Dr. Wiilove or: How I learned to stop being an adult and start buying game consoles for myself

Ok, I know that the age limit on requesting video games for Christmas doesn’t extend into your 20s, but dammit if I didn’t really, really want the Wii this year. Went so far as to cajole Ana’s coworkers and their spouses into lobbying her to buy me one. But, alas, on Dec. 25 the only console under the tree was a Playstation 2 for the triplets — just not the same thing.

And so, being the obsessive, infantile person that I am — and given that this is the slowest week of the year at work — I set my mind to purchasing one on the 26th. Only problem? The console is completely sold out in Westchester. Actually, the first thing that turned up when I started Googling “where to buy Wii” was an article about supply shortages, which said that stores wouldn’t start getting new ones until March. Nooooo.

But I wasn’t quite ready to give up. I searched a dozen or so message boards, called around, and then visited a dozen stores after work. Still no dice. At some point I stumbled onto a site called iTrackr, which claimed to be:

The only tracking service that sends you an instant notification when the hottest and hardest to find products, like the Playstation 3 or Tickle Me Elmo TMX, are in stock at your favorite local retailers.

Sounded like it was worth a shot. I signed up, paid their $1.99 tracking fee, and then waited for the good news to roll in. Bingo: the first search turned up 1 store in my area with Wii in stock. Unfortunately, when I called, they were already out of stock.

So I resumed calling, searching the internet, and grinding my teeth. I’d all but given up when I arrived at work yesterday and there was a message from iTrackr in my Inbox:

Before you can say “early lunch hour” Ana and I were down in Mt. Vernon, picking up my Wii at Target. When I called to double-check that it was in stock, the store clerk sounded shocked; they hadn’t even put the new Wii boxes on the floor yet. And sure enough, I was the first one to inquire about the shipment.

Afterwards, one of my colleagues at The Journal News, Allison Bert, posted about my quest on her blog, The Cost of Living. And then later in the day I got an email confirming that all of the store’s 22 Wiis sold out by 3:12 pm. You snooze you lose.

Anyway, I’m a very happy boy now with my Wii. Although I haven’t been able to get a second controller to go head-to-head with Ana (iTrackr hasn’t been much help with that), I’ve been happily boxing my own virtual TurkeyMonkey, playing tennis with four Ted clones, and practicing my golf stroke.

Now if only I could make good on my Suburbarazzi promise to take on Ang Lee at the bowling alley …

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Confessions of an ElfYourself Addict

Ever since commanding Burger King’s Subservient Chicken to “riverdance” — and then watching the bird go all Flatley around its low-rent apartment — I’ve been enamored of this kind of viral brand marketing (pioneered by Miami’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky). I don’t care if we’re talking about Livesearch’s flirty Ms. Dewey or Volkswagon’s “____ like a Rabbit” banner ads, just as long as long as I can plug in a term like “multiply” and watch compact German cars procreating, I’m a very happy boy.

However, I must confess, the newest entry into the list of buzzed about microsites, ElfYourself.com (brought to you by the good folks at OfficeMax), may have proven too fun for my own good. In case you haven’t visited it yet, the site allows you to cut and paste a head from one of your photos onto a dancing elf. Sounds dopey, I know, but take a look at my mom’s Elfamorphosis and tell me that’s not friggin hilarious.

So, getting back to the downside: After testing the site out with my mom’s noggin on Friday, I got extremely carried away. I elfed just about everyone I know — or at least, everyone whose picture I had on my work computer. After giggling at baby Austin’s dancing elf, I made a dancing cousin Jay elf, then a Winifred elf, then a brother-in-law Rui elf. Then I set about emailing all of them the links. Only problem: every new picture overwrote the last one. I got a kick out of all of them in the test screen, but all of the links I sent pointed to an identical location. so all any of these people saw when they clicked on the link was an inexplicable animation of Alex Bradley’s elf dancing — the last of my creations.

Thus ensued a flurry of re-elfing, clearing my cookies diligently with each second attempt. Eventually, after two or three “lemme try that again” emails, everyone got the elf head that was originally intended for them. Though at my wife’s request, I’m need to go cold turkey with ElfYourself and stop sending these bizarre, random emails.

It’ll be hard to quit, but maybe I’ll dull the pain by moving on to OfficeMax’s 20 other holiday microsites, including:

  • Conspiracy Carols: Which turns your missives into subliminal backwards messages in holiday classics.
  • Reindeer Arm Wrestling: In which you arm wrestle a reindeer. Duh.
  • Seasons Sculpting: Where you can go take a chainsaw and pickax to an ice block to sculpt a statue your favorite viral shill or subservient chicken.
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    The Origins of “Surrender Monkeys”

    After I posted that New York Post cover, featuring Jim Baker and Lee Baker of the Iraq Study Group as “Surrender Monkeys,” I couldn’t get the catchy phrase out of my head. I could have sworn I’d heard it before.

    Turns out, according to NPR’s On The Media, via FishbowlNY, that the term comes from The Simpsons. It first appeared in a 1995 episode where Groundskeeper Willie calls the French “cheese-eatin’ surrender monkeys.” Then, a few years later, it was “reinjected … into the mainstream media” by National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg and “gleefully repeated on Fox News and other apparently Francophobic news outlets” heading into the Iraq War.

    So there you have it. From Groundskeeper Willie’s lips to the Post’s printers. Out-stand-ing.

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    Kitty Mind Games

    My brother-in-law, Dan, never ceases to find the most random, brilliant cat-related things to blog about. This time it’s CatSleep.com, a website offering a 40-minute MP3 file of a cat purring on a loop. It’s supposed to be a kind of white noise to help you get the link. Oh, but that’s not all — it also gets rid of headaches! Here’s the site’s pitch:

    The cats natural low frequency purring is known for it´s exceptional therapeutic calming and stress relief effects and has a natural steady lulling rhythm, during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. The low frequency purr vibration is spread throughout the body. This makes you deeply relaxed and will help you or your child to fall asleep.

    Curious how authentic the purring sound really is, I clicked on the play sample button on the website. It’s been playing for about five minutes now, as I write this, and both my cats are transfixed. Not really sure if it’s freaking them out, or whether I’ve approached the kind of monkey mind torture advocated by MTV’s The State, but it’s certainly entertaining and worth $2.

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