Issue 5: Funny Pages

We are pleased to bring you the work of Joe Lavin, a syndicated humor columnist whose work appears in many newspapers and magazines. Joe’s writings have nothing to do with kiting, but, what the heck, we think he is a funny guy.

Orbitz: The Drink With Balls

orbToday, I feel compelled to write about Orbitz, the relatively new drink from Canada. For those of you who have never seen it, Orbitz is a disgusting fruity drink with little gelatin balls floating in it. Yes, you read that right. A major corporation, Clearly Canadian in this case, has actually released a drink that features little gelatin balls floating in it. In short, it looks very much like a lava lamp, plus you can drink it.

Orbitz comes in such actual flavors as Orange-Vanilla, Raspberry-Citrus, Blueberry-Melon-Strawberry, and Pineapple-Banana-Cherry-Coconut. I don’t know about the others, but I did try Orange-Vanilla Orbitz. I even paid money for it. You’re no doubt thinking, “Joe, how could you have possibly paid money for something that sounds so horrible?” Well, there’s a simple and plausible explanation. I bought it merely as public service to help you, my readers, navigate through the often confusing world of beverages.

Also, I was somewhat drunk.

The odd looking bottle of Orbitz sat in my refrigerator for days, terrifying my roommates. When I finally had the balls (er, sorry) to try it, it tasted like the sort of thing thirteen year old boys dare each other to drink in a school cafeteria. And those balls only made it worse. I mean, here’s this disgusting drink. One can almost handle that, but oh those balls. I caught one with my teeth and bit into it. It was like biting into radioactive mucous Tang. I don’t want to think about it anymore.

And I’m not the only one who hates it. I went to the Beverage Network in an attempt to learn more about Orbitz and because, frankly, I have too much free time on my hands. Here’s their review of Raspberry Citrus Orbitz:

Atrocious. That sums it up. This flavor tastes absolutely horrible. In the words of James Craven, author of SuperFox, “It tastes like water that came out of a vase used for flowers. . . . the balls make it even worse.” The only difference is that Orbitz has sugar. This beverage makes us sick.

But despite all the negative reviews, Clearly Canadian is surging forward and opening a new Orbitz factory in California. It makes me feel rather inadequate to realize that while I’m still a temp the person who had the presence of mind to invent a drink featuring round floaty chunks of something or another is no doubt still employed. Hell, he or she probably got a promotion, and that’s what’s really confusing. Think about it. At some point during a board meeting at Clearly Canadian, the following exchange occurred:

Person who thought to put Round Floaty Chunks in a drink: ” Sir, would you like to hear our idea about a new drink with round floaty chunks in it, eh?”

Chairman of the Board: “Round Floaty Chunks! Round Floaty Chunks! That’s brilliant! What this company needs are more ingenious people like you. We’ll be rich. Rich, I say.”

Wouldn’t you know it? Orbitz has a web site. As you enter their site, you are greeted with the words, “Set gravity aside and prepare to embark on a tour into the bowels of the Orbiterium.” Now, I’m no marketing expert, but somehow it seems a bad idea to use the word “bowels” at a web site dedicated to a drink this hideous.

As I indeed delved further into their bowels, I discovered a page of e-mail from people who had tried Orbitz. Not only did they have pages for their “good” and “arcane” mail, but they also had a page dedicated to “bad” mail. You have to wonder about these people. First, they create Orbitz, and then they use their web site to display the opinions of people who hate the drink.

I started with the good mail. After all, I had to know who actually likes the drink. It seemed a bad omen for them when on this page of “good” mail, I came across the comment, “your drink is good but it feels like you are swallowing barf.” And later on there was another ringing endorsement: “The orbitz in the drink were cool at first! But it gave me and my dad a slight stomach discomfort! But the drink was really good!” High praise indeed.

To be fair, there are apparently some big Orbitz fans out there. One person wrote:

I think that your drink is the best, it gives me a tingling feeling all over the mouth and the throat. Your drink is the only thing that ever gave me this feeling before and I love ORBITZ.

A 12 year old named Buzz wrote:

I drink Orbitz all the time. It makes me happy and sugar high. . . . Some of my friends don’t like Orbitz because of the way it looks. I love the way it looks because it looks like a lava lamp. I also have a lava lamp.

And perhaps the most cogent comment of all was: “Very trippy. Whatever you guys are on, I want some.”

Next, I checked out the hate mail, which included comments such as:

The little squishy balls represent disgust in its purest form. Sucking them through my teeth, waves of nausea racked my body for several hours following.

Your product sucks and thousands of people will probably do as we did and spit it in the sink!

Why does your drink make people sick if they drink it while riding a bike or doing something like that?

I still don’t get it. Perhaps I’m just not hip enough. I almost think they want people to know the drink is bad. Maybe they are specifically targeting the “Here, this tastes horrible. Try it.” market. We all have an inherent curiosity to taste disgusting things, because we think “they couldn’t possibly be that bad.” Orbitz, however is. Unless you’re the type of person who has ever stared into a lava lamp and thought, “Well, gosh, I’d sure like to take a swig of that,” my advice is to avoid Orbitz completely. You’ll thank me later.

Orbitz Picture by Ye Olde Web Designer Cat.

For more info, go to:
The Orbitz Website
The Unofficial Orbitz Website, featuring — God help us — an Orbitz chat room.
The Beverage Network I especially recommend the Beverage Purity Test.

The Evil Side of Television

August 4, 1998

One of my more popular columns from the past.

This is the story of my nineteen inch television and how I tried to ship it from California to Massachusetts. Brace yourself. It is not a happy story. I tell this story so that others may learn from my mistake. Never — I repeat — never try to ship a nineteen inch television.

Problem #1 — I wake up that day and realize I need a box. That’s no problem at all, I think. I head to the Box Depot, a store that features not only many boxes but also a rodent-like dog who insists on attacking my friend repeatedly. Suffice it to say that their slogan seems to be, “Sparky!!!! No bite!” I eventually get a twenty-four inch cube. My friend eventually gets out alive. I also buy packing supplies — $9 worth of little white peanuts or, as they soon will be called, little white minions of Satan.

Problem #2 — At first, it looks like there won’t be a second problem and that everyone in the world will live happily ever after. I put the television in the box, drop in hundreds of the little minions, seal it up, and bring it to my car. All runs smoothly until . . .

Well, the box doesn’t fit in the car. I understand that it doesn’t fit in the trunk. As I look at the trunk, I realize I could never get away with murder because I wouldn’t be able to fit the body in the trunk. Practically nothing fits in the trunk, but somehow I just can’t believe that the box won’t fit in the back seat. I realize that my unscientific measurement of the car door earlier in the day really should have been far more scientific.

Problem #3 — I call a few shipping companies to see if they’ll pick it up. However, the shipping fees they want to charge are slightly more than the value of the television, which is several years old and often has to be unplugged to be turned off.

Luckily, without the box, the television will fit in the back seat. Our new plan is to pack it outside the UPS building. We remove the television from the box and put it in the back seat, which of course causes millions of the little white minions of Satan to go flying onto the ground. It takes about fifteen miserable minutes to pick up the $9 of white things. Eventually, we collect them all, fold up the box, throw it in with the television, and are on the road ready for . . .

Problem #4 — UPS is in the ghetto. Well, not exactly. There are worse sections of Los Angeles, but there are so many more that are nicer. My computer is also in the car, and I grit my teeth as I drive my most valuable possessions through this neighborhood. Red lights last for eternity.

Problem #5 — Can you believe it? I am running out of the god damn white things. Initially, I had more than I could comprehend, but somehow many have escaped through the time-space continuum into a parallel white things universe. After we pack the television in the parking lot, there is now a gaping space at the top of the box.

UPS closes in a few minutes, and I have to leave the next day. I must do something. I search frantically through my car for stuff to put in the box so that the television won’t rattle. I find some towels. I find a plastic container of water. I empty what’s left of the container and throw it in the box along with the towels. I feel like a damn fool, but the box really doesn’t look that bad. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. It almost looks like everything might work out until of course I come across . . .

Problem #6 — UPS Guy: “I see this isn’t the original box.”

Me: “Um.”

UPS Guy: “I have to open it.”

Me: “No!!!”

UPS Guy: “What?”

Me: “I mean, you don’t really need to do that. I mean, it’s fine the way it is. Um, right?”

UPS Guy: “I’m sorry. I have to see if it’s packed properly.”

Me: “No, please!”

That, of course, is the end. The first thing he sees is the empty water container. A few drops of water drip out as he picks it up.

“It has to be in its original box or packed professionally.” He says.

“But it’s –” Well, it hasn’t been packed professionally, and I know it. Frankly, being called a mere amateur in the field of packing stings. I explain how I had been told by UPS that I didn’t need the original box, but he doesn’t care. He just shrugs and tells me that he can’t take the box.

It would be one thing if I could blame him for being rude or nasty, but I can’t. He is perfectly nice and listens patiently as I vent my anger. He nods frequently and even apologizes occasionally. He seems to be a wonderful person. I hate him. I am not thinking rationally. Just to be a pain in the ass, I insist that he seal the box up again. I return to my car and of course . . .

Problem #7 — Well, the box still doesn’t fit in my car. So there I am with my wonderfully patient friend in this dark, lousy neighborhood, looking at a giant box that won’t fit in my car. That’s when I decide just to leave the stupid television in the parking lot and drive away.

Well, that would be the perfect ending, but I don’t have quite enough guts to do that. Instead, we unseal the box, take the television out, and put it in the back seat. And of course, the white minions of Satan go flying all over the UPS parking lot. Somehow, all the ones I lost before mysteriously reappear. A few hundred more from that parallel universe seem to have joined them. I’d like to leave them there, but a security guard is giving me a dirty look. And so we spend the next ten minutes again picking up white things off the ground and throwing them into my trunk.

There is a happy ending, sort of. The television eventually made it to Massachusetts. On my drive across country, I put it in the back seat and drove it through San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Columbus, Harrisburg, and into New England.

Here’s the strange part. Remember how I said the television wouldn’t always turn off. Well, now that it’s been loaded in and out of my car dozens of times, carried up the steps of several hotels, driven across the bumps of fourteen states, and cursed at more times than I can remember, it no longer has this problem. Yes, now that I hate my television and never want to see it ever again, it works just perfectly.

Go figure.

News Summary

by Joe Lavin

Stuff Explodes! Number One at Box Office

In its opening weekend, the new action film Stuff Explodes! earned a staggering $76.3 million at the box office to become the number one movie in America. According to a spokesperson at 20th Century Walt Disney Warner, that was the highest opening ever for a movie that did not make more than $76.3 million in its opening weekend. “We’re very proud of this accomplishment, and we hope to break more records in the future.” The spokesperson said.

Not surprisingly, the movie, about an asteroid that crashes into an erupting volcano in the midst of a tornado caused by an alien invasion, had its most success with young men, while most young women preferred to see Long Movie In Which Stuff Doesn’t Explode At All which finished second for the week.

Siskel Out 2-3 Weeks with Torn Ligament in Thumb

Popular film reviewer Gene “The Skinny One” Siskel tore ligaments in his right thumb over the weekend at a screening of the new film Stuff Explodes! The injury occurred at the end of the film when both Siskel and Ebert attempted to give the film “two thumbs up, way way up.”

“I guess I just have to be careful.” Siskel said later. “I forgot to stretch beforehand, and as the body gets older you’re just more prone to injuries.” At first, many were worried that the injury would be more serious. However, when Siskel was taken to nearby Chicago Deaconess Hospital for an MRI, doctors determined that there was no serious damage to the thumb.

“Thank goodness.” Siskel said. “The Doctors said it should be all better in a 2-3 weeks. Hopefully, if I follow their training program I’ll be able to return even sooner.” Over the next few weeks, Siskel has been told to take it easy and see only crappy movies that do not require his thumb to be stretched upward. “I just rented all the Police Academy films plus The Postman.” Siskel said outside his home yesterday.

While his partner is out, Roger Ebert plans to appear on the show alone and argue about movies with himself.

Americans Inundated with Too Many Reports, Report Says

A 476 page report issued by the Government Commission on Information Resources (GCIR) reveals that Americans are now forced to deal with many more reports than they can handle. The report concludes that “a sheer increase in the percentage of the reduction in the quantity of reports would be beneficial to the population at large. Furthermore, it would also be advantageous for the length of documents to be downgraded significantly through a reduction in the amount of overused verbiage whose only purpose would seem to be to confuse the reader.”

President Clinton praised the findings of the study. “This is an excellent report, but we must remember that this is only a beginning. The Government Commission on Information Resources must continue its fine work by conducting more studies and issuing more reports so that we might further understand the complexities of this very real problem. In the meantime, I have created a Special Task Force under Vice President Gore which will explore the ramifications of the suggestions offered by the GCIR. I very much look forward to reading their report.” The President told members of the Washington press corps who were largely asleep.

“Heading this Special Task Force is an excellent opportunity. I look forward to finding a solution so that we may all live in a future that is completely unburdened by unnecessary paperwork.” The Vice President said in a written statement.

Copyright 1998 by Joe Lavin

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