1. Cuckoo for Koo Koo Birds!

    I was in Walmart a few months ago – which should give you an idea about the amount of time each one of these posts is in production from the time we start until it finally airs – and there was this dump basket of Pillow Pet-like creatures but unlike Pillow Pets, they had embroidered cartoon eyes and an electronic chip inside that made a noise when squeezed.

    One of the pillows in the dump basket was a bird, and I thought to myself, “Gee, this looks an awful lot like one of those Angry Birds all the kids at school are talking about!”

    I looked at the copyright date on the tag and it was 2010. I know Angry Birds came out in late 2009, but I think even if these pillow creatures debuted in 2010, it was surely just by chance that the bird had the same general look.  After all, it was one bird pillow among a sea, a veritable dump basket, if you will, of mammal pillows.  If they were consciously ripping off Angry Birds, they’d have all been birds.

    So then today, I see this:

    Go ahead, click on the photo above to watch the commercial!

    Or just look at these other two images, I don’t care.

    It says “Available only at Toys R Us” but I know what I saw. (A big dump basket of pillows.)  Anyway, who knew they still made such great frenetic toy commercials?! Look what we’re missing out on now that we’ve all got DVRs and blow through the commercials when watching “Maury” (presuming they advertise on “Maury,” which I think is a safe bet).

    And yes, now they’re totally ripping off Angry Birds. And I for one say, “Good for them!” for no reason whatsoever. I have no stake in the matter.  I don’t have a pony in this race. But, hell, “Good for them,” right? Sure, why n0t.

    So here’s my theory: The folks at Jay at Play released these Pillow Pet-like creatures which were ripoffs of Pillow Pets but more interesting than Pillow Pets what with the embroidered cartoon eyes and the sound chip. Then Angry Birds got big, and someone at Jay at Play said, “Holy crap, the stupid bird pillow in our pillow line looks just like one of those Angry Birds all the kids at school are talking about. Let’s get a whole line of these stupid bird toys in production, fast! What can the Angry Birds people do to us? We designed the stupid bird pillow without even knowing about their video game! Besides, the game designers are Finnish – what are they going to do, take us out to a sauna and then beat us with a birch branch? And so what if we find that enjoyable, a nice schvitz!”

    This is all conjecture, of course. It’s all probably just an enormous coincidence like my attorney said.

    Hey, I bet if I put “Angry Birds movie CGI Pixar Lady Gaga voice” in here I’ll get more than my usual four or five hits today.

    Posted by on August 30, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  2. Another Product From The Dollar Store With Delightfully Anachronistic Packaging That You’ll Want To Know About!

    Like you, I’ve got this weird thing for food items I find at the dollar store that feature package design that looks very dated! So you’re not alone!

    Today’s offering is a can of German potato salad.  Yes, you heard me right (if you’re enjoying this web page with some sort of text-to-speech software) – a can of German potato salad!

    Take a look!

    This can of READ German Potato Salad looks like it’s from…the mid-1970s.

    Proof of Its Modernity: Website listed on back. I visited it and saw this:

    Want information on how to create delicious, nutritional meals using READ products? Sign up to become part of our new “online community.”

    They put “online community” in quotes! That’s Zooey Deschanel-level adorable! Awww!

    Where You’d Expect to See It: On the workbench, empty and holding loose nuts and bolts in Grandpa’s garage.

    Buy It Because: According to the label you can “Enjoy [it] hot or cold!”

    I’m no longer defining just what it is that makes a package’s design look so dated because I’d be pointing out the obvious. There’s no reason to note the specific typefaces, photos, and colors that make each product appear old – you’re as big a fan of anachronistic package design as I am so you see it as well as I do. That’s why you and me get along so well, sure.

    READ German Potato Salad comes to us from the local Dollar Tree. Last night I ate it. It was good. Tangy, it was. Tangy. It did give the cat gas, so just bear that in mind if you let her lick the bowl when you’re through.

    Anyway, this can cost me a dollar, and I did buy it for the blog, so if you want to send me a dollar, I think that’s fair. Also the READ German Potato Salad people can send me more of this stuff for free or maybe some money for giving it a nice plug. Whaddaya say? I’m happy to get the ol’ Ted Parsnips Web Design Team back to work and have them put a banner on top that reads something like “READ German Potato Salad presents The Ted Parsnips Hour.” That’s assuming that every time you come here, you spend around an hour, which I think is a pretty fair assumption.

    Now for a few thousand dollars less, we could do “The Ted Parsnips Hour, brought to you by READ German Potato Salad – the tangy German potato salad!” with the product name below mine. But I would hold up the can every few minutes while I write these posts.

    Anyway, READ German potato salad people, my attorney will be in touch to hammer out the details. Let’s get this thing rolling.

    Posted by on August 25, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  3. Why We Hate Wikipedia!

    If there was a Wikipedia TV show (God forbid!) you could get bombed very quickly playing a drinking game where you have to down a gulp of booze every time someone says “portmanteau.”

    Have you ever noticed that about Wikipedia? Every other goddamn entry on Wikipedia describes the name of whatever you’re looking up as a “portmanteau of [this] and [that].” And portmanteau is always italicized and always linked to their portmanteau entry. I’m telling you, no one ever heard of the word portmanteau before Wikipedia came along. I’m half-convinced they made it up. I’m further convinced there’s some jackass who’s sole (volunteer) function on Wikipedia is to note – at the beginning of the entry of whatever the hell you’re looking up – that it’s a goddamn portmanteau of two other words.

    Like you, I have a love/hate relationship with Wikipedia. On the one hand, it’s wonderful because it makes casual, unimportant research very easy. On the other hand, the people who make all that casual, unimportant research so easy just annoy the hell out of you and me. How could so many lonely people with so much time on their hands be so utterly and completely pretentious?

    Case in point: Yesterday, as you recall, I made some stupid (though hilarious) throwaway reference to the Kermit the Frog “Rapunzel” sketch from Sesame Street. I wanted to make sure I called it the correct thing – I thought those segments were called “Muppet News Flashes,” but I wasn’t sure. So I checked Wikipedia where I learned they’re called “Sesame Street News Flashes.” Okay, makes sense. Maybe “Muppet News Flashes” were from The Muppet Show. Who knows?

    I ended up reading the whole article. And in just the second paragraph, we come to this:

    Other skits were spoofs of popular culture (such as one which parodied the then-popular The Six Million Dollar Man), while others involved Kermit asking children simple vox populi, or “man on the street,” style questions.

    So some loser Wikipedia editor decided that “man on the street” wasn’t good enough. He had to put in “vox populi” and link it to the article that defines it as, surprise!, “man on the street.”

    Further down, citing some examples of Sesame Street News Flashes, we get this:

    A spoof on Humpty Dumpty began in medias res with “all the king’s horses” and “all the kings men” finding the shattered Dumpty.

    Did you look up “in media res”? It means in the middle of things. I’m sure the same vox populi asshole who presumably recently got his increasingly worthless degree in journalism put that one in there, too – you know, to make sure we all know, and so that future generations will know, the crucial, critical fact that a two and a half minute puppet sketch about a nursery rhyme on a children’s program begins with the felt frog in the trench coat, oh boy, right in the thick of it.

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

  4. Catching Up with Betty Cooper!

    I was excited to see that my old classmate Betty Cooper (Riverdale High, Class of  ::cough cough:: Never you mind!) has hit the big time, so to speak. She’s appearing this Thursday in “Untangled,” a knockoff of Disney’s “Tangled,” itself a knockoff of the Brothers Grimm fairy tail “Rapunzel,” itself a knockoff of another fast-breaking Sesame Street Newsflash.

    Where was I? Oh yes, Betty! Anyway, she’s got the lead role, and they even feature her on the ads for the play.

    Anyway, the old gang’s getting together for this one – me and Reggie and Archie and Veronica and Midge and Moose and Dilton and his partner and Chuck and Nancy and those two hispanic characters that no one cares about and seem to come and go every few years and Big Ethel and Cheryl Blossom and all the rest, sure.  I think we all kind of need a night to relax after losing Jughead.

    Posted by on August 23, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  5. A Close Call!

    There I was at my local Dollar Tree last week, sure, rooting through the book section, like a pig searching for a truffle or an unsupervised local anchor tot. Except I guess the pig knows what it’s looking for. (A truffle, not an unsupervised local anchor tot. That was just the second in a short list of two items.) Me, I was just making a mess of things (and I somehow lost that frozen José Olé chimichanga I meant to buy – probably left the damned thing on the back of the shelf among the few books that didn’t end up on the floor). Anyway, imagine both my surprise as well as my delight when I came across this:

    Holy Superhero Comic Book Spectaculars, Batman! It was a Superhero Comic Book Spectacular! The 2 Count Value Pack! And it was the ultra-rare (one presumes) Super Hero & Super Villain Edition! Plus there was 1 Free Bonus Super Hero Trading Card In Every Bag!

    So what was in it? Here are the contents as though torn from the very back of the package! (Actually I snipped it neatly with a pair of scissors.)

    Comic Books, a Trading Card, Guaranteed NO Duplication, Super Fun and Bring Excitement – all for a buck?! Why, I’d have been a fool to pass this up. I bought it!

    And while I love the whole package – the Free Bonus Superhero Trading Card, the Super Fun, the Bring Excitement, and all the rest – I think it’s that extra effort that the good people at Cards One (the distributor) made to guarantee no duplication of comic books – among a veritable grab bag of two comic books – that I really appreciated.

    Some might feel that it’s a little frustrating to read a single issue from the ongoing sagas that were DC’s “Hawkworld” (1990) or Eclipse Comics’ “The New Wave” (1986), not knowing the characters nor their backstories – their origins, if you will – or the story lines thus far – in short, really not having any context whatsoever or frame of reference to anything at all that’s going on. But I look at it as part of the “Bring Excitement back to reading.”

    And it’s definitely part of the “Super Fun to bring the whole family together” – indeed, this Saturday, the entire family Parsnips will be piling into the car and heading back to that Dollar Tree to tear apart that goddamn book section again until we find Superhero Comic Book Spectacular 2 Count Value Packs with “Hawkworld” issues 1 through 6 and 8 through 32, and “The New Wave” issues 1, 2, 3, and 5 through 13. And if we don’t find them there, I know of three other Dollar Trees in the area!

    By the way, if anyone has any A-Team trading card duplicates to swap, let me know. I don’t need #57 (“A Close Call!”).

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

  6. Goldfish!

    Grand Union recently had a special on Goldfish – you know, the baked snack cracker from the good folks at Pepperidge Farm, sure. A dollar a bag. Who can say no to that? Not me or you, I’ll tell you that much.

    At a buck a bag, I could afford to try a few different varieties, and among those I purchased were these:

    I guess I was pulled in by the exciting graphics and vibrant colors, but let me tell you, I wish I had given this purchase a little more thought.

    First of all, who’s the idiot who decided to mix two flavors in one bag? We’ve seen this with Doritos, too. And invariably what happens is both flavors and me, the consumer, loses. When I first tried those Doritos “Collisions” a few years ago (“Doritos Catastrophes” they should have been called), I presumed there was some sort of cellophane or foil divider inside my Big Grab to keep the Hot Wings chips and the Blue Cheese chips from commingling – and then I opened the bag and it was Brown v. Board of Education all over again. But in this case it was a bad thing.

    Same with these Goldfish – let me pull one out here: Is it a Parmesan one? Is it a Flavor Blasted Xplosive Pizza one? I have no idea. Here, I’ll eat it.

    …Okay, I ate it. And I still have no idea.

    That’s not even my biggest problem with these crackers. My issue is with this “Mix-Up Adventures” bullshit on the package. How is a bag of crackers “an adventure?” Give me a story on the back of the package. Provide me with some sort of narrative explaining how this happened, how they were mixed up – make me care about the fish inside. And then invite me to join in the experience by, I don’t know, moving them along some sort of inexpensive but colorfully printed game board, maybe a thin plastic sheet that can be folded up and packed inside the bag and measures at least 24″ x 24″ when spread out on the floor or my bed, and then you move the crackers along a path through things like caves and off cliffs, over waterfalls and into jungles and stuff.

    That’d be cool, right? They should do that. That would be an adventure. And it would probably make us slow down and eat them one at a time, preventing us from shoveling these things into our mouths by the handful, and then the bag is gone in five minutes and we’re back to gnawing on a dry brick of Maruchan ramen and then dabbing a wet pinky into the seasoning packet and eating it like Fun Dip.

    Posted by on August 16, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  7. Deodorant!

    Like you, I strive to maintain a reasonable personal hygiene regimen, and on many days that will include the application of a deodorant to my underarms – that is, my armpits.

    About three months ago I was in my local Target, trying to choose just which deodorant was right for me. (There sure are a lot of them!) A coupon and a sale helped the decision process along, and I settled on something called “Right Guard Total Defense Power Deo 5 Fast Break Deodorant.” Unfortunately, despite “Fast Break” in its name and the package’s orange and blue color scheme, it was not scented like the slightly obscure – but still on the market – Reese’s candy bar. No, it had a pleasant sort of aftershave fragrance to it.

    “Right Guard Total Defense Power Deo 5 Fast Break Deodorant” sounds like a mouthful for something you smear under your arms and maybe discretely nibble at if you secretly suffer from pica, but bear in mind it’s got a lot going for it, according to the label:
    1 – cologne inspired
    2 – time-released
    3 – targets bacteria
    4- neutralizes odor
    5 – 24 hr. power

    Like I said, it was on sale and I had a coupon, so I bought it. Also, the label has this basketball design on it, and I figured that’d impress the fellas in the locker room.

    So I haven’t had any problems with it, but over the last few weeks, as it was getting down to the nub, you know what I noticed? It started smelling like hay. Like hay! Look, I grew up around horses, brother, so I know what hay smells like.

    I wonder if it’s the deodorant, or if the stink glands in my armpits are somehow synthesizing it and my perspiration to make it smell like hay. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Maybe this is why there’s all those PSAs reminding us to switch deodorants every so often. But I’m telling you, it smelled like hay.

    Anyway, I can’t wait until it’s on sale again!

    Posted by on August 15, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  8. This’ll Teach Me…

    …to read the little blurb below the subtitle – as well as the name of the author, and the guy who wrote the introduction, and maybe flip through and check for pictures – before I snag a book off the “Free / Pay What You Like” cart inside the foyer at my local library.

    Good thing I didn’t drop any money in that big plastic pretzel jar with the slot cut in the lid duct-taped to the cart, or I would have been really pissed off.

    Still, I think Reverend Schuller knew exactly what he was doing when he came up with that title. Exactly what he was doing!

    Well, it’s back to the T.J. Maxx circular for me.

    Posted by on August 12, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  9. Nice Try, Wendy’s!

    As you know, the vast Parsnips fortune was amassed by doing those little surveys on the back of sales slips.

    Oh yes: a free entree at Panda Express with purchase of any 2-entree plate here, a free Whopper Junior when I buy a medium fries and drink at Burger King there – it all adds up!

    Recently I was scouted, via register receipt, by the Wendy’s Corporation about joining their operation as a consultant. Ask anyone in the business world today – they’ll tell you consulting jobs are where it’s at. You’re not an actual employee with the company, so you don’t have to sit through the sexual harassment video tapes. But the billable hours, man!

    Thankfully, this being the 20th century, the computer age, I didn’t have to fly all the way to their headquarters in Ohio for the interview. Today in 2011, this sort of thing is done right here online!

    So I was working through the whole process when I got to this screen:

    Well, as you know, I do have that little ad agency – J. Walter Parsnips – and we handle mostly local accounts, generally yard sales, focusing on the medium of cardboard tacked to telephone poles.

    And, yes, I make it mandatory that once any foster child living under my roof reaches the age of 15, he or she has to get a part-time job at Jack in the Box down the street. (Family discount, baby!)

    Did I tell Wendy’s this?  No!

    Because that bit about “sometimes we look for people who work in particular industries” is a blatant lie, and if I checked anything other than “None of the Above” I would have been shown the online door quicker than you can say “Baconator Deluxe Double Combo with a Diet Coke.”

    No, friends, you always check “None of the Above” or you’re going to be locked out of the rest of the survey – or in this case, that cherry job with the Wendy’s organization.

    Do I feel bad about not being completely honest with them?  No – they lied to me first posing the question as they did.

    So get this! This was the next screen:

    Man, they just don’t give up! Do they want my goddamn opinions or not?!

    Posted by on August 8, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  10. Tuck Into!

    You know, there’s certain overused words and phrases that just annoy the hell out of me. So much that a pal and I, we compiled a list, but as the licensing rights to that list are tied up in litigation that has been compared to the various lawsuits preventing the 60s “Batman” TV series to be released on DVD, I’m unable to reproduce it here. (Meanwhile, both of our attorneys are getting richer.)

    But I’ve another pal, and she’s annoyed by some other words and phrases, and the only one I can think of right now is “chops,” most often following not “pork” (which wouldn’t annoy anyone) but “acting.” It’s such a lazy way of writing. Show off one’s acting chops, display her acting chops, demonstrates his acting chops, etc., etc.! Dear God, stop it! Stop it you lazy writers! Right now, as I type this, there’s 217 matches in Google News for articles using the phrase “acting chops” each one more awful than the last.

    In fact, I want you on board with this, too, and what better way than to list the first 9 examples from that first page of results from the aforementioned Google News search?  (And this is just Google News, by the way! Can you imagine if I had just done it in regular Google? Christ!)

    • Craig Price helps students find and hone their acting chops
    • Forest Ridge Academy students show off their acting chops
    • Looking like the aging Callas at first one wonders where are the acting chops that Daly has shown in the past
    • Leo Howard shows off martial arts skills, acting chops, in Kickin’ It
    • Justin Bieber Nabs 2011 Teen Choice Nod For His Acting Chops!
    • By the year 2000 Renee Zellweger had proven her acting chops in both drama and comedy
    • Jeff Gordon gets to show off his acting chops in “Road Trip to the Race Track” a new video campaign for his sponsor
    • Liz had hoped to exercise her villainous acting chops on the updated version of Wonder Woman
    • However, the British model showed off her acting chops and contributed to important phases of the Transformer’s plot

    See? Now you’re as irritated about that as I am. Good.  Good. And you’re right to be angry about that.

    Now I need you on board for the latest stupid cliché:

    “Tucks Into.”

    God, how I hate it. Have you heard it? Instead of just eating something, they’re now “tucking into” it. These days, you don’t justeat a Hot Pocket, oh no, God forbid, no – you “tuck into” a Hot Pocket. (Or in some cases, a three-for-a-dollar Tina’s Burrito.) Is this the most idiotic thing you’ve heard? Yes!

    Some examples to boil your blood:

    • Michelle Obama tucks into fat cakes and French fries on trip to Botswana
    • Danny Wallace tucks into breakfast
    • Pull up a wharf-side table, or a sleek bar stool, and tuck into some classy bistro food on the waterfront
    • Tuck into some blood pudding. [This example is doubly offensive.]
    • The average British family lives in a semi-detached house, owns a silver Ford Focus and tucks into spaghetti bolognese once a week.
    • Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kim Richards tucks into French fries on bikini break in Hawaii
    • Back off – this is my dinner! Praying mantis tucks into a lizard twice its size!
    • Hannah tucks into fresh fruit at Orchard Grove Primary School in Blackburn South
    • Olympic kayak champ Adam Van Koeverden tucks into a hearty breakfast after a long morning on the water in Toronto
    • Shane D Gage Te Huia tucks into his toast at the Kawhia Primary School breakfast club
    • Helen Wood tucks into a full Irish breakfast

    Now you might be saying, “Well, Ted, those examples all sound very British, and what do you have against the British? Why, just yesterday, you went after recently knighted graffiti artist Sir Banksy!”

    Well, the internet has made the whole world so much smaller that your hackneyed little British phrases are starting to be embraced over here in the goddamn US of A, and we are not going to stand for it. It’s enough that Wikipedia insists on using the ridiculous British spelling for everything when we all know it’s loser Americans with too much time on their hands who are doing most of the writing and editing on that site.

    And speaking of Wikipedia, I need to go change a few hundred “colours,” “neighbours,” “honours,” and “labours,” and by Christ, this time they better stay changed!

    Posted by on August 5, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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