1. A Memorial Day Weekend Message!

    HERE’S a real laff-getter you’ll use to get things started around the ol’ barbecue this weekend while waiting for the coals to heat up and the Zima to take effect.

    It seems last year I was in my local Super Walmart and since I, like you, am quite fond of the good ol’ U.S. of A., I purchased one of these:

    As you can see, I have placed a Toolie Bird on the shirt for scale.

    What better way to say “I love America and Old Glory” than to wear a t-shirt emblazoned with our nation’s flag in the shape of our country? Right? Right?

    But before you agree with me, let’s take a look at the printed label inside the shirt collar.

    All I can say is hold onto your hats for this one, brother!

    If that doesn’t beat the band!

    This patriotic t-shirt was – yes, you read right, folks! – “MADE IN PAKISTAN” – the very country, which at the time of this shirt’s manufacture, was harboring Public Enemy Number One! For all we know, it was Osama himself (or one of his many lovely wives) who made this very shirt. It sickens me! But I will say they did a good job. Tight stitching, no hanging threads, fits snug but not too snug, etc.

    The good folks at Walmart release a similar shirt each year around this time, and this year’s offering wasn’t made in Pakistan, no sir!

    It was made in Nicaragua!

    You can bet your Kate Smith LPs I won’t be buying one!  But mostly because they were $3.80 last year and now they’re $5.50. The hell with that!

    Anyway, grill’s ready.  Get cookin’ there, Guy Fietti.

    Posted by on May 27, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  2. A “Puzzling” Thing!

    I WAS AT one of my favorite thrift stores in lovely Rosemead, California recently, and I’m not going to mention the name because frankly, I want to save them the embarrassment. Oh yes, it’s going to be one of those posts!

    There I saw a jigsaw puzzle for sale, and knowing how much the missus and I enjoy getting out the ol’ card table and working a jigsaw puzzle on a Saturday night, I thought, sure, maybe this might be something I’d like to pick up.

    So I bought it.  And here it is:

    Above: The Whitman Junior Guild 63 Extra Large Interlocking Pieces Jigsaw Puzzle, #4429, in original box, circa 1960s.

    I don’t know if you can see in that upper-right corner, but this baby originally retailed for 49¢ American. But you’ve been smoking puzzle glue if you think I was about to pay that much for it. No, you’ll notice above the AW in JIGSAW a handprinted “10¢” – a much more reasonable price for this.

    –That is, if it was complete.  As it turns out, a very big if, and yet, I don’t want to give anything away!

    Anyway, we’re poring over this for puzzle, Mrs. P and I, for the better part of three consecutive Saturdays. This wasn’t any 24-piece “baby” puzzle. Interlocking sixty-three individual puzzle pieces, especially when you’re bombed on cheap gin mixed with root beer schnapps (Why? Why?!), arguing, and in my case, dodging the occasional heavy glass ashtray, these things take time. Finally, we’re in the home stretch and something’s not quite right. There seems to be two pieces left but three open spaces in the puzzle. What gives?

    Well, we look on the floor. We look in the puzzle box. We look under the table. Someone bangs her fat head on the bottom of the table coming back up and nearly knocks the entire thing over, which would have gone right into the Hummel shelf. Have another drink! Jesus!

    Eventually, after more hollering, we realize we’re missing a piece. (Yes, we checked the back of her sweaty legs).

    Here’s the monstrosity we were left with:

    Every time I see that enormous gaping hole on the left side it just enrages me all over again.  Goddamn it!

    Would it have killed the old bags at the thrift store to quit bitching about the edema in their vericose vein-twined cankles for two minutes and count the damn puzzle pieces before putting this out on the sales floor? It’s not like this was a 2500-piece Milton Bradley Big Ben we’re talking about here. And the box doesn’t say “Around 63 or So Pieces.” It says “63 Pieces!” And how many pieces were in there? Sixty-Expletive-Deleted-Two!

    Sixty-Two!

    Which makes me wonder who the boy and girl were. They’re probably in their fifties now. Gee! Makes ya feel old, huh? And the dog? Long dead. Sorry.

    So if you’re either of the two kids, email me! I speak for all of my readers when I say we’ve been wanting to know how appearing on a 1960s jigsaw puzzle might have changed your life. What kind of doors did it open? And, if I may, did it present any sort of unexpected challenges?

    Posted by on May 24, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  3. Noisy Birds!

    NEXT DOOR there’s a stand of eucalyptus trees. And at the top of one of them is an aerie. Do you know what an aerie is? Well, most importantly, it’s a crossword puzzle word, like “tor” or “Ida Lupino.” But also, it’s a nest for a bird of prey.

    And living in this aerie is a couple of red-tailed hawks.

    Now, these birds are largely benign, I guess. They don’t hunt around here, which is both good and bad, because there’s a lot of cats in the neighborhood, but there’s also a lot of filthy squirrels and that’s a population that you agree we’d all like to see decimated.

    Often you can hear the hawks’ signature call as they approach their home, and my God, suddenly you think you’re back in the Andes hunting Nazi war criminals with Jonny Quest.

    Now they’ve been there a few years and we’re all getting along fine, and then this year, last week, suddenly, they decide – without so much as mentioning anything to anyone – they decide to have babies!

    And since then it’s been wall-to-wall high-pitched screeching from dawn to dusk! It sounds like some obnoxious kid blowing on a toy whistle! But here’s the difference: You can smack some obnoxious kid blowing on a toy whistle! You can smack ‘im hard! But you can’t smack a baby red-tailed hawk! Oh no, they’re protected by Federal and State laws!

    Here’s an illustration I commissioned myself to draw so you can more easily understand my dilemma:

    As you can see, my enormous muscles here help my situation little. (I didn’t draw my abs in because to be perfectly frank when I’m wearing a muscle shirt, you really can’t see them.)

    I can’t even use my wrist rocket (not a euphemism; get your mind out of the toilet; it’s a slingshot) because even just pelting the holy hell out of the aerie with rocks just to get them to shut! up! is considered “harassment.” And I don’t need to sit through another court-mandated class, especially after – when I was apartment manager a few years ago – letting myself into #2-H’s place when I thought she wasn’t home and it turns out she was taking a shower.

    Anyway, I hope they grow quickly and get the hell out of our neighborhood. Which, interestingly, is the way I feel about most of the human children around here, too.

    Posted by on May 23, 2011, 2:42 PM.

  4. A Treat for the Mouth!

    BIG fan of peanut butter, hmm?
    Sure, of course you are – we all are! Check this out:

    Yes, it may look like an ordinary jar of peanut butter, but look at that label closely! Much like you, it’s whipped!

    It’s also got 1/3 less sugar, but don’t let that scare you off! Notice it doesn’t say what it has 1/3 less sugar than!

    Oh, wait, actually it does.  In smaller print.

    Anyhow, a pal turned me onto this stuff and now I’m hooked.  You can get it at the 99¢ Only store! And of course that begs the question, “Did this stuff not sell in regular stores and the Peter Pan Peanut Butter people are just dumping it at the dollar store before it expires to recoup some of the costs from what was presumably an enormous new-product roll-out (industry jargon), or was it made specifically for your dollar store retailers?”

    I suppose I could look into this, but c’mon, neither of us really care. How much more interesting do you expect this damn thing to be? It’s a post on a blog, for goodness sake! Let’s not kid ourselves here!

    The point is that the stuff is light and fluffy, and incidentally, that’s where the  “1/3 less sugar” notation comes from. Essentially, a standard jar of peanut butter this size, unwhipped, would contain 1/3 more condensed peanut butter…and the sugar that comes with it.

    So you’re paying for a smaller amount of peanut butter that might otherwise come in a jar this size…if it wasn’t whipped up all frothy and light. So is 99¢ a fair price for a 9.3 ounce jar of peanut butter?

    Let me answer that for you…by sticking a spoon in it…

    …and then offering you a taste:

    Go ahead, don’t be shy. I haven’t had an outbreak in weeks.

    Now, I ask you, isn’t that something? This is peanut butter you can eat right out of the jar! And according to my pal, it has erotic applications as well! Well, actually she said you could frost a cake with it and I just presumed that was some sort of euphemism.

    But if she wasn’t talking dirty, if I were to take what she said literally, then yes, you could absolutely frost a cake with this stuff. It’s just that light and fluffy.

    And remember those 1970s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials with the “You got my chocolate in your peanut butter!” and the “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”…?  Well, finally, thirty-five years later, the fatal flaw of those commercials has been erased. The improbability has been significantly lessened. The suspension of disbelief formally required to embrace the ads’ message is no longer necessary: It now makes perfect sense to walk around eating peanut butter right out of the jar, and I mean walking around town, not around the kitchen in your underwear at three in the morning.

    See that you do.

    Posted by on May 20, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  5. Cheese Glorious Cheese!

    AS Mark Twain once famously quipped, “Everyone talks about government cheese, but no one does anything about it.” Well, the fact is, up until now, no one knew what it looked like! It was something we’d all heard about but never seen, like the effects of global warming or Chet Bono’s penis. Well, no more, folks! Here it is, in all its glory!


    By the way, that’s government cheese, not Chet Bono’s penis. As far as I know.

    Now you’re asking me, “Ted, you’re independently wealthy. You’re not a drain on society.Why have you a brick of government cheese?”

    Oh, not a brick, folks. Four bricks!

    That’s eight pounds of reduced fat pasteurized process goodness!

    Look, it’s a long story. They were given to me as gifts, and really, how do you gracefully decline a wonderful gesture like this from a pal of a pal who is presumably defrauding the government one cheese brick at a time?

    The bottom line is I have no idea what to do with them. That retaining wall project you promised to help me with comes to mind, sure, but the ol’ ball & chain may want fondue later and I’m not going to destroy all our hard work removing the potential keystone after we’ve finally got the pachysandra planted.

    Posted by on May 19, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  6. An Unlikely Find!

    HERE’S some pleasant tomfoolery that’ll soon have you clutching your sides!

    It seems yours truly was going through the medicine chest in the bathroom today and came across this:

    A handy tube of Cutter brand Sport Pack Insect Repellant, sure. Where’s the payoff, you ask?

    Keep your shirt on, Pagliacci, it’s coming!

    So it occurs to me, Gee, Ted, you’ve had that forever, it seems.

    And then I turn it around and look at the date on the back – and I haven’t had it forever, but I have had it…

    ...since 1993!

    How about that! Through three apartments and a house, two divorces and an aborted attempt at a “domestic partnership” (Don’t ask!), six months in a commune and fourteen months in County, somehow, I kept this thing with me!  And here’s the kicker – it just keeps getting better, folks! – through about a dozen camping trips, where I’d’ve actually used it, I never brought it with me!

    Yet the question remained: Eighteen years later, is it still good?

    And how!

    Feel free to share this one with the boys at the 19th Hole at Fairview on Sunday afternoon.

    Posted by on May 18, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  7. A Hearty Meal!

    GUESS where I had lunch the other day!

    No, go ahead, guess!

    I’ll give you a hint!

    I wiped my face with one of these!

    That’s right, I had lunch at Wienerschnitzel.

    Hey, they’re celebrating 50 years of good food this year! How often does a fast food place print on their napkins? Never, I reckon. You know this one’s going in the ol’ scrapbook. Don’t worry – it’s not the one I used to wipe my face with – that one was all greasy so I threw it away!

    The uninitiated are probably saying, “Well, if it’s called Wienerschnitzel, why does their coat of arms have a D/W on it?”

    I’ll tell you, if you’ll settle down for a moment! Jesus Christ.

    Originally, it was called “Der Wienerschnitzel.” But at some point they dropped the “Der” because it made everyone who eats there sound stupid.  “Hey, where you going for lunch?” “Der…Wienerschnitzel.” “What are you, stupid?”

    I hear tell of a Wienerschnitzel in Burbank where they serve beer. I hear tell of it, but I’ve never been.

    Look, you can probably copy and paste that napkin image up there a few times so it repeats and make yourself some new desktop wallpaper. Why don’t you do that? Then send me pictures of your desktop, and maybe you’ll win a prize.

    Posted by on May 17, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  8. Smokey the Bear!

    YES, YES, I’m well aware there’s no “the” in Smokey the Bear! It’s just “Smokey Bear!” Believe me, nothing pisses off forest rangers as well as Smokey Bear memorabilia collectors more than inserting “the” between “Smokey” and “Bear.” But forget about all that for now.

    The important thing is you’re finally here!

    Listen, I started noticing these ads last year…

    …and like you, I hoped they’d just go away if we ignored them.

    But they didn’t! In fact, last week I noticed a great big billboard by the freeway with this same slogan on it.

    Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?!

    And how exactly does one get one’s Smokey on?  What the hell does that mean?!

    Get your drink on, I get. Get your freak on, sure – why, it started the whole unfortunate “get your [whatever] on” craze. But “Get Your Smokey On”?! It doesn’t make any sense, man!

    And what’s up with Smokey’s fingernails? Was he fighting a forest fire, got clobbered in the hand with a fire shovel, the nail turned black and is now on its way to falling off? I guess if you’re going with bad decisions here, you might as well go all out. “Hey, we’ve come up with this slogan for the new PSA – Get Your Smokey On – and we’re going to give Smokey fingernails.  And they’re going to be black.”

    Come on! He’s all furry! He doesn’t need fingernails! That’s like giving a Muppet fingernails. Does Cookie Monster have fingernails? Does Grover? I rest my case.

    It might have been worse, though. They could have gone with

    got only YOU can prevent forest fires?

    I’m pretty sure that was next on the list if the US Forest Service nixed this brainstorm.

    Why is “Get Your Smokey On” so offensive to the likes of you and me? Because in 1994, they offered us this…

    …which was inspired. Here we all expected Smokey to do some awful rap in what would have been a very misguided attempt at reaching kids, but then he stops mid-rhyme, grouses about the whole affair, and then just delivers his standard “Only You…” message. This was perfect.

    And then, sixteen or so years later, they hit us with “Get Your Smokey On.” Why? For God’s sake why?!

    Smokey, when did you lose your way?

    …Next up!

    What the hell have they done to Woodsy (the) Owl?!

    Posted by on May 16, 2011, 2:36 AM.

  9. Sayonara, Sahara!

    SAD news today from Vegas!

    It seems the venerable, or if you’ve stayed in one of their rooms, the venereal disease-able, Sahara Hotel and Casino is closing!

    Where were you when you found out? Right here? That’s awesome! I love sharing bad news!

    Anyway, I got this in my inbox today:

    May 16! That’s Monday!

    Anyway, say what you will about the Sahara, but it’s among the very last of the casinos on the Strip from the Rat Pack era. It’s got history, baby! It was featured in the original “Ocean’s Eleven” from 1960! And at one of the snack bars, it sells dollar hot dogs, also from 1960!

    No, I’m kidding. But this is sad news indeed! The Sahara had a buffet (until they closed it three years ago!) that was cheap and good! They had these chicken croquette things that I enjoyed! You, too, would have enjoyed them!

    The Sahara is where I first lost four hundred dollars playing a Monopoly slot machine! Oh, sure, later I lost six hundred, seven hundred, twelve hundred dollars playing Monopoly slot machines at other casinos, but you never forget your first. You never forget your first.

    It’s also where the lady running the roulette game admonished me not to touch my chips until she’d taken her little marker thing off the table, and me, drunk (of course!) forgot and touched my chips again, so she grabbed my wrist and said, “You do that one more time, I’m ripping your arm off!” And, brother, she would’ve! Lucky for me, I soon lost the rest of my money and was asked to leave the table anyway.

    I played in my first slot tournament at the Sahara! You ever play in a slot tournament? Oh my, that’s some fun there! What you do, see, is you sit in front of a slot machine and tap a button continuously for about ten minutes! That’s it!

    I lost! But it’s not about winning. It’s about the camaraderie. At least it was with the other players who all seemed to know each other. No one talked to me.

    Now, a few years ago, a pal and I were staying at a competing casino nearby, and we went into the Sahara to try our luck at some of the machines, sure. Said pal ordered a drink from one of the hostesses and said drink subsequently never arrived. So who should wander by but a fellow named Phil, an employee of the Sahara organization. My pal, he mentions the errant cocktail, and Phil tells him in no uncertain terms that it’s not his problem! I like that!

    I recently spoke with my pal, and I asked him about that day. He remembered the incident this way:

    “I really don’t want to have anything to do with your blog, even if you’re not using my name.”  So that’s the last word on that.

    They also had this NASCAR themed roller coaster you could ride, and I rode it! Only, this was shortly after Italian supermodel Fabio’s face got goose-pummeled on Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens, and I was paranoid I’d get taken out by a wayward pigeon or sparrow, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. Clearly a case where I should have been drinking more and smoking less, if you know what I mean! But not drinking too much! (Roller coaster, after all.) Everything in moderation. Even in Vegas.

    How much of a fan of the Sahara am I? Absolutely yes! They don’t hand these babies out to just anyone!

    No, you have to have a valid driver’s license to get one!  Tough luck, illegal aliens! Oh, wait…

    Anyway, after Monday, it’ll be completely useless to me other than as a rudimentary burglar’s tool.

    You’ll notice I digitally removed my member number. Yes, well, that email up there says my accrued slot points are still valid through Monday and frankly, I don’t trust you. I love you, but I don’t trust you.

    I’ve searched the internet for memories of the Sahara, and I’ve found this fond recollection, courtesy some guy named Stanley in the comments section of a story about the casino’s closing:

    Have you been to the Sahara lately? The lobby floor is a mosaic of spent bodily fluids, that extra starch that stiffens the sheets is not starch, and a quick trip downstairs to grab a dollar beer makes you more nervous than a Baghdad valet. We were there last year and someone had crapped in the elevator. The shady characters that make up the check-in line resemble a Folsom Prison riot, with pants on the ground, enough piercings to fill a tackle box, and more tattoos than the Yakuza. Yeah, that pool is heated alright.

    Awright, so now you’re excited! But we’ve only got until Monday!

    Who’s up for a road trip? Shotgun!

    Posted by on May 12, 2011, 2:29 AM.

  10. Tie Shorts!

    GOOD NEWS!  Old Navy’s summer line is here, and thank heaven above, they’ve got tie shorts in stock!

    See!

    So what in God’s name are “tie shorts” you ask?

    Well, they’re pushing them like they’re something we’re all familiar with, so if you’re asking that question, pal, you’re part of the problem. Old Navy don’t like it, see, when people like youse start nosing around like dat!

    My guess…? The original pattern for these shorts was maybe photocopied wrong, like folded on top of itself or something, sent out to all their garment factories and next thing you know, six million pairs of normal shorts with a little extra strip of fabric sewn onto the waist show up in a container ship in Long Beach where some Old Navy vice-president in charge of quality control notices the screw-up and immediately messes his lightweight poplin beach pants.

    Solution?

    Quickly come up with a new name and write a catchy little jingle to get those idiot “Glee” fans in the stores to snatch them up! Crisis averted!

    What’s interesting, though, is that the commercial clearly suggests that “tie shorts” are available for women and men (“starting at just ten bucks for everyone” which is in itself a lie – $10 will only get you the kids’ shorts).  Anyway, the guy’s shorts do seem to have some sort of tie ends visible on them.

    And yet! Over at the Old Navy website, these are the only men’s “tie shorts” available – featured prominently on the main page for the men’s section, no less!

    Now let’s look at a pair, hmm?

    You seeing any ties on these shorts?

    Oh, maybe we need one of my patented closeups, hmm?

    And these shorts, featuring – according to the Old Navy Website – “button closure and zip fly,” what are they called…?

    Men’s Summer Tie Cut-Off Shorts.

    “Cut-Off?!” Whatever. But where’s the goddamn  tie?  Why the hell are these things called “tie shorts”?!

    This is precisely why you and me, we stick to our shorts with the elastic waistband.

    No improving on perfection!

    Posted by on May 11, 2011, 5:59 PM.

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