If you’re like me, you don’t have the swimming skills, upper body strength, CPR training or six-pack to become a lifeguard on one of Southern California’s beautiful, trash-strewn beaches. Nor do you likely have the dedication to work towards achieving any of these things. And for what, really? The chance to swim out in cold, polluted water, dodging stingrays and sharks just to drag some fat-ass back to shore who somehow managed to fall off his trendy paddleboard right smack between a riptide and an undertow? Who the hell needs it?!
That’s why I was thrilled when I found this at TJ Maxx the other day.
Two-day lifeguard certification class: $140 and a weekend shot to hell – and there’s no guarantee I’d pass.
Boogie board with the word ‘Lifeguard’ on it: $9.99.
Yeah, I think I made the right choice.
Now I can head out to Zuma with this slung over my shoulder and impress the entire beach-going public without even getting wet. And once those military dog tags I bought on eBay arrive, people’ll really stop and take notice.
This is going to be the best summer ever!
LIKE YOURS, enormous tracts of the landscape that is my workday is made up of avoiding doing any work at all and looking at those time-sucking websites with a whole grid of fascinating and enriching slideshow-based articles to peruse; i.e., “Ten Scariest Abandoned Scrapbooking Stores,” “Sexiest Waltons Cosplay” and “Ridiculously Adorable Organic Material Stuck to the Undersides of Subway Seats” where you click on a link that brings you to another page of articles in little boxes and then you click on one of them (usually not the one you were originally interested in because it curiously doesn’t exist on this new page). And that brings you to another page which leads you to yet a different website of links and then again to another page and a different site, on and on and on and on, and his father’s father before him.
One of the things I’ve seen time and time again, and you have, too, probably, is the “World’s Biggest Pool.” And as it will soon enrage you, it enrages me every time I see it. Every time I see it!
It’s a magnificent example of how the internet has dumbed down so many who now will believe anything they read and are too lazy to use any critical thinking skills or do any research on their own.
Those who provide content for these sort of sites ought to be ashamed, is what, for taking the so-called facts concerning this pool at face value without verifying them nor even using reasonable common sense; instead reposting this nonsense everywhere.
You see, San Alfonso del Mar is a large resort on the coast of Chile. It has a pool in front of it that’s very big.
The “facts” usually cited are that the pool is 1 kilometer long, covers about 19 acres, holds 66 million gallons of water, and has a maximum depth of 115 feet.
I don’t have any problem with the first three pieces of data. It’s the last one – the 115 foot depth – that I call utter hovadina on.
Let’s take another look at the pool, shall we?
As you can see, it’s right up against the shore. A child, even a stupid child, who has dug holes in the sand at the beach knows that the deeper you go, the more likely water starts rushing in through the sand. Suddenly, your hole collapses. (Much like after you had that particularly virulent strain of monkey dysenta— Okay, never mind about that.)
Now imagine digging a hole 115 feet deep this close to the shore. The water table so close to the Pacific Ocean would make this an engineering nightmare! Probably!
And for what? What exactly would be the purpose in having one end of the pool 115 feet deep? You tell me! For scuba diving perhaps! To explore what? The featureless cement bottom of a pool?
Here’s a photo of a few mighty vessels asea, or in this case, apool:
Notice that in each instance, you’re seeing a shadow of roughly the same size just below each of these magnificent crafts. That’s because the shadows are on the pool bottom, I posit, a relatively short distance below.
Next! Satellite photo:
If one end of this pool was 115 feet deep – that’s roughly as deep as a ten story building is tall by the way – then that area – wherever it is, would be significantly darker than the shallower areas of the pool. You can see very shallow areas of the pool – presumably wading areas. But nothing very dark.
Clearly, this pool is not 115 feet deep.
Therefore, I submit, Your Honor, that this pool is at most 11.5 feet deep, and that somewhere along the way, someone left off the decimal point.
For the want of a dot on a page, the world’s largest pool has become the world’s deepest pool as well, and if you should go for a dip and your room key slips out of your trunks and sinks to the bottom, well, better call the front desk and see if they can get Ignacio in Maintenance to fire up the bathysphere and retrieve it.
Yet, I’m a reasonable a man, and I can understand how this misinformation has been repeated ad infinitum across the internet because doing the research on this one is not as easy as one might think.
I wanted to be able to definitively say “I looked into this, dammit, and the pool is actually eleven and a half feet deep - Ignacio himself told me so!” so I got in touch with both the resort and the company responsible for building the pool.
In fact, I contacted them multiple times…but each attempt ended without any answers.
Crystal Lagoons Corporation LLC is the company responsible for designing and building the pool. They’re headquartered in Chile, but they have phone numbers in New York and Miami. Each time I called, I talked with what I presume is an answering service that couldn’t provide any information, and even though I left my contact information, no one called back.
I emailed them as well, both at their American and Chilean email addresses. No response! I fared no better contacting the resort itself: No reply to my emails and surprisingly, whoever answered the phone at this enormous world class resort couldn’t put me in touch with anyone who spoke better English than I speak Spanish. (And despite living where I do, I don’t hablo español muy good-o. Ha!)
Terrified of high international rates on my next phone bill, and suddenly remembering I write a blog about bad deals in thrift shops and good deals in dollar stores and not some sort of exhaustively researched online reference work, I didn’t call back.
Lest anyone suggest my assertion that the World’s Biggest Swimming Pool at San Alfonso del Mar is not 115 feet deep without concrete evidence to back it up makes me no better than those awful sites I’m complaining about, it’s not merely Buzzfeed and its countless viral content-peddling clones that are regurgitating the inaccurate depth factoid.
It’s also good, wholesome, decent sites like Popular Mechanics, Wikipedia, National Geographic (!) and, dear God above, the one website we all thought we could always count on, Snopes.com. Oh, Barbara and David Mikkelson, what happened?
So I say we settle this once and for all. Let’s get some kind of Kickstarter/IndieWhosis thing going to send me on a fact-finding mission down there for a couple of weeks so I can finally get us a definitive answer and put this controversy to rest once and for all. I’ve already got the tape measure and snorkel so don’t worry about that; I just need you folks to come up with airfare (first class, please – I drink a lot) and maybe twenty-five thousand dollars for an ocean-facing suite plus miscellaneous expenses. (Prostitution is legal there!)
Anyone pledging five grand gets a free postcard from the lobby (contingent on if they have free postcards in the lobby).
Pledge ten thousand and you get everything from the $5,000 package plus a little bottle of shampoo or a hotel bar of soap or something. I’m rewriting – née correcting – history here, folks, and you can be part of it! Let’s do this!
LAST WEEK I had to take Bryce to buy some new clothes.
He’s at the age where what he wears is becoming important to him, so the days of dragging him into Goodwill, having him try on something that more or less fits, snapping off the tags, and then quickly walking back out to the car are over. (Plus some of their locations have security cameras now – imagine!)
You’re thinking, “Ted, you poor bastard – Bryce obviously inherited those gorgeous Parsnips genes so you must be going broke buying his wardrobe at Hollister and A&F!”
No, we live in the filthy West Valley, so he’s trying to “fit in” by dressing like everyone else around here: He insists we shop at that place next to 99¢ Only where all the local gang-bangers buy (or I guess steal - ha!) their clothes.
I bought him his Chucks and his knee-high white socks and his oversized khaki Dickie shorts and his wife-beater and black and white flannel jacket…but when we were walking out he saw something – and his reaction just about melted my heart.
“Daddy, can I have 75¢ for the Guns N Grenades machine? Pleeease?”
How could I say no? Of course I gave it to him. He may be growing up, but it’s moments like this that make me realize he’ll always be my little boy.
EACH Memorial Day, I head into Walmart, find their patriotic t-shirt offering for that year, and look at the label to see where it’s made!
It’s a blog post that has become a time-honored Ted Parsnips tradition!
And it’s not particularly surprising, or at this point, even slightly amusing, but if we know one thing here in America, it’s that even if something is no longer really working for us, like Daylight Savings Time, or Attorney General Eric Holder (Hey! This is not a political blog!), we don’t bother to make changes. We just keep things the way they are! Inefficient consistency at the cost of all else! That’s the American way!
So here’s the t-shirt!
And here’s where it’s made! China! Awesome!
Now you’re asking “Since it also has the Spanish translation for ‘Made In CHINA’ inside the collar, isn’t it racist for them not to also have the Spanish language equivalent for ‘I [heart] USA’ – which would be ‘Me [heart] EE.UU’ – alongside the design on the front?”
Look, I don’t want to get involved in any of this. I’m probably already on some kind of government watch list for that Daylight Savings Time crack.
I know! I’m as stunned as you are!
…Well, at least it doesn’t say “Got Manscaping?”
It doesn’t make any sense, man!
I get it, I get it. It’s a takeoff on the “got milk?” ads. Of course I know that.
No, what doesn’t make any sense is that businesses are still awkwardly ripping off a tagline from an ad campaign that reached the peak of its popularity more than a decade ago.
Of course it’s an improvement over the slogan they had on their banner last year, which took its inspiration from an even older commercial, and made even less sense.
YESTERDAY morning was a scary one for the future Nobel Prize winners over there at Canoga Park High School – through a variety of sources I’ve been able to piece together the story:
Some dumbass was across the street at Taco Bell acting suspiciously.
Perhaps – and this is merely conjecture on my part – he ordered a regular taco as opposed to one of those new Cool Ranch Dorito dealies that are all the rage. This, you’ll agree, would have raised eyebrows.
School security was alerted, they confronted said moron – who apparently had a gun! He then fled across Topanga Canyon Boulevard (No easy feat! Four lanes of busy, busy traffic and no one knows how to drive around here!) and onto the school grounds…which was then put on lockdown for the next three hours.
Thankfully, the suspect dropped the gun (and presumably the taco if indeed he was eating one – again, just a theory from this armchair detective) but it was quite some time before the police actually found him.
No further information – who? why? which type of hot sauce? – seems to be available, and frankly, if it’s a story involving a nutjob with a gun at a school that ends this way, that’s great. I don’t really need any further information; the cops nailed the bastard and most importantly, no one was hurt.
So in that respect – potential tragedy averted – yes, it was a ‘great day’ for Canoga Park High School.
Still, they…eh…they might want to rethink that mascot.
AS YOU KNOW, I’ve been going on for weeks and weeks, right here on the ol’ blog, about a little vacation I’ve been planning. Why, every day I’ve been talking about it!
Well, it’s finally here!
Yesterday we headed northeast a piece, and brother, anyone who tells you that you can’t do Sequoia National Park (631 square miles, and just 4-1/2 hours outside of Los Angeles by car) in one day has apparently never heard of any of those energy shots I’m still trying to review.
Up there’s where the tall timber is, brother – trees so big around that even the gentle giant of the sea, the giant squid, would be hard pressed to wrap its “tentacles,” or feelers, around one of their trunks. And wouldn’t that be something to see!
We stopped first at the visitor center so that I could distract the park ranger there by asking inane questions (“What time is Old Faithful’s next show?,” “How long is the wait for It’s a Small World?” and so on) while my street urchins-in-training, Enoch and Little Bess, practiced their trade by pocketing key chains and post cards to sell to their school chums back home.
Then I got my hands on some rubberized bear scat in one of those educational, interactive animal feces displays.
(Now that I know what bear dung looks like, evidence further points to it being one of my neighbors crapping on the windshield of my car every night.)
Next it was back in the car to get the hell out of there!
A half-hour of heart-stoppingly steep roads along frightening drop-offs, and that’s when the kids realize they forgot to get their goddamn National Parks Passports stamped. So after a lot of arguing, whining and crying, I composed myself and headed back down to the visitor center.
And then, an hour or so later up the same treacherous mountain roads with hairpin switchbacks galore, we finally got to the trees.
They are, in a word, big.
But you want to see the famous one: good ol’ General Sherman, the largest tree on earth! Not the tallest, not the oldest, not the widest, but somehow the largest. I don’t understand it either. There were informative plaques around explaining it – but you don’t drive hundreds and hundreds of miles loopy on cheap 5-Hour Energy knockoffs to stand around reading words!
So I’m going to go out on a limb here (a little tree humor for ya) and presume that by “the largest” the park service means you could make more coffee tables from thin cross-sections of its trunk than any other.
Speaking of which: Join me, won’t you, in petitioning the White House to let us cut down this glorious beast and do just that. General Sherman is in fact big enough to make coffee tables for every man, woman and child in this country legally.*
*Before your precious Obama crams illegal alien amnesty down our throats! Hey! I don’t want to hear it! This is not a political blog!
Anyway, here what you’ve been waiting for: Yours truly: your humble blogger and pal Ted in front of the World’s Largest Tree.
Well, sort of.
Rest assured, if I ever get up there again (Not likely! The brakes on the car are shot from coming back down the mountain!) I’m going to figure out the stupid timer on the camera and charge the damn batteries the night before just in case I need to take more than one photo.
THE OTHER NIGHT I was on the phone talking a pal down from making a terrible decision – ordering something from an infomercial.
“This won’t be like my foot-scouring Ped Egg or my ear-scouring WaxVac,” he insisted. “This is something I know I’ll use every day!”
“What is it?” I inquired.
“Huh? I didn’t hear you.”
“Maybe if you used that WaxVac…”
“No, I couldn’t hear you because I got my TurbieTwist on,” he explained.
“What the good goddamn is the infomercial for, man?!”
“Well! I’m glad you asked! It’s the NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop, and it’s a complete kitchen, all-in-one! Living Well for Less hosts Bob Wharton and Jenny Repko swear by it!”
I’d never heard of the NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop and I immediately looked it up on the internet, just as you would do.
A quick search brought me to their website – but you might want to read the rest of the post this time before you click on that link. (Ha! As though any of you, what, six regulars make it through anything I write here in its entirety or click on any of the links!)
So after looking over the item and reading various reviews of it on other sites, I came to the conclusion it was not a good investment and advised said pal not to purchase it. Intent on buying something as-seen-on-TV, he wisely settled for a Bedazzler.
“That way, I can trick out my TurbieTwist. Really dazzle-hack the hell out of it!” he exclaimed.
Okay, so that was the end of it, right?
No. Not by a long shot, brother!
Because later that night, I was - imagine this! – back on the internet, looking up God-knows-what this time, and I noticed this ad on the page:
“Huh,” I thought to myself. “That’s a coincidence. I was just on their website a little while ago.”
Then a little later, on a different website, I noticed this:
And on another website, this:
Before a video loaded on yet another site, I got this one:
And then things started getting creepy. Because after that, this is the ad I began seeing:
“Come Back?!” I was on your site for two minutes! We had some fun, we both had a good time, but that was it. I’m not ever coming back. I’ve moved on. I’m seeing someone else now – a heartwarming video on YouTube about a possum and a deer tick who were raised together and are now inseparable. So I’m sorry, that little fling we had, whatever you want to call it – it’s over.
But today, a day and a half later, on fully 90% of the websites I visit that carry outside advertising, there’s that same disturbing “Come Back!” ad. It’s like the NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop is following me…well, not so much following but somehow anticipating my every online move.
It’s easily explained, of course: the NuWave website installed a cookie on my computer that loads their ads on any other site I visit that carries that same Google ad software.
Still, the omnipresence of the ad – it is everywhere – is disturbing. And how apt that I just looked up “omnipresence” on Merriam-Webster online to make sure I was using it correctly – and no joke – there were five ads for it on that one page.
Obviously I need to delete my cookies, clear my browser history, and empty my browser cache before the situation gets any further out of hand, which I imagine will look something like this:
By the way, my attorney – who I’ve got busy filing a restraining order on my behalf – wanted me to note here that the NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop is a magnificent piece of equipment and you should buy ten.
LIKE YOU, I got sucked into this stupid, stupid non-game game “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” (“It’s life-ruiningly fun!” says Homer). Unlike you, I do not own a smartphone, and play it on my little iPod dealie, which is technically a mobile device, I guess, usually for ten minutes as I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, if I’ve already worked through that months’ stack of Archie Comics digests and Harriet Carter catalogs.
As you well know, what you do in “Tapped Out,” see, is you tap on stuff and build things and send Simpsons characters on little tasks, and are occasionally mocked by these same characters for doing just this through word balloons, Level Up screens, and occasionally – very occasionally – short clips of exclusive animation. And brother, we all of us deserve to be mocked. Because there’s absolutely no point to any of this! It’s a complete waste of time!
Speaking of complete wastes of time, you’ve been thinking of starting a Tumblr account, but every single idea has been taken. Almost. The truth is, every single idea has been taken but two. And here’s one of them:
And it’s all yours!
Yes! Go ahead! Steal it! Hell, I don’t care! Technically, yes, it is my idea and you might want to send a couple hundred dollars my way as a token of your appreciation, but between this blog, my regular job, my court-mandated community service picking condoms off the beach in Santa Monica and the cardio bootcamp I run for overfed feral cats (We meet twice a week in the alley behind Vallarta Supermercado in Winnetka, 6 pm sharp!), I don’t have the time. I can’t take on any more projects!
So look, pal, The Simpsons: Tapped Out Glitches is all yours if you want it! Just clear it with Gracie Films, Fox Digital Entertainment and EA Mobile.
And just to get you started, I’ve compiled
a bunchway too many of screen shots of some of the more delightful glitches – “texture glitches” as they’re officially known – that I’ve come across. Yours for the taking, there, buddy!
[By the way I learned they’re called “texture glitches” from the Tapped Out player’s best friend – the only website you’ll ever need to answer all your Tapped Out questions (or some of them at least), Tapped Out Tips.]
Anyway, on with the images!
It seems that almost every unique, one-of-a-kind building in Springfield is subject to being temporarily multiplied and appearing in place of the houses you can build.
Above, in place of a row of White Houses, is the Try-N-Save, backwards – as all these glitches seem to be – with the coin-operated kiddy rides, normally in front, splayed out above each store.
Classic! A row of pink houses is replaced with multiple Moe’s Taverns, here with what seems to be a plague of rats. It’s actually just the entire animated sequence of the one rat that runs along the roof when anyone is inside on a task.
The Mapple Store stands in for a cluster of Blue Houses. A row of computers for sale can be seen in the little squares by each store. You can’t usually see them very well because they’re obscured behind the glass of the front doors.
Overlapping Gilded Truffles.
Here’s the House of Evil, your one stop evil shop, which was only available during the Halloween update. The items seemingly raining down to the left of the stores is the merchandise in the store window. I can’t tell what these things are but it’s a good bet one is a monkey’s paw and another is a cup of cursed frogurt.
Eleven separate post offices right next to one another. No wonder the USPS is in trouble, right? Ha! Ha ha ha!
What causes these texture glitches? No one knows. They’re like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest. Or a Mystery Box within a Mystery Box within a Mystery Box and so on, infinitely. Which hasn’t happened to me yet, but I keep hoping.
Also, by “no one knows,” I mean some programmer or coder or game designer could probably explain it to you, but it likely involves the terms “dongle” and “fork” and no one’s allowed to use those words anymore.
A row of Java Server coffeee houses taking over for the Pink Houses. Insert late 1990s ubiquity-of-Starbucks joke here.
Six Howard’s Flowers shops stand in for a clutch of Blue Houses here…
…And even more Blue Houses here. What episode was “Howard’s Flowers” from? I don’t know either.
Perhaps these glitches stand out because they’re multiples of the buildings you only get one of, standing in for a group of houses in a “house farm.” It’s entirely possible that single regular houses may also appear as glitches, but I wouldn’t notice because the coloring of, say, the purple and pink houses are kind of close. And also, I’ve got houses strewn willy-nilly all throughout Springfield, and if one orange house is suddenly a brown house for two minutes, it’s not even going to register up here. (I’m pointing to my head.)
The area above – normally a cluster of Blue Houses – seems to be one of a couple places in my Springfield particularly prone to glitches. Here we see that Tom O’Flanagan’s Pub, from way across town, has mysteriously appeared here.
Skip’s Diner. I don’t recognize this from the show, unless it’s the place where John and the Simpsons went to eat in “Homer’s Phobia.”
A big wad of Cool Brown Houses – available only for a short time to promote the current season’s episode “The Day the Earth Stood Cool.” Overlapping as they do, they look like hideous condos from the late 1970s.
This is the other place in my Springfield where my game usually tends to get all glitched out – a smaller section of Blue Houses. Could it be that the Blue Houses are the problem? Here we see they’ve disappeared and in their place, four Police Departments seem to be sinking into the ground.
The Try-N-Save appeared here, too.
These glitches don’t affect game play, by the way. They’re like digital mirages. If you tap on, say, any of those, eh, Evas-N-Yrts above, it’ll tell you it’s a Blue House. Sometimes if I scroll away until it’s no longer in the screen and then come back, it’ll have returned to normal. Other times it’ll be something else completely. And sometimes if I just stay there without moving around, the glitch will eventually cycle through a number of different structures.
And it’s not just buildings that suffer from texture glitches:
Here’s a bunch of floating blue Dumpsters with the left side of the lid – the side that Cletus lifts up, behind each unit, showing the three different positions used in animating it.
Six weather stations! Neato!
Channel 6 news vans with their various elements strewn alongside each one.
While I’m way too old to understand computer programming, and don’t have a definite explanation for these glitches that are mainly isolated to two specific areas, I have narrowed things down to a couple of possibilities: I either made the mistake of building on the hallowed ground of an Indian graveyard, or – and I think this is much more likely – there’s a particularly strong electromagnetic force below Springfield resulting in occurrences we just don’t understand. This also might tie into Hans Moleman’s disappearance underground every 108 minutes and the mysterious polar bear in Mr. Burns’ office.
Bridges are another element that seems particularly prone to appear randomly. Above, in a glitch worthy of Escher, sort of, Fat Tony can be seen “taking care of a problem.” Or half of him, anyway.
A few fountains have been disassembled on the lawns of some Purple Houses.
My experience has been that the longer I play the game, the more likely it becomes to see these aberrations. If I just spend a few minutes in it, there’s no problems. But if my Springfield session is longer than about eight minutes, all hell begins to delightfully break loose.
And as for visiting friends’ Springfields, I’ve only noticed one glitch, but it was magnificent:
The Santa’s Little Helper balloon (from the Thanksgiving update) has been multiplied five times and exploded into each of the individual elements that make it up. I don’t remember who’s Springfield this was, but I envy you, friend, if you experience this sort of thing on a regular basis.
Occasionally it’s the characters themselves that get all glitched out. My favorite – and by Godfrey, I know I took a screen shot of it, but I can’t find it – was when Santa’s Little Helper (the actual dog, not the balloon) briefly replaced each of the lamp posts I had placed around the town hall. He was in a begging pose, and each of the posts looked like statues. It was, yes, a delight.
This was one of those instances where it kept, changing, too. Shortly after that, the posts turned to Dr. Nick…
…and then Grandpa:
…where they’re doppelgangers of the real Abe Simpson sitting on a bench feeding pigeons.
Above, two still images of Krusty in a walk cycle from the “Inflate His Own Self Importance” task are enlarged and mysterious have replaced two pine trees behind the Muntz house.
Again, a slightly-larger than normal version of a character – Groundskeeper Willie – has appeared. There’s normally a trash can where he is. Creepy!
This one makes no sense at all. Larger-than-life-Luigi is either standing in a Valentine’s Day heart tree while tossing a pizza, or ascending to heaven. Or climbing the tree trying to grab the pizza dough as it ascends to Heaven.
Other glitches are similarly absurd.
This one looks like an elaborate sliding tile puzzle that someone gave up on because it was just too damn difficult.
And my very favorite:
It’s like Kandinsky and Warhol collaborated on a Simpsons: Tapped Out texture glitch.
Now most of my, what, six regular readers are probably saying, “God almighty, that was a long post! I don’t come here for this crap! I don’t even play this stupid game and I’ll tell you one thing, Ted – I sure as hell won’t now! In fact, you might have to start writing ‘my, what, five regular readers’ after you wasted my time with this!”
And I understand your frustration.
But know this: A year and a half ago I wrote some nonsense about these ridiculous “Koo Koo Birds” stuffed animals which inexplicably gave me by far the most hits I’ve ever gotten. “The Simpsons: Tapped Out” being among the top-grossing games in Apple’s App Store, there’s a good chance that this near-endless parade of images and long-winded conjecture about something I have no business trying to explain just might push my blog’s average number of daily hits toward that golden “Baker’s Dozen” range of about 13 or so again!