Airborne Lawsuit – Dietary Supplements for Dummies

Achoo *bullshit* oooWell it turns out that PT Barnum was right, a sucker is born every minute. That “miracle cold buster” Airborne has finally been proven a fraud and taken to task with a class action lawsuit that has resulted in a $23.3M settlement. Turns out you can’t make those kind of claims without accurate and extensive clinical data. (Unfortunately that also means I must remove the title of world’s greatest lover from my resume, though I will be citing any and all anecdotal evidence to my favor. Er, if I ever get any. Not to say that I don’t “get any”. I do. Seriously.)

Anyway, back to the point. I can’t say that this news regarding Airborne comes as a surprise. From the first moment I saw this product I have been extremely skeptical that a cure for the common cold had been found. Especially since the product is, as the box so enthusiastically states, “Created by a school teacher!” Now call me a cynic, but somehow I don’t find this pedigree trustworthy. Creator Victoria Knight-McDowell is, in fact, a second grade teacher. No, not a biochemistry professor, nor doctor slash lecturer. Now I’m sure that between finger paintings and teaching the fundamentals of cursive writing there is lots of time for innovative thinking, but I find it difficult to believe that she was able to create a cure for something that has stumped pharmaceutical scientists and viral disease transmission experts.

Now in case anyone does not know, an education in, well, education, does not exactly qualify someone to create a drug or “dietary supplement” (aka: bullshit drug) as it is referred to on the box. This should be a red flag to the scrutinizing eye. Those credentials make it obvious that Airborne is no more likely to prevent you from catching a cold than that packet Spanish Fly next to the cash register at your local 7-11 is likely to make your dick hard.

But in the defense of Spanish Fly, at least it doesn’t claim success in clinical trials. See, Spanish Fly accepts its role as a goofy placebo. Airborne instead made an effort to appear legit through clinical testing. This is great in theory, but unfortunately someone didn’t tell Mrs. Knight-McDowell’s R&D team that clinical trials require an actual clinic and real scientists. Not two underpaid flunkies in a back room.

I can see the trial team now. Two guys, slamming back fizzing cups of Airborne like Alka-Seltzer after a heavy night of drinking, then running in and out of a 10 degree meat locker with nothing on but a wife-beater saying to each other, “You feel sick yet?” “Um, no. You?” “I don’t think so.” “Are we done?” “Yeah, sure. I bet we can still make happy hour O’Reilly’s.” “Cool, lets jam.”

With an ingredient list that reads like a multivitamin, Airborne should have been obvious as a scam. And guess what? Airborne was determined to be, basically, a highly overpriced multivitamin. There’s even 1,667% of your daily allowance of Vitamin C in there. It’s amazing how many people still believe in Vitamin C is a cold blocker, even though this belief was debunked by scientists a few years ago. Airborne claims that it “busts colds”, when in reality it’s as effective as practicing safe sex with a condom on your head. Now save that image, because buying Airborne will make you look just as stupid.

Unfortunately, this does not change the fact that Airborne is on track to bring in around $1 Billion in revenue this year. Perhaps that is the largest source of inspiration for this rant. I am awestruck by the audacity of dietary supplement companies’ claims and their innate ability to take advantage of gullible consumers, always on the search for miracle cures. Believe me, if a real miracle cure for our ailments came out, it sure as hell wouldn’t be over-the-counter. And they’d be displaying the data openly and enthusiastically.

I guess my other source of inspiration is my jealousy over the copious amounts of money made by Airborne. That said, I am officially making my foray into the miracle “dietary supplement” category with my new product, the Magic Bullet ™. I am very proud of this new item and I am confident that you’ll love it too. In my opinion, why take multiple pills when you can get every miracle you ever wanted in just one easy to swallow tablet. During clinical trials performed by my 7th grade science-lab partners Barry and Terry Liebowitz, both straight A students I might add, the Magic Bullet ™ has proven to remove stubborn belly fat, reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging, make your dick bigger, make your tits bigger (don’t worry it’s a smart pill, it’ll know which you want), help increase your intelligence, and of course, prevent the common cold. The main ingredient is found in the root of a rare Chinese plant called Ha Ha Ga Cha and the chemical extract, which we synthesize into the Magic Bullet ™, is called inyerfukindreemzadextrine.

And if you believe that, then operators are standing by.

Unconditional love…doggystyle.

I picked up a Men’s Fitness today and read through the same regurgitated crap they print every month, sucking in my gut the entire time. It’s just a depressing rag to read, especially when you are compelled to eat junk food faster than our dog Maggie gobbles the cat shit in our neighbors yard. (Which I’ve read is normal because cats can’t process all the protein in their food. So, they crap doggie Powerbars. Doesn’t make it right though.) Anyway, that comparison got me thinking about dogs, and all their idiosyncrasies. Things we grow to love despite their ridiculousness and how their cuteness allows them to get away with extremely questionable behavior with nothing more than an admonishing chuckle.

Our dog Maggie, the Golden Retriever with a cat shit eating grin, has another addiction. They’re round, green, and fuzzy. And no, they’re not hanging between the legs of Oscar the Grouch. I’m talking about tennis balls. Life to Maggie is food, sleep, and tennis balls. I can honestly imagine her working the corner, turning doggie tricks for a tube of Penns or Wilsons. She kinda looks like a crack head now too since she’s worn her teeth down to nubs by gnawing these balls like they were a rack of babybacks from Chile’s. She’s an addict and she needs to be in rehab just as bad as Lindsey Lohan. She’s also an intense dreamer and sleep-howler and when in the throes of rem sleep will often break out in a banshee like howl that subsequently wakes up all of our family as well as herself. We all try to get back to sleep, but are stuck with images from Pet Cemetery running through our minds.

Chaz, our West Highland terrier mix, has a white mustache that is alway cockeyed making him look like an albino cross between Wario and Salvador Dali. His vices are uber sexual in nature. An example would be what happens on our afternoon poop run. See our dogs are on a strict schedule – they eat at 4:30pm, then they go out to take a dump around 5pm. But we know exactly when to take them because Chaz gets horny. He bull charges Maggie’s front leg and all 21 lbs. of him starts power humping like a tiny Ron Jeremy after four Rockstars. (I just barely caught him on video here).

Maggie stands giant, stoic, and rigid like a sedated Brigitte Nielsen. Actually makes me think about what it must have been like with her and Stallone in the bedroom. He’ll do his hump routine three to four times before you can get a leash on him for the poop run. This always makes me think about Kingpin when Woody Harrelson is forced to sleep with his land lady and she says, “What is it about good sex that makes me have to crap?” Anyway, immediately afterward they hit the field and pop out yesterday’s kibble. Chaz’s other turn on is hot, sweaty, fresh-out-of-the-sock feet. You pop off your shoes and socks in front of him and he’ll start licking like he was trying to get to the center of a tootsie pop. I’m sure if he were smarter I’d catch him on the computer cruising German foot fetish sites.

Sofie, the toy poodle bitch that resembles a rat with a perm, has a deviated septum. The result of this is that when she falls asleep her breathing sounds like a liposuction pump slurping its way through John Goodman‘s fat ass. She is also a compulsive licker and is not as discriminating as Chaz. If left unattended she would literally lick a hole in our leather sofa. And I’ve licked the sofa. Doesn’t taste like anything. Honest. I think maybe she has a taste bud disorder and can’t taste anything, so her behavior is like a paraplegic stabbing himself in the leg trying to get a reaction. Sophie is also a major shit disturber and will bark at anything and everything, including much larger dogs, apparently not realizing that to a Rottweiler she looks like a Milk-bone on four legs. I imagine her like a hyper bitchie Rosie Perez starting fights that her boyfriend is forced to finish.

Beau, our Yorkie, is mustachioed like Pancho Villa and has an under bite of Sling Blade-like proportions. He’s a real sweetheart of a dog, and he’d be perfect except for one thing. With Beau I have the Midas touch. I can’t give the dog a scratch behind the ear without him giving himself a golden shower and shooting piss everywhere. Even once he gets comfortable and stops his submissive urination he seems to constantly check his wee-wee for leaks, like you would check your drawers after any fart following Indian food.

Despite the strangeness of these things, they are what we love about our dogs, what set them apart. What it represents is unconditional love. This reminds me of a scene from Good Will Hunting:

“Sean: My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Oh!
Will: She woke herself up?
Sean: Ah…! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but there not. Ah, that’s the good stuff.

~ Robin Williams as Sean Maguire, Matt Damon as Will Hunting.”

And I suppose it’s true. We’re just as weird as our dogs on many levels. The thing is, they’re just silent observers, well, if you don’t count all the yapping.

But hey, don’t think I’m getting to serious on you. I still don’t approve of eating cat shit.

Rambo is my surrogate father…

Rambo at heart…Rambo at heart…Ok, ok, I hear the snickers already. People I know, my close friends included, sounded about as enthusiastic for the release of the new Rambo film as they would about having a colonoscopy, if that colonoscopy were performed with a twelve-inch bowie knife! I, on the other hand, could not help but be excited. The idea of Rambo transported me back to my youth, a magical landscape populated by the likes of Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Segal, Chuck Norris, and even Dolph Lundgren on particularly desperate nights: Men who became like second fathers to me over the years, teaching me lessons of manhood in compact, easy-to-swallow one and a half hour capsules. I flash back to age eleven, and see myself standing in front of a mirror with a red scarf tied round my head and a cheap, jade, Buddha pendant from Chinatown hanging from my neck. I’m flexing my little muscles to David-like marmoreal hardness and glistening with a fresh coat of my mother’s bath oil slathered on my skin. The plastic, orange tipped ak-47 water gun I brandish and my snarled lip complete the ensemble. John Rambo would’ve been proud.

These tough guy movies, or ‘dude-flicks’ as I call them, are often frowned upon for their violence and general stupidity. But they’ve taught me many things about life, the power of love for example. In the climax of Commando, Schwarzenegger kills over 150 bad guys in order to get his kidnapped daughter back. I can’t offer a specific number for how many he killed because I lost track – Arnie would need an autistic sidekick on par with Rainman to keep up with the body count. It’s like trying to count the number of times “around the world” is said in that Daft Punk song titled, well, Around the World. It’s just not possible. (Side note: It’s songs like these that keep my dreams of being a lyricist alive.) But back to the point: this is a perfect example of how love can triumph against overwhelming odds – M-16s and twenty-three inch biceps are really just backup.

I also learned that if you want to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t say much, but if you do say something, it should be either profound, or a primitive grunt. The scripts from these dude-flick movies offer superb templates for getting started on this philosophy of communication. Take the tagline from the new Rambo trailer, “When war is in your blood, killing is as easy as breathing.” This could just as easily be adapted to the playground: “When dodge-ball is in your blood, tattooing people in the face with a red rubber ball is as easy as breathing.” Or corporate America: “When downsizing is in your blood, shit-canning people is as easy as breathing.” Think about the respect you’d garner dropping these knowledge-bombs on your peers. Just be sure to drink some whiskey before hand to get the desired gravely voice; kids, just swallow some Pop-rocks and take a shot of Robitussin. Otherwise, if words would just convolute things, go with the grunt. For reference, see Schwarzenegger removing the bug from his brain in Total Recall, or Stallone about every other second in an action sequence. Primitive grunting and groaning existed well before the written word and complex languages muddled things up. A true action star can convey an entire array of emotions through these guttural vocal bursts. Remember, grunting speaks louder than words. Ungh!

Finally, I learned sometimes you need to be bad to be good. You know that old adage; you attract more flies with honey? Well, there was another saying that was born in the muck of the jungles of Southeast Asia, and that was: “You kill more flies with napalm.” This is the proverb that our dude flick icons live by. Besides, why the hell would you want to attract flies? I never understood that. Anyway, the pearl of wisdom to extract from this golden oyster of thought is that to kill a schizoid, sometimes you have to become a schizoid; or in other words, fight bat-shit crazy with bat-shit crazier. Going out of your mind is quite an effective way of dealing with difficult situations. It’s like thinking outside the box, but more literally like thinking outside of your cranium. For example, like in Missing in Action when Chuck Norris goes buck wild on the Viet Cong after he decides to rescue a group of old POWs by himself. In the process he teaches us that sometimes one crazy-ass mofo is just as effective as an entire army. Who would have known this unless someone had tried? Thanks Chuck.

In sum, I just want to offer thanks to these honorable modern day demigods. They’ve taught me about being a man and about power of the human spirit. Collectively they have become my surrogate fathers and I have suckled their rock-hard, growth hormone injected teat of knowledge. They have brought me enlightenment and more chest hair than originally deemed possible by heredity. I salute them and suggest you give them a chance to impart wisdom to you and your brood. So next time you think about popping in Sleepless in Seattle for yourself or Baby Einstein for the tots, consider swapping it out for Predator, Rambo, or Bloodsport. Trust me, it’ll make being a real man “as easy as breathing.”

Mucinex commercials make me want to buy…Pepto.

Nostril HobbitsNostril HobbitsPicture this: You’ve just sat down down to a lovely meal of pork tenderloin covered in a fabulous mango chutney. Pop goes the cork on a bottle of Pinot Gris and you fill your glass a third of the way, swirl, and sip. Perfection. Then you grab the remote and turn on the TV. It’s 20/20 and you feel like a very informed citizen as you prepare to learn about Chinese oppression in Tibet. After the first segment, the commercials roll in. Then there, on the screen, is a giant, gelatinous blob of green. No, you have not sneezed on your television set. You notice the blob is wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt stretched to the limits. He is watching TV in a little circular living room. Then the camera zooms out and shows someone blowing their nose and you realize the blob is a snot goblin that is living inside your nostril, and his name is Mr. Mucus. You then proceed to wiggle around a particularly gooey chunk of the mango chutney on your tongue with a nauseous sensation growing in your belly and spit it out in your napkin.

What the crap?! Is this really necessary? Do we really have to personify illnesses now in order to sell drugs? And I thought the rapidly read drug side-effect list – which sounds like it was developed for an SNL sketch – was bad.

This Musinex booger boy is just part of a disturbing trend though. First it was Digger, the “dermatophyte” who told you he lived beneath your nails and who after introducing himself proceeded to spin into a whirling dervish and burying himself into your flesh. Now don’t you want some Lamisil – now that you know you have a colony of creepy little creatures partying underneath your nails? Honestly, what’s next. Are we going to be looking forward to the following commercial characters one day?!

Preperation H – Meet Harry Hanger and the rest of his red-headed family of ornery hemorrhoids.

Pro-activ – Say hello to Poppy Whitehead, the curmudgeonly blind zit that lives under the skin of your pockmarked chin.

Exlax – Introduces Pluggy, the quirky five-pound colon blocking turd.

I’m sure a marketing team could come up with scores more. I just don’t want to hear it. This shit gives me nightmares, like when I watched a Discovery Channel special on exotic parasites and learned a fish could swim into your penis and live there if you go wee wee in the Amazon (now that’s what I call cock blocking). I have enough trouble worrying about contracting some disease crapping on a public toilet. I don’t need to imagine illnesses as little creatures getting ready to invade my body. Besides, for me on a advertising level their ads aren’t working. You make me nauseous and I’m not going to be looking for the Mucinex. “Pass the Pepto, please!”