uncut, CLASSINESS. This one supposedly tastes like, again… deferring to the copy… “succulent mango” (as opposed to shitty mango), “blood orange liqueur,” and “passion fruit.”

Kinky Blue (the blue one): Same thing with the vodka… they are VERY proud of their distillation process, which is a bit rich, seeing as how their product tastes about as filtered and distilled as a piece of Laffy Taffy, but WHATEVER. This one is going for a “tropical and wild berry flavor,” because… I don’t know… that’s what blue flavored stuff tastes like now? Back in my day, blue meant razzberry (not raspberry; spelling is key) and that’s how we liked it!

Anyway…

Taste Test – Straight Up

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It became pretty clear, after doing shots of Kinky Liqueur and Kinky Blue that I was really not supposed to do that. These are mixers… drinking these straight is like throwing your french fries in the trash and just squirting ketchup in your mouth. However, doing shots of Kinkys Liqueur and Blue DID give my tongue an up-close, TMI look at what, exactly, they taste like. Surprisingly, I only hated one of them! Kinky Liqueur (the pink one) is sweet… god, so sweet… a Capri-Sun times a million… and it packs a wallop of synthetic fruitiness that is unmatched by even the most engorged Gusher… but it kind of didn’t taste all that bad. Maybe it’s the subtle tartness from the blood orange liqueur that makes it a little more palatable… maybe it’s the fact that the predominant flavor is passion fruit, which I happen to tenderly love (TASTES LIKE HAWAII, BABY). Whatever the case, Kinky Liqueur wasn’t the worst.

Kinky blue, however, WAS the worst. They had a good thing going with the Kinky Liqueur, and they got greedy. “LET’S MAKE ANOTHER ONE! The kids like blue… I’ve seen ’em wearing jeans!!! OUR NEW PRODUCT IS KINKY BLUE!!! PASS ME THAT STILETTO FULL OF COCAINE.” Despite what the copy would have you believe, this junk tastes nothing like anything remotely tropical, or any sort of berry that grows in the wild. It tastes EXACTLY like grape Bubblelicious. To the point where I feel like there’s some kind of weird, corporate synergy going on here. Bubblelicious is the shadow hand behind Kinky Blue! YOU HAVE TO READ BETWEEN THE LINES, YOU SHEEP. YouTube conspiracy theory video forthcoming!

Oh, and acid reflux. Kinky Blue also has subtle notes of acid reflux on the back end. I get why they don’t mention that, though. The word “vurp” rarely appears in packaging copy.

Taste Test – Mixed

I also thought it would be fun (using the loosest, most free-form definition of the word) to try the two Kinkys mixed together, but otherwise straight-up. I was wrong, of course… as I always am about these kind of things… but learning from your mistakes is for DORKS.

First off, it came out the same color as the bruise you get after taking a softball to the thigh:

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I’ve put a lot of unpleasant-looking liquids in my mouth (which probably explains why MY early-20’s remain kind of a messy swirl of colors and lights), but this has got to be a Top Ten finalist. Anyway, the Kinky Mix tasted like total sensory overload. Imagine watching a Japanese anime on Adderall that you washed down with a tumbler of 5hr Energy Shots. That’s as close as I can get to pinning down the flavor.

Mostly, it just tasted like bad choices.

Taste Test – W/ Soda Water

I was too strung-out on the Kinky Mix to remember that I was supposed to be photographing everything, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Imagine slightly less pink and slightly less blue liquids in larger glasses with some ice. You’ve got the idea.

These were a little better. Not so much a head-on collision of flavor; more like minor fender-benders. The fizziness helped cut through the sugar, and the neutral mixer made them not taste like you’re drinking cotton candy barf. They did, however, taste pretty watered down (SHOCKING)… kind of like how Vitamin Water ALMOST tastes like something fruity, but not quite.

Pretty uninspiring, frankly.

Taste Test – W/ Clique Vodka

Clique Vodka is thing I bought for a future installment of Girl Drink Drunk, mainly because it looks like this:

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I feel like if you replaced the word “vodka” with the word “eyeliner,” you could use the exact same packaging for make-up. Smaller bottle, of course. Anyway, I bought it because it looked SO CHICK-LIKE, but then I tried it and… well, it just tastes like vodka. Not very exciting.

However… seeing as how one of the (many) suggested uses for the Kinky brand is the aforementioned “Kinky-tini,” which is a word (?) that makes may teeth itch when I say it out loud… I figured we could just fold the Clique vodka into the mix here.

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The Clique vodka… or ANY vodka, I’m sure… is the code-breaker. THIS is how the Kinky line of beverages is meant to be consumed. The vodka mellows out the harsh acidity of the Kinky beverages; it makes them smoother, and more drinkable. Despite looking like a set dresser’s idea of a “futuristic cocktail” from the kind of cheap-o, sci-fi schlock you used to see on USA’s Up All Night, the Kinky-tinis (ugh, I’m dizzy now) aren’t total garbage. The pink one, anyway. The blue one still tastes like grape Bubblelicious, but without that swallowing-lit-matches reflux taste. Honestly, the Blue Kinky-tini (ouch, my pancreas!) tastes like what a 10 year old would drink after a hard day of playing Freeze Tag and kicking ass on the monkey bars. The pink [brand name martini]… sorry, can’t say it again, I’m starting to go numb below the waist… with the inclusion of the vodka, just tastes kind of mildly fruity and, well, girly. A good starting point, adult beverage-wise, if that’s the kind of life you want to lead.

And if you DO want to lead that kind of life… that VERY SPECIFIC kind of mid-20’s lady life… I guess you could do a lot worse than the Kinky line of products. They’re better than, say, Smirnoff Ices, because at least they’ve got a little punch to them, and they’re not as of yet directly linked to the assorted frat parties and bro-downs that happen at that stage of the game. But… and this is just a little free advice, from someone who’s already walked down that weird, scary road… don’t let the branding of products define who you are. Don’t aspire to be a lady with liquor bottles in her hair, or an anthropomorphic armpit (or whatever those images represent in the real world). Your early-20’s are ridiculous enough on their own.

Let’s Talk About The Movie Poster for Sex Tape

I generally try to be a positive person about stuff… there’s a lot of hate on the internet, and hate is icky in the very same, specific way that those large wads of hair you pull from the shower drain are icky… but sometimes, stuff floats by my eyeballs that I kind of can’t let slide. Stuff like this:

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That is the movie poster for an upcoming movie called Sex Tape. It is something that someone worked very hard on, and I’m sure that person is, at the core, very decent, and donates to charities, and treats his or her mother kindly. However, it… the movie poster for Sex Tape… just SUCKS. It sucks out loud. It sucks so badly, it might set off your smoke alarm. It is to sucking what USMNT goalie Tim Howard is to blocking Belgian shots on goal; phenomenally talented but still technically a loser.

So let’s dig deep, here…

Clearly the worst thing about the movie poster for Sex Tape is the “text quotes,” but I can’t talk about them yet. Like, I’m not in a place, emotionally, where I can handle discussing why they are in front of our faces, and the evil that is rotting the souls of the men…  women… probably men… who put them there. I’ll cover it in a minute, but I need to shotgun another couple of beers first.

So let’s talk about what this movie poster is selling us: Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, and how it is funny that they are fucking. Because it is SO FUNNY. Don’t you see the wacky props? There’s some roller skates, and also a sombrero. The implication is that they were wearing those when they were fucking! And… AND… they broke the bed! WITH THEIR FUCKING! In the sex tape! THE TITULAR SEX TAPE. [hits you over the head with several million dollars worth of promotional material, including billboards, again and again until you are a broken mass bleeding on the floor]

Look… no matter how hard Hollywood tries… sex tapes aren’t funny. At most, they’re kind of awkward-giggly, and even then it’s just because you feel SO BAD for the people that are doing these things to each other on your computer screen. It is a weird paradox that watching real, actual people have real, actual sex is terribly unsexy. They’re into it, so… by all logic… YOU should be into watching them. But it doesn’t work out that way. It’s a lot of bad angles, and disconnected moaning, and unflattering expressions passing across faces that are not very expressive. DO IT LIKE THE PORN STARS DO IT, you scream at your computer. Fake sexy is real sexy because it’s acting. Actual sex, when you’re not the one doing the sexing (key difference), is just uncomfortable and often gross. And here’s where the problem lies with making a Hollywood movie about a sex tape… it’s not going to be like what I just described. AT ALL. It’s going to be, at least minimally, artfully shot. It’s going to be flattering to its stars. It’s not going to be any semblance of real. It’s going to be fake sexy… ACTOR SEXY… which is essentially what porn stars do… which is not a sex tape. So why the hell are we here? Flawed premise, Sex Tape… flawed premise.

Not helping matters is that we’re being asked to accept the idea that Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a couple. Okay… so here is where I admit that I have what might be considered a teeny, tiny bias against Cameron Diaz. I do not care for her. At all. Sure, she had a little something going for her back in the days of The Mask, but… last decade or so… she’s morphed into that next stage of Famous Ladyhood where they just look like they smoke a lot and are mean to waiters. Rich and Mid-40’s go together shockingly poorly for ladies; it’s not fair at all, and I hate pointing it out because I don’t like painting with such large strokes, but… you know, all the evidence. Rich ladies in their mid-40’s have to work really hard to overcome that stereotype (which is a THING, right… I didn’t like just make this up?), and some of them do, OF COURSE, but a lot of them just lean into it like it’s the sea-salted breeze coming over the railing of a private yacht in St. Barts. Or whatever horseshit rich ladies like leaning into. I don’t know. Not my world.

So what they’re asking us to buy is this: A lady like that… a sender-back of multiple entrees and a devotee of Virginia Slims… is married to, and actively fucking, a guy who is basically a man-sized Muppet, so much so that he has LITERALLY BEEN TURNED INTO A MUPPET? That is a large, unwieldy pill to shove down our throats.

Now… I will concede that I haven’t seen the movie yet. Obviously. Maybe their chemistry is balls to the wall. Stranger things have happened. Look no further than this summer’s A Million Ways to Die in the West… a so-so movie that featured bizarrely excellent emotional and comedic chemistry from, of all people, Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron (I know… I watched the movie with my own baby blues, and I still don’t understand how they pulled it off).

But I feel like I’m hitting the mark here. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel don’t go together, like a tuxedo and flip-flops.

That dearth of chemistry is mirrored in the way they’re presented on the actual poster itself. SO FAKE. Heads photoshopped on casting-call bodies… necks weirdly twisted and strained… faces exaggerated, yet dead behind the eyes. The only thing this image truly represents is the exact feeling two cousins have when they are forced to hug each other at a family reunion. It’s so poorly crafted, it bleeds the color out of the rest of the poster; we’re basically looking at grey flannel after we really take in what Diaz and Segel have been digitally manipulated into doing.

Which brings us to the “text quotes.” [slams down beer can; takes a long pull from a bottle of rotgut bourbon, makes peace with his God]

Who…?

I mean, how… right…?

Like… I GET IT… texting is… it’s 2014, for fucks sake… EVERYONE does… texts…

Oh god, I can’t even talk about them as a whole entity. They’re just so… shit-mouthed… so FALSE…

Okay, new tactic… one by one…

“This is def going viral!”

THAT IS NOT HOW PEOPLE TALK. That is how guys in the advertising business think people… the youth of today… talk. All of this is them, speaking at us like they ARE us. “They shorten their words! Everything is going viral all the time now! Reflect that in this new account, or you’re out on your keister! Bring me another in an endless parade of highballs and pastrami sandwiches!”

“What did your boss think of it?! [Smiley Face]”

“Mackenzie… are kids still doing the smiley face thing? What? Emoticoins, sure whatever? Is that still a thing? It’s NOT? What do YOU know, Mackenzie? I’ve been at Schweiber/Mellon Advertising since 1981! I know what’s hip! Now here… peck daddy on the cheek, and you can take out the Benz. Be home by midnight! Don’t do any weed, young lady!”

“Can’t wait for the sequel!”

“See, what we’re doing here is using synergy to integrate the idea of sequel right into the brand’s advertising message. These are the kind of ideas that have kept me in my position here at Schweiber/Mellon for 30 years. I’m an innovative thinker, even when we’re doing… what’s this about…? A SEX TAPE? Well, whatever kids like doing with tape during sex… as long as a movie about it makes us that moolah, am I right, gentlemen? Who want’s a cigar???”

“Was that yoga??!!”

“I don’t know what it means either, but the girls down in the bullpen thought it was a scream. My little girl came up with it! She keeps me young… through Mackenzie, I’m always in tune with the kids and what they want to see in the ads. I love that kid; should probably tell her that one of these days.”

“Best. Spam. Ever.”

“What the fuck does lunch meat have to do with… DAMN IT, MACKENZIE… have you been messing with daddy’s work stuff again??? One good idea about yogurt doesn’t make you an ad exec, missy! I HAVE THE PARKING SPOT AT SCHWEIBER/MELLON, NOT YOU.”

Oh god… what if I can’t get Advertising Executive Guy out of my head. I feel like he’s just squatting on my brain now. Waiting… synergizing… getting wet pastrami all over my occipital lobe…

Anyway, the movie poster for Sex Tape is an insulting rats nest of bad ideas, clueless actions, and mediocre design skills, is all I’m saying. People in Hollywood should try to not make movie posters like that, because it’s way too easy for wise-asses with websites to goof on them on the internet. Also… Sex Tape looks like garbage! Let’s all not go see it! SPHERE OF INFLUENCE!!!

Worth Your Valuable Time: Obvious Child

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When we talk about movies that come out in the summer, we are usually talking about HUGE movies; blockbusters, with special effects out the yang, fast food tie-ins, and, more often than not, a screenplay that is several shades stupider than it really needs to be. And I’m FINE with that. I like those kinds of movies. For example, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction opened this weekend. I will probably see Transformers 4: Age of Extinction because I am a big fan of watching robots fight each other, and when said robots TURN INTO DINOSAURS FOR SOME REASON… well shit, I’m only human.

But we’re not here to talk about aggressively loud and dumb blockbusters today (though again, those kind of movies are OKAY; I am no advocate for change). We are here to talk about the OTHER kind of movie that comes out in the summer… the counter-programming to the fighting robots, fighting superheros, and fighting 50’s doo-wop groups that exists because occasionally you want to be entertained by something that wasn’t created solely as a means to sell action figures.  Specifically, we are here to talk about Obvious Child, a movie that is the exact opposite of Transformers 4 in every conceivable way. It is showing, hopefully, at an art-house cinema somewhere near you, and you really need to go throw your money at it. And make your friends throw their money at it too. MAKE IT RAIN on Obvious Child. Because Obvious Child isn’t just a great movie (though it IS that, big time). It is the very essence of independent cinema.

These are the three things that you need to know about Obvious Child:

Obvious Child is about abortion, but it isn’t an ABORTION MOVIE -Plainly put, this is a movie about a woman who… after getting pregnant from a drunken, one-night stand… decides to have an abortion, and is okay with that decision. The decision itself is at no point in question during the course of the movie, and… though it is what drives the engine of the plot… the act of this woman getting an abortion is kind of beside the point. Now… I will concede that not everyone will be entirely comfortable with that idea. As far as hot-button issues go, abortion is one that, when pushed, can launch nuclear bombs. There are going to be those that will not care for seeing such a weighty, divisive topic handled… not lightly, per se… but with heaping handfuls of comedy and good-nature. “It’s about abortion!  There should be weeping! Wailing! Gnashing of teething, and maybe a little rending of garments for good measure!” If that is what you’re looking for, then Obvious Child is maybe not the movie for you. Although, I think you should watch it anyway… different points of view are a good thing. An enriching thing, even. So just be cool… just everybody be cool.

Obvious Child is devastatingly funny – I am about to make a big, bold statement, but… hell, this is my website, and if you can’t be bold in your own house, why even bother HAVING a house. You might as well live in a puddle. Anyway, here goes: Obvious Child is the funniest movie of the year. Period. I just don’t see anything out there that’s going to beat it. Now, granted, I haven’t seen EVERY comedy that’s been released since January, nor will I see every comedy that gets released before the end of December. But… call it a gut feeling, or a hunch, or, screw it, call it a ROCK-HARD FACT. You are not going to find a funnier movie than Obvious Child in 2014. And now that I have made this big, bold statement… because I am a inherently a worrier at heart… I feel like I am dangerously close to overselling Obvious Child, which would be doing the film a major disservice. But whatever; you need to learn to manage your own expectations, anyway. Consider this an object lesson in doing that. Because I really believe in that big, bold statement… Obvious Child is simply hysterical. It is funny in a vital, honest way that I haven’t seen on the big screen in a long, long time.

Obvious Child SHOULD make Jenny Slate a very big star – Jenny Slate is a comedian who mostly does stand-up, but who also has a decent side career going appearing in small roles on popular TV shows. Bob’s Burgers, Parks & RecThe Kroll Show… she’s been around, but never the main event. Obvious Child is going to change that. Or at least it SHOULD. Sometimes the world just doesn’t recognize a talented entity, because the world isn’t a fair and just place. And it would be PARTICULARLY unfair in this case, because the performance that Jenny Slate gives in Obvious Child is as textbook a definition of the term “career-maker” as there has ever been. Slate is electric in Obvious Child. Hers is a performance that is completely, refreshingly free of actor-ish pretense, and one that crackles with energy and life. Watching Slate in Obvious Child makes you want to watch her in everything else, forever. If the world proves itself once again to be that unfair, unjust place, and she never really makes an impact on the larger world of cinema… it will be a fucking shame wrapped in a miserable bummer shrouded in lameness. And it will also be the world of cinema’s loss.

Now, to wrap this thing up, I feel like I need to justify something I said earlier, that Obvious Child is the essence of  independent cinema. When I wrote that, I hadn’t really thought out exactly what I meant by it. It sure SOUNDED good… real film critic-y… so I patted myself on the back for being quite the insightful lil’ wordsmith, and then I moved on. But, pulled directly from my butt or not, the statement isn’t without truth. “Independent cinema” is a catch-all phrase that generally means, “movies with small budgets that aren’t about fighting robots.” But what the phrase REALLY means is, “movies that are small, but powerful, and mostly about humans that could be real, but it just so happens that they aren’t.” That is Obvious Child, to the letter. It isn’t a huge, epic film… it makes you feel real feelings (joy, heartache, delight… all the good ones)… and everyone in it SEEMS like they exist in the real world, even if they actually don’t. Obvious Child IS independent cinema, and all that it strives to be, boiled down into a tight, 90 minute package.

So, again… I’m not saying you should skip the Summer Blockbusters. I would never try to take dino-bots away from you (or from me, for that matter). I’m just saying that you should ALSO make a little room in your schedule to take in a screening of Obvious Child. It is most definitely worth your valuable time.