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Fonzie of the Week #5: Conficker

August 28th, 2009 No comments

The Conficker Worm“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
-from The Usual Suspects

That’s right, folks, in a week when every other major media outlet will be honoring and memorializing Ted Kennedy – and rightly so – I am thumbing my nose at the establishment and honoring a computer virus as Fonzie of the Week. (And yes, I now consider myself a major media outlet…I’ve been blogging for over a month. Beat that, CNN!) Why? Because Conficker is so sneaky and dastardly that it’s only a matter of time before it assumes control and turns us into slaves, helplessly doing its bidding under our brutal master’s ever-present watchful eye. And as the first major media outlet to sing Conficker’s praises, I’m hoping my loyalty will be rewarded when the inevitable happens and the rest of you are toiling away in the silicon mines. Hail Conficker!

But seriously, of all the viruses, worms and other digital creepy-crawlies out there, Conficker is without a doubt the coolest. As suggested by the quote at the top of this post, Conficker is the Keyser Söze of malware. It’s lulled us into a sense of complacency, cleverly baiting us into believing that it’s just a harmless myth. “Conficker? Bah, Conficker is as real as the boogeyman! April 1st came and went and nothing happened! Hey, let’s go put our bank account numbers into the cloud…what could go wrong?” But just like Keyser Söze, it’s real, it’s out there and it’s a cold ruthless killer just waiting for the right time to strike. And – spoiler alert! – I’m betting that it’ll turn out to have been Kevin Spacey all along…I’m on to you, Spacey!

As reported by the New York Times earlier this week, there are more than five million computers out there that are part of the Conficker Army, which is sort of like a geekier version of the KISS Army (more RAM, less eyeliner). And while it’s not really doing anything yet, Conficker just continues to grow and grow, drunk on its own power, like a less-evil version of Ashton Kutcher’s twitter account. More interestingly, according to Wired’s “Threat Level” Blog, Conficker is possibly the work of “an intelligence agency with a grudge against China, Brazil, Russia and your parents.” I’ve got grudges against all those people, too. Way to get on board, Big C!

So to summarize: While Senator Kennedy’s death will no doubt end up being the big news story of the week, I urge you to keep your gaze forward, loyal readers. I too will miss having Mr. Kennedy working for the common good in the Senate (let’s honor him with a health care system that works!), but mourning over human beings is so 20th century. Evil shadowy bits of binary code are the wave of the future, and if you don’t start sucking up now, you might get left behind. Remember, Conficker: I had your back when every other major media outlet was trashing your good name. So be cool and don’t wreck my credit score, okay?

On Surprise Marriage Perks or My Wife the Road Rage Surrogate

August 26th, 2009 1 comment
Leslie Gives You the Wrong Finger

Yes, my wife actually (reluctantly) consented to me posting this photo of her not quite flipping the bird. Now that's love.

For better or worse? Check. Richer or poorer? Ditto. Sickness and/or health? Yeah, we’ve pretty much got that one down, too. These are basic tenets of marriage as most of us were raised to understand the institution. But in the nearly three years I’ve counted myself among the blissfully wed, I’ve occasionally encountered instances of my wife providing spousal benefits so completely unexpected and delightful that I’m left slack-jawed with gratitude and admiration. I’m sure I can’t be the only one. These rare and glorious moments catch you off-guard and remind you exactly why you chose the person you did to be your spouse. A shining example of this marital phenomenon occurs when Leslie and I are out taking a drive and and somebody cuts us off.

Now I’ve seen enough situation comedies to know how this scenario is supposed to work: Driver X swerves into my lane, causing me to slam on the brakes, blow a gasket and commence with the screaming, arm-flailing and general ballyhoo over the indignation perpetrated against me – nay, against all mankind – by Driver X. My wife sighs and rolls her eyes, and in the sitcom version of this scene, one of the sickeningly-cute kids in the back seat lets out a catch-phrase to the delight of the live studio audience (“There he goes again!” “Hahahahahaha.”). Cut to commercial…hey, it’s another one for Geico!

But in the real-life version, before I can even let the first two letters of a four-letter word out, let alone perform the necessary maneuvering to get a good arm flail on at 65mph, Leslie lets loose with a heart-warmingly venomous string of profanity that would make a sailor blush…but somehow it’s cute. Some wives cook big meals to show they care – and don’t get me wrong, Leslie is a terrific chef – but somehow I feel most loved by her when watching her shout obscenities at strangers on my behalf. I’m a lucky guy!

The effect of Leslie’s road rage surrogacy is threefold:

  1. She relieves my stress over Driver X’s terrible driving by channeling and releasing my road rage out the passenger-side window. Did you ever see The Green Mile, where Michael Clarke Duncan absorbed people’s diseases and coughed them up as a bunch of moth-looking things? It’s sorta like that, but with less magic and more f-bombs.
  2. Assuming I still have any hatred of my own to vent after she’s done, those feelings are instantly replaced by a crippling fear that I’m going to get my ass kicked by Driver X if he hears even half of the stuff Leslie said about him. I’ve had my life threatened by a crazy person at a red light before. I don’t need to relive the experience.
  3. Even if those first two effects don’t quell my anger, the sight of Leslie giving Driver X the finger surely will. For whatever reason, when Leslie’s really angry, she’s incapable of raising the correct finger; usually she puts up her ring finger. Watching Leslie make almost-obscene gestures at passing motorists really tickles my funny bone. By the time I stop laughing, I’m not angry anymore and Driver X is busy cutting people off 10 car lengths ahead of me. Crisis averted.

All of this is to say: I love you, Leslie, and thanks for doing your part to keep us safe on the highways. I raise my ring finger to you.

Fonzie of the Week #4: Rich Uncle Pennybags

August 21st, 2009 1 comment

Rich Uncle PennybagsIn these tough economic times, who amongst us couldn’t use a mentor? You know, somebody to give you sage advice and to provide a strong example to follow as you navigate the tricky financial problems we all face in this great recession. Well, look no further, my friend. I’ve got the pecuniary guru you’ve been waiting for, and he’s the Fonzie of the Week. I’m speaking of course of Rich Uncle Pennybags (A.K.A. the Monopoly Guy).

Since bursting onto the scene in 1936, Mr. Pennybags has remained a beacon of hope for the down-and-out and well-to-do alike, and what’s cooler than that? He’s generous with his wealth and maintains an indomitable spirit when his luck runs out. He’s quick to take a chance and believes in the power of the community chest. (And if that’s not a resounding endorsement of free universal health care, I don’t know what is!) And I don’t know any New Yorker who wouldn’t kill for a landlord who only charges $50 in rent for kick-ass beachfront property. I know I would. The man’s practically a saint!

Pennybags has a list of accomplishments a mile long, but I’ve compiled a quick visual list of some of his most notable achievements for your reading pleasure:

You Have Won Second Prize in a Beauty ContestHe’s a beauty contest runner-up. (There’s no shame in second place. Col. Mustard’s a real looker.) It’s proof that a top hat and tails never go out of style, and serves as a reminder that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Pennybags, your wisdom – like your smoldering good looks – knows no bounds.
Pay School TaxHe’s been pushing for public education reform since way before it became en vogue. Who do you think managed to get Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich to join forces, anyway? Only one guy I know has them both on speed-dial, and his last name rhymes with “any slags.”
Go Directly to JailLike any financial whiz-kid, he’s skirted a law or two over the years. But he did his time and took it like a man. Stop snitchin!
Take a Ride on the ReadingHe supports American industries, and believes in mass transit. He’s a green pioneer! And unless I’m mistaken, there’s a clear implication made in this drawing…Mrs. Pennybags knows what I mean. Toot!

Congratulations, Rich Uncle Pennybags. Whether you’re hot-rodding in your silver car, or tooling about in a thimble, you never let us forget that sound financial planning is always cool. Pass go, collect Fonzie of the Week.

Hooray for Clever Chalk Signs!

August 17th, 2009 No comments

Next Door One of my favorite restaurants in Washington Heights is Next Door, a small and friendly sushi place with a menu that goes beyond just sushi and/or Japanese food – their roasted chicken wrap is delicious, and their brunch menu features no sushi at all. Now a restaurant that serves good food, while admirable, is not necessarily worth blogging about. However, some industrious Next Door employee takes it upon him or herself to come up with a clever little bit of chalky goodness each day for the sandwich board sign in front of the restaurant that elevates Next Door above the fray.

See the photo at right for the sign that prompted me to write this post…usually speaking I’d be tempted to decry poking fun at a couple going through a messy divorce as despicably uncool, but the sign doesn’t specifically mention the divorce, and besides, we all know that people on reality shows don’t have feelings. And for the record, the whole Jon & Kate thing is annoying – I’ve never even seen that show and yet I understood this sign’s joke right away. It’s not fair. I watched the entire first season of Fringe and I’m still not sure I understand anything about that show. What gives?

So to conclude: keep up the good work, Next Door sign-maker! You and I both know that the secret ingredients that make my teryaki beef roll so tasty are your razor-sharp wit and expert chalk-handling. They go so well with wasabi.

Fonzie of the Week #3: Matt Lauer

August 14th, 2009 No comments

Matt LauerWomen want him, men want to be him (or maybe that’s just me), and his workday ends at 10am. With a resume like that, Today Show Grand Exalted Poobah Matt Lauer was a shoo-in to be named Fonzie of the Week.

While I’m sure some will question the cool factor of waking up with the Today Show, I must admit that it’s a real habit of mine, and something I genuinely enjoy. Like Goldilocks’ fabled mattress, Today is neither too hard nor too soft; it’s just right. There’s enough actual news reporting for me to feel like I’m learning something, but before things get too heavy they wash the serious stuff down with a human-interest chaser that leaves me ready to face the day. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I’d imagine that skipping your morning brew is not unlike when I miss my standard 30 minutes of Today: something’s just not right and I usually don’t recover until nearly lunchtime.

While there’s plenty of good things to say about each of the Today Show hosts, none of them shout “cool” quite like Mr. Lauer. He’s the Fred to Al Roker’s lovable goofball Shaggy, Ann Curry’s brainy Velma, and Merideth Viera’s bland-yet-ultimately-okay Daphne…and I don’t know, let’s say Willard Scott is Scooby. (Million-dollar idea: Scooby Snack Jelly…get on it, Smuckers!) Like his cartoon doppelganger, Lauer is a calming presence, a natural leader, and I’d put money on him actually being able to get away with wearing an orange neckerchief. I’m just saying.

I could go on at length, but here’s a short list of things to keep in mind when pondering just how cool Matt Lauer is:

Where in the world is Matt Lauer? I’m not sure, but wherever he is, he’s keeping it cool. See you Monday morning, Matt!